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MySpace Dominates in the US

Datamonitor predicts that social networking sites will level off around the world in the year 2012. They also predict that the plateau will hit even sooner in the US. In the meantime, global active memberships in social networking sites are growing. They’re expected to reach 230 million at the end of 2007 (this includes multiple memberships by one person).The money is good and growing.

For example, my friend’s Facebook App that took two weeks to build recently sold for $25k. And marketers who are savvy are getting a lot of press for their social networking presence. There is a lot of money and creativity being exchanged. “Revenues from social-networking services should reach $965 million, growing to $2.4 billion by 2012, writes MarketingCharts.”

Google Launches New Keyword Analysis Tools

If you’re running Google Adwords advertising you need to be concerned with the “quality score” of your ads. If your ads score low they could be deactivated and the only way to run the ads again is to pay more. However, if your ads have a high quality score you’ll pay less per click and your ads will be promoted higher on the list of ads. Google uses the quality score to set minimum bids on specific keywords.

Since your quality score has such an impact on what you pay for advertising, advertisers wanted more information about how it applies to their keywords. Google announced today that they will do this with their new Keyword Analysis page.

Radiohead Rocks the Record Industry

I wrote about British rock band Radiohead’s experiment to get rid of their record label and sell direct their music direct. The results are coming in and so far Radiohead has sold 1.2 million albums in just a week. They let their fans determine what to pay. I guess it’s sort of like Priceline for music. They settled on $8 (I can’t seem to find how exactly they arrived at this number) and that has probably made the band about $10 million already. Also amazing is that the number of albums sold in the first week is higher than first-week sales of its three previous albums combined.

As the New York Times reports, Radiohead is navigating some creative deals – including one that will let an indie label license the album for a period of time. Radiohead would retain ownership.

Is Virtual World Advertising Harmful to Kids?

Execs from social networking sites recently met and talked about marketing to children. The question was raised in a series of articles about who is watching out for children and pointing out that there are no standards in this arena.

Marketing to children isn’t new. However, social networks have a strong pull because they are so engaging and it’s easy to spend a lot of time interacting on a site. It’s more than passive viewing like other forms of entertainment, like watching tv. Online it’s even easier to blur lines between what’s real and what isn’t. That’s true even for adults.

How the BBC is going to kill Netscape

The UK’s public service broadcasting behemoth, the BBC, has been going through some tough times the last few weeks. However a major announcement has been lost through all the talk of job loss, changes in programming and shifts in budget. Soon all the international visitors to the hugely popular BBC website will be served adverts. With such a huge audience it promises to sound the death knell for struggling portals like Netscape.

Ciaran Norris over at Altogether Digital highlighted the potential problems for the other portals and news sites.

The BBC site apparently attracts over 40 million foreign visitors every year, which is a significant number… certainly enough to seriously disrupt the advertising models of major commercial portals such as AOL & MSN.

Amazon Increases Payout for Music Downloads is offering affiliates a higher payout on Amazon MP3 music downloads to compete with Apple’s iTunes. At Amazon they call affiliates associates and typically their payouts aren’t very high – around 6%. But to boost adoption of their music downloads they are offering 20% commissions until January 2008.

Compare that to Apple that offers 5% commissions on iTunes. They also priced the downloads slightly lower – some are 98 cents at Amazon while iTunes are at 99 cents. Beginning on January 1st, commissions will drop to 10%, still double that of iTunes.

Amazon has one of the earliest and largest affiliate programs on the internet. Now some of those affiliates have an incentive to promote music along with Amazon’s other offerings.

The English Intelligence Service Recruiting Spies through Splinter Cell

In-game advertising really seems to be gaining some traction at the moment, and British Government intelligence organization, GCHQ, have taken the step of buying in game billboards to try and attract computer savvy graduates to consider becoming spies.

While the move isn’t quite as bold and the US military’s ‘America’s Army’ where a whole game and community has been developed to aid recruitment, it definitely shows more companies & organizations exploring the possibilities of in-game advertising.

GCHQ are using advertisement mimicking real world billboards within Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent on x-Box Live and across a number of other games including Rainbow Six: Vegas, Need for Speed Carbon & Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.