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More on Infographics

A few weeks ago, we pointed out that Mashable got snookered into giving an online education lead-gen site an easy link thanks to an infographic. The plague continues, and the usually-reliable All Things D is the latest victim. These links are very similar: the focus is online business education, and the target is a tech blog—could be part of the same campaign. (Both sites are pretty simple WordPress templates, but used different anonymous registrars, which is a strike against the single-campaign theory.)

One Search Engine Land contributor says that infographics fail for link-building. Apparently not.

“Simplifying the Lumascape”

One of the greatest marketing achievements of all time—perhaps second only to calling Death Insurance “Life Insurance”—is Terry Kawaja’s ownership of the term “the slide.” At least one media outlet has actually used brackets to throw the brand name in there (“the [Lumascape] slide”).

Now PerfectMarket wants to simplify The Slide. They argue that many of the discrete functions can be bundled together to achieve cost savings. But that completely misses the point of the online ad ecosystem. The underlying cost of serving an ad rounds down to zero, so anyone who can plug something into the process that increases revenue by x% can justify charging something close to that revenue increase for their services. And most of those improvements follow the usual startup capital allocation model: big upfront capex to build a hard-to-duplicate advantage, amortized (if you’re lucky) through price-discriminatory sales to every interested party. The ecosystem works this way because the cost of adding one new layer is tiny. Why question the logic of the market, especially when any layer of consolidation will lead to channel conflict?

Y Combinator Names new Partners

Y Combinator has added Garry Tan, Aaron Iba, and Geoff Ralston as partners. As Matt Mullenweg notes, they are designers and engineers, not financiers. Mullenweg is right that this illustrates a change in the VC business: the “capital” part of Venture Capital matters less than the connections and advice. In fact, “Capital” is starting to approach legacy status in the kind of ultra early-stage investing that YC practices; it’s going to stick around as a vestige because it’s an efficient way for them to charge for their services, though.

Three Big Macro Shifts

  • Mobile Apps get more time spent than web consumption. That’s a massive shift—especially since app-minutes are now in part coming from lower desktop minutes. Few people building web apps think of themselves as trying to grab a piece of a shrinking market. But increases in the number of web users won’t make up for a decline in minutes per user for long.
  • The free lunch of Moore’s Law is over. The main upshot: programmers will need to rewrite apps for more and more architectures. (One beneficiary of this: Apple. They have a comparatively tiny number of devices available, so the overhead involved in creating an app that can run on 99% of iPhones, vs. 99% of Android phones or PC desktops, is much lower).
  • Tablet ownership roughly doubled from December to January. Tim Cook argues that tablets will be bigger than PCs on the tail of Apple’s amazing quarter.

Target Tries to Deal with Showrooming

Target is asking vendors to create unique products, or avoid lower online prices. While we see showrooming as the future of retail, this is one way to sort things out in the interim.

Facebook May File Next Week

The halt in processing trades may not have been a fluke: reliable sources tell the WSJ that Facebook may file to go public as soon as Wednesday. There’s more drama in this round of rumors (Morgan Stanley versus Goldman! NYSE versus Nasdaq!).

But keep in mind that Sheryl Sandberg, their COO, will be speaking at Harvard on May 23rd. (In other Harvard/Facebook news, a new VC fund hopes to keep Harvard entrepreneurs on the East Coast.)

Are SEO-Friendly Press Releases a Waste?

SEOmoz has a detailed post on why press releases are a weak SEO strategy. That’s been clear for a while given the direction search engines are heading in—PR generates a pretty strong “fake link” footprint and a pretty weak “genuine interest” one.

Press releases used to work as an SEO signal because they were just expensive enough to merit some careful writing—they could, at least, be a signal about what the author thought their own site was about. But there are now lots of junk press releases on the major distribution sites—just look at this one, for example.

(PRWeb, incidentally, is owned by Vocus (VOCS). It will be interesting to see how their revenue holds up if more companies cut their press release spending.)

Branded Search and Search Partners

RKG has a smart piece on branded search ads and Search Network sites. Apparently a sizable chunk of AdWords clicks come from results pages, which tend to display far more ads.

Using Social Media to Predict Market-Moving Consumer Sentiment

Topsy claims that they predicted the magnitude of customer response to Netflix’s pricing changes last year. This could have potential, but they’re going to run into a feedback loop problem: in many cases, the strongest factor in predicting how many consumers will voice their outrage is the number of consumers already doing so. It’s going to take lots of data before a tool like this can distinguish between a rise in churn and a rise in people talking up their churn. Meanwhile, it’s a promising development.

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More infographic victims, simplifying the Lumascape, and a new way to trade off of Twitter data