Sunny With A Chance of Thunderstorms

Picture Jim: a 44-year-old working professional from Austin, Texas. He and his wife took their daughter Amy, now 10-years-old, and their son Hunter, now 7-years-old, to Disney World in Orlando, FL a few years back. Hunter was a little too young to really remember the trip and Jim never got to play Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, but the family had a great time. Jim has been thinking about making fresh vacation plans for a while now, but he just hasn’t been inspired to pull the trigger.

Taking a break from his spreadsheet, Jim clicks over to Facebook and his eyes catch an item in his newsfeed: the forecast for Walt Disney World Resort that reads 88 degrees and sunny, with 5 smiling sun icons running through the end of the week. Accompanying the forecast is an offer. “Returning visitors save 20% on a 4-night stay. Plus, one free greens fee at any Disney golf course.“

The ad knows Jim. It knows he is ready for a vacation. It is enticing without being intrusive and is presented in his newsfeed as information, rather than off to the side as a banner advertisement. And even better, it is automatically generated based on information Jim is already providing Facebook through his wall posts, check-ins, likes, geo-location and more. There is even the ability to market a similar vacation package to Jim’s friends who shares similar characteristics. The ability to personalize these offers are endless. Weather plays a key role in marketing for vacation destinations but an Open Graph application offers similar advantages to a variety of advertisers.

While this story has a happy ending, there are still some storm clouds looming. The Weather Channel expressed to me a hesitation in bundling marketing packages with weather information. Frankly, I see their point.

The Weather Channel is the most trusted name in weather. Mobile TWC apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on a variety of devices. TWC is seen as the most trusted brand in weather because they offer seamless ways for people to get information about the weather. Cross-branding promotions slow this process down. They have tried and have been unsuccessful. Apparently, Weather users can sniff out an promotion like that a mile away, and they don’t like it.

On the sunny side, Weather really is on the same page as Really Gets Me. They are interested in extracting data from Facebook and Twitter. Improving services/content and general branding are their primary goals. It seems like other companies sometimes get hung-up on the Xs and Os of short term ROI. The Weather Channel is ready and willing (at least to hear our ideas) and has not limited themselves to a narrow view of social media’s potential.

So, here’s the issue: How big do we want to think? Were should we aim on the spectrum of practical/boring to game-changing/pie-in-the-sky?

Encouraging users to connect with Facebook should be a relatively easy proposition. (Still, an important step beyond what TWC has in opperation now.) What to do with this info is the question.

What do you guys say?  How big are ya’ll thinking?

 

 

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There’s Nothing Casual About Smartphone Gaming Addiction

No, this isn’t a wildlife print by John James Audubon. It’s just a bird that I drew this morning on my smartphone.

If you guys haven’t downloaded Draw Something yet, get on it. First of all, this brilliantly simple turn-based pictionary game will provide you with hours and hours of fun (outside of class, of course). Secondly, there are a number of elements contributing to this game’s success worth noting. And third, I want some more people to play with. (As you can see by my screenshot, I am playing with a random user because my 4 friends who play are taking too long in between turns.)

Draw Something was downloaded over a million times in the first 10 days it was released. As of now, the game is seeing 10 million new drawings every 24 hours. That is a lot of action.

This explosion of growth was made possible because Draw Something was released as a truly cross-platform app. Players can connect with friends via Facebook or Twitter, as well as invite people to play by email. Android and iOS phone/tablet users can play against one another. Also, Instagram has proven to be a surprise marketing engine because Draw users like to post screenshots of their pictures. (It is also worth noting that you are not required to connect with a social network to use the app, if agreeing to the Facebook permissions creeps you out) Because the game made a simultaneous splash on both major mobile platforms with options to connect with the two largest social networks, there was never any friction in the word-of-mouth machine. Some applications lose momentum when they roll out for the iphone and Android users must sit on their hands for another couple months while their version is in development, or vice versa.

The developers, OMGPOP, were smart to incorporate a variety of ways to monetize this app. The free version cashes in on banner advertising. Presumably these ads will have a much higher click-through-rate because they will leverage information collected from the user’s social network. Players can also buy virtual goods such as new colors, effects, and bombs for simplifying turns. This ability to collect additional revenue should allow the game to stay profitable longer by adding value for hardcore gamers without turning off more causal users. Interestingly, CEO Dan Porter reports that the largest source of revenue is upgrading to the $0.99 version of the game. The premium version is ad-free, with additional words, and a few extra gold coins to get you started. Overall, it is not all that different from Draw Free. In the end, it seems that the game is so addicting that users don’t think twice about shelling out the for the dollar upgrade. Right now, Draw Something is seeing 5-digit daily revenue.

