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The RAAKonteur #85 – Facebook’s gold, Google’s intelligence, and Twitter’s tracking cookies


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22 May 2012
20:01
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Much ado about nothing?

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Schadenfreude! News that General Motors, the third biggest advertiser in the US pulled its advertising from Facebook this week was greeted with glee by the press. Another report underlined Facebook's apparent problem. The average click through rate is about 0.1 percent. Facebook's CTR is below average at 0.051 percent and Google's is above average 0.4 percent. In our experience Facebook can not only be an excellent place to advertise, it can also be the best place. It depends on the brand, however. If you buy ads for a fashion brand, for instance, the cost per click is relatively cheap, plus you get a larger, more predictable volume than with Google Adwords.

Facebook's IPO

By the time you read this, Facebook's IPO would have happened. Dough Russkoff cuts through the noise:

"Facebook can still be one of the most successful and significant companies of the past 100 years without being nearly worth an IPO valuation of $100 billion. Meanwhile, traders buying stock at that valuation can still make billions more over the next hours or days, even if the stock then slowly peters out. Likewise, Facebook can shoot to a sustained stock market success even without showing a reasonable profit for many years. Finally, Facebook can become the biggest stock market and business loser since Lucent (who?) without taking the Internet or social media down with it."

Google adds a layer of Intelligence

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While Facebook goes for gold, Google goes for wow. The search giant this week announced the Knowledge Graph, a piece of technology that's been years in the making. What is it, exactly? Google Engineers also refer to it as "strings to things", and it basically means, instead of merely analysing the text in your search query, they're going to start resolving your search to an object (person, place, building, chemical compound, style of music, etc). In other words, Semantic Search. Now, for the bit that we are most impressed with: they're also introducing search recommendations. Kind of like on Amazon, where you can see other titles bought by the same people who bought what you bought, they'll show you other objects searched by people who searched what you searched. Search Serendipity – that's what we're talking about, isn't it?

And Twitter's been busy, too

Not to be outdone in a week where news focuses heavily on Facebook, Twitter launched something new themselves. The latest effort in their quest to make Twitter less daunting for newcomers sees Twitter using tracking intelligence to suggest who a user should follow. Now for the big question – how do they know this much about you when you've never used it? The Twitter button, of course! (which, in this case, acts very much like a tracking cookie)

Reddit to Wikipedia: My community is more streetwise than yours

During the remarkable anti-SOPA protests the communities of Wikipedia and Reddit played a key role. But recently hoaxes that were accepted on Wikipedia, did not make it past the Reddit mob – which highlights the differences between the two communities: Wikipedia has a weak community, but centralises the exchange of information. It has a small number of extremely active editors, and most users feel little ownership of the content. And although everyone views the same information, edits take place on a separate page, and discussions of reliability on another, insulating ordinary users from any doubts that might be expressed. Facebook has strong communities but decentralises the exchange of information. Friends are quite likely to share content and to correct mistakes, but those corrections won't reach other users sharing or viewing the same content. Reddit, by contrast, builds its strong community around the centralised exchange of information.

Communities are important

In an in depth article Gawker explains how Yahoo! killed Flickr and lost the internet.

"It was a stunning failure in vision. All Yahoo cared about was the database its users had built and tagged. It didn't care about the community that had created it or (more importantly) continuing to grow that community by introducing new features."

Two jabs at the press

According to the ex-Labour deputy leader John Prescott Twitter is replacing the press – and good riddance.

"Where once press barons were courted by politicians and PRs, the people have now established their own media. It costs nothing, is faster than mainstream media and galvanises people into action."

This statement following the news that the combined total of people who buy daily national newspapers is 9,002,963. The number of people on Twitter in the UK is now 10 million.

Creatives of the week – Jay Silver & Eric Rosenbaum

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A banana piano? A play-doh game console? Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have created the tools to make silly ideas like that easy to produce. The MIT Media Lab students are using Kickstarter to raise funds for MaKey MaKey, an invention kit that turns everyday objects into touchpads. Inspiring stuff.

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