<![CDATA[The Head Lemur is pissed off about the crumbs companies leave all over his Web experience:
Imagine you are in a mall, walking by stores, and every merchant came out, said nothing to you, opened your clothing and photographed your breasts or penis. Imagine your children being touched like this. Now imagine these merchants selling these photos to anybody with a checkbook. And then they want you to buy their stuff.
I think that with metrics based on gathering places and intent, we can eliminate much of the privacy-busting marketers believe they need to do today. Then, the challenge will be to keep the whole Web from seeming like a shopping mall, which is the next dumb assumption most marketers will fall on.
The cloud would be a picture of a conversation surrounding a person or a topic. The picture would show the relationships between the participants in a conversation. The densest areas would represent people who frequently cross-reference each other over time.
You can start with a participant (the url of a person’s weblog), or a search term (a word or tag) Nodes are clustered based on closeness, measured by number of links and reverse links over a period of time (comments, too, if you can measure them).
I’ve been following this discussion, mostly holding my tongue because it may look self-serving to respond with “here are the pictures you want of blog relationships” by pointing at the MyDensity site we’ve put together to show off the social analysis tools built by Persuadio. I also realize it would be incorrect, as we’ve focused on the big picture to the detriment of a small world.
Simply put, like many of the indexers, we’ve tried to capture the role of any blog or Web site in any conversation (being about more than blogs has been important to us from the very beginning). Meanwhile, it would have been simple all along to provide what Adina calls a “conversational cloud” that shows the relationships around a single posting or Web page. And, frankly, it took someone asking for that simple solution to realize it was the first thing we should have offered instead of trying to solve the really huge problems we’re wrestling.
The current MyDensity maps show all the relationships around a blog, rather than the links to a single page (which we can do, but just hadn’t).
Unfortunately, we hear often from customers that they want a “top” this or “top” that list and had decided to focus on that. With limited resources and real money coming from these people, we paid attention. It is what they are ready for.
The desire to see the big picture is endemic in a changing market. Top 10, Top 20 or Top 500 lists make a certain amount of sense if you are trying to aim for plain old low cost-per-thousand (CPM) or cost-per-impression advertising deals. Most advertising and marketing people aren’t prepared to think outside the CPM box, and if they do, they think about relatively ineffective cost-per-click (CPC) ads.
The contours of this market are very poorly understood. ComScore, the Reston, Va.-based research firm, in an August 2005 report describes visitor traffic to the top blog hosting sites in aggregate even though the blogs hosted by those services, their authors and readers share few demographic or behavioral characteristics. For marketing and advertising purposes they are separate publications, not a monolith that can be compared to the traffic of the New York Times—however, ComScore does make that spurious comparison. Yes, more readers (ComScore does not distinguish between readers and bloggers visiting BlogSpot to author their own sites, confounding any attempt to characterize audience size) may visit BlogSpot in a month, but the information they are consuming and commenting on there is disorganized; by contrast, the editorially coherent sections of the New York Times create viable venues for addressing audiences with specific interests.
Marketers are stuck between that familiar composed environment of the Times, with all its shortcomings, and the apparent anarchy—from their perspective—of the blogosphere with all the opportunities it represents. Every discussion of a “top” list is predicated on mapping the reach of a site to the community around a blog or group of blogs. There’s a hunger for something recognizable to grab hold of, which is why I keep harping on the question of how to get today’s content owners to start across a bridge to content sharing.
If we can solve all these problems by laying out the flow of influence, the role of trust and conflict in discussions, magical things will happen to the marketplace of ideas.
When it comes to conversations about specific topics or just conversations between people, though, there are multiple dimensions of value, some personal—the kind of information in the clouds around a single posting—and some profoundly economic: If you can target advertising based on behavioral characteristics, the value of an ad can soar. If you know what people are talking about, you can guess why and position a contextually relevant and high-value CPC ad alongside the content of the page.
If the marketer were really radical, the ads would go away and the message, with all necessary disclaimers so that it would not pollute the content, would come through as part of the conversation.
When it comes to blogs, the content is so personal and bloggers so interested in understanding the intellectual currents around their writing, audio or video, that the first responsibility of a company that wants to be of service to the market is to be of service to the bloggers. So far, Persuadio has been of service to a couple customers, but if we cannot get more information to bloggers we’ll forever be outside the market we most want to serve. For most of us bloggers, it really is about the neighborhood (Ross Mayfield’s discussion of the Rule of 150 play well, even years later) we’re talking with than our rank in the whole blogosphere (though such ranking is a guilty pleasure the honest blogger will cop to).
That said, as we map blogs we also map the rest of the Web and the relationships between all information, individuals and organizations we are often confused as primarily a mapping service rather than an analytics service. We want to offer information about who is talking, their relationships (even the hidden ones) so that everyone can judge ideas and movements based on the fullest information. We’ve been aiming at that, but thinking like an old-style analytics company, so we’re going to change, but I hope you’ll remember that there is a lot of social measurement going on in the background that have both social and economic value.