Draw Something’s success is not unique. A post this week on the Facebook Developer’s blog highlights the success of casual arcade-style gaming. This is one of the oldest app categories on Facebook and continues to be a leader in growth. These games are especially beneficial to Facebook because of their high engagement factor. Users keep logging on to play, boosting page-views and subsequently increasing opportunities for users to see new advertising. In an effort to encourage developers to build upon these games’ success, Facebook points out a few strategies for success:

  • Bring friends into the game by promoting healthy competition
  • Allow people to brag about their accomplishments or highscores by posting leaderboards to timelines
  • Schedule weekly tournaments, giving users a specific reason to keep coming back
  • Promote collaborative competition and gifting by using frictionless requests

Good game mechanics are proving to be an essential quality for an app’s success, and Facebook is continually doing everything it can to create opportunities for developers to drive discovery and re-engament. Digging a little deeper into your favorite time-waster may reveal some great ideas for how companies can use applications to connect and stay connected with their most valuable constituents.


Topics to Explore

Here are a few topics we should consider exploring for the white-paper. Each one of these subjects should warrant a good bit of individual attention, minimizing overlap .

Social Capital

How do we measure the value of social relationships?

Definitions:

“In The Forms of Capital, Pierre Bourdieu distinguishes between three forms of capital: economic capital, cultural capital and social capital. He defines social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.” His treatment of the concept is instrumental, focusing on the advantages to possessors of social capital and the ‘deliberate construction of sociability for the purpose of creating this resource.'”

Measurement:

“There is no widely held consensus on how to measure social capital, which has become a debate in itself: why refer to this phenomenon as ‘capital’ if there is no true way to measure it?”

Sentiment Analysis

How do we extract subjective information from source materials?

Importance, Accuracy, Applications

Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.

Opinion mining from noisy text data
Twitter mood maps reveal emotional states of America
Automatic Identification of Pro and Con Reasons in Online Reviews
Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis

Data-sets 

What types of data-sets are out there?

Data, data everywhere: Information has gone from scarce to superabundant.
That brings huge new benefits, says Kenneth Cukier, but also big headaches

Data-management

How do we efficiently process large quantities of data within tolerable elapsed times?

Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.
Facebook handles 40 billion photos from its user base.
Decoding the human genome originally took 10 years to process; now it can be achieved in one week.

Sandia sees data management challenges spiral
Community cleverness required

Crowd-sourcing 

Is this crowd-sourcing thing still worth the buzz?

Crowd Sourcing Turns Business On Its Head
Looking Forward – Emerging and Declining Networks for 2009
Crowdsourcing without a Crowd: Levia’s Failed Attempt

Permeable Data Sources 

Who has the keys to the lock box?

Dispatch Box: On the road to Open Data
Open Government Data Catalogues 
Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data

New concepts:

time banking

social gaming

microcredit

9 types of business models: Which one are you?


Let’s Get A Few Things Straight

All this talk about Facebook, Apps, Open Graph, and Timeline, has my head spinning. Let’s pause for a moment to get some much-needed clarification.

Earlier this year Facebook debuted about 60 Timeline apps. Today, there are 84 timeline apps available. These apps are broken down into 9 categories: Entertainment (18), Fitness (2), Food (5), Giving (3), Music (12), News (17), Shopping and Fashion (12), Travel (5), and Other (10).

What is the difference between a Timeline app and a regular Facebook app? 

Well, simply put, Timeline apps publish Actions to your profile. Timeline apps are “meant for the activities you want to share with friends.” Other applications may be considered social, but they do not publish information about you to your profile. Both Timeline apps and regular apps on Facebook can use Open Graph.

Since Facebook is making a permanent transition to Timeline, will that make all apps Timeline apps?

Yes, no, and maybe. Not every app will post Actions to your Timeline. But, Facebook does want apps to take a more prominent role in your profile. Apps were originally used to access content. The next generation of Facebook apps are meant to reflect what you do in the real world: what you eat, buy, exercise, cook, listen to, etc. Basically, Facebook wants your Timeline to be a convergence of your “real” and “digital” lives.

What are the advantages for a company to use a Timeline app?

Facebook is already publishing success stories about Timeline apps. Content discovery, increased website traffic, time spent on site, new users, and overall “engagement” are areas where companies have seen benefits. 50% of eCommerce site visitors are loged into Facebook so there is a lot of potential for companies who want to increase online sales.

