Friday, March 31, 2006

The Battle of the Blogs

Anyone else wondering if the blog spat between Scott Collins of the LA Times and Vaughn Ververs of CBS led to the latter's decision to "discuss some housekeeping issues"?

Timing's a funny thing, eh?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

If At First You Don't Succeed...

"There's a renewed interest in all things Web over at Time Inc., and this time, says The Wall Street Journal's Matthew Karnitschnig, "there is evidence that the publisher's management is willing to fundamentally alter the way the magazines are run to make the Web push work."

Failed products, executive shifts and mergers have made it difficult for the organization to thrive let alone attract new audiences to their online properties. You can't fault them for trying, though: they even gave their Web site a much-needed facelift last week.

To compensate for their limited resources, writes Karnitschnig, "Time has focused its online strategy on commentary, in the form of blogs and short analytical articles from its correspondents. Instead of trying to follow every major news event, the site has sought to focus on areas where editors think it can excel."

Sounds like a smart enough short-term solution to me - the real proof, however, hinges on what lies ahead.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

SON-OF-A-PITCH Makes the New York Post!

Well, not really...

SON-OF-A-PITCH Makes the New York Post!

"Marketers Need to Become Cultural Anthropologists"

I can't take credit for it, but don't you just love that quote? It belongs to MySpace's Shawn Gold whose presentation during yesterday's OMMA session covered a handful of ways in which his company's social networks is being used to chat up brands.

Today, the MySpace community numbers 66 million members, 90% of which live in the US. On any given day, says Gold, 15 million users log on, 30 million stream songs, 11.5 million add friends and 15.5 million leave comments.

For those keeping score, that puts them right behind Yahoo! in terms of content consumption.

According to Gold, "there's a real cultural currency of life happening on MySpace." The smartest brands are those who are taking a "sociological approach" to messaging, one that recognizes that "individuality, identification and connecting with others" matter above all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

PC World Publishes List of 101 Fabulous Freebies

Dylan Tweney over at PC World has assembled a rather impressive list of free software utilities, tools and services.

Utilities and System Tools, Online Search and Reference Services, Collaboration and Remote-access Tools, Business and Productivity Tools, Communications Tools and Services, Calendars and Organizers, File Sharing and Storage Services, Security/Antispam Tool and System-stabilizing Utilities and Entertainment Software and Services - "these are the real deal," says Tweney, "no hobbled half-products or demos that time out after 30 days."

Check out his roundups on Web-based E-mail, Blogging Tools, RSS News Readers and Video Sharing Services, too, and while you're playing, think of how we can use these goodies to our advantage.

Cool.

What Is Podcasting Anyway?

Slammed by new business (again), so the best I can do is offer is a quick quote that caught my attention. Today's entry - published this morning by OnlineSpin - appears courtesy of Tom Hespos of Underscore Marketing LLC, who had this to say about podcasting:

"I think that most people who work in the media business look at podcasting simply as a niche distribution of radio and television content. In a sea of emerging media that are decidedly interactive, podcasting appears to be a throwback to the broadcast model. But appearances can be deceiving... it's a piece of a greater whole, and we'd be wise to respect that."

Well said, Tom!

Monday, March 27, 2006

You Know You're Web 2.0 Compliant When...

your site boasts a silly or misspelled name, contains big fonts and oversized input fields, is in "Beta" stage, supports AJAX, features rounded corners, community content, "something"-sharing, bright colors and/or pink, uses Google maps, has a blog or wiki, offers podcasts and/or video/mobile content, is RSS-enabled, includes tags and is protected by a Creative Commons License.

How do you stack up?

Best Search Engine Partnerships Tap Content First

Savvy communicators know that when working with the likes of Google and Yahoo! on partnerships, it's content first, then search.

The latter is the focus of iMedia Connection's second in a series of articles that explores the tools, services and other goodies being offered by the search biggies and how marketers can use them to join the online conversation and reach audiences in unexpected ways.

Nice job, Nanette!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"60 Minutes" Beta Site Live

As promised last week, CBS and Yahoo! have unveiled - well, sort of - their new "6o Minutes" portal:

'60 Minutes' Beta Site Live

The site is expected to undergo a number of revisions before its proper Fall launch.

Newsweek Hep to the "Living Web"

Next-gen companies who are helping to shape the next stage of the Internet by creating tools to empower the masses are the focus of Newsweek's article on The New Wisdom of the Web.

