Remixing the routes

TED is open: free views of TED Talks, and free talks of Ted users

Posted by annplugged on May 8, 2007

TED has started its social networking project by not only letting people take part in TED events free of charge (free downloads of 20-minute thought-provoking talks), but also encouraging viewers, occasional site visitors to sign up for its TED social networking services. There were 44 talks in January 2007 viewed more than 3 million times, and by the middle of April 2007 there were more than a hundred talks to choose from, including one of my all time favourites with its exquisite narration and minimal – maximal presentation skills by Malcolm Gladwell from New Yorker (coming soon in another post on LineMarketing) on What We Can Learn from Spaghetti Sauce?.

TED member profiles

Here is my profile for annplugged.

What I best like about the profile page is exactly what appears on the first page of your profile in the members profile list: What are you passionate about?

You can subscribe to TEDTalks for automatic updates, choose your favourite speakers, talks, themes, members, and you can see all of the user’s comments.  So basically, the site is not overloaded with social features, which at this point is ideal.

What I miss is the What my friends/ other users suggest viewing and why option, yes, á lá (by the way, these recommendation snippets would be not only informative, but extremely useful for a good online visibility on search sites, and really beneficial for video content from a searchability point of view).

The TED Blog is not as active yet as the number of video views would suggest, but there have been some interesting blog posts since the beginning of March (by Bruno Giussani – guest blogger LunchOver IP, Diego Rodriguez – guest blogger metacool, June Cohen – Director TED Media, and Tom Rielly – TED Humorist). I hope the blog will be getting more buzz, and participate in the blogosphere community with more relish, too.


Posted in Marketing, Online, TED Talks, Video | Leave a Comment »

The Paralysed Customer by Barry Schwartz – video keywords on YouTube vs. on TED Talks

Posted by annplugged on May 8, 2007

Having too many choices has a paralysing effect on decision making, according to Barry Schwartz. This is his talk at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, or TED Talks, he gave in 2005 (to see a modified, fresher version check out what Barry Schwartz said at Google Talks in the Googleplex), which is available on both the official TED site, and on YouTube, Google’s video sharing social networking site:

Now let’s see the texts accompanying the video recordings.

This is the description on the site:

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central belief of western societies: that freedom of choice leads to personal happiness. In Schwartz’s estimation, all that choice is making us miserable. We set unreasonably high expectations, question our choices before we even make them, and blame our failures entirely on ourselves. His relatable examples, from consumer products (jeans, TVs, salad dressings) to lifestyle choices (where to live, what job to take, whom and when to marry), underscore this central point: Too many choices undermine happiness.

Compare the searchability (and also the content) of the video by search engines of the following accompanying text on youtube (submitted by the TEDtalksDirector user in the Director status):

Barry Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. In this talk, he persuasively explains how and why the abundance of choice in modern society is actually making us miserable. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 20:22

Register on Technology Entertainment and DesignIt is obvious that the text accompanying the same videofilm of Barry Schwartz’s keynote talk on the TED site, in contrast to to the one on the YouTube site, is a lot more descriptive, and also richer in the more important keywords. No wonder, search spiders – eating keywords – can find its text easier, so users can reach it more conveniently. ‘Now what?’ you may think. Why is it a problem? The problem is that YouTube is commentable, interactive, place for a community whereas TED Talks on the official site is _now already_ commentable, not (yet) part of a community (right now building), no chance to send video responses etc.

It is well worth exploiting more media channels for the same video film, but there needs to be a greater care for the wording and structure of accompanying texts to improve video search. YouTube would have allowed more characters in the description, and more tags too.

ps: Professor Barry Schwartz is mentioned as a psychologist on many sites, or sociologist on other web pages. Only two choices, yet confusing… Is he both?

Posted in Decision making, Marketing, Online, Presentation, Talks, TED Talks, Video | 2 Comments »

Barry Schwartz and The Paradox of Choice revisited

Posted by annplugged on May 7, 2007

In 2006 April Barry Schwartz, an expert psychologist in the intersection of economics and psychology gave his keynote presentation on the Paradox of Choice at Google Talks – based on his book published in 2004.

