Archive for the ‘google’ Category

Google expands analytics toolset with Tag Manager

October 1st, 2012 No comments

Google is expanding its digital marketing capabilities with the introduction of the Google Tag Manager.

Supporting both Google and non-Google website tags, the Tag Manager consolidates tags through a snippet of code. This can be managed through web interface where users can add and manage tags without having to rewrite the site code or involve IT.

Some of the features range from simple tasks to preview mode and tag templates to more in-depth functions such as debugging console and asynchronous tag loading designed to prevent any slow down on the user-visible part of the site.

Laura Holmes, a product manager on the Google Tag Manager team, explained on the Google Analytics blog on Monday that the goals of the Tag Manager is to fine-tune the tagging process altogether:

Tags are tiny bits of website code can help provide useful insights, but they can also cause challenges. Too many tags can make sites slow and clunky; incorrectly applied tags can distort your measurement; and it can be time-consuming for the IT department or webmaster team to add new tags—leading to lost time, lost data, and lost conversions.

Additionally, Holmes asserted that this will also give marketing departments more flexibility for developing better informed campaigns to reach their customers in new ways.

Another feature designed specifically for marketers include multiple account functionality and user permissions so that large marketing teams can work together but at varying levels of access to the Tag Manager as well as the company/campaign website.

The Google Tag Manager is a free tool and will be launching in English first with support in additional languages promised soon. For a closer look at the Google Tag Manager, check out the promo video below:


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Google Fiber. The Takeover.

August 6th, 2012 No comments

How many folks want fiber in their homes?

[ everyone raises their hands ]

Keep your hands up if you’ve looked into getting fiber.

[ everyone's hands remain up ]

Keep your hands up if you have fiber at home today?

[ 96% of hands go down ]

Everyone in our country wants fiber, but it’s my belief that the evil folks at cable companies and telecoms are sabotaging fiber in order to maintain their legacy businesses: be they content in the case of Time Warner or phone calls and text messaging if it’s AT&T.
As your internet gets faster you spend more time online. This is one of the core tenets of Google’s success. Instead of adding features to Gmail, YouTube and Google search, they historically focused on making things faster (at least first).


Because speed drives usage.

Some of you are old enough to remember taking a sip of coffee or checking your Blackberry while the Yahoo home page loaded. In those days we would sometimes leave our computers in frustration and turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or make a phone call.
Those days of giving up on slow internet are over, and it’s been brutal on traditional media. Kids don’t make phone calls, and they are giving up texting for Voxer and Apple messaging. They play video games and social media over TV sometimes (in some cases all of the time).
Four out of five Gen-Y folks working for me have “just internet” at home. No cable or Direct TV. In fact, many don’t have TV sets, electing instead to watch Hulu, Netflix or stolen content. Ironically, they call stolen content “bittorrented movies” or “bittorrented TV shows,” as if they were distributed or produced by a Time Warner competitor called “bit torrent.”
Sure, Verizon does have a couple of million folks on FiOS — but it’s a small percentage of the United States and it’s absurdly expensive.
Oh yeah, a new startup called FreedomPop is coming up with an iPod Touch 4G-capable phone case.
You know what they call an iPod touch with a 4G connection?
AT&T’s biggest nightmare (zing! pow!), or more simply “the iPhone” (double zing! pow!).
AT&T and Verizon refuse to give the 100% of Americans who want fiber (even if some don’t know they want it yet), so Google is doing what any other visionary company would do: taking their customers.

Google Fiber, in case you don’t know, is a “pilot” in Kansas City where Google is rolling out gigabit connections for $70 — with a terabyte of Google Drive storage. Read about it here.
Right now Verizon offers its fastest service (300 Mbps down/65 Mpbs up) for $209.99/month (with a two-year contract) in its limited FiOS footprint.
1 TB from Dropbox is $795/year (for five users).
Google Fiber is $70 a month for 3x+ Verizon for 1/3rd the price (so 6x the value), and it comes with free storage worth $66 a month. That’s 10x+ the value of what Verizon provides.

