If you are like most marketers I talk to, you are probably trying to find a reliable way to measure the effects of your social marketing efforts. One of the tactics I typically recommend is to use a listening platform to understand and benchmark the scope and quality of conversations happening around your brand. In Razorfish's recent publication "Fluent"they along with TNS Cymfony introduce a formula that really captures the value of listening platforms for measuring social media. They call it a "SocialInfluence Measurement" or SIM score, and it works like this:
1. Calculate the number of positive, negative, and neutral conversations happening for your brand
2. Use the formula (Positive + Neutral - Negative)/ Total brand conversations
3. Calculate the number of positive, negative, and neutral conversations happening for your industry
4. Use the formula (Positive + Neutral - Negative)/ Total industry conversations
I bought Chris Andersen's book "Free" and read it cover to cover. This is notable, I think, both for the buying and the reading. First the buying: I bought it hardcover, at my local bookstore, for $26.95 plus tax (I'm sure my friends at Hyperion are pleased). It was available cheaper on Amazon, but I couldn't wait for it; it was available for Kindle ($9.99, previously free); Sony eBookstore ($11.99, or you can get a "bundle" with The Long Tail, for the same price, and I don't see why you wouldn't); it wasn't yet available for the Cool-er Reader on coolerbooks.com.
Today Sony announced that its public domain offerings from Google in its eBook store has reached 1 million volumes. That's a lot of eBooks. For context, the Library of Congress has 32 million books and is the world's largest library; Harvard's collection is 5th largest at 15 million books. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) So we're merrily trucking along at digitizing the world's collection of books.
Hardly a week goes by without a press article or conference reporting how ubiquitous mobile payment services and their adoption are in Japan. Forrester decided to put some figures on the so-called Japanese mass-market reality and to understand why Japan is the declared leader in mobile contactless payment services. What lessons can others learn from the Japanese market and to what extent do they apply to Europe?
There are several reasons why Japan is ahead of the curve among which the role of Felica Networks in the value chain and the scale merchants could benefit from (Sony and DoCoMo invested several dozens of million euros to make sure that retailers and points of sale had the technology to read the chipsets embedded in mobile devices), the loosening of Japan's financial regulations (making it possible for non-banks to become financial services players), operators' role in paving the way for mass market adoption of mobile Internet and higher usage of mobile services (fostering the natural expansion of mobile payments).
Despite this, reality is that the mobile contactless market in Japan is only reaching critical mass, not mass-market adoption. In Europe, conditions differ quite a lot and even if Near-Field Technology is likely to play a key role in the future, the technology is only entering the pre-commercial era.
At 8am this morning Plastic Logic announced that it will be partnering with AT&T to provide wireless 3G connectivity on its eReader device, expected out in Q1 2010. This announcement follows the news of Barnes & Noble's partnership with the device-maker.
No doubt, having big brands like B&N and AT&T on its partnership roster helps Plastic Logic establish credibility in a market where it is an unknown, competing against mammoths like Amazon and Sony. And the announcements help inspire confidence that the device will actually get to market--an assumption that can't be taken for granted given the pre-launch financial failure of other eReader competitors like Polymer Vision.
We think cellular connectivity--not just wifi, which isn't available everywhere--is table-stakes for Plastic Logic (and Barnes & Noble) to have any hope of competing with Amazon. Consumers value the seamless connectivity of the Kindle's Whispernet service, which lets them download a book in 60 seconds using Sprint's network. Especially since Plastic Logic will be focused on newspapers (USA Today and The Financial Times are also partners), having the device be able to connect and refresh content anytime, anywhere, will be crucial for its success.
What we still don't know: the financial terms of the deal. Will it be a wholesale model with a per-user monthly fee, like Sprint's arrangement with Amazon? Or will consumers be charged directly for a monthly data plan, like AT&T does for Apple iPhones? Will AT&T get a cut of every transaction, or just a per-user fee?
What we do know is that the big remaining competitor in the US mobile market, Verizon/Vodafone, won't be able to sit this one out. Our prediction: We'll see them partner up with Sony, First Paper, or both, before the end of the year.
Summary: Yahoo's new homepage is more like a feedreader and application platform for users to do more without leaving Yahoo.com. It's a much needed update as Yahoo keeps up with the modern web, but think of it as evolution --not a revolution.
Last week, a handful of Forrester analysts were briefed and given a demo of Yahoo's much needed homepage redesign --here are my observations from the demo and conversation.
Outdated Yahoo.com in need of redesign
The old version of Yahoo is in serious need of a refresher as the main page navigation hampers users with two sections of tabs with even more content and links. For the most part, the content not as personalized, and no integration of social. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is the page is designed for people to click through --using it as a pass through only.
A little birdie told me several weeks ago that Polymer Vision, maker of the "rollable" pocket-size Readius, would be filing for bankruptcy, and lo and behold, they did, as reported on July 15 by the Hampshire Chronicle, the local paper of Millbrook, England, where the company was based. The story has since been picked up by Engadget, and here's our two cents.
First, a bit of background: Royal Philips Electronics was one of the early investors in E Ink, which makes the displays for nearly all eReaders on the market today. Deciding that eReaders were not a core business focus, in 2005 Philips spun off iRex Technologies, a company that has since seen modest success with its B2B sales model for eReaders, and spun off Polymer Vision in 2006. Polymer Vision was planning to manufacture its own displays, and use an ODM in Asia for the device manufacturing, with the goal of dominating a new market for pocket-sized eReaders.
A reporter asked me yesterday whether I thought Chris Anderson was right, or whether I thought he was too glib. I don't think an either/or question.
What I've come to realize while researching and writing reports like our paid content forecast is that yes, free can be a business model--but only for much, much smaller businesses than most media companies as they exist today, with their Manhattan skyscrapers or sprawling Hollywood studios, thousands of employees, unions, factories, warehouses, and debt obligations.
So Anderson is right, but not right enough to be much comfort to the media companies on which we depend.