Measuring the Worth of Social Media

April 26, 2013

When social media first started any companies thought it was a useless tool meant only for the younger crowd. Why would an established company want to promote itself through a tool meant for kids? According to LucidChart in the article, “Is Social Media Worthless?” the company polled 3,000 users on their Web behavior and found that social media played a small role in driving Web traffic. Social media experts are trying to justify the place it plays in a company’s business, but if it loses money it does not have any value.

“Social media denizens are, by and large, in it for themselves. They’ll promote your brand if it means their share of a cool $20 million, or a free pair of glasses, or whatever else you’re offering them. Everyone likes to pat themselves on the back and feel like they’re serving their fellow man, whether that’s retweeting a funny video or donating money to a favorite charity. But if your fans aren’t buying your product, or influencing others to buy your product, they’re not really fans at all. And all the brand awareness in the world isn’t going to change that.”

Harsh words for social media if the source is accurate. It echoes the era of MySpace filled with teenage girls and boys touting their social lives and interests. Social media has its place, but it needs to be reexamined in generating revenue for real life companies.

Whitney Grace, April 26, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

Autonomy Lands Rich Media Deal

April 24, 2013

Autonomy just scored a plum placement, we learn from, “ENCO Systems Selects HP Autonomy for Audio and Video Processing,” hosted at Market Watch. ENCO, who makes the radio and TV audio-automation software DAD and DADtv, just selected Autonomy’s IDOL server for inclusion in the next version of enCaption, their automated captioning-generation system. We learn from the press release:

“ENCO Systems provides live automated captioning solutions to the broadcast industry, leveraging technology to deliver closed captioning by taking live audio data and turning it into text. ENCO Systems is capitalizing on IDOL’s unique ability to understand meaning, concepts and patterns within massive volumes of spoken and visual content to deliver more accurate speech analytics as part of enCaption3. . . .

“enCaption3 is the only fully automated speech recognition-based closed captioning system for live television that does not require speaker training. It gives broadcasters the ability to caption their programming, including breaking news and weather, any time, day or night, since it is always on and always available. enCaption3 provides captioning in near real time–with only a 3 to 6 second delay–in nearly 30 languages.”

Despite the soured relationship between HP and Autonomy, whom the tech giant snapped up in 2011, HP continues to leverage this increasingly valuable resource. Founded in 1996, Autonomy grew from research originally performed at Cambridge University.

Two engineers from MIT launched ENCO back in 1983, with a focus on computer-based process control applications in the industrial realm. The company branched into digital audio delivery and radio automation in 1991; since then, broadcasters large and small around the world have come to rely on their technologies.

Cynthia Murrell, April 24, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

YouTube and Its Content Play

March 31, 2013

Quite an interesting write up this: “Lessons Learned from YouTube’s $300 M Hole.” First, the “m” means millions. Second, the write up provides a useful thumbnail about Google’s content play for YouTube. The idea, if I understand it, was to enlist fresh thinking and get solid content from some “big names”.

The innovative approach elicited this comment in the write up:

There were a lot of recipients of this money, and many of them were major media companies trying their hand at online video that received some fat checks, up to $5M a piece, to launch TV-like channels. What we all found out is that, no matter how hard you push them and how much money you spend on them, YouTube doesn’t work like TV…and funding it that way is daft.

If the article is accurate, one channel earned back money. The other hundred or so did not.

The lessons learned from Google’s “daft” approach struck me as confirmation of the observations I offered in a report to a former client about Thomson Reuters’ “what the heck” leap into the great Gangnam style of YouTube; namely:

  • Viewership and Google money are correlated
  • Online video is different from “real” TV shows
  • Meeting needs of users is different from meeting the needs of advertisers.