In version 1.0!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, if you don’t want to pay $70/month to Google, the company will give you 5 Mpbs/1Mbps for the compelling price of $0.00/month for seven years (after you pay the $300 one-time construction fee).
Why would they give you a DSL-level connection free? Because they know you will eventually realize that $2 a day — or one day of minimum wage work — is well worth it for 1 gigabit.
Mark my words: Google Fiber is not a test, it’s a takeover plan.

Because Google can.
And because Larry and Sergey are looking to put a dent in the universe. A big one.
They don’t want to be known for Gmail or Google search. They are swinging for the fences and want to see a Google self-driving car in every driveway, Google glasses on every citizen and Google Fiber in every home.
What else is Google going to do with — wait for it — $2.79B in Q2 profits? Give it in a dividend to its shareholders?!
What good has that dividend done for Bill Gates’ (or Steve Ballmer’s) legacy over the past 10 years? Nothing.
Microsoft should have been doing this, or buying up many more startups, during its “lost decade.” (In fairness, they did launch Xbox during that time, a huge hit. I wish I built Xbox during my lost decade!).
If you add $10B+ to your bank account every year, you can spend the $2k putting each of the 115M households in the United States on fiber. Some folks say Verizon spends $1k putting in fiber, some folks say Google will spend $500.
I’m putting the cost of Google’s fiber install at 2x to 4x the consensus cost — or $2k — just to shut up the folks who are going to argue that it isn’t possible for Google to run fiber across the country. Remember, given enough resources and brass balls, anything is possible.
Also, Google doesn’t need to make any money — $0.00 is just fine — from Fiber. Just like they don’t make any money from the awesome Nexus 7 tablet that Apple loyalists “actually really like.”
There are 115M households in the United States.
$10B / $2,000 = 5M homes online per year.
115M households in the United States / 5M online per year = 23 years until everyone is on fiber.

Oh yeah, as part of the Google Fiber rollout, what if Google required that you create a secure, public wifi hub? So, in order to get this awesome deal, your router would automatically beam out a Google Public Wifi hotspot. In order to get on that, all you would need is a Gmail (aka Google account).
At that point anyone within a block of any home with Google Fiber could get free, high-speed wifi.
A global crowdsourced wifi network. Crazy idea, right?
Too bad it’s not new, in fact Google invested in a company that makes a system that does it.
115M households paying $20 each a month (on average, e.g., 1 in 4 signs up @ $70 a month, three get it free) is $2.3B in revenue to fund the program. A month.
Now, people will say Google has no idea how to lay fiber or run a service organization.
Well, Google didn’t know how to make self-driving cars five years ago, nor did it know how to run an advertising business when it was a search engine.
Apple didn’t know how to make consumer electronics and “could never compete with Samsung and Sony!”
People said NBC could never figure out how to get everyone every minute of the Olympics digitally whenever they wanted it, right?
Never mind that last one.

Anyway, point is, things change, and Google Fiber is going to change everything.
Everyone who would pay $70 for Google Fiber, raise your hand.
[ 95% of folks raise their hands ]
Larry and Sergey are gangsters, and they are going to deliver a knock-out punch to Verizon and Time Warner.
There is no more important project outside of protecting the search/ad business than Google Fiber — and Google Fiber will get you to load a LOT more YouTube videos and search results.
Fiber is not only a “moat strategy” to protect Google’s massive growth businesses, it’s a way to increase usage of Google services 10x over the next 20 years.
And people said Facebook was going to kill Google. Oh you silly bloggers, you amuse me.
It’s going to be an awesome future.

Thanks, Larry.
Thanks, Sergey.

Don’t stop! Lean into it.

Please spend all your cash on this project, and save just a little bit for those Glasses and Cars.

best @jason

PS – If you know one of those telecom wonks who knows everything, please send this to them and ask, “What are the chances Google Fiber becomes a real offering in over 50 cities 10 years from now?” cc — really interested to hear what they say.

This awesome post is re-published in its entirety from and can be see here.

Categories: android, google Tags:

Google Drive is not Ready for Primetime

April 28th, 2012 No comments

The dust on the Drive has settled — Google Drive, that is — and users finally have the chance to play around with the company’s new cloud storage system, one that’s designed to, “work seamlessly with your overall Google experience.”

Seamless, perhaps. But perfect? Google’s arrived a bit late to the cloud storage game and, like a pinch hitter facing a run deficit in the seventh inning, the company needs to knock one out of the park to pull people’s loyalties away from their favorite cloud storage services.

