Meta-Praized: Google & Outdoor Advertising, 100M IE7 Installs, DRM isn’t about Piracy, The Future of Telephony, Newspaper blogs, and more

Meta-Praized is a collection of links & stories we’ve “dugg” on Digg.com in the last few weeks. By clicking on that link, you can always follow what’s currently on our mind:

  • “Google plans street advertising presence” via Engadget
  • “Google Talk to Interoperate with AIM This Year” via the Google Operating System blog
  • “Microsoft Hits 100 Million IE7 Installs” via BetaNews
  • “Privately, Hollywood admits DRM isn’t about piracy” via Ars Technica
  • “Small Town News Station Heads to YouTube” via SplashCast Media
  • “MTV to buy RateMyProfessors.com” in News.com
  • “Asterisk: The Future of Telephony” via linux.inet.hr
  • “Google (Google Checkout) breaks ceasefire with eBay” via Valleywag
  • “Big Media’s Crush on Social Networking” in the New York Times
  • “Google Inc. is currently in negotiations to purchase Adscape Media (videogame advertising)” in CNN Money
  • “Traffic to newspaper blogs soars” via MarketWatch

What’s a Blog Widget?

Since the acquisition of MyBlogLog by Yahoo, I’ve had many questions regarding blog widgets. Today’s New York Times (found via GigaOM) brings some light to that phenomenon.

What are they?

Widgets are elements, often in the left or right columns of a blog, that enhance its usefulness or aesthetic appeal. (The term “widgets,” confusingly, can also refer to compact applications that operate on a computer’s desktop.) “Widgets pull content or services from some other place on the Web, and put it into your personal page,” said Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures in Manhattan. Typically, they’re built with Flash software from Adobe, or the JavaScript programming language, which ensures that they work with most Web browsers.”

Three categories:

“Ed Anuff, a co-founder of Widgetbox.com, divides widgets into three categories. “One is self-expression widgets, like photo galleries, games or YouTube videos that you like,” he said. The second category includes widgets that generate revenue for a blogger, like a box that displays auctions from a particular eBay category, or a blogger’s favorite DVDs from Amazon.com. The third category, Mr. Anuff said, encompasses “site-enhancement widgets, like discussion forums, news feeds or a guest book, which provide better utility for your Web site.”

Popular ones:

“According to Widgetbox, its most popular widget allows bloggers to incorporate an updated feed of news items from the site Digg into their blogs. Matt Mullenweg, creator of the WordPress blogging software, says the widgets that his users have been incorporating into their sites lately include Meebo, an instant-messaging application that allows blog authors to chat with their visitors. “One of my favorites,” Mr. Mullenweg said, “is the Sphere It widget, which pops up a window to show you articles and other blog posts related to what you’re reading.”

Business Models:

“Most widgets are available free, though they usually carry links or logos that promote the site that supplies them, and they sometimes have advertising. As with other phenomena that make up the wave known as Web 2.0, blog widgets don’t always have clear revenue potential. “As a widget user, it’s not my problem to worry about how they’re going to make money,” said Guy Kawasaki, an author, blogger and venture capitalist. “But as an investor, would I invest in a widget company giving things away for free? It’s hard to see a business model for it, other than to hope that Google buys you.” Mr. Anuff predicted, however, that “by the second half of 2007, some widgets will shift to a subscription basis.” For some sites that offer fee-based services, widgets can act as roadside billboards that help lure traffic. ”

What it means: widgets are part of the atomization of the Web that I listed in my 2007 predictions. They allow decentralization of content, features and functionalities. Widgets are also available for Microsoft Vista (called gadgets) or the various start pages like the Google home page (also called gadgets) or NetVibes (called modules). The MySpace ecosystem has also seen an explosion of plug-ins and widgets. All are interesting way to propagate your content in other web sites, while maintaining control of it.

User-Generated Content: Recap of 2006 and What to Expect in 2007

This article by Bambi Francisco in MarketWatch recaps 2006 and sets the stage for 2007 in terms of the impact of user-generated content:

“Given our obsession with users, and ourselves, I’ve highlighted what will be in demand or wanted in 2007 as the audience is increasingly relied upon as the voice, the experts, the supporting actors and/or virtual stars of tomorrow. These bottoms-up celebrities combined with traditional top-down stars will increasingly dominate the new media landscape of 2007.

Wanted: Your contribution

The concept of a wiki — a site that essentially enables egalitarian editing and collaboration of everyone from experts to novices — has been around for many years. The best-known example is Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Today, Wikipedia has 725 million page views per month, up more than 400% from last year, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. And, the beauty of Wikipedia is that it has about 6 employees. This year, the wiki model exploded to the point that now a book is being written in wiki style. Barry Libert is spearheading the first book project to be written in such a manner. (…)

Wanted: Your expertise

“Everyone is an expert [in something],” according to Richard Rosenblatt, who was the former chairman of MySpace and who sold the social network to News Corp last year for $580 million. Today, Rosenblatt is heading up Demand Media, which he calls a new media site. Demand Media is looking for professional, expert content on any topic since the core of its strategy is to start with trusted, professional content and then provide the tools to let people contribute related content or opinions. Some of Demand Media’s sites that use expert commentary include eHow, trails.com, gardenguides.com and golflink.com.

Yahoo Answers is probably the most popular of services that rely on volunteer experts to give people answers to their questions. (…) Yahoo Answers, which now has 60 million users and 160 million answers, marked its one-year anniversary in early December. Those answers helped drive Yahoo Answers traffic from practically zero in November 2005 to 14.5 million this November, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. In a survey conducted by Yahoo Answers and Harris Interactive, a third of online adults have used a Q&A site. (…)

Wanted: Your opinions and comments

About 30% of online news site Topix.net comes from user-generated or reader comments. That’s expected to jump to about 50% next year, Topix.net’s CEO Rich Skrenta tells me. Take a look across the blogosphere and you’ll note that comments make up a large part of the content.

