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The headlines this past week were dominated by economic news - news that is having an impact on the technology markets. Here are the stories I found most interesting.
71% of the economists polled by the Wall Street Journal believe that the United States economy has fallen into recession.
The past week has not been kind to the economy. Oil hit a record price, there was unexpected news of big US job losses and the US dollar sunk to a new low against the Euro. Gold hit $1,000 for the first time ever, signaling that investors are not confident.
While some in the internet community still hold on to the notion that "This is not our bubble," the fact that more people are starting to discuss the potential financial apocalypse that could occur if the $516 trillion derivatives bubble collapses should worry everybody, internet entrepreneurs included - unless of course you just sold the Brooklyn Bridge to AOL.
Gordon McLeod, head of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, made some interesting comments at the MediaGuardian.co.uk Changing Media Summit in London. He noted that one of the reasons the Wall Street Journal Online is not being made completely free is that the company is not sure that relying fully on an ad-supported model is economically viable for Rupert Murdoch's new baby.
He noted, "There are signs of a recession, in the US there is some 'softness', even on the digital side for display advertising. Could we survive on display ads? That is, frankly, why we have stayed as we are."
Sounds like McLeod has been reading my blog. Or he simply has common sense. Hopefully it's the latter.
Google has closed its $3.1b acquisition of Internet display advertising giant DoubleClick following the EU's approval of the acquisition.
Additionally, the company's VP of Advertising, Tim Armstrong, revealed part of Google's grand vision for its role in the advertising industry for the first time: a system that enables media buyers to "manage mixes of offline media like TV, radio and print campaigns, with their online display and search advertising, and to harness their data streams to show how one platform influences traffic to the others."
Clearly, given the rapid decline in Google's stock price since the beginning of the year, Google is glad that it was able to close the DoubleClick acquisition and I think the fact that it's revealing more of its plans hints at a concerted effort to reassure the market that it's still a strong company despite the fact that the notion it's immune to recession has been dented.
Of course, Google faces significant challenges with turning its big plans into reality. I am skeptical for a number of reasons but it will be interesting to see how things pan out.
Pepsi is by in large avoiding mainstream media to promote its Tava line of new no-calorie, carbonated beverages and is using online and Influential-targeting campaigns instead in efforts to build a brand.
Some of the initiatives in the campaign include a website, banner ads at selected online properties and free give-aways to targeted groups, including employees of companies like Google.
"The strategy was going in to talk to the right few who could fuel the many," according to Cassie Hughes of San Francisco-based marketing firm Grow.
As is probably not surprising given my previous discussions on this topic, I'm skeptical. All of this focus on cultivating "brand ambassadors" for Tava belies the fact that if the market is not receptive to the product, it's not going anywhere.
Furthermore, I'd argue that Pepsi is focusing far too much on how it’s delivering the Tava brand message. It should worry less about the platforms it uses to distribute the Tava brand message and focus more on making sure it's sending the right message.
Despite the hoopla around Web 2.0's impact on politics and incredible attention some political bloggers have received, a survey by Harris Interactive found that "a majority of Americans do not read political blogs."
56 percent of Americans never read political blogs and perhaps most interestingly, the poll found that younger people are the least interested in these blogs:
"While blogs are largely considered the realm of young people who are most Internet-savvy, only 19 percent of people ages 18 to 31, and 17 percent of those ages 32 to 43, regularly read a political blog, the poll said."
In my opinion, most political blogs, like most blogs in general, typically contain little more than regurgitated mainstream news, oftentimes with uninformed opinion thrown in for good measure.
Therefore, it's not entirely surprising that Americans who are tired of the spin and BS spewed by politicians have no interest in receiving spin and BS from Joe Schmoe either.
After Mark Zuckerberg's now-infamous keynote at SWSX, he sat down with Caroline McCarthy to discuss Facebook.
The two most amusing comments:
Since it's Friday and my take on Facebook is well-known, I don't think I need to explain the reasons for my smirk when I read these quotes.
"Most of the revenue things that we're doing in the short term--their focus isn't on building a large revenue stream."
"I don't spend that much time studying the overall economic climate, even though people seem to think that there's this general slowdown going on," he said. "It may slow down slightly, or it may not be affected, but in general, our growth is so rapid that I would be pretty surprised if it got affected in a meaningful way."