Archive for the ‘news aggregator’ tag
Twitter has also been on a “new and improved” rampage over the last few months and it looks like there’s even more in store. Yesterday, I wrote about how Twitter is pushing to become more of a news maker and less of a news aggregator with their Olympic hub site and interactive content.
Now, I see that Twitter is talking to Hollywood producers about producing video content for the blurby network. As crazy as that sounds, we’ve already seen a Twitter account turn into a TV series, so why bring the TV series to Twitter?
This week on Law & Order: Special Tweeting Unit, the team investigates a series of death hoax Tweets in #justinbieberisnotdead
Then, on The Real Housewives of Twitter, Brittany creates a fake Twitter account and pretends to be Crystal’s ex-boyfriend, but when Carmelita demands pictures or it didn’t happen, a full on Twitter war breaks out between the girls.
Finally, on I Didn’t Know This Was Public, Henry gets fired after posting pictures of his Xeroxed backside, and Lori gets in big trouble with her mom when she Tweets about the 5 guys who joined the sleepover.
I could get into this.
The people who know, say that the potential series would include Twitter content and would give Twitter another place to sell sponsorships and ads. Currently, they routinely sell out their ad inventory, so they’re desperate for a new ad stream.
In other Twitter news, the NY Times says that Twitter is planning a comeback. They’re working on a tool that will allow users to export all of their old Tweets, so they can marvel at their own brilliance or see where they went terribly wrong.
Personally, I’m not interested in my own history but there are other accounts I follow where a history would be helpful. Unfortunately, Twitter says they won’t be exploring that avenue any time soon. So for now, whatever you said on Twitter in 2011, stays with Twitter and that’s got to be a big relief for the several hundred souls who posted before thinking it through.
Join the Marketing Pilgrim Facebook Community
Victims and witnesses of last night’s horrific shooting in Aurora, Colorado have turned to Reddit for support and news updates, transforming the online news aggregator into one of the best sources of information on the evolving story. A continuously updated board of victim status and their current hospital sits atop a rolling update of critical news, including pictures, video, and essential information about the situation, making it quite possibly the quickest way to get essential news for those needing information on potential victims (more informative than the government websites and local news channels). The incredible outpouring of eyewitness journalism and support has turned the humble news aggregator into an impressive source of information in the midst of a national crisis.
Early after the shooting, a man claiming to have been shot posted photos of his wounds in the “WTF” vertical of Reddit (warning: graphic photos). “i am one of the 50 wounded in the aurora theatre shooting. here are a few photos of my very lucky but nonethless terrifying brush with death. my thoughts go out to those less fortunate than me,” he wrote, which has received 5800 Reddit votes so far and hundreds of comments.
The initial post was followed by another alleged victim, who reached out for support to “calm” her nerves as she recovered from the incident. “Someone came into our theater at the midnight release of Dark Knight Rises and began opening fire. Who here on Reddit can help me calm my nerves?”, she posted, which opened a deeply personal conversation between the user and the commenters, including other victims looking for the same solace. “Thank you for the well wishes everyone. Heart is still racing,” she followed up, in thanks to the community.
Perhaps the most endearing utility of Reddit’s outpouring of support came in the form of spreadsheet of victim status, updated with the number of deaths, wounded, and casualties, including their location at the 6 area hospitals. Admittedly, the information likely contains some inaccuracies, given the loose nature of the submitters and turbulence of the situation (Twitter has been known to spread misinformation in time of crisis).
The impressive usefulness of Twitter compares interestingly to common news sources and government sources. Aurora.gov’s website was crippled by the incoming traffic, NY Times map of the situation was certainly helpful, but not to those looking for support, and I couldn’t find any of the same information on the Colorado 9 News website, which was covered with live video and testimony of the story, but no immediately apparent information on victims. The comparison stands as an intriguing testimony to the priority of user-generated content vs. more traditional outlets.
Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones of the tragedy. Please be respectful in the comments as we discuss the proper role of journalism and online community for this incident.
Pepsi is launching a big rebranding campaign today, and the company says social media is going to play a crucial role. Specifically, PepsiCo Global Head of Digital Shiv Singh tells me that the biggest online piece of the campaign is a “social media cheat sheet” called the #NOW board — it has, in fact, taken over the Pepsi website.
The board is built on top of Pulse, the social media visualization platform that Pepsi launched last fall. Looking at the RSS feeds from across the Web, as well as the firehose of wants being shared through Twitter and bit.ly (with help from startup SocialFlow), Singh says the #NOW board presents the pop culture stories that are hottest in social media at any given moment, presented in easily-digestible form.
