Archive for December, 2006

RSS and Blog Advertising recap

December 30, 2006

 

As the year ends in which the graph for number of blogs coming up every moment has seen a steep upward slope and so has been the adoption of RSS feeds, I think it will be good idea to have a quick recap of companies/startups offering specialized advertising for RSS feeds, and Blog. Most of the companies offering Ad publishing services, which started in 2005/06, continue to operate in private-beta or invite only beta or early public launch stage. Stats for CTRs and revenues generated from RSS feeds are hard to come by while at the same time major blogs and blog networks reported 60% or more traffic coming through RSS feeds.

Comparing this to mobile advertising space, which has also started picking up from 2006, I am amazed at the growth of Admob. Admob has served more than 734 million mobile ad views in around 1 year of its existence. I think we have yet to come across such a formidable player in the RSS industry that gives accurate metrics for ads served or revenue generated for its publishers. Given the fact that RSS is getting integrated with Outlook, already being integrated with Thunderbird, and other feed consumption tools from major companies like  Google, I expect more mainstream RSS adoption. Number of people believe that widgets might overshadow RSS adoption, which will definitely be tested in 2007. Personally I think RSS will continue to grow more on the corporate side, while personal users will tend to use widgets. This in turn means that an increased number of publishers will be looking to monetize their content on either platform.

Anyhow enough digression from the original idea. Below are some of the options that Blog/Feed publishers have for placing ads in their RSS feeds —

FeedBurner – Prime mover in the RSS space has its own FeedBurner Ad Network. Publishers have options to review and approve CPM based Ad Campaigns, and customize ad insertion frequency in their feed and site. FeedBurner’s keeps 35% of the net advertising revenue for ads running in your feed. However FeedBurner has yet to automate signups for the publishing service that can take couple of more days to kickoff. Variety and number of advertisers in the Ad Network is another issue.

Pheedo – Pheedo is one of the oldest companies offering Feed advertising. Pheedo does CPM and CPC based text, logo, and banner ads and also offers geo-targeting capabilities for ads in RSS feeds and on-site ads. Publishers can run Pheedo Ads inside their FeedBurner managed feeds. To get started publishers just need to cut and paste Pheedo RSS ad code into their blog feed templates. Earlier in September 2006 Pheedo and Simplefeed had entered into a partnership to bring new RSS marketing tools to publishers.

Text Link Ads – Feedvertising from TLA enables placing of unobtrusive text link ads into the bottom of RSS feeds. TLA ads for feeds are available for publishers using WordPress software and will need to install a plugin to get started.

Google Adsense – Adsense for Feeds has been in works for the past 1.5 years. I haven’t come across any reports for a definite date for the launch of a public beta. Have seen few bloggers using it though. Adsense for feeds mimics the regular Adsense in terms of placing contextual ads.

Qumana Q-Ads – Qumana has its Q-Ads service that can be place ads in your blog post, on your website, and in your RSS feed. Qumana has a DIY advertising model that runs on the logic that publisher understands his/her content best and should be selecting the ads to be placed in the blog or feed. While writing a blog post that supports Q-Ads insertion(Live Writer, Qumana Blog editor,..), publisher can “select a keyword, refine the result, and when you are satisfied .. click, a pertinent ad is placed where you have decided it belongs”. Sounds interesting but can take precious few minutes while positing an high priority news item.

Fedafi – Currently in beta for Advertisers. Registration open for Publishers. They have just launched beta of their Fedafi WordPress Plugin that allows you to sell advertising space in your RSS feeds through their publisher network.

SimpleFeed – SimpleFeed is one of 4 softwares offered in the recently launched Intel SuiteTwo. Site does indicate that feed publishers can have image or text ads placed where and when they like.

As for specialized blog Advertising we have few additional companies offering Ad publishing services. These include Federated Media Publishing(fmpub), Performancing, and Blogads.

 

Skype on Nokia early next year

December 29, 2006

According to the Swedish S60 Blog, Skype is planning to rollout it’s mobile client as early as January 2007. Skype has been working with Stockholm based Ocean Observations since 2005 to develop the mobile app. The Skype service is most likely to work on WiFi enabled Nokia phones(later on Sony Ericssons Symbian based phones) and might pave the way for free worldwide calling.

We have already seen startups like Fring, SoonR, EQO offering Skype calling from mobile. However each of them have seen limited uptake ’cause of one or more reasons. Fring requires a data plan to enable calls over the data network that are really pricey in US, while SoonR and EQO want you to be near your PC when you are making your calls. Skype plans to counter these issues by offering a Skype mobile client that is powered by WiFi connection. In terms of feature set, Skype is looking to go a step further by integrating the Skype and phone contacts(I wish Google did this for Gtalk on BB).

