Thursday, April 23

Welcome Back, Mr. Portal, Your Chair Is Still Warm

Twitter has about worn me out. Trying to keep up with the 270 people I am following is almost impossible. I check my iPhone app twice a day, each time with over 200 tweets to read. Its relevancy is quickly slipping away...

Twitter is great at aggregating and collecting content, but terrible at delivering it. There are probably a bunch of people who I would be interested in reading. It just takes too much effort to stay involved.

Which brings me to the topic of Portals. For those Dotcom 1.0-ers, Portals are the butt of all Internet jokes. They originally were created as collection points for "stuff" on the Interweb (think early Yahoo and AOL). A good place to ground yourself as web content expanded beyond comprehension. It quickly went downhill from there.

Want some fast VC $$? Call your site a Portal. Got a bunch of separate sites that you need to somehow stitch together without really exerting much effort? Build a Portal site to house them.

As I predicted last month, Porn is always first to recognize a great online idea. The "legit" business always the fast followers. Pornstar Tweet launched awhile ago as a Twitter Portal for following Porn Stars. They aggregate porn tweets so you have one-click access to their daily lives. 

Sports is another huge affinity group online. It didn't take long for someone to apply the same strategy to athlete celebrities. Please welcome Athlete Tweets!

Same strategy, different topic.

It may take awhile for these celebrities to figure out they are providing mass amounts of content for others to make money from. You can't license public communication. Perhaps at some point their agents will wise up, aggregate their own collection of celebrity talent, and bring them en masse to the highest bidder. Who will then charge a monthly fee for accessing the private public lives of the rich and famous.

Sounds like a revenue sharing opportunity in the making.

Friday, April 17

The Oceania Webcams Are Now Live

From Techweb:

Google Maps Now Show Views From Webcams

The latest layer to be turned on in Google Maps is one for webcams. Just click on the “More” button on the top right of each map right next to the “Traffic” button. When you do that, it shows you thumbnails from different public Webcams around the world as tracked by

You don’t see an actual video, just the most recent still image captured by the Webcam. But this can come in handy when you want to actually see the traffic on a major highway yourself, or how the waves look like at the beach. While you are at it, you can also click on the other layers, such as Wikipedia entries, photos Youtube videos, and public transit.

From George Orwell:

Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.

How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Thursday, April 16

At Least @WhiteHouse Isn't a Porn Account

So someone finally figured out how to make money on Twitter the old fashioned way: Extort It.

Here is the brief synopsis courtesy of TechCrunch:

  1. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk 956,186 followers) challenges CNN (@CNNbrk 968,489 followers) to a race to 1 million followers on Twitter

  2. Larry King gets involved and takes the battle public on YouTube

  3. EA gets involved and turns it into a marketing promotion

  4. It is revealed that the CNN doesn't even own the Twitter account/name that has all these followers
That's right. Some average guy set up the account, programmed it to publish CNN's RSS news feeds, and quietly amassed almost 1 million followers. Not sure how that compares to's RSS subscribers, but on Twitter it is fairly impressive.

Silly? Yes. Juvenile? Yes. Worth CNN spending money to save face and claim ownership of the Twitter name? No. Er, I mean, Yes!

Apparently CNN "bought" the Twitter account (or maybe just rents it, fairly unclear) in order to lay claim to the user base. Which is a bit mindblowing considering the events that provoked it. Even more so since CNN basically bought ownership of their own content, on a site that is still a relative blip in the webosphere.

It also signals the cybersquatting goldrush for branded usernames on Twitter. Better hurry up and register yours, even if you don't plan on using it. Fake celebrity accounts have already demonstrated how confusing things can get for consumers. Soon even @seriouslywearetherealcompanythatsellsfriedchicken will have a price tag.

In the Future, Brand Identity Guidelines Will Require Rate Cards

Even though online advertising projections continue to rise, most media sales reps will confess that everyone is still very nervous about 2009 marketing budgets.

How nervous? Well, it is a well know fact in the advertising world that a company's logo is its most cherished asset. Creative Director Rule #1 = Don't @#&! With the Logo!

Online that means no animating, spinning, reversing or, God forbid, altering. True, Google has messed around with theirs for years. But that is in the spirit of their brand.

These days it seems anything is for sale. Desperate times call for desperate rate cards. Are you a left-behind web portal trying to maintain relevancy and fighting for every declining CPM dollar? Then maybeeee jusssst once...

Yesterday (Tax Day) altered their logo to support TurboTax's online campaign, creating a hybrid halfbreed that only a cash-strapped mother could love:

Art Directors cringed. Media planners updated their Q3 RFPs. Sales reps hit their Excel spreadsheets trying to uncover the valuation for that stunt. What is the value of your site's brand compared to your advertisers? Even if it is only surrendered for one day? Or, worse yet, was it provided as Added Value to seal the media deal?

Publishers are constantly scrapping for untapped areas of their site to assign CPMs. Their corporate identity shouldn't be one of them.

Monday, April 6

What's Your RSS CPC ROI?

Twitter users must come to terms with a unique outcome of their 140 character text blasts = they are completely disposable. That's my assessment after spending the last month in the tweetosphere.

I'm "following" 240 people. About 20% of them tweet throughout the day, 50% tweet maybe one or two times daily, the final 30% rarely. I log on to Twitter twice a day, each time greeted with over 200 posts to view. It's akin to self-induced bite-size spam. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you IamDiddy!

Unlike Facebook status posts --which are less frequent and encourage dialogue via attached Comments -- most Twitter users tweet and rarely look back. You might get a response from someone using the "@username" feature, but it is difficult to track them or build any kind of conversation.

The fact that Twitter is now being lauded as the Google Killer says it all. Google is about finding and accessing mass amounts of information. Requiring a search engine to sort through social content betrays Twitter's limited 1:1 communication value.

So how do brands capitalize on microblogging? You can push out custom online discounts like Dell or create brand ambassadors like Sharpie. But at some point your tweets are going to get buried faster than a Monday morning email newsletter.

Kudos to Intuit Turbotax for being the first to identify Twitter as a content generator, not a communication channel. They just announced that they will distribute their tweets via Google Adsense search buys:
The search giant has started offering marketers ad units that stream their five most recent "tweets" across the Google AdSense network. Intuit used several of the measures available for any AdSense campaign to target the ads, which are running on sites such as Bebo, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and Alltop.
This provides a much broader audience and overcomes the tweet overload blindspots. The only part I don't understand is their campaign objective:
"We could have used this as an acquisition vehicle, but we're looking at it more like a conversational vehicle," Mr. Greenberg said. We're measuring this [in part by] how many followers can we get. Can we get to 100,000 by allowing people to know we're a resource?" When a user clicks on an ad it takes them not to but to

Hmmm. Can you prove the value of those future Twitter followers (or the current 1,270)? Especially if the CPA is a 50 cent search link click? An email opt-in, er I mean Twitter follow, does not necessarily count as a conversation. Although it is the next CMO conversation waiting to happen, right after you explain why those 4,500 Facebook Fans are so important.