We’ll have link clouds for you very shortly. Allow us a bit more time and we’ll let you configure the variables of the map, so that you choose to include current or archival links in the calculation of influence, as well. We’re awake to this, now.
<![CDATA[Matt Galloway hits on many great ideas, which I found via Dina.
The gang (it’s growing) at Persuadio is building a company on many of these ideas, focusing on vertical analysis of influence—not just the influentials, but the paths around them, the velocity of ideas, the fact that there are influentials and amplifiers, and more—we will have a real Web site in the next couple weeks as we emerge from stealth mode. The first example of our technology, at www.mydensity.com, which tracks the social network two degrees around any URL, doesn’t get to any of the influence tracking by topic/theme, but it is available in an enterprise service.
I agree with John Dowdell, who commented on Matt’s posting, that aggregate-by-author will not always work to identify influential bloggers. I agree with Matt that the size of the whole Blogosphere doesn’t matter, nor does the whole Web. When looking at influence, we have to dig very deeply into narrow spectrums of network relationships.
I contend that there are layers of influence based on different interests among writers, but the existing relationships we have with the writer (or podcaster or…) do carry over into areas where they are not necessarily “expert” or consistently writing about. Understanding how those marginal relationships can be amplified is important to seeing into the flow of influence. So, aggregate-by-author must be combined with topic-based aggregation and other analysis to provide real insight into how a conversation is changing, how it is changed by the marketer’s participation or by advertising or other types of messaging, whether a competitor’s or a customer’s.
“Influentials” casts the influencer as an end-point on the network, which simplifies how marketers deal with them; they are, however, conttenuated by the network. Participatory marketing based on increasingly transparent views of the conversation needs to recognize how dynamic influence is—getting an influential talking is only the beginning, not the end, of the process.
We’re building the system that delivers feedback that lets you see into what the process is producing for the marketer; and we’ll do some great things for bloggers, political campaigns, media watchdogs and media companies, too.
<![CDATA[Once more into the breach at WebTalk Radio. This episode features my head exploding and testimony by the chairman of General Electric—it was really warm in the studio and I got weird.
You can listen in Windows Media, Real and MP3. It’s up to ye.
<![CDATA[Doc Searls has a long summary of the small storm building around Peter Hirshberg’s reported comments about a Technorati enterprise service, which I wrote about yesterday. He rides to Technorati’s defense, unnecessarily, I think, because no one disputes marketers need raw data about what is being talked about.
I’m a little surprised that Doc’s take on the information is that people have “jumped to conclusions based on what one guy said,” since that is the very essence of blogging: A single correspondent reported something that would have otherwise been ignored. A lot of people are very interested in how Technorati might make money and, more to the point, help them make money.
Technorati is over-reaching, as an entrepreneurial company often should. Bully for them.
I’d like to find a way to use the Technorati data to build metrics that expose the value Marc Canter wrote is worth billions and billions of dollars, but because of Technorati’s struggle to find its business model, it has been hard to make a deal, and there are other fish to fry. I’m more than open to finding a way to work with Technorati data—I’ve tried—but we also want to work with Bloglines, PubSub and myriad other sources of raw data; everyone of these companies is affecting the distribution of value and Persuadio’s view is that a third-party analysis is what customers need to decide how to work with these aggregators and invest in advertising.
Apparently, there is some doubt the enterprise service exists. The fact is there is a real service, which I am told Technorati has been pitching to PR firms for approximately $100,000 a year. It is not “repurposed content” (as I said yesterday, Technorati is too smart for that) but a kind of early-warning system that looks very much like what you see at Technorati.com, with a heavy emphasis on watchlists. It still points users to the original posting for complete text, as the Technorati site does today.
That’s useful, but, as I said, Technorati is also shaping the discussion. Google many topics today and you’ll see the Technorati tag page near the top of the results; at Persuadio, we find that a tagged topic is often skewed by Technorati’s presence in the market, which is one part of our analysis of influence and value in the conversational market.
Sure, we haven’t exposed a lot of that to the market, but it’s early. Very early, as Doc Searls, points out about the entire marketplace. We’re working with early customers to define what they need to understand, as well as building our own algorithms to identify value and influence within the conversation.
“It’s all about getting the right algorithm” he said at one point, arguing that Technorati’s sophisticated automated services would enable corporations to find out what is being said about them, their people, products, and to respond to bad news very quickly, by engaging bloggers in conversations….
Mr Hirshberg’s pitch very much played into the fear that most corporations and their media relations teams currently wrestle with: how do you deal with millions of bloggers acting as journalists? How do you control your corporate message?
Well, Technorati is offering services that will help companies control their corporate message by identifying those blogs and their social network, that have posted around the “wrong” message. Then, I would imagine, some sort of corporate “SWAT” team could parachute in and engage those off-message bloggers.
“You need to become involved in the conversation,” Mr Hirshberg strongly advised his audience.
