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The Best Online Channels for Lead Generation

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from #B2BTalks, it’s that digital marketers rely more than ever on online channels to generate leads. There are hundreds of tools and channels out there, and each claim to solve the last of our problems. But what works and what doesn’t? When it comes down to generating leads, where should we spend our valuable time and money trying to reach those who matter? We decided to ask our panelists what has worked best for them. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the winners. The rest are in the video above! More

Coffee Break: Superbowl commercials, Israeli start-ups, Facebook's Clay Feet and Google's (Potential) Greek Tragedy…

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We’ve been reading some great stuff at Pravda Media Group that you might enjoy as well.  So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, and get your read on — you’ll feel more productive than if you’re just trawling Twitter.  Unless you’re Robert Scoble.


Super Bowl 2012: 10 of the best commercials from this year’s Big Game

What was favorite commercial the Superball?  We’re (still) loving the Seinfeld Acura ad.

10 Israeli Startups With Huge Potential

We love startups, especially when they are lean, responsive and building something useful we love. Ben Lang wrote a great post @ Epic Launch featuring top 10 Israeli startups with huge potential. We agree with his assessment.

Facebook: Here Are the 35 Things That Could Kill Our Company

Now that Facebook has gone public, it has had to disclose the top 35 things that could destroy the company.

It’s Not Whether Google’s Threatened. It’s Asking Ourselves: What Commons Do We Wish For?

John Battelle makes an interesting case for the future of the web, and claims that the web as we know it is under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.  Think Greek Tragedy.  Only Postmodern.

With one simple metaphor, Google+ beats Facebook

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I love Google+. I started using it this morning, and it is, for a lack of a better word, awesome. Though it takes many concepts from Facebook‘s playbook, they’ve definitely solved one of the biggest issues of Facebook – friends lists and filtering.
Google+ integrated a simple mechanism called Circles: each contact can be assigned to one or more groups such as friends, family, and Acquaintances. It is also possible to create new circles (such as work buddies etc).
By assigning friends to circles, stream filtering and selective sharing becomes an extremely simple task. Now I can share pictures of my newborn daughter only with my family or see posts only from my real and close friends. Pretty cool. Let’s hope they won’t over complicate things here. They will face a major challenge when they will grow – the more friends one have, the more complex it would be to manage these circles. But it is definitely the right way to go.

My friend Jon Burg also wrote an insightful post about the invitation mechanism Google used for Google+

The No Story of Forbes

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Cover of "Cry Baby (Director's Cut)"

Cover of Cry Baby (Director's Cut)

Come on, this is perfectly ok:

The technology was of interest to a number of acquirers, including Zappos.com which tried to buy it, and Kumar rounded up a group of angels for its first funding–a $500,000 angel round in August/September 2009.

The only problem—another start-up, Like.com, was doing something similar. Modista’s technology was better, according to Kumar….. But Like.com had a patent on product applications of computer vision. Like.com, which was well-funded with $47 million in venture backing, filed a lawsuit against Modista the day before its funding was going to close. (Like.com was later acquired by Google in August 2010, showing the value of the idea.)…The lawsuit caused investors including Kumar to drop out, for fear of dealing with an expensive lawsuit that could cost more than they had even planned to invest. Because Modista had no money to defend the suit in court, the company later shut down.

So where is the news here? Companies are built to win, not to be nice.

Gatekeepers Make a Lot of Sense

Gatekeepers Make a Lot of Sense
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I love Techdirt. Their cynical writing style is fun to read. Their in-depth knowledge is amazing. But they are missing the point in their post about entertainment industry:

Gatekeepers don’t make much sense.

Actually they do. In a world where media distribution was complex and expensive, gatekeepers enabled the whole industry to exist. But now, the internet is changing the game, as Mike says clearly in his post:

But the amazing thing about the internet is that it knocks down fences and walls with ease.

In a world without fences there are still gatekeepers – they are just different ones. Facebook and Google are the new gatekeepers. We need them. We need them to help us find what we want and communicate with our friends. By providing this value they become the new gatekeepers.

I fully agree with Mike’s statement, that the entertainment industry doing as much as possible to cripple innovation. These guys are not ready yet to change their business model. It is probably because there isn’t any viable alternative that will provide the same revenues and profits. But there is no free love – when one gatekeeper collapse, another one is taking its place.

