Playboy Embraces Social Media

Playboy has dived head first into the social media arena, setting up partnerships with Break, Howcast, Metacafe, Veoh and YouTube.

The entertainment-lifestyle brand sees this move as a great way to leverage off of the success of “The Girls Next Door” and create the Playboy Audience Network.

Mixercast will also be developing ad-supported content and contest widgets for use on the network, which will move to short-form content franchises. This suite of marketing and interactive content widgets will be used to extend Playboy-branded experiences to social networks and also to blogs and start pages.

A talent search is currently underway on YouTube to find the 55th Anniversary Playmate.

Playboy is aiming to create more of the interactive engagement in their digital business that they’ve achieved through the high-touch world of parties, events, location-based entertainment venues, and retail stores.

Twitter Has Steady 20% Daily Active User Rate

Twitter has doubled in size over the past nine months. From one million total users to two million.

What’s really interesting, though, is that it has kept a steady number of active users over this time: 20%.

This is a really high DAU rate and points to a depth of engagement not found, for example on Facebook apps. Most apps on Facebook have a DAU in the 1-2% range [there are exceptions, of course, like the massively mulitplayer game Imperial Galaxy – DAUs have reached as high as 30%].

I’m sure both the rate of growth and the level of engagement are factoring heavily in the current financing round Twitter is going through.

My current favorite Twitter apps:

* Twhirl, an Adobe Air-based Twitter interface, recently acquired by Seesmic;

* Twinkle, an iPhone app that taps into other Twinkle users in a specified radius – great for swarming.

[via Techcrunch, disclosure: I am Chairman of Creative Enclave, the makers of Imperial Galaxy]

Cox Confirms Acquisition of Adify Ad Network

Cox Enterprises has confirmed that it has acquired vertical online advertising network company, Adify Corp.

Adify provides Build Your Own Network technology, which empowers media companies to increase their reach and boost revenue. Backed by Venrock and US Venture Partners, this Silicon Valley company will become part of Cox TMI in a transaction expected to complete in May.

Cox is a leading player in the automotive media vertical, but has pledged to remain committed to serving the broader media industry through Adify.

Some sources are reporting that the deal is valued at $300 million.

Marketing Is Simple, Right?

Identify target. Engage.

Think about this imperative statement set from the perspective of a marketer. Marketing is simple, right.

Now factor in the myriad methods for identifying targets. And overlay that with the exploding number of ways to engage with identified targets.

Whew! I know how you feel – seems overwhelming doesn’t it?
Where do you start?

OK, step back for a second and repeat after me” “Marketing is simple, right.”

This is the message being preached by Emmy award winner, Brad Jakeman. Take a look at the landscape.

There have never been more communications channels, yet it has never been harder to connect with consumers.

Brad believes marketers have become obsessed with the channel and forgotten about the content.
Consumers want brands to participate in their conversations, they want to engage and be engaged. For them the medium is peripheral to the experience.

Now let’s go back to our opening statement.

Identify target. Engage.

Flip this around and think about it from the consumer’s point of view. Given all the ways they could connect it’s also a question for them of which device, program, solution they decide to engage with.

Do I use my iPhone to twitter through twinkle, do it via my desktop on twhirl, dive into one of my browsers and send a message in 140 characters through a Facebook app or on Friendfeed?

The point is that the process of identifying and engaging is a dialogic one. It is two sides of the branding coin, one for marketers, and one for consumers.

To quote Brad, marketers need to create things people want to SEEK out, not SCREEN out. And the key marketing word of the moment: ENGAGE.

[Pictures courtesy of mleak]

Metarand Unplugged: Chris Saad Evangelizes DataPortability

Chris Saad, the CEO of Faraday Media and a Co-Founder of the DataPortability Group, talks about the Group’s journey over the past few months…from logo wars through to an impressive impact on the technology majors like Google and Microsoft.

We also asked him about the amount of time he is spending on DataPortability versus his other projects and he gives a hint of some interesting Faraday developments.

Lastly we discussed how the mobile landscape interfaces with DataPortability’s roadmap.

Stream the session in Quicktime:

Click here

Social Network App CPMs Start To Emerge

Inside Facebook has done a great job of collecting CPM/eCPM stats from a numer of app developers. Granted, this only relates to Facebook – it would be useful to get a wider view taking into account ad rates on other networks as well.

While this data only proves that the range of monetization is wide, it does provide grist for the mill of folks like Phil Morle, who has been trying to delve more deeply into this area.

[Picture courtesy of white_shadow_photography]

Web 2.i – It’s Time To Enter Beta

Elias Bizannes has written a post about the Web 2.0 era and what’s next. His post is titled It’s all still alpha in my eyes, and he’s issued a call out to get metarand’s views.

