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Mar 23 2006
Slingbox To Go
The appeal of Sling Media's Slingbox is that you can use it to tap into your home television's broadcast feed from remote locations (great for catching a local sportscast if you are on the road). It has introduced the term "place-shifting" to join "time-shifting" in the new media lexicon.

Now it's gotten even more, well, mobile. It used to require a broadband connection and laptop connect to the slingbox that is sitting atop your television many miles away. Now you can do the same thing from a Windows Media mobile phone or a Windows PDA.

This will further infuriate (scroll down required) broadcasters, mainstream content producers and advertisers by disrupting their distribution models. Ironically, it opens up many more opportunities for advertisers to better target viewers by pushing along the adoption curve for content consumption on mobile devices, which some research shows to be pretty steep.

Om Malik has the full scoop. More from the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:20 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 23 2006
Google Base Rears Its Head
Search Engine Journal reports on a few Google Base sightings.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:16 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 23 2006
Google Gets Social
Google has added a social tagging feature to Google Reader. After setting up RSS feeds in the reader, users can tag articles or Web pages and share them with friends via e-mail or syndicate them on a blog.

Just as Google Reader seemed to have been an answer to MyYahoo!, This feature seems to follow Yahoo! down the social tagging path it's attempting to blaze with My Web (and

My Web hasn't been adopted by mainstream users to any large degree, but it hasn't integrated it with its popular My Yahoo! personal portal, which we expect it will do. Google Reader has had even less adoption, so this tagging and sharing feature � as tagging in general has proved to only attract a small segment of early adopters � will have trouble finding users. It is also confusing to set up RSS feeds on Google Reader compared with My Yahoo! and to create tags compared with MyWeb. These will further stand in the way of attracting new users.

Tagging falls under the broader category of social search, which is slowly gaining acceptance and is being touted by many local search sites that wish to infuse social media and community layers into their content. Yahoo! and Google haven't indicated any specific local intentions for social tagging, but they could eventually integrate it with local in ways that let users find ratings and reviews of businesses from within their group of friends, extended friends or any group that has similar geography, interest or professional track.

It requires a certain critical mass of users and contributors to make social search "work" in local, so it will take time. But it can be a powerful tool to build content around local listings that creates a level of trust among users, and thus stickiness.

We're closely watching this area develop. Look out for a forthcoming report on social search; and if you're at Drilling Down on Local next week, don't miss this panel:

Social Search Is the New Black
Almost every new start-up includes a community or "social media" layer. Notwithstanding the success of MySpace (at least in being acquired for lots of money), do these new applications really offer something compelling for the end user or is this just hype and novelty? The Kelsey Group has described social networking/social media as a valuable "online word of mouth" feature that needs to be appended to or integrated into a pre-existing business model. Is "social" really the "future of search" as some have recently argued or merely a fad that will pass in time?

Manish Chandra, CEO and Founder, Kaboodle
Chris DeVore, COO and Cofounder, Judy's Book
Andy Gadiel, CEO, JamBase
Steven E. Marder, CEO, Eurekster
Chris Tolles, VP, Sales and Marketing,
Jeremy Zawodny, Technical Yahoo!, Yahoo!
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  14:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 2 2006
Broadband Growth in 2005
Broadband numbers were up in 2005, according to Leichtman Research Group, and reported by Om Malik. We'll get into this further in an upcoming advisory on triple- and quad-play offerings of cable and telecom providers. We'll also hold a related session at the upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference. Hope to see you there:

The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?
High-speed Internet access is the backbone of the new consumer paradigm. It took a decade for broadband to reach �critical mass� in the U.S. Now we are witnessing the disruptive effects for traditional media and potentially for some newer technologies as well. While some predict broadband is slowing, others believe competition and new initiatives (e.g., municipal Wi-Fi) and technologies could drive high-speed access to nearly 100 percent penetration in the next several years. Which version of the future is correct? This panel will debate the potential scenarios and look outside the U.S. to higher-speed markets to see what the future might hold.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 2 2006
LocalConnect Launches
Search Engine Journal reports on a new product from that is basically a branded search engine that publishers can plant on their sites. This eliminates the need for publishers to invest in the development of search functionality on their sites, and it integrates advertisers with publishers' ad listings. It could be an attractive tool for any local site or blog publisher that wants to integrate a paid local search advertising. We'll write more on this later.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:15 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 2 2006
InfoSpace Interview
PaidContent has an interesting interview with Jim Voelker, CEO of InfoSpace. It covers among other things the company's merging of its search and directory and mobile divisions. Read it here and listen to it here.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:47 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]

Mar 2 2006
Viacom Gets Social
An addendum to the previous post: If the social networking space is indeed saturated, it just got a little more so. Viacom has announced it could launch what seems like a "me too" social network this year that will target young people.

In doing this, the company can leverage other assets in its media empire such as MTV and have a natural advantage in appealing to younger generations (at least more so than one might think Fox could). But it could be a day late.

Read about it here.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Mar 2 2006
Social Networking Bubble?
Despite the perceived success of MySpace, there are skeptics of social networking business models. BusinessWeek brings up the possibility that we�re in a social networking bubble that is reaching saturation while ad models remain somewhat shaky.

From the article:

For many sites, the challenge begins with persuading advertisers that their investment will be rewarded with sufficient views by users. What's more, with so many social networks vying for attention, retaining users can be problematic. Amid these difficulties, some observers anticipate a brighter future for smaller niche networks that bring together users with common interests.

Chris Charron, a vice-president at Forrester Research, says some advertisers aren't all that interested in social networks. User-generated content, which dominates these sites, is a tough sell to companies that can't control the material with which their brand is associated. That's all the more the case when content is racy, as personal profiles often are.

Though the page view and retention issues may not apply to MySpace (yet), the site�s average user age is 18 and it largely appeals to a teenage demographic that can be somewhat fickle and swayed easily by effective viral marketing:

... members have little loyalty to any given social network and will switch if something better comes along, or when pals jump ship, the article says.

This statement has some truth but forgets the fact that social networks do have some degree of stickiness, as users have a sunken time investment in having set up their personal, pages, preferences and networks among which their username and other attributes are known by their friends. In other words, the name of the game for competitors of MySpace � such as the newly launched Tagged � is not to attract each user away from MySpace, but to attract a critical mass of networked users that will create a domino effect of others that will follow. It is after all a social network.

The article brings up the potential of more niche-oriented networks such as TripConnect, which brings social networking and user-generated content to the travel vertical. The business case here is that it is easier to attract advertising and easier to contextualize it around user conversations:

Raj Kapoor, a managing director at Mayfield Fund, which led a $7 million investment in teen-focused Tagged, concedes that no one has developed an ideal way to target ads around user-generated content. "At the end of the day advertisers want to find a way to do it," since teens spend so much time browsing their peers' profiles, blogs, and other dispatches.

But with something more niche-oriented like TripConnect:

�The site uses social networking in such a way that users are "directly influencing each other's purchase decisions," he notes. That's "not something you find when people are chatting about bands."

So are vertically oriented social networks better off than broader ones? The same question faces search, online shopping and even classifieds. The question is still being hammered out in those more mature industries where lots of factors weigh in, so it will be a while before a clear answer is discerned about social networking models. But if we are in a social networking bubble, an impending shakeout will get us closer to an answer.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  07:37 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]

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