Monday, August 29, 2011
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Posted by Maverickguy at 12:08 AM
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The idea of combining lime with black cherries in a beverage may not be intuitive for some foodies out there, but it appears to have been for the nearly 116,000 users on vitaminwater’s flavorcreator application. The Coca-Cola-owned company has been running an ambitious campaign over the past month that includes a Facebook app, an active Facebook page, television commercials, YouTube videos, and more.
Vitaminwater is going beyond normal brand marketing, and trying to figure out Facebook users’ tastes to determine what new flavor of vitaminwater to introduce next spring.
The app actually has three steps, two of which are now complete. The first step asked users to pick their favorite flavors, and scoured a wide range of web sites for information about those flavors — see the screenshot for “Mint” for what that looked like.
And because this is vitaminwater, the new flavor will also have its own special selection of vitamins. Actually, all vitamins, and then some: “vitamins a to zinc + caffeine.” This is the result of the second step, a series of light-hearted games and quizzes that tried to figure out what sort of vitamins each user needed most — the answer was apparently “a lot.”
The company based the app as a tab on its vitaminwater Facebook page, and as a result the page itself was one of the fastest growers for a couple weeks in September. By this point it has more than doubled from 410,000 to 981,000 today. These are fans that vitaminwater can now promote the new flavor to when it becomes available, as well as any other campaigns it does in the future.
However, users who came to the fan page still had to install the app to participate. Given that the app has 116,000 fans, it seems the company did not convert hundreds of thousands of users from fans to market research subjects.
Now, in the third part of the campaign, users can form teams within the app on Facebook and enter a contest to design the bottle for the new flavor. The winning team will get $5,000. Celebrities Carrie Underwood and long-time vitaminwater business partner 50 Cent will help choose the winner.
Based on growth over the past seven days, AppData’s top 20 up-and-coming applications for this week include a broader variety than usual. Many are simple applications, like number one on the list, “What will happen tomorrow with you?” It’s a strange sort of questionnaire, that at every turn blends questions in with quiz ads, or asks users to spread the app by inviting their friends or posting about it on their walls.
|1.||What will happen tomorrow with you?||929,844||+812,611||+693.2||—|
|4.||Chakpak Movies||769,682||+186,749||+32.0||Chakpak Media|
|5.||O-Meter App Factory||334,161||+181,062||+118.3||3happybytes|
|6.||Birthday Countdown||509,206||+152,299||+42.7||Internet Design Zone|
|7.||QUE CLASE DE MAMA ERES||218,093||+108,932||+99.8||Clara Carolina Martinez Junge|
|8.||Promotions||720,989||+108,450||+17.7||Wildfire Interactive, Inc.|
|9.||What do they say about me?||499,691||+90,647||+22.2||3happybytes|
|10.||World War II||277,944||+73,416||+35.9||CrowdStar|
|12.||Hari Raya Cards||378,596||+68,199||+22.0||—|
|15.||How Sexy Is Your Name Calculator||269,064||+61,826||+29.8||Internet Design Zone|
|16.||Tetris Friends||667,232||+56,980||+9.3||Tetris Online, Inc|
|18.||Pirates of the World||834,525||+53,833||+6.9|
|20.||World Poker||801,651||+50,047||+6.7||6 waves|
It managed to gain 813,000 users in the last week to reach 930,000 monthly active users total; we’ll see how long it keeps growing. More credible is number two on the list, Animal Hunter. It’s a simple game that lets you “hunt” animal icons in a small grid. It grew by by 210,000 users in the past week — its entire growth, although the likely explanation is that we just started tracking it.
At number three, meanwhile, is Playfish’s Quiztastic, a quiz game that had gotten off to a slow start when it launched towards the end of August. It had less than 60,000 users as of September 7th, but grew 189,000 this past week to come in at 682,000. Playfish has no doubt been fine-tuning the game dynamics and cross-promoting it with its more popular apps — whatever is going on, things are looking up.
And, as usual, we’re continuing to see strong performances among international app developers. Argentinian developer 3happybytes has a couple apps on the list, there’s a new Indian movie-fan app called Chakpak movies, and a poker game from Hong Kong developer 6 Waves.
Facebook has proven to be an excellent way to re-connect with old friends, but collection agencies are now using it to re-connect with old debts. A recent article from the New York Daily News highlighted one Long Island resident who had an agency find him through Facebook, where they tapped into his friend network to attempt to collect a 15-year-old debt, and there are also reports of agencies posing as attractive girls to lure debtors into accepting friend requests.
