Web 2.0 Summit kicked off yesterday afternoon at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly are master curators of some of the best minds and storytellers in the technology industry, throwing CEOs of major corporations on stage to answer business and technology questions together with start-up entrepreneurs, an Intel anthropologist and a fireside chat between John Heilemann and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
I spent my time listening, shooting and tweeting more than I did taking comprehensive notes, but here’s a few memorable quotes and takeaways from day one.
Sean talked about how much easier it is for the independent artist to get noticed using social networks today. “You can take an artist to a number one position fairly quickly. I don’t understand why any artist would sign on with a record label today. As an artist, if you’re functional and don’t have a drug problem, there’s no reason why you can’t pull yourself up as an artist today.
Artists today can be in charge of their own destiny. Maybe later on, you can sign on later on for distribution on Amazon and foreign markets, but not at the beginning.”
He says that Spotify is an attempt to pick up where he left off with Napster. Parker also shared his thoughts on social networks and Facebook in particular, denying a down and dirty fight with Zuckerberg on Hollywood streets. On Facebook, he says that there’s a balancing act between active and passive sharing and felt that they don’t give users enough control. He adds, “the concept that the best content rises to the top can only work if there’s a conscious deliberate and targeted decision about where your content actually ends up.”
He was very definitive about where he sees eBay playing today and in the future. He says, “eCommerce and retail are crumbling fast. People can now access information with red laser and do product exploration in the store in real time. We’re taking all of our properties that we have and putting them onto one open platform so developers can build.
Consumers can now take a photo of a UPC code using Red Laser and see what retailers have it locally. With one click, you can buy it locally or click on Paypal and order online. This is huge innovation in retail which hasn’t really moved at all in twenty years.”
He continues to reference an example of how bad the search experience is today for fashion. “You don’t go to Google and type in blue shirt and expect to get what you want. You can search by images today and get “like-products” based on an image you choose and like. Image-based search will be huge in the future, especially in fashion.”
On how they compare to Amazon, he nailed it from a marketing perspective. Rather than get caught with his pants down on what they’re not doing right, he fixated on the fact that they don’t compete with retailers so they’re knocking at their doors. He says “we are not a retailer and never will be. Technology is having a huge impact on their businesses and they need help. We can provide that.” He also noted how huge mobile has been for them and will continue to be, throwing out a staggering stat: eBay sold 2,600 cars from their mobile app alone in a day.
“You can make a direct connection between user interest and engagement,” he says emphasizing how important social media is and will continue to be for their enterprise customers.
“Companies must embrace social media or embrace the consequences,” noting that when issues arrise today in corporate America, crisis is accelerated in a very public way via social media that didn’t happen ten years ago, even five years ago.
Marc told Toyota that they should have a car called the Toyota friend. “I want to have a conversation with my car…car manufacturers should have social cars.”
Aside from his emphasis on getting their enterprise customers to not just adopt but take social media seriously, he added that he has bought into gamification as a layer on top of businesses and the increasing importance of it in the future.
Ross said he joined Yahoo for a very specific reason: to build great products, build them across platforms including their own, personalize those products for their users and then program those products. He also noted that its the best job he’s ever had, “not easy, but the best.”
“A black box won’t solve everything…there has to be a human touch.
The signals we give off today are about getting the right content to consumers and the right opportunities to advertisers.”
When asked What is Yahoo today, a question that arises at nearly every industry conference, Ross says: “Yahoo is a really rich premium, personalized experience for consumers on every platform.” Yawn.
Marketing spin and well rehearsed but it doesn’t really paint a rich textured picture of who the company is nor does it show me a sustainable business model. Onward.
Poole focused on identity and the mediocrity which has been created around it. “Who am I on stage is very different than who I am in my personal life,” he says.
“There are so many lenses of who I am but Google and Facebook wouldn’t want you to believe that. In their world, we’re merely a mirror.
Facebook treats our identities like mass market fast food. I have more choices in the eye of a toothbrush in a shopping aisle than I do in how to express myself online.”
Strong statement and at that juncture, I wasn’t sure where he was going, but his message got stronger. On Google+, he is spot on. “They’ve just copied the same broken model that Facebook created. You can incorporate identity without giving up quality, but give users a choice.”
