What Facebook’s doing about all the money it’s not making

 

Facebook recently broke the 150 million user mark but has been mainly focussed on growing in size rather than generating revenue
Though the popular social media site has tried various ways to generate revenue, they haven’t landed on a monster revenue gainer as Google did with paid search. Rather, Facebook have mainly dabbled with banner displays which traditionally yield appalling CTRs
Facebook have begun overcoming their CTR issue by using engagement ads which leverage user behavior over previous poor-performance banner ads. But this is still a far cry from Facebook’s potential.   
They now plan on leveraging their vast number of users in order to allow companies real-time, granular polling. 
Recently at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland Facebook launched it’s polls feature which allows companies to poll users real time. Targeting users based on their demographics and behavior, the polls are designed to gain instant feedback from a specific segment on product development, campaigns and brand sentiment etc etc. 

If you ask me this is a great move for Facebook. Considering most company’s spend on marketing will be less over the next couple of years due to the global economic crisis and the demand for accountability will be larger, companies will demand this insight every time they need to decide… well, anything. 

The main issue will be ensuring privacy is managed correctly by Facebook. One way to do this would be to ensure users opt into the program.  

The new product reminds me of some of the existing “cash for you time” research and seeding services that currently exist such as pureprofile. Offering an incentive to people would certainly ensure a greater acceptance from Facebook’s masses. Given their increasing rise in popularity virtual gifts may be the perfect way for Facebook to ensure incentives without having to forgo any of their revenue.  

45 cloudware tools to save business time & money

Save time, increase capacity to do work and ultimately save money… why wouldn’t people jump at the opportunity? I think in most instances the problem lies in not being aware of the tools or their capabilities.
No doubt many of you are utilising the cloudware listed below, but it amazes me how many companies haven’t adapted these powerful and often free tools.
One of my professional NY resolutions is to educate more people about the below to help them in their day-to-day business… let’s spread the cloudware word!
Office
Google docs create/share word/ppoin/excel documents
Open office office suite
Flow chart viseo alternative
Widgenie create interactive charts 
Etherpad edit word document in real time
Textflow edit word document in real time
Zoho full office suite 
Zotero bibliography
Easybib bibliography
Memiary diary
Whizle create/share presentations
280 Slides create/share presentations
Preezo create/share presentations
Prezentit create/share presentations
Empressr create/share presentations
Business/ project management
Plan HQ business plan implementation
Enleiten task/project management
Projectthingy task/project management
Basecamp task/project management
37 Signals task/project management
Eproject task/project management
Joint Contract task/project management
Liquid Planner task/project management
Timetoast interactive timelines
Financial managment
File storage/sharing
Photshop alternatives
Development
Userfly usability reporting
Snappages easy site development
Rackspace hosting
Zunavision embed images into video

Samsung’s touchscreen vending machine

A vending machine with added interactivity was released at the latest CES conference thanks to a joint venture between Coke & Samsung. 

Though the idea isn’t breath-takingly advanced, nor is the technology, the very existence of the development points to some growing trends within digital communications.

Added interactivity

Fairfax predicted that 2009 would be the year of the touch screen – with the rapid uptake of the iPhone multitouch hardware and growing number of in-store touch screen kiosks, digital interactions between shoppers and real life products is beginning to build momentum quickly.

Why is the added interactivity important? For consumers – more relevant information when they need it, for communicators – qualified consumers to focus their messaging. As more and more real-world objects gain digital identities, they’ll be able to be found/indexed/reviewed as with current virtual representations of the entities, the difference will be the added dimensions of space, location and time – having the real object in front of you where you are when you want it. Imagine typing “I’m thirsty” into a mobile location based social networking site like Shizzow & having the Coke/Samsung vending machine introducing itself, telling you it’s only a block away and that it will give you 20% off on of a Mother drink if you make it there in the next 20 minutes…

Collaboration

It’s also great to see collaboration between an FMCG and brown good company, a sign of the growing openness of data and business. Pioneers like Google & Ask have shown big-business that collaboration is extremely important and will become increasingly essential to company success. Look to see more companies become bed-fellows, creating win-win solutions leading to innovative outcomes – such as the Coke/Samsung vending machine.

The new creative frontier… DATA???

 

Using data in unique ways can garnish incredible communications.  Below are three examples of the newest creative art form… data management (who would have thought).

Nikon Connect 

Creative brief: show people how Nikon can connect them. Idea: let people create a light painting that links to other people’s paintings around the world. Result: beautiful, highly engaging and gets the message across. My only beef is that there’s a corny “Your voice and Nikon” message at the end of the light painting process. I guess it’s inevideble for any client work considering the branding on the site is subtle overall, the agency has done a great job in keeping site usability.

 

Sprint 3G network

Possibly the biggest data-kick-to-the-face I’ve ever seen. I’d be interested where Sprint is getting all their data feeds from and the validity of the data, but either way there’s hours of fun interacting with this crazy widget.

 

We feel fine

The only example that hasn’t been funded by a brand. A completely unique tool that collects and displays “emotions” in amazing ways. The site aggregates any sentence published on a blog (scanning the web every 2-3 mins) that contains the words, “I feel” or“I am feeling”.  To find out more see the creator’s TED talk here.

Conclusion

 The key to all of the above pieces of work is that the end result is about how the user interacts with the data. The creative therefore becomes purely a platform for users to interact with interesting data however they chose. 

 

 

Another step towards semantic for Google

Google’s timeline tool, previously in experimental beta is now appearing in search queries.

The timeline tool ads further context to search queries allowing people to dig through results with more ease.

The story behind the fashion

track-and-trace1 Here’s a cool new idea that has the potential to create value on a few levels. MADE-BY, an Amsterdam company has launched a tool called Trace&Trace the follows where your garmet was made and by whom. This forces manufacturers to tell the truth with all their manufacturing and opens up some interesting potential for branding.

Keep up with the cloudware phenom in 2009

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The netbook. A new phenomena to accommodate our fast-paced, cloudware lifestyle. Easy to carry, Wi-Fi enabled and cheap these little buddies are perfect for accessing the net on the go. With continual innovation and penetration of cloudware we’ll see more and more tech manufacturers developing these handy tools which are already outselling the iPhone

Typically these have ranged from $300-$500 and are look like they’ve come out of a cereal packet, however with Apple set to launch their version  and Fujitsu’s newly launched LifeBook we’re already starting to get sleeker models on the market.

Bring it on. With each passing day I use less of my desktop and more cloudware. Previously the netbooks available have always struck me as shonky, however the Fujitsu has given me hope, but I’ll always hold out for Apple.