Friday, November 10, 2006
Niche-Targeted Social Networks Find Audiences
Users Flock to Specialized Communities but Don't Abandon MySpace, Others
By Abbey Klaassen
Published: November 06, 2006
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Tanner Stransky, a 23-year-old editorial assistant living in Manhattan, has been a devotee of Facebook since college and has been on MySpace for the past few years as well. But recently he joined a third network, LinkedIn, which aims to be a career-oriented social-networking service for professionals.
More and more, multi-social networkers like him are becoming the norm, as the social-networking space, after being carried the past year and half on the shoulders of sites such as MySpace and Facebook, gets far more diversified. And whether the talk about an exodus from MySpace and Facebook is just a seasonal slowdown or truly indicates a trend, there's a host of niche-targeted social networks just waiting to catch the defectors.
Benjamin Sun is looking for a few former MySpace devotees. Incidentally, his company, Community Connect, has been around longer than MySpace and has been profitable for several years, thanks to a revenue stream that includes advertising and subscription revenues. Soon, he'll launch Glee.com, a social network for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender crowd. It joins his other sites, BlackPlanet, MiGente and AsianAvenue, which aim to attract blacks, Hispanics and Asians, respectively.
'Better to be niche'
"We believe it's better to be niche," he said. "Look at the real-world communities -- they're made up of pockets of people with similar interests." While social networks all look fairly similar now, he said, they're in a primordial stage. "They'll start branching out and super-serving the audience and giving value that you can't find in a general-market site."
At 1Up.com, a content-heavy social site where gamers trade tips, stories, opinions and gossip, the philosophy is that people don't need to choose a single social network -- they can be a part of several. Of its members, 50% also belong to MySpace, 18% to Facebook, 9% to Xanga and 6% to Friendster.
"If our members are blogging about general things, they'll do it on MySpace," said Sam Kennedy, editor in chief of 1Up.com, which is part of Ziff Davis Media Group. "But if it's gaming-related, they reserve that for 1Up because they get better reactions."
Drop in traffic numbers
A drop in traffic numbers has made headlines lately for the larger social-networking sites. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, MySpace's U.S. unique visitors fell 4% to 47.2 million in August, and Facebook's were down 12% to 7.8 million. But a Nielsen/NetRatings analyst wrote off the drop to seasonality and said a similar dip occurred in August last year.
Shawn Gold, senior VP-marketing and content at MySpace, said that there are definitely subcultures emerging within his massive social-networking site. And for users who want efficiency, one social network is certainly easier -- and MySpace is continuing to evolve its tools for self-expression, video, mobile and aggregation.
"The opportunity is MySpace's to lose by not evolving the platform," he said.
Tom Gerace is the CEO of Gather.com, a social network for what's been described as the NPR crowd. The site launched publicly in July and has about 90,000 contributing members today, he said. Already it's attracted marketing partners such as Starbucks, Amazon and Volvo.
"We're not trying to be the next Facebook or MySpace," he said. "They're doing a terrific job for the younger set. We're trying to go after people in the prime of their careers, people with disposable incomes, thought leaders."
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 2:16 AM
|Dems controlling House not good news for brand name drug makers|
|Democrats taking control of the House could mean bad news for brand name drugmakers. According to a Reuters report, Democrats are expected to push for measures that let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices and for a larger government role in healthcare, which may mean federal price setting for drugs in the near future. Reuters reporters quote reactions of department heads from Novartis, Barr, and Teva Pharmaceuticals in their report. Paul Herrling, head of corporate research for Novartis was quoted as saying, "We know what happened last time. I think there will be a second try to change the way that currently the free market works in the U.S." Generic makers Barr and Teva representatives were more positive about the change in House power.|
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 12:42 AM
Thursday, November 09, 2006
|Google Revises AdSense Formula|
|Thursday, Nov 9, 2006 6:00 AM ET|
GOOGLE WILL IN THE NEXT several days start incorporating the quality of the advertisers' landing pages when deciding the placement of their ads across the AdSense network, and has updated the algorithm that calculates landing page quality score. The changes will affect a "very small" portion of advertisers, a Google product marketing manager for ad quality initiatives said on the Inside AdWords blog. Previously, landing page quality was only taken into account when determining the minimum bid for AdWords ads served on Google search results pages.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:41 PM
A local health-industry advertising firm's latest venture is educating the public on chronic diseases
When Ignite Health launched its latest venture, the company wasn’t looking to promote a health care product or company. Instead, its focus was on educating the public.
The health care advertising agency in September unveiled Incendia Health Studios, a media company that develops and distributes disease education content but does not promote specific products or service.
One of the company’s debut projects – “Live With It” – is a series of five short animations that follows the lives of fictional characters learning to deal with the fact that they are HIVpositive. The company has just introduced the third episode in the series.
Each character and their story are representative of major audiences in the United States, said Fabio Gratton, president of Incendia Health Studios . He’s a former Hollywood screenwriter.