It feels as if general reactions to Google Drive have been good, but not great: That Google’s service is a fine player among its peers, but not noteworthy enough to generate a massive, digital rush to Google’s servers. We’ve rounded up some of the larger criticisms that might be keeping Drive from dominating, all areas that Google could stand to work on if it wants the prettiest cloud in the sky.

1. Size

How many of you have ever run out of space on your Gmail account? We’re willing to bet that it’s a rare occurrence for all but the most popular of Gmail users, makes one wonder why Google is so generous with its email capacity (10GB) and so seemingly stingy with its Drive storage (5GB).

“For cheapskates or freebirds like me, you’ll be better off turning to (or remaining with) Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers 7GB of free storage; Google Drive offers five. (SugarSync, which I’ve also used, does as well.) Microsoft also gave existing SkyDrive users 25GB of free storage. Google, however, would like you to pay them for the privilege of mining your files,”’s Mark Hachman.

2. Cross-Platform Support

And the mobile war continues: Google Drive is fully supported on the Android platform with a native application (go figure). Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS systems can all download a dedicated Google Drive app as well — in fact, it’s the only way you can access your cloud. As for iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone owners…

“GDrive, meanwhile, includes an app for Android. Everything else must use a browser to connect to Google Drive, although there are reports that Google will be releasing iOS apps for GDrive at some point. Other mobile devices will have to continue to use their respective browsers, but it’s worth noting that not all browsers will work. According to Google’s information for GDrive, some older versions of Android won’t work with the Drive, even using the browser.” — eWeek’s Wayne Rash

Of course, it would also be nice to be able to edit non-Google-Docs files or move anything around in one’s Google Drive via the corresponding mobile app, but step one is acquiring working mobile apps in the first place.

3. Offline Editing

Throw a typical Microsoft Word document into your Google Drive and you’ll be able to edit it online, right? Wrong — you can only view it online. You have to convert the file to a Google Document in order to edit it via Google’s Web app. But here’s the rub: You can’t edit Google Docs in your Drive cloud from an offline computer; you can only view them. For novice cloud users, the relationship between Google Documents and offline documents can be pretty confusing.

“There are a couple of ways to work around this issue. First, you can configure your Google Docs for offline access, and you can use Google Chrome browser extensions to enable you to edit Google Docs files offline. Another solution would be to save the file back to its original format after editing it online so that it will open locally in its native application as mentioned above.

That brings us to the other potential issue–file fidelity. Google has gone to great lengths to maintain formatting when converting from Microsoft Office formats to Google Docs and back again, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. For basic documents that just have text, with maybe some bold, italics, and underlining, or simple bullets, it may not be an issue. However complex documents that include things like a table of contents, footers, headers, and footnotes are likely to get mangled and require a lot of manual repair when switched back to their native format.” — PCWorld’s Tony Bradley.

4. File Hosting

“Files hosted publicly in Google Drive should be usable anywhere on the Web.

Anyone can already download the files manually. Google Drive could have a huge advantage over its competitors if you could permalink to those files. If Imgur can host images for other sites, why can’t Google? And Google Drive can understand over 30 file types. Why not PDFs and audio files, too?” — ReadWriteWeb’s Jon Mitchell

Makes sense to us!

5. More Security

As Discovery News’ Rob Pegoraro points out, your files within Google Drive are only as secure as your Google password. That’s not only a great plug for enabling two-way authentication on one’s Google Account, but it also highlights a key difference between Google’s cloud service and that of one of the company’s chief cloud rivals.

“Like SkyDrive but unlike Dropbox, [Google Drive] doesn’t encrypt files stored on its servers; you can use third-party tools like the open-source TrueCrypt to scramble files before uploading, but that’s more work,” Pegoraro writes.

That said, Google execs have said that encrypting files on Google’s servers would prevent features like Google Drive’s OCR engine from being able to scan them. Worse, users would also lose out on being able to preview files within Drive’s Web app.

6. The Dreaded ToS

Much has been written about Google’s Terms of Service for Drive. But you shouldn’t be as concerned about Google “stealing” your information or displaying your publicly available content in a Google Drive advertisement (or what-have-you). Rather, you should be more annoyed if you’re one of the users ponying up additional cash for expanded Drive storage.