Earlier Gizmo Project in partnership with Nokia had launched it’s Gizmo Project VoIP client on Nokia N80 phones. N80, which has WiFi capabilities, enables users to make cheap calls to landlines and other mobile phone users. Last time I checked, users were facing issues related to making mobile-to-mobile Gizmo calls.

Links:
Swedish S60 Blog on Skype Mobile

Boorah – natural phrased local search

December 28, 2006

Boorah has been quietly developing its local search engine based on the Natural Language Search(NLS) technology. We already have 2 well funded startups, Powerset and Phrasetrain, developing their search engines that use NLS concepts in the back-end. Co-founded by Eric Moyer and Nagaraju Bandaru, both of whom worked at MetroFi, Boorah wants to utilize its patent-pending NLS for subset of the local search world – restaurant search and reviews.

Boorah, which is still in alpha stage, currently aggregates restaurant reviews for Bay Area and enables users to search using regular phrases like “Best wine list in San Francisco”. Besides this you can always search by street & cross street, point of interest, cuisine, and tag. Boorah aggregates results both from sites like Yelp and individual user reviews of businesses by Boorah users itself. Since Boorah is still in alpha stage I will avoid writing about design and UI that does require lot of rework. Getting the local data to power the results will always be a challenge for a startup. Will really like to know how Boorah goes about that.

Powerreviews is another startup currently in private beta that enables search by customer review keywords, which I found to be very effective as compared to regular search or category browsing.

Links:
Boorah

Gmail Mail evaporates; I don’t think so

December 28, 2006

Blogosphere has lately got into habit of overblowing news especially if it is anything related to Google. Hot news of the day is that few users of Gmail have lost all their emails. You can checkout the discussion thread going on at Google  Group for Gmail.

After a bit of research into all the posts in that thread you will notice that all the people posting messages about lost and deleted emails have never written anything on the Google Groups before, which I think is strange. Also most of them are asking about how to contact Gmail Support in the Google Group, where in the first place link inside Gmail Help leads to Google Gmail Group.

Even if the people reporting the issue did really loose all their email, it is quite possible that they themselves accidentally deleted the emails  and now want to blame Google for that. Google has millions of users and 5-10 people mistakenly deleting each and every mail in their Inbox on the same day is not a big number.

Also company like Google should have enough backups of your email. Especially since Google is now offering Gmail for SMBs I think it is highly unlikely for them not to maintain backups of highly critical customer data. If they openly put that in writing that they really do keep backups, users will just spam the support with such mail retrieval requests.

 

Digg honeymoon continues; gets additional $8.5 million

December 28, 2006

Even as rumors and controversies surround the social news rating site Digg, it has received additional funding of $8.5 million from its existing backers including Greylock Partners and the Omidyar Network. As Matt Marshal from VentureBeat reports, Digg management team has intentionally not included new investors into the new funding round.

Users trying to game the system, external companies paying to get posts dugg, collaborative digging, top diggers digging for favors, and some unusually low digged content reaching the front-page, are just some of the challenges Digg has seen in the recent past. I had never thought mainstream media like corruption will get to social media this soon. Given all these reasons and the quality of content dished out, I still digg Slashdot as compared to Digg.

Links:
VentureBeat on Digg funding

eCoupled gets you power without the cord

December 27, 2006

Okay this news update is really tech+engineering heavy. Reminds me of my engineering days and how I used to hate electrical engineering. Anyway eCoupled(TM) is looking to launch its revolutionary technology, at 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show(CES), that transmits power and data without the power cords. In other terms, you don’t need to chug along your powercords to charge your myriad devices.

Fulton Innovation’s intelligent inductive power technology overcomes historic limitations of inductive coupling by using resonance-seeking circuitry that dynamically seeks and optimizes power transfer under multiple, varying load conditions and spatial configurations.

Conventional inductive coupling typically requires careful “tuning” of the power supply circuit with the device being powered. Only minor variations in the physical positioning and power requirements of the inductively powered are tolerated. Any variation in either the load or the positioning of the power supply relative to the device can severely impact performance.

eCoupled technology addresses the limitations of spatial rigidity, static loads and unacceptable power losses. The eCoupled technology power supplies adapt to multiple loads and spatial configurations while maximizing energy transfer efficiencies by dynamically seeking resonance between the power supply and device at high frequencies to achieve the optimal coupling coefficient under all conditions. Energy efficiency is increased over conventional inductive coupling with power losses as low as 2 percent, making eCoupled technology comparable to hardwired connections.

