Engagement tracking

When I wrote about AideRSS for the first time about a year ago the company was only a couple of months old. Their slogan said best what it was they tried to do (and succeeded in quite well): Read what matters. AideRSS was built as a service that would help you overcome the struggle keeping up with your RSS feeds. Ideally you would upload your OPML (or add feeds manually) and you could then based on a few metrics skim feeds to only the most popular posts. On top of that it would allow you to create a new feed of that… basically mashing up feeds to make them more readable. I loved it instantaneously (as did Marshall Kirkpatrick apparently).

Not long before that post on AideRSS I had written about the lack of innovation at Technorati and where they were missing some opportunities. Today Technorati has made itself irrelevant: there are way better blogsearch engines out there (like Google’s) and their so-called Authority metric is ridiculous. Anyway – back to the point – the opportunities I called out for Technorati are still there and when I saw AideRSS for the first time I considered they could be the ones to deliver upon these opportunities. Interestingly enough, it looks more and more like it that they will. AideRSS isn’t just that ‘read what matters’ service anymore, it has grown into an engagement tracking service, measuring storytelling ROI as they call it. And that’s a great evolution. They’ve even gone beyond keeping their ranking method as they released a new site dedicated to that ‘Postrank’ and also developed a Google Reader extension for Firefox which I’ve been using for a short while now.


Hopefully they don’t stop there. When I look at the stats for my own feed, I can only notice that not all metrics are correct: too many comments counted, not enough delicious bookmarks counted, … so some finetuning is still in place. But it remains an overall solid service. And I’m pretty sure Melanie will pick up on this as well ;)

Finally I believe they should give access to the full metrics AideRSS gathers for each blog (delicious, comments, …) and not only the Postrank itself. Imagine that you want to build your own bloglist with the top ‘x’ blogs in category ‘y’ but unlike Mack Collier or Peter Kim  you don’t want to look up all this data manually to collect in XLS etc etc to make your weekly or monthly list. What if I could enter all the blogs I want to track against each other in AideRSS where they let you choose which metrics you want to track them with (only Technorati? or maybe subscribers as well?…) and have AideRSS build my list automatically based on the weight I defined for each metric? You define how often the list needs to be re-calculated. You create a widget for your and participating blogs. You create a weekly/monthly autoposting rhythm to your blog etc etc… Wouldn’t that be a compelling offer? And of course AideRSS can take the learnings for what happens in the backoffice because all of that.


Yesterday Microsoft announced the acquisition of Powerset, a San Francisco-based search and natural language company. This had been rumored already by some and so now it’s a fact. Today this news is all over on Techmeme mixed with yet new rumors about Yahoo buy-outs, partnership, acquisitions, etc etc… Don Dodge notices this as well and gives a good view on why Powerset really is of such importance to us:

“Powerset understands the intent of the query, but more importantly, it understands the meaning and context of all the relevant web pages. Rather than just match keywords from the query, Powerset looks for "semantic" matches in its index of billions of web pages.”


Looking forward to the first integration results of that. If that will happen as fast as how the search team integrated Farecast into Live Search, then expect to see results soon. But since it’s related to indexing etc it’ll most probably will take a bit longer than that.

Also think about the impact of this acquisition way beyond just Live Search. Sharepoint, Enterprise search, … this technology can add a lot of value in more than one area. Remember the acquisition of Seadragon as a good example of that. Today what came out of that technology is used in Seadragon browser, Photosynth, DeepZoom and more to come.

Six degrees of separation

I stumbled upon this fascinating research done by Microsoft Research about a year ago (disclaimer: I work for Microsoft) after Mashable picked it up this weekend.

“We present a study of anonymized data capturing a month of high-level communication activities within the whole of the Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging system. We examine characteristics and patterns that emerge from the collective dynamics of large numbers of people, rather than the actions and characteristics of individuals. The dataset contains summary properties of 30 billion conversations among 240 million people.”

“All our data was anonymized; we had no access to personally identifiable information. Also, we had no access to text of the messages exchanged or any other information that could be used to uniquely identify users.”

And while these are only MSN/Live Messenger users during a period in time in 2006, and miss data from the competitive services, it still gives a pretty solid idea of the ‘inside’ of the social aspect of an IM network. Here are some of the key findings.

When you compare the world population to the Messenger population you will see that ages 18-30 are over represented, and ages 10-14 and 30-34 are fairly comparative to the world population. This tells me that IM is indeed linked mostly to youth, but definitely not youth alone.