Zukerberg’s “frictionless sharing” business model means “permissionless sharing.” Since users will have to opt-out rather than opt-in, markets, and your friends, will now have access to vast amounts of data they would not have had before.

What’s up with the ticker on the right-hand-side of home page?

 

When you use games and apps, the ticker on the right-hand column shows your friends’ app activity in real time. The ticker may include Sponsored Stories that may or may not be about games.

 

 


It’s My Data, and I Want It Now!

[Ben Elliot and William Wickey]

How much access do you have to the data you put online? How much of what you do online is being recorded? 

In the case of Facebook, the answer to both these questions is “quite a bit.”

Facebook now allows anyone to download a copy their data saved. Users now have the opportunity to see just how much they are contributing in a “raw” format.  This is part of Mark Zukerburg’s initiative to give Facebook users more control.

What’s the advantage? Well, you’ll be able to see JUST how much of your “deleted” information Facebook still holds on to. Also, you’ll receive a comprehensive guide to EVERY action you have EVER made on Facebook. Theoretically, you could even upload all your data to Google Plus and leave Facebook altogether.

Downloading your data is actually quite simple.  At the top right corner click “Account Settings”, and then on the general account page find “download a copy” of your Facebook data.

The following information is included in the data download.

It will take time for Facebook to process your request, but eventually you will receive an email with a ZIP file to download all of your data.

How you download your data on Facebook”, a ZDNet article, provides a step-by-step guide of screenshots on how to download your data if further instructions are needed. Also, CNET has released a “how to” video as well.

http://www.cnet.com/av/video/embed/player.swf

Once the data is unzipped, inside the main folder are individual’s .HTML files organized by content. These .HTML files consist of photos, messages, events, wall posts, notes, friends, etc.  It’s best to open the “Index.html” file for the best viewing options of your data.

The amount of data in the file, viewed as code, really puts into perspective how much information Facebook users put out into the open. But in reality the average Facebook user’s data is not that large (about 62MB).

Seeing all of the wall posts, messages and uploaded contact puts into perspective the amount and value of contributed data. How this allocated data is applied is important in determining the overall value of the data. Ideally, the data users and individuals contribute can enhance their social media experience. Since Facebook it letting users and developers toy with their data, we don’t necessarily have to rely on Facebook to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

It is also worth nothing that throughout their tutorials Facebook refers to this as “your” data, even though it has been suggested that the company’s terms of agreement give them a legal claim to ownership over all the data uploaded to their site. For now, users may not have control of their data but they at least have access to it


The Weather Channel

“Fair weather weddings make fair weather lives.” – Richard Hovey

My name is William Wickey. I majored in advertising at The University of Georgia, graduating in 2009. I am currently in the second semester of a two-year mass-media studies masters program, working as a graduate assistant for Dr. Shamp, the director of the NMI. Academically, I am focusing on online and social media advertising. In between undergrad and my masters program I lived in Jackson Hole, WY. I worked at JH Weekly Newspaper, Jackson Hole Community Radio, a social media start-up called Surf the Tetons, and for the marketing team at Grand Teton Music Festival. I also started a small LLC that purchases wine for restaurants [BombSomm.com].

This semester I am digging into Big Data.

The purpose of NMIX 6200 is to explore ways that organizations can leverage permeable data sources to improve their services. The newest vein in the data gold rush is Facebook’s Open Graph. For a reasonably social-media-savvy company such as The Weather Channel, the next step is developing a Facebook application.

There are two reasons why The Weather Channel needs to develop an Open Graph application. First, a Facebook app adds to the diverse catalogue of media properties already available to Weather users for accessing their forecast. Right now, Facebook users must go to The Weather Channel’s page and search for weather information. An application improves this process by making the user’s homepage a weather dashboard. Moreover, adding Facebook Connect – which is transitioning into Open Graph – to weather.com will crate an easy way for people to log in and stay logged in. Second, and more importantly, an Open Graph application adds value for The Weather Channel’s advertisers.

Picture Jim: a 44-year-old working professional from Austin, Texas. He and his wife took their daughter Amy, now 10-years-old, and their son Hunter, now 7-years-old, to Disney World in Orlando, FL a few years back. Hunter was a little too young to really remember the trip and Jim never got to play Disney’s Osprey Ridge golf course, but the family had a great time. Jim has been thinking about making fresh vacation plans for a while now, but he just hasn’t been inspired to pull the trigger.

