Friendfeed Caught Stacking Its Deck.

5A5548DD-33C9-40B1-9B76-C005CBBB09C1.jpgI've been speculating that this was the case, and now it's confirmed.

Friendfeed has become quite popular as of late, and as I've been using it, I've noticed that for some reason, my feed is overrun by the likes of Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm kind of Scobled and Calacanised out as a result.

But how did it get that way in the first place?

It turns out (and of course I don't even remember this from back when I signed up) that Friendfeed asks you if you want to follow 'popular Friendfeeders' like Scoble and Calacanis. The little secret was that they weren't even actual active users of the service itself — just cross-posters from Twitter and other web services.

Shady. Allen Stern at CenterNetworks has the whole story here.

But it worked. Now the web is abuzz about Friendfeed, even though Twitter shows no signs of slowing down.

Either way, this is one to keep an eye on, if not just for the study in interesting public relations strategies.

Regardless, you can follow me on Friendfeed here. And check out the Deep Focus room here!

And of course, follow me on Twitter here!

Analysis of the Google/MacFarlane Deal, and the Future of Ad Networks.

stewie_evil.jpgSo by now you're probably familiar with the deal that Google had struck some time ago with Seth MacFarlane, where he will be creating content exclusively for the web, to be distributed exclusively within Google's AdSense for Video network.

An in-depth report was published by the NY Times on Monday:

The innovative part involves the distribution plan. Google will syndicate the program using its AdSense advertising system to thousands of Web sites that are predetermined to be gathering spots for Mr. MacFarlane

Television: A Gray Anatomy?

From the 'why TV needs to do more with the internet' files, according to Broadcasting & Cable, the average age of a network TV viewer is 50 years old.

50 years old.

The 50+ set does not have the same kind of value to the average advertiser as 17-34 year-olds. Historically, that's where the money is. And while there is certainly significant spending power with audiences 50+ (thanks Paula), the networks still must not be happy with these numbers.

Silicon Alley Insider has some more analysis on this, including network by network numbers. To put it in perspective, The CW has the youngest average viewer age, at 34.

Great Engagement, Great Storytelling, Great Results.

I try not to post too much about Deep Focus' work, but I couldn't resist this one.

Recently, we launched an online experience called Vroengard Academy to promote the next book in the Inheritance Cycle series (Eragon), by Christopher Paolini.

vroengard.jpg

Fans of the books get to go through training exercises that prepare them for doing battle, just as the main character does in the book. The adventure lasts from June through September.

We launched the site in the first week of June and within just a week and a half we had over 15,000 registrants. The forums, blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the game have seen a massive amount of posts with players helping each other figure out how to advance.

Random House, the publishers of the series, saw immediate sales increases of up to 30% directly attributable to the buzz that this experience has generated amongst the community and fans.

So who said you can't use storytelling to generate a measurable ROI?

Apple

Life doesn't hand out second chances very often. But you have one now. Mobile browsing is changing the way consumers use the internet, and while that change has taken a while to materialize, I think what we're about to see is a mobile computing and browsing renaissance.

Lets look at some very telling information.

** The iPhone is currently responsible for .23% of all U.S. web traffic.

** Microsoft has said it expects license sales of its mobile operating system to outpace smartphone market growth in the next few years. It expects the market to quadruple in size in 3 to 4 years to around 400 million handsets. It will be launching a fully-featured version of its Mobile Internet Explorer browser this year.

** Google's Android Mobile OS is coming soon.

** As of Q1 this year, RIM (BlackBerry) has 44.5% of all smartphone marketshare — a new OS is on the way, as well as 2 new phones (Bold & Thunder) that will make mobile web browsing a much fuller experience.

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(chart courtesy of ars technica)

Are you prepared for what is on the way? Or even what is here now?

Here's a simple litmus test: Borrow an iPhone. Visit your brand's website.

If you can't navigate it easily, or it doesn't display in a way that makes you actually want to spend time on it, then you're not ready.

If you don't have an iPhone available, I'll save you some time. If your website uses Flash for any kind of navigation, fuhgeddaboudit. The iPhone doesn't display Flash. At least not yet.

If you've been at all involved with mobile over the last few years, you've likely been developing WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) sites. These sites were meant to be viewed on a small screen, like the one you might have on a flip-phone.

Well, phones are getting smarter. Literally.

Smartphones have bigger screens, better rendering capabilities, touch-sensing technology, and numerous other features that make those websites eyesores compared to what is possible now using higher resolution and CSS.

Phones are becoming more like laptops each and every day, and you need to be thinking about this now.

On July 11th, the new iPhone hits stores. By the end of the year, we'll have new RIM and Windows Mobile phones available. Heck, we may even see Google's Android on phones before year's end.

Are you going to wait for your consumers to have a disappointing experience once they get their hands on these phones? Or will you be there for them when they do? And if you're an agency, are you equipped to to handle this type of development?

And just wait until mobile social networking becomes one of the most popular activities on these devices. You'll wish you were ready now. Watch this Wikipedia page explode over the next 12 months.

by Ian Schafer