Archive for November, 2010

Nielsen admits to miscalculating Internet traffic by 22%

November 5th, 2010

Web traffic

One of the top Web traffic data companies in North America has admitted it has been underestimating the amount of time people in the United States spent on the Internet.

The Nielsen Co. says a technical glitch is responsible for its undercounting time spent by 22 percent. Nielsen says the problem stems from its system having difficulty recognizing long URLs.

In a statement obtained by Adage [PDF], Steve Hasker, President of Media Products for Nielsen, said:

We are writing to inform you that we are actively investigating an erroneous decline in our Internet use data. The primary cause is an increasing incidence of websites using very long URLs that are not properly recognized by our systems. When our system attempts to process session data including the very long URLs, which are more than 2,000 bytes in size each, it intermittently does not recognize the session, causing an estimated average 22% decline in time spent year-over-year, which can vary at the domain level.

The company says there are other factors that led to incorrect data to be shared, but those factors were not disclosed. Nielsen is now looking for potential errors in reports it issued in other countries, as well as reports that track online video consumption and Web search traffic.

Nielsen also said:

This investigation, covering every element of our Internet measurement methodology, including the panel, collection capabilities, and processes, and nature of the root cause indicates that we need to do a better job keeping pace with the rapid evolution of the Internet. We are putting new processes in place to add greater rigor to the continuous testing of our methodology and expanding our monitoring for anomalous events. We have also engaged the Media Rating Council (MRC) to review our findings and the additional processes.

The company says the problem will be fixed by the time its December report is published in January 2011.

- Cross-posted to Future of Media

Facebook launches Groupon competitor with ‘Deals’ platform

November 3rd, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference from Facebook headquarters

At a press conference at its head office today, Facebook announced a new Deals platform that allows local merchants to target and offer deals to Facebook users. The new platform could prove to be big competition for social-buying giant Groupon.

The Deals platform is built around Facebook’s Places feature. It allows users to find specials around them, and it allows merchants to offer specials to drive more business, without paying Facebook a dime.

The Deals platform allows users to launch Facebook on their mobile and search for deals available around them, see what deals their friends have purchased, and see what deals are being offered by businesses they “like.”

Deals can range from everything to discounts at restaurants, to clothing stores, to coffee shops and more. Once a user finds a deal they want, they can go into the store and claim the discount.

Facebook says its Deals product is designed to solve an age-old problem of getting local businesses online. The company says local businesses have been told for years they should be online, but local business owners don’t always see the value. Facebook says its platform provides a reason to be online, as it allows merchants to turn fans and visitors into “real people, real dollars and real experiences.”

On the merchant side, Facebook says the deal set-up process is simple: Merchants visit a single page where they can specify two lines of text to describe a deal, when it expires and how many deals are offered.

Four types of deals are available: Individual deals, loyalty deals, friend deals and charity deals. Individual deals target an individual user; loyalty deals offer incentive to get users to come back often (for example, offering a free coffee if the user buys two at previous visits); friend deals to offer incentive to get users to bring in large groups (for example, offering a group of four people a discount at a restaurant); and charity deals.

Self-serve deals are coming to all companies on Facebook in the near future. For today’s launch announcement, Facebook is partnersing with The Gap, which will give away 10,000 pairs of bluejeans to people who check-in at a Gap store.

Facebook’s Deals feature is available in the United States and will be rolled out in other regions later.

By adding a social business layer to its Places product, Facebook is likely to attract businesses who currently use social buying tools such as Groupon. The big difference, however, is that deals from Facebook could be more inexpensive for retailers.

“To be clear, we don’t get paid for the deals,” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, at the press conference. “They’re user value and value to the businesses. If a business wants, they can also advertise on the ad system we’ve had for years. For now, the whole premise is this is something great for people who are using this system. Check in, tag three of your friends and everyone gets a free ice-cream. That’s good. That hasn’t been done before.”

Facebook offering deals without taking a cut of the margins could put a huge dent in sales from competing deal-maker Groupon.

Groupon is currently the leading deal-of-the-day site that offers group discounts on everything from spa services to restaurant deals to discounts at major retailers. Deals are offered to members by email and through social media.