Along with Marc, Dave and others, I’m increasingly confused by the messages coming out of Technorati. They are grasping in so many directions—as a consumer service and species of publisher with Technorati.com, as an enabling technology provider with tags and attention.xml, as a business intelligence service. Dave Sifry is a great entrepreneur, but it is impossible to do everything well.
Knowing who is talking about you is only one small step in the process of understanding the conversation before you enter it. Our analytics delve into who is influential, who changes the conversation most efficiently and what ideas are poised for acceleration, both good and bad. The “real-time” summary of the conversation available from Technorati and others, we think, is useful, but dangerous if you don’t think carefully before reacting. In fact, you should not be reacting at all, but leading the conversation about your products and, to the degree that it’s reasonable to do so in a collegial and positive way, the discussions about all topics your or your company cares about. Our services are about intelligent participation, adding value at the level where decisions about messaging and advertising are made, which gives us a solid customer-centered place to focus our efforts.
You know, I suggested this business to Dave before launching Persuadio; he wasn’t interested in it then, but I am flattered that he thinks it could be a major revenue stream now—it confirms there is a market for the new metrics we’re creating at Persuadio.
The concern raised by SiliconValleyWatcher, that Technorati is monetizing bloggers’ creativity without sharing the wealth is misplaced, I think. Technorati has avoided pirating bloggers’ work by making it important to clickthrough to read full postings. It makes it easier to find the source data of the conversation. Were it to start taking full feeds of data and republishing them for corporate customers, it would be violating the rights of authors who have non-commercial share-and-share-alike Creative Commons licenses, but the folks at Technorati are too smart to make that mistake.
Unfortunately, they don’t seem to realize that the “algorithms” of participation and influence—the market metrics for the conversational market—can’t be delivered by an enabler of the conversation that simultaneously shapes the conversation with a proprietary tagging scheme. Persuadio analysis consistently finds that Technorati tags are changing the flow of data, meaning that any attempt to measure Technorati’s influence has to be conducted by a third party in order to be fair and unbiased.
Technorati, at least according to my old friend Peter Hirshberg‘s comments, is talking like it is building Persuadio’s services, but they are not. Persuadio’s aiming at a lot of heavy computational lifting offered on a hosted basis, rather than aggregating content for convenient tracking. Amongst other things, we’re measuring Technorati to help our customers understand its influence on the conversation.
<![CDATA[Blog Business Summit:
On July 19, Blog Business Summit speakers, bloggers, and press will converge for Blogging the Stratosphere 1.0. The event is an exclusive flight onboard Connexion One, a Boeing 737-400 used to demonstrate the Connexion by Boeing signature high-speed in-flight Internet service. In addition to a sneak preview of new service features, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Connexion by Boeing team, hear about Connexion’s participation in the upcoming Blog Business Summit, and enjoy dinner.
A couple years ago, I started a small firestorm when I pointed out that some bloggers accepted paid travel from Microsoft. Here I go, again.
The event described above sounds really cool, because it includes bloggers in a preview of a technology-based service that was once reserved for the press. What I want the bloggers involved in this to hear: These fabricated news events were the downfall of the mainstream press and should be scrupulously avoided. They are designed to make you say, “Gee, that’s so cool,” and identify with the companies behind a new product or service; they are not designed for serious discourse or examination of what’s on offer. Looking the engineer who oversaw a project in the eye does give you some added insight, though it’s insight that you should be able to get by calling them on the phone or meeting over lunch on your dime, not their expense account—after all, you’re the one seeking information. When you’re on a special “bloggers and press only” flight, the rules are set by the hosts and you’re not in a position where questions will get answered based on mutual trust and respect.
For those of you in the PR business, I urge you to think about new ways to engage. The dialogue available to you through legitimate engagement with bloggers and press in the conversational market are far more valuable and cannot be bought so cheaply. You’ll get what you pay for, which ain’t much if you treat bloggers like Just More Press.
…Broadband Mechanics will be utilizing this technology in all our future micro-content publishing systems and DLAs (digital lifestyle aggregators) so we thought it would be useful to the entire industry as well….
ReBlg.org would enable end-users to register their favorite tool of choice so that wherever they traveled on the web, by simply clicking on the ‘ReBlg’ button – they could easily send that post to their favorite tool. If the end-user doesn’t want to rely upon our web service, then they can simply download a MIME handler to do that routing for them….
I think I understand this, though I seldom think about MIME handlers anymore. It’s a convenient republishing router that can be embedded in any page to call a local blogging or page editing tool, but the explanation needs to be crystal clear for people to glom onto the ease-of-use Marc’s talking about.
Why would you want this on your site? Easy: It helps people talk about you, your ideas, your product, your coverage of events. It’s an information accelerator.]]>
<![CDATA[Persuadio has two projects due—our first week of customer deadlines. We'll be also be demoing at Supernova today and I’ll be able to show some cool stuff at Gnomedex if you stop me and ask what we’re doing.
Watch Audible for interesting news at Gnomedex. Join us for the Seattle Library party on Thursday.
Rob Greenlee and I will be recording extensively from the show, too! This will be the most-podcasted event, so far.]]>