By David Murphy

For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).

Article originally published in

Categories: google Tags:

The Mobile Paradox

April 15th, 2012 No comments

Google’s stock declined by over 4% yesterday. Many have put this down to the company’s decision to create a non-voting class of stock as part of a control-retention exercise as the founders sell shares. But more is going on here.

In the same week Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion as part of its efforts to be more relevant on the growing mobile platform, Google, for the second consecutive quarter, suffered a decline in “Cost Per Click” rates that is in large part attributable to the shift in traffic from the desktop/laptop to the mobile platform.

wrote about this last quarter. I also posted on my personal blog in between quarters.

I believe what we are seeing here is the start of a secular trend that represents nothing less than the end of the web 2.0 era where we all consumed services through a browser on a computer. Replacing that era is a new, app-based, message-centric mobile Internet. In this new era the essential unit of advertising (a page based ad, whether text, display or anything else) is simply the wrong monetization vehicle. Something new has to emerge.

It is worth examining the earnings call in detail because these points were clearly articulated on the call by all Google executives.

Patrick Pichette, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Google, speaking on the company’s quarterly conference call this week, said the following:

“Aggregate cost-per-click growth was down 12% and down 6% quarter-over-quarter.”

The statement represented the only negative on the call which had generally reported a very strong financial quarter.

Pichette was compelled to explain:

“So given the recent trends in CPCs and clicks, allow me to spend a bit of time today addressing this. The most important thing for you to understand is that our business is healthy. We believe that shifts in CPC and paid clicks taken independently really do not reflect the fundamental health of our business.”

What? This was a huge quarter and the CFO is almost pleading with the listening analysts to believe that Google has a healthy business. A cynic would quickly draw the conclusion that there is smoke here, and so – most likely a fire.

So Pichette explained more:

“Now allow me some details on this. In general, we attribute these trends to a combination of really 5 core factors. Those include FX, and then there’s 3 mix effects. For example, the mobile versus tablet versus desktop shifts, emerging markets versus developed markets shifts and even the basics of versus our network. And then finally, ads quality changes which is also a huge factor.”

“Many in the financial community have tried to isolate or often I hear pick one of these among these factors as the primary driver for CPC or click trends. Some even say it’s about — all about mobile. Others suggest that it indicates weakness in demand for Google advertising. Well, on the latter point, I want to be very clear that that’s not the case.”

On the latter point indeed. What about the former point? Let’s repeat it: “. Some even say it’s about — all about mobile.” 

Count me in the camp of the “some”. I don’t say this in any negative or gloating spirit. But isn’t it obvious? As Android, iPhone and other mobile platforms grow we are moving away from the page based Internet. The new Internet is app centric and often message-centric. The number of users engaged in this app-centric and message-centric Internet is both huge and their use is growing. People used Instagram for images, not Flickr or Picasa. They use Foursquare for checkins not Facebook. And they do so in large numbers and they do it a lot.

In this world, page-based ads, interstitials, pop-ups; pop-under; pop-over; and most of the other web era advertising units make absolutely no sense. And this is irrespective of whether they are text ads or display ads. Sure some will attract clicks, but for the most part they are ignored or worse still hated. And advertisers will not see the ROI in being in the mobile world using those methods.

As a web-era company, being heavily invested in a web-centric content and application ecosystem is becoming a liability. Facebook is challenged by this shift – hence Instagram; Google is also challenged by it. Yahoo has effectively been killed by it.

Listening analysts on the call didn’t miss the opportunity to focus on this point. At about the 35 minute mark on the call Mark Mahaney from CitiGroup asked:

“And then just real quickly on the mobile CPC issue. Can you just comment again on over time, over what period of time you would expect mobile and desktop CPCs to merge or do you think that’s a realistic expectation? What would cause that to happen or not?”

Pichette answered:

“Think of it as so much upside for us because essentially mobile is exploding in query growth and the formats themselves are just adapting already a lot and from a relatively crude base to so much more in the future. So that you’re absolutely right that right now, they don’t monetize as well because we’re kind of in what search used to be in 2002, 2003, 2004. So as these formats kind of continue to get better and better, we’d expect much better performance on them.”