According to authors Steven Levy and Brad Stone, "this rebooting owes everything to the enhanced power and pervasiveness of the Web, which has finally matured to the point where it can fulfill some of the outlandish promises that we heard in the '90s. "

Well said.

The issue hits the stands on April 3rd.

Star Bloggers Spin Their Own Spin

In The Stars Shine, But Not Their Blogs, Tom Zeller, Jr. explores the world of celebrity blogging, concluding that the brightest examples are those that offer "inscrutable, stream-of-consciousness postings," that "capture the spirit of impromptu electronic nakedness."

"They aren't supposed to feel processed and packaged, or appear worried-over, even by the egos from which they spring," says Zeller, whose article was featured in this morning's New York Times. "Even though they sound like something you might buy for $3.99 a pound at Dean & DeLuca, (they) aren't supposed to be sausage."

While Zeller seems to believe that "reasoned, syntactic arguments and short, stately essays" are the domain of op-ed columnists, he does realize that it's the "wry, bleary-eyed, observational ramblings," so often found in blogs that make for "the most dynamic and believable" journals.

As far as celebloggers go, here's one who's "kept it real long before keeping it real was a popular pastime on MySpace" - there are others.

Now where's that sausage?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

MySpace Leads COPD to Rapist, Robbers

Last week, MySpace announced a plan to introduce new screening technology intended to protect their 65 million members.

Today, a friends list found on the site led Boulder police to six men - all between the ages 18 and 20 - who've since been arrested in connection to crimes ranging from sexual assault to felony theft.

The victim - who had never met the suspects before inviting them to a party at her home in February - only knew the men by their first names and the photos they'd posted on MySpace.

Scary, huh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blog-Basher Calls Time Out

Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins believes that "no one should be allowed to write opinion without spending years as a reporter," so forget all this chatter about the "New News Cycle," fellow bloggers - apparently, we're nothing but a bunch of rabble-rousing "opinion-mongers."

Despite her admitted "sentimental attachment" to dailies, Ivins' POV on the sad state of the newspaper industry is interesting, to say the least. That said, she's ready to make the move to the Web provided measures are taken to guarantee the authenticity of any and all information she finds online, and that tools to enable the bundling of said content into consumer-friendly packets are made available.

Ivins doesn't care if The Street can't see beyond dollar signs, or if publishers make additional staff cuts. She's banking on a future where newspapers sustain a democratic society of well-informed citizens who are required to keep their views to themselves.

Wow.

New "60 Minutes" Web Preview Scheduled for Sunday

Video, interactive maps, reporter's notes, blogs, photo galleries, and of course, news, are among the features expected to be found when Yahoo!/CBS' soft-launches their new "60 Minutes" Web site following Sunday's program.

"This is an important step toward establishing "60 Minutes" as the news magazine of the future," said CBS News president Sean McManus, a step that Yahoo! general manager Neil Budde believes will be fueled by "community building interactive tools that can add value to a network's content."

According to Reuters, Yahoo! attracts an estimated 126 million unique visitors per month, while "60 Minutes" lures an average weekly audience of 14 million. For now, the two companies have agreed to share ad revenues when their co-branded portal officially debuts in the Fall, just in time to celebrate the show's thirty-ninth season.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, eh?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Web a Primary News Source for 50,000,000 Says Pew

According to a new study published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 50 million Americans flocked to the Web for news on an average day in 2005.

When asked about their favorites, 46% cited national news organizations like CNN or MSNBC, 39% ID'd portals like Yahoo! or Google, 32% tapped online versions of local papers, 31% chose sites run by TV stations and 20% listed destinations published by national dailies.

I'd love to see stats on the number of consumers who actively participated in the news cycle in 2005... that would be cool!

Blogs Ideally Suited to the Pursuit of Beauty

Great article in The New York Times this morning on the impact that bloggers are having on beauty brands.

According to author Peter Jaret, the plethora of picks presents numerous opportunities for patrons and pundits to share their views and attract like-minded peers - try saying that ten times fast!

"Because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder," says Jaret, "personal opinions - the sina qua non (translation: essential features, more or less) of blogging - matter above all."

Oh, and apparently blogs work for other types of products, goods and services, too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More On Strategic Social Marketing for Nonprofits

A few weeks ago, I chimed in on the topic of social media and how nonprofits might use these new tools to drive awareness, amplify messages, solicit donations, attract volunteers, etc.