If you listen to his presentation given in 2006, you can discover how at certain points the professor of Social Theory and Social Action has revised/ refined his theory on the paradox of choice regarding online retails, especially search keyword-based marketing solutions. In short, well-designed websites can hide the overabundance of products (unlike brick and mortar stores), and are able to overcome the difficulties created by the paralysing effect of having too many choices. This way, Long Tail has been incorporated into Schwarz’s theory, I think.

Besides, it is worth checking out earlier interviews too: excerpts from an interview with Barry Schwartz made by Mark Hurst (January 2005)

Mark Hurst: What is the “paradox of choice”?
Barry Schwartz: Everyone agrees that having choice is better than not having choice. It seems evident that if choice is good, then more choice is better. The paradox is that this “obvious” truth isn’t true. It turns out that a point can be reached where, with more choice, people are worse off. People can’t ignore options – they have to pay attention to them. If they make a choice, is there another choice would have been better? There’s more effort put into making decisions, and less in enjoying them. What’s nagging is the possibility that, if they had chosen differently, they could have gotten something better…if a decision is non-reversible, you’ll make yourself feel better about the choice you made. If it’s a reversible choice, you don’t do that. And that’s not the road to happiness.
Mark Hurst: And not in retail, either.
Barry Schwartz: If you provide sales options in a retail store or website, you might think the way to attract people is to provide as many alternatives as possible. But that’s wrong. You’ll attract people, but they won’t buy as much as they would with fewer choices… For example, e-commerce sites should be designed so that the complexity is hidden, so that people who really care, or know a lot, can find their way to the complexity, and the rest of us who can’t be bothered to find it, won’t have to. That’s how software, websites, and retail stores should be designed… We can only learn by experimenting. I think that somewhere in the range of six to twelve options is what most people would be comfortable with, most of the time. But we have to do the research on actual websites, in places where people make their choices and buy.
Mark Hurst: What can customers do to avoid the paradox of choice?
Barry Schwartz: Most importantly, learn that “good enough is good enough.” It’s what I call “satisficing” in the book. You don’t need the best; probably never do. On rare occasions it’s worth struggling to find the best. But generally it makes life simpler if you settle with “good enough.” … arbitrarily limit the number of options you’ll consider. If your friend won’t choose your digital camera for you, then promise yourself that you’ll go to only two websites and then stop your research and make a decision; or you’ll buy the best choice in one store. It’s just not worth it to look in every store, every website.
comment by Karl Thomson: Of course, there are different kinds of shopping. Groceries is likely enjoyed less than the purchase of some great clothing. I, for one, _like_ the process of purchasing a car, and delight in learning as much as I can about the possible candidates… So to me, the paradox of choice is the personal one: some consumers will relish a multitude of options, while others prefer a smaller number of choices
comment by Paula Thornton: Yes, the possibilities are endless, but what are a few of the possibilities? I explained that they needed to create and price some ‘standard packages’, each with a specific goal or selling point — something the individual would be looking to accomplish/achieve.
comment by Rebecca St Martin: Most importantly, customers need to be guided about offerings based on their values and whatever parameters they bring with them. While it certainly is easier to create standard packages as samples than to lay all the options out and overwhelming the client, I believe the most satisfied customer comes from the opportunity to interact with a human being who is knowledgeable, who presents a meaningful line of questioning regarding their needs and resources and who is genuinely interested in their satisfaction… This is why the consultative salesperson in the new ecomomy of choices has not become extinct
comment by Marijka
last fall I spent HOURS researching vegetable juicers and vacuum cleaners. I just couldn’t stop, certain there was one just a little better or cheaper on the next site… Anyway, my solution to this obsessive decision-making is a digital kitchen timer! I give myself a set amount of time to reasearch and make a choice, and once the buzzer goes off I stop. Period.

Posted in Decision making, Google, Marketing, Online, Subtitles, Talks, Video | 2 Comments »

Long Tail on Second Life by Chris Anderson

Posted by annplugged on May 3, 2007

Let’s revisit Chris’ keynote on his book entitled The Long Tail:

Chris Anderson’s animated figure talked to an audience of animated figures on the virtual landscape of Second Life (October 2006), and here’s a somewhat eerie snippet of that conversation made by Millionsofus:

Ilya Vedrashko gives a nice transcript of the dialog between Chris Anderson and Hamlet Au (of New World Notes):

Hamlet Au: If “The Wisdom of Crowds” was the cocktail buzzword of the last few years, then “The Long Tail” is the term for today. When Chris Anderson coined it, he was describing an Internet-driven economic phenomenon, but since then it’s been applied to various pursuits, from foreign policy to education……Don’t the realities of corporate management make the Long Tail fairly irrelevant? Take the film industry.

