Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Page views or time spent - hey Nielsen, both are worthless

Augustine: extremely insightful piece by Allen re: metrics used far and wide today and account for billions of dollars of advertising spent.

So the big buzz over the past day is that Nielsen/Net Ratings will no longer use page views as their telling metric, replacing it with time spent on site. Yawn. My post yesterday describes the analytics apps we use on CN.

Let's take a brief look back at metrics. In the mid-90s, sites used "hits" as the primary metric. I remember the days at CKS when a newbie would run around the office talking about how many hits his or her client Web site received. I just laughed from my Aeron chair. Then to prove a point, I took a client site, added 100 blank images and the next day showed them why hits was a stupid metric. But I couldn't change the industry so I just kept working. I also remember beta testing the first WebTrends version and emailing the product team about how poor hits were as a metric. CKS rocked though.

Then in the late 90s, the shift moved to page views. Another joke of a metric. On the surface it seems better than hits, right? Now we are only counting each view of a page no matter how many images and other items are on it. Not so fast bub. In 1999, a large percentage of the big players realized that this could easily be manipulated by splitting content into multiple pages. There went page views.

Now comes word that Nielsen is moving to "time spent" as the default metric for reporting. Sounds good right? So if someone spends 10 minutes on my site, and only 5 on yours, my site should appear to rank higher, correct? Let's push out the easy issue here which is that sites are sometimes hard to navigate which will artifically raise your time spent on site. If you and I serve the same content but it's 40% easier to find it on my site vs. yours, then you appear bigger. Love that! Now we will see half-assed sites coming out just to scam this "new" metric.

Here is the real issue. We need to go back to the drawing board, erase everything we know about metrics and analytics and start over. Using a metric that has already been used and abused won't cut it. But Nielsen knows where their bread is buttered and when companies like Microsoft change their web site to reduce pageviews by 30-40% (by my estimation), the page views metric would have to be changed to satisfy their clients.

So how does this new metric reporting system handle YouTube with regards to watching videos? Is that considered time spent on site? Is an embedded video counted? What about RSS feeds and widgets? Content vs. application sites? It sure feels like Nielsen just put all of their currently tracked metrics into a hat and pulled one out.

Some others discussing the news:

  • Scott Karp has an interesting perspective from the Google side of things. Scott notes that Google uses clicks as their metric.
  • Andy Beal makes an excellent point about tabbed browsing - I hadn't thought of this!

The bottom line is simple - It's time for new standards and systems for reporting. As opposed to 1996, we have so many new ways of communicating and I would think starting the discussion should be easy. While it may take a long time for us to agree, let's get the conversation started.


Embed YouTube Flash Videos in Facebook with HTML Box

Facebook fans - you can now scribble any HTML code in your Facebook profile using the amazing HTML Box app.

That means you can add web images to your profile, CSS formatted text (with hyperlinks, forms, tables) and even external Flash videos from YouTube, Google Video and other video sharing sites.

youtube video on facebook profile

While FaceBook doesn't permit the

<> or <> tags directly, the HTML box app provides alternate tags to embed these SWF or FLV videos in your profile.

For any Flash video file (.flv)

For Audio MP3 files:

Facebook recently added the fb:google-analytics for Facebook app developers to track usage via Google Analytics. I tried integrating my Urchin Google Analytics account ID with HTML Box to track Facebook profile visitors but unfortunately, that didn't work.

If you add an external web image to HTML Box, it will be cached on Facebook servers before serving it on your profile page - hence even the MyBlogLog-MySpace method cannot be used to track visitors on your Facebook profile. The quest for tracking Facebook profile page continues.


How Good Are You at Recognizing Fake Websites and Spam Emails ?

Can you tell a fake (phishing) web site from a real one ? Or can you recognize spam emails that request you to verify your eBay or Paypal account credentials.

real paypal website

McAfee has created a very simple quiz with screenshots of websites and emails for you to spot the fake ones from the real site. Do take this 10 question quiz and the results may actually surprise you even when you are a pro-geek - it looks deceptively easy but that's not the reality.

I scored perfect for ebay, amazon and paypal (popular phishing targets) but had trouble identifying the financial websites of Chase, CapitalOne and Bank of America.

Overall Rating: Tightrope Walker - "You avoided some deceptive Web sites that would have put your personal information at risk. But you chose others that pose serious security threats that could lead to identity theft or financial losses". Share your phishing score in the comments.

