Images Form a New Language - New Challenges, Too.

Photos, once slices of a moment in the past ... are fast becoming an entirely new type of dialogueDisruptions: Social Media Images Form a New Language Online -
Yep. And I've said for years that what's possible for text is increasingly possible for images and, eventually audio and video. Cutting, pasting, sharing, even searching, measuring and mashing up. It's all data, and the ability to parse it improves, to detect it increases, to process it becomes more powerful with less overhead. Meaning:

As we can now mark, cut and paste a piece of text to a page, and link back to it (sometimes a forced "include" via the browser through a little piece of .js, as with Tynt), so too, for images, perhaps video. Cut, paste, in whole or in part.

As we can search for sections of text buried within reams of information, so, too, can machines increasingly detect the meaning and inferences behind both still and moving images (and audio). We will move beyond the need for transcripts and tagging to enable search.

As semantic analysis can parse, organize and process text (in part to aid with search), so too, will an analog to NLP come to be common parlance for images and video, and automated mashups, creation and more of content be able to include those media as well.

As we can measure views, A/B and multivariate test, and more, so too for the different aspects of images and videos.

As copy protection and detecting violations of same become both harder and, respectively, easier, so, too, for video and audio.

Real vs. Imagined: Reconsidering @USAToday vs. @WSJ

Earlier today, I tweeted a photo, showing how the pile of newspapers at a Hyatt hotel indicated more guests were grabbing USA Today.

It would be easy to simply say, "well, that shows that USA Today is more popular than the Wall Street Journal," and extrapolate from there to think the former is in better shape. What else would I consider, though, to reach a more realistic inference? First of all, who says that guests of the Hyatt Hotel in Medford, MA (where I was on a visit to the Boston area), are the types of people who read The Wall Street Journal or who want to? Who says the WSJ is even targeted to the same profile of reader?

Or, perhaps, WSJ is farther ahead in adoption of its app. I already subscribe to the Journal, for example, and therefore can consume the paper on my digital devices without having to pick up a "paper." Last night, I looked at USA Today on their nifty HTML5-optimized site, on my iPad. So, no paper for me -- though I did grab one to read by the pool and another to help with a little cleanup (please don't make me explain).

Also, simple numbers of readers don't always tell the story. Even if WSJ has less mass appeal, that doesn't mean they're doing worse. I haven't looked into real ad rates for WSJ in a couple of years, but I would guess they are, on a per-unit average throughout the paper and website, higher than those at USA Today. Overall revenue may be higher even if there is a smaller number of readers. Said another way, a smaller number of more highly valued users can mean better business.

Finally, most obviously, no matter how many hotels I personally see this happen at in my seemingly random travels, it's far from a random sample. We can't really draw inferences about the overall health or desirability of a newspaper by looking at piles of them on the front desk of a hotel Dorian happens to visit.

So, good Tweet, but not far from foregone conclusion.

ROI of Social Media (#ROISM) Roundup - Social Media Weekend (#SMWKND)

Here, below, is a Storify roundup of the panel I helped assemble and moderated for Social Media Weekend (#smwknd), titled "Social Media and the Bottom Line".  It was, in a way, dropping the other shoe on a talk I gave the previous two #SMwknds titled "The ROI of Social Media" (presentation here), which covered ways you can figure out if you're making as much from social media as you spend executing it.

It's important to sometimes do some hard-headed analysis and figure out if, amid the buzz and excitement, the cost really really justifies the effort and expense. (I try to apply both right- and left-brain, creativity and analysis, to my work.) This year, I thought, it would be good to invite folks who -- like most of my clients -- have to justify the expense.

We were very fortunate (in large part thanks to Columbia U's @sree, a longtime colleague and friend) to have Eason Jordan, head of Now This News, Jonathan Perelman of Buzzfeed and Zach Seward of Quartz -- who did abashedly note he is really an editorial, not business guy, but had a great managerial and operational view, as did all the panelists.

What jumped out to me as a common theme was that these new news organizations (two of which -- NTN and Quartz -- launched last fall) had social so imbued into their thinking and processes, that it was not even a question of whether they could cost-justify social media, but rather that if they didn't succeed in social, they would not be a success. These three, at least, get it -- get that they are not homepage-first media, that people discover and consume media (or "content" if you prefer) when, where and how they want: on whatever screens, through whatever feeds, via whatever social or other mechanisms make the most sense to them. That for all their communities, a recommendation or referral from a friend or connection is often what makes it valuable enough to look at, and share further. Jonathan even shared a graphic (we can ask if it's ok to publish it) of how much virality they can measure on a piece, how much added traffic social sharing can get them beyond any publishing they do.

I've peppered the below with comments and observations that I hope elucidate the Tweets. Reading them, you'll get a good sense of what was covered.

Twitter Allows Ads From Others -- For How Long?

As GigaOm's PaidContent reports:

The Associated Press is running sponsored tweets as part of a deal with Samsung during the Consumer Electronics Show. While this is allowed under Twitter’s rules, it also clearly threatens the network’s future as an advertising medium. How long will it allow this to continue?
I have sold ads into a media property's Twitter stream, and have wondered when the day could come when Twitter taps us on the shoulder. My hope is that they're smart enough to make it a win-win, so that we can continue to place the ads, and Twitter takes a small proportion, rather than shutting it down and forcing the client to go to them. That would not only hurt us , but also potentially our client (whose needs we understand) and Twitter (which might just lose the potential revenue, as well as fostering the development of "conversational advertising").