Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Newspaper Demise - $42B+ up for grabs?

Today's Silicon Valley Insider claims that $42B in Ad Rev is up for grabs in the coming years and it's at least clearer to see why after reading their article. The online format is merciless on inefficiencies and throughout its history publishing in general is all about "warehousing" more information than you actually need. And worse newspapers try and do it everyday! That said it's easy to see why national newspaper such as USA Today and WSJ are actually gaining circ. with their new formats and style that include the incorporation of the web in their product whereas traditional papers are sticking to their knitting and dieing. (Only the NYT would make the new info free and charge for the archives; geez what a bunch of knucklheads.) Same with many periodicals such as BusinessWeek vs Wired. Its all about the product!

At the Web 2.0 Expo last week a statement was made that in general for every newspaper sold their are 10X viewers of that same content on line. However, the newspaper publishers have only been able to monetize those on-line viewers at a rate of approx. 1/10 that which they get from the ink-on-paper version. Hmmm. Why is this so hard for those in the newspaper business to figure out. Lead with the online; not the printed format and make sure that the traffic generated is efficiently converting those ads to leads not just traffic - click crap.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Day Three

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of SunMicrosystems, Inc. (JAVA) offered a compelling argument for why every CEO worth his or her salt ought to be blogging; its communication and not PR. Blogging is almost an anachronistic term and should instead be referred to simply as "communication". Among the chief responsibilities of any CEO is to communicate with their employees, shareholders and customers and a blog is simply just another means to do so. "Web 2.0/blogging what ever you want to call it is simply another way for me to reach those I need to connect. Yes there were bumps to get started but I my guide was to blog just as I would talk with anyone about the business."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Day Two

Yahoo's Ari Balogh rolled out their new Search Monkey; a feature that enables 3rd parties an opportunity to upgrade their search results over those traditional organic results. The concept is simple but the idea that one of the premier general search engines are willing to allow web site owners the ability to upgrade search results that are displayed by Yahoo is truly revolutionary. It's no secret that with MSFT breathing down their necks Yahoo's Yang has to break the mold and try something new. Besides anything that could improve bail-rates from Yahoo's results would be a welcome improvement; something that only site owners could offer.

Will this Wiki-like approach to improving that which Yahoo serves up enable Yahoo to catch Google, probably not. But it will certainly improve some of the results and hence user experience. Bravo Yahoo; too bad you waited so long to offer this feature. I suppose necessity is still the mother of invention even in the Silicon Valley.

Mark Andreesen was interviewed by John Battelle and as usual proved to all why he shares the mantel in Silicon Valley lore with the likes of Steve Jobs, the Google Guys, David Packard, Larry Ellison and Gordon Moore as one of its true stars. Among the many things discussed was a stroll down the memory lane of the mid 90's when first his Mosaic browser opened the Internet to the public and then his Netscape Navigator to the masses. Additionally, he wouldn't take Battelle's bait (is MS "defanged") when queried on his feelings about MSFT and their incursion into Netscapes's space with IE but instead he took the high road and saluted Gates and gang for their efforts and in bringing a standard to the desk-top operating system that has enabled the development of all things Web 2.0. Prior to OS there were dozens of systems that ran PC's and developing products for those PC required multiple versions and lower productivity; something the cell phones business could learn from. Finally, he talked about his newest venture Ning; a social network platform for the masses. My guess is that like his Mosaic browser Ning will prove itself a winner especially given its unique viral format. Investors think so.

Presentation by executives from FaceBook and MySpace about marketing techniques and lesson's learned were informative (i.e popularity of the new 646 X 60 banner) and how paying attention to the four (4) pillars of an on-line ad programs 1) Ad Size, 2) Formatting, 3) placement and 4) ad network can dramatically impact your results. Hey, I'll always pay attention to someone who is speaking for a web site [ MySpace] that has 117 million UVs in March '08 and is adding [registering] over 200,000 new users each day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo - Day One; a view

This week's Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco is again a front-row seat to what everyone else is doing with their SocialMedia (blog) strategy. Much has changed just since last year's meeting - especially around the operating systems and software capabilities and thought I'd just give three (3) key items I observed today.

  1. Microsoft's new Live Mesh renews lends credence that software's future lie in it's usefulness beyond a single device. Simultaneously it builds upon the economics of centralization - and the whole notion of ambient "cloud" computing. An impressive idea that whose value is obvious. Let's just hope it works.
  2. Clay Shirky offered an interesting perspective on the changes in Media that are underway in part thanks to battle hymn of social media. In summary, media was offered solely for consumption and was created using a very ordinary, vertically integrated, command and control business model. Someone (networks) made it and the masses consumed it; usually from their couch. What's changing - and what traditional media can't stand - that that media is evolving into really three (3) parts: Consumption, Participation and Sharing. Still the vast majority of media is consumed but over time newer generation will come to expect that which they can participate in and share with others. Can you say Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, Slide. Clay went on to say that he estimates that Wikipedia has cost approx 100 million man/hours of time to create but that in the US alone we consume (watch) about 200 billion man/hours of traditional media. That is for all the time and effort that has gone into creating Wikipedia the amount of intellectual capacity that is still off-line during the consumption of traditional media is the equivalent of 2,000 individual Wikipedia's per year.
  3. Little mention of Google beyond their utility-like characteristics as it relates to SEO strategies for blogs and social media sites. Strange in as much as how prominent Google was featured at this meeting last year with Eric Schmidt's roll out of their new Apps offering. Not that Google is unimportant but there are clearly many new participants some old (IBM) and some new (Slide, Orange Soda).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Religion vs. the Gosple

From time to time I find discussions with friends turn to issues of faith, God and spirituality and invariably "religion" comes up as a key topic and often is a great source of confusion for most. That is, when asked what do I believe I'll say the "Gospel" to which they say yes but what religion are you; as if that is more important.

All religions are "man made" whereas the Gospel is the message, 'the good news of Christ'; a big difference. To that end I came across the following that was posted by Mark Driscoll and thought it did a pretty nifty job of further clarifying the sublte yet very important difference.

  • Religion says, if I obey, God will love me. Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.

  • Religion has good people & bad people. Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.

  • Religion values a birth family. Gospel values a new birth.

  • Religion depends on what I do. Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.

  • Religion claims that sanctification justifies me. Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification.

  • Religion has the goal to get from God. Gospel has the goal to get God.

  • Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin. Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction.

  • Religion is about me. Gospel is about Jesus.

  • Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key. Gospel believes that being honest is the key.

  • Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God. Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus' work.

  • Religion sees Jesus as the means. Gospel sees Jesus as the end.

  • Religion ends in pride or despair. Gospel ends in humble joy.