Told in three- to five-minute stories, the series also engages readers by featuring a message board where visitors can talk about their own stories, provide words of encouragement to others living with HIV or post their thoughts on the series.
“I’m not trying to entertain per se, I’m trying to captivate someone for a brief enough time to cause them to reflect,” Gratton said.
The company touts itself as the first “purpose-driven” media company devoted to chronic disease education, including HIV, cancer, hepatitis B and diabetes.
Incendia Health is equipped with a full in-house production team, including producers, animators, Web site copyeditor and copywriter to create each project.
Creating each episode takes months, but everyone who works on the project takes a vested interest in its success.
“The team takes pride in it because you own it. It’s something different from what we have to do to make money,” said Pat Macke, Web site and campaign copywriter.
Macke and others on the team continue working on advertising campaigns commissioned by their clients, but they created “Live With It” directly for the public.
Incendia’s projects are funded by advertising, sponsorships, grants and some of the company’s own investments. The projects are currently not money makers for the company, but it does hope to eventually make a profit through its corporate sponsorship, said executive producer Jeff Rohwer. He adds that this is not the primary motivation for the projects.
It takes 30 to 40 people to make each series a reality. Once the team develops the script it is up to Lawrence Jackson, animator and animation consultant, to create the images.
“I see my job as serving the script. The challenge is making the script come to life,” Jackson said. He has worked on all three episodes but spent a little over three months putting episode two together on his own.
Jackson begins by creating a storyboard of characters and events, taking inspiration from pictures and acquaintances. He draws all of the major points in the story and then transfers then into a flash program for the Internet.
The “Live With It” Web site has already received more than 30,000 views from people in more than 150 countries, Gratton said.
And now the company is looking to take its message further.
Incendia Heatlth was recently contacted by the University of Washington, which has received a grant to work in Kenya to study and develop sex education.
The company is working on a comic book that will be translated into Swahili and sent to Kenya. The story focuses on two characters, one who was recently diagnosed with HIV and one that is living with HIV. The comic book also addresses issues that are prevalent in Kenya, such as the belief that prayer can heal HIV, Rohwer said.
“We want to make sure that the message gets out on a level playing field and that it gets out to people that don’t have the technology to watch it online,” said producer Shane Brouse.
But, the company is primarily focusing on the Internet for distribution.
“The Internet is a great vehicle when you are targeting specific groups,” Gratton said. “I wanted to build a community and you can not do that with TV.”
The series can also be viewed through other engines such as Google and YouTube. They are available to download as podcasts and can be viewed on HIV-related Web sites such as thebody.com and aegis.org.
“Live With It” offers “an empathetic viewpoint that is both inspirational and a raw, real education about HIV/ AIDS,” stated Vanessa Robinson, assistant operations director for The AIDS Education Global Information System.
To “create a 360 degree experience” the company also created Myspace pages for each of the series’ fictional characters.
The Myspace pages are checked by executive producer Rohwer who says he receives messages from people that range from asking if they should be tested to those commenting on the characters’ personal lives. But Rohwer says he does not respond to any personal messages.
Incendia Health has already received many awards, including the Most Innovative Site award at the 2005 World Wide Web Health Awards. The company continues working on other projects and has also launched websites focused on diabetes, hepatitis and breast cancer.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:00 PM
iVillage Live to Go Live on Air, Online, in Studio
The world's first interactive daytime show is set to debut next month when iVillage Live airs simultaneously on-air, online and in front of a live studio audience.
The multi-channel format for the show includes the Bravo channel, at iVillagelive.com, and NBC Universal Television Stations at the Universal Orlando resort, Soapdom.com reports. The show will feature interactive elements including live-chat at iVillageLive.com, with selected portions of the chat scrolling across the screen during the show's broadcast. Mobile phone users can also text questions and comments to the show as it is being aired.
iVillageLive is working with advertising partners to secure product placements and integration and e-commerce opportunities. Companies that have already agreed to be involved include Unilever; Aramis & Designer Fragrances, Clinique, Estee Lauder and Origins; GE Profile Appliances; Goody; Graco; Healthy Choice; Overstock.com; and Priceline.com.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 11:25 AM
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Conference day two: Align Web strategies for increased performance
Search engine optimization, integrating branded and non-branded sites, and a WebMD partnership have been instrumental in driving registrations on Serono's multiple sclerosis (MS) Web sites. Carole Huntsman, vice president of marketing for U.S. neurology at Serono, spoke yesterday during IIR's Pharmaceutical Brand Leadership Event in Chicago, and described the company's Web strategy for the MS drug Rebif. In addition to MSLifeLines.com, an educational and support site for patients on Rebif, Serono launched MSInBalance, an MS-focused Web event site that links to MSLifeLines and Rebif.com. Linking the sites, as well as optimizing them for search on Google and Yahoo!, has resulted in increased traffic, according to Huntsman. Serono also sponsors the MS Health Manager on WebMD, a tool that supports patient acquisition and retention. For example, 89% of MS Health Manager users have also registered for MSLifeLines, Huntsman said.
Posted by Fabio Gratton at 7:23 AM