Image by Pink Sherbet

Android Apps: From Open Market to Flee Market

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nokia e61i symbian v google nexus android
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Google released their Android app inventor, an intuitive development tool for non developers, that enables anyone to develop and publish an android app.
Open ecosystem followers rejoice!
Well, sorry, but it seems that instead of improving Android’s ecosystem, this latest move will only harm it.
You see, Android is becoming the new Symbian. Too many devices, too many different features in each phone, and not enough standardization. We are back to square one, explaining to our customers which phones are supported by the apps we develop for them.
And now things are going to get worse. Instead of improving user experience and providing better apps, Google are opening their app market to a flood of poorly written, mostly useless and probably badly designed applications.
When deciding between “open” and “just works” I chose the later. Ecosystem should cater consumers with easy to use, high quality, and screened apps.
Google will win the smartphone market. The sheer volume of new android phones will eventually eclipse Apple‘s production power. But at the end of the day, Android Is heading towards lower consumer satisfaction, bigger headache for developers, and a clear decision to chose quantity over quality.

The Myth of Openness- Response to O’Reilly

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Windows v0.0
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Apple is continuously under fire for lack of openness. Once the industry’s underdog, as it’s market power grows, Apple slowly becoming the target of many attacks, the latest one from Tim O’Reilly.

Interestingly enough, Apple never claimed to be open. Or nice. Apple claimed one thing only – that it knows how to create great innovative products. They aren’t cheap. They are good. and that’s how the Cupertino based company mange to have 10% market share with 83% market cap in comparison to Microsoft.

The myth of openness
Being open is a business decision. Nothing more and nothing less. Some companies harness openness to cut development cost (open source companies are great example). Some do it in order to cultivate a vibrant development community that in turn increase its value and market power (Google is a good example). But there is nothing sacred or better in openness.

The irony is that one of the most so called open companies in the world, Twitter, just dropped an A bomb on its ecosystem, when it announced the development of desktop and mobile clients. While the blogsphere is attacking Apple and praising Twitter, the industry darling itself single-handedly sent the companies that made it so succesful to the deadpool.

So, let’s stop being naive. At the end, it is all about business. The rest is fluff.

It Isn't The Features Stupid!

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Google Nexus One vs Apple iPhone

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Last night I had a wonderful dinner with good friends. Between the wine and the steaks, we started talking about technology and gadgets. One of my friends was boasting about how his Nexus One is awesome, and I have to admit that I admired this slick phone. But I was puzzled with his comparison to the iPhone. He was talking about pixels, resolution, camera capabilites and so on and so forth.

And I ask you – who cares?

Call me strange but I don’t buy a bunch of features. I don’t buy screen resultion. I don’t buy camera’s pixel number.

I am one fo those strange guys who buys A PRODUCT.

You know, the whole thing. The packaged synergy between different technical abilities that create a user experience, coupled with UI and brand. I buy the ability to be a part of an ecosystem that makes my life easier, more productive, and more fun. I couldn’t care less about the technical details.

GPS is useless without maps application or location based applications. Camera is just a hole in the back of my device without a good picture gallery and the ability to easily share these pictures with my friends and family.

Or maybe I’m missing something here….

Buzz, Blogsphere and Serial Killers

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not your everyday serial killer - dexter
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The blogsphere has more killers than American Maximux Secutiry prison.

Twitter would kill Facebook. Facebook would kill Google. Friendfeed would kill Twitter. And now, the latest addition to the new-product-that-only-geeks-use-and-bloggers-shout-that-it-would-kill-the-frigging-internet – Google Buzz. Last week the blogsphere was plastered with those statements, as if Facebook’s millions of users, Twitter’s proven power to create addiction with hyper connected individuals, and the need for many just to write emails, without sharing their photos all over the place, doesn’t exist.

It seems that there is a routine in our world:

1. A new hyper-connected-social-network-that-sends- your-pictures-and-status-all-over-the-place-but-is-not-exactly-Twitter-or-Facebook is launched

2. The echo chamber rejoices, and writing zillion posts, all quoting the same Techcrunch/GigaOm/Financial Times/Fox News article – competing with hysterical headlines.