The conclusion of the write up struck me as illustrative of the Google approach:

With regards to the last lesson, allow me to submit to any YouTube employees out there that the ad agency doesn’t have the power in this equation. YouTube is a young company, it does not need to convert 100% of its value to dollars. Please, let the advertisers figure out for themselves how to tackle this very new medium instead of trying to shape the medium to meet their needs. Seems to me, that’s the strategy that got Google where it is today.

In short, Google may have lost contact with what made it successful.

Stephen E Arnold, March 31, 2013

A 60 Second Snapshot: Cebit 2013 Search

March 8, 2013

Just got off a wonderful flight from Hannover, Germany. You can check out a 60 second snapshot of the search challenges I addressed in my invited lecture. Click here for the YouTube video. An audio abstract of the talk is available as well. Click here for the MP3.

Stephen E Arnold, March 9, 2013

Search for Text Is Terrible. Now Search Has a New Challenge.

December 6, 2012

The question is, “Is search up for a new challenge?” I think of basic search like the high school athlete who was a star as a senior. In college, the person rode the bench. In the pros, the individual has an opportunity to attend a game.

In “Time Spent In Mobile Apps Is Starting To Challenge Television, Flurry Says”, the grim future of information retrieval becomes apparent. The article points out that fiddling with Web apps is getting into TV couch potato territory.

How does one find a TV show? I still watch folks channel flip. When I attend meetings with 20 somethings, the hook is a particular show regardless of format. Well, there is one format which is rarely mentioned—reading a book.

Search of text is not too slick. Now with the shift to digital media, can search make digital content findable? How about finding an app via iTunes? What about nailing down a new documentary? What about finding a video snippet displayed within an app on a mobile phone?

There is a growing need. Perhaps rich media search will work in a more useful manner than text search.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2012

YouTube Surprises

September 26, 2012

I read “Brazilian Judge Orders Arrest of Local Google President over Negative Election Ads on YouTube.”  According to the story:

Judge Flavio Peren ordered Google to remove the offending videos last week, but Google refused, leading Peren to issue a warrant for the arrest of local president Fabio Jose Silva Coelho and order YouTube and other Google services blocked for 24 hours. Google is reportedly appealing the decision, saying that it’s not responsible for content posted on its site.

Then one of the ArnoldIT goslings alerted me to this YouTube video. When the Gangnam parody played, an ad for Attivio and ad for the Attivio unified information access technology appeared. That is an interesting method of marketing enterprise content processing. We did not click on the link, and we did watch the somewhat offensive video.

Automated content and smart software can deliver some surprises. Google’s ad matching system knows context. The relationship between unified information access and a Gangnam parody did not make sense to me. Getting old I guess. I don’t like surprises.

Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2012

Sponsored by Augmentext

Original Content on YouTube

August 26, 2012

Move over ABC, CBS, and NBC: YouTube is doubling down on original content. We’ve written before about Google‘s push to infuse more premium media content into YouTube. Now, ReadWriteWeb informs us that “YouTube Premium Channel SourceFed Racks Up 500,000 Subscribers.”

The ad-supported SourceFed is the first of YouTube’s Original Channel Initiative projects to reach such success. It and other shows that demonstrate potential were produced by folks with experience building audiences through the site. SourceFed, for example, is the creation of six-year YouTube veteran Philip Defranco. The article relates:

“James Haffner, SourceFed’s producer, believes the channel’s success lies in a couple of factors: First, the channel provides ‘easily consumable’ content that’s also accessible on mobile devices (accounting for 50% of views). ‘We get to have fun every day, but at the same time, we inform people,’ Haffner said. And because each video is short, people can pick and choose among segments. Second, the way the four SourceFed show hosts interact with fans is key, because it fosters a sense of online community. ‘Our viewers treat us like we’re their best friends,’ Haffner explained.”

This relationship with viewers is exemplified by SourceFed’s self-congratulatory video, which features fans describing why they love the channel. It’s Experimental Theatre for the Internet world. Interesting.

