Archive for February, 2010


Silicon Valley Sightings: Lighter Than Air on a Zeppelin Tour

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Friday afternoon commute

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this series “Silicon Valley Sightings” as well, quite frankly, I’ve been doing a lot of travel in my role as an analyst.  Yet, despite the lull in posting this series (I’m sure local food blogger Brian Stephens will be happy) I was inspired to post, as of yesterday.

Thanks to bud Kenny Lauer, who was able to get us two tickets, on Airship Ventures, the only zeppelin in the United States.  We were able to partake in the ‘taster’ tour, a 30 minute effortless and quient jaunt over Silicon Valley.   Boarding this ribbed airship (blimps have no internal skeleton), we had to stagger our boarding, so the ship would be properly balanced.  There were already 12 passengers, and 2 crew on board, so we had board two at a time, then two would leave –so the proper weight was kept.

Departing from Moffett Field, I was live tweeting photos, since we were only 1000 feet up, the cell reception worked well.  People responded to me on Twitter and said they saw me like, Tatayana, Cynthia, Waili on Facebook, and even NASA Ames responded to us on Twitter!  In the below pictures, you’ll see overhead views of Google (notice the solar panels), a circular neighborhood in Sunnyvale, Stanford, Facebook, HP, and Portola Valley (look for the pirate ship).


Googleplex: Notice all the solar panels The Loo with a ViewIMG_1370 Kenny is daring C130 Pirate Ship in backyard
These propellers are directional Pilot Moffett Stanford Facebook and HP In the gondola cabin: 12 passengers, and 2 crew, plus bathroom and viewing bench


(Silicon Valley Sightings is an ongoing PhotoBlog that captures the intersection of Tech Culture in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area, check out the archives. All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)

FirstTake: Facebook PayPal Deal Spurs International Ad Sales

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Web Strategy Summary
Facebook to now offer Paypal as an additional way to buy advertisements and virtual currency for social games (press release).   This paves a way for Facebook to reach global advertisers who prefer PayPal vs traditional credit cards. Although this partnership is limited in parameters to those two specific use cases of ads and virtual currency, this is yet another testing ground for developing Facebook into an eCommerce platform with over 400 million global users.

Update: Facebook contacted me after this post went up, and made it clear, this is announcement is not intended towards eCommerce, and is really just limited to the two use cases. While I understand and agree with the scope of today’s announcement, as brands interject more money into Facebook via advertisements, and on the flip side, users are more comfortable purchasing goods (albeit virtual) this continues to be an opportunity for brands and their members to get comfortable with monetary exchanges. As such, I’ve removed from the title of this post “Testing ground for eCommerce”, although the rest of the post stands.

Background
Facebook has been testing the ability for users to purchase virtual Facebook credits for over a year, allowing users to send virtual goods to each other, as well as purchase additional features in third party social games. Over a dozen of these third party games already exist extending created by playfish, Zynga, CrowdStar, and others.

Industry Impacts:

  • Increased revenues for Facebook –and PayPal. For Facebook, and their new partner PayPal, this deal makes sense, as they can continue to grow scalable, low-touch revenues streams by cultivating international advertising dollars, where there is clear global growth. This spurs international brands to continue to deploy Facebook ads, likely in the SMB space as international companies that are enterprise class would delegate ad buying to their digital agency. Although Facebook touts their advertising program, no official case studies or data has been released by them or third party researchers to my knowledge.
  • Additional channels to monetize heavy game players. For the game heavy , perhaps the 43 year old middle age women with disposable incomes, this gives them new opportunities to play games with increased functionality.
  • More use cases for game creators to test virtual goods, with brand sponsors. Game creators should allow for virtual items to be introduced into their games, and be sure to have a business development opportunity for large brands to participate –and offer branded virtual items in context of a social game.

