Obama Gets Funny — But Not Viral, Yet

Without Stephen Colbert lambasting journalistic complacency or Karl Rove rapping like in years past, videos from the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner this weekend weren’t preordained to go viral. Plus, they had to compete with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s catch and obscene “Motherlover.” And not to mention, there was nothing controversial about President Barack Obama’s speech or comedian Wanda Sykes’ roast. They were funny, yes, but born of high approval ratings and a comfortable relationship with the media. (Update: Never say “nothing controversial” in this day and age! Some think Sykes’ comments were too partisan.)

YouTube shows C-SPAN’s official versions of the two speeches at around 100,000 views (with more for Obama’s), and some unofficial versions have about that number as well. To be sure, they still have plenty of time; the dinner was only Saturday. And popular sites like the Huffington Post are hosting the videos themselves sans public play counts. But, by contrast, two of the many bootleg versions of Colbert getting serious and “MC Rove” have nearly 1.8 million and 700,000 views on YouTube, respectively.

President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Obama on Hillary Clinton:

“We had been rivals during the campaign, but these days we could not be closer. In fact, the second she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and gave me a big kiss — told me to get down there myself.”

Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Sykes on Sarah Palin:

“I know Governor Palin, she’s not here tonight. She pulled out at the last minute. You know, somebody should tell her that’s not really how you practice abstinence.”

MySpace Launches Self-Serve Ads For All

MySpace, after offering its hyper-targeting platform to large advertisers, today launched MyAds, a self-service platform that would open its social network to smaller advertisers. It is a page out of Google’s (s GOOG) playbook. The search giant had used smaller advertisers to build up a groundswell for its advertising service. MySpace is betting that, by giving advertisers the ability to target users with banner ads based on age, gender, location and specific interests, it can build a sizable business. “We think the sky’s the limit on this,” Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing at MySpace, told Adweek. He seems to think that this will “significantly grow our base of advertisers.”

The company said that the entire network inventory is open for grabs. More than 3,500 advertisers, including small businesses, are testing the system and the ads cost at least 25 cents per click. Given the patchy click-through performance of banner ads, MySpace’s experiment can have long-term implications for banner-type advertising. That said, MySpace’s announcement comes at a time when the advertising market — both online and off — is looking a little shaky because of widespread economic uncertainty.

D6: Rupert Murdoch for Obama? Not Quite…. But

Today at the D6:Conference, the corporate doyens and business leaders were out in full force, both on and off stage. Those who were grilled on stage showed were true to their form – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos charmed everyone with optimism for Kindle, Yahoo’s Jerry Yang was all emotion and patience, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook showed that he is still a young fella brimming with big dreams.

But it was the wily old Fox, News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch who proved to the most charming, candid, amusing, honest and informative at the same time. Candid enough to admit that there isn’t anyone to really compete with him. Honest enough to point out what a mess both Microsoft and Yahoo made out of their deal, and Google is still a great partner. About Yahoo and Microsoft he said: I’m mystified. I can’t understand the whole thing? Neither can we Mr. Murdoch. Read More about D6: Rupert Murdoch for Obama? Not Quite…. But

Investors Take a Stroll with Widgets

2007 was supposed to be the Year of the Widget, according to Newsweek, and Jon Swartz of USA Today apparently agrees that the promise has been fulfilled. He says:

[Widgets] are all the rage on the Web. Marketers are thinking of ways to use them to sell ads, and venture capitalists are mulling investments in the hottest widget makers. The stampede reached a roar this month, when market leader MySpace and Facebook expanded their services for targeted ads, including widgets designed by marketers.

But look at the numbers for investments in widget distribution platforms and widget suppliers, and it becomes clear that this not a stampede but more like a Sunday stroll through the widget park.
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Fox Interactive: Saying The Right Things

It just might be sheer coincidence, but Silicon Valley’s Facebook lovefest has brought a certain feistiness to Fox Interactive and its flagship property, MySpace. The largest social network has been rolling out one feature after another, partnering with others where it lacks the oomph, and keeping the unique visitor-page view count inching higher and higher.
At Reuters Media Summit, the company officials indicated that MySpace will roll out “friend feeds,” a feature that is extremely popular amongst Facebook users. What I found even more interesting was Fox Interactive President Peter Levinsohn outlining plans of FIM Serve, an online advertising network, that will first serve News Corp-owned web properties and will later be available to outside web-publishers.
Hey, since everyone is launching an ad-network, why not Fox Interactive. At least, News Corp. (unlike some of its rudderless peers) realizes that is biggest strength is its sales force and can be used more effectively.
Fox, I am guessing will include technologies acquired as part of Strategic Data deal in this new ad-network, FIM Serve. The company had built its “hyper targeting” advertising technology long before Facebook made it a buzz word, and now the company wants to put it to use. It certainly has the web heft – 46 billion page views in October in US alone. News Corp’s sprawling media properties alone could keep FIM Serve humming, as long as the it can deliver on promises, and build an effective ad network.