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Digital East bringing more than 60 thought-leaders to DC area event

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Digital East

Digital East brings an impressive array of speakers and attendees to its annual events.

Would you like to go back to your office in the middle of next week with techniques, strategies and tactics you can put to work immediately to best the competition?

Digital East, the premier annual Mid-Atlantic digital technology and marketing conference, still has seats available and focuses on giving you the kind of timely insider information you can use to stay a step ahead of the pack.

The event includes more than 60 thought-leaders, speakers and panelists from top brands such as Google, Mashable, National Geographic, PBS, The Economist, IBM, comScore, The Travel Channel, Huffington Post/AOL, Slashdot, The American Red Cross, McAfee and many more.

Topics include social media, email, and search marketing to digital advertising, mobile apps, online fundraising, web analytics, customer engagement, online branding, ecommerce, online video, big data for marketers, design.

This year Digital East is just outside Washington DC at the Westin Dulles Airport in Herndon, VirginiaRegister for the event.

Interviews with just a few of the Digital East speakers

For just a sample of what you’ll experience, here are TechJournal interviews with a handful of the thought-leaders who will appear at this year’s event:

IAB Rising Stars units out perform traditional digital ads

Search and Social: SEO tips from AOL’s Simon Heseltine

Two changes that will boost your Facebook engagement numbers

A formula for social media success and 4 great content tips

Social media marketers need business sense, not just technical skills

Best Practices for building mobile apps start with targeted ideas

How to engage with Slashdot and other real time communities

Three tips for using Pinterest successfully

To measure engagement, you need more than numbers, you need context

Paid ad campaigns on social media need targeting strategy

Seek quality, not quantity when gathering social media marketing data

Americans turning to mobile apps and social media in emergencies

Digital East crowded room

A packed room for a morning panel at a previous Digital East event.

Speakers at Digital East include:

  • Anthony Melchiorri, Host & Exec Producer-Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible
  • Greg Robleto, Director of Community & Social Media -The Motley Fool
  • Jessica End, Industry Manager, Non-profits & Religion -Google
  • Criag Oldham, VP of Digital Engagement -American Red Cross
  • Melanie Phung, Director of New Media -PBS
  • Gadi Ben-Yehuda, Social Media Director -IBM
  • Michael Aldana, Sr Manager of Mobile Design -McAfee
  • Sean Murphy, EVP e-Commerce -CustomInk
  • Khurrum Malik, VP Product Marketing -comScore Inc
  • Steve Harris, Sr Director Web Analytics -Capital One
  • Simon Heseltine, Director of SEO -AOL/Huffington Post
  • Anthony Douzet, COO & Co-founder -TheLadders
  • Stephen Wellman, VP & Editor-in-Chief -Slashdot
  • Brian Dreseher, VP of Business Development -Mashable
  • David Plotz, Editor -Slate
  • James Kobielus, Big Data Evangelist -IBM
  • Nick Schaper, Exec Dir, Digital Strategic Comm -US Chamber of Commerce
  • Leigh George, PhD., Director of Digital Strategy -R2Integrated
  • Stanton Fish, VP of Customer Insights & Analytics -The Economist
  • Andy Wiedlin, CRO -BuzzFeed
  • Andrea Fishman, VP of Strategy -BGT Partners
  • Cory Siansky, Manager, Business Consulting -Sapient
  • Jeff Allen, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Analytics -Adobe
  • Miguel Monteverde, Vice President, Digital Media -Discovery Communications
  • Matt Peters, Co-Founder & Creative Director -Pandemic Labs
  • Daniel Maloney, CEO & Co-Founder -PinLeague
  • Susan Cato, Director of Business Development -Balance Interactive
  • Kevin Dando, Director of Digital Marketing & Communications -PBS
  • Matthew Shevach, Director of Product Marketing -TRUSTe
  • Chi-Chao Chang, President of Products & Technology -xAd
  • Jed Williams, Program Director, Social Local Media -BIA/Kelsey
  • Michael Renner, VP Solution Design -3Pillar Global
  • Robert Hancock, VP of Sales and Marketing -Smart Online
  • Jon Brendsel, VP Products -PBS
  • Joe Gizzi, Senior Strategy Manager -New Media Strategies
  • Bill Leake, CEO
  • Joel Sucherman, Senior Director, Digital Products -NPR
  • John Backus, Co-Founder, Managing Partner -New Atlantic Ventures
  • Teresa Spangler, Founder & CEO -Plazabridge Group
  • Ori Hoffer, Social Media Strategist -General Services Administration
  • Leo Dalakos, Vice President of Strategy & Analytics -Performics
  • Mark Cooper, Co-Founder and CMO -Offerpop
  • Cameron Brain, Co-Founder -XYDO
  • Stephanie Slobodian, Senior Information Architect -NPR
  • Adam Landrum, President & CEO -Merge
  • Matt Kaplan, Vice President, Sales -Mail Online
  • Sam Kimball, Exec VP, Advertising & Brand Sales -Livestream
  • Will Elliott, Vice President, Sales and Marketing -Contactology
  • Marc Shull, Sr. Director, Customer Insights -YesMail
  • David Favero, Southeast Sales Director -Shoutlet
  • Todd Marks, Founder -Mindgrub
  • Chris Brooks, Manager, Social Engagement -Hilton Worldwide
  • Ryan Steelberg, CEO and Co-Founder -Brand Affinity Technologies
  • Brian Dalessandro, VP of Data Science -Media6Degrees
  • Devon Smith, Director of Social Media -Threespot
  • Michael Goldberg, Director of Marketing Communications -Martini Media
  • Mick Winters, Creative Director -Threespot
  • Brandon Hess, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, ReadyTalk
  • Daniel Backhaus, Vice President, Marketing -Infuz
  • Eric Evans, SEO Specialist -Merge
  • Adam Figueira, Product Marketing Manager -Monetate
  • Alex Lustberg, Vice President of Marketing -Lyris
  • Justin Freid, Director of Digital Media -TPG
  • James Wong, Co-Founder & Partner -Empowered Ideas
  • Virginia Johnson, Co-Founder and Managing Partner -Empowered Ideas
  • Andrew Taylor, Vice President, Business Development -Grab Media
  • Justin Spring, Co-Founder of and Adept Marketing
  • Eric Shoicket, Director of Brand Partnerships -Kiip
  • Andrew Beranbom, VP of Business Development & Co-Founder -Extole
  • Christine Borgia, Senior Director, Email Intelligence Group -Return Path
  • Andrew Ray, Partner -Bingham McCutchen
  • Joseph Olesh, Emerging Media Director -Tier10 Marketing
  • Saya “Sally” Behnam, Creative Director -Design 4UX
  • Tom Grossi, Partner -NEA
  • Josh Freeman, CEO -TeamVisibility
  • Frank Reed, Director of Sales -Edgeworks Group
  • Gill Haus, SVP, Technology -RideCharge
  • Angela Hausman, Owner -Hausman and Associates

Register for the event.

Romney trails Obama in “social media brand”

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

SocialMatica, the innovative leader of social media analytics, today released results of over 5 weeks of competitive data tracking, both digital and social, on the 2012 Presidential campaign. Results show Obama with a considerable lead over Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who has been standing still in social ranking since the inception of SocialMatica’s presidential campaign tracking efforts.

Complete dashboards can be viewed on SocialMatica’s website (

“When Mitt Romney became the inevitable Republican candidate, we shifted our tracking efforts away from the GOP Primary race and onto the 2012 presidential race.

What is surprising is the use of social media by Obama’s campaign, and relative lack of visibility from  Romney. As such, Obama’s brand value, or equity, continues to rise, leaving a serious gap for Romney to contend with,” said Gary Hermansen, CEO of SocialMatica.

“When we review the Top Topics of conversation for each candidate, collected and analyzed with our proprietary web crawling technology, we see some very interesting results. President Obama is trending with topics that more closely align with a national perspective – for example Nation, Economy and Taxes.

Romney’s topics seem to be looking backwards at the Republican Primary.

His social conversations remain centered around his colleagues Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. What we also find interesting is the dominance of the Huffington Post on social media ranking, out-performing other media outlets by 5x,” continued Hermansen.

SocialMatica provides analysis and rankings of the 2012 presidential election gathered from vast amounts of available online data, including Facebook, blogs, twitter feeds, LinkedIn, online news sites, discussion groups, forums, and web traffic.