Beyond serving as a news aggregator, Singh says the site will include other features, like the ability for celebrities to pose challenges to their fans, and exclusive deals courtesy of sites like Thrillist. And naturally, the content can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
That all sounds fun, but what does that have to do with a food and beverage company? Well, the theme of the campaign is “Live for Now,” and it tries to reconnect the Pepsi brand with, as Singh puts it, “the heart of pop culture.” He argues that “the more deeply integrated” Pepsi is with broader pop culture trends, the better the company does.
My other question: Are people actually going to return to a Pepsi-branded site as a source of news? I mean, any news website is probably going to have advertising and sponsorships, and sure, we’re not probably not talking about hard-hitting journalism here, but it still feels a little weird to treat a Pepsi-owned site as a “real” news aggregator. Singh counters:
In the last few years we’ve seen people in general care less about the source of an experience or who’s creating the content, and more about the experience itself. People care less whether it’s a TV network that’s creating a really funny piece of video or whether a brand is.
The argument carries some weight, when you think about how ads like the Old Spice guy have become popular viral content. So is this advertising? Is it content? It’s a little bit of both, and it sounds like that’s what Pepsi wants.
Remember how most companies don’t sell practically overnight for $1 billion and it actually takes years before a startup finds its “Aha!” moment and narrows in on a working business model? Yes, we have one of those stories today.
Fwix, which started out as a hyperlocal news aggregator, is metamorphosing into an enterprise-facing company called Radius that gives salespeople the tools and data they need to scout local businesses.
It’s a big bet. While Radius had some early success making in the “low millions” of dollars per year selling access to its content to media companies, its chief executive Darian Shirazi saw a much bigger market opportunity in targeting companies that sell services to small businesses.
“I’ve always wanted to build a large sustainable company and it turns out that this is very hard to do,” he said. Shirazi is somewhat known for being precociously involved in the early wave of Web 2.0 companies. He was 17 when he joined Facebook, but left two years later when his parents made him go to college. (Yes, really.) After leaving college, he had the urge to do something on his own and the idea for Fwix grew out of his traveling experiences.
“I was basically dying to think of how I could organize the web’s information around location,” he said. That turned into a hyperlocal news aggregator complete with an API for real-time local news. But the media industry — as us bloggers know way too well — is an extremely difficult, penny-pinching target market. Fwix remarkably had some success in spite of this, but it wasn’t a big enough market opportunity.
Now the new product takes all of the hyperlocal data Fwix used to pull together from Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Localeze, Acxiom and CityGrid and turns it into a dashboard that a salesforce can use to keep tabs on successful local shops. If you look at a local business profile (see below), you’ll see news, tweets, reviews and events tied to the place. This data can also be fed into Salesforce, where companies can keep track of leads and follow-though on potential opportunities.
Shirazi says customers like daily deals sites are willing to pay for this because they need to understand which local businesses are actually popular with the community. ”You have to try to treat the business like a creditor would,” he said. “You have to go after businesses that are doing well.”
Discovering this opportunity wasn’t actually that difficult, he added. Several customers, in fact, kept asking for a product that fed location data into Salesforce. The hard part was deciding to sunset the company’s other products to focus entirely on this problem.
Shirazi says his clients now include companies that have about 40,000 salespeople between them and that the majority of these employees should be on Radius by year-end. ”We’ve only had the product operational for two months and we’ve had customers go from trial into full deployment,” he said. “We know it’s working.”
Shirazi says there are 10 million people who sell to small businesses in the U.S. and even if he grabs a small slice of that market by charging $39 per month per seat, it’s a billion dollar opportunity. He says the Radius’ main competitor Dun & Bradstreet doesn’t provide all of this context from user-generated content sites. And for the record, Dun & Bradstreet has a $3.7 billion market capitalization, so yes, this is a bigger opportunity.
He says that what Radius does is a much harder technical problem to solve than it appears at surface-level. A business like San Francisco’s Hog & Rocks might be called “Hog and Rocks” in one directory but “Hog & Rocks” in another. Or there might be several coffee shops called “Java Cafe” in one city.
“We have to go and correlate all the data. The hardest part of the problem isn’t the data collection. It’s the matching,” he said.
Shirazi said all of Fwix’s employees stayed on with the company through the transition process and that he’s just hired his 20th employee. The company has raised $6.75 million in funding from Comcast Ventures and BlueRun Ventures.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But that’s how you have to be as an entrepreneur,” he said. “As long as you keep trying, you will eventually stumble upon something that works.”
Mobile news aggregator Zite is giving popular web publishers their own sections within its digital magazine apps, the company announced today.
Zite lets you build a custom digital magazine by pulling in shared links from bookmarking and social sites, such as Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious and Read It Later. It then builds a personalized selection of articles based on activity from your social profiles. Unlike most of its competitors, Zite learns your reading habits by giving you voting buttons for each piece of content. The idea is to give you more of what you actually want to see without having to disregard all the boring and/or uninteresting stuff.