Groupon, a two-year-old startup out of Chicago, is the fastest-growing company in Web history, generating more than $500 million in revenue this year, according to Forbes. Valued at $1.35 billion, Groupon has seen competitors and copy-cat sites crop up in markets all over the world in an effort to cash-in on the group-buying craze.

Unlike Facebook’s new Deals feature, however, Groupon takes a cut of all revenue generated from daily deals. So if a user buys a coupon for something via Groupon, the retailer gets a percentage and Groupon takes a percentage.

With Facebook’s Deals feature, the retailer could offer the same service without having to lose any of its margin to a partner. The merchant could also benefit by being visible to a user’s entire friend feed on Facebook, and by being able to target people who are physically close to them.

A Facebook blog post lists other potential Deals coming to the U.S. in the near future.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media & Digital Journal]

Liveblog: Facebook, AOL and Rogers debate marketing in modern age

November 2nd, 2010

Digital Day Conference 2010
Toronto – How should marketers adapt to new technologies and demographics online? How should they view content creation? This liveblog follows a panel discussion between Facebook, AOL and Rogers as part of Digital Day in Toronto.

The 13th Annual Digital Day Conference is presented by the Canadian Marketing Association and Marketing Magazine, and is there covering it live.

This panel discussion takes place between Alfredo Tan, Senior Director of Sales, Facebook Canada; Graham Moysey, General Manager, AOL Canada; and Claude Galipeau, Executive Vice-President, Digital, Rogers.

The discussion aims to explores and debate content creation, content distribution, and audience engagement as they relate to how marketers and agencies should be thinking about the marketing mix.

Moderated by Veronica Holmes, President of Zenith Digital, the discussion is scheduled to take place between 10:35 – 11:35 Eastern.

I’m at Digital Day and covering the panel talk in a liveblog below:

[Cross-posted to Digital Journal and Future of Media]

Liveblog: Jimmy Wales talks future of Wikipedia and collaboration

November 2nd, 2010

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is doing the keynote address at Digital Day in Toronto. The 13th Annual Digital Day Conference is presented by the Canadian Marketing Association and Marketing Magazine, and we’re there covering it live.

As the founder of the world’s largest digital encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Wales is regarded as an expert and leading thinker on online collaboration and user-generated content.

Speaking at Digital Day in Toronto, Wales will discuss the communities behind Wikipedia and Wikia, as well as developments in the world of wikis and what the future holds. The era of collaborative and participative culture has just begun, and many people are trying to understand where these trends are headed. Mr. Wales will give his perspectives based on his experiences. As his bio notes:

The origins of Wikipedia began in March 2000, when Mr. Wales started Nupedia (“the free encyclopedia”), which was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Mr. Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia, but Wikipedia’s rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia’s development. is at Digital Day and will cover Wales’ keynote address from 8:45 – 9:45 Eastern.

[Cross posted to Digital Journal and Future of Media]

‘Newspaper Extinction Timeline’ gives predictions on death of newspapers globally

November 1st, 2010

When will newspapers die off in your country? In the United States, they’ll be gone in seven years. In the UK and Iceland, they’ll be extinct in nine years. In Canada, the printed newspaper will go the way of the dodo in eight years.

These predictions come from futurist Ross Dawson, who has published these dates and more in a “Newspaper Extinction Timeline” (opens in PDF). According to a press release, the timeline is backed by media industry think-tank Future Exploration Network and it specifies the number of years before “newspapers in their current form will become insignificant.”

“In the developed world newspapers are in the process of becoming extinct, driven by rapidly changing use of media and revenues out of line with cost structures,” said Dawson in the news release. “These pressures will be compounded by the rise of tablet devices and the coming availability of low-cost digital paper with exceptional qualities.”

The timeline predicts newspapers will be “insignificant” in 52 countries by 2040 in the developed world, but growth will remain constant everywhere else.

“In stark contrast, in many developing countries newspapers are growing rapidly,” said Dawson. ”This is resulting in a rapid divergence in media markets around the world, changing how marketers build global campaigns.”

The infographic is below, and a larger version including key factors can be found here (PDF).

Newspaper Extinction Timeline

- Cross-posted to Future of Media