The big opportunity? Testing ground for ecommerce within Facebook.
Facebook should roll this out to the application developer community to allow ecommerce functionality to the platform, starting with an application from eBay, the owner of PayPal.  Brands should carefully watch how these early test by Facebook occur –and expect by end of year that Facebook will start to experiment with allowing ecommerce happen directly on Facebook Fan Pages. This is, of course, extremely exciting –but could be very terrifying to normal users.

Additional Industry Resources

Scorecard: Does Your Agency Fondle The Hammer?

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Agency Partners Are Critical To The Success Of A Brand
Your strategic agency partners are key to your success.  They bring with them domain expertise, years of experience deploying, and a fresh injection of thinking that most brands can’t foster internally.  As a result, relying on these agile partners outside of corporate walls if often key to responding to new technologies.  Yet, as the technology landscape changes at an even faster pace than ever before, brands must have criteria in selecting the right agencies.

Yet, Beware of Those That Fondle The Hammer
Caution. Agency partners that are focused on technologies –not business needs, can destroy your brand. Although new technologies are emerging at an ever-increasing speed, creating a strategy based on tools will leave you in a churn of change, without anyway to escape.  Agency partners that jump from one shiny tool to the next (hammer fondlers) risk poor implementation, not tying efforts to business goals and worst of all confusing your customers as you over-deploy.

Don’t Let Your Brand Fumble In The Tool Chest — Focus On Building Your House
Stop,  breathe, think.  Business hasn’t changed, just the mediums in which consumers are now using.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because new channels have emerged.  Instead, focus on your business objectives and how they’ll meet your consumers existing behaviors, rather than yet another “Twitter strategy”.   Rather than developing a strategy based on the latest tool –focus on the end goal of building a place for your customers to come interact with each other, and your brand.  Look for agency partners that focus on customer behaviors, and business goals as the over-arching goal.

Put Them Accountable:  Score Your Agency Partners Now
Use this review scorecard to see how your agency partners stack up now.  Also use this as key criteria in finding new agency partners that focus on emerging technologies.  Print it out, score them, and discuss plans to improve –be wary of those that aren’t ready to adapt.

Scorecard: Does Your Agency Fondle Their Hammer?

Criteria: Why It’s Important Scoring Criteria Points
Strategy: Agencies are trusted partners in defining the direction a brand will head.  Your trust in their experience to understand customers, your needs, and technologies is key.  They must be experts at balancing all three spheres of the Web Strategy Spheres. 5) In addition to the below, develops a strategy based on your customers social behaviors see socialgraphics.

3) Develops a strategy based on your business objectives first.

1) Develops a strategy based on whichever technology emerges.  “You need a blog strategy” vs “You need a two-way communications strategy”.

0) Has no strategy.

Vision & Roadmap. Agencies often come in two flavors: able to see long term based on experience, or unexperienced with only short term tactics.   Your agency should have a track record in adopting new mediums –without throwing strategy out the window.  Look for agencies that can see the long term –in the midst of many fast moving technologies. 5) In addition to number 3 be;pw, allows for flexibility as new tactics must emerge.

3) Long term Vision: Has an over-arching strategy that spans quarters, if not years –not weeks, based upon customer goals.

1) Reactive: Have a different set of suggestions and recommendations based on whatever new technology appears.  Last month, it was a Twitter strategy, this month it’s a Gowalla strategy.

0) Wait for you to tell them what to do.

Partnerships: An Agency’s ecosystems is critical to their ability to implement –especially in a fast moving environment.  Look for agency partners that can work well within your existing ecosystem of partners and technical teams, as well as bring their own set of strategic alliances to the table.  The trick is, ensure your business goals are considered first –not the tools they have on hand. 5) Have a broad set of technology partners.

3) Only have a few technology partners, and coincidently are the same recommendations they present.

1) Has pre-built technologies –but not an agnostic mindset, recommends their technology over and over.