Larry Page, possibly perturbed by that answer, intervened:

“This is Larry. I’ll add something, Mark. I think the mobile CPCs — I mean, people always spend their most effort on the major — whatever the major source of traffic or revenue is, and those are growing really quickly, albeit currently, obviously, there’s more on desktop. … The fact that you spend most of your money locally, I think that over time that may actually reverse and the CPCs action may get better. But I think we’re very bullish about that. We’re making a lot of investments in that area, in things like Offers and so on and Wallet. And we’re very, very excited about the potential there, and also Click-to-Call and other things that we do.”

The final question on the call at about 58 minutes was asked by Anthony Di Clemente from Barclay’s:

Just one question for Nikesh or whomever wants to answer it. It seems like even though as you’re shifting to mobile, you have this presumably double-digit pricing step down for CPCs. But in the Display world, certainly, that pricing difference could be even more dramatic. In some cases, by half or 2/3. Prices getting cut on that shift to mobile. And so you guys at Google have the unique ability to compare and contrast the difference in price between like Search and Display and how the two are monetizing relative to desktop. And so any color on that comparison would be appreciated because I think there are folks out there that have a view that actually Search, core Search, monetizes better on that shift to mobile than Display does, and I would love to just understand that better.”

Nikesh Arora, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer responded:

“Yes, I mean, I guess — let me try to just explain to it from the advertiser perspective. So what we’re striving towards is advertisers are interested in ROI. Advertisers actually are not interested in whether they’re on the mobile product, the Display product, the Search product on the Web or the Search product on mobile. So what we are fast converging towards is we’re basically sitting down and understanding ROI targets of our advertisers. And then we have immense amounts of inventory at our behest, whether it’s mobile inventory, on Display or Search or desktop inventory or even inventory to our network. And what we are trying to work towards is being able to dynamically allocate across these various products, what allows them to get the maximum ROI.  … In the long-term, we think mobile will monetize better. And we usually don’t see the difference happening on Display and Search as you alluded to. Larry, you want to add something?”

I will leave it to the reader to draw your own conclusions here. But one thing is for sure: Something big and dramatic is happening. Expect a lot more movement in the mobile space as the desktop giants get a better sense of the issues. And as for that Facebook acquisition of Instagram, it may not impact the real threat that mobile represents to Facebook – the threat of falling monetization due to the impracticality of delivering ads derived from the web era to a mobile audience.

Editor’s note: Guest author Keith Teare is General Partner at his incubator Archimedes Labs and CEO of He was a co-founder of TechCrunch. Follow him on Twitter @kteare.

For information on how drive ROI with your digital media and mobile strategy, contact us at Meticul Solutions.

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Look and Feel of Google Android Comes Together

January 6th, 2012 No comments
10 Epic Android Apps

10 Epic Android Apps

(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Google has a new dress code for Android. The semi-open nature of Android has ensured that makers of Android handsets and developers of Android apps have considerable freedom to alter the user interface (UI).

The less open Apple iOS platform also allows developers to design apps as they see fit, provided Apple’s UI guidelines aren’t trampled in the process. But Apple doesn’t have iOS hardware partners reimagining the basic device interface–which some would argue is for the best–the way that Google partners HTC and Samsung have done.

The mobile workforce is one of the fastest growing threats to security.

Discover 7 tips to combat this threat.

Despite a marginal edge in openness, Google has recognized that a bit of guidance about Android themes and styles could bring some order to its unruly mobile ecosystem. In keeping with the company’s recent UI overhaul of its websites, Google is requiring its hardware partners to include the unmodified Holo theme on Android 4.0 devices–the native theme in Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich)–for the sake of compatibility.

“Before Android 4.0 the variance in system themes from device to device could make it difficult to design an app with a single predictable look and feel,” said Google software engineer Adam Powell in a blog post. “We set out to improve this situation for the developer community in Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond.”

[ Find out what may be ahead for Google in 2012. Read Google In 2012: 10 Predictions. ]

Henceforth, devices that ship with Android Market support will be required to include the Holo theme. And that’s going to be most Android devices (at least until Amazon ships an Android-based phone), given that Android Market has just topped 400,000 apps, according to Distmo.