Chris Anderson: But hits are unpredictable. Why risk your career on the toss of a dice when you can spread the risk over a larger portfolio of smaller investments? The profits in the back catalog (which is just one form of the LT) aren’t slow–they’re *steady*!

Hamlet Au: Obviously the purchase of YouTube by Google is the big Internet news this week. Reflect on it for us. What does it say about the Long Tail phenomenon?

Chris Anderson: It’s a huge vote of confidence. Media learned how to compete with the LT in the 90s … then the music industry learned to compete with the LT around 2000 … Now TV is going to have to compete with web video. They thought we wanted 30 min and 1 hr dramas and high production content that only they could created. The truth is that we do, but we also want more.

Ariel Spoonhammer: If long-tail revenues of any significance are spread over time, what are the short-term incentives to producers who can often get a higher short-term return on investment?

Chris Anderson: Yikes. Okay, I’ll try to answer that one. There are two LTs in content. One is broad appeal down to narrow appeal. The other is new vs. old. So the LT revenues that you describe as being slow mostly refer to the second, the monetization of archives over time.

Read the complete discussion on Hill Holliday.

Posted in Long Tail, Marketing, Online, Presentation, Video, YouTube | Leave a Comment »

The Long Tail keynote by Chris Anderson

Posted by annplugged on May 3, 2007

As part of the Authors@Google series, Chris Anderson visited Google (July 18, 2006) to discuss his book, “The Long Tail.” The title refers to a phenomenon describing a well-known feature of statistical distributions (Wikipedia: also known as heavy tails, power-law tails, or Pareto tails) and has been capitalized popularized and creatively applied for web trends by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 article (Wired magazine) to describe business and economic models, especially referring to wealth distributions or vocabulary use.

The main idea is that those businesses that are caring to serve the millions of niche markets (neglected and untapped by most of the (big) companies working with large numbers), besides catering for the masses, are the tenets of business successes in the future that is becoming more and more digitalised and trackable.

The revolutionary idea has been developed into a blook (blog book), and is still evolving well after its first edition on the Long Tail Blog: e.g. from 18th April, 2007: “Those of you who have seen my speeches on the legal dimensions of the Long Tail know that I consider the absurdly complicated and expensive process of rights clearance to be the primary barrier to unlocking the latent Long Tail value in content archives. The example I usually give is WKRP in Cincinnati, not because there’s necessarily a lot of value in that 1970s sitcom, but because it’s often cited as one of the hardest TV series to clear. ” Chris has already given a speech on Second Life as a virtual Long Tail author. As Ilya writes: “Chris Anderson’s avatar talked about the effects of the long tail on media, the future of 3D printing, the incentives behind niche content production, and the implications of the recent YouTube-Google deal.” So this book will just go on and on, with a long tail.

Just to highlight two slides:

1, Does more choice mean more sales?


  • Isn’t the Long Tail full of crap?
  • Yes. But so is everything else.
  • Sturgeons Law: Ninety percent of everything is crud.

It is a pity that “Adding comments have been disabled for this video.” It seems like Google is applying the same no-comment approach in its YouTube communication as in its Official Google Blog, which I cannot agree with (even if there is a 60% chance for flame war, it is better to see the freedom for adding comments than one single note).

Oh, yes, the keynote starts in medias res (the beginning, or the head belonging to the long tail has been cut off by the editors for some reason).

Posted in Google, Long Tail, Marketing, Online, Presentation, Talks, Video | 2 Comments »

Business communication transparency through blogging

Posted by annplugged on May 3, 2007

My friend, and husband Attila has called my attention to a Wired article on The See-Through CEO, basically about the need to open-up as an enterprise to engage in any public discussion, or even better, to engage in business (2.0) at all.