0) Has no alliances or ability to implement recommendations

Proposals: What an agency brings to the table is going to help you determine how strategic your partner is.  Look for agencies that are creative, can offer suggestions that haven’t been done before, or can defend why repeating an existing effort makes sense.  Be sure to look for a pattern of proposals that first meet your customer needs and business needs –not just what they’ve done in the past. 5) When appropriate, willing to recommend other agencies to work with as that’s best for the client.

3) Provides recommendations that are agnostic of their existing tools or experiences.

1) Come to the table with case examples they’ve used for other clients –recommending you do the same.

0)Have no recommendations at all.

Results: The ultimate measurement is the final ROI they provide to their clients.  The proof lies within here.  Don’t put success in fate’s hand, look for agency partners that set goals and benchmarks to achieve, and track their success over time. 5) Exceeds expectations of a positive ROI based on customer and business objectives.

3) Has shown success, but isn’t quite able to justify how it happened –they got lucky.

1) Was not able to demonstrate success –a weak set of customer engagements for a short period of time.

0) Was unable to demonstrate any capabilities at all.

Total: Tally up their score

Scoring and Rating Your Agency Partners
Now that you have scored your agency partners, tally up the sum, then find out where they fall in the following ratings and rankings:

  • 21-25 points: A strategic partner that has your brands best interest in mind and that of your customers.
  • 16-20 points: A strategic partner that has your best interest in mind, but may be cutting corners when it comes to making recommendations for the long term, or truly understanding your customers.
  • 11-15 points: Questionable partnership.  This agency may have their own interests in mind before yours, as a result are certainly cutting corners by making recommendations of recycles campaigns, not thinking long term, or not investing enough resources in thinking long term.
  • 0-10 points:  Doh! Your agency fondles the hammer.  You are at risk. Demand improvements or find someone that can meet your business needs now.

Summary:  Rather than Fondle the Hammer –Develop a Customer Strategy
This scorecard, while will vary from industry to industry is a guideline for your success, having the right agency partners are key to you standing out in front of your customers –or just spinning your resources to no strategic end.  Brands should use this scorecard in their discussions with account teams at their agency, and executive and account teams should hold themselves accountable to their own clients.  With customers moving even faster to mobile, augmented reality, and location based social networks the rate of change is happening even faster. As a result, agencies must be strategic in their approach, or risk damaging the brand of their clients –or worse yet, losing the account all together.

It would be great to hear from brands (buyer) and agency partners on how well they think they would score and why. Looking forward to the discussion.

Download the Scorecard

Above: Roderick Chow, a designer himself, (Twitter) has created this downloadable version of the scorecard, thanks for being a community advocate.

Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)

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Lack Of Signal In A Sea of Noise
There’s an incredible amount of media and blogger noise about social networks, yet most focus on “killer app” hype without an objective point of view.   My career mission?  To cut out the hype and help companies make sense of what to do. For those fraught with information overload, this definitive matrix distills what matters.

Situation:  New Contender Shakes Up Industry
Google has entered the social networking play with “Buzz”, and by the look of it, this time it’s for real.  There’s a lot of market confusion on how they could stack up, so here’s my take.  Let’s cut the noise and get to the heart of it with a comparison matrix based upon my insights talking to these companies in formal briefings, observations, as a user, my former research and dealing with the brands trying to reach them.

Executive Summary:  Brands Must Stay Focused On Where Customers Already Are
Google’s entrance causes media havoc but web strategists should stay focused.  Find out where customers already are through developing data around consumer behavior called socialgraphics.  Facebook continues to demonstrate a sophisticated marketplace for consumers and brands to mix about, however don’t discount MySpace’s active consumer base –but only if your customers are already there.  Continue to monitor Twitter and respond if customers are tweeting –but they’ve yet to indicate sophistication to help marketers, instead rely on third party tools and agencies to respond.  The feature set of newly spawned Google Buzz isn’t important, what matters is their ability to aggregate social content which will impact search strategy for businesses trying to reach consumers, read my first take analysis.

This scorecard has a limited shelf life, so I’ll likely create a new scorecard after future announcements from these players.

Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)

Google Buzz Facebook MySpace Twitter
One-Liner A dark horse that has big backing and access to existing platforms. A mainstay platform that needs to grow out of its shell. The MTV of this generation is at risk during an ugly transformation. Has opportunity to become utility-like infrastructure, but not a destination.
Vitals (see more stats) Estimated to sit on a user based of over 100mm active gmail users, they have access to the most popular webpage in the world, google.com.  Has access to mainstream users on Google.com and advanced email users on Gmail. Boasting over 400mm users in just a few short years, they’ve saturated Gen Y in US, and show global expansion at record rates. Recently reported at 57mm US unique users most of which are heavily engaged with site.  Has saturation of coveted youth, working class and small businesses within US. Although difficult to track, estimates indicate 75mm active users, but doubts are emerging about reduced rate of growth.  Usage by tech savvy, media, and celebs.
Strengths A large talent pool of engineers to pull from, Buzz stands on top of existing Gmail, mobile devices, and dominant search portal.  As Buzz grows, they can integrate with all Google apps –and aggregate the entire internet. Rapid US and international growth over last few years bodes well as quickly evolved feature set of platform and and FB Connect gain traction.  Attracts top talent from Google –which are quickly defecting. Big backing by a media giant, a super engaged audience, and rich history of reaching media starved young consumers. Has clinched adoption over media elite, celebrities, and tech influencers. Incredible media buzz, and easy-to-use features.
Weaknesses Late to the party, Google has had a series of social networking misfires from Wave, Dodgeball, Orkut their culture shows signs of becoming corporate –like Microsoft. Struggles with the conundrum of having promised users a ‘closed’ experience where to be successful requires them to be ‘open’. Historically poor track record in meeting privacy expectations of customers, and overall complex interface. Complacent: they really let themselves go. In the eyes of the tech world, they are becoming irrelevant or even worse, a niched media play –not even a lifestyle network.  This leaderless ship without a captain is undergoing radical internal turmoil and innovation has stalled. Although features are dead simple, they are now a commodity –status update features are ubiquitous. Mainstream users confused by how to get started. Overhyped, the infrastructure has shown strain.  Brands generally confused on how to interact.
Opportunity The more information users share, tag, or create, the more data is created on Google’s platform to organize, giving them opportunity to monetize. By integrating Facebook Connect everywhere, the service becomes ubiquitous, and therefore the default identity and default address book for consumer behavior. A few hours ago, the CEO Van Natta was let go. Now a new chief can step up, and lead the recently formed executive team, fostering innovation and solidarity. Must develop more features to increase the overall value of this utility of the this simple status messaging tool.
Threats Mainstay email companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL have already shown social features ‘bolted’ onto their email systems, and could pose threat, although success hasn’t been proven by any. Secondly, Facebook has made notions to develop an email web client “Project Titan” that will threaten tech savvy users competing for Gmail’s attention. Facebook is a conundrum as they must make experience open –yet this provides Google the opportunity to monetize as an intermediary. Social networks come and go, before MySpace was Friendster, they run the risk of becoming complacent, losing talent to Twitter and failing to innovate over the next few years. Self-implosion from internal instability causes stalls, forcing media brands to develop their own social networking on their own sites, rendering MySpace a duplicate. Worse yet? Cool kids jump ship, and establish a colony elsewhere, leaving MySpace a wasteland of clueless advertisers. Overhype from media leaves Twitter at risk for burn-out-syndrome like a Hollywood child star turned skid row.  Secondly, the more successful they are, the more strain it put on the already questionable infrastructure.
Marketing Platform Although not fully developed, expect advertising options to appear for brands who want to promote relevant ads wherever Buzz is located, especially on SERP pages Confusing and overly complicated, there are too many marketing options perplexing brands.  It’s not clear if brands should advertise, interact in pages, create widgets or do a combination of all. Strong and straight forward. Established team has cut deals with many media companies and has legacy culture of understanding media. Nascent. Although promises have been made for branded experiences, analytics, and other premium features, for most marketers it’s being treated like a chat room –not a marketing platform.
Future State Buzz will aggregate the voices of their users –and those of other social networks, aggregate and serve up monetization options. A communications platform for consumers and brands.  Expect Facebook experience to be in many public experiences and mobile devices. There are two paths: Integrate MySpace into TV and mobile devices or fade into pit of irrelevance like Friendster. Like gas, water, or power, Twitter is likely to fade into the background and become a utility that’s integrated into everything –someday, even your fridge will Tweet.
What They Don’t Want You To Know The collective already owns you –you just don’t know it yet. They’re trying so hard to shift from closed to open, and like a nasty divorce, it’s tearing them apart from users. Like an internal disease, the insiders are hurting, morale sunk, teams in disarray, yet they don’t want the public to know. Not sure what they want to be when they grow up.
What They Should Do Demonstrate success with Buzz, then quickly integrate into other tools like Search and Chrome. Kill off the confusing Wave, and consolidate teams and efforts.  Aggregate public content from Twitter and Facebook, intermediate them and monetize their own content. Get open now. Build a browser to quickly go transcend the web. Reward users to share more information in public like restaurant or media reviews in exchange for other values. Double down efforts on Project Titan email feature. Quickly establish a chain of command and execute based upon a single vision. Have regular talent turnover to avoid complacency. Develop a white label product that can compete with Cisco EOS, Kyte, Pluck, or Kickapps (Altimeter client). Develop a vision to become the dominant protocol over SMS, where teens and international cultures are already heavily texting. Continue to build out platform for developers to build on top of, becoming a data play, like a utility.

Everyone has a morning ritual, for me, I invest up to two hours reading, thinking, and blogging each morning. I hope this helps you cut through the noise –if it was helpful, please pass it on, email to colleagues, tweet it, and blog about it.

Forbes: Super Bowl, A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi

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Good For BusinessLeft: Pepsi launched a bold social marketing play, find out what went well –and what opportunities were missed.

Greetings, fellow strategists, In my latest column for the Forbes CMO Network (you can read all my Forbes pieces) I analyzed Pepsi’s big push into social. Also, you should see my detailed field notes, (I did my research before, during, and after the game, thanks to Trendrr folks) to measure any specific changes, before coming up with my findings. I did contact Pepsi pre article to get comments, although they sent me an email after the Forbes piece was up, see bottom response.


Super Bowl: A Missed Opportunity For Pepsi

Cola maker should promote its social cause on TV.

PepsiCo ditched the Super Bowl this year to make a major social media play. Instead of spending money for ad time on the Super Bowl, it’s relying primarily on digital initiatives to spread the word about its Internet-based Refresh Project contest and charity campaign.

The cause-marketing effort is a good one. Word is spreading through traditional media, online networks, social media and celebrity chatter. But I believe Pepsi made a big mistake in giving up its long-held Super Bowl ad real estate. A more integrated media approach–one that included the Super Bowl–would be a savvy play for Pepsi. And such integration is something top marketing executives need to keep in mind in their rush to embrace digital initiatives.

Let’s take a look at Pepsi’s campaign playbook.

The Big Gamble: Social Over Traditional Advertising
Pepsi, as a major ad player, knows that brand association is key to its marketing strategy. Company executives also know that there’s a shift in consumer adoption toward social technologies and that marketers can’t count on reaching the consumers they want to engage through TV. In response to this, Pepsi execs decided to spend the money the company typically plows into buying and creating Super Bowl spots–$20 million or so–to promote and fund a campaign that will identify causes that are worthy of supporting. At refresheverything.com Pepsi encourages consumers to submit ideas to improve community or causes then activate their personal networks to vote for the ideas. To date, the number of submissions possible for the first round of awards has been maxed. It also enjoys a continuous buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #PepsiRefresh.

