Facebook is tweaking its auto-sharing APIs again. Developers probably won’t be decimated, but they should have back-up plans in place.
Facebook apps using Open Graph auto-sharing were pretty much all or nothing. Now Facebook is enabling app developers to offer users more finely grained control. This is infinitely sensible, though it isn’t really aimed at helping those developers increase usage. And I expect many if not most users won’t bother to go through the process. Social media’s role in content discovery is increasing, and the tools for publishers and apps evolve rapidly. Of course Facebook is notorious for tinkering with its platform to balance user experience versus marketing needs. None of these factors is changing soon.
Apple seems to be negotiating directly with music rights holders so it could offer a Pandora-like streaming music radio service. Several pundits wonder why. Pandora runs nicely on iPhones and tablets, and Pandora can’t make money, they say. Pandora spent 54 percent of its revenue on music royalties last fiscal year, and that figure will go up, due to an increasing royalty rate and Pandora’s struggles to charge high rates on mobile advertising. But people are missing the point. Even if royalties hover around 60 percent of revenue, Apple will could make good money off of a music service. Pandora’s not profitable because it’s spending boatloads of money on marketing – customer acquisition costs and its ad sales force. If Apple bundled a music service with iPhones, iPads and Macs, it would have close to zero customer acquisition costs and could still probably convert 3 to 5 percent of free users to a premium subscription service. (Steve Jobs hated subscriptions.) It could license a recommendations engine from someone like The Echo Nest to limit R&D, and maybe even integrate some of the Facebook data it’s going to weave into iOS for social recommendations. Sounds like a slam dunk to me.
Twitter is at a crossroads: It’s inarguably a mainstream communications technology at this point, but it’s also generating controversy around its developer and user policies as it expands. Join us in sharing thoughts on Twitter’s role in the industry — both now and in the future.
Last week, Facebook and Twitter generated consternation within their respective ecosystems. These uproars illustrate key differences in the two dominant social media platforms. Facebook APIs channel data and technology services, but Twitter’s all about the data.
I’d argue NBC Universal is pushing harder against the boundaries of online streaming than social media in its Olympics coverage, so it’s amusing to watch the digerati complain about event streaming availability. There’s no question that when a company spends this much, it’s going to protect prime time audiences and advertising. And the audience numbers have been very good so far. The opening ceremony was huge – 41 million viewers – and the next day’s sports coverage seemed to be doing well. Social media traffic is big, and even Twitter acknowledges we’ve got a lot to learn about integrating the mediums. Recently, we’ve done some relevant analysis of social TV apps and social media entertainment discovery, as well as over-the-top TV to fuel your thinking.
Late last year I wrote a short piece on some of the social media and other means online publishers could use for customer acquisition and content discovery. There are even more choices today. Pinterest seems to be an effective traffic-driver for fashion and design-oriented sites, but far less effective than Facebook or Twitter – which themselves, aren’t major movers – for news. Facebook’s latest move, a refinement of its Like plugin, is more geared to holding onto readers than finding new ones. Like Google+ and its own earlier efforts with companies like the New York Times, it aims to recommend to existing readers articles their friends read, without pushing that sharing or discovery activity back to its own site. And Facebook has always been a boom/bust partner for apps on its sites. Zynga partly blamed a poor quarter on Facebook promotional changes, but other social games’ traffic seemed to have held up okay.
Twitter will join Facebook as a social media “partner” for NBC Universal’s Olympics extravaganza. No money is changing hands in either arrangement. NBC will be promoting and making use of Twitter and Facebook content on-air and incorporating the social “conversations” into its coverage. All of this makes tremendous sense, but doesn’t feel particularly innovative on either the traditional or new media side. There’s no NBC video for the social networks, and no one is doing joint sponsorships or ad sales, according to any of the reports I’ve seen. Facebook thinks it will help viewers navigate NBC coverage (thousands of hours across multiple networks) and perhaps discover hot events they wouldn’t have otherwise. NBC will help sync up Twitter by name-dropping hashtags. As Mathew Ingram writes, Twitter’s media company ambitions grow every day (maybe that’s why it wants to sell its own ads). But if you strip out the word “social,” this sounds an awful lot like something NBC would have done with Yahoo or AOL in 2004.
I’m at paidContent 2012 today, and will update this post as it merits. If you can’t make the event in person, you can follow and engage on Twitter via the #pc2012 hashtag while you’re watching the live stream and reading GigaOM updates. I’ll be presenting some new data from our GigaOM Pro consumer survey on the importance of digital and social discovery. I hope to see you there.
Microsoft announced yesterday that it will soon begin rolling out a major upgrade to its Bing search engine that will integrate data from multiple social networks with search results. Initially, the new “Friends who might know” column that will appear alongside search results will only include data from Facebook, but integration with Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, Quora, Foursquare and even Google+ is coming. It’s certainly the most comprehensive bid yet to make social search a broadly useful tool. Meanwhile, The Verge reported yesterday that Microsoft may be bringing Internet Explorer 9 to the Xbox 360. The Xbox currently includes Bing voice search, but it’s limited to media results and has been criticized as being difficult to use. According to The Verge, the IE 9 integration would include full Kinect functionality and would enable Xbox users to search the whole web. If the report is correct, it could mean bringing Bing’s new socially powered search to the Xbox, which eventually could add an important new element to content discovery to what is already the most popular over-the-top video platform in the digital living room.