Early registration for Atlanta Digital Summit ends this week

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Digital Summit 2012The upcoming  Digital Summit in Atlanta May 9-10 offers two jam-packed days with more than 75 speakers from  Google, Twitter, Pandora, Mashable, Huffington Post, Klout, StumbleUpon, Gilt Groupe, Adobe, The Onion, YouTube, Discovery Channel and many more. You can still grab an early registration rate to the Digital Summit but only until Friday, April 13.

What will I take away? How does my company benefit?

  • With over 50 presentations and panels to choose from you’ll be up to date with the latest digital trends & best practices.
  • More than 75 speakers from brands you know & trust provide real world scenarios and solutions to the issues you face.
  • Over 7 hours of networking makes Digital Summit a excellent and effective way to connect and make important contacts with 1,500 peers & professionals.
  • 3 hours of open bar!!! (okay, perhaps your company won’t benefit… but hey, it’s a great way to break the ice).

 Check out the ROI on how Digital Summit stacks up against other conferences and see who else might be attending.

Confirmed Speakers Include:

  • Alexis Maybank – Co-founder, Gilt Groupe
  • Joel Lunenfeld – Director of Global Brand Strategy, Twitter
  • Frederick Townes – Sr Technical Advisor, Mashable
  • Tim Mahlman – Chief Revenue Officer, Klout
  • Loni Kao Stark – Group Solutions Manager, Digital Marketing, Adobe
  • John Trimble – Chief Revenue Officer, Pandora
  • Michael Greer – Chief Product Officer, The Onion
  • Simon Heseltine – Director of SEO, AOL/Huffington Post
  • Catherine Cook – Co-founder, myYearbook
  • David Perry – Business Development, Software & Services, Google
  • Jack Krawczyk – Senior Product Marketing Manager, StumbleUpon 
  • Prerna Gupta – CEO, Khush
  • Chidi Afulezi – Product Director, Turner
  • Ro Choy – COO, Formspring
  • Tom Lowry – Director of Technology, YouTube
  • Michael Bayle – Senior Vice President, ESPN Mobile
  • Amanda Steinberg – Founder & CEO, DailyWorth
  • Ian Wolfman – Principal & CMO, imc²
  • Jeff Ragovin – Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Buddy Media
  • Matt Crenshaw – VP of Marketing & Analytics, Discovery Channel
  • Matt Peters – Co-Founder & Creative Director, Pandemic Labs
  • Laurie Hood – Vice President of Product Marketing, Silverpop
  • Bryon Morrison – President, Mobile Marketing, The Marketing Arm
  • Tony Haile – CEO, Chartbeat
  • Eric Orme – Chief Technology Officer, Remark Media
  • Kurt Krejny – Director of Online Marketing, Fathom
  • Sean Cook – CEO, ShopVisible
  • Jordan Franklin – Director of Social Strategy, Clickable
  • Grey Garner – Market Strategist, Emma
  • Barry Nelson – Social Media Analyst, Microstrategy
  • John Lawson – Founder,
  • Todd Sawicki – Chief Marketing Officer, Cheezburger Network
  • Adam Harrell – Founder & President, nebo
  • Brianne Keating Forst – Director of Ecommerce, Plow & Hearth
  • Gavin Finn – President & CEO, Kaon Interactive
  • Amy Ellis – Head of Integrations & Partnerships, MailChimp
  • Kevin Lee – CEO, Didit
  • Michael Loban – CMO, InfoTrust
  • Joey Sargent – Principal, BrandSprout
  • Mick Winters – SVP, E-commerce, National Builder Supply
  • Kelly Quattlebaum – Social Media Trainer & President, Global Marcoms
  • Jenny Schmitt – President & Senior Spark, CloudSpark
  • Joseph Dickerson – User Experience Architect, Fiserv
  • Efi Rodik – Co-Founder & CEO, Relevantor
  • Richard White – Creative Director, Sojo
  • Maria Peagler – Founder,
  • J Cornelius – VP Operations, CoffeeCup Software
  • Garrett Kuk – Social Media Strategy Partner, Speakeasy Media
  • Anthony Franco – President & Co-founder, EffectiveUI

Digital Summit 2012 is presented by TechMedia, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic’s Leader in Digital and Entrepreneurial Conferences. The TechJournal is a TechMedia division.

