Tag Archives: Google

Facebook video: Can it compete with YouTube?

According to blogmeister Robert Scoble, Facebook is now getting 100,000 video uploads per day, or enough to keep you busy 24/7 for 100 days. That raises the question as to whether a) Facebook has the capacity to handle the YouTube-like service levels and b) whether it’s going to compete with YouTube’s advertising and analytics programs for video.  Given its rather sketchy support for its PPC and pay per impression ad programs, I’d argue that b) is pretty unlikely right now. But hey, it’s way too early to write Facebook off in this market–and here’s why.

Sure, right now Google (including YouTube), has a 55.4 percent of video viewing visits to online video site properties.  Meanwhile, Facebook has a comparatively tiny 1.5 percent of video viewing visits, according to eMarketer. But bear in mind that that 1.5 percent (up from 0.8 last year) puts it on par with content behemoth Viacom and just below CBS Interactive. Actually, it’s in a pretty impressive position.

True, Facebook moves pretty slowly and hasn’t much aggressiveness in the ad space, but that can’t last forever if it’s going to keep growing.  Monetizing video, even by aping YouTube, is just something it has to do.

I’m also pretty sure that Facebook’s rate of video content accumulation will climb rapidly, giving it increasing leverage. After all, while YouTube tries to be friendly–and can feature some intriguing comments on hot content–it just isn’t the kind of community space Facebook is and doesn’t offer anywhere near the tools.  That gives Facebook a big advantage in building video visitor rates and putting the squeeze to YouTube.

Facebook, all told, has a real opportunity here, though it hasn’t yet shown signs that it cares. Let’s see if it wakes up and makes some tough moves to capture more video viewer market share.

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Google Chrome, and other things that don’t need social media marketing

As anyone reading a blog like this knows, tossing out the name of Google’s super-hot new browser, Google Chrome, is likely to give this item a boost in the SERPs. If I’m Google, I certainly don’t need to pump up my reputation with bloggers or make sure a lot of people “favorite” Google Chrome groups in one form or another. All of that may happen, and it’s fine, but if I were on Google’s marketing team, it certainly wouldn’t be my priority. All of which is to say that while big brands are certainly leveraging social media, it’s still more important for small and emerging businesses:

– Social media has a few well-known networks, but the medium is still rather fragmented, with small but important players emerging seemingly every day. Bigger businesses are unlikely to benefit from adapting to multiple social networks and platforms; it’s more likely to create inconsistencies in their message.

– Social media is neither fish nor fowl, in that it has characteristics of both PR and Web marketing. Big brand marketers seldom have the flexibility to adapt their message, budget and personnel to such hybrids.

– Small businesses are close enough to the product or service to carry the feedback from social networks straight to those who deliver the product or service. Big companies, in theory, can do the same thing, but they’re more likely to respond to focus groups and other throat-clearing.

So what do you think, folks? Aside from a few rumored successes, like Dell‘s moving some PCs through its Twitter presence, do big businesses need to have an integrated online presence yet? I’d love to hear your comments.– Anne

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Google-Digg mismatch is no surprise

So, in the past several days we learned that Google had made a feint at Digg, then passed. Looked at one way it’s a bit surprising, given Digg’s raw power and extreme brand recognition among the Web’s tastemakers. On the other hand, it may have been a good decision. After all, Google can buy a company, but it can’t buy an attitude.

Sure, any big, lumbering company would like to get its cool on by acquiring a relatively edge Web player like Digg. But the truth is, it’s seldom a good idea–because big companies digest little ones. Sure, the big company can acquire assets–and even Digg’s prodigious traffic and influence–but I doubt it would preserve the culture that makes Digg compelling. Hey, look at the social bookmarking sites that have sprung up since…they’re just not the same.

By the way, in case anyone still has an image of Google as scrappy and innovative, let’s give that a rest. Sure, I remember when Google was the Next Big Thing and full of vibrant energy. But those days are gone, baby. Google may still pay for people’s lunches, but it’s as corporate as they get.

Hey, I’d argue that in some ways, Google is the biggest potential challenger to monolithic Microsoft (more explanation in a future column). What else explains Microsoft’s clumsy pursuit of search dominance by attempting to snag Yahoo? — Anne

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iGoogle, not Yahoo, is the portal to watch

Folks, I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about the collapse of Microsoft’s grand plan to buy into Yahoo’s cutting-edge 1998-era business model. As for me, I’ve been puzzled throughout the whole MicroHoo spectacle. After all, who gives a damn about traditionally-structured content portals these days?

Rather than watch MS and YHOO duke it out, I’m paying very close attention to the evolution of iGoogle. Probably because it’s not being promoted vigorously, iGoogle has gotten comparatively little attention from the IT and search pundits of the world. But I believe that could change quickly. In truth, Google is building a new, vibrant business model in plain sight, quietly perfecting its approach gadget by gadget and application by application while downplaying this effort’s strategic importance.

Is iGoogle revolutionary in and of itself? Not at all. The widgets and content the service offers aren’t miracles of technical sophistication, and for any one of the functions it offers (say, Calendar) there’s lots of competition available elsewhere on the Web. Besides, the other search majors offer customization, too. It’s just that they don’t do it as well.

What makes Google special is the simple, clean execution it brings to user-driven content display–which includes an amazingly flexible drag-and-drop feature for arranging widgets on the page, countless options for enhancing the content and a range of useful features which can easily be lumped together.

Taken together, these interface design options are far more powerful than they sound. For example, I’ve found that having the freedom to put Google mail and the Google calendar smack dab on top of one another, as I do, is the perfect way for me to stay on top of my life. It’s not rocket science, but it gets the job done better than just about any other approach I’ve tried.