2. Tons of users logging in. Scoble‘s among them.

3. The homepage is filled with Scoble’s remarks about how great the tool is, and changing the way we think about communication.

4. All the cool kids logging in and saying – hey it is like Twitter. Err Facebook. Err something. But with pictures. Myself included.

5. Slowly people see that it is another network they need to maintain, another profile, and another level of noise.

6. Porn starts, Viagra merchants, and so called “power networkers” that are spending most of their days in friending total strangers, are taking control of the platform and start spamming everyone. And Kevin Smith.

7. Privacy/usability/stability are not what they seem, and users are starting to realize that it might not be the best thing since sliced bread

8. Scoble leaves the platform, saying it is useless.

9. A new hyper-connected-social-network-that-sends- your-pictures-and-status-all-over-the-place-but-is-not-exactly-Twitter-or-Facebook is launched

Yes, Buzz is awesome, but I left it after couple of days. I am still on Twitter and Facebook, cause they provide me enough value – and my friends are there.

Let’s stop diminishing user base, and actual usability of platforms, and wait a second before we hail a new online platform as the new king. Life is way more complicated than a headline in a  blog post.

Could Operators Change Digital Cents to Dollars?

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Last week, the online video world rejoiced. For the first time, Hulu, the online premium video provider, had more viewers than Comcast subscribers. Pro online video folks all around gathered to support the revolution as it unfolds.
The only thing missing is, well, like in most cases, money. Hulu is making small time money compared to Comcast.
The paradigm of digital cents is very simple – services are much cheaper on the internet, and the value of goods is diminished when they are distributed or sold digitally. The full phrase states that the media industry is facing a challenge – as it transforms from analog dollars to digital cents. This issue is affecting advertisers who are asking agencies to shift dollars from expensive TV spots to cheaper online advertising, which in return hurts the media business.
Hulu, though delivering the same shows as TV channels, is not making as much money as the traditional providers. This is a eye challenge to the whole media industry. But they are not alone.
The slow demise of the walled garden adds another pressure, to a different section of the value chain – the operators. The mobile market is a great example how technology is threatening the old world order. Early in this decade, when GPRS launched all over Europe, operators believed that the answer of their declining voice ARPU would come from selling content, such as ringtones and wallpapers.
The basis of this strategy was the operators controlled the availability of content to users – whatever an operator put on its portal could be sold – but nothing else. This way, by creating scarcity, the operators could gain revenues and control the subscriber’s experience.
Then came Apple.
And Google.
And Nokia.
And all these companies decided to break operator’s hegemony and tear down the garden’s walls. Android, iPhone and Ovi challenge the mobile operator’s ability to control the content and customer experience.
While media companies such as NBC and HBO don’t have a choice but to be a part of the digital cents game, operators have some ways to leverage this market disruption to their advantage.
Services are, in my opinion, a key to change the cents to dollars. Some of them are clear but still not done well, such as three screen syncing – allowing users to start watching a show on their TV set and continue to watch it on their mobile phone.
Some are based on cutting deals with the devil – and tightly integrate web services with traditional TV content. Several companies unveiled such services, such as TV and Twitter integration.
And some are down right evil, such as disregarding net neutrality and providing differentiated quality of services to content providers, based on deals with preferred content providers.
If operators will succeed in finding the right services and implement them in the near future,  we might see that they will rise to play a more significant role in  the media industry.

Last week, the online video world rejoiced. For the first time, Hulu, the online premium video provider, had more viewers than Time Warner Cable subscribers. Pro online video folks all around gathered to support the revolution as it unfolds.

The only thing missing is, well, like in most cases, money. Hulu is making small time money compared to Time Warner Cable.

The paradigm of digital cents is very simple – services are much cheaper on the internet, and the value of goods is diminished when they are distributed or sold digitally. The full phrase states that the media industry is facing a challenge – as it transforms from analog dollars to digital cents. This issue is affecting advertisers who are asking agencies to shift dollars from expensive TV spots to cheaper online advertising, which in return hurts the media business.

Hulu, though delivering the same shows as TV channels, is not making as much money as the traditional providers. This is a major challenge to the whole media industry. But it is not alone.

More