Friday, June 30, 2006

MTV Seeks Broader Digital Reach Through Expanded iTunes Partnership

MTV Networks is adding to the range of programming offered through Apple's iTunes.

US audiences will soon be able to download Spike TV's Blade: The Series, TV Land's Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg and MTV's Viva La Bam for $1.99 per episode.

Hat-tip: vnunet.com.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

AOL Launches Podcast Search Beta

After months of "any day now," AOL has finally taken the wraps off of their Podcast Search tool, releasing it in beta form this afternoon.

With it, users can search the Web for podcasts by topic or by keywords within the files themselves.

AOL Launches Podcast Search Beta

Cool.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NBC and YouTube Bury the Hatchet

Six months after threatening legal action against YouTube, writes Erik Sass in today's installment of MediaDailyNews, NBC has "publicly reversed course," signing a deal that makes them the portal's first major network partner.

As part of the agreement, NBC will create a branded channel to promote properties like Saturday Night Live, The Office and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. New clips will be added weekly as will contests inviting You-sers to submit their own 20-second spots and compete for best in show.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

AOL Sports + Fusion Entertainment = Lat34.com

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to preview Lat34.com, an AOL Sports-sponsored portal dedicated to skate, BMX and FMX.

According to Caroline McCarthy over at News.com, the beta's gone public and plans to "expand over the summer to include on-demand video and photo content about action sports culture from stunts to fashion," are well under way. Eventually, she writes, "Lat34 will feature a searchable database of athlete biographies, Web links and events, plus social-networking functions such as blogs, message boards, meet-up groups and the AOL Instant Messenger client."

AOL Sports + Fusion Entertainment = Lat34.com

Mountain Dew, Panasonic and Jeep are among the advertisers featured in the latest rev.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Is the Writing on the Wall for MySpace?

Site traffic doesn't always add up to business value, says Henry Blodget - at least not in the case of MySpace.

According to Blodget, the Web's largest social network is still "so irrelevant to the financial performance of the larger entity - News Corp. - that it doesn't even merit describing."

Today, MySpace and its 80 million registered users remain a "blip on the balance sheet," despite netting approximately $100 million in revenue last quarter.

Sure they've gotten tons of attention, but success "hasn't happened yet," says Blodget. "And if it doesn't in the next six months, MySpace will fall the way of its predecessors."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Small Biz Blog Network Growing

John Jantsch has added fourteen new blogs to his Duct Tape Marketing network, bringing the grand total up to twenty-two.

"Some of the blogs on the channel are authored by well known small business folks," explained Jantsch on Friday, "some are written by people you may not be familiar with, but whom I have watched and felt had much to say."

Followed is his new and improved roster:

Smart.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Italian Blogger Found Guilty in Defamation Case

Following complaints of defamation by four people - two of them journalists - blogger Robert Mancini has been ordered to pay $16,900 in fines and damages by an Italian court.

Launched in 2005 as a means to uncover government corruption in the Valle d'Aosta region of northern Italy, Mancini is seemingly "being punished for his bad language and not because he posted false information," said press watchdog Reporters Without Borders in an official statement dated June 20. And that, they added, "is unacceptable."

The author is also being held responsible for comments posted by his readers, "a decision which goes against European legal jurisprudence."

Seems to go against the open nature of the blogosphere, too, no?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Political Blog Off Limits to 34,000 KY State Employees

Censorship is alive and well, and not just in countries where repressive regimes rule.

Government officials in KY have decided to block state worker access to Mark Nickolas' BluegrassReport.org for what the author says are concerns over his recent criticism of Governor Ernie Fletcher and the political nature of his content.

Buckling under pressure from a handful of online media outlets, Fletcher's camp "offered a phony pretext that they were banning all blogs and not targeting for content," writes Nickolas in today's post. "Nevermind that blogs by media reporters were not banned and sites like Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh and the Republican National Committee's blog are still accessible."

Political bloggers - as you'd expect - are all over this.

Hat-tip: AP.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Can I Get a WOMBAT? West Side!

Totally jet-lagged (and more than a little dain bramaged) today, but thought I'd share this neat little souvenir from yesterday's closing WOMBAT 2 session:

Can I Get a WOMBAT? West Side!

From left to right: Brandimensions' stunner Maxine Friedman, yours truly, my partner in ethical crime, David Binkowski and the one and only shocker, Robert Scoble.

Behind the lens? The inimitable Jeremy Pepper.

Seriously, how not cool are you feeling right about now?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

15 Golden Rules for Blogging

Aside from this morning's keynote address - presented by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel - one of the highlights from today's WOMMA sessions was a lively how-to discussion that brought Pinny Gniwisch, VP of marketing for Ice.com and Mark Schiller, CEO of Electric Artists, together to discuss blogging in corporate America. Moderated by Debbie Weil, both agreed that unlocking content was the key to the best corporate blogs.

