Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Floating The Good Stuff from NYMIEG

I attended Bill Sobel's NYMIEG (New York Media Information Exchange Group) this morning at Gallaghers' Steak House on 52nd steet. First the event was worth the cover charge just for the steak and potatoes that were served with breakfast. Check Zagat's for how good Gallagher's steak can be and you can imagine the rest.

So Roger Black gave a compelling prezo on his new venture called Indigo. See an early version here. Dorian Benkoil, the moderator has a good play by play version of the talk on his blog MediaFlect. Roger's talk sparked many debates but the one that jumped out is how media sites can "float the good stuff" for their readers. I couldn't agree more, as this topic really caught my attention. I spend most of my waking hours and some of my sleeping hours trying to solve this exact problem over at Outbrain.

For folks like Roger, who are starting new media ventures, the act of floating the good stuff *every* time readers visit their site is a huge opportunity to increase page views, drive traffic, obtain new readers and increase overall stickiness. For example, I may visit Indigo and find several posts/articles that I love. You many also visit Indigo, see the same posts/articles and find little to no value in them. This is the challenge for media ventures, big and small.

Readers are suffering from information overload and will continue to do so. Just look at the state of the rss reader environment as an example of info overload. Media companies that just add more feeds for readers to further bloat their feedlist is not the answer to true content discovery. Further, some publishers think that displaying a "Most Read" or "Related Links" list is a solution to floating the good stuff but in fact it is not. These lists may be relevant to the site itself, the article itself or the audience as an aggregate group, but not necessarily relevant for me, you and other readers on an *individual* basis.

Think about how many gems were published today on the web that you would have loved to read if you knew they existed. If any of those were from Roger's Indigo, he would have lost valuable page views and the chance to pick up new readers. I would love feedback on this issue from any of the attendees of the breakfast or anybody else. You can comment here on Upwelling or shoot me an email at john (at) outbrain (dot) com. See you at the next NYMEIG event on February 28th.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

China To Ban The Plastic Bag! Me too!

A huge congratulations to China! As of this June 1st, China is banning the plastic bag that most retailers hand out to every customer. Every walk of the environment is negatively impacted by these bags, especially the ocean. Mark Powell over at Blogfish brought this to my attention and this is huge news. So the question is, where is the USA on this? Of course probably in the pocket of the plastic bag manufacturers but they can't stop consumers like you and me from opting out of taking the plastic bag at the point of sale.

If you think about it, we take the plastic bag, walk or drive for a few minutes, empty the bag and instantly throw it away. Once we toss these little devils into the trash the real work is then offloaded onto the environment (and oceans) to put these bags somewhere for the 8 million years it takes to dissipate from view. This is totally absurd anytime, but especially now given our declining situation

On China's lead I am buying an environmentally friendly cloth sack for my lunch and vow to avoid taking the plastic bags.

What about you?

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/reusablebags

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Feel Better Om!

I want to extend my best wishes to Om Malik for a speedy recovery. I guess Om had a heart issue over the holidays but assured us (his loyal readers) he is ok. I loved his coverage in Biz2.0 and his blog was one of the first I subscribed to when I started with rss. Seeing that my Dad worked for Lucent for 30 years, I clung to Om's thoughtful telco coverage. I wish you well Om, the blogosphere needs you back. Get well soon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

8 Yellow Brick Roads for Web 2008

My prediction for 2008 is that many startups will find a difficult time as economic woes broaden and the credit crisis continues into the new calendar year. This will tighten the market both in terms of available capital and increased pressure to perform/execute. As a result many will fail (which is healthy but some runways will be cut shorter than usual). That said, there will be some companies that soar who are working in the areas listed below. (Photo - courtesy of Ucamari - Flickr)

People want ways to save time consuming content/news/blog posts. 2007 was the official year of information overload as inefficient systems like RSS became overrun. Bloggers, rss readers, blog networks, search engines and other content aggregators/publishers will focus on providing their users with a better experience that revolves around personalization and discovery of relevant content.

Web Clouds Merging:
The current trend of widgets, api's and breaking down walled gardens will continue as information and data can be ported around the web and become increasing useful to the user. Users will grow increasing intolerant of populating walled gardens with data that cannot be optimized elsewhere.

Open Mobile - Voice Emerges:
The pressure on US carriers to loosen their grip and open up with device selection and on-deck apps will continue. Voice, one of the most underutilized technologies will continue its advancement and mainstream adoption. Companies like Nuance and TellMe (acquired by Microsoft in 07) will be in the news.

Autos Get Web2.0:
I think this is Detroit’s secret weapon to gain market share from overseas competitors. 2008 will see American automobile manufacturers and American technology firms join forces and bring some “cool” back into the front seat of American made cars. Applications in social media, search and mobile computing will make headlines.

Web Design More Important Than Ever:
Simple is not only better but a critical key to success. Design and user engagement will become more important as audiences are suffering from information overload and fragmentation. Avoiding featuritis, releasing often and responding to user comments on the fly will become necessary for startups to succeed.

Pressure on Ad Supported Models:
Everyone's planned ad supported revenue models will come under pressure to deliver. Developing the right demos and size of audiences will become increasing harder as the web continues to fragment toward niche groups.

Traditional Media Companies Gain Momentum:
Traditional media companies and newspapers will continue to post gains in digital revenue and begin to build their digital plans out further. They will benefit from a flight to quality in terms of ad dollars and user engagement.

Conversational Media Takes Hold:
This is from John Batelle’s 2008 predictions and one that I agree with. Even though he has to take this position because of FM, I agree that the value of targeted messaging in conversational media will become more widespread and accepted as a major marketing channel. However, those companies that cannot target effectively will experience surprisingly strong backlash from the conversational community.