Unlike Zite competitor Pulse News, the new publisher-specific sections aren’t just a bland RSS feed that dumps content into the app in real-time. Instead, the publisher sections will essentially function like regular topic-based sections (Technology, Politics, Science, etc.). The only real difference is that all the content comes from one source rather than several.
Initially, the Zite Publisher Program will add sections for a handful of news partners, including Bleacher Report, CNN, The Daily Beast, FOX Sports, HLNtv, Motley Fool, The Huffington Post, The Next Web, and yes, VentureBeat. Zite said the program will be mutually beneficial to both itself and publishers.
“A publication like CNN publishes hundreds of posts everyday across (a wide range of) categories ,” said Zite CEO Mark Johnson in an interview with VentureBeat. That can be overwhelming for tablet users trying to find only the articles they care about. “With Zite, we’re able to aggregate a collection of only the posts that interest you within an algorithmically-curated section.”
Navigating through a content-heavy publisher’s website from a tablet’s native web browser is frustrating. You could easily spend more time searching for news than actually reading it. And since time is valuable, there’s definitely an advantage to having do the Zite curation for large news sites with a wide range of news coverage.
But news organizations with fewer daily posts and a specific range of news coverage (like VentureBeat or Bleacher Report) can also benefit from the Zite Publisher Program, the company said. In addition to an algorithmically-curated section within the app, publishers also gain an attractive digital magazine-style user interface that’s optimized for mobile devices and social sharing. It’s also worth noting that most publishers don’t have the resources (or desire) to create and maintain an app with the same functionality of Zite.
That said, Zite’s publisher sections could actually end up boosting readership for its news partners. As part of the new program, Zite will send its news partners regular analytics reports to better understand how their sections are performing. Additionally, each news partner has the option of placing two house ads within their section. The ads, which are entirely optional, can plug official iOS or Android apps, subscription deals, premium memberships, and other forms of self-promotion. That definitely gives publishers an incentive, while encouraging people to stop using Zite’s app in favor of a preferred news source.
Zite’s Johnson said, however, that company isn’t concerned with people fleeing because Zite provides something individual news publishers can’t: quality news aggregation.
“People aren’t going to stop using aggregators, even if the majority of their news comes from one place,” Johnson told VentureBeat. After comparing Zite to some other popular news aggregators, I’m inclined to agree with his logic, too.
For example, a large chunk of links submitted to community news sharing site Reddit come from image sharing service Imgur. But surfing Imgur directly produces a fraction of quality results compared to Reddit’s user-generated news aggregation. Clearly, people value a good aggregator nearly as much as the news itself. The same is true for Zite when it comes to aggregating news on mobile devices.
The company said it will be adding several new partners to its Zite Publisher Program in the coming months. Founded in March 2011, the San Francisco-based company was acquired in August 2011 by broadcast news organization CNN for over $20 million. Zite faces a growing number of competitors, including Flipboard, Editions by AOL, Pulse News, and Google Currents. Zite’s app is available for free on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch as well as Android- and WebOS-powered devices.
Screenshots of Zite’s new publisher sections via Zite
Running a massive online community is a tricky business. The administrators who police the site are trying to strike a balance between encouraging users to contribute and keeping unsavoury and illegal behaviour to a minimum. Reddit, a news aggregator and online community which has seen massive growth over the last year, allows users to create subreddits, which are essentially themed forums centred around topics like technology, humor and thousands of more obscure pastimes. Over the weekend Reddit announced it will no longer allow suggestive subreddits focused on sexual content featuring minors.
It’s more of symbolic gesture than a real solution to the problem. From Tumblr to Facebook, the problem of child pornography is one that requires continuous policing. On Facebook, for example, large communities existed around the obscure acronym “PTHC”. That’s hardly a suggestive title, like the subreddit “pre_teen girls” which sparked Reddit’s recent ban. But it is on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children watchlist of terms related to child pornography, and it did turn up hundreds of pages on Facebook, dumbfounding Facebook executives.
About six months ago a similar controversy erupted on Reddit over a subreddit called “jailbait”. The national media caught wind of the story and Reddit quickly shut the forum down. But it didn’t make any explicit changes to its guidelines. In large part that is because Reddit views itself as a bastion of free speech on the web. The community prefers to police itself and has a knee jerk reaction to anything it perceives as an attempt at censorship. That’s been a integral part of the site, and an important catalyst in Reddit’s pushback against the SOPA and PIPA piracy bills, a major victory for self-organizing internet activists.