Playing to its Strengths: Budgets, Celebrities and First Mover
Pepsi has a lot of things going for it. It has the deep pockets to keep a campaign going long-term. It has benefited from notable press buzz from being the first mover of a radical approach. Additionally, the company is using traditional media outlets to glean endorsements from celebrities, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on NFL.com. His charity of choice: the American Cancer Society.

Missed Opportunity: In-Game Tie-In
Pepsi made a misstep in this bold media shift: The company alienated a key channel and missed out on tying Pepsi Refresh to the most-watched TV event in Western media (correction to “U.S. Media” see comments below for details). By not having any in-game discussion on the advertisements, it was unable to use the Super Bowl or its advertisements as a catapult to launch the campaign into the social sphere. In fact, after the game, overall mentions of Pepsi and the Pepsi Refresh campaign remained relatively on the same trajectory as before. To look at a detailed set of my field notes and data, I’m tracking mentions using Trendrr of blog posts, Tweets and news articles on my field notes page.

Campaign Analysis: Advantages
Pepsi’s novel approach to social cause marketing is headed in the right direction. Pepsi benefits from:

  • First-mover advantage. By announcing a radical approach Pepsi took advantage of pre-event press coverage (including a story in Forbes).
  • Using celebrities to spur campaign. Pepsi invested in influential relationships by the utilization of celebrity endorsements.
  • Shifting to “we” over “me.” Pepsi has shifted traditional brand advertising efforts to now being more community-focused, enabling those who won the monies to spread the Pepsi brand on their behalf.
  • Planning for the long haul. Pepsi is making its marketing dollars go to work by extending the program over months, rather than a short flight of Super Bowl ads.

Campaign Analysis: Risks
While innovative, Pepsi has some clear challenges–and missed opportunities:

  • Pepsi has yet to show the world it gets social marketing. Its recent entry into the space with the edgy–but sexist–“Amp” iPhone applications resulted in severe backlash, and is now a case study on the infamous punk’d list.
  • Cultural mismatch. Pepsi’s history of mass marketing means it will need to change its internal culture to embrace social marketing, where success lies in letting go of control.
  • Missed opportunity to integrate Super Bowl TV ads with campaign. Pepsi’s biggest misstep is putting all its eggs in one basket–and not benefiting from synergies of multiple channels.

Takeaway: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best
By shifting so much of its annual ad budget from one channel to another, Pepsi missed an opportunity to spur word-of-mouth chatter about its Refresh initiative. Instead Pepsi should have relegated an appropriate amount of TV advertising budget to Pepsi Refresh, encouraging submitting ideas, voting and sharing in the context of the game. It would also introduce Pepsi as a socially conscious marketer to a larger group of people.

CMOs experimenting with digital and social technologies should not invest in them as a silo. They should instead be part of an overall integrated marketing effort.


JKO: Below is Bonin Bough, Pepsi’s Social Marketing strategist response via email. He’s given me permission to publish the following, and I appreciate the time he took to respond in an active dialog.

Bonin: I enjoyed reading your initial analysis of our Pepsi Refresh Project.

Let’s me start by saying on your key takeaway, we are on the same page: An Integrated Approach to Media is Best.

And that’s the approach we’re taking with the Pepsi Refresh Project. Throughout the course of the year-long initiative, we’re absolutely using traditional channels — television included — to support it. Our decision not to announce the program on the Super Bowl was not because we don’t believe in the power of television. We do. Or that we don’t believe in the Super Bowl, specifically. We do. (As you know, we chose to advertise other PepsiCo brands during the game.) The decision was based on the opinion that it wasn’t the most contextually relevant way to tell the story. Arguable? Perhaps. But the conversation around the program — the amount of it and the overall tenor of it — thus far suggests that it may well have been the right approach.

But we’re going to continue to engage in, enable, listen to and evaluate the conversation. And if it seems that we need to course correct we will. A sign, I think, of an internal culture and a senior management that is embracing social marketing.

