Same old saying: KISS!

I was browsing across the ‘new’ Twitter layout features (oh, by the way: did you know that T’s creative director, Doug Bowman, worked for Google? Here is his gentle but tough goodbye message to Big G), when I came across this:

Simplicity meets serendipity

[link here]

Given the title of this blog, you would admit my curiosity on the subject… It was then that I remembered the video of an interview with Jack Dorsey (creator and executive chairman of Twitter) about the existence of a business model founded on serendipity. How would I define it? Well, in a few words online serendipity is a phenomenon where users encounter something they like that they were not expecting (read my previous blog post on the same subject).

As Dorsey himself admits, Google AdWords has been the first application of this groundbreaking online marketing model. As with fashion magazines, where ads are so well integrated with the content to be not only pleasant but also useful to the consumer, AdWords has made online advertising reputable and even desirable.

In the same way that people believe that Google ads make the search experience better, Dorsey says that Twitter’s ad products – promoted trends, promoted accounts, and promoted Tweets – get engagement rates between 1 percent and 5 percent. And this is done, in fact, in an unconventional sense:

I don’t necessarily think of it as advertising in the traditional sense. It’s, how do we introduce you to something new? How do we introduce you to something that would otherwise be difficult for you to find, but something that you probably have a deep interest in discovering? It’s really just another algorithm, or it’s just more curation, but it’s something that you would find delight in anyway. [..] The user experience is what matters. If the user experience is bad, then we fail.

Now the key question is: How do you engineer a system that, while not literally random, produces the feeling of serenidipitous discovery, meaning emerging from what seems like meaninglessness? AdWords also works because it’s a natural part of the system. You perform a search in order to get results — some of those results come in the form of advertising.

If Twitter wants to fully rely on this business model, it must be sure that the strategy feels like it is natural part of the network.

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Occupying the Internet, too?

Shortly after publishing my last rants on the strong concentration of global corporate control (see ‘Eye in the Sky‘), I came across this article on the Darren Herman blog.

Trying to figure out what the online media spend looks like, here is what he uncovered:

the digital media ad spend (search, display, mobile, etc) controlled by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, and AOL is about $40.1B

According to a recent ZenithOptimedia press release, worldwide digital advertising accounted for about $64.03B. That means that those ‘five sisters’ mentioned above, in that order, account for more than 60% of the worlds digital media ad spend. Moreover,

Google generates approximately 364% more revenue from advertising than it’s next closest rival, Yahoo!

To push this inequity even further, if you look at the comments in Herman’s blog post, Jon Steinberg (the President of BuzzFeed), points to another staggering statistic: 75% of all advertising spend is controlled by four advertising networks: WPP, Omnicom, Publicis and Interpublic (see his Flickr image here).

I’ll keep this in mind the next time I will be talking with someone of things such as concentration and dominant position. Apparently, these concepts also apply to the business models ruling the Internet. Which is something more difficult to occupy than any Wall Street.