Only one day left to grab the Early Bird rate for Digital Summit

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Joel Lunenfeld

Joel Ludenfeld, director of global brand strategy for Twitter, is among the more than 75 speakers at the upcoming Digital Summit in Atlanta

Only one day remains to grab the early bird rate at TechMedia’s Digital Summit 2012, slated for May 9-10 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. This year’s event features speakers from Twitter, Mashable, Klout, Pandora, The Onion, Huffington Post, StumbleUpon, and Google, among many others.

The Digital Summit is offering an Early Bird rate until tomorrow, March 16.

More than  50 expert panels and presentations by more than 75 thought leaders will cover topics such as Customer Engagement, SEO, Analytics, Usability & Design, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Ecommerce, Online Video, Facebook & Twitter Marketing and many more.

This year you can also sign up for a pre-conference event that offers a dozen more sessions covering social media from fundamentals to advanced features and usability & design. The 5-hour long workshops are designed to provide take-aways you can put to work as soon as you get back to your office.

TechMedia events sell-out, so it’s always a good idea to register early. Do so by March 16 and get the Early Bird rate of $245.

Digital Summit 2012

From March 17 to April 13, registration will be $295, and after April 14 rises to $345.

Americans trust online news sources as much as local papers

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The Harris PollLooking back to the 1950s, the way Americans got their news was pretty simple – it was either their local newspaper or one of the three nightly newscasts.

Today, there are a myriad of ways to get news – online news sites, on one’s phone, cable television, blogs, and, still local newspapers and nightly newscasts. But with all these different choices, do people trust that each will get them the news fairly and accurately? Overall, the answer is yes. And online news sources are as trusted as local papers, which are the most trusted sources.

When we look at trust in general, majorities of Americans (between 60% and 73%) say they trust seven different media outlets to get them news fairly and accurately.

But the difference is in how much trust they have; while three-quarters of U.S. adults (73%) trust their local TV news, less than one-quarter (22%) have a lot of trust in it and half (51%) have some trust.  Seven in ten Americans (69%) trust their local newspapers, but only 18% have a lot of trust.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Looking at some other media seven in ten Americans trust radio and Internet news and information sites (69% each) to get them news fairly and accurately, but for both, only 14% have a lot of trust while over half (55%) have some trust.

Just over three in five trust cable TV news (64%) and network TV news (61%) but, for both, only 15% say they have a lot of trust in them and three in five (60%) trust national newspapers, with 16% having a lot of trust.

Fair and unbiased news

While the different types of media are all looked at in a mostly positive light, there are some mixed results when we look at specific media outlets. Three in ten Americans say that ABC (63%), NBC (63%), CNN (61%), the Associated Press (59%), and PBS (59%) all give news that is fair and unbiased all the time or occasionally.

But, like with the media in general, the public leans towards occasionally, rather than all the time as three in five (28%) say PBS is fair and unbiased all the time, while just one in five says the same for the other four media outlets.

Over half of U.S. adults say FOX News, (54%), Yahoo News (53%), MSNBC (52%) and CNBC (52%) provide fair and unbiased news all the time or occasionally, and half say the same about The Wall Street Journal (50%) and Time (50%).

Just under half say The New York Times (48%) and Reuters (48%) provide news that is fair and unbiased; about two in five say the same about The Washington Post (42%), NPR (41%), Newsweek/The Daily Beast (39%) and one-third about the Huffington Post (33%).

But, it’s not that these on the lower end of the list are not trusted, it is, rather, that they are not as well known so many more Americans do not have an opinion of them one way or another.

Fox, Huff Post, MSNBC seen as less fair & unbiased

If we look at those who are seen as rarely or never giving news that is fair and unbiased, over one-third (36%) say that applies to FOX News, while three in ten say MSNBC (31%), Huffington Post (31%), CNBC (29%), The New York Times (29%), The Washington Post (29%), and Newsweek/The Daily Beast (29%).

In this election year, Americans will be getting their campaign information from these various media outlets. In that vein, it is interesting to note that out of the 17 different media outlets, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think that 15 news providers are giving them news that is fair and unbiased. Republicans are only more likely than Democrats to think that about two news providers – FOX News (75% vs. 39%) and The Wall Street Journal (51% vs. 50%).

So What?

Like everything else, the media is a business that needs to make money and show investors profits. And, as the number of news outlets continues to grow, providers of information are increasingly out to one-up each other as the first with that information. The large number of news providers also means that the providers have to find new, and sometimes sensational, ways to get eyes and ears to their outlet.



“How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?”