Collection agencies have been using Google to find these people on social networks. Traditional methods of collection through the mail and phone calls can be easily ignored, but it’s a little harder to turn a blind eye to a collection agency sending messages to friends and family on Facebook.
In the case of Michael Buccello, the collection agency tracked him down on Facebook, going as far as sending his mother messages that his debt could lead to jail time. While it isn’t uncommon for collection agencies to contact relatives by phone to attempt to collect a debt, Facebook news feeds and wall posts can spread word of a debt much further and quicker. The negative social stigma of an unpaid debt may lead to a quicker resolution, as most Facebook users are not likely to enjoy having their dirty laundry aired through their news feeds.
So how can one avoid having a debt collection agency pollute his or her page with notices? The obvious answer is to pay off one’s debts, but that’s not always possible. Being cautious about what friend requests get accepted is a good first step, but all the agency has to do is find one friend or relative in your network to accept their request to spread notice information. Another way would be to set your privacy settings to make your profile hidden.
The simple fact is that being a part of a social network like Facebook means putting yourself into the public eye, making it easier for agencies to track you down. This is just another reminder that it’s important to think about what information you put out on the Web; it seems there’s always someone out there looking to use social networks for less-than-friendly reasons.
While developers and Facebook Platform ad networks are double-checking their ad inventory this week after several large apps were suspended this weekend, some developers are beginning to explore alternative forms of advertising.
One interesting tactic we’ve seen more of lately is the use of Facebook’s Fan Box widget to drive fans to Facebook Pages before showing users the results of a quiz or friends-stats calculation. For example, check out this interstitial page from popular application Friend Facts:
As you can see, there’s nothing incentivized about the promotion; rather, the developer of the application is simply promoting certain Facebook Pages while “Friend Facts are being computed.”
With over 3.3 million monthly active users, Friend Facts is likely able to drive a reasonable number of fans to Facebook Pages. Currently, it’s sending traffic to a combination of what appear to be active business Pages (like CityMommy) and generic Pages (like Gadget Purse).
We’ll keep tabs on new forms of advertising we see popping up inside the Platform.
Monday, October 5, 2009
A few weeks ago we had a visitor at the Googleplex: Rob Hof, the Silicon Valley bureau chief at BusinessWeek. Rob talked to a bunch of Googlers and sat in on one of our weekly quality-leads meetings. The resulting story is out now. The first part of the story covers some of the challenges facing Google, but the second part gets into more detail than we normally get into.
What’s even more interesting is that BusinessWeek put up transcripts of some of the interviews. You can read interviews with:
- Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO
- Udi Manber, vice-president of engineering and head of the search quality group
- Amit Singhal, head of Google’s core ranking team in the search quality group
- Scott Huffman, head of the group that evaluates quality in the search quality group
- me (Matt Cutts). I’m the head of the webspam team in the search quality group
Org-chart-wise, it looks like this:
Eric Schmidt would be at the top of the cloud, Udi would be the “Search Quality” box, I’d be in the webspam box, and Amit and Scott lead teams within the “Other groups” part.
The two interviews I liked the most were Amit’s and Scott’s. Amit sums up Google’s philosophy toward real-time, he discusses our pragmatic (yet algorithmic) approach to search, and our attitude toward our users:
Q: I think the criticism is: Where’s the money in those [non-search/ads parts of Google]?
A: The right way to look at it is not the money. Is there value to the users? If you bring value to the users, I think we will succeed in the long run. Some things make more money than others, but as long as we keep bringing value to the world, we will be successful.
I liked Scott’s interview because he goes into more detail of how we evaluate search quality than I’ve seen in the past. Evaluating search quality is really hard to get right. I also liked this quote:
But the other thing we always do is we go in and look in more detail at what are some of the individual positive and negative things that we’re getting out of this. Are the positive things really that positive, will they really make a difference to our users? And maybe more important, for the negative things, how important are they, can we live with them?
At the entrance to Google’s main cafe, there’s three doors. Two are normal doors that you pull to open, and they always work. The other door is a spiffy automatic door that slides open for you–except that the automatic door seems to be broken about 5-10% of the time. When the automatic door works, it’s very cool and you’d definitely prefer to use it. But when the door is broken, you’re left standing in front of a glass door and you feel like a dork as you wave your hands, move around, and generally try to get the “automatic” door to open for you. I’ve noticed that many people stopped using the sometimes-broken automatic door and instead always go straight to the reliable doors.
Search can be kind of like that door in a lot of ways. Spiffy features are great, but if they’re wrong or don’t trigger in some reasonable way that your mind can predict, the failure is worse somehow. The same holds true with the organic search results: a catastrophic search failure can stick in your mind much more than the 200 searches that worked well. Search quality evaluation is tricky because you need to take that factor plus hundreds more into account. It’s taken years for Google to really evaluate our quality well, and we still continue to learn important new things.