Nedra Kline Weinreich of Weinreich Communications has taken the discussion one step further by exploring the social marketing mix and identifying the ways in which it differs from the "Four Ps" typically favored by consumer marketers.

Via MarketingProfs.

PodZinger Enables Keyword Search

PodZinger, named "Favorite Video and Audio Search Engine" by Forbes earlier this month, has tweaked their system to enable searches for keywords featured in the 96,420 audio and now video podcasts they index.

According to PodZinger's Alex Laats, this latest enhancement will allow "consumers to quickly and easily find the exact information they need," while helping to create a "viable advertising business model for video creators and advertisers looking to monetize their content."

PodZinger Enables Keyword Search

Cool.

Blogging Bosses: Today at Noon

As far as corporate blogs go, GM's FastLane - authored (for the most part) by Vice Chairman Bob Lutz - is as good as it gets (disclosure: they're a client). Equally engaging is Richard Edelman's Speak Up, a blog that provides a high-level look at our industry.

At noon today - as part of WOMMA's ongoing teleconference series - Mr. Edelman, along with Hass MS&L's Laurie Mayers and GM's Michael Wiley, will tell us how and why their organizations have embraced blogging and offer their unique perspectives on the challenges they face.

Try to make time for this one, folks - should be an interesting conversation, to say the least.

Update: for WOMMA's post-call recap, click here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Brand Champs Spooked by User-Generated Content

Television, the Web and the "profound impact" technology continues to have on media companies were among the topics discussed at yesterday's Re:think! 2006 kickoff.

On the heels of opening remarks, Randy Falco, President & COO of NBC Universal Television Group, offered his views on the ways in which consumers are not only viewing, but interacting with their idiot boxes. Falco's organization is not only looking forward, but moving to embrace change by putting their money where their mouth is.

Following his keynote, a discussion on everything from portable devices to video-on-demand, product placement, sponsorships and social media - all moderated by Fortune scribe Marc Gunther - ensued. Gathered on the panel were Paul Alexander (Campbell Soup Company's VP Global Advertising), David Cohen (EVP over at sister agency Universal McCann Interactive), Dawn Hudson (Pepsi-Cola North America's President & CEO), Tony Pace (Subway Franchise Association's SVP & CMO) and Giovanni Fabris (VP & International Media Director for McDonald’s).

The debate turned lively when the topic of social networking arose. Despite the presence of an audience over 60 million strong, most marketers - while intrigued - remain skittish about working with sites like MySpace, said the group, not only because they're concerned about "blurring the lines between advertising and content," but because they're worried about how user-generated content will affect their brands.

Are there risks? You betcha, but there are benefits, too. Spend time exploring before jumping to conclusions. While we all seem to agree that blogs, podcasts, VOD, RSS, social networking, etc. aren't going away anytime soon, it's importnat to remember that some of these channels may not be appropriate for our clients. Do the research and remember: while the possibilities and opportunities may appear to be endless, in the end, it's all about their goals, not ours.

For more on the topic, go here and here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

BestBlogsMedia Unveils New Blog Network

Blogging is all about tapping into niches and companies like BestBlogsMedia LLC get that.

They've just announced the beta launch of their BBM Network, a initiative that they hope will help facilitate the creation of communities around special interests like beauty and fashion, cooking and wine, cities, bars and restaurants, health and medicine, job-hunting, law, movies, music and musicians, resorts and vacationing, weddings and honeymoons, sex and parenting, schools, podcasting, the Street and personal finance, real estate and major sports.

On the surface, the BBM Network looks like a good opportunity for blog-wary consumers to test the waters without really having to commit. It will be interesting to see how the starter categories listed above perform before new ones are introduced.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"It's Like Having Your Professor in Your Ear..."

College coverage wasn't all about March Madness last week as USA Today proved in their bit on iPods in the classroom. The article took a closer look at the iTunes U initiatives being tested at Duke, Brown, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

By distributing iPods and, in some cases, allowing students to keep them in exchange for passing grades, these schools are taking the concept of e-learning to a whole new level. And they're not alone: Allegheny, Mansfield, the University of Washington, Buffalo State and Georgia College & State University are among the many institutions actively creating opportunities for students in and out of their halls.

