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The End of IPv4

Feb 5, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, internet, internet news, search, search engine, Winnipeg  //  Comments Off

The internet is running out of IP addresses, Bing is copying Google, Facebook can’t handle your data and locally we’re resisitant to change. The loss of IPs online has been broached in the last few days, and the as the last block allocations are doled out I’m certain that the naysayers will be heralding the end of the world (wide web). At least on some level of course.

Bing copied Google’s search results on a really obscure search term, as Bing cries foul over Google copying some of their display methods. It’s one thing to copy a snippet tool to display where on a page information was located and a change in how images are displayed. It’s an entirely new bag of snakes when you literally build your results based upon the users actions on another search engine. Bing has cried foul as well over being setup in Google’s honeypot action and well, that was the point. Google noticed a trend of Bings top 10 searches bearing much the same results as Googles. A hypothesis was formulated as to why and how this could happen, and a test was executed. It just so happens that the test came back positive, and Bing has been caught red handed sneaking results. Deal with it, learn from it, for Gods sakes admit it and carry on.

Facebook is no stranger to drama, what with randomly changing privacy permissions and alalowing app developers to scrape user information. But the newest slip up from the social networking giant is perhaps not so much their fault directly, but indirectly. In a showcase as perhaps the biggest reason to maintain control over your information on the web, 250,000 Facebook profiles were scraped to build a dating website. While the act of scraping data is malicious, and Facebook has promptly leapt to legal action to have the site blocked and removed, it bears mentioning that identity thieves don’t care about terms of use on websites. Is it Facebook’s fault directly? Not exactly, but a campaign of information, clearly outlining how to control your information and keep it under lock and key should you so desire is long overdue. As well as refining again the security features and controls, and make them more obvious; perhaps even going so far as to include a big button that says: I want my information to be private!!

And just to switch things to a local, Winnipeg front for a moment. A downtown restaurant, long heralded as an icon in it’s uniqueness, the Paddlewheel Restaurant is to be closed and renovated. In the story I’ve most recently read about the eatery, the vast majority of the comments and content were unhappy with the coming closure, citing their memories of past visits with friends and family as evidence of enduring success. “It doesn’t need to change” and “It shouldn’t change” were the over lording tones of the piece. There was a video accompanying the story, and while it was somewhat saddening to hear about how a visit to the restaurant with their mother and grandmother for a plate of fries and a coke would be gone with the change, change needs to happen. By the way, the aforementioned visit with family, the fries and coke cost 15 cents to purchase. The video was filled entirely with elderly visitors, no doubt the frequenters of the establishment with the exception of one gentleman interviewed whose thoughts were simply “I understand it’s popular among those with a history of coming here”. The idea that change is bad needs to leave the collective thought process of this town, change is anything but bad. Scary, exciting, turbulent and it can even be smooth, safe and uneventful. But it’s never a bad thing. Change is inevitable, it’s when people, places and the environment they exist in cease to change that they wither and die. Take a clue from one of the oldest businesses still in operation today, in order to survive, they need to change.

The Cost of Facebook Ads

Feb 1, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   adwords, ecommerce, facebook, internet advertising, internet marketing, marketing, online advertising, online marketing  //  Comments Off

Facebook has become the most visited site above Google and all others online. It’s not uncommon to find a story about Facebook versus Google/Bing/Yahoo or about how they’ve reached 500 million plus members. Millions upon millions of people communicate, play and flit away hours on the site, and the site is reportedly worth billions.

But at the end of the day, is it really a financially savvy move to advertise on Facebook? In 2009 it was, as the cost for a click was only 27 cents, but for a click through rate of only just over half of 0.1%. And as time goes on you’d expect things to get better, but in 2010 the cost per click actually nearly doubled in cost to 49 cents, and the click through rate dropped. With so many member accounts, it’s hard to believe that the advertising model has such a bleak factual bottom line.