Cynthia Murrell, August 26, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Dedicated iPad Content is No Media Savior

August 25, 2012

It seems that content tailored to the iPad is not the panacea media outfits hoped it would be. Gigaom examines the (lack of a) trend in “HuffPo, The Daily and the Flawed iPad Content Model.”

It has been just over a month since The Huffington Post launched their paid iPad content service, and already the site announces it is reducing the price. To zero. Meanwhile, News Corporation‘s dedicated iPad division The Daily has sharply reduced its staff and, it is rumored, may be on its way out altogether. What’s happening? Is the iPad not the savior of news organizations?

Writer Matthew Ingram suspects the culprit is the very way users have come to access media online. He explains:

“Whether media companies like it or not (and they mostly don’t), much of the news and other content we consume now comes via links shared through Twitter and Facebook and other networks, or through old-fashioned aggregators — such as Yahoo News or Google News — and newer ones like Flipboard and Zite and Prismatic that are tailored to mobile devices and a socially-driven news experience. Compared to that kind of model, a dedicated app from a magazine or a newspaper looks much less interesting, since by design it contains content from only a single outlet, and it usually doesn’t contain helpful things like links.”

This viewpoint, though probably correct, seems to leave little hope for traditional publishers who strive to make it in today’s media landscape. Ingram acknowledges that a couple of organizations who already had a very strong brand, like the New York Times, and some that target niche audiences are doing well. For the field as a whole, though, fresh ideas are desperately needed.

Cynthia Murrell, August 25, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Go Go Google Gadget Goodbye

August 20, 2012

Go, go Google gadget Nexus Q! The software, math and physics wizards may be modern day Professor Gadgets, but even the good professor had issues from time to time.

The Q is crucial in Google’s efforts to connect home devices to the Internet and compete with Apple, but it will not be joining the competition anytime soon. The NYTimes’ article “Google Delays the Nexus Q After Poor Reviews” says the Nexus Q is back on the design table to improve functionality and answer consumer demands.

Google’s new gadget is similar to Apple TV and Roku because it can be plugged into televisions or speakers and be used for music or games. However, it still lacks when compared to the other devices:

“At $299, the Nexus Q is much more expensive than those products and does less. It only plays music, movies and TV shows from Google Play’s limited collection and YouTube, and can be controlled only from Android devices. Google promoted the Q’s ability to make listening to music social because people could change songs from their own Android devices, but early users said the process was cumbersome and it isn’t clear that people have a burning desire to do that.”

Google eventually plans on creating software that can handle mundane tasks like ordering eggs when needed, but we’d probably end up with cracked eggs. Yep, software, math, and physics wizards know how to do great hardware, but they need to know when to say “go, go Google gadget goodbye.”

Jennifer Shockley, August 20, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Will Video Inject New Revenue Into Venerable Kiplinger

August 17, 2012

Why just read advice when you can watch it? According to MSN Money’s article “blinkx Partners with Kiplinger for Personal Finance Wisdom” Kiplinger wants to go viral with their well-respected advice.

Most people think YouTube when they hear video, but blinkx has more than 35 million hours of audio and video content available with a customized search platform. Now they are combining with a company that holds the prestige of a well preserved antique in the world of finance wisdom.

Kiplinger is broadening blinkx’s financial horizon in hopes of expanding their viewer range:

“Kiplinger’s is one of the most trusted and well-respected sources for consumers seeking financial advice. Whether you’re a recent graduate coping with student loans or a parent looking for tips on tax breaks, our video library has helpful personal finance advice for you. We’re pleased to partner with blinkx to increase our exposure to new audiences and to make our video reports easily searchable for consumers around the world.”

Will video inject new revenue into the venerable Kiplinger? This noble company publishes the longest running newsletter in the US and is only one decade from the century mark. The print newsletters are not what they use to be and more presses collect dust every year.

This gosling does not think Kiplinger will receive any monumental renown via blinkx, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, Kiplinger does deserve a 12 Honk salute for reaching antique status.

Jennifer Shockley, August 17, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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