Cool.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Why Shouldn't CEOs Blog?

Shel likes to stir things up and that's why I enjoy reading his articles, book and blog. In yesterday's post on CEOs and blogging, he posed some interesting questions while raising one very good point: if you have to ask "how do I get my CEO to blog?" chances are he/she shouldn't be blogging at all.

Along with business leaders around the globe, the majority of CEO bloggers were pushed into entered the fray with a tremendous amount of zeal in 2005. And the blogs they wrote attracted continue to attract some serious attention. They may not be the best, but like it or not, these folks are the public faces of the companies they run.

As a former product manager, I can see why Shel prefers color from the trenches. CEOs - as the primary spokesmen for their organizations - are expected to be "fluent in corpspeak," a language that doesn't always translate well in the world beyond investors and governing boards. However, can we fairly say that all CEOs are more interested in "company growth and profits" vs. "happy customers"?

As Shel points out, it's okay for a non-participating CEO to "nurture cultures that encourage blogging," as a means of building closer relationships with customers. That said, if a he/she can comfortably "talk the talk" of the blogosphere and wants to get involved, who are we to deny them?

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Yahoo! News Beta Offers Local Headlines

Looks like Yahoo!'s got beta on the brain this week. The portal's popular News section now features callouts to local coverage for each of the fifty states.

Here's how it appears on the main page:

New Yahoo! News Beta Offers Local Headlines

And here's what you'll see after just one click:

New Yahoo! News Beta Offers Local Headlines

For the sake of space, I've opted to share the Headlines Only view.

I wonder how long it'll be before Yahoo! lets their visitors submit news of their own...?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Web Usage Among Teens Up Nearly 33%

Last month, comScore Media Metrix recorded a 32.4% rise in overall Internet usage among teens aged 12 to 17 when compared to this same period just one year ago. As expected, Instant Messenger applications led the pack with Webmail charting a distant second on the list of favorite Web-based activities:

Top 10 Categories Among Teens Age 12 to 17 by Average Minutes Per Visitor February 2006 vs. February 2005
Source: comScore Media Metrix


Compared to last year's numbers, AOL saw the biggest spike in average minutes spent for the month, followed closely by MySpace whose visitors spent an average of 262.5 minutes on that site doing what they do:

Top 10 Properties Among Teens 12 to 17 by Average Minutes Per Visitor February 2006 vs. February 2005
Source: comScore Media Metrix

Increased at-home broadband connectivity (as iMedia Connection reports), fluency in virtual communications and the desire to connect undoubtedly helped open these channels to teens who fearlessly incorporate these new into their digital lives. Those who figure out how to tap into these applications with messages that inspire action will have truly seized the day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Social Media Creative, Destructive Says Murdoch

Chasing a ton of new business today, so I'm afraid that the best I can offer is a favorite quote and try to enter a more substantive post when time allows. Today's pick comes from News Corp.'s head honcho Rupert Murdoch who had this to say about citizen journalism (bear in mind as you read this that his is the company that purchased MySpace for a rather hefty sum last year):

"A new generation of media consumers has risen - demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it. Today one of our great challenges is to understand and seize the opportunities presented by the Web. It is a creative, destructive technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path."

Via Bulldog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yahoo! Tests Another New Homepage

Another week, another new Yahoo! homepage:

Yahoo! Tests Another New Homepage

I don't much care for this latest rev - how 'bout you?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Life on Mars?

Warning: the following post has absolutely nothing to do with PR... that said, how cool is this?

Another List I Didn't Make

Forbes issued their annual list of the world's billionaires last week. Sadly, I didn't make the cut - but here are ten of the top earners who did:
  1. William Gates (source: Microsoft)
  2. Warren Buffett (source: Berkshire Hathaway)
  3. Carlos Slim Helú (source: telecom)
  4. Ingvar Kamprad (source: Ikea)
  5. Lakshmi Mittal (source: steel)
  6. Paul Allen (source: Microsoft, investments)
  7. Bernard Arnault (source: LVMH)
  8. Prince Alwaleed (source: investments)
  9. Kenneth Thomson (source: publishing)
  10. Li Ka-shing (source: diversified)

I guess there's always next year, huh?

Online Broadcasters Tap Niches

Buzz word alert: the trend that has inspired media companies and independent broadcasters to develop custom programming for audiences on the Web has been labeled "slivercasting" by the New York Times.

