Google "Twitterizes" its Merchant Profile Pages

Google just launched a “status update” field that merchants can use to send real-time messages to their profile page (i.e. Place Pages) in Google Maps. Accessible from the Local Business Center dashboard (which means it’s only available to businesses who have claimed their listing), you can read more about it on the Google LatLong blog.

Excerpt:

Holding a special event today? Want to post a coupon for 5-7pm tonight? Have a new product in stock? You can now get the word out by posting to your Place Page directly from your Local Business Center dashboard. Once you’ve logged in and are on your business’ dashboard, post an update and it will go live on your Place Page in just a few minutes. To see an example, check out the Place Page for Mission Mountain Winery which posted to introduce a new wine.

What it means: After Facebook, Google is now having real-time envy (or is that Twitter envy?). This is a small addition but it tells a lot about the product direction. As you can see in the example, attribution for the message is showing it’s coming “From the owner”. Expect Google to allow users to give that kind of real-time feedback in the future, hereby improving on user ratings/reviews. You can also expect broadcast bridges to other social networks.

If I was in Facebook’s or Twitter’s shoes, I would move quickly and enter the structured local business listings world by offering pre-populated fan pages (for Facebook) and merchant profiles (for Twitter). This would simplify the entry for SMEs and basically enable a “claim your profile” function on those two social networks. It also would simplify the mass structuring of real-time content (which is very valuable).

Osama Bedier from Paypal on E-Commerce, Money and Micropayments

Osama Bedier, Vice President of PayPal Platform and Emerging Technology, was interviewed by Om Malik on the second morning of the LeWeb conference to talk about the world of e-commerce, money and future Paypal projects.

Om Malik Osama Bedier Amazon LeWeb Paris December 2009

  • In the history of the world, there’s been five major shifts in the way we pay: barter, coins, paper, credit cards, digital.
  • Removing friction has been the objective in that evolution.
  • If the future of money is digital, it means it’s fully connected and personal.
  • Paypal is the first method of payment that was born with the digital age.
  • Paypal moves 70B$ worth of e-commerce (out of a total of $350B).
  • As they look forward, Paypal wants to go after all the money that’s being spent today ($30 trillion).
  • Paypal has recently launch Paypal X to open their payment platform to developers.
  • Visa/Mastercard are partners, not competitors to Paypal. 50% of Paypal’s transactions go to credit cards. The enemy is paper money.
  • Innovation will be increased flexibility in paying and micropayments
  • On micropayments, they have a lot of plans for 2010. Bedier didn’t want to share too much but he suggested the following: Paypal has 200M accounts across the world. They know quite a bit about the credibility of these accounts. They’ve earned credibility. Paypal should allow them to do small payments. Details next year…
  • They just signed a partnership with Philipps, the television manufacturer, to enable payments on your TV. Why? Because televisions are platforms.
  • From a social network point of view, Paypal is seeing growth of 20% month over month in payments there. They think it’s a huge opportunity. A lot of of those payments are around gaming and some are for dating sites but it’s slowly making its way to commerce.
  • Payments + social is the future and the line between online and offline commerce is blurring and it’s driven by smart phones.

MySpace Opens Up Their Real-Time Activity Stream to Developers

Mike Jones, COO, MySpace, and Monica Keller, Group Architect, stepped on stage right after Twitter. It was a tough act to follow given Twitter’s growth (and Facebook’s for that matter) but they still managed to announce exciting things. MySpace is opening up its real-time activity stream unrestricted using push technology with no time delay. The first three partners are Google, OneRiot, and Groovy Networks. They also announced a few other improvements to their API, the details of which are on their corporate blog.

They also announced a developer challenge starting in January. More details will be found soon in their developer section. MySpace currently has 110M users each month and 46 million events are published in the activity stream every day.

