Lookery Guarantees CPM

Check out Lookery’s guaranteed payment program for Facebook and Bebo apps.

Lookery is currently taking submissions for a new publisher program that offers guaranteed payments of US$.125 CPM across 100% of a Facebook or Bebo application’s traffic. We’re seeking a billion pages a month for this new program, at a rate of 33 million a day, and are guaranteeing the rate through the end of April 2008.

[From Lookery » New Guaranteed Payment Program]

Social Networking Ads Suck

Ads work on Google because people are looking for information. They do a search, and if the advertisement shows information that helps with the query, that makes everyone happy. However, when it comes to a social network, usage is quite different. People aren’t looking for information about products — they’re looking to communicate with friends. In that environment, ads are seen as an intrusion — which is the exact opposite of ads in a search world.

[From Techdirt: Surprise, Surprise, Social Networking Ads Suck]

I wrote about this a couple of days ago. We built both OpenSocial and Facebook applications and what we found is that people don’t use them like they do our other client apps. In fact, the conclusion I drew is that people don’t use social networks to consume external content much at all. They don’t search for things either, which means the CPC is almost certain to be a lot lower than search.

TechTraderDaily sums up nicely the financial consequences of lower monetization, higher traffic acquisition costs.

My advice to companies looking at running ads in social networks would be don’t. Focus instead on tactics that do work, like engaging customers/users in discussion groups and interactive widgets that users commit to and then share with friends (at best these are brand extensions as opposed to monetizable ad payloads).

PS- I haven’t logged onto Facebook in at least a month… I still believe it has value but the current state of the art just isn’t creating any value for me as an individual.

Reuters Opens Calais Web Service

I am surprised this didn’t get broader attention, it sounds pretty cool. Basically, as I understand it what this does is enable the creation of semantic data within web pages, blogs posts, or any other kind of content by tagging it as you write it. In much the same way that hyperlinks establish a “relevancy relationship,” this will enable better search relevancy by tagging key words, such as people names.

Something else struck me about this initiative. Reuters has made a significant investment in what we would generally call semantic technologies over the years. Calais is kind of like Amazon Web Services, minus monetization, in that it opens up to external developers the same technologies that Reuters itself is using.

The Calais Web service enables publishers, bloggers and sites of all kinds to automatically metatag the people, places, facts and events in their content to increase its search relevance and accessibility on the Web. It also lets content consumers, such as search engines, news portals, bookmarking services and RSS readers, submit content for automatic semantic metatagging that is performed in well under a second.

[From Reuters Releases Open API for New Calais Web Service: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance]

VCs suddenly worried about valley’s economic health

Less than two months after a national survey of venture capitalists found a bullish outlook amid gathering economic turmoil, a new survey of Silicon Valley VCs released Tuesday has found their “confidence” plummeting sharply to a four-year low.

[From San Jose Mercury News – VCs suddenly worried about valley’s economic health]

I don’t know why anyone would look at venture capitalists and expect them to be leading indicators for a downturn. My surprise here is only eclipsed by a similar sense of disbelief about the notion that a survey of venture capitalists will reflect what they actually believe. This isn’t to suggest that VCs are dishonest, not at all but rather the fact that VC investors typically have a more optimistic view of the future than the broader population.

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Slashdot Founder Questions Crowds Wisdom

I just don’t find Digg that relevant to my little world… but when it’s a slow news day I go to page 12 on Digg just to find the weird crap that escapes broader attention.

Mr. Malda said that Digg must move to deemphasize that vocal minority in the overall voting. But then it would inevitably alienate its core user base. “All these sites start with a nucleus of dedicated people. Then as the gawkers join in you see a dilution. People who were there originally feel alienated and feel that the thing they helped created is being perverted.”

“I try not to paint Digg as my arch-nemesis. The Digg method and Digg community are a wider audience than Slashdot,” he said. “But with sites like Digg, it’s the wisdom of the crowds or the tyranny of the mob. You never know what you’re going to get.”