Clive Thompson:

“it’s a cultural shift, a redrawing of the lines between what’s private and what’s public. A generation has grown up blogging, posting a daily phonecam picture on Flickr and listing its geographic position in real time on Dodgeball and Google Maps. For them, authenticity comes from online exposure. It’s hard to trust anyone who doesn’t list their dreams and fears on Facebook. So maybe it’s not very surprising that at firms like, the rapidly growing online shoe retailer, CEO Tony Hsieh can experiment with levels of disclosure that most executives would consider freakish. A company-wide wiki lets staff members complain about problems and suggest solutions.”

While reading the article I recalled some moments when I was blogging for my ex-company (a Hungarian search marketing agency) on the official company site that has been turned into a blog (partly because of my encouragement, and personal experiences as a private blogger). Needless to say, it was a completely different thing to blog for my workplace than blogging for myself (a private blog on search marketing, web tech and online media issues). Whenever I wrote a corporate blogpost, I asked my boss to read it through, and give a green light to it. Asking for permission in itself was strange – compared to my former personal freedom. Most of the time, he just said ‘great, go ahead,’ however, there were other times when he asked me to highlight a certain thing (give a sales pitch, for instance), or not to write about something, as ‘the market is not mature enough for such things yet,’ etc. We were working in increasing competition, and he was eager to level the message at points his intuition indicated as thresholds.

So, reading Thompson’s article in the light of going through months of ‘corporate blogging’ I have quite mixed feelings. Total transparency? Personally, I wouldn’t suggest it to everyone, to all enterprises – not in the first round, if they feel fear. But it is well worth testing some gradually growing pilot projects whether open-ended communication through blogging works for that particular company, and if so,

  • when (continuously or just for certain campaigns, periods),
  • how (team, individual, semi-controlled, free-rein etc. blogging),
  • by whom (the PR person/ team, or anybody who has time, or anybody the CEO wants to have time…),
  • on which platforms (The Official Site in its entirety, or just one pale link from the front page hidden at the bottom, or independent privately held blogs linking back to the HQ blog),
  • under what policy (anything goes, anything except for the dirty dishes and strategic points, professional articles mixed with personal experience, or topic of the week/ month, or mostly survey type posts etc.)
  • and so on, and so forth

And it is well worth not giving up after the first few negative experiences. Blogging is scalable, so there is room for experimentation on various lines. In the long run, the aim is to reach constant, consistent, co-operative and conscientious communication with all of the stakeholders.

There are three basic things to pay attention to in the pilot projects for entrepreneurial blogging:

  • what are the objectives of a specific pilot period (choose possibly one solid goal)
  • what are the topics to be covered in blogposts and for what audience (ideally for our customers, including suppliers, stakeholders, employees etc.)
  • how is success measured?

But back to Thompson: “It’s not secrets that are dying, as one reader named gjudd noted, but lies….Which illustrates an interesting aspect of the Inter net age: Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. And that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.” Strongly agree.

Posted in Blog, Google, Marketing, Online | Leave a Comment »

Keynote presentation tips, Guy Kawasaki the 10-20-30 rule

Posted by annplugged on May 2, 2007

How to give a successful presentation? Some basic tips from the former Apple Mac chief evangelist: 10 slides, in 20 minutes, with font size 30+.

Mind you, the whole 10-20-30 video is also accessible and downloadable in a more friendly presentation style (e.g. no self-polishing repetition of ‘I’ll give you and algorithm’) from 2004 and is hosted by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Entrepreneurship Education Resources.

The 10 slides, e.g. for a startup looking for venture capitalists could cover the following areas:

  • title
  • problem
  • solution
  • business model
  • underlying magic
  • marketing and sales
  • comptetion
  • team
  • projections
  • status and timeline

Interestingly enough, Mike Kruckenberg gives a slightly different interpretation of Guy’s 10-20-30 in his summary of Guy Kawasaki’s speech at 2007 MySQL Conference (The Art of Innovation). According to Mike’s account, 10 stands for 10 minute setting up (“10 minutes for setup, leave 20 minutes for discussion, 30 point font”) rather than 10 slides. Has Guy changed his own mantra?

Posted in Marketing, Online, Presentation, Talks, Video | 1 Comment »

EBiTDA regarding DoubleClick and Right Media

Posted by annplugged on May 2, 2007

There have been two big deals in the online media landscape show recently, namely DoubleClick has been bought by Google for approx. 10 x 300 mm USD, i.e. 10x the annual revenue, (or even 20x?) while Right Media has been bought by Yahoo for 12 x 70 mm USD, again 12 times the annual revenue.