This here is another interesting finding:

“We investigate on a planetary-scale the oft-cited report that people are separated by “six degrees of separation” and find that the average path length among Messenger users is 6.6. We also find that people tend to communicate more with each other when they have similar age, language, and location, and that cross-gender conversations are both more frequent and of longer duration than conversations with the same gender.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

Improving online video

I’m not such a big fan of predictions like we see them all over on the web at the start of the New Year. There are a few good ones like those of John Batelle for instance, but other than that many predictions sound more like acknowledgement of something that’s already happening today or a wish-list for something we would like to see happen.

One good example is mobile for instance. It’s going to be the year of mobile since 2005 I think and as I said before, 2008 is not going to be the year of mobile either. Or talk about video, I had a discussion with someone recently about online video after a statement that 2008 would be the year online video will get big. That’s just not true, 2007 was that year already. As a counter argument I did say I believe 2008 will be the year in which online video will become more useful, of better quality, with better metrics, better advertising, … you name it.

And that’s what is happening today indeed. Yesterday Read/Write Web reported on the launch of Dailymotion HD upload & playback, including automatic bandwidth detection which allows easy switching to lower quality versions. Check out the HD example in their post. Now I can see how HD quality might not be on top of everybody’s wish-list for online video, but I do believe it’s a must have for future development of online video.

About a week ago, MIT AdverLab reported on a new innovative technology related to video advertising. The technology developed in Microsoft’s AdCenter Labs included tools for content analysis and speech recognition for advanced contextual advertising. (again disclaimer: Microsoft is my employer). Definitely take a look at the video below to get an idea of what they exactly mean with that:

Now as I am in advertising, I’m interested in this but not only for advertising purposes. If you watched the video you will understand that there are also opportunities for websites for instance to relate archived content to in-video content (think news sites) or how the technology can create automatic chapters in a video for more useful video browsing for instance. There are quite a few exciting technology usages you can think of with this new development.

A last improvement will be about making video more searchable. The technology mentioned before will definitely be able to help in that area, but quite a few startups are working in that area as well. A few weeks ago at the LIFT Venture Night we saw Viewdle showing off their approach on this, including face recogniation etc. Neat stuff as well.

Content analysis, speech recognition, chaptering, contextual advertising and content (based on the video – not on title or tags), HD, … Yes, online video is big already, 2008 will be the year in which it will get better.


I initially got onto the Dopplr Alpha in April last year thanks to Loic Le Meur. He seemed quite enthusiast about it and as I’m a bit of a traveler myself, so enough reason to test it out. I’ve liked it ever since. I’ve you’re a bit of a traveler yourself and still not on Dopplr than get on it fast ;) No need to explain I think, it’s pretty straightforward.

To celebrate one year of Dopplr, the team created this Raumzeitgeist 2007 round-up. This kind of ‘space time spirit’ as they call it, shows where and how long people traveled based on the trips they shared.


There’s quite some fun data in the posts, but it were the visualisations like the one above that got to me. Make sure you check both posts, as there is more of the same in there. You can now even get this one as a poster and I must say it sure looks good on the Dopplr office wall. I’m thinking about getting my own here as well.

Anyway, if you are on Dopplr and we’re not connected yet – you can find me here: http://www.dopplr.com/traveller/crossthebreeze


A good friend of mine, Matth, just sent me this video over IM. It’s about a guy who did some cool development for the Wii:

“Using the infrared camera in the Wii remote and a head mounted sensor bar (two IR LEDs), you can accurately track the location of your head and render view dependent images on the screen. This effectively transforms your display into a portal to a virtual environment. The display properly reacts to head and body movement as if it were a real window creating a realistic illusion of depth and space. By Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University. For more information and software visit http://johnnylee.net

But you know what, just watch the video instead ;)

Imagine how this could be used in gaming, I really hope some game developers do answers Johnny Lee’s request and use this. This is the consumer 2.0 – taking the product further…


Any color-blind in the audience?

I’ve touched on this before (related to Advertising) and since I’m color-blind myself I hold a strong interest in the topic. Most important fact to repeat out of that earlier post: 8% of all Caucasian males suffer a color vision deficiency. And that might be more than you would expect.

With this in mind I said that it’s not that silly to have your ads tested to see if someone who’s color-blind can see/read everything alright. Same counts for websites obviously, but the most time I personally have problems with it is with presentations.