For developers, this means that apps written for Android 4.0 can rely on a predictable look and feel even when there’s a custom skin. This is helpful because it reduces the amount of testing necessary to ensure that an app will work with a non-standard theme, and it will help apps remain functional in the face of future theme revisions.

Powell is careful to stress that Google isn’t trying to limit manufacturer customization, seen in themes like HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz. He says that the new DeviceDefault theme family allows developers to target the device’s native theme while retaining manufacturer customizations designed to override default styles.

By Thomas Claburn,  InformationWeek 
January 04, 2012

Categories: android, google, mobile Tags:

Using Gmail, Docs, Calendar without internet !

September 2nd, 2011 No comments

The great thing about web apps is that you can access all of your information on the go, and we’ve introduced ways to use Google Apps on a variety of devices like mobile phones and tablets. But it’s inevitable that you’ll occasionally find yourself in situations when you don’t have an Internet connection, like planes, trains and carpools. When we announced Chromebooks at Google I/O 2011, we talked about bringing offline access to our web apps, and now we’re taking our first steps in that direction. Gmail offline will be available today, and offline for Google Calendar and Google Docs will be rolling out over the next week, starting today.

Gmail Offline is a Chrome Web Store app that’s intended for situations when you need to read, respond to, organize and archive email without an internet connection. This HTML5-powered app is based on the Gmail web app for tablets, which was built to function with or without web access. After you install the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome Web Store, you can continue using Gmail when you lose your connection by clicking the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome’s “new tab” page.

Google Calendar and Google Docs let you seamlessly transition between on- and offline modes. When you’re offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets when you don’t have a connection. Offline editing isn’t ready yet, but we know it’s important to many of you, and we’re working hard to make it a reality. To get started using Google Calendar or Google Docs offline, just click the gear icon at the top right corner of the web app and select the option for offline access.

IT administrators can deploy Chrome Web Store apps to users en masse by setting up organizational policies for Chrome.

Today’s world doesn’t slow down when you’re offline and it’s a great feeling to be productive from anywhere, on any device, at any time. We’re pushing the boundaries of modern browsers to make this possible, and while we hope that many users will already find today’s offline functionality useful, this is only the beginning. Support for offline document editing and customizing the amount of email to be synchronized will be coming in the future. We also look forward to making offline access more widely available when other browsers support advanced functionality (like background pages).

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Google+ hits 20 million users

July 22nd, 2011 No comments

Google+ continues to go from strength to strength, with 20 million people visiting the site in less than a month – and all this despite it currently being an invite-only service.

Google+ may still have some way to go to equal Facebook’s 700 million users and Twitter’s 200 million, but 20 million unique visitors to the new social networking site in the space of just three weeks isn’t a bad way to start. Of the 20 million, five million were inside the US. The Google+ iPhone app released on Tuesday is sure to boost numbers further.

The new service allows members to create a variety of groups, called “circles,” enabling them to share information and content with only the people they choose. One circle could be made up of co-workers, while another might consist entirely of family members.

The statistics, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, come from web analytics company comScore, who based its results on a “global measurement panel” of two million Internet users.

Speaking about the findings, vice president of industry analysis at comScore, Andrew Lipsman, commented: “I’ve never seen anything grow this quickly. The only other site that has accumulated as many new visitors in a short period of time is Twitter in 2009, but that happened over several months.”

What makes the figures all the more remarkable is that the new social networking service is currently open only to those who receive invites. “Right now, we’re testing with a small number of people,” the Google+ homepage says, “but it won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone.” We can safely assume that the line on the graph will go through the roof when the doors open to all.

The long-term plan for Google+ is to integrate it with other Google services such as YouTube and Gmail. When that happens, it’ll become a service to be reckoned with and will likely begin to make big gains on competitors such as Facebook and Twitter.

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The Web Is Shrinking. Now What?

June 26th, 2011 No comments
We all read the statistics every week documenting the meteoric new growth areas of the Internet, and they are impressive:

Online video is exploding, with annual user growth of more than 45 percent. Mobile-device time spent increased 28 percent last year — with average smartphone time spent doubling. And social networks are now used by 90 percent of U.S. Internet users — for an average of more than four hours a month.

None of this is a newsflash. Every venture capitalist, Web publisher, and digital marketer is hyper-aware of these three trends.

But what’s happening to the rest of the Web?