DoubleClick going GoogleClick

According to Catherine Holahan, “In a call following the acquisition announcement, CEO Eric Schmidt characterized the deal as helping Google gain a greater foothold in the display advertising market. “It is accelerating our display advertising business,” said Schmidt. So far, search rival Yahoo! has been the main player in display advertising on the Web. Google’s display efforts to date, like its attempts to expand outside of search in general, have been marginally successful at best.” and “Paid search advertising will account for more than 40% of the $19.5 billion expected to go to online advertising this year, according to a Mar. 7 eMarketer report….

DoubleClick serves ads on both Time Warner’s AOL and News Corp.’s MySpace, two of the Web’s most popular properties. Google has the rights to provide search ads on both those sites—it bid aggressively to do so, agreeing to pay nearly $2 billion to both companies (“Google Gets Back into MySpace”). But if Microsoft had acquired DoubleClick, it could have had a competitive position at the two companies, jeopardizing Google’s expensive search agreements….To advertising industry executives, such as Gossman and Morgan, Microsoft’s unwillingness to pay such a price showed that the company isn’t as serious about the market as Google….But is a win worth $3.1 billion? It just may be—provided DoubleClick’s valuable clients are not scared away by the presence of the increasingly powerful Google. That’s a big if.”

Right, Yahoo, Media

“Yahoo bought a 20% stake in the company in October as part of a $45m investment and has now paid $680m for the remaining 80%,” says Jemima Kiss. VentureBeat‘s Matt Marshall said the acquisition could give Yahoo an advantage because Right Media is a more transparent system than Google’s AdSense. Shortly after the announcement to shareholders last night, Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel blogged that the acquisition is a key step in the company’s long-term vision.”

Healthier competition

““Advertisers don’t want a Wal-Mart-isation of digital advertising,” where one firm (like Wal-Mart in retailing) becomes so big that it can dictate prices, says Tom Chavez, the boss of Rapt, a firm that analyses online-advertising data on behalf of publishers and advertisers. That said, Mr Chavez adds, Google is still far from becoming a Wal-Mart—and even Wal-Mart is not facing an antitrust investigation.” (from Financial Express)

Fred Wilson is giving a possible calculation behind the ‘more than ten times phenomenon:’

“I believe that ultimately price needs to be factored as a function of EBITDA – earnings power.

  • It could be the present value of future cash flows,
  • it could be a mutiple of current EBITDA,
  • it could even be a multiple of the cash flow that a buyer believes it can get by merging the asset into its business.

So when I see online advertising assets trading at north of 10x revenues, it makes me think that it’s the latter factor at work.”

But what is EBITDA? Well it’s short for Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization, and it is exactly what its name says. The most simple way to get it, is to take away the total expenses from the total revenue, and add back the costs of Depriciation and Amortization.
But let’s see an example of EBITDA (source here), through the imaginary Jabberwockyboom Corporation Income Statement
(All figures are in thousands)

Creative works Revenue — $60,000
Room Revenue — $25,000
Entertainment Revenue — $7,000
Food & Beverage Revenue — $23,000
Total Revenue — $115,000

Creative works Expenses — $30,000
Room Expenses — $6,000
Entertainment Expenses — $5,000
Food & Beverage Expenses — $14,000
General & Administrative — $10,000
Depreciation & Amortization — $5,000
Total Expenses — $70,000

Operating Income = $115,000 – $70,000 = 45,000

Operating Income 45,000
– Interest Expense $12,000
Income from Continuing Operations=$33,000

Income from Continuing Operations
Before Income Taxes $33,000
– Income Taxes $8,000
Net Income $25,000

From this information, we can easily determine the EBITDA the Jabberwockyboom Corp. delivered in this particular quarter. To do so, we simply need to start with net income, and then add back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization:

Net Income — $25,000

+ Interest — $12,000
+ Taxes — $8,000
+ Depreciation & Amortization — $5,000

EBITDA — $50,000

In this example, Jabberwockyboom Corp. posted EBITDA of $50 million in the most recent quarter.

Posted in Display advertising, Google, Yahoo | Leave a Comment »

Hello world!

Posted by annplugged on May 1, 2007

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »