Archive for the ‘Web Advertising’ Category


Why Magpie’s Advertising System Is Self-Diminishing

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Testing a Twitter Advertising System
I tested out Magpie, an advertising system that creates tweets in my tweet stream, from third party advertisers then pays me.

Some have already blogged about their opposing thoughts on it, and some are publicaly open that they are now Magpies. For me, it was just a test that I’ve now ceased.

Part of my job as an analyst covering social media is to use the very tools in which I cover. I use this knowledge to write reports, help clients, and make suggestions to the vendors themselves. You can expect brands to ask me “how should we engage in Twitter” and I’ll point them to this very post.

There was quite the vitriolic reaction from some, others didn’t seem to mind, a few were acceptable of it. If there was anyone to test it, it makes sense for me, it’s part of my job, and I have a large enough follower base to average reactions.

I’m also going to measure the amount of folks that may have unsubscribed with TweepleTwak, hopefully they’ll realize it’s not permanent and return.

The Test
I setup the system a few days ago, and set it for every 10th tweet there would be an ad, the system is supposed to line up ads with content related to what I talk about. Either there was no brands related to what I talk about, or the system felt I talked about magpie enough, it tweeted this:

“#magpie startups give magpie a try! they’ve got a total reach of 500,000 followers. campaigns starting at EUR 10. http://rubyurl.com/k98e”

Immediately after, I let my followers know it was a test, and tweeted the following:

“That last tweet was my first test of Magpie, It was auto generated by them. I’m testing this as a social media analyst. What do you think? “


Here are the 48 reactions, which I’ve sorted by sentiment:
Responses came in over 60 minutes.

Successful or Accepted: 7 Responses

  • findchris: @jowyang Not so bad as long as the #magpie tag is used.
  • gahlord: Also, fwiw, I don’t care that much if @jowyang uses Magpie (I put up with a lot of noise for Guy, why not for Owyang?)
  • nateritter: @jowyang at least it was relevant. Probably first thing I’ve clicked on in your stream in a while actually. It interests me.
  • mediamanx: @jowyang the magpie ad seems relevant – though self promoting to magpie. will be interesteing to see what follows & how frequent they run
  • davidkspencer: @jowyang I wouldn’t mind it if the #magpie tag somehow stood out. It blends in, easy to miss. That’s an issue with app, not business model.
  • DavidBrim: @jowyang #magpie sounds cool, but I don’t think a CPM model will be as effective as a CPC or CPA model. http://tinyurl.com/6cvgzo
  • KevinUrie: @jowyang it will work for you, and you will not loose many followers. But for most it will be a death sentence. Saying test, ruins the test
  • Unsure, Neutral or Conditional: 14 Responses

  • ewantoo: @jowyang I think it will all depend on the adverts carried, an ad to buy herbal viagra is going to get you or anyone else blocked
  • jasonlog: @jowyang should think of twit copywriting
  • gahlord: @jowyang Will you have to give a disclaimer about potential profit motives when writing about Magpie?
  • john_mcgann: @ jowyang If early adopters are important to the advertiser then advertwitting could actually *damage* a brand… IMHO
  • jusx: @jowyang i wouldn’t mind magpie if it labels it’s tweets with “SPONSOR” or “ADVERTISEMENT”. Yes in caps. It’s a bit deceiving IMHO.
  • fritzpw: @jowyang I got a message advertising magpie. Was that the intent?
  • sawinkler: @jakemarsh @jowyang just had the same exact tweets. did I just see magpie in action?
  • JoeSeale: @jowyang IMHO magpie gives a certain opaqueness to the term transparency. Where’s the disclaimer that you didn’t *actually* post that info?
  • A_F: @jowyang they need to disclose in the tweet that it is a “sponsored” tweet, else = FAIL
  • JoeSeale: @jowyang I suppose I missed the #magpie. Does that count as a disclaimer?
  • techpr: @jowyang auto-generated by magpie (not clear) and they refer to themselves in third person. lame. twitter is about transparency, no?
  • NoOneYouKnow: @jowyang Magpie site http://be-a-magpie.com/ is a little confusing – is it pay for tweet? ad network?
  • fbpda: @jowyang I don’t think that #magpie is going to annoy me but if it bothers one of my followers then it’s a no-go for me.
  • jasona: @jowyang It was a big, blatant billboard on the side of a nice, quite, untouched country road.

  • Negative Reaction: 20 Responses

  • GrantGriffiths: @jowyang What do I think. I think #Mappie is a bunch of BS that twitter doesn’t need.
  • WBkilburn: @jowyang To me, it diminishes your credibility. Advert is in your voice – on blog ads, there’s a distinction between autor and advertiser.
  • bloodandmilk: @jowyang It made me wonder why you were running an ad, and I doubted your judgement a little.
  • laser: @jowyang I wish that the magpie tweets came across as ads rather than personal announcements. Seems kind of misleading.
  • t_de_baillon: @jowyang Magpie means more noise for less signal. I never thought diluting a message was a good marketing strategy
  • WellTold: @jowyang re magpie, I’d rather eat my foot than use that. Ads on twitter – leave me alione!!!!!
  • kerry_anne: @jowyang I blogged my reasons for disliking #magpie a few weeks ago: http://is.gd/6hD8 (expand)
  • durjoy: @jowyang I think it’s noise pollution
  • jonesabi: @jowyang The trust I feel when I think of you plummeted.
  • gilliatt: @jowyang I think be-a-magpie.com is making http://magpie.net glad they rebranded earlier. Twitter spam will not make friends.
  • thehartworker: @jowyang as much as I know I cannot influence at all what magpie twitters in my name – therefore: no way I will use it
  • kellytirman: @jowyang I am not feeling it. There must be a better solution to monetize Twitter, if at all.
  • PatrickCourtney: @jowyang there’s no real barrier between ad and content. To me it weakens credibility – like pay per post for blogs.
  • dtd: @jowyang I think no. The Magpie “message” seems to be coming directly from you.
  • seanodotcom: @jowyang spammy.
  • zolierdos: @jowyang Jeremiah, you gotta be kidding, this is spam
  • theregoesdave: @jowyang i think magpie is paying for your credibility, but you don’t get it back when they’re done #magpie
  • brentnau: @jowyang I really believe that if the tweets do not pass the sniff test followers wiil revolt. Escpecially if used too often.
  • AndySwan: @jowyang please don’t. #magpie is NO DIFFERENT than accepting $$ to send your friends spam emails or intterupt their real convos with pitch
  • Benderelly: @jowyang I think you’re cashing in – I ain’t clicking on it.

  • Unfollow: The worst reaction: 7 Responses

  • quietrevolution: @jowyang I like folks promoting themselves/their biz etc. I would delete you from my followers & anyone else that uses it. No value to me.
  • ericagee: @jowyang Yeah, I hatethe idea of Magpie and agree with Joe – I’d unfollow anyone who started using it regularly.
  • ninjarunner: @jowyang i have told myself that i will unfollow people who use #magpie. Love your tweets, at a cross-roads if you use it…
  • adarowski: @jowyang I can’t really think of any cases where magpie ≠ unfollow.
  • JoeCascio: @jowyang Dude, you have to be kidding. Anybody that spams me thru Magpie gets an automatic un-follow. 4reelz.
  • wnourse: @jowyang Don’t like it – I may stop following if people start using it
  • mark2100: @jowyang @JessicaKnows I’m unfollowing you because of Magpie, it’s nothing personal but tweeter users need to take a stand against spam.
  • Findings
    Positive Reactions 7, or 14%
    Unsure Reactions 14, or 29%
    Negative Reactions: 20, or 41%
    Unfollow (very negative) 7, or 14%

    As you can see, the majority of responses were negative (20), some downright annoyed or angry and ready to leave (7), that means that 56% of respondents had negative reactions. Many were confused (14), or had conditions on why it could be successful, and finally a few were actually ok with it (7) a mere 14%. Given the weight of the majority of negative responses, this system is not ready.


    Magpie not ready –and will self implode
    In the end, Magpie (or any Twitter advertising system) is going to need some fixes to be successful. The ads need to be clearly identified as ads, the content relevant enough so followers would accept them, and a disclosure made by the tweeter to their followers what’s being done. Perhaps some alternative marketing methods would be developing ads when using the search tools, or on background screens (this has already happened).

    Brands often don’t know how to engage in conversational marketing, we’ve seen quite a few brands create Twitter accounts, but are unsure what to do, some spit out press releases and links to blog posts alone, and others create personas like Popeye’s chicken that some are unsure how to react to.

    Yet advertising in social media is already well accepted
    One thing is for sure, just as we saw with the once “pure” blogs, marketers follow crowds, in fact, I remember in 2005 many bloggers would revolt against blogs having ads, my recent count showed that there are 4 on scobleizer, 12 on RWW, 14 on Techcrunch, and 21 ads on Mashable. (note, sometimes its hard to tell what’s an ad and what’s not). In fact, there are 1.5 million subscribers to Techcrunch’s RSS feed, which contains ads instream at the bottom of each post –ads are an acceptable part of opt-in content.

    There’s also Glam Media, Federated Media, Google Ad sense and others, in fact, one of my favorite podcasts, For Immediate Release is sponsored by Ragan communications and other vendors, and I have no problem with this as the signal is high, and the ads are related to my interests.

    Risks, Money, and Experiments
    Yes, I took a risk losing some followers by doing this test, yet I’ve since stop the magpie service. Now that the test is over, and will be meeting with the Magpie team for a phone briefing if we can coordinate since the team is in Germany.

    What about the money? It calculates the number of followers I have, (plus some other factors I believe) and Magpie let me know I earned a few euros, €32.87 which equates $41.39. I won’t be collecting the money, since they only cash out for 50 euros, and if they mail me a check, I’ll donate it to the Red Cross, my favorite charity.

    Love to hear your reactions to this experiment.

    Update: Just like Tivo, Ad blocking software and email spam filters appeared as a response to ads, a Magpie Blocking script has appeared which auto filters all messages that contain those messages in them.

    How Microsoft Can Win The PC/Mac Campaign

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    For the last few months, er years, Microsoft has been getting their assets handed to them as Apple tears into their brand with the “PC vs Mac” clever ads.

    Microsoft has launched a new campaign with at least two phases, the first one showing Seinfeld and Gates acting as “normal guys” at the mall, at home, on the road. Most tech heads didn’t get it, but for the mainstream everybodies, it may have resonated. The ads may have been stalled, the reports contradict.

    The second phase, which launched last night, extends the “everybody is a PC” theme shows some highly structured actors (including the lovely Eva Longoria) showing how they’re a PC.

    I figured out that the theme was “everyone is a PC” which is a differentiator from the elite feeling of Mac for young urban 20 something year olds, to the rest of the business and work world.

    So what could Microsoft (And their agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky) do to resonate and win this campaign? Allow anyone to publish their photos, videos how they are a PC. They currently have these features in their campaign site, (link via Andrew Finkle) but they are buried a few clicks away, and they even require a fan to submit their age.

    What should Microsoft do?

  • Create YouTube Video Templates that have the same video start and end (called bumpers) and have a seperate MP3 track that can be added in the background
  • Create a set of tags “ImaPC” or “PCpride” or “everyonePC” that makes the videos easy to find
  • Next, aggregate the videos onto one page, making them easy for folks to find.
  • Create a voting campaign allowing users to add points to the videos they enjoy the most
  • Use these user created videos in actual TV and web advertising
  • Allow negative videos to be included, and showcase these on the web
  • Elevate these social features right on the campaign page, expand to Facebook, LinkedIn, and where else creators and joiners exist.
  • To take the win, Microsoft should let the people lead, create, and own the campaign, Jerry and Bill can share the spotlight, reframe the campaign on creators. I see there site is hinting at this, and it maybe in their plans, but I’d expect them to crank this user created feature up.