Taking a break from his spreadsheet, Jim clicks over to Facebook and his eyes catch an item in his newsfeed: the forecast for Walt Disney World Resort that reads 88 degrees and sunny, with 5 smiling sun icons running through the end of the week. Accompanying the forecast is an offer. “Returning visitors save 20% on a 4-night stay. Plus, one free greens fee at any Disney golf course.

The ad knows Jim. I knows he is ready for a vacation. It is enticing without being intrusive and is presented in his newsfeed as information, rather than off to the side as a banner advertisement. And even better, it is automatically generated based on information Jim is already providing Facebook through his wall posts, check-ins, likes, geo-location and more. There is even the ability to market a similar vacation package to Jim’s friends who shares similar characteristics. The ability to personalize these offers are endless. Weather plays a key role in marketing for vacation destinations but an Open Graph application offers similar advantages to a variety of advertisers.

The Weather Channel is the most trusted name in weather. Moreover, mobile TWC apps have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on a variety of devices. Encouraging users to connect with Facebook should be a relatively easy proposition. This is not necessarily the case for other companies.

I am not a programmer or a mathematician capable of coding this application or it algorithms. I am, however, able and willing to create a blueprint for building such an application. I will spend a minimum of six hours a week for the next two months doing so.

To accomplish this goal, I will need speak with an individual at The Weather Channel who can make decisions about digital marketing over the phone. Over the coming weeks I need to correspond with that individual through email no more that 5 times. I will present my finished blueprint at our NMI Spring Show-Off on 5/5/12.

I look forward to this opportunity and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you. Have a great day.


First Data

There are seemingly endless applications for First Data to leverage “big data.” In fact, First Data is big data. Their business is to gather and manage information, specifically payment information. However, there are security concerns regarding most of these transactions. In spite of the sensitivity of payment information, there very well may be an additional opportunity to provide merchants with invaluable demographic and psychographic information about their customers gathered from data stored on customer’s smart phones. First Data’s promise to offer merchants an easy and secure way to receive payments from tech-savvy customers could be expanded into helping businesses better understand their customers. Developing a specific and practical strategy for First Data to implement may be difficult to dial in, but this company is well positioned to take the next step in leveraging big data.

Right now, First Data is pushing a concept called uCommerce, or “universal commerce.” This is an area where I could see the New Media Institute getting involved. uCommerce is a fast-payment method using a connected device like a smart phone, blurring the lines between in-store commerce, eCommerce, and mobile commerce. Part of this strategy includes Google Wallet. Google Wallet is a new payment system using near-field communication (NFC) on cellphones to pay for goods. Though this is a Google service, there is nothing indicating that First Data, or individual merchants, cannot also leverage Facebook’s Open Graph data when accepting a payment.

First Data has written extensive white papers on security and direct marketing through gifts cards, but nothing about social media or collecting/analyzing data from customers who use their uCommerce options.

Who is the constituency that the client wants to reach?

First Data has 5 primary types of services:

1. Selling point-of-sale (POS) uCommerce terminals to large and small merchants. 2. Providing payment solutions for businesses, meaning monitoring and securing in-house credit card transactions, bill pay, internet banking, etc. 3. Managing payments for government institutions and universities. 4. Issuing and monitoring fuel cards and payroll options for businesses that move goods via truck. 5. Providing customer payment options like automated bill-pay and call center support for businesses.

Who does the company want to show that it really gets?

Judging by their white papers, webinars, and promotional videos from the past two years, the most important issue to First Data is security. Security seems to be the number one issue they want to demonstrate that they understand, inside and out. Other recurring topics are the adoption rates of mobile payment options by consumers and pre-paid cards as an effective way to encourage spending.

What is it that the company wants out of the interaction?

Overall, First Data wants more businesses to adopt their services to manage payments. More specific aspects of this include,

  • encourage businesses to use pre-pay [gift] cards
  • demonstrate to small businesses that consumers are adopting mobile payments services like Google Wallet
  • demonstrate that managing payroll and purchasing is more efficient through online banking
  • show that customers are beginning to buy on credit once again, after a several year lull
  • convince businesses that uCommerce is safe from fraud

What does the constituency get?

First Data’s customer’s customers want an easy and safe way to pay for goods. Paying for goods via cell phone promises to be a time-saver and allows individuals to track their spending. Also, individuals will receive special offers and rewards. However, it appears that all these special offers will be administered on Google’s end or by individual merchants. This is an area where First Data can get more involved.