He goes on, “Facebook and Google (with Google+) are dictating how we share our identity and our creativity…consolidating our identity and making us so much more simple than we really are. We deserve choices and options. Over time, our identity is being eroded by large industry players and how can we, as an industry think this is a good thing?” Hear hear Chris. Hear hear.
In other words, Silicon Valley and other early adopters, stand up to the giants and demand higher standards than what we’re being dished today, including how we’re told to behave, what we can share, how we can share and with who, down to the exact number of “friends” we’re allowed to have.
Deb showed some very cool visualizations of what they’re doing with TV data in case you ever wanted to know what TV programs diet coke lovers watch. He says, “it is now possible to link impressions to expressions.”
They take content from TV stations and build out a semantic content graph of TV and the social web, resulting in what they claim is the most comprehensive semantic index of TV online today. They call it the TV Genome.
Through their live feeds, they’re adding 200K shows, 2 million ads and 40 million links per month. Show by show, they can create graphs that show the number of impressions versus expressions, focusing on expressions whereas Nielsen focuses on impressions.
He says, “this view is a different window of consumer behavior and their mindset than what has been offered in the past, which will be a game changer. We’re building out a data audience sentiment, so that within the TV Genome, brands can decide where they want to put their time and effort.”
I loved what Geneieve brought to the table, which was a look at data from a human perspective. As an anthropologist, she asked the question, “who is data? rather than what is data?”
There are things in our life which will only want to be physical data, she notes, not digital data, such as buddha statues for example.
“Data loves good relationships,” she says. “And, data needs to be social, have a country (a home) and be feral. By this, she means that data will run wild, beyond the current boundaries of what we now imagine. We will have to think about privacy and security differently within this framework.
She also adds that “data has responsibilities. We have to tell a story in the right spirit, in the right place, and to the right people. Data also likes to look good. People are always actively choosing how we represent ourselves online,” noting that in the online dating world, 100% of Americans are known to have lied on their online profile. In the UK, it is about 60%.
She ended her presentation with a provocative question which I felt could have been a talk on its own (a nice, long healthy interactive talk): “What if we designed for data the way we design for people rather than for devices?” All I could think of was “crikey, we need more women in this business.”
Brad centered his whole talk on the differences between digital marketing strategy and digital business strategy and what it means to have both.
“The first rule is around social,” he says. “You can’t buy friends, even if you give away lots of free things to get them.
You have to ask yourself when you make decisions on social networks to buy influence – ‘what does that mean for my business long term?’ Business success is driving engagement to your properties if you’re a company with many,” using MTV as an example.
His best line of the night: “the data has to burst out of its silos and make sense for your business and show an impact. How does it affect your business strategy?” He adds that mobile must be key to your strategy moving forward, suggesting that when you think out your mobile strategy, think about how customers can motivate your brand from a mobile device.
Spoken like a true marketing guy he ends with this: “Today’s CMO who owns digital and understands customer intimacy will be tomorrow’s CEO.” I happen to agree with him.
On how Twitter is going to play and compete in the marketplace, Dick says, “we’re going to offer simplicity rather than complexity. Apple thinks about the world the same way.
It’s much harder to edit out than add features. Bradley Horowitz talks about Google+ and the fact that they’re going to compete on and add more features. Our focus is to compete on simplicity.”
There’s a lot of signals coming from each tweet. Battelle asks if this is Twitter’s biggest challenge? Noted as a significant challenge, Dick says of the 250 million tweets a day they see, that they need to surface that data into something that is more meaningful: global things that matter to everyone and regional things that matter to your own community.
Dick says, “when you only offer authoritative tweets on a topic, then you lose the roar of the crowd. When we do that, we are sucking the life out of an event (i.e., world cup) by taking the volume out. We have to show the volume while also separating the signal from the noise. The key is showing this visually in a way that is compelling and simple. And, we’re working on that.”
One of their core values says Dick is to “respect and defend the user’s voice. Not using your real name means that in countries where you can’t speak as freely as you do here, you can speak up.” He noted a situation in Tunisia as an example. “We’re the free speech wing of free speech,” he adds referencing the words of their lawyer.
He ends with more of their core values, getting away from money questions and other controversial topics: “Rather than focusing on a $8 billion market cap, we think about whether we’re doing things that we can be proud of as a company and whether we’re building things that are sustainable and scalable.”