Base: All adults
A lot of
Not very
much trust
No trust
at all
% % % % % % %
Local TV News 73 22 51 23 17 6 4
Radio 69 14 55 25 19 7 6
Internet News and information sites 69 14 55 26 19 7 5
Local Newspapers 69 18 51 27 19 8 4
Cable TV News 64 15 49 30 21 9 6
Network TV News 61 15 46 35 20 15 4
National Newspapers 60 16 45 34 22 12 6
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;


Click to view table full screen

“How much trust do you have that each of the following will get you the news fairly and accurately?”

Percent saying “A lot of trust/Some trust”

Base: All adults
Generation Political Party
Gen X
Rep. Dem. Ind.
% % % % % % % %
Local TV News 73 68 77 77 72 70 83 72
Radio 69 65 71 73 67 72 74 66
Internet News and information sites 69 66 68 73 66 66 78 6
Local Newspapers 69 67 70 72 63 62 82 67
Cable TV News 64 56 68 67 71 64 72 62
Network TV News 61 62 57 63 59 47 79 61
National Newspapers 60 64 58 61 52 46 77 60
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;


TechCrunch disrupted: What’s up with Arrington and AOL?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
Michael Arrington

Michael Arrington

UPDATED – The first time we saw Tech Crunch leak a memo from inside AOL and discuss it as frankly as it would any other business story, we figured it would only be a matter of time before AOL and Tech Crunch disrupted each other’s day.

Now, Fortune is reporting that AOL fired Arrington, leading to speculation that TechCrunch could lose other contributors and its position as a leading tech blog. Personally, it seems less nuanced and more colorless already.

AOL bought Tech Crunch about a year ago for $25 million and promised the snarky site founded in 2005 by Michael Arrington editorial independence. Last week Arianna Huffington fired Arrington from his own site when he formed an investment fund (the Crunch Fund) with AOL. That led to Arrington issuing an ultimatum to AOL. Now we’re not entirely sure if Huffington was trying to maintain TechCrunch’s editorial independence or if Arrington is.

Large corporations such as AOL and the executives who run them do not always realize that legitimate news operations treat their own corporate masters the same way they do any other corporate masters unless someone brings a hammer down.

Now don’t get us wrong, journalists are not free of influence, no matter how hard they try to be, and lots of folks beside AOL take issue with the way Tech Crunch covers (or doesn’t cover) some stories.  We recently saw an entire stream of complaints about it in threads on Google+. But TechCrunch, up to now,  maintained an independent voice – whether we like it or not.

As a journalist with 35 years of professional experience spanning daily newspapers, major magazines, books, and thousands of news and feature articles for online news outlets, I’ve seen this news vs. corporate values battle play out many times. One of the primary difficulties is that the players really do often have vastly different value systems. Executives of public companies are charged with creating shareholder value and producing profits, not with guarding the independence of a news organization.

Editorial Independence

Traditional journalists have a completely different value system based on creating and retaining the trust of their readers, which requires that much discussed “editorial independence.” Admittedly, in today’s world, advocacy journalism, particularly on TV and the web, have become increasingly dominant. And, certainly, many people a journalist covers would prefer that only one voice be heard.

A source for a Tech Journal story about municipal cable systems we did once, asked us, “Does this have to be another ‘he said, they said,’ story?” Well, yes.

Any way, last week, AOL brought that proverbial hammer down on TechCrunch, although it’s hard to tell which side is really fighting for editorial independence.

In a memo about the site’s editorial independence, Arrington wrote:

“As of late last week TechCrunch no longer has editorial independence. Some argue that the circumstances demanded it. I disagree. Editorial independence was never supposed to be an easy thing for Aol to give us. But it was never meaningful if it shatters the first time it is put to the test.”

He proposed two options to AOL: reaffirm the site’s editorial independence and autonomy from the other top AOL editorial property, the Huffington Post, or sell TechCrunch back to its original shareholders.

The real question, despite the objections of the TechCrunch staff, may be whether or not the site can deliver real objectivity, with or without Arrington, and others are whether the investment fund deal with AOL (or his other investments) comprises his independence on TechCrunch. What do you think?   –Allan Maurer

The Tech Crunch post on the Arrington/AOL affair:

Is this the end of Tech Crunch (as you know it?)