The Web Is Shrinking. Really.

When you take these three growth areas out of the picture, the size of the hole left behind is staggering: the rest of the Web — the tried and true core that we thought would have limitless growth — is already shrinking.

Here are the facts:

When you exclude just Facebook from the rest of the Web, consumption in terms of minutes of use shrank by nearly nine percent between March 2010 and March 2011, according to data from comScore. And, even when you include Facebook usage, total non-mobile Internet consumption still dropped three percent over the same period.

We’ve known that social is growing lightning fast — notably, Facebook consumption, which grew by 69 percent — but now it’s clear that Facebook is not growing in addition to the Web. Rather, it’s actually taking consumption away from the publishers who compete on the rest of the Web.

And just what is the rest of the Web?

I have been calling it the “document Web,” based on how Google and other Web architectures view its pages as documents, linked together. But increasingly, it might as well be called the “searchable Web” since it’s accessed predominantly as a reference, and navigated primarily via search.

And it’s becoming less relevant.

In the last year, Facebook’s share of users’ time online grew from one out of every 13 minutes of use nationwide, to one out of every eight. In aggregate, that means the document Web was down more than half a billion hours of use (that’s more than 800 lifetimes) this March versus last March. And in financial terms, that represents a lost opportunity of $2.2 billion in advertising inventory that didn’t exist this year.

The Creation of a New, Connected Web

The change in the Web’s direction is a clear indication to me that we aren’t just in the midst of a boom for new interaction modes, but rather in a generational overhaul of the Internet.

What replaces the declining searchable Web is a new and “fully connected” digital life. You may have heard this before. After all, the promise of the Web was to connect pages with hyperlinks. Well, this time, “connected” means much more. It means the Web connects us, as people, to each one of the individuals online; and those connections, ultimately, extend from one of us to all of us.

Just as significantly, this all happens in real time, and at nearly all times.

And here’s what’s different when you connect people, as opposed to pages: Now, the Web knows who we are (identity), is with us at all times wherever we go (mobile), threads our relationships with others (social), and delivers meaningful experiences beyond just text and graphics (video).

The connected, social Web is alive, moving, proactive, and personal, while the document Web is just an artifact — suited as a universal reference, but hardly a personal experience.

The Social Web Versus the Searchable Web

Analytical explanations — increasing smartphone penetration, bandwidth availability, and technology sophistication — fill in some of the gaps as we try to understand this sea change, but they fall short.

Something larger is afoot, and it’s not about science or technology. Rather, as human beings, we have changed how we fit the Internet into our lives.

And the nature of the Web is changing to match. The old searchable Web is crashing; while the new connected, social Web is lifting off.

The implications for publishers are massive.

The last decade has been defined by the rise of Google as the nearly limitless supplier of traffic to digital media properties. And so a generation of digital media publishers developed and followed the same playbook: create lots of content around top keywords, engineer for search engine optimization (SEO) and expand the surface area in search engines to reach more users. The objective was to catch visitors in their net; expand reach — as measured by ComScore — look more impressive to advertisers and capture more demand.

The landscape is changing, and fast.

SEO’s strategic value is quickly fading as Google’s growth slows and its prominence in distribution slides away. In its place, Facebook has become the wiring hub of the connected Web — a new “home base” alternative to Google’s dominance of the last decade. Facebook began receiving as many visits as Google in March 2010, and already garners more than three times as many minutes as Google each month from users, according to comScore. Looking ahead, the best projections of U.S. online reach indicate that Facebook will surpass Google on that metric in less than a year, too.

And with this change, the nature of the relationship between users and publishers is being altered fundamentally — and perhaps forever.

Search offers a utility relationship, connecting users to content for the briefest of transactions; typically, it provokes users to just one pageview so they can find a piece of information, and then they move on.

But social discovery builds a relationship. Leveraging social endorsements and an environment of serendipitous discovery, consumers meet publishers in a meaningful context. As a result, the relationship that forms is stronger — and, more importantly for publishers, it’s branded.

Unlike the ecosystem set up by Google, where the search engine ironically intermediates between users and the objects of their queries (so that users reinforce their loyalty to Google, far more than to the publisher), in the world of social publishing, the Facebook hub enables a direct, if constrained, relationship between users and media brands.