With the benefits of advertising on Facebook being parlayed as being targetted via friends within the site, the numbers display the honest truth. While ads may last longer, and be presented more relevant on your Facebook pages, you’re less likely to use them than if you were to find them else where online. Even banner ads on websites performed better on the bottom line. Oh well, at least there’s Mafia Wars and Farmville right?

Facebook Privacy and You

Jan 18, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   facebook, online  //  Comments Off

Time to get to work on that Facebook profile again and make sure everything is as you want it. Dig through those privacy settings, and ensure that you’re not sharing more than you intended.

In a late posted blog on Facebook, Jeff Bowen (Platform Developer Relations at Facebook) posted:

We are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object. Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Paraphrased basically saying that now when you develop your apps for Facebook, you can now get users addresses and mobile phone numbers. So now not only will you be spammed on your wall by games, random ‘questions about you answered by..’ posts and as well as scraping and sharing all of your friends information, they can have your home address to send you mail if they want. Or send you spam text messages or phone calls to your mobile phone. Perhaps ‘accidentally’ subscribing you to a premium phone service just for clicking that ‘Allow’ button when you load up their app for the first time.

Privacy is very much in your hands as a user, but with no notifaction to the userbase about this change for developers, and with a large percentage of the Facebook users already having accepted apps sharing their information; how long until these ups make a ‘critical update’ and soon you’re receiving fliers in the mail to buy Mafia wars or Farmville merchandise? Or worse yet, the information is collected, and sold to a third party advertising site who turns your information over again until it reaches a point that you’re receiving mail, text and phone calls from random companies and places you didn’t give permission to contact you. As one commentor on the blog post pondered, ‘Have you become a data collection site and are no longer a social site.’

The Greatest Guessing Game

What is the greatest guessing game you ask? It’s the game which has made Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as other search engine start ups and even failures, piles of money just by mention of the word. Search, is the greatest guessing game.

What happened when Google took the game and applied it’s own rules, was dominate the online community as it propelled itself forward, clawing and fighting for all of the infomation it could find. There are various illustrations of the web which come to mind when it’s pictured. Firstly as a web of course, of interconnecting websites and pages, all of which the search bots, spiders naturally, navigate their way around and build up this interconnectability between them. I’ve seen pictures of the internet visualized as planets in galaxies and solar systems, as continents on a map and even as a DNA strand at one point. The best visualization I can come up with is that of an ocean, and all of the websites and pages of the internet are just kind of floating around. People are like little fish, darting around from point to point, sometimes finding what they want, sometimes not. But it’s a fluid environment, never the same from day to day and always on the move.

An article written about which search engine is better at delivering relevant results was the inspiration for today. It tried to demonstrate that by using identical results in different search engines, that one could clearly deliver better and more relevant results than the other. The reality is I believe, much murkier than that. Google is absolutely a brand name, and used extensively in all walks of life. Bing is working hard on branding itself as a decision engine and not a search engine, but in the end both algorithms do primarily the same thing. They guess at what you’re looking for, they guess that they’re delivering you what you want to see and they guess mostly correct only because you’ve already told them what you want to see. Whether it’s via your search history, cookies saved on your computer or even your directly typed search query. Search is still just a game, and for now Google still plays it best. The internet and online technology being what it is, we’ll revisit the topic in a year and everything may be upside down.

Online Privacy will Change

Jan 12, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   facebook, internet, internet news, online  //  Comments Off

One of the largest issues online and one that especially plagues Facebook and other networks like it, is the privacy issue. Facebook likes to use the argument, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt caught fire for the same sentiment, that if you’re online and don’t want the world to know something of you, don’t share it.

At present the general demographic of internet users range from the 12 year olds doing book reports and discovering social networking, to 80+ grandparents keeping in touch with family with email, Facebook and so on. When you through an idea as complicated as ‘privacy’ into the mix of a demographic so large, problems are created. Looking at the definition of privacy:

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes.