The LA Times tells the story this way:

Tech Crunch Founder Michael Arrington Issues Ulitmatum to AOL

Arrington’s proposal (ultimatum?) to AOL

Michael Arrington trying to buy back TechCrunch



Four tips on Search engine optimization from AOL’s SEO director

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Simon Heseltine

Simon Heseltine

By Allan Maurer

WASHINGTON, DC – AOL has an enormous amount of content posting daily, including the Huffington Post, and it wants as many hits on each story as possible. The man in charge of AOL’s search engine optimization efforts, Simon Heseltine, says one key is adaptability. “Working in SEO is a constant education,” he says.

“You have to keep your finger on everything all the time. Google changes its (SEO) algorithm daily. Some changes are minor, some very noticeable. But change is inevitable and it can change very quickly.”

People figure out how the algorithm is ranking stories and take advantage of it, resulting in once but no longer successful tactics such as keyword stuffing. Google not only changes the algorithm daily, tweaking it, the company also runs Panda from time to time. The initial run knocked out a lot of content farms relying on SEO tricks instead of high quality content.

Heseltine, a director of search at a DC agency prior to joining AOL, writes a regular column for on a variety of topics within the marketing industry, and has previously written for other industry sites, such as (for their in-house marketing column). Simon teaches SEO at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. as part of their Digital Media Management program.

Will discuss how social affects SEO at Digital East

He is among dozens of Internet, digital media, social media, and marketing experts who are participating in Tech Media’s Digital East conference at Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 28-29. He will discuss the effects of social media on AOL’s SEO efforts at the event.

We asked him to share four quick SEO tips with us.

Four SEO tips

Make sure the search engines can crawl your site

First, he says, “Make sure your site is crawlable (by search engine spiders). It’s amazing how many sites the engines can’t actually crawl because of a mistake with the site’s architecture or robo settings preventing the engines from crawling it.” This is no joke.

WordPress, the blogging system bringing you the TechJournal and tens of thousands of other blogs online, has a privacy setting that has to be checked to allow search engines. When we shifted from a different content management system to WordPress, it was not turned on immediately and of course led to a serious loss of traffic.

“When people move from a staging site to production, a lot of people forget to move the site to public so the engines can crawl it,” Heseltine says.

Find the right key words

Second: “Make sure you type in the right key words. Find out what people are looking for that is relevant to your story and make sure that’s what you target.”

Use key words

Third: “Make sure you use those key words in the headline and the content.

Link to yourself

And fourth, “Make sure you link to yourself.” By that he means link to your site’s previous content to “spread readers around your site.” There are software products that will help do that. It is otherwise a time-consuming to do by hand. We have noticed that we get hits on that past content when we link to it in newer stories, however, so it does work.

Heseltine doesn’t stop there. “This is important,” he adds. “Write for readers, not for search engines.”

Regarding social media and SEO, which he will discuss more fully at Digital East, Heseltine says, “Even if you are not going to use a particular social network now, reserve your name on them. You don’t want spoofing (where a third party grabs the name and posts using it).

He also offers a warning: “If anyone out there is actually looking for an SEO company and you see a “guarantee” they can get you into the top five or ten results, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. With all the changes the engines make, no one can guarantee to get you in the top five or ten.”

He didn’t say this, but even if they can, if the company uses so-called “black hat SEO” tactics, they’ll eventually get caught and your company’s Internet rankings may suffer accordingly – which is what happened to retail giant JC Penney.



NC Gov. Bev Perdue to let bill restricting municipal broadband become law

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Raleigh, NC Capitol buildingRALEIGH, NC – North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue failed to sign or veto a bill restricting further municipal broadband development in the state, asking the legislature to rethink provisions in the bill. By failing to sign the bill, Gov. Perdue expressed her displeasure, but it will become law just the same without her veto.

The bill, supported by commercial providers such at Time Warner Cable, which has made campaign contributions to many legislators and Gov. Perdue, received national attention as Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig urged her to veto the bill in an open letter on the Huffington Post Friday. It was also opposed by the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

North Carolina has the dubious distinction of having seven of the ten worst deals for broadband Internet service in the nation according to a study by Time Warner Cable did just last week substantially increase the speed of broadband Internet service to its Research Triangle area customers, although not to the 100MB a second level of municipal broadband providers.