You can get more updates from eCoupled press release and site.

Links:
eCoupled Press Release
eCoupled

CrossLoop: Remote Access service for Free

December 27, 2006

Over the past weekend I discovered another cool desktop sharing software, CrossLoop. CrossLoop is pretty straight forward in the functionality it offers- complete application and screen sharing with remote access to your PC for the person on the end.

Just download and install the CrossLoop client on your Windows machine, and you are ready to host your screen sharing session. CrossLoop generates a unique access code that you need to share with the other meeting participant on the other before he/she can join the meeting. As for security, CrossLoop encrypts all the communication between the 2 ends using a strong 128-bit blowfish encryption algorithm.

I am not sure about CrossLoop’s future plans but we should definitely see more features being added to CrossLoop that can make it a good option for team based use.

CrossLoop’s free remote access and sharing application should soon make it difficult for Citrix’s GoToMyPc/GoToAssist or Netopia’s Timbuktu to charge for their entry level services. CrossLoop is free, GoToMyPc costs $19.95/mo, and Timbuktu Pro Twin-pack costs $159.95. I think it is matter of time before the personal use market goes to CrossLoop. You can check my earlier post about newer webconferencing softwares like Unyte which are also providing their services for free as compared to paid ones from WebEx or GotoMeeting.

My only concern is – Are we helping grow more conferencing and sharing monsters by supporting these newer free apps. What stops them from charging their users tomorrow, when they have been deployed all over the machines owned by SMBs and individual users?  Maybe we can find ourselves looking for a new conferencing app every 6 months or so.

Related:
Unyte and Soapbox IM add-ons

Links:
CrossLoop

 

Weezu – chat on every web-page

December 27, 2006

Weezu is another startup offering chat services for users located on a web page. Earlier I had written about inCircles widget based messaging platform and Netscape’s use of Userplane to provide similar chat services. Besides these we also have Me.dium, which is currently in private beta mode, offering a Firefox extension to enable communication on a particular or similar webpage.

 Weezu, which is available in Spanish and English version, is currently works only on IE. After installing, the app comes up as a chat bar at the bottom of the browser window. Weezu automatically detects others users located on the page you are visiting and loads their avatar. You can just click on the avatar to start chatting.

As for the privacy part, Weezu does claim that it does not collect IP addresses of places you have logged in from and neither does it keep track of your visits. Personally I feel that Weezu or Me.dium users still face the risk of their browsing history data getting exposed some day. As compared to that, using inCircles and Userplane can potentially save users from this risk since these services are provided by the website/blog owners.

Services like Weezu and Me.dium can easily monetize their traffic by integrating contextual advertising related to the sites users are visiting. Also the stats of users hitting a web-page as a new story goes around can be very insightful. From the feature perspective I think Weezu users should have the ability maintain buddy lists and checkout the pages being viewed by their friends.

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Links:
Weezu

Koral launches desktop beta and upgrades

December 26, 2006

Koral, the Enterprise20 Content Management startup about which I had written few months back, has added a bunch of features that makes it one of the best SMB apps along with EchoSign to emerge this year. Besides the new features, Koral has has upgraded its hardware that made the on-Demand application really fast responsive, which is nice change from what I had experienced when I tried it for the first time when it was in the real beta stage.

Koral Desktop, the newly released desktop uploader has the task of uploading files simpler. Once you are done with updating your document, all you need to is drag-drop the updated file into the java desktop app, and Koral automatically updates the file on the server. Koral’s “document identification” alerts the rest of the people with whom the document is shared about the availability of the updated version either through their subscription mechanism or when they try editing the outdated copy.

Other changes at Koral include an upgraded search functionality that enables filtering of results by the document type(Word, ppt,….), tag, authors, wordspace,…… Koral user-administration module also has been upgraded to enable linked-in style of user management and change/modify users and their access to workspaces.

My favorite feature still remains the ability to view powerpoint slideshows on Koral web-app itself instead of downloading them and realizing that you are editing the wrong document. Being able to view word and xls snapshots is also in the works, that should see light of the day pretty soon.

Links:
Koral

Mini Friday – Habbo’s mobile avatar

December 26, 2006

                

Sulake, the Finland based company behind Habbo Hotel, has launched a mobile version of their virtual world named Mini Friday. Minifriday is a stripped down version of the actual Habbo app is projected as more of an research app into the mobile space instead of a full-blow release. You have access to few basic controls including being able to walk, chat, view chat history, and zoom. The mobile application is currently supported on the Nokia Series 60 phones(S60 2nd edition phones and N-Gages). Me on BB so didn’t get a chance to play-around.

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Links:
Mini Friday