A Reductio Ad Absurdum of Facebook / Google+ Comparisons
Alan Wolk at The Toad Stool has an amazing post about a Chrome Extension called BetterFacebook, which “most notably add[s] the Circle functionality of GooglePlus to Facebook.” As regular Digital DD readers know, the “Circle” functionality on Facebook is called “Lists.” Not only does it predate Google+, but Facebook desperately tried to get users to use this feature, eventually giving up due to a lack of demand.
If nothing else, this demonstrates that all web design is a matter of probabilities: given the presence of a feature, there’s a decent chance that even fairly sophisticated users will never notice it, and will in fact go to great lengths to implement it themselves.
Promoting Social Media Pages Over Websites
Yesterday, we counseled long-term pessimism on the domain registration business, since some users were shifting from wholly-owned domains to social media accounts. Today, the NYT has a story on brands using ads to promote their social media accounts, rather than the products themselves. There are two good arguments for this:
- Getting users to opt-in to brand messages, by convincing them to follow the brand on Twitter or Facebook.
- Some kind of nebulous ‘branding’ from users seeing social proof that other people on social media sites like the brand.
Google Pushes a Universal API
APIs knit sites together. Google wants to create Web Intents, a single, massive API that would effectively allow any action to be pushed through a de facto API for any site.
There’s an interesting parallel between this and the “Web of verbs” touted by Bing. In this case, Google would be in charge of the “verbs” by controlling and monitoring this universal API. This is a long way from being consumer-ready (when Android is your model for a good user experience, you’re starting from behind anyway), but it’s a compelling vision.
Chinese Video Site Ups IPO Plans
On Deck Capital Raises $19mm
On Deck Capital, a small business financing company, raised another $19mm. Right now, On Deck uses algorithms to judge the creditworthiness of small businesses, rather than relying on the owners’ FICO scores. What’s more exciting about this model is the possibility that On Deck could end up lending to consumers based on something more accurate (or at least harder to game) than FICO.
The Decline of Spam
ReadWriteWeb posts some evidence that spam in general is declining. They are correct in pointing out that while email spam is dropping, social media spam is on the rise. It’s hard to measure the quantity of spam—what’s the tradeoff between, e.g., an email that gets instantly filtered, and a spammy tweet that doesn’t? The ideal measurements are either the cost of spam countermeasures (a trailing indicator, since they show how much people think spam is a problem) or the total quantity of time spent dealing with spam (a number enthusiastically reported and inflated by various spam-fighting entities).
The Continued Disruption of Video
Felicia Day, an actress with a fair amount of mainstream success, is focusing on web-based shows with videogame sponsorship. As it gets easier to target a small, loyal audience, this kind of thing should get more common. The math for media creators will end up looking like this: they can target 10% of their usual audience, earn 5X as much per person, and focus on things they actually like. Distribution ends up being the bottleneck, and it’s the part of the industry that will likely scale up instead of scaling down.
Wikipedia’s Dwindling Editor Roster
Wikipedia is having trouble attracting and retaining editors. They cite a complex interface and daunting internal politics, though a likelier answer is that Wikipedia is simply closer to being done. When all that’s left is quibbling about details, Internet users may have better things to do.
This may be due to Wikipedia management’s misperceptions: they focus on the small number of people with many total edits, rather than the large number of people who contribute to a single topic and then vanish.
AirBNB’s Incredible “CPMs”
Joseph Sofaer points out that his 5,000 or so AirBNB pageviews have generated $5,700+ revenue, for a mind-bogglingly high CPM. This is impressive, but less impressive than it looks: the “CPM” on a product page or checkout page is vastly higher than the CPM for an ad that’s showing up—and competing with several ads—on some actively interesting content.
The Unpredictability of Viral Marketing
406 Strategies has a fairly tedious piece about chaos theory and unpredictability, the upshot of which is that viral marketing is unpredictable. It’s more likely that definitions have changed: just as there is “Pop” music that isn’t popular, there is “Viral” content that doesn’t take off virally. It’s a question of style and intent: viral content is designed to be consumed and shared in short bursts. Whether or not that happens, it’s a useful category.
LivingSocial is continuing their acquisition spree by buying a Turkish daily deals site, apparently for a modest 2X revenue. (Groupon is expected to trade at something like 10X last quarter’s revenue run rate.) Meanwhile, LivingSocial’s Instant app is offering promoted deals a way to further enhance the price discrimination currently available through the daily deal market.
“If You Need To Raise Money, Get Your Financing Done ASAP”
Albert Wegner, a partner at Union Square Ventures, tells entrepreneurs to raise money fast rather than arguing over terms. This is, of course, very much in Union Square Ventures’ interest. But they have a bigger vested interest in calling bubbles (or calling undervaluation) based on what they actually see.
Google’s Massive New Sitelinks
Google used to use Sitelinks to show which sites they considered especially important. A year or so ago, they dramatically lowered the minimum threshold for displaying sitelinks. Now, they’re testing larger sitelinks with snippets of content. This isn’t just for big brands—for anyone who is currently in the user set seeing this, a search for “Digital Due Diligence” should bring them up—but it is brand-focused. It pushes the #2 site results even further down the screen.
The Return of Google Realtime Search
Mashable reports that Google is bringing back realtime search through Google+. This has long been suspected among Google+ observers, but it’s good to have independent confirmation. This may reduce Twitter’s relative utility for some news organizations, but the +1 interaction is qualitatively different from tweeting (though very similar to retweeting). So the net effect is unpredictable.
Digital Due Diligence Weekly