Discovery Communications' chairman John Hendricks was among the experts quoted in the piece. He believes that "the next wave of media" will be all about unleashing the "power of serving people's special interests."

Where other providers have honed in on hobbies like gaming, photography and cooking, his company will focus on delivering educational services that give students access to teacher-approved Web sites, interactive learning tools, image galleries, video clips and other helpful materials.

Hat-tip to MediaPost for the lead.

In Targeting iPod Users, There's More Than Meets the Ear

Back in December, BIGresearch (blog) polled 15,000 iPod owners as part of their Simultaneous Media Survey. The study, discussed this morning by BIGresearch VP Joe Pilotta, revealed some surprising details on the composition of this unique audience.

According to the report, they are predominantly male (64.4%), between the ages of 18 and 44. 46.1% are married; 30.5% are educated, having completed one to three years of college or more (20.6%). 34.8% are employed professionals with average HHIs of $67,854.

They drive Ford cars (13.8%), shop at Wal-Mart for his (9.7%) and her (7.5%) clothing and get their electronics at Best Buy (36.1%).

They're big into tech and subscribe to broadband, cable and/or satellite TV. They access streaming video on the go and use VOIP services. In their spare time, they enjoy surfing the Web (75.8%), playing games (74.8%), listening to music (74.8%) and watching TV (72.4%).

They love movies (96.7%), police dramas (82%) and documentaries (87%).

Specific to automotive purchase decisions, word-of-mouth is their greatest source of influence (38.3%), followed by TV/broadcast (31.6%) and product-related articles (27.1%).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Why Blogs Will Never Replace PR

Recent behavioral studies have shown that most consumers are unmoved by the content they come across in the blogosphere. That's good news for PR pros who fear that the existence of 30.4 millon blogs not only signals the end of mainstream media, but also poses a serious threat to their roles as practitioners.

In the last five years, with so many of our tried-and-true channels under scrutiny, we've had to rethink the way we do our jobs. We now know that the days of one-way communications are behind us. Bloggers certainly played a important part in impacting that change, but they didn't act alone.

Despite what some experts say, we recognize that social media tools - like blogs - have power, and that's not about to change. But we have power, too - the power to re-examine and redefine the ways through which we generate buzz and inspire action.

And that will never change.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Secret Experiment Outed by the New York Times

Enthusiast Tom Locke's $39 Experiment made the The New York Times today.

Last month, Locke began conducting a rather interesting test: after taking a quick inventory of products and brands used by he, his wife and Rudy Huxtable (that's their dog), he bought 100 .39 stamps, composed 100 requests-for-freebies in a variety of styles and sent them to 100 companies.

According to Locke's records, 17% of his letters have already garnered positive replies in the form of deep-discount coupons or product samples. 3% have been returned as undeliverable. 2% provided "uneventful" returns like brochures or coupons for unrelated goods.

78% have yet to respond.

I wonder if any of that will change now that his secret's out?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Online News Audience Split 50-50

In the quest for news on the Web, men and women are equal partners, says Nielsen//NetRatings, and for the week ending February 19, 2006, these were sources they turned to:
  1. Yahoo! News
  2. MSNBC
  3. CNN
  4. AOL News
  5. Internet Broadcasting
  6. The New York Times
  7. Tribune Newspapers
  8. Gannett Company, Inc.
  9. Google News
  10. USA Today

Hat-tip to the Center for Media Research.

NBC Grabs Hold of Its Own Viral Chain

When NBC's lawyers demanded that YouTube pull their "Lazy Sunday" clip from their library last month, more than a handful of marketers thought they'd made the wrong play.

Defending his company's decision, NBC's vice president of interactive development Stephen Andrade said he was concerned about YouTube building equity on bits of his employer's property. "We would like to make it as easy for people to share as we can," he added, "so we're trying to provide as many tools as we can to do that."

Tools that look eerily similar to the ones found here - hmmm, I guess imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

Andrade also hinted at the immenent introduction of MySpace-like features as his group continues in its efforts to build a mega-site around the NBC brand.

They've even hired a "Senior Community Manager" to promote new offerings.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Editors Finding Time to Blog

Attention newsroom bosses: Dan Miller wants you!

Actually, the Blue Plate Special contributor just wants to know if you're blogging.