    If you agree that Microsoft should elevate the opportunity for everyone to show how they are a PC, leave comment below, maybe, just maybe, they’re watching.

    Update: Microsoft is putting the ads on Times Square in NYC, a good start –but don’t forget to republish across the web. (link via Paisano)

    Update 2: Dennis McDonald did a “Worldle” analysis (Tag cloud) of all the words used in the following comments. What’s being screamed? “Campaign, people, PC, microsoft, pc, mac”

    What Facebook’s New ‘Engagement Advertising’ Means to Brands

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    Update: Only a few brands will trial these new ads, after testing, will then be broadly released later in the year.

    A few days ago, I had a private briefing before the press with Tim Kendall, Director of Monetization at Facebook, below are the findings, with specific recommendations for brands. As I get more information, such as results and data, I’ll update this post.


    Web Strategy Summary (90 Words)
    Facebook launched a new product called ‘Engagement Advertisements’ that encourages members to interact with the ads by leaving comments, sharing virtual gifts, or becoming fans. To combat dismal click through rates of traditional advertisements, these features emulate widgets and encourage users to increase member adoption, viral growth, and brand interaction. Brands will only succeed with these “WidgetAds” if they create content that puts community first, lean on new interactions, integrate with other tools, plan for the long haul, and change how they measure success –traditional internet advertising tactics won’t apply.

    [Facebook's 'Engagement Advertisements' emulates natural activities of members --in hopes to increase interaction, network spread, and brand preference]


    Facebook, a Fast Growing Global Social Network
    Facebook, noted as the largest social network, is on a growth rate to increase it’s active users to 90million active users today in August, 2008 up from 54 million aprox at the start of the year. While presumed to be of a younger college educated demographic, it’s not the domain of the young alone as the largest growth rates are educated white collar workers, over age 25. Facebook has global growth in markets such as 66% growth rate in EMEA, and 35% and 33% growth rates in Europe and Latin America, respectively.


    Engagement Advertisements Integrate with Natural User Behaviors
    Facebook’s innovative way of monetizing is unique, they were the first to launch a developer platform (F8) as well as the ill-fated Facebook Beacon, and are now launching with a new interactive marketing and advertising product.

    [Facebook's 'Engagement Advertisements' more akin to interactive marketing with a social twist: "WidgetAds"]

    Unlike Beacon or Facebook Connect, both products intended to aggregate the actions on third-party sites (like Blockbuster.com) this new product called “Engagement Advertisements” is intended to nicely integrate with Facebook’s newly redesign profile and news pages. Early brands to trial this include: Paramount Pictures whose video commenting for Tropic Thunder ran two weeks ago –I’ve asked for campaign results. Future early adopters also include General Mills’ Betty Crocker which will have image commenting and the ability to ‘fan’, and video commenting for Addias, both to trial late August.

    Engagement Ads provide three unique experiences
    Rather than clicking on the ad and being whisked away to a branded microsite, these ads allow members to stay within the contained walls of Facebook and their social community. Engagement ads come in three major flavors:

    1) Comment Style Ad: Members can now leave comments on these advertisements, much like wall posts. Brands that are focused on entertainment, new product rollouts, autos and apparel are well suited. The ad can show up to 4 comments per object, and the activity spreads to the users newsfeed.

    2) Virtual Gifts Style Ad: Brands can now create virtual items that users can share, spread to each other. This wildly popular behavior within applications and Facebook is suitable for consumer products, entertainment, and some media.

    3) Fan Style Ad: A play off the Facebook pages, users with a persona affinity for a product (like Apple) can become a fan, triggering a notification to their network, and could then tie on social ads. Will work great for established brands, like guitar hero, passion products, luxury products, or any brand with a rabid customer base.