The ‘basic common themes’ would be the language pertaining too ‘the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively’. The idea that you control what others know about you isn’t a strange ideal to uphold, and Facebook et al would escape a lot of criticism if they made one simple change to their policies; instead of having users opt out, allow them instead to opt in to new features and services. Where a lot of the concerns and issues come from is the second part of the definition which says ‘boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals’.

Privacy at it’s root, is a value shared by every person innately, but just like everyone has an opinion, everyone has a different take on privacy as a whole. What the privacy commissioners of the world deem as protection of privacy today, will be different for my childrens generation. Each generation as well, is becoming more and more comfortable with controlling their information online which will also contribute to changes in outlook. So before you click ‘Allow’ on that next Facebook application that your cousin sent you, take a minute instead to actively read what information it will be collecting and sharing about you. Privacy online has always been in the users control, the majority just fail to seize it.

Searching in the Future – The Web Squared

Jan 6, 2011   //   by freshtraffic   //   algorithms, business, ecommerce, facebook, Google, internet, local search, media technology, New Media, search marketing, twitter, web development  //  Comments Off

With the rapid advancement of the web, the technologies that control it and the methods that people interact with it, it makes me wonder sometimes what’s going to happen by 2020.

*cue time warp*

Your morning might be something like while getting ready for work, you’re receiving all of your local newsfeeds directly to your 3D/Holo television already sorted and delivered relevant to your interests. News snippets, weather announcements followed by sports results all fully controllable should you desire more information. The commute to work, in a hands free car navigating itself to your meetings. No one works in offices anymore, the instant web and cloud offices makes physical locations a throwback to the previous centuries way of doing business.

With cloud computing being fully integrated into mainstream business, social and common use, communication has never been simpler, or faster. Terabit internet in the sprawling cities ensures that there’s always enough bandwidth. And for those with pockets full of money, neural interactivity direct to a focusing lens you wear like glasses; providing a vast, interactive surface with which to work and play.

Online search, commerce and social activities will most likely be completely merged; think of a mega company the likes of a Google and Facebook merger. We’ll call it GoogleBook. A complete portal, with news, social feeds from friends and family, shopping via search and instant messaging for friends, family and clients. Micro-blogging sites like Twitter, would be absorbed and added to the already potent offerings provided by such a massive company. The idea of privacy online has matured and changed with the baby boomer generation gone offline to relax in peace, and the tech savvy information generation coming into it’s prime as the dominant work force population.

The web will be faster, cleaner and more relevant to each individual as the Google algorithm, Facebook social algorithm, and the Amazon shopping algorithm all become written together into a do it all super algorithm. With signing in online, it will deliver the content you’re interested in, show you what your friends have been doing the last few days and find the local best deals for the new television you were thinking of buying.

*end time warp*

It’s going to be an exciting time to be online, even in the next few years let alone in the next 10. The web and it’s technologies are growing at an exponential rate, what we’ve learned and discovered over the last 25 years online, will be doubled in the next 3-4 years; and then that time will be cut again and again. Until discoveries are coming at such a rate, that it’ll be expected to have new tech every week, instead of every couple of months.

You could also subscibe to the theory that it’s game over in December 2012 as well. No one knos what’s to come in the next few days, let alone years. Here’s hoping the web continues to grow, mature and evolve as quickly as it has been.

The Social Network – Is Facebook Safe?

Dec 31, 2010   //   by freshtraffic   //   facebook, myspace, social media, social network, social networking  //  Comments Off

The dot com boom soon went bang for a large number of websites. MySpace looks to be the latest casualty as its popularity seems to have dwindled significantly in the shadow of giants like Twitter and Facebook.

A partnership has recently been announced that will see both social network sites (Facebook and MySpace) working closely together and the sums involved have not been disclosed as far as I know at this time. This unlikely alliance will mean that MySpace users will be able to login in to Facebook through their MySpace account. Sound quite cool doesn’t it but on the flip side it will also at the same time allow over 600 million Facebook users to move their likes and social bits and bobs over to MySpace.

This will all happen with just a simple click of the mouse.