(1) How to Detect Phishing Websites, (b) Google Phishing Warning Extension


TechSmith Jing - Free Screen Capture with Screencasting Software

TechSmith, developers of SnagIt and Camtasia Studio, today released a new screencasting cum screen capture software that works both on Mac and Windows XP / Vista. And this is probably the first product from the TechSmith headquarters that's completely free.

Jing is designed for instant computer screen movies and image captures - a small yellow bubble floats on edges of your desktop - hover your mouse over the bubble and click the capture button.

download jing techsmith

You can select any rectangular areas of the screen, decide whether you want a static screenshot or a movie, and hit the record button - the graphic is saved as a PNG image while the movie will be saved as a SWF Flash file. During the record process, everything else is dimmed which I think is a very good design.

You can either leave the recording on your hard-drive or upload them to via Jing itself. [ is like the YouTube of Screencast videos]

The most useful feature of Jing is history (quite similar to Plasq Skitch) - every movie or screenshot captured via Jing is always accessible through the history window as a thumbnail. Deleting a capture deletes it from your History as well as if it has been shared.

While the Jing installer is a mere 4 MB, you have to installed the .NET 3 framework to use this sofware (and that weighs around 28 MB.)

Jing Project | Jing blog | Thanks Betsy | Screencasting Fans on Facebook

If you don't own Camtasia, you can consider Jing for creating short screencast videos in Flash which can then be embedded in blogs or shared online through (yes, Blip accepts Flash files).

While there are no hints if Jing will always remain a free utility, it does signal that the Mac Screencasting community may soon be blessed with a Mac version of Camtasia and SnagIt.

Related: Screencasting Software Guide, Screen Capture Software


OECD Report: In US Broadband Is Really Expensive

OECD just released their telecommunications outlook report (PDF link), which is one monster of a document, that can take up an entire weekend. There will be a longer post sometime this weekend, but for now little nugget: US broadband in terms of prices is not exactly the cheapest, which is typically what you should expect when the market is a duoply.

Using the monthly subscriptions, the cheapest broadband plan, according to OECD is available in Sweden: $10.47 a month. US comes in fourth at about $15.93 a month, which is hardly a surprise given cheap DSL offers from Bell Operators. However, price per megabit per month is where US is woefully behind other countries. In Japan consumers pay 22 cents Mbps per month, which Americans pay $3.18, about 15 times that. US ranks #13 by prices.

The worst comparison is in the newest and shiniest broadband technology: Fiber. In Japan NTT residential connection (100 Mbps down/up) costs $49 a month. In US, Verizon FiOS (30 megabits down/5 megabits up) costs $191.20.


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Advertisers disappointed with Facebook's CTR

BizReport : Social Marketing : July 16, 2007

More reports are circulating of disappointing click-through rates for advertising placed on Facebook. Should marketers persevere or concede that social networking sites aren’t yet the place for ads?

by Helen Leggatt

Earlier this year the Valleywag blog reported that media buyers saw Facebook as a “truly terrible target”. At that time they were experiencing click-through rates of just 0.04 percent. Around the same time, GigaOM’s Robert Young commented that, “Word on the street, Madison Avenue that is, is that advertisers who have experimented and bought ads on Facebook are universally disappointed with the results.”

It would appear that not much has changed in the intervening months. A recent entry on the Reach Students blog expresses disappointment at their recent Facebook flyer campaign for which, coincidently, they also only managed to achieve click-through rates of around 0.04 percent.

Lots of reasons have been put forward as to why the click-through rates are so low. Some believe that a high number of tech-savvy students on Facebook are using ad-blockers and some that the younger generation are good at ignoring commercial messages.

However, while Myspace and other community networks are all about content, Facebook is more of a communication tool, like IM or a closed forum for friends. On MySpace users spend time browsing through content on various webpages whereas Facebook users spend their time absorbed in dialogue. The difference in user behaviour could well account for the disparate click-through rates, as Myspace has a click-through rate of around 0.1 percent, according to Valleywag.


The “Secondary Liability” Theory on YouTube/iPhone

Augustine: this is why I have put Flickr on PictureSandbox on hold for now

CNET found someone to complain that the copyright on their content is being infringed by YouTube, and speculates that Apple may have liability too because they are showing YouTube videos on the iPhone.