    Forrester Data: Social Networks foster communication, self-expression
    With horrible click through rates (I’ve heard cases of .04 percent CTR) of ads on social networks, some brands prefer to focus resources elsewhere. Why the low rates? Our research indicates that youth primarily exhibit behaviors of communication and self-expression –not searching for products, looking at ads, or hunting for information.

    Common Behaviors of Youth on Social Networks
    See what my friends are up to: 86%
    Sent a message to someone: 79%
    Posted/updated my profile: 70%
    Looked at profiles of people I didn’t know: 65%
    Sources: North American Technographics Retail And Marketing Online Youth Survey, Q4 2007, Forrester Research

    This youth data supports that social network behavior is in fact, ‘social’ and these respondents are not seeking to find out about product information, nor learn about the latest products at a media site, product review, or a search engine like Google.


    [Brands will only succeed with 'Engagement Advertising' if they lean on user behaviors like communication, self-expression, and social exploration --traditional internet advertising need not apply]

    Knowing that the use case between social networks and product-focused sites is key for marketers to deploy successful marketing. For success, marketers and advertisers need to focus in on the key social behaviors, and integrate the marketing activities within the community.


    Demystifying Facebook’s Marketing Tool Chest
    Facebook’s marketing toolset is confusing, and many brands frequently ask me what is the current set, and how do they use it, here’s the current toolset as of today. Remember that when it comes to groups and brand engagement, the most powerful activity is for employees to actually participate in the community with their customers –not stand by the idle wayside. With that said, here are some of the other tools available to marketers to engage the Facebook community.

    Engagement Ads: (new, and detailed above) allow community members to interact with the ads in the profile and newsfeeds –without leaving the Facebook site, increasing interaction, social spread, and brand engagement. Currently unproven, brands may not be ready for these types of new ads, until they change how they measure success.

    Standard Advertisements: These Text and image ads can appear on homepage or profile pages, neatly integrate with the new redesign.

    Social ads: Are helpful for brands to increase the velocity or acceleration by marketers, allowing them to buy ads that echo the behaviors “what did my friends do” of opt-in users. These primarily appear on the newsfeed, which will encourage spread to an individuals network. Some brands have been under fire from users who felt this was invasive.

    Traditional IAB graphic ads: Advertising laden brands may still purchase the standard IAB skyscraper and banner ads from Microsoft both an investor and partner. With low CTRs, some brands have better places to spend their money for return on investment.

    Facebook pages: Launched last year, brands can (at no charge) create their own pages, embed applications, encourage discussions, and start to garner “Fans” of it’s products. Most brands are incorrectly using these, based upon the findings from my recent report on the best and worst of social network marketing for 2008 -Forrester Research.

    Event Feature: based pages allow marketers to promote events through viral invites, rsvp tools, and event rollups from media and community interaction. While a useful utility, for most brands that market on the web, this is often a side-effort, not the primary push.

    Facebook Connect: Perhaps the biggest untold story is the day when Facebook (and other social networks) will connect with corporate websites, I’ve outline future scenarios in this post What ‘Facebook Connect’ Means for Corporate Websites.

    Applications: Facebook was afirst mover to allow third-party developers to create an entire eco-system of applications that are growing their own applications. Most brands are harassing successful apps through sponsorships, cross branding, and a few are building their own apps, see how Dell was able to let the community create –and spread– ads on their behalf. Also read my posts on Widget strategies to learn more, or my overview of Facebook’s F8 Developers Community.


