"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
"To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants [...] but they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be." Anil Dash laments The Web We Lost, and offers some suggestions for moving forward.
"It feels strange to be active and highly visible on the Web for 15 years but it was only when I joined Facebook that someone from elementary school or high school ever contacted me." In which on Ev Williams's platform, Mr Haughey compares his experiences of Facebook and Twitter. [more inside]
Both inside and outside the walls of Facebook, the story of social games has become one of dead geese and golden eggs, flatlined growth, formulaic games and shady practises. Many warned that the sector was slowing down, but sometimes giants need to fall. It needs to get bad enough before people start to really consider what's next... So what comes next?
The Daily Dot delivers news about social media communities such as Reddit, Facebook and Youtube the way a local newspaper might deliver news about a city.
"Unlike the link ... likes are arguably easier to create. Moreover, they are explicit endorsements rather than implicit ones. Therefore, they carry more weight once they are pulled through the lens of our friends. More so than links, this new network of signals allows content to find you, rather than you having to go find it. The rise of likes, just as links before it, will create all kinds of new businesses. And we're just getting started." Are likes poised to replace links as the Web's primary signal? Then again, it just might be getting out of hand.
How (crowd) curation is making a comeback in search and how Facebook is using it to "remake whole industries."
Kate Bolick tells a story of Facebook voyeurism.
"A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls."
Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. Earlier this summer, Golnaz Esfandiari examined the "Twitter Devolution" in Iran*. Anne Applebaum commented on the Twitter revolution that wasn't in Moldova last spring. [more inside]
Dark Patterns is a list of deliberately user-hostile web site design patterns typically intended to deceive or exploit unwary users. These range from the trivial and clumsy (interfaces designed to impair price comparisons) to slyer tricks such as sneaking add-ons into shopping baskets, making specific options deliberately hard to find and spamming all your friends, typically after getting permission on a false pretext. Among the offenders listed are the likes of Ryanair, CreditExpert, various travel and electronics shopping sites, and, of course, Facebook, which has its very own pattern.
Yesterday, ReadWriteWeb, which "provides analysis of Web products and trends to an intelligent audience of engaged technology decision makers, Web enthusiasts and innovators" posted an article titled "Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login." What happened in the post's comments taught them a lesson about users who aren't in their target demographic: internet users browse by search, because they think browsers are search engines. [more inside]
Embrace the web! It’s the same mantra that we hear day in, day out, from various sources; always those who have a vested interest in convincing us that artists are not doing so. These people seem to be the pundits, or people who want music to be free, and artists to make money in other ways - either by touring or by ‘monetising their experiential awareness’. Are these people the only people in the world who don’t receive a thousand spams a day from bands on Myspace, from people on Facebook suggesting that they become a fan, from dullards on twitter?