Opponents to the bill argue that especially in more rural areas of NC, the only way for municipalities to get the ultra-high speed broadband service they need to attract 21st century businesses was to build it themselves. They also see Internet service as a utility as necessary to modern life and business as water or electricity.

As we reported previously, the fastest and cheapest broadband networks in the Southeast are municipal networks.

Time Warner Cable maintains the bill “creates a level playing field,” so municipalities do not have unfair advantages over consumers.

Passed by the GOP-led NC House and Senate, the bill requires municipalities to get voter approval for any funds borrowed to build municipal broadband efforts, forbids them from selling below cost, and limits service areas, among other restrictions.

Gov. Perduec said, “There is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having an unfair advantage over providers in the private sector,” but added this bill could restrict consumer choice. “Instead, I call on the General Assembly to revisit this issue and adopt rules that not only promote fairness but also allow for the greatest number of high quality and affordable broadband options for consumers,” she said in a statement.

It’s too bad Gov. Perdue lacked the courage to express her convictions by vetoing the bill. He suggestion to the GOP legislature to reconsider its provisions are likely to go unheeded. While pro-business groups lobbied for this bill, they are pro-big business and represent those with lobbying dollars. We’re pro-business too and have reported the commercial provider point-of-view on the bill (leading to point to one of our early reports for the “incumbent” position.

Nevertheless, we think this bill is wrong-headed and will prevent many in NC from getting the type of superior service these municipal networks provide.

– Allan Maurer

Harvard law prof Lawrence Lessig urges NC Gov. to veto municipal broadband bill

Friday, May 20th, 2011
Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig

RALEIGH, NC -A bill to restrict municipal broadband efforts in North Carolina has drawn national attention. Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Law professor well known for his expertise in Internet legal matters, has written an open letter on the Huffington Post urging NC Gov. Bev Perdue to veto the bill. Perdue has until midnight tonight to decide whether or not to sign or veto the bill.

“North Carolina is an overwhelmingly rural state. Relative to the communities it competes with around the globe, it has among the slowest and most expensive Internet service. No economy will thrive in the 21st century without fast, cheap broadband, linking citizens, and enabling businesses to compete,” Lessig writes in the post.

That’s why several municipalities in the state, such as Wilson, Salisbury and others, created their own city networks.

“These networks have been extraordinarily effective. The prices they offer North Carolinians is a fraction of the comparable cost of commercial network providers. The speed they offer is also much much faster,” Lesig notes.

Lesig notes that many communities and businesses in and out of the state oppose the bill.

Lesig argues, as we have repeatedly, that the Internet is as much essential infrastructure in the 21st century as electricity and water.

Stand with the majority of NC citizens

“And communities that rely solely upon private companies to provide public infrastructure will always have second-rate, or inferior, service,” he writes.

We should note that Time Warner Cable just this week boosted its Internet speed substantially for all NC Triangle area subscribers, but still falls short of the speeds offered via municipal broadband networks in the state such as Wilson’s.

Lesig urges Gov. Perdue to “Stand with the majority of North Carolina’s citizens, and affirm the right of communities to provide not just the infrastructure of yesterday — schools, roads, public lighting, public police forces, and fire departments — but also the infrastructure of tomorrow — by driving competition to provide the 21st century’s information superhighway.” — Allan Maurer

Additional resources:

A group called the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says that restricting municipal broadband would hurt job creation in NC.

The municipal broadband battles rages on

Here’s an excellent resource with extensive links on municipal broadband efforts:
Baller Herbst Law Group: Herbst Law

States that have already passed laws limiting municipal broadband:
State Barriers to Community Broadband Services

Wikipedia entry on municipal broadband

Municipal Wireless Snapshot report:

Fast Company: Time Warner’s Antics in Wilson, NC Give another reason to snip the cable

List of municipal broadband network organizations.

An older, but contrary view from the Reason Foundation:
Municipal broadband fails again

Fastest and cheapest US broadband systems are city run in the South

For more on the commercial providers positions:

Online video views still climbing, AOL grabs 2nd behind YouTube

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

comScoreRESTON, VA – People are watching more online video than ever and AOL has climbed into the number two spot for video content, up from seventh in February, possibly due to the way comScore now measures viewers.

According to comScore’s Video Matrix, 174 million Internet users, up 4 million from February, in the U.S. watched online video in March, averaging 14.8 hours per viewer.