Wanted: Your history

User-generated content can come in the form of a users’ history. As long as people can know your history, it can help form recommendations that drive sales of products, movie rentals, or news articles. In the past, roughly 5% of Amazon‘s book sales came from recommendations, as estimated by analysts. According to Netflix members select approximately 60 percent of their movies based on movie recommendations tailored to their individual tastes.

Wanted: Your reviews, ratings

It all started with ePinions back in the late ’90s. It was a site that thrived on users giving their opinions about sundry topics. Now, reviews and ratings are not only everywhere, they’re essential in influencing what we buy, where we eat, and what we read. They’ve become a great filtering process. They’re the reason sellers are trusted on eBay. They’re the reason local restaurants which are reviewed by users on Yelp.com get new clients. They’re the reason we read certain articles from across the Web, thanks to Digg.com, which relies on users to vote for articles they like by submitting it.

Wanted: Your profiles and journals

We live in an age where what we do, and who we are, is the news. That became clearer to me after Facebook decided to make any update on a users’ profile become a news feed. While the service wasn’t very popular when announced, I think the millennial generation will get used to it. Profiles of every day people make up the social network sites — the fastest-growing sites — on the Web. News Corp’s MySpace, with 115 million members creating the content with their own profiles, saw page views and unique visitors more than double in November. Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces, which has 70 million members creating profiles, also saw its unique visitors and page views more than double last month.

Wanted: Your video creations

NBC is integrating user-submitted videos, such as favorite pets and wedding woes. They’ll be videos that are family-oriented, said Mark Moore, founder and CEO of One True Media, the technology company hosting the user-submitted videos. Mixing user-submitted video and traditional content will become a bigger deal in 2007.

What it means: this is a great summary of the major pillars of user-generated content. Still looking for a good New Year’s resolution? Make sure you open the conversation with your users. They want to tell you something!

Meta-Praized: ComScore & Privacy, TV Networks Discuss YouTube Rival, Four Google Improvements, LiveDeal.com, Yahoo & FaceBook, Skype Reorg, BidNearby

Meta-Praized is a collection of links & stories we’ve “dugg” on Digg.com in the last 7 days. Feel free to add us as a friend: PraizedDotCom .

Meta-Praized: ComScore & Privacy, TV Networks Discuss YouTube Rival, Four Google Improvements, LiveDeal.com, Yahoo & FaceBook, Skype Reorg, BidNearby

Meta-Praized is a collection of links & stories we’ve “dugg” on Digg.com in the last 7 days. Feel free to add us as a friend: PraizedDotCom .

Craigslist is Definitely a Strange, yet Beautiful Beast

craigslist_logo.jpgMediaPost reports on a speech Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster gave to the investment community at UBS’ 34th Annual Global Media & Communications Conference in New York.

According to the article, it was a “culture clash of near-epic proportions”. When an UBS analyst asked him “How does the site plan to maximize revenue? “, Buckmaster replied “That definitely is not part of the equation. It’s not part of the goal.”

“Buckmaster insisted that the company doesn’t especially want to make money. While it charges for job listings in seven cities ($75 in San Francisco, $25 in the other six) and apartment listings by brokers in New York ($10), those charges aren’t to make a profit as much as to cover expenses and keep out scammers, Buckmaster said. He added that some users requested the fees, in hopes of keeping the listings legitimate.” When asked: “How did the site arrive at $10 for real estate listings”, he responded “Ten dollars sounded like a nice round number”.

He was also asked questions about how the site could make more money, more specifically with text ads from Google. He said they had been approached, that the numbers had been crunched for them and that this number was quite staggering but, no, the site wasn’t interested. “No users have been requesting that we run text ads, so for us, that’s the end of the story. If users start calling out for text ads, we’ll listen.”

The ZDNet blog has more excerpts from his speech: “When asked why Craigslist wouldn’t use eBay technologies such as PayPal (eBay owns 25% of Craigslist), Buckmaster says users haven’t clamored for it. “eBay has fantastic technology but the key difference is that 90 percent of eBay transactions are over a long distance,” says Buckmaster. “Ninety-five percent of our transactions are between people that live near each other. It’s wonderful as a technology but not relevant to what we do.”

According to a joint UBS & Comscore report discussed on John Battelle’s blog, Craigslist was #8 in the US in terms of page views, #6 in terms of Average Minutes Per Day Per Visitor and 3# in terms of Average Pages Per Day Per Visitor.

Update: Mathew Ingram tries to calculate how much Craigslist is worth: “Craigslist currently gets a mind-blowing 5 billion page views or so a month. A premier site like Craigslist — and one that is focused on classified advertising, which is inherently purchasing-type behaviour — would likely command a fairly high CPM rate for ads. Let’s say theoretically it was $10 per thousand. That would bring in $50-million a month (StartupBoy says Craigslist is worth more than eBay, and he doesn’t even include ads).”

What it means: As his bio says, Jim Buckmaster is possibly the “only CEO ever accused of being anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist” :-). But kidding aside, if you’re in the same space as Craigslist, what do you do with a competitor that does not play by “your rules”? Do you use the same strategy that you’re using with other “typical” competitors or do you have to play by “their rules”. I think this is yet another example of a company that has always been user-focused and has drastically succeeded like Google. And I think you have no choice but to follow their lead and improve on what they are doing.