Friday, February 23

My 1 Billionth Page Impression

Grabs attention, huh?

It suprises me how fast and advanced our industry moves but how dumb metrics continue to grab headlines, with MySpace being probably the biggest offender (although SecondLife has been the one to be beaten up). In 1997 domain names was a boom industry and we'd frequently boast of no. of domains registered, which in reality was a one dimensional metric of little use. But the media and the markets bought it.

In the bubble days of 99/2000 monthly unique users and registered subscribers were the currency to value online businesses.

Now in 2007, you would think, we're looking at growth rates, subscriber churn, active/inactive customers, cpm's, time on site, single access ratios...

Not so. Social network sites continue to evade the metrics which we would all like to know.
SecondLife got what is technically known as a 'kicking' when it broke the 2m subscriber mark late last year. With commentators asking all the questions on active users,etc. But SecondLife are the small guys, the innovators in this space.

MySpace with 160m users or Facebook with 35m, is like Amazon talking of the number of sign-ups it has had, ever. Not ARPU. Not growth in average basket size. Not Purchase Frequency.

For the social networks, how many of these big user figures are active in the last 90 days? To follow EU data-protection acts dormant data over 2 years old should be deleted anyway, but that's another story. GigaOm-Hitwise managed to pull some metrics together but they still offer little insight.

I have a hunch that specialist sites like,,, are going to come out pretty well when indexed against the big guys for things like % active, frequency and depth of visit.

So why is this important? Well, from an advertising/marketing point of view the number of genuine, hard-core, active, passionate users is significantly more valuable to an advertiser than a mass of passing traffic. The advertising industry doesn't see it this way yet, but in time it probably will.

This is the long-tail of Social Networks. And it is a distributed web of small vibrant communities.

Friday, February 16

Chúc Tết

This weekend is devoted to Tết, or Vietnamese New Year. We'll be taking the little ones to a banquet at the in-laws, and doing the equivalent of the festive Christmas eating marathon for the next three days.

Back to the almost serious business of work next week. For now,

Chúc mừng năm mới

Wednesday, February 7

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

This industry moves so fast. I often take a day out to dive into genuine Alpha sites and see what people are doing outside my areas of interest. There are some genuinely useful, if not incredibly niche, sites out there.

First up is Swivel, a site for exchanging and exploring data - sounds dull, but for anyone involved in business there's no escaping the need for hard facts.

It is essentially a highly focussed search engine, so instead of hoping Google will pluck out the right chart for that presentation to the board, Swivel gets you straight to it.

Did you know:

The World's Highest Paid Athletes

How Old are MySpace Users (only 88 data points, against +100m users so not so accurate!)

Virtual Gold appreciates faster than Real Gold

Media Spend by US Consumers

Music Sales: From Vinyl to Ipod

Battle of the Search Engines

For each dataset, users get stuck in to flipping the charts in different ways and mashing-up with other info. If this was integrated into Zoho Sheet or Google Spreadsheet, you average user might start uploading data-sets from their harddrives. In time, this could disrupt an entire industry of analysts and researchers through the wisdom of crowds.

UPDATE: 30th March 2007

I've just had a note from Chris Grisanti of that Google Spreadsheets are now integrated into their site, plus a bunch of improved UI improvements, particularly on the homepage. Now spreadsheets and data are hardly as exciting as data, but I wouldn't mind betting that this will become a pretty huge business before anyone really notices.