We all know that every single minute there’s probably someone in the world working on the most horrendous powerpoint/keynote presentation but apart from ugly presentations, some people use texts on backgrounds in a way that I can’t read the slides anymore. And guess what, If you have a reasonable audience, I probably wasn’t alone.

Last week AdLab did a post about this topic again and posted these 2 color wheels. The first one is the color-wheel as seen by a red-insensitive protopane, the second color wheel is a regular one.


So here’s the normal one:


Now it’s very hard for me to say if the first wheel actually represents what I see, since I obviously see both color wheels different then you, but it should give you a good idea. Also read Paul Martin’s post on color-blindness where you can see a whole lot more of comparison images.


Sphere of influence (2)

This morning Gavin Heaton shared a little neat online tool with us on Twitter, called TouchGraph. In a blog post Gavin wonders if this is the tool that’ll allow you to calculate someone’s sphere of influence, which reminded me of this graph made by David Armano.

The whole thinking around influence interests me probably more than anything else, so I had to check it out. Here’s the graph for this blog:


First thought, it looks like a pretty neat application and I haven’t done testing it to be sure what exactly the benefits might be. It doesn’t look like the graphs your sphere of influence though. It sort of maps all kinds of links it can find for this url (it can do keywords as well by the way). On a personal level you see links to LinkedIn, my Blogger account, my other blog, … and as far as Kinepolis (which was my old employer). On a ‘content’ level you see links to a cluster around Sonic Youth, which is probably because the name of this blog refers to a Sonic Youth song. And then there are some more random links really only relate to some of the wordings on this blog.

So for now, a lot of random links mapped around a url or keyword if you ask me, but nevertheless pretty interesting to check out a bit more.

Overtaking myself

I’m pretty sure that before the week is over, this other blog of mine will have passed this one in traffic. The graph you see here is from the last 15 or so weeks, and shows this blog in blue and I Blog Mustang in red. I would never have thought this would happen, believe me.


The Mustang blog is more of a fun side project, on which I post only once a week maybe and with long periodes of no updates at all. But it’s been growing steady almost since day one. There are also a few curious differences between the 2 blogs. See the dip in the blue line for instance? That was a 2 week no-blogging holiday, which clearly impacts this blog but doesn’t change a thing on the other.

Some differences are maybe a bit more obvious, looking at browsers and operating systems for instance. On this blog 57% use IE and 33% use FF versus 73% for IE and 20% for FF on the Mustang blog. And I see 6% using a OSX on the Mustang blog versus 12% here. Windows Vista is around 10% on both.

Last but not least, although traffic is quite similar now, Technorati authority is way different. This blog has around 246 as I write this and the other one’s authority has a mere 10. It’s fine though, I do tend to believe I know something about marketing but I can assure you I know nothing about cars :)

Clearly a different audience on both, still I’m surprised of the growth over the last few weeks. Hopefully that 3rd little project will do the same (or even better). But more on that later.

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The M20: Top marketer blogs

I wrote about this new marketing hotlist before, but now after the alpha, beta and gamma versions the final list is here. This list was created to highlight popular blogs from client-side marketing professionals and I’m happy to be on the list.

Peter Kim, the analyst at Forrester Research in Boston that created the list, calculated som form of rank based on a combined set of metrics:

Since feed subscribers is the most difficult to track, Peter uses Feedburner stats when available and Bloglines for others. In the case of Bloglines he makes the assumption that these only account for 20% of the actual amount of subscribers. This assumption is based on cases where both numbers were available so that makes sense to me.

Here’s the list, which will be updated every month from now on, now we just need a blog badge for this ;)

  1. ExperienceCurve :: 74
  2. Strategic Public Relations :: 70
  3. Listen Up! :: 59
  4. BeRelevant! :: 53
  5. Conversation Agent :: 51
  6. Todd And – The Power To Connect :: 48
  7. Flooring The Consumer :: 42
  8. Decker Marketing :: 41
  9. The Lonely Marketer :: 41
  10. Marketing Nirvana :: 40
  11. Consumer Generated Media :: 38
  12. Churbuck.com :: 38
  13. The Digital Mindset Blog :: 36
  14. Bernaisesource :: 35
  15. Biznology :: 34
  16. Cross The Breeze :: 33
  17. AttentionMax :: 33
  18. Masiguy :: 32
  19. Community Group Therapy :: 31
  20. Buzz Marketing For Technology :: 31

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