Additional information:

ReadWriteWeb: “Myspace Opens Floodgates: Developers Get API for Real-Time Stream”

Techcrunch: “MySpace Launches New Set Of Realtime APIs With Google, OneRiot And Groovy”

LeWeb '09: Sessions I'm Most Looking Forward To

LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

LeWeb '09: Sessions I'm Most Looking Forward To

LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

The Self-Media Decade

We’re almost at the end of the first decade of the 21st century (yes, it went by really fast!) and it’s probably time to reflect on what characterized the last ten years. Each decade gets its own descriptive “brand” and this one won’t be different. The seventies were all about “the peak of hippie culture“, social change and related values. The eighties were all about the individual, economic liberalization and some would say money and greed but it also saw the end of the Cold War. The beginning of the 90’s was very nihilistic with the grunge movement but finished on a high note with the start of a long period of economic growth, an amazing era of technology innovation and the dotcom boom.

So, what defined the 2000’s? We obviously could talk about September 11, the dotcom bust and the recent worldwide financial crisis but those are punctual events. They definitely influenced the zeitgeist but they are not the zeitgeist. I believe the decade that’s ending was all about “me” and the extreme democratization of media. I call it “The Self-Media Decade”.

It all started with the reality television phenomenon in 2000. Survivor, the famous TV show, ignited the genre and there’s been no looking back since then. Every time you watch television today, you see “real” people in “real” situations. In parallel to that, blogging and blog platforms arrived on the market (LiveJournal in March 1999 and blogger.com in August 1999). Throughout the decade, millions of people took up blogging. Some blogs became a real alternative to newspapers and magazines, journalists started blogging and the line with mainstream media started blurring. In the newspaper industry also, Craigslist democratized classifieds, allowing anyone to post a classified ad online for free. Their first real expansion out of the San Francisco market happened in 2000.

Another parallel was the arrival of Napster, also in 1999. By enabling downloads of individual songs, Napster was allowing everyone to become their own radio programmer (or CD mixer). Why listen to radio (or buy packaged music CDs) when you can just download your favorite songs and get instant gratification. We all knew at the time that television and movie distribution would be impacted in the coming years. Tivo became a phenomenon in itself and created the personal video recorder product category. No need to sit down at a fixed date and time to watch a television show. Can you guess when Tivo launched? Yup, 1999.

On the shopping side, the birth of Epinions (again in 1999) was the first signal of the important role consumers would play regarding merchant and product recommendations via user reviews. Up until then, directory publishers were pretty much the sole gatekeepers in a very advertiser-focused world.

With the introduction of these new sites and tools, the only thing missing was a solid broadcast ecosystem. Facebook (and later Twitter) created those much needed amplifiers starting mid-decade. By building your social graph, you’re creating your own media network. I quickly clued in to this when I wrote my “Robert Scoble is Media” blog post. We were all becoming media (production and broadcast) including myself.

I’m actually a good case study of the power of social media tools. Up until I started blogging in 2006, I had an excellent professional reputation but in a very small circle of industry colleagues and peers. By blogging extensively since then and by using broadcast mechanisms provided by sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, my worldwide reputation has grown tremendously. I now have thousands of monthly industry readers on my blog and I’m often invited to speak at conferences. I’ve become an important influencer in the directory publishing industry and I’m amazed at the speed at which it happened.

So, what did we gain as a society? We now have more transparency, democracy and meritocracy. What did we lose? We lost common “experiences” (traditionally focused by media) and we’re not always sure who we can trust out there. There’s a lot more noise. But clearly, we’ve all become media by participating, with everything good and bad that comes with it and this will continue in the next decade.

Kelsey Group: 32% of SMBs Plan to Use Social Media in the Next 12 Months

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”66afa9c1b5e4cd2f613f200ec61d955d” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] just released some interesting data around small merchant social media usage coming from their Local Commerce Monitor study.

Highlights:

  • 9% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) currently use Twitter to market their businesses.
  • 32% of SMBs indicated they plan to include social media in their marketing mix in the next 12 months by using a page on a social site such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace.
  • 39% of SMBs plan to include customer ratings or reviews on their own Web sites
  • 31% plan to include links or ads placed on social sites or blogs.
  • The study revealed adoption of social media by SMBs is more prevalent among younger businesses. For example, 16% of SMBs that have been in business for less than 3 years use Twitter to promote themselves

What it means: still think real-time conversation and social media for small merchants is a fad or a dream? Think again. We’re only seeing the point of the iceberg. SMB adoption is now on the radar screen and will grow tremendously in the next 18 months.