He's put together a great starter-list of editors who blog. To date his list includes M.J. Akbar (Asian Age), Chris Cobler (Greeley Tribune), Don Rogers (Vail Daily), Melanie Sill (The News & Observer), John Temple (Rocky Mountain News), Pat Butler (The Union), Ryan Tuck (The Daily Tar Heel), Jack McElroy (Knoxville News Sentinel) and Keven Ann Willey and team (Dallas Morning News).

Like Miller, we know there are more out there - let him know who's missing.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Comcast + Terra = Comcast Latino

A few weeks back, comScore Media Metrix reported that 14.8 million Hispanic-Americans had logged onto the Internet in January of 2006. It's a fact that wasn't taken lightly by broadband giant Comcast who today - in a partnership with Terra.com - launched a new portal to better serve their Spanish-speaking customers.

Comcast Latino

According to their release, Comcast Latino will provide easy access to a wide range of content and multimedia products. In addition, Terra Radio's catalog of music and country-specific news will be offered at no additional charge.

Live Beta Live

As reported yesterday, Microsoft's new Windows Live search engine has been unveiled in beta form. In exploring this morning, I wandered onto their Windows Live Ideas page, a handy guide to the services powering the portal.

Here's a closer look at those new tools in test:

Windows Live Mail (blog)
Why it's cool: this new take on Web mail allows users to preview new messages and move them to folders by simply dragging and dropping. Also available for mobile customers.

Windows Live Expo (blog)
Why it's cool: more than an online community, this global "social marketplace" lets members easily buy, sell, trade and communicate.

Windows OneCare Live (blog)
Why it's cool: related to the Windows Safety Center (blog), this neat little PC maintenance packet provides free virus scanning, firewall protection, performance tune-ups and file backups and more.

Windows Live Messenger (blog)
Why it's cool: this new rev of MSN's Messenger application will be tweaked to enable real-time connectivity in text, video and voice and facilitate document sharing.

Windows Live Local (blog)
Why it's cool: this customizable mapping application provides satellite views of most US cities, a custom push-pin function that allows users to chart multiple locations on a single map, easy-to-follow driving directions, a digital notepad and permalinks for sharing your itinerary with others. Windows Live Search Mobile (blog) delivers many of these same features to users on-the-go.

Windows Live Favorites (blog)
Why it's cool: in addition to providing access to IE or MSN Explorer favorites from anywhere on the Web, this service lets users add and save new ones with a single click even when they're away from their PCs.

Windows Live Custom Domains
Why it's cool: offers up to forty hosted email accounts - each with 250MB of storage - to domain owners for free.

Windows Office Live
Why it's cool: available free of charge while Office Live is in beta, this set of tools - aimed at companies without Web sites - is designed facilitate the creation of a professional online presence, complete with the distinction of a unique domain name/email address.

There's even some great stuff for XBOX fanatics and job hunters (blog).

Man, there just aren't enough hours in the day...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Microsoft's Live.com Beta Live on Wednesday

Powered by Microsoft's Windows Live Search, a new search engine - live.com - is slated to debut in beta tomorrow.

With it, says MSN's senior vice president of information services Yusuf Mehdi, users can expect to find information faster, view it more easily and organize it better.

Live will also allow you to store your favorite searches a la ebay - I can't wait to play!

Microsoft's Live.com Beta Live on Wednesday

Monday, March 06, 2006

NBC Universal Courts - and Scores - iVillage

In a move to increase digital revenue, NBC Universal has just acquired iVillage's network of sites. By combining the portal's active communities with their own properties, NBC hopes to offer more original content to women - 14 million of them, to be exact - across all forms of media.

The $600 million deal is expected to close this summer.

Via AP.

You Give WOM a Bad Name

It's marketers like those employed by Victory Records that do more harm than good when using email and street teams in their grassroots campaigns.

They recently sent out an email encouraging fans of their Hawthorne Heights to tamper with a competing product. Here's a snippet from their note:

"If you were to pick up (a) handful of Ne-Yo CDs, as if you were about to buy them, but then changed your mind and didn't bother to put them back in the same place, that would work."

Newsflash Victory: urging your reps to relocate four or five CDs isn't the way to build street-cred or score sales. Tactics like these go against everything honest practitioners near and far stand for - get with the program!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Survey to Focus on the Economics of Relationships

In 2005, a global study conducted by Strativity Group outed companies who practice self-centric, product-focused and transaction-based business - and their latest Customer Experience Management Global Survey will undoubtedly uncover more.