[From Slashdot Founder Questions Crowds Wisdom – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog]

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UI Obsessiveness Pays Off

One of the things you learn quickly about Brent Simmons is that there is no detail too small to not warrant an inordinate amount of attention to getting it just right. This attention to detail pays off, NNW consistently ranks as one of the most popular Mac applications.

Normally this is kind of a boring thing—not one of the exciting features, not necessarily worth discussing. But since this is an example of a hybrid app with an online component, I thought it might be interesting to other developers of hybrid apps.

[From inessential.com: Weblog: Comments for ‘On the design of the first-run assistant’]

Marketing Basics

These dramatic pictures, taken near Seal Island, in False Bay, are part of a decade-long campaign to promote positive awareness of great white sharks, which are classed as “endangered” largely due to being hunted by man.” (via instapundit)

Photos of great white sharks eating cute seals to promote positive awareness of the sharks? They might want to get that Wegman fellow on the case… maybe put a funny hat on a great white or something… I’m just saying…


Kerviel’s Greed, Not Heroics

How does one explain the sudden celebrity of rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel? The fanclub group on Facebook now has 1,441 members…

The comparisons to Che Guevara are perhaps the most offensive and also the most accurate in that just as Guevara was a mass murderer responsible for one of the most repressive totalitarian government in history in contrast to the popular image of him as a defender of the common man, Kerviel was no Robin Hood but rather a rogue trader motivated by personal greed who, according to the allegations, massively miscalculated the direction of European markets and is single-handedly responsible for a financial loss of epic proportions.

There is plenty of blame to spread around the financial aristocracy of France’s financial institutions, but Kerviel is no hero.


How Much Money Are Facebook Apps Making? Not Much Apparently

VideoEgg has announced that its ad network for Facebook applications – eggnetwork – has pulled in around $1.5 million in ad revenue over the past five months.

[From How Much Money Are Facebook Apps Making? Not Much Apparently]

This doesn’t surprise me at all. My almost year long affair with Facebook has enlightened me to many realities in this network.

Very few FB apps are what us old timers would refer to as applications, they are more like interactive games and gadgets. Video, music, and images are well mined out at this point and FB users don’t have much of an appetite for consuming content within Facebook. What FB users seem to do a lot of is consume the meta-content that other FB users are creating through their interactions with FB.

For the apps that actually do things, well none of them are all that good when compared to alternatives. Clearly there is value in having these apps in one place, but eventually the development platform strategy has to go beyond the goal of locking users into the platform.

For all the talk of viral features in FB, the fact remains that the most popular apps are still the early apps that benefited from scarcity and an ability to spam your entire friends list with invites.

Triers vs. users. The favored past-time for a vast number of FB users is adding apps to their profile pages, not actually using them for anything. In fact, profile clutter is now so much of a problem that FB released a clean up tool to deal with it.

I am skeptical of the move to enable FB apps outside of FB primarily because FB apps are themselves pretty primitive compared to what is capable in other frameworks. Now this is not to understate the value of the backend network, but getting back to that issue of these apps not being very good when compared to standalone alternatives, it’s pretty hard to drive adoption when the apps themselves are unappealing.

Users in general show little appetite for applications that feature advertising, even in Facebook, so while advertisers may salivate at the notion of driving CPM/CPA in Facebook, I think this goal will remain illusory. As the creative folks get more clever about how to insert brand and ad payloads we will likely see a shift here, and I am also not suggesting that all advertising is bad either. But in the end if we end up with incremental improvements in clickthroughs and other interactions, when compared to traditional forms of online advertising, well how valuable is the platform then?

I realize that much of what I have just written flies in the face of accepted wisdom, and RockYou and Slide both just raised big $$, as well as Facebook itself, but I would caution anyone that private company valuations have never been a proxy for broader mainstream market success. I do believe that gold is indeed in them thar hills, but mozying on up with a couple of picks and shovels and dreaming of riches without understanding the intricacies of what it takes to be successful will probably just result in fool’s gold.