Google sites (YouTube) continued to lead with 143.2 million viewers, followed by AOL with 57 million. Yahoo sites were third with 56.4 million, and Microsoft sites fourth with 53.1 million.

Vevo was fifth (52.6 million) and Facebook sixth (48.8 million).

AOL, which has boosted video content on all its properties, also may have benefited from comScore’s switch to unified digital measurement.

AOL has also integrated HuffPost video following its purchase of the news aggregation site.

So, are you watching more online video? We’re impressed with Facebook’s rise as a video source. It’s what steers us to most of the videos we watch these days, although most are on YouTube.

What concerns us, though, is that all this online video viewing makes Internet service providers look for ways to charge based on bandwidth consumed. It’s already happening in Canada and we’re likely to see repeated attempts to do the same by providers in the United States.



Atlanta’s Vertical Acuity buzzes with $1.7M of $4.2M target

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Vertical AcuityATLANTA – Vertical Acuity Inc. has raised $1.7 million of a targeted $4.2 million mixed securities offering, according to a regulatory filing. Investors include Atlanta-based Kinetic Ventures and Rho Ventures and Roth Partners, both based in New York.

The company previously raised more than $1 million from angel investors and Kinetic.

Principals cited in the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission include Betsy Morgan, who was previously CEO of the Huffington Post, which grew from 4 to 22 million monthly unique visitors as she helmed the company.

Founded in 2007, Vertical Acuity sells content optimization services.

The company says its platform empowers automated, mass scale content syndication across hundreds of websites, with no formal business or technology relationship between them. In essence, we enable content to “route”.

For a profile of the company we did in 2009 see: Vertical Acuity brings market intelligence to the product level

However, the firm appears to have changed directions somewhat since we last talked with them. We’ll be giving them a call to update you on what they’re doing. Stay tuned.

To contact TechJournal South Editor & Writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

FTC suggests taxing the digital world to support newspapers

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

newspapersWASHINGTON, DC – Do you still subscribe to a daily newspaper? When we moved to the Research Triangle in North Carolina in 2000, about every other apartment or so in our large complex had a daily paper plop at the door mornings, and even more received Sunday editions. Now, not a single apartment still receives a daily paper and only a handful get Sunday editions.

In a discussion paper, The Federal Trade Commission suggests a number of remedies to support the news gathering business, primarily the dead tree version. The suggestions include taxing broadcast spectrum, advertising, consumer electronics, and cell phone ISPs, among others.

Using income from new and current taxes, it suggests remedies might include higher postal subsidies for publications, greater funding of NPR and PBS news organizations, a “local news fund,” and tax credits to news organizations for every journalist they employ.

Copyright facts?

It even suggests expanding copyright law to cover “facts,” as opposed to just the particular expression of them covered now. How in the world that could be enforced is beyond us.

It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is hurting. Major papers such as the Rocky Mountain News shut down, and nearly all have slashed their staffs repeatedly. But many of the suggestions in the FTC discussion paper seem thoroughly wrong-headed.

In this month’s Atlantic magazine, James Fallows notes that newpapers never made their money from hard news reporting. They made their money from the targeted advertising in automotive, travel, real estate and classifieds sections.

Some FTC suggestions are “silly”

With the most up-to-date and specific shopping, travel, real estate, automotive and classified information available online, consumers are not going to go back to print for information that is often stale the moment it hits the pavement, regardless of government subsidies.

In a detailed piece in The Huffington Post, Michael Gonzalez suggests that many of the FTC’s suggestions in its discussion paper are downright “silly.”

We agree, although beefing up the PBS and NPR news operations is not a bad idea.

Government subsidies for private news organizations, however, is a disturbing idea. If the government holds the purse strings to your news operation, it also has a powerful and direct means of controlling those operations.

Also, as Gonzalez writes, hobbling the digital world with new taxes to support a dead business model is just not a wise idea.

Personally, we think this problem will work itself out in the open marketplace without undue government interventions. The FTC paper sees only non-profit aid and tax-based government subsidies as new business models for news gathering and that is a flawed viewpoint from the get-go.

Other solutions?

Successful news operations online have come up with a variety of other creative ways to develop revenue streams, including not a few that are primarily advertising supported.

We would be willing to bet many of us will be paying for one or more online news sites such at that of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and/or local papers soon.

But we would also bet that no amount of government support is going to save the print newspaper industry.

By Allan Maurer