Last time around, approximately 56% of those they polled felt they deserved loyalty. Hard to believe when nearly 67% admitted to infrequent interactions with their consumers. While over 59% stated that their relationships with customers weren't where they ought to be, 33% did say they had the tools to provide that service and solve problems.

Ah, but what tools?

That would have been the question to ask, then and now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Blogs: Boon or Bane?

The answer to the question posed by Scott Castleman in the title of his recent Bulldog op-ed piece, Do You Really Need a Blog?, isn't an easy one to answer. Like so many of my colleagues, I don't think that blogs - "the communications technology craze du jour," as Castleman puts it - are for everyone. Personally, I believe that monitoring and participating in active conversations - especially when your company, brand or product is involved - are far more important than blogging for the sake of blogging.

According to Castleman, PR and public affairs pros seeking value in the blogosphere can be split into two camps: those who see blogs as "a menace to the craft of shaping, distributing and managing messages," and those who see them as "a salvation that allows legions of amateur reporters and political advocates to force public accountability and transparency."

"Menace" or "salvation"... is it really that simple? In this early stage of their development, I'd like to think that blogs - like most of the new new media tools impacting our industry - fall somewhere in between.

Friday, March 03, 2006

MSN Powers AP's New Online Video Network

From Mediapost:

Launched Wednesday "the Associated Press has a new video service powered by Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Video. The AP's Online Video Network allows member Web sites of the world's oldest news-gathering service to offer free video clips and share ad revenue generated from the service. Initially, the video clips will reach an audience of some 45 million unique visitors."

Next up, a system that enables local affiliates to submit their own video content.

Wow!

TW/AOL Continues to Set Sites on On-demand

Interesting bit from Reuter's regarding Time Warner Inc./AOL's plans to enter the content-on-demand market: the company has just announced the launch of a new video store that will put them in direct competition with the likes of Yahoo!, Google and Apple.

Tentatively slated for a mid-year debut, TW/AOL will offer free and pay-per-download clips - culled from their archives, unnamed major cable/broadcast partners and other sources - to their 19.5 million subscribers.

The shop will "appear gradually, and is a part of a redesign of an existing video on-demand service," said Kevin Conroy, executive vice president of AOL Media Networks. "The whole idea is to give consumers choice."

Ahead of this latest endeavor, AOL will soon unveil In2TV, a portal that will serve 4,800 vintage Warner Brothers programs free of charge.

Best Practices: Newspapers Who Blog

Following up a series of studies that began with an exploration of the State of Blogging at America's 100 Largest Newpapers, a handful of journalism students from my old alma mater have released their list of dailies that are blogging effectively:

  1. The Houston Chronicle
  2. The Washington Post
  3. USA Today
  4. The St. Petersburg Times
  5. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  6. San Antonio Express-News

Under the guidance of Professor Jay Rosen, the team also awarded honorable mention to The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Oklahoman.

In order to qualify, newpapers had to provide a clear explanation of blogging on their Web site, offer easy-to-use navigational schemes, be current, demonstrate quality in writing, thinking and linking, speak in a unique voice, allow readers to comment and participate, display range and originality and above all, show commitment.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Next Net to Replace Web 2.0?

Hat tip to my new partner-in-crime for pointing me in the direction of CNN Money's brilliant article touting the top "Next Net" players.

Beyond Web 2.0, this bold new era will "encompass all digital devices, from PC to cellphone to television," state authors Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland. Based on deep collaboration and a realm of endless mix-and-match, "its defining characteristics include the ability to interact instantaneously with any of the more than 1 billion Web users across the globe."

The trio assembles an impressive - albeit short - list.

Aren't any more of these worthy?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

10,000 Reasons to Link Beyond the A-List

High five to John Scott for reminding us that the blogosphere is so much more than Technorati's Top 100. On his month-old Internet Marketing Blog, John's thrown out a serious challenge to bloggers: he'll pay out a total of $10K to those who post links to new and lesser-known blogs.

"In six months time, I will make a list of all the blogs participating," says Scott, "and I’ll let the readers here vote and choose a winner."

Grand prize is $3,000. 70 runners-up will receive $100 worth of schwag, cash or gift certificates.

You in?

John Scott's $10,000 Blog Challenge