First up, I’d say it is high time we realized that Web 2.0 has entered beta – as Elias points out and as we saw at the recent Web 2.0 Expo, big business has entered the space – big time.

Secondly, I’d like to postulate that this beta version of the web should be called Web 2.i. Here’s why I’m adding the “i”:

* iPhone: I agree with Elias that the mobile web will be a big part of this next phase, that is, the mobile web as defined by the iPhone. This device has created a ripple that will radically alter the mobile pond;

* meshed data/presence: The “i” in dataportability will coalesce with the “i” in presence (go with me on this) to create a far more integrated individual web experience.

In short, I agree with the twitterquote from Dave Winer in Elias’s post: Web 2.0 is now over.

It’s time for Web 2.i…

[Pictures courtesy of bwr, saufnase]

On Echo Chambers & Viral Loops: Why Twitter Works, Unfocused Conferences Don’t

I was marinading some chicken this morning in one of my favorite mixes (there’s a good food franchise in there), when it dawned on me – as social beings, we have an innate desire and need for feedback and feeling like we are part of a community.

This is one of the reasons I love cooking so much. As a creative I not only get to produce something way better than its individual parts, but I have instant gratification through a viral feedback loop – the people I am cooking for. I don’t get any joy cooking for myself, love cooking for my family and adore doing big dinners (circa 16 guests) — the bigger the echochamber in this instance – the more gratification potential.

However there is a tipping point — pulling together a meal for a group larger than that and it becomes more of a painful logistics exercise than fun. I believe this is also due to the fact that there is a law of diminishing returns at work here as well — the more people who tell me they loved my portugese-southern african, peri peri chicken the less of an impact this will have.

And so it is with blogging. I remember hacking together my own blog back in 1998 (I think the term then was “zine”) and really enjoying getting my voice out into the nascent blogosphere. But I also found it somewhat disparaging when I received minimal feedback. This prompted me to find other ways of connecting with my potential audience and I set up a number of online groups that morphed into a collective think tank.

Spurred on by the depth of engagement and reinforcing feedback I was receiving, I got involved with one of the first social networking phenomena to achieve scale: First Tuesday. But that’s a story for another day.

Fast forward to 2003, when blogging started to get real traction. Why did it take off? Essentially, the blogosphere had achieved sufficient critical mass to become an effective echo chamber.

Blogging software promoted interaction through comments, trackbacks and more recently leaderboards (instant viral feedback loops) like Digg and today’s Techmeme. We continue to see innovation in this area, for example you can video comment on this post via a Seesmic plugin.

Let’s helicopter out a bit. The blogosphere as echo chamber seems to work best within niche areas. The early adopter, tech geek set is a classic example. A relatively small, but vocal group, geeks are highly adept at creating reverberating conversations and memes. The same cannot be said for all niche groupings, but as a general rule: niche promotes echo.

Before this becomes a missive, let’s now zero in on the miniblogosphere and in particular the tool that has ignited this space, Twitter. It works because it is an even more effective echo chamber than the broader blogosphere. And it comes as no surprise that is has achieved exponential growth within the tech geek grouping. Twitter is the perfect storm for geeks.  Twitter is a double wave instant viral loop – tweet quick, achieve nanoinstant feedback.

This miniblogging tool is also being used as an echo chamber funnel by the geek community. Blog posts are promoted to a tight knit group of followers through a tweet that, if picked up, is pushed out more broadly.

Conferences can also form effective echo chambers provided they are focused. Perhaps this is why the Web 2.0 Expo, which took place in San Francisco this past week receives mixed views. Personally I find its coverage too broad, preferring instead to participate in the Web 2.0 Summit where I know the quality of the noise echoing around me is higher.

Finally, social networks would do well to look at how they can create more effective echo chambers, both at a macro cross network and micro level. For example, groups are a common feature on social networks – Facebook groups have not been particuarly effective. Why – they are a very poor echo chamber. There is limited ability to create conversation through them.

Contrast this to Ning‘s roll your own social network – each micro network has the ability to become a micro echo chamber for a niche that its creator will promote to his or her personal network.

Time to bbq that chicken…bon appetit!

[Photo courtesty of jolou]

(Dan) Pink’s Business Manga

Stuck in cubicle land without a clue? Wondering why your parachute failed to open in the 80’s? Never did find out who moved your cheese in the 90’s?

Don’t worry – Dan Pink’s got the solution…and it’s all manga:

Johnny Bunko trailer from Daniel Pink on Vimeo

The book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, focuses on 6 core principles. All good points, worth a read:

* There is no plan

* Think strengths, not weaknesses

* It’s not about you

* Persistence trumps talent

* Makes excellent mistakes

* Leave an imprint

[via @ev on twitter, shoutout to Garr Reynolds]