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The RAAKonteur #47 – Google +, New social ad formats & Content isn't King anymore

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12 July 2011

Google+ launches itself onto the turbulent social sea

This week Google launched its next step in its social play, Google +. We will reserve judgement for now, but what is intriguing is how serious Google is taking this project. Wired has a very good in-depth feature on it and the image that inspires it:

"The image was discovered by Google VP of product management Bradley Horowitz when he opened Google Image Search and typed “Emerald Sea” — which had just been chosen as the project code name. The first result, a depiction of an 1878 painting created by German immigrant artist Albert Bierstadt, so impressed Horowitz that he commissioned a pair of art students to copy it on the wall facing the fourth floor elevators. That way, the hundreds of workers contributing to Emerald Sea would draw inspiration as they headed to their computers to remake Google into a major social networking force. The massive wave symbolizes the ways Google views the increasingly prominent social aspect of the web — as a possible tsunami poised to engulf it, or a maverick surge that it will ride to glory."


Nowhere to hide…

The internet's collective intelligence is an incredible tool for sniffing out inauthenticity. The latest this week to suffer the ignominy: columnist Johann Hari.

In the past the internet was a place make up identities and facts were played with in a fast and loose fashion. The man that pretended to be Amina, the Syrian lesbian blogger, was outed by a concerted Twitter hunt lead by Andy Carvin. In Vancouver rioters were tagged by friends.

Of course if you are a nobody or if your actions don't goad the online denizens into action, you might get away with it. But the internet is a different wild west from what it used to be. The New York Times has a great article on the phenomenon.

..not even if you're Volkswagen

On a similar note, PR people at Volkswagen had their work cut out this week. Out of the blue, Greenpeace launched a full-frontal attack on the car brand, accusing them of lobbying against the increase of the greenhouse gas reductions target. How? By creating a film that smartly used VW's advertising iconography and by including a simple but effective Social Media sharing mechanic.

Interesting fact, flagged by COI director Nick Jones: the amount of people signing the petition is much higher than the number of people simply Liking. Currently the ratio is almost 3:1.


New social ad formats

In their never-ending attempt to adapt advertising to social media, Facebook is experimenting with allowing comments on Facebook ads. It allows brands to ask a question in the display ad, hoping to start an engaging discussion and get into people's Newsfeeds.

Also this week, LinkedIn introduced new ad formats, one of which uses that Facebook-style trick of showing relevant connections in the ad.

Foursquare starts to add value

Despite a growing user base and despite being valued at $600m this week, we still think Foursquare has their work cut out to become truly relevant. Anecdotal evidence tells us that the amount of check-ins at bigger events are roughly the same as last year.

Still, it seems that the location service is working hard at adding value to the check-in. Luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton is using the tips functionality to create a virtual 'concierge' service at some of its hotels.

And more striking: they're partnering up with American Express to give people cashback when they link both accounts and check-in at selected stores. Spend $75 at H&M, for example, and you'll get $10 back on your next statement.


Mobile Payment

PayPal announced this week they now have 100 million active users. More importantly, for the third time in 6 months, they amended their estimates of how much people will spend through mobile payments. They now think it'll be $3 billion for the year.

These are signs that the initial reticence of paying through your mobile phone is disappearing. Google research stated that 28% of people in the UK have used their phone to make a purchase. Still, only 17% of business have mobile-optimized websites.

What does digital first mean? Become a platform

The Guardian recently announced that from now on they will be driven by a digital first policy. What could this mean in practice though? In a thoughtful wide ranging article Jeff Jarvis made some suggestions, focusing on the principle that reporting remains journalists' highest calling:

"Going digital does not mean merely putting articles online before the presses roll, as then print still rules the process. No – digital first means the net must drive all decisions: how news is covered, in what form, by whom, and when. It dictates that when journalists know something, they are prepared to share it with their public. They may share what they know before their knowledge is complete so the public can help fill in blanks. In this way, digital first resets the journalistic relationship with the community, making the news organisation less a producer and more an open platform for the public to share what it knows."

Talking of reporting, sharing and crowdsourcing information. Is there a better tool for that than Twitter? Not that we have seen. So it makes complete sense that Twitter has launched a resource for journalists.


Content isn't king anymore

Making content is not a platform business. The Atlantic explains the inexorable rise of Netflix, a company that became a platform distributing the content of others. If you think about it, the more profitable companies in the past did much the same. See for example the telcos who did not produce, but carried 'conversations'.

In the article, The Atlantic makes the economic argument why making content is not where it's at. So where is it at then? Business Insider reckons it lies in curation.

Creative of the Week – Mike Bodge

According to his own bio, "Mike Bodge is an internet-minded human and entrepreneur located in New York". He operates an interesting blog called Delete Yourself, but it is his latest creation that really caught our eye: N Sky C.

Built as a microsite, N Sky C is automatically updated every 5 minutes with the average color of the sky above New York City. Complete with HTML color code. Really cool.


Tech Insight of the Week – Drive the HTML5 canvas without tears

This week a very nifty little framework popped out of our Twitterfeeds: Paper.js. It allows you to do very serious things on the HTML5 canvas in a very simple way. We test-drived it, and found that a couple of nice examples of what you could do with it spoke louder than words could ever hope to. Read More »

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