    Key Takeaways
    Monetization of social networks continues to be a challenge, and Facebook continues to innovate, however for this announcement, brands and Facebook should:

    To Succeed, Brands Must Learn Social Marketing
    While costly, risky, and foreign to brands, the biggest missed opportunity for brands in social networks is to become part of the community, interact and build real relationships. Although we should expect interaction rates and viral spread to increase with engagement ads, brands should wait and see how these ads CTR perform. For those brands that are ready to forgo the risk, and pursue ‘Engagement Ads’ they should:

  • Be community themed: Ads created by the brand will succeed if the content is first focused on the needs of the community.
  • Rely on new interaction activities: The rules of the game have changed, the goal is to increase interaction within the community –not pull them offsite.
  • Approach with an Integrated Mix: Facebook offers many tools, ‘Engagement Ads’ shouldn’t go it alone, instead increase chances of success by involving other tools.
  • Change how they measure success: Brands must also change they way the measure success with these interactive ads, rather than weigh success solely on page views or referral traffic.
  • Marriage of Widgets and Advertisements offshoot: “WidgetAds”
    Looking forward, this announcement helps to set in place how online marketing will start to evolve. Widgets have already become advertising units, and now these advertisements are starting to become widgets. Expect Engagement ads, and Widgets created by third parties to start to exhibit these behaviors outside of Facebook. Facebook Connect, Google Connect, and OpenID will bridge social graphs with interactive ads –springing forth a new generation of widgetads.

    Although innovative, Facebook must focus on marketers
    Although pushing interactive marketing, Facebook must hand-hold many brands with their frequently changing marketing offerings. Facebook must develop a client solution that will help optimize these tools with professional services based on data, results, and demographic information. Marketers can’t afford to experiment with their brand without the help of a trained and experienced group of social marketers provided by the platform.

    The only caveat being that the experience of users, always, always comes first, I’ll point to others that cover this aspect.


    Related Resources

  • This is cross-posted on Forrester’s Interactive Marketing blog
  • See all posts tagged Social Networks, Widgets, Facebook, or my weekly digest
  • Forrester Report: The Best and Worst of Social Network Marketing for 2008
  • Forrester Report: Online Community Best Practices
  • Forrester Report: Online Communities: Build Or Join?
  • Forrester Report: Google’s OpenSocial: Good News For Marketing Widgets But No Silver Bullet
  • Forrester Report: Get With It With Widgets
  • As usual, the conversation spirals off into Friendfeed.

    Update: Forrester clients can access a short brief with additional recommendations for interactive marketers.

    Letting your Community Create your Advertisements

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    A few months ago, I covered Dell’s Green campaign called “Regeneration” which allowed community members to create their own art themed “green” and they were then given the opportunity to vote on which one was best. They turned over much of the marketing control to the community, while they become more of an enablement platform, rather than ‘forcing’ a message down their throat.

    They’ve taken the next step by assembling some of the winning drawings and created an emebeddable flash player that shows the art work being created in time-lapse style. Yes, you can see how the engaged community of artists hand drew each of these ads. As I understand it, they are not paid, this is voluntary, in hopes of some prizes, and perhaps more importantly, recognition.



    Now you should be sharing this with your creative team (see the initial case study) and start to think about how your brand can start listening to your customers –and allowing them to tell your story, rather than you always having to use a megaphone.

    What could Dell do to take this to the next level? Integrate these final drawings in many different areas of the Regeneration campaigns, including TV ads, theme designed laptops and computers, and ultimately having a community created marketing department that spreads to other product lines.

    James Gross of Federated Media, a social media interactive and conversational agency, had initially posted this on his blog.

    Many Forms of Widget Monetization

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    Although there are many forms of Web Monetization (I’ve listed out nearly 15 forms), the newest iteration of web marketing: widgets, haven’t yet fully cashed in.

    Widget, Gadgets, Applications, Canvas Pages, Embeds, it goes on and one. One thing is clear, the rate of widgets continues to increase, take for example Facebook’s application platform has over 15,000, 20,000 applications in just about 9 months. Granted, many of those are slightly tweaked clones of each other, the top 100 widgets clearly has adoption.