Of course, if I didn’t already use a bunch of Google apps, having access to them through iGoogle wouldn’t be much of a benefit. But like most Web workers, I use lots of Google services already, so Google’s got me where they want me. Ultimately, iGoogle gives the search giant complete ownership of my workflow. (Whoops — did I just say that? iGoogle is scarier than I thought!)

The endgame, ultimately, will come when iGoogle begins to offer you access to proprietary features, such as Google-hosted personal health records. (Trust me, they’re already working on the latter–I saw a demo at a recent trade show, in fact.) When you begin to rely on iGoogle to control your personal health data, read your e-mail, get directions and maps, display your carefully chosen list of news, recipes and gossip and keep you abreast of your local weather, all ordered on the page in a way that you like best, Google now has you body and soul.

So, go ahead, Microsoft, and pursue portals or even a Facebook or MySpace buyout. That’s all well and good. But if you guys are the insanely brilliant people they say you are, you might want to think about Google’s strategy for completely seducing users–and what your role should be in a world where all content is widgetized and used on demand.

Sure, iGoogle’s still young now, but it’s going to kick butt when it grows up. How will you respond? — Anne

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Specialized engines offer dividends for searching

Now, I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I can find what I need when I search for things on Google. I don’t need my hand held by sites like Mahalo.com, whose editors purport to know better than me what I’m looking for. And I don’t particularly care whether I get a “universal” search result (replete with links to video, reviews and graphics in addition to text), though I can see why it’s nice.

On the other hand, I’m intrigued by the emergence of GoGoQuick.com, a site adds a new feature to searching–the ability to donate to charity as you search. For every click on the site’s paid search ads, GoGoQuick plans to donate 50 percent of that revenue to charity. Interestingly, it’s not the first to offer such a feature; according to DM News, there’s also GoodSearch.com, MagicTaxi.com and the UK’s Everyclick.com, which also donate half of their revenues to charity (though these, unlike GoGoQuick, power their searches with external engines like Yahoo and Ask.com).

So, what’s next? During this year’s election season, wouldn’t it make sense to create a political content-oriented search site that donted proceeds to the site’s political cause of choice? What about a search engine which allowed users to build up credits to spend with local businesses who buy the engine’s paid search services? Maybe an engine which did in-depth, carefully-filtered searches solely among social media channels would work. These are just a few off-the-cuff ideas; I’m sure much better ones are being floated with venture capitalists as I write.

The bottom line is that search, as a plain vanilla service, is getting (for lack of a better word), uh, boring. Users are sick of doing so much scanning and clicking to get so little reward, and finding so little that truly engages them. Given the market’s search fatigue, next-generation search models are bound to explode in the next year or so.

Network TV video programming popular online

So, it looks like network TV programming is finding a secure home online. According to stats from eMarketer, 154 million people in the U.S. will download or stream such video content on the Web at least once a month this year. And 80 percent of Web users should watch videos online, a number which accounts for a staggering 52.5 percent of the larger U.S. population.  In my view, this is just one more indication that professionally-produced content has a big advantage online…which I’ll explain more below.

OK, I’ll admit that the numbers cite above don’t exactly spell the death of YouTube, which draws about 68.5 million unique visitors and 3.7 billion page views per month. But when it comes to making money online, the commercially-created content has a tremendous advantage over YouTube’s amateur stuff. And that makes me wonder what’s going to happen to YouTube’s business model as consumers get sick of stupid teenage tricks, cute kids, lousy bands, boring pets and the like. (Hey, America’s Funniest Home Videos didn’t stay on the air forever either, right?)

What’s going on underneath the surface is that it’s getting increasingly unclear how to monetize junky amateur videos.

As a matter of policy, YouTube doesn’t run any ads along with videos submitted by regular users, because they don’t know enough about the clips’ content–and don’t know if the clips contain copyright-infringing material. It only runs ads against professional content from its commercial partners, such as the NBA, CBS and Universal Music. That leaves tons of content they have to deliver (a huge bandwidth hit even for Google (GOOG)) but can’t really monetize effectively.

TV networks, however, have complete control of their Web content from day one, which has to make it much easier to use te content for advertising sales.  In fact, one marketing exec recently told me that a cable network client of his was spending big bucks analyzing how much they spend to deliver each program viewed online, so they have accurate means for pricing ad spots against them, not to mention the demographics of viewers, the paths that bring viewers to look at a program and so on. What’s more, they can then turn and take these stats (and advertising response) and use it to boost the performance of their traditional TV programming. Sweet all around.

I guess the underlying question that comes up for me, here, is whether YouTube will ultimately stop looking like a consumer site at all–or whether consumer content will be shunted off into some other brand. Tricky stuff.

Corporate spending on Second Life keeps growing

As I’ve freely admitted, I do not like Second Life, Sam I Am–with green eggs or otherwise. But as I noted previously, it’s clear that many businesses see it as an important new frontier in digital evolution.

That being said, I was still blown away by a deal wrap-up posted today on Virtual Worlds News.  Among other initiatives,  Dell (DELL) has decided to expand its use of SL to simulcast its CES release, micro-lending site Kiva is opening new offices there, UK pharmacy Boots has begun selling its No.7 cosmetics line on SL and lighting company OSRAM is running a contest regarding ideas regarding light, VWN says.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that SL could go from being a playground to an office park and a strip mall and a convention center–frequented by pretty much all big brands–within 2008.  Which brings up intriguing side question: what happens to Google (GOOG) and other search engine players if someday, it becomes more important to optimize for SL or other virtual environments than it does for search?  For heaven’s sake, how DOES one optimize for a virtual world?  If you’re a consumer marketer, you may want to figure that out ASAP.