The results — at least for my own company, Wetpaint — are that social media brings more qualified eyeballs and retains them. People who come via social media stay longer on the first visit; and they are more likely to come back sooner and more frequently. Overall, our visitors from social networks have a relationship that’s several times stronger — and several times as valuable when measured in engagement, pageviews, and revenues — than the relationships people form when then arrive through search.

The Human Connection

But it’s not just a change in mechanics. It’s a change in our human relationships.

Lewis D’Vorkin, the Chief Product Officer at Forbes, speaks of it when he and Alex Knapp talk about “live” media, quantum entanglement and mutually rewarding relationships that bind authors and readers on the new connected Web. It’s a sense of the Web moving from static published reference to living digital companion.

But there’s even more, and this vast change foreshadows bigger and better impacts on our lives. The greatest innovators in social media are driving exactly along that edge today. As one friend commented recently on the full potential of connected lives, by being joined more closely together, we can increase empathy and meaning, while decreasing isolation.

Toward a Fully Connected Future

Admittedly, we’re early in the replacement cycle when it comes to the connected Web. Even for strong connected Web performers like Huffington Post, Wetpaint, and others, the sum total of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, video, and mobile may add up to only half the total, or less.

But the trend has tipped, and with that tip has come both the business necessity and the human impact potential of elevating the relationship.

As the document Web of old shrinks, the new connected Web expands and delivers experiences that make our time online more effective, efficient, and enjoyable.

And that changes the role of companies on the Web from mere content publishers or providers to truly connected digital partners for real people.

This article was originally published by All Things Digital.

Published on June 23, 2011
by Ben Elowitz

Ben Elowitz (@elowitz) is co-founder and CEO of web publisher Wetpaint, and author of the Digital Quarters blog about the future of digital media. Prior to Wetpaint, Elowitz co-founded Blue Nile (NILE). He is an angel investor in media and e-commerce companies.


Categories: Facebook, google, Social Media Tags:

Lookout Skype! Here comes Google.

June 25th, 2011 No comments

Heads up, Skype.

Shortly after releasing software for audio and video chat as an open-source project called WebRTC as open-source software, Google is beginning to build it into its Chrome browser.

The real-time chat software originated from Google’s 2010 acquisition of Global IP Solutions (GIPS), a company specializing in Internet telephony and videoconferencing.

The obvious beneficiary for the project is Gmail, whose audio and video communications ability today requires use of a proprietary plug-in. Gmail chat is getting more important as Google’s VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) efforts mature and integrate with the Google Voice service.

But Google has higher hopes that WebRTC will be used well beyond Gmail. Rather, it hopes WebRTC will become an incarnation of a nascent Web standard for videoconferencing and peer-to-peer communications and for the necessary underlying network communication protocols. In an introductory blog post, Google said it released the technology as open-sourceroyalty-free software and pledged to work with other browser makers Mozilla and Opera on the real-time chat project.

If Google and allies succeed in establishing the technology and building support into multiple browsers, that would mean anybody building a Web site or Web application could draw upon the communications technology. In other words, anyone could build a rival to services, such as Skype, with just a Web application.

Google is a prominent advocate of the idea of Web-based applications and the cloud computing approach it enables. Web apps more easily span different computing systems–not just Windows and Mac OS X, but also a profusion of smartphones. Google therefore is working hard to try to catch Web apps up with what native apps can do already. Ultimately, the company stands to profit by encouraging more people to lead an online existence where they’re more likely to perform Google searches and perhaps pay for Google services such as Google Apps.

The WebRTC software soon will begin arriving in Chrome.

“Our goal is to enable Chrome with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple Javascript APIs [application programming interfaces],” Henrik Andreasson, a Google programmer from GIPS, said in a mailing list message Friday. “We are working hard to provide full RTC support in Chrome all the way from WebKit [the open-source browser engine on which Chrome is based] down to the native audio and video parts.”

WebRTC uses two audio codecs from GIPS, iSAC for high-bandwidth connections and iLBC for narrowband connections. (A codec is software used to encode and decode streams of data such as audio and video.)

For video, WebRTC uses Google’s VP8 codec, another open-source, royalty-free technology the company acquired and released in an effort to lower barriers for new technology on the Web.


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