Followed are fifteen golden rules for corporate blogging as offered by Schiller:
  1. Recognize that every client has a different set of business objectives - are you blogging to reach a specific niche or blogging to increase customer loyalty and boost sales?
  2. Don't get hung up on results - document your process give your audience a peek behind the curtain of your company.
  3. Don't force your employees to blog - passion can't be faked.
  4. "Copywriter" does not equal "blogger" - the worst blogs are those that over-written.
  5. Offer advice and recommendations to your readers - you are the expert after all.
  6. Always strive to be best in class.
  7. Avoid stealth blogs; character blogs are bad, too.
  8. Share your plans with your lawyers and PR team - get them involved early.
  9. Don't let your branding or advertising compete with your content.
  10. Let your bloggers publish early - give them the scoop.
  11. Update frequently - every day if possible.
  12. Start conversations that encourage your readers to participate and come back for more.
  13. Keep your content eclectic.
  14. Make sure that your bloggers are prepared to respond to legal issues should they arise.
  15. Be benevolent.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Always Do the Right Thing

The need for ethics took center stage at WOMMA's Basic Training 2 session in San Francisco this morning. Speaking before an audience of brand managers, advertising and PR agents, ringleader (and WOMMA CEO) Andy Sernovitz announced what he called "the fight for good," a call-out to those who continue to execute shady campaigns that make word-of-mouth tactics a tougher sell for the rest of us.

Adding to the discussion, Gary Stein, Director of Strategy for AMMO Marketing offered the following Ten Commandments for practitioners striving to stay the course:

  1. Know thyself.
  2. Sweateth the small stuff.
  3. Know your story.
  4. "Influencers" are not always the "cool kids."
  5. All your base belongs to word of mouth.
  6. Make (sure) it happens(s).
  7. Assign it.
  8. Measure it.
  9. Drip with ethics.
  10. Share!

More when time permits...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wikipedia Bests CNN and Yahoo! in Search for News

"At its core," says Katie Hafner of The New York Times, "Wikipedia is not just a reference work but also an online community that has built itself a bureaucracy of sorts."

It also happens to be the Web's third-most-popular news and information source according to a recent Nielsen//NetRatings report.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cymphony Set to Explore New Communication Dynamic

Cymphony's corporate blog has apparently undergone something of a facelift, morphing to become the Influence 2.0 blog.

Because "the worlds of marketing, public relations, customer service and all market-facing functions know that the old mass media/marketing models are broken and major change is afoot," wrote company Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Jim Nail, Cymphony has decided to "kick-off an industry-wide dialog around this idea to expand it, clarify it and capture the best thinking about how to respond."

They've even launched an eBook and a wiki that will feature contributions from Nail, his co-worker Brian Cavoli and Todd Defren of Shift Communications and The Good Pitch Blog fame.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Brand Champs, While Tempted, Still Afraid of User-Generated Content

The point that James Cherfkoff makes in his most recent post - that not all user-generated content is "rubbish" - is one that's gotten quite a bit of play on this side of the pond, particularly around my offices.

Here's an anecdote - respectfully borrowed from James' blog - that calls into question the perceived advantage that professional content creators think they have over the average Joe or Jane. I think it's worth sharing:

"It's the equivalent of going into a pub and demanding that everyone put down their beers, stop their claptrap (aka fun) and listen only to the professional people with special skills at talking. It completely misses the point of massive, online, social interaction - the real 2.0 phenomenon. I suspect this arguement (sic) is because people with special skills at creating content feel threatened by what they see as the riff-raff trying to get in on their act. It also often seems to be a view held by people who don't participate online. The reality is that user-generated content on the 2.0 scale is just new. And different. And nothing to do with Steven Spielberg."

I think many of us would agree that any form of expression that allows - and in some cases, invites - the public to manipulate the messages we all hold so dear makes us (not to mention our clients!) more than a little uncomfortable. But can we truly believe that we can control our audiences and prevent them from retelling our stories in whatever manner they see fit? Granted, their efforts may fall short of perfection on occassion - especially to those who have grown attached to the value of their well-calibrated brand - but shouldn't they still get props for trying?

Friday, June 16, 2006

ebay Introduces New Auction Tools

The world's largest online marketplace - ebay - has added two social media tools that will allow merchants to share their experiences. The first - a blog - has been described as "another avenue for providing additional information about products over and above sales information on auction pages," by Robin Arnfield of NewsFactor Network.

Here's a closer look:

ebay Introduces New Auction Tools

The second - a wiki - is intended to give "users the ability to learn about specific topics of interest, contribute their expertise for new members, and share insights and opinions."

ebay Introduces New Auction Tools

Both - says Nielsen//NetRatings senior analyst Heather Dougherty - "make a lot of sense."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gates to Give Up Position as Microsoft Chairman

Truth has once again emerged from the Microsoft rumor mill as Bill Gates has announced his decision to abandon his post as company Chair in favor of the philanthropic endeavors pursued by his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"This was a hard decision for me," said Gates, whose full transition is expected to take up to two years. According to AP, Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the role of Chief Software Architect and begin working with Gates to oversee all issues related to technical software design.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AOL Releases AIM Pro Beta

When AOL announced plans to release a Professional Edition of their popular AIM application back in February, it was to meet the need of the growing number of consumers who rely on the tool to communicate with their colleagues. According to their own statistics, 135 million individuals use Instant Messenger at work. The company expects that number to reach about 477 million by 2009.

Today, AOL released the latest build of AIM Pro. It's ad-free and far from perfect, but with it users can easily collaborate and share presentations, browse the Web with co-workers and allow desktop access. The built-in calendar function can be used to organize WebEx meetings while the voice conference feature lets up to ten participants get together, speak and view video. It's said to be more secure and designed to play nice with Microsoft's Outlook, too.

Among the features yet to come, anti-virus file scanning, the ability to audit/log chat sessions and integration with the AIM's Phoneline Internet telephony service.