Of course, the Pepsi Refresh Project is about more than marketing. It’s about engagement … about building affinity and building advocacy by making a real and measureable difference in people’s lives. And that’s why we take very seriously your point about impact. We’ve aligned with top-notch partners including GOOD, Global Giving and Do Something in building the Pepsi Refresh Project. A leading academic and research group will be assisting with project follow-up and measuring community impact. We’re optimistic about the very great potential.

We’ll be watching and sharing as the ideas build, the stories unfold and impact becomes evident. I look forward to watching your analysis and continuing the dialogue throughout the course of the program and the course of the year.

JKO: Thanks Bonin, we’ll continue to watch the interesting moves Pepsi is taking in the space of disruptive technologies. We agree, Pepsi’s core program is strong –but it can be refined by keeping all engines on –not putting all eggs in one basket. I appreciate the time you took to give me feedback. I’ll see you at SXSW again this year.

FirstTake: What Google Buzz Means

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Good For BusinessLeft: Inline with the Google style guide of primary colors, Google launches a new logo for Google Buzz, using familiar “chat bubble” iconology.

Google launches status update features
Google launches Buzz, which many will find similar to Friendfeed now part of the Facebook family.  Google Buzz will enable content to be aggregated, and then prioritized based upon the people you already email with, which Harry McCracken and I call this a social graph based on history, “Historical social graph” or HSG. Secondly, this Google Buzz feature will rate and rank content based on activity and interaction within your social group. Users can choose to publish the Buzz in public, which will display on the Google Profile page. They also announced the ability to input this data from mobile devices and showed a voice to text scenario. They plan to make more announcements based on enterprise versions –and more at their IO developer conference.

Enough about news, I’m sure you’ll find more on Techmeme, here are my insights.

Analysis: Impacts To Industry

  • Google continues its prime directive. At the high level, this is a strong move for Google, they continue to aggregate other people’s social content, and become the intermediatry. This helps them to suck in Twitter, Flickr, and any-other-data type as the APIs open up, giving them more to ‘organize’. This is Google acting on it’s mission to the world.
  • Privacy woes will scare consumers –yet adoption will continues upward. For consumers, the risk of privacy will continue to be at top of mind. Although the features allow for sharing only with friends or in public. expect more consumer groups to express concern. Overtime, this will become moot as the next generation of consumers continues to share in public.
  • Buzz could have faster adoption rate than Twitter. For consumers, this could potentially have more adoption than Twitter as Gmail has a large footprint Google told me it’s tens of millions (active monthly unique). Of course, most Gmail users likely aren’t Twitter users, but there could be a large platform to draw from.
  • Physical businesses lose more control over search strategy. For small busineses and retailers, this will impact their search engine results pages, as a single top ‘buzzer’ could cause their content to be very relevant, if that person was relevant, then their influential content could show at top of SERP pages. Expect Google to continue to offer advertising options now around buzz content –fueling their revenues.
  • A direct blow to Facebook, they must accelerate go to market. To Facebook, this is a direct threat, these features emulate Friendfeed and the recently designed Facebook newsfeed. Expect Google to incorporporate Facebook connect, commoditizing Facebook data as it gets sucked into Google and displayed on Google SERP.
  • Great for Twitter now –yet painful in the long term. This is good for Twitter in the short term, as it’ll amplify tweets, and suck them into a new system and give additional reach. Yet over time, status features will become a commodity, and Twitter as a destination will fade into the background.

Back in July 2009, I took a bold statement to say that Email and Social Networks are the same, I distinctly recall a lot of people disagreeing with this notion, but I think it became true today.   Posted from the Googleplex at the live briefing, I also spoke to NYT, SF ChronicleSJ Mercury, NYT (second time), UPI, and Financial Times.  Also, I polished some of the writing up in the afternoon, as the first pass was quick and dirty.

Below: Pictures from the event, including Sergey, Google Founder
Buzz Team, and Google Founder photo photo Screen shot 2010-02-12 at 6.44.24 PM