In their blog post on the new ban, Reddit’s administrators tried to address this cultural conflict. “We understand that this might make some of you worried about the slippery slope from banning one specific type of content to banning other types of content. We’re concerned about that too, and do not make this policy change lightly or without careful deliberation. We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal. However, child pornography is a toxic and unique case for Internet communities, and we’re protecting reddit’s ability to operate by removing this threat. We remain committed to protecting reddit as an open platform.”
Filed under: media
As part of news aggregator Techmeme‘s big redesign a couple weeks ago, it moved its flow of top stories to the left to make room for… white space. But founder Gabe Rivera promised at the time that there’d be stuff coming to fill it, and now we know what — an events calendar for the tech world.
It’s a play to solidify the site’s position as the watercooler for anyone in tech, especially in Silicon Valley. In a post on the addition today, he says that while anyone can submit an event (sort of like its job board), there’s a specific thing that will earn a place in the calendar: “we’ll include events that are expected to produce the kind of news that appears on Techmeme” (his bolding, not mine).
There are already a variety of calendars out there for tech-related stuff. Searching Meetup in the Bay Area will yield a lot of quality casual tech gatherings for instance. But there’s no one dominant tech calendar, filtered for interestingness… like there’s no dominant news aggregator for tech news besides Techmeme. So, the addition is a logical fit to help make Techmeme even more relevant to its readers.
More details on listing criteria, from his post:
For example, events involving major announcements or product launches, or conferences including candid interviews with a major industry figures. As such, we will also include events like earnings announcements (of the more bellwether variety), scheduled project launches, and other kinds of virtual events that one cannot attend in body, but only in browser.
Basic listings are free, but if accepted, event organizers and pay for yellow bolding and a “Register Now” button that links.
We’ll see what the team fills the rest of the white space with.
Yesterday, Twitter announced that they are acquiring the Vancouver-based social new aggregator Summify. Summify, which was founded in late 2009 as ReadFu, summarizes the stories that are shared on the popular social networks and other news sites. Summify quickly sorts through the hundreds of stories that are shared across a user’s network, identifies the most [...]
Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal
SkyGrid, a startup that offers a powerful news aggregator to consumers is venturing into the TV content and media business with the launch of Touchtv, an iPad app that allows viewers to watch recent programs from popular sports, entertainment, politics, and news channels.
Custom designed for the iPad, Touchtv, which is a free app, aims to give viewers their own personal TV via the iPad to watch their favorite channels. SkyGrid has partnered with a number of networks including Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN, OWN, E! and others to show specific content and programming.
You can simply launch Touchtv on your iPad and “touch” any channel to start watching. From the Home Screen viewers can watch their channels and personalize their TV. As SkyGrid CEO Kevin Pomplun explains to me, Touchtv aims to replicate an identical experience to watching TV and flipping through channels. Unlike Hulu, Netflix, or others, Touchtv not trying to provide full sitcoms or games, but instead is trying to give users the channel watching experience.
In addition, LG has selected the Touchtv experience to be embedded in 40 million of their TVs which will be in market in the next year and a half. The aim of this could be to give cord cutters the ability to watch network programming without cable.
Touchtv still faces competition from Hulu, Netflix and even the individual iPad apps offered by cable operators and networks for the leanback experience. Pomplun says that SkyGrid will continue to operate independently from Touchtv.
LinkedIn is planning to shut down its Tweets application as of January 31, 2012. As you may remember, the Tweets application allowed users find and keep track of their LinkedIn connections on Twitter, view Twitter feeds of connections, recommend Twitter users to follow, and more.
In an announcement, LinkedIn says that the application will be removed from all profiles and the homepage. From the announcement: At LinkedIn, we want to provide a simple and efficient experience for members like you. So from time to time, we take a look at our set of features to evaluate how they’re being used by our members. Part of this process sometimes means we decide to eliminate a feature, so we can better invest those resources in building more great LinkedIn products.
Those products include LinkedIn Signal and news aggregator LinkedIn Today.
It sounds like the application wasn’t being used frequently by members (LinkedIn has since taken the Tweet the down, but we have a screengrab below). But from the statement made in the announcement embedded above, that’s probably the likely reason for the widget’s demise. LinkedIn clarified to us that users are still using Twitter from LinkedIn, however, are using the built in integrations that are separate from the widget.
The full-fledged version of the Tweets Application was only launched in 2010. With Tweets, you could display your most recent tweets on your LinkedIn profile, access to the updates of people you are following on Twitter, and Tweet, reply, and re-tweet from your LinkedIn home page.
LinkedIn says that it’s not eliminating the Twitter integration completely as your Twitter handle will still be shown on your profile, and if you have integrated your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, Tweets with the hashtag ‘#in’ will still display these Tweets on your profile. And you’ll still be able to Tweet from LinkedIn directly, and post from Twitter to LinkedIn (with the hashtag ‘#in’). But the widget, which acted as more of a feature-rich client, will be laid to rest.