We’ve seen mergers of large online entities before and although Facebook is the monster site at the moment, we have to look back at times when Friends Reunited were also the massive site of the day.

Although still immensely popular it’s not being promoted anywhere near as much as it has been and there was a certain “gimmick” factor to the site where you would look at it on and off and then never go back. Until, however a year later there was an update by someone and you just had to have a nose and see what they were up to.

According to one very experienced and well regarded Internet expert, Dr Jeffrey Cole, this joining of sites may be pointless as Facebook could only have five years of dominance left in the social market before the next “big thing” comes bowling through and take over. Dr Jeffrey Cole hails from the World Internet project and predicted the demise of MySpace so if you’re thinking of buying shares in “the social network” make sure it’s for short term gain and not a long term investment.

By: Jason Fadien

Internet Clarity

Dec 16, 2010   //   by freshtraffic   //   bing, facebook, Google, internet  //  Comments Off

Facebook killers, Google killers, Bing killers.. it’s a wonder we have an internet experience at all with all of thie violence online. The most interesting part about all of the ‘killers’ out there however, is that none of it’s true. At least, not in the plainest definition of the word ‘killer’.

Facebook isn’t out to kill or replace Google, and Google isn’t out to kill Bing or Facebook or any other online entity out there. Everyone of those sites are players online, and for the most part have captivated the audience in their respective arena. Google has search and advertising, Facebook is the global social network, and Bing tries to be a little bit of both while propping up Yahoo with their results. Competition breeds creativity and provides a marketplace for other businesses and entrepreneurs to make a name for themselves, whether by carving out a niche for themselves, or being unique, and good enough at what they do, to be gulped up by the larger fish. Facebook, Google and Bing all play by much the same rulebook: if it can’t be built in house, either buy it or find it and adapt. The one key point that those big players all agree on as well, is they want to make the internet a more engaging place to be. Facebook has their games, groups and pages, Google has maps, places and search marketing, and Bing has social search, maps and a unique search page.

So when you’re reading your paper in the moring, watching the news or going through your emails for the day and the words ‘Facbook/Google killer’ are in the subject or title line, take the thoughts with a grain of salt. There isn’t any new tech out there which will just swoop in and replace everyone, nor will there be any massive swings of usage online. All of the major players each provide much different services, and while Bing and Google remain the closest in terms of the ‘competitor’ angle, even they will admit they do things differently with different focus.

Search in 2010

Dec 10, 2010   //   by freshtraffic   //   2010, facebook, Google, internet news, search  //  Comments Off

So what was it this year that tickled your fancy? The year is always ending just when it feels like you get into the groove of things, so it’s no real surprise that you may not remember what you were interested in 11 months ago. But that’s okay, because Google has just released their Zeitgeist of search. The flow of the year, as told by the trends of the internet and it’s users.

Whether it came to being hit with a bottle, or some other claim to additional fame, Justin Bieber beat out the likes of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and even Netflix to become the fastest rising searched person and entertainment star. At no surprise however, the iPad and iPhone4 dominated the electronics trends, although as the fastest rising search trend in general, the award goes to Chatroulette, the instant, random face to face messaging service.

The fall from grace is never enjoyable, yet Susan Boyle felt it on search this year along with the movies New Moon and Slumdog Millionaire, and the global health concern of Swine Flu. Unfortunately as well however, the tragedies which shape us can be found in the daily headlines as well. At no surprise Haiti dominated the news trends as well as being the number one search term under humanitarian aid with donate to Haiti; followed closely no doubt by donate to Pakistan.

In the end the top 10 fastest rising queries was led by chatroulette, iPad and Justin Bieber, with Twitter, Gamezer and Facebook carrying the backend. The results do need to be taken with a grain of salt of course, as just because Chatroulette enjoys the crown of fastest rising search, it had an equally fast drop off. Facebook by contrast, is enjoying a steadily rising search trend as the leader in social networks. An interactive chart of the year can be found here for the most curous.