If you really want to understand more about how Google thinks, I highly recommend Amit’s and Scott’s interviews. They’re a great reminder to me that we have a very deep bench of smart, well-spoken people in the search quality group and in Google in general. I would love to see more Googlers talking about their work.
And finally, on the subject of Googlers talking about their work, a whole bunch of Googlers will be at the Search Marketing Expo East in New York this week. Joachim Kupke will talk about duplicate content, Ari Bezman will talk about maps, Jack Menzel will talk about what’s next in search and universal search, Jeremy Hylton will talk about real-time search, Maile Ohye will talk about best practices for search, Matthew Liu will talk about YouTube, and Frederick Vallaeys will answer questions about AdWords.
Also, don’t miss Bruce Johnson and Kathrin Probst from Google. They’ll be on the “CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & SEO” panel. If you’re at SMX East, I think you’ll enjoy that panel."
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Social Revitalizer is the latest company to offer a tool to bring together Facebook and Twitter — Social Twitter, a Facebook application that lets users of both social networks to post Tweets directly from their Facebook page.
Using Social Twitter to update your Twitter feed from your Facebook page is pretty straightforward. You need to add the app, then give it your Twitter handle and password. In the app, there’s a 140-character counter and tabs to post or clear your entry. You can also create a profile box on your wall or Boxes tab which shows your Twitter avatar, name and latest Tweet on your home page.
Social Twitter offers users a way to selectively post their Facebook status updates to their Twitter feeds, sort of like Facebook’s new in-house app for posting from pages to Twitter. Facebook, however, doesn’t currently let you selectively post status updates from your personal profile to Twitter (something MySpace has notably recently turned on). Most of Twitter-Facebook applications already available, including Twitter’s own Facebook app, third-party apps like TweetFace, Selective Twitter Status and desktop app Tweetdeck, are built around Twitter, then let you selectively post tweets into Facebook.
Social Twitter is also a little different in that it also allows users to create a Twitter tab on their Facebook pages where they can access their Twitter account and track all of their own Tweets.
Social Revitalizer offers a range of other Facebook applications and services for individuals and businesses, and it seems that it has done a good job of addressing some of the concerns that arose with similar programs. The convenience of posting directly to Twitter while seeing your feed from Facebook is a nice touch, but it could be even better if there was the ability to view the feed of those your following, or at least those that are also using Facebook or the service. This is still a rather new application, so it will be interesting to see how it develops as more people beginning using and commenting on the app.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Dropbox, the easy to use file access manager which syncs your files across all your computers and the web, has introduced an iPhone application to make it even easier to access your files anywhere in the world. After almost 7 weeks of waiting, Apple has finally approved the application. With this new iPhone app, users will get access to all their Dropbox documents, PDF’s, pictures, videos and much more. Dropbox also introduced offline viewing in the iPhone app, with “Favorites.” If you add a file to your ‘Favorites’, they’ll be accessible at any time. To do so, just hit the star at the bottom of any file, and it’ll be added. Otherwise, your files stay in the cloud.
One of Dropbox’s core features is sharing your files and folders stored in the cloud with anyone else who has a Dropbox account, and the iPhone is no exception. Users can easily share their Dropbox files and folders from their iPhone to any other Dropbox user by putting in their email address, just like on the web. The app allows users to upload photos for 3G users, and videos if you have an iPhone 3GS.
What’s really cool about Dropbox’s iPhone app is that you can even stream music and movies from your Dropbox straight to your iPhone, without any noticeable delay. Dropbox’s app is also heavily integrated into Apple’s camera API with straight photo and video uploading available too.
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
Mickos served as chief executive officer for the open source database company from January 2001 to February 2008, when Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL for $1 billion. Benchmark was a relatively early investor in the company; they participated in the $20 million Series B round together with Index Ventures back in 2003.
In the tweets announcing the move, Mickos says he likes Benchmark because they care about the needs of entrepreneurs and because they can ‘think big’. He will be joining Keith Krach, Mike Cassidy, Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Dan Finnegan, Sarah Leary and Nirav Tolia as EIR at the Silicon Valley VC firm, which is behind a number of high-profile investments in web startups like Twitter, Gigya, Prosper, OpenTable, Mint.com and FriendFeed.
Anyone care to venture a guess as to when Mickos’ next Benchmark-backed startup will see the light of day?
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
Posted by Maverickguy at 10:37 PM