Archive for the ‘Mashups’ Category

Pepsi to Launch Summer Web Series

April 2, 2008

MediaWeek’s Digital Download

Gail Schiller, The Hollywood Reporter

Pepsi-Cola North America is launching an original online series in the summer.

The soda giant will serve as its own studio for a serialized action-adventure production from film writer-directors Shawn Papazian and Art Brown (“Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back”) that will be a branded-entertainment play for soft drink Mountain Dew. The untitled project will bow in June on Web sites still being determined.

But in a twist, viewers will able to alter the story line by selecting from a menu of options after each episode that take the series in different creative directions, akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book franchise.

“Putting this kind of interactivity in the story line allows the consumer to have some engagement with the brand,” Pepsi vp marketing Frank Cooper said.

The project will bow in the form of five shortform interlinked episodes, which will be followed up by a batch of more episodes at a date to be determined. Cooper didn’t rule out eventually migrating the property to TV or DVD.

“It will start online, but we think that it can evolve into a broader experience that can come offline,” he said.

Cooper declined to disclose budget figures but indicated it was far less than the traditional 30-second Pepsi spot.

The Mountain Dew brand is no stranger to unconventional promotions blurring the lines between digital entertainment and marketing. In November, Pepsi launched the casual game “Dewmocracy,” which allowed users to create a new flavor of the soft drink. Co-produced by Forest Whitaker, the game drew 600,000 unique visitors who averaged 28 minutes per session on the site.


MMO Games Are The Evolution Of Social Networks

April 2, 2008

Media Post Publications

by Tameka Kee, Wednesday, Mar 5, 2008 7:30 AM ET

PROPERTIES LIKE FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE don’t just have to deal with issues like user attrition from “social network fatigue” or inventory monetization challenges. According to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, they also face a growing threat from an unlikely source — massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.


Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference on Tuesday, Kotick said that MMO games like World of Warcraft are a unique blend of “a social network with an entertainment experience,” and they’re drawing in users and their wallets by the millions–with advertisers eager to follow.

World of Warcraft recently surpassed the 10 million subscriber mark in January, making it the most popular MMO worldwide. Kotick said that players spend an average of 3.5 hours per day with the game–with particularly rabid fans clocking in 6 hours. “It’s replacing TV and other activities for a certain type of audience,” Kotick said, even eclipsing time spent congregating on social networks.

The gamers are also willing to spend on products like mission expansion packs. “These extras cost a fraction of what our users pay for cable, for a cell phone or food per month, Kotick said. “And if you ask them to give any one of those up for more time with World of Warcraft, they will.” But Kotick added that there’s also the possibility of ad-sponsored supplemental content, particularly with games like StarCraft that require shorter sessions.

Still the threat isn’t just coming from hardcore MMOs like World of Warcraft. Even Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise has the potential to disrupt the social networking landscape. The console-based game lets users rock out, competing against each other while trying to play hits from bands like Aerosmith on a full-size replica guitar. While the franchise has raked in sales of more than $1 billion in North America alone, Kotick said the communal gaming stats are even more promising.

“Fifteen million people have purchased the guitars, but 45 million people are using them,” Kotick said. “That three-times pass-along rate speaks to the quality and type of interaction players get from the game. The only thing that’s missing right now is that it’s not over the Web. Right now it’s played in a bar or a living room–with no prize play and no competitions. But that will be the evolution of the medium.”

And Guitar Hero’s demographics range well beyond the typical 18- to 34-year-old male gamer. “The demographic reach is incredible,” Kotick said. “Forty percent of Guitar Hero’s audience is female.”

Still, the most potent threat that social networks face from MMOs (or soon-to-be MMOs like Guitar Hero) is their current lack of marketing infrastructure. “Last year, we would have deployed a lot of marketing capital to sites like Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo and iLike, but they didn’t have the personnel or capacity to take our money,” Kotick said. “There are Guitar Hero groups on Facebook–why wouldn’t we want to reach our audience there? We’re going to continue to shift our dollars away from things like typical or trade marketing to things that are more relevant–but they need monetization strategies first.”

And as social networking sites develop those strategies, Activision will adapt them for their own MMO and socially-focused game properties. “We want to build a rate card for advertisers that has validity and credibility,” Kotick said. “It’s still the early days, but those same marketing principles will be the ones that we get.”

World of Warcraft is published by Irvine, Calif.-based Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games that Activision made a deal to merge with in late 2007. Once the acquisition closes, the new company’s name will be Activision Blizzard, and will operate as a subsidiary of Paris-based Vivendi SA.


New Mashups: War Games and Halloween

October 22, 2006

Time for a review of some of the more interesting new mashup arrivals. Over 25 new mashups have been added in the past week alone. Subject matter includes games, sports, news, music, shopping, pets and others. Click here for the full list by date.

  • Endgame : World War: Claims to be the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) strategy game on Google Maps. Take over the world in this real time Risk-like game.
  • War Game

  • Cycling in California: Nice Google Maps mashup showing a list of road bike events in CA. Map popups show ride profile graph and current weather.
  • Mashup of Local Halloween Events. Google Maps, Yahoo News, Yahoo Local, Flickr, and Upcoming. Uses the HostIP API to auto-recognize where you’re visiting from.
  • I Love Music Video: Music video viewer for users. The music video can be seen from the chart of very easily. Videos from YouTube.
  • War Game

One other note, over the past 14 days, 12 percent of new mashups here are using the YouTube API. That’s 42 YouTube mashups.