    In some cases, there are sophisticated companies developing widgets, the RockYou’s and Slides of the world can really zero in and focus, or take the garage developers such as the two Russian developers who created Scrabulouos, or lastly, the big corporations or interactive firms that are getting in on the action –often with limited success.

    Yet, how do we monetize widgets? There’s only a few ways, some tied back to traditional methods, and some leaning on the new media.


    Many Forms of Monetizing Widgets

    Advertising/Sponsorship: CPM models sit nicely here, yet research indicates that users don’t go to social networks for finding products, CTRs are pretty damn low. Why? because people go there to socialize and self-exprsess, not find products, (that’s what Google, eBay, Craigslist is for). Banner ads count too, such as this case study with Vampires and Sony.

    Interactive Marketing: Some widget developers are selling their already existing application space to large brands, who can insert this branded engagement into an existing community. Take for example Dell’s regeneration campaign case study.

    Branded Entertainment: Somewhat different than advertising and interactive marketing, popular media or widgets can be put forth from funding from large companies, while we’ve yet to see this occur, Intel comes to mind: they sponsored a feature on Digg, and paid for the development, all in the context of their brand.

    Cost Per Install: I personally think this is a dangerous way to monetize, although I realize the top widget networks are getting sizable revenues from selling the opportunity for other applications to piggy back off their success, and sell installations. If everyone does this, we’re going to end up with an excess of applications installed, based upon lower value. I somehow imagine successful widgets should grow naturally and organically, not sold from a mercenary application.

    Acquisition: No brainer here, but folks like Scrabulous (if they weren’t shut down) could sell of their application to an interactive firm or widget network and all the community members that come with them.

    eCommerce: Surprisingly, we’ve not seen any great applications spur forth with adoption in social networks, it just isn’t happening yet, expect to see an existing eCommerce site to create a successful widget by end of year, and likely a new form of social shopping to appear. Update: Rodney is watching this new type of ‘classified’ widget Radical Buy make some traction.

    Lead Generation
    Techcrunch profiles how some application developers such as OfferPal are able to view ads, collect user information and send them to marketers for lead generation. Specific numbers have yet to be published in public.

    Now if I’ve missed any forms of widget monetization, do leave a comment. Also, see the Many Forms of Web Marketing for 2008.

    Crowd Sourcing your Brand: How the Data Portability Group leans on the Community to design, vote and reward it’s new logo

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    dplogos

    Fedora and Data Portability Logos, too similar for comfort. (image via Techcrunch)

    Turning over the logo creation to your community
    For a few years now, we’ve been saying that the brand is really owned by your customers, not your MarCom brand police team. Today, we’re seeing this actually play out in a very interesting twist.

    The Data Portability Workgroup launches
    The Data Portability group is a workgroup focused on building industry-wide standards for information to safely and freely pass from one site to another –all at the control of an individual user. Yes, I know we’re all sick of seeing yet another working group with little or no results, but this group appears to be making progress, I’m reviewing their status reports, and will probably be briefed by Chris at major milestones.

    Logo infringement a cause for redesign
    Recently, they launched and announced themselves, including the easy to remember figure 8/infinity sign. Apparently, this was too similar to the logo of Fedora, While copyright infringement is never a fun thing, what’s interesting is that the DataPortability group is crowd sourcing their logo design to the community.

    The community designs, votes, and is rewarded
    There are hundreds of dollar worth of prizes, ad exposure on Techcrunch and CenterNetworks, and iPhone and other goodies, read the full guidelines on Chris’s site.

    The logos will be submitted on spec to the team and a ‘representative election’ will occur:

    “The co-founders of the DataPortability project, along with the steering group, will make a short list. We will then provide a web-based voting system for the community to make the final choice.”

    Letting go to gain more
    This is really an interesting way to let the community create, decide, and take ownership over your own brand and logo. Let’s see how this turns up. To add to the reward, I’ll point to the winning designer, granting even additional exposure. Great job Chris and team, turning a potential lawsuit into a community involving event, I look forward to seeing the results.