Monthly Archives: May 2007

Adfero – contract publisher / while label news agency

Just been to blockbuster.co.uk to check out new DVDs and noticed their news content was provided by a company called Adfero. I’ve come across this site before – they run politics.co.uk.

Two things. Do they handle the ad sales and are they planning to offer video content? They should if not on both counts.

Facebook and privacy concern alert

Today I saw a user post on Facebook which recommends users explore the Privacy section of the site to ensure they de-select participation in something called the ‘Facebook Development Platform’.

The email asserts that Facebook is using the data, including user’s photos.

Is this the case? Can anyone shed any light on this?

What’s happened to Yahoo360?

Hitwise has revealed that – surprise, surprise – MySpace is the number one social networking site visited in the UK. But only just.

One riddle that I’ve yet to solve – where is Yahoo360, the portal’s me too social networking product service? Has it been missed or excluded by Hitwise? Or is traffic that low that it’s off the radar?

As a loyal and long term user of Yahoo UK & Ireland, I’d like to know. Can anyone shed any light on this?

Can fears about Google’s ‘total information’ approach be solved by a clear log in request?

Far be it from Google to court controversy, but it appears that CEO Eric Schmidt has captured the imagine of MSM (mainstream media) with his thoughts on how one of the world’s best known brands will predict our every need and want with products like iGoogle.

Hell, even the Independent got all tabloid with a front page splash on how ‘Google is watching you’.

“The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?'” says Eric.

Despite the implications, I’m still surprised at the widespread reaction to this story. The front cover of the Indy, sure, but second lead story on the cover of the Financial Times? Please.

Has everyone forgotten this very same debate back when MSM first caught on to the story of how ad networks used cookies to personalise browsing experiences?

That said, the advice back then was simple – don’t accept cookies. Although everyone’s a bit hazy on how Google’s new wotsit works, it looks like user sessions will be tracked and recorded to improve a user’s experience – all without the need for cookies.

You know what? I don’t care. In fact, I think it’s a Good Thing.

It matters not a jot to me if Google is furiously scurrying its duck legs under water to make my life easier. If I can spend less time wading through poorly written websites, then bring it on.

This is nothing new, Yahoo has offered a personalised ‘AI’ like service on its music services for years. Log in, play music, rate the tracks as you go along and soon, you’ll have your own video jukebox tailored to your tastes.

But – and it’s a big but – Yahoo makes a point of asking you to log in to optimise the service. Would we have an iGoogle type reaction to the Yahoo service if it suddenly started predicting my music tastes without me asking it to? Call me naive but I want the peace of mind that I’m logging in before my details are recorded and tracked.

There’s a word missing from all the stories I’ve read in the MSM’s stories about iGoogle – transparency. Clearly tell users what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If it’s for the good of the advertiser AND the user then say so. Hell, even go so far as making a big deal of the service on the log in page and explain how it’ll improve my browsing experience. Watch me sign up!

Empower the user to improve their session and they’ll love you for it, even if it does comes at the cost of being served super targeted ads for ipods and Lynx deodorant.

So, well done to Google on the PR assault – just back it up with a dedicated and transparent set of terms and conditions on user’s log in pages.

Martha Lane Fox joins Marks & Spencer – a story

Congratulations to lastminute.com’s founder Martha Lane Fox and her appointment as non executive director on the board of Marks & Spencer. Her experience will be invaluable to the retailer’s online strategy going forward.

Her committment to her work is to be admired. I recall one journalist telling me that while cutting his teeth at new media magazine Revolution he was given a high profile assignment to interview both lastminute.com founders Brent Hoberman and Martha. Arranging an interview was difficult as both were working flat out for the move to IPO. It transpired that the only time they were available to chat was on a Sunday afternoon. Despite the timing and their huge workloads, both founders spent over an hour – each – in taking the then nervous and bumbling rookie journalist through lastminute.com’s complete history and future strategy in minute detail.

The IPO turned into a fiasco, but they were absolutely driven in their passion for new media and the potential of their business. Professionals to the end.

Guardian’s guide to social networking

A nice round up of social networking for the folks by the Guardian.

Wonder which of these will still be around in a year’s time when we’ll supposedly be well into a dip in the economy? All of the above I hope, but what’s stopping MySpace from making more of a Twitter like ‘what I’m doing now’ service?

Future publishing appoints Richard Foster as digital director

It seems Future is getting its digital ducks in order after appointing Richard Foster of behavioural targeting firm Revenue Science.

Can Foster help squeeze more revenue from Future’s 3.5 million unique users? Only time will tell.

It’s interesting to recall Foster’s frustration with advertisers in a New Media Age (NMA) article back in December 2006. Apparently there was still a lack of understanding of behavioural targeting and its benefits a whole year after its arrival in the UK in 2005.

For those of you who are still none the wiser, behavioural targeting uses cookies to track the behaviour of users across multiple websites and is another way to “serve inventory like search and contextual advertising”, according to the NMA piece.

So basically taking what Double Click does with ads and applying it to web magazine content the user may like or is it just about the ads publishers display?

Read more about Foster’s and others’ appointments on Brand Republic.