While copyrighted material can certainly be found on YouTube, winning a case against them for copyright infringement is much harder than it looks. YouTube is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which, among other things, protects sites like YouTube from the actions of its users. Copyright holders are left with filing a notice with YouTube to pull their content down (which they will do), or trying to prove that YouTube moved outside of the safe harbor under the Act.

Viacom and other are trying to do exactly that, and are playing a $1 billion game of poker with Google, YouTube's parent company. But to add Apple to the mix, who simply show YouTube content but do not host it on their servers, adds a whole additional layer of legal complexity to the case. And it drags another war-ready litigation team to your front door. My guess is all of these hurdles will protect Apple, and we won't be seeing any litigation over their integration of YouTube into the iPhone any time soon.


The Latest Harry Potter Book Hits BitTorrent


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, the latest and last of the wildly popular Harry Potter books that is due to go on sale this weekend, has hit BitTorrent. Various torrents of the novel consist of photographed pages (as above) with reading quality that isn’t perfect, but for desperate fans readable enough. Whilst the validity of the hype surrounding Harry Potter may be subject to debate, what the leaking of the book does demonstrate is that the days of the mainstream media and publishers strictly controlling the dissemination of information has well and truly past; simply where there is a fan with a will, there is a way.

For educational purposes only, the Harry Potter book can be found by searching The Pirate Bay.

(via Torrent Freak)


iLike’s Wonderful Facebook Problem

from TechCrunch by

I had a chance to visit music social network iLike's Seattle offices yesterday to meet with co-founder Hadi Partovi. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the office was a flat panel display showing key real time stats for the company - see image to the right. I took a picture as Partovi looked on nervously. These stats haven't previously been publicly disclosed, but he agreed that I could publish them.

iLike launched last October. In the nine months since they've gathered 3.5 million users (the orange stats in the picture), up from half a million in February. Not bad. But what's really impressive is the fact that in less than two months nearly 5 million more people have signed up for the service on Facebook, where it is the third most popular third party application.

The difference will only become greater - 2,800 Facebook users are joining every hour, whereas the main site only gets 652 new users/hour.

Much of the popularity of the iLike Facebook application is driven by something called the iLike Music Challenge, where users try to guess songs or artist names based on listening to a 30 second snippet from a song. Users get points for correct answers (and more points for fast answers), and compete with their friends. It's highly addictive and viral - Partovi says the average user session last a whopping 80 songs. Since points are public, I can see that a lot of my Facebook friends are totally addicted to this. See the screen shot below, and click for a larger view.

Two Sets Of Users

But iLike has a bit of a problem, because it has two distinct sets of users using two different products. There isn't much overlap between the two groups, he says, because the Facebook application isn't promoted on the iLike website.

The company is currently dedicating resources to merge the user groups and make the functionality between the products identical (or at least more similar). They'll start by comparing cookies to find cross-users. If cookies from both products are on a user's browser, they'll ask if they have accounts at both and optionally merge them.

While they're in the process of doing that, they continue to support the two products separately. All new beta features are released on both platforms, so its just the legacy stuff that needs to move. The most important features are the data gathered from the iTunes plugin - users want to show playlists and the music they are listening to on Facebook. All of that is coming soon, the company says.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Introducing Earth2Tech, our latest blog

Apparently like everyone else, we are going green!

earth2techlogo.pngWe are launching our latest blog - Earth2Tech, a site devoted to the business of clean technologies, its innovations and everything else. While there are many sites that help consumers live “greener,” we are focusing our energies on the business of clean and green.

One part clean tech startup coverage – (a quick look at clean tech venture numbers shows the growing ranks of startups in hot areas like solar and biofuels); One part reviews of tech giant’s eco-initiatives (is Google’s carbon neutral initiative more marketing or responsible plan?); One part a resource page for entrepreneurs and Valley types looking for green tech [tools, rules, tips] – LBS meets ethanol?

This new blog has been a team effort. Katie came up with the concept, Liz with the name and rest of us well contributed in some way or the other. The site is being edited by Katie Fehrenbacher and working with her is Adena DeMonte, who starts today as a staff writer. She comes from Red Herring and is the newest member of GigaTeam.

The site has been designed by Rare Edge Design dynamic duo, Eric Willis and Nicole Wopperer. Incidentally, I met Nicole on iminlikewithyou and rest that say is green! Hopefully you will visit the new site, and send us your feedback. You can add it to your RSS reader by clicking here.

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