Google Goes Gadget Crazy

October 22, 2006


Call them gadgets or widgets, Google is now offering little bits of software that anyone can put in a sidebar on their blog or Webpage.  Formerly, these gadgets were available only on people’s personalized Google homepage or Google Desktop software.  Now anyone can use them to create mashups all over the Web.  They include Google Maps like this one:

There are also stock charts, news feeds, the weather, a Bitty Browser, video games like Pac-Man, Google videos, or space pics from Nasa. It’s the blunderbuss approach—spray your Web apps far and wide.

Yahoo’s BBAuth Will Allow Better Mashups

October 2, 2006

Yahoo has released a new product called BBAuth just in time for its open HackDay today and tomorrow. It’s a mechanism for non-Yahoo applications to access Yahoo’s authentication mechanism and user data in a secure manner.

Most mashups today do not access personal data because of the security issues (not to mention the fact that companies usually think of user data as proprietary). The classic mashup example is mixing Google or Yahoo maps with other data. But there are far fewer examples of mashups involving user data protected from the rest of the Internet via a sign-in procedure.

BBAuth fixes that problem when it comes to accessing data locked up at Yahoo. Using the tools Yahoo provides, non-Yahoo applications can request a user to sign in to Yahoo and give permission for Yahoo user data to be sent to the non-Yahoo application. Yahoo’er Dan Theurer explains how it works in more detail, and points to two test applications he created. The first shows how it can be used to allow sign in via Yahoo credentials, and the second shows how you can access Yahoo photos data outside of Yahoo.

There are two pieces to BBAuth. The first is a single sign on tool to authenticate the user. The second piece is a set of APIs to get into specific Yahoo services and interact with user data. For example, the Yahoo Photos API allows other applications to, among other things, upload photos, tag photos, and modify titles and descriptions. Yahoo is also opening up Yahoo Mail through BBAuth.

Dave Winer says this is a “huge deal” and I agree. See what Yahoo’s Jeremy Zawodny says about BBAuth as well.

It’s worth noting that Amazon is doing the same thing (but in a limited way) with it’s S3 storage product, and eBay is supposedly testing third party authentication for purposes of verifying (but not changing) user feedback ratings.

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Create an API for any site with Dapper

September 15, 2006

A new service called Blotter from startup Dapper ( is getting some good coverage
around the blogosphere today. Blotter graphs Technorati data for any
blog over time. Most exciting to me though is Dapper’s basic
service, just launched this week. The company says it’s
effectively offering an easy way to create an API from any website.
This might look like crass screen scraping on the surface, but the
company aims to offer some legitimate, valuable services and set up a
means to respect copyright. The site is clearly useful now.

provides a point and click GUI to extract data from any web site that
can then be worked with and displayed via XML, HTML, RSS, email alerts,
Google Maps, Google Gadgets, a javascript image loop or JSON. The site
could use a UI overhaul to make it easier for nontechnical users and
copyright issues will have to be dealt with. That said, Dapper is
pretty awesome.

Dapper is lead by Jon Aizen, a Cornel CS graduate who’s worked
on the Alexa Archive and the Internet Archive and CEO Eran Shir. Aizen
says the company aims ultimately to offer a marketplace for content
reuse through Dapper, allowing publishers to set the terms and prices
for any creative reuse of their published content. This is the kind of
thing that it takes serious negotiation to do today, but Dapper has the
potential to make such deals far easier for far more people. For
developers Dapper will just save time, Aizen says.

Here’s how it works. Users identify a web site they are
interested in extracting data from and view it through the Dapper
virtual browser. Aizen showed my how to do it using Digg as an example.
I clicked on a story headline, on the number of diggs and the via URL
field. I went to another page on the same site and did the same thing
so that Dapper could clearly identify the fields I was interested in. I
then went through the various tools available on the site to set
certain conditions and threshholds and ended up with XML feeds I could
do all kinds of things with. Like send me an email whenever
there’s a TechCrunch story on the front page of digg, or when a
search results page shows a TechCrunch story with more than 10 diggs.
After I create an end product through the site, other users will be
able (after a 24 hour period in which I can edit the project) to use my
project either as is, altered to fit their needs or in the future, in
combination with other projects.

alerts are of most interest to me, but data from other sites can be
mapped on Google Maps, turned into an RSS feed for sites that
don’t publish feeds, turned into a slideshow if the data is in
the form of images. Aizen says he’s created a tool for himself
that runs feeds through Babblefish automatically and produces a
translated feed. The possibilities are huge.

Privacy and licencing the technology so it runs on your own servers
are both things the company is looking at for the future. Both are
pretty key.

Though the company says the site is largely a proof of concept they
are also seeking seed funding and it’s pretty usable already.
Dapper says it’s aiming high: what Geocities did for static web
pages, they want to do for dynamic content reuse. If they can find a
good way to manage the rights pitfalls around reused content, and
I’d like to believe it’s possible, then we may start seeing
a lot of dazzling new ways to interact with data built via Dapper and
popping up around the web.

Create an API for any site with Dapper