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Feb 24 2006
Google Page Creator Take 2
I just received a briefing from Google on Page Creator, which was the "20%" pet project of Justin Rosenstein, project manager, who said he wanted to create a simple tool that would enable anyone to build a site quickly and easily.

As I indicated yesterday it's very easy � WYSIWYG � to use. It's about as easy or maybe easier than blogging software. And Rosenstein said that the 100 megs of storage is considerably more than most free blogging platforms offer.

People like to attribute much more calculation to Google than actually exists in most of these product rollouts. And I'm somewhat guilty of that myself. I got carried away with the small business and potential strategic implications of this for Google. But I buy it when they say this was intended for anyone who wanted to build a site and that it was not specifically targeting SMEs.

But now that it's here, let's see how SMEs respond.

It's also the case that every teenager in America (or around the globe) could build a personal page on Google. That's an equally compelling alternative or parallel use case. That goes to Chris Sherman's MySpace comparison.

It will be interesting to see how the product evolves after the first rounds of feedback.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  16:24 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Why Do We Care So Much About IPTV? II
Here is another good introductory article (with quite a headline). This one is about some of the killer apps we can expect out of IPTV. It's an interesting (albeit long) read, with a fun list of possibilities.

Elsewere, Comcast reported that video-on-demand orders increased 71 percent in 2005 � showing that demand for VOD is on the rise. The implications for IPTV are clear, as it will be based on the concept of VOD.

VOD in fact seems to be getting a lot of attention. Most recently DirecTV announced the launch of a broadband-based VOD service this week.

A roundup of broadband TV news is here
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Internet Adoption Flat?
According to Parks Associates' recent research, written up in this CNET article, Internet adoption is essentially flat in the US. The firm found 64% of US homes had Internet access, up from 62% in 2004. It also made the prediction that adoption would only grow 3% by the end of the decade.

The at-home broadband percentage was 42 and dial-up claimed 22% of US households according to the research.

There are lots of responses. Here are some:

  • In early 2004, Nielsen//NetRatings reported that 75% of US homes had Internet access (who's right?).
  • Approximately 80% of US workers have access to the Internet at work (Nielsen again). This is where lots of shopping and other non-work related online behavior happens. A 360 degree view of the American Internet audience must consider at-work usage also.
  • The most attractive demographic/income groups have broadband at home (well established)
  • If you segment to look at the attitudes and behaviors of younger consumers, you'll see quite different attitudes and quite a different relationship to the Internet and technology. Here the Internet is just assumed as a necessary ultility and communication tool.
I would say no traditional media should take comfort from this research. Rather the concern needs to be on the online side and specifically about high-speed access. If it's not growing than the corresponding revenue models and related consumer behaviors might not grow as quickly. That's where the issue is.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:56 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
More on MySpace
In an attempt to drive more traffic, bring in more value added content, and further distinguish itself, MySpace is launching a film section of its site in partnership with Sundance.

It will host independent filmmakers' profiles and short films and serve as distribution point. This is hoped to drive traffic and distinguish MySpace with a new demographic, the same way its music channel tapped into the world of independent and underground bands with much success.

We'll see if it works the same for the underground film world.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  14:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
Switchboard Gets a Facelift
Switchboard Gets a Facelift. Here's the new site. Here's the release.

More later.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:25 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 24 2006
MySpace Backlash Part Deux
This time on the marketing side (via ABC) as Jupiter contends that MySpace's traffic and page view numbers are terribly inflated -- "a mirage." Is this just Jupiter being contrarian or is there really something to this?

Here's the comScore data on MySpace traffic and usage (original post here):

  • 24.2 million unique users in October 2005
  • 11.6 billion page views in October 2005
  • More page views than any destination other than Yahoo!, AOL and MSN.
  • Twice the page views of Google
This raises the larger -- and much debated -- question of the accuracy of the traffic data circulating in the marketplace. Who's right?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 23 2006
Yahoo! Answers with More Features
I'm about to leave for the airport so I've only got a few more minutes to blog here . . .

Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal has written up some new features at Yahoo! answers, another component of the Yahoo! community/social search strategy. Here's a description of the changes/upgrades from the Yahoo! Search Blog.

We blogged at length in the past about the local dimensions of Yahoo! Answers -- a word of mouth/recommendations tool with obvious implications for the local market -- here and here (don't read this one; it has unfortunate formatting errors).

Of interest is the new distribution/marketing strategy being adopted that allows individuals to place a branded Yahoo! Answers module on a blog or website. There's also toolbar integration, which helps "distribute" it further.

Also, answers used to "ping" answer-seekers via email, which was terribly awkward. Now you can set up an RSS feed to MyYahoo! or another news reader, which is a nice development.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 23 2006
Why Do We Care So Much About IPTV?
Here is a great introductory article on the nuts and bolts of IPTV technology. Why is this important or relevant to local? The architecture of IPTV systems will allow for a two way street of communication between users and servers � much like the IP architecture of the web � which makes it much more interactive than television today as we know it. And that interactivity or �pull� of information and content will enable the geographic and contextually relevant advertising opportunities that we�ve seen flourish on the web.

From the article;

This speaks to the basic difference between IPTV and the QAM system that has dominated cable and satellite TV to date. With QAM, all channels are sent into the home, where the set-top box or boxes decide which channel to watch.

�If 250 channels are being broadcast into your home,� Graczyk said, "the set-top ignores the 249 you're not watching and displays the one you are. But those extra 249 take up a huge amount of bandwidth."

With IPTV, each set-top box in the home sends a request to a server located at the service provider, and the server sends back just the channel requested. Regardless of the number of channels available, even if many are HD, the amount of capacity into the home need only be enough to handle one channel per set-top box plus enough for data and voice.


One channel being called up at a time - instead of 250 channels always available to channel surf - is technically much like the way we web surf. Each time a channel is chosen, the server knows it. How service providers of IPTV systems (mostly telcos) use this valuable information to serve up contextually relevant ads (or partner with those who can) is the question. How the fragmented universe of local and small businesses will be addressed by a sales channel is also an important question. As we�ve said in the past, telco-owned directory businesses could utilize existing feet on the street to do the heavy lifting, and offer IPTV to SMEs as part of a cross platform sales strategy. The ability or willingness of SME's to create video ads (creative, rather than directional) will also be an important area to address, which is why Spot Runner is so intriguing.

I recently attended VenturWire's Network Ventures conference in San Jose where there was a great session entitled Tune into the Network � Getting Ready for IPTV. Shawn Carolan, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures had some interesting things to say;

What will make IPTV take off are services that are compelling. VOD is pretty compelling, but one that is very interesting that still isn�t ready from a software infrastructure standpoint, is really targeted advertising. It has some privacy concerns, but look at what Google has done on the web. If you search for keyword you�ll get organic search results surrounded by sponsored results. Well it turns out that people click more on the sponsored results than the organic results by 25 percent. Why is that? The reason is because it is very well selected and targeted ads, and I think well targeted ads become content to the user.

From a user standpoint, IPTV is also starting to get a great deal of attention with recent studies done on user awareness and interest by Jupiter Research, Points North Group, and Harris Interactive.

The San Francisco Chronicle also came out with a good introductory piece this week on IPTV business models, and the service rollouts underway by telecoms. And the Rocky Mountain News has a piece on the legal battle around franchise laws and content regulation of IPTV (does it fall under the guidelines of the Web, or that of cable television).

That�s enough to keep you busy for now. But in addition to continuing editorial coverage, we�ll be talking about IPTV (upcoming shameless plug warning) at our upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference during the following panel. Hope to see you there.

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer �video consumption� model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million �Wayne�s Worlds� and the potential �Tower of Babel� effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:47 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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