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Google stock soars: Titan Aerospace + Public Glass Explorer

It would take a lot of thunderbolts and lightning to frighten a company as resourceful as Google.

After some of the bad news earlier this month, Google had a very good day on the stock market and is soaring high on several big announcements.
 

Google
NASDAQ: GOOG – Apr 15 6:13 PM ET
536.44 +3.92 (0.74%)

 
As of today, April 15th, starting at 6am, Google started taking public orders for the Google Glass Explorer product.

What’s the catch? You have to be a US citizen because the Glass Explorer program is focused on the US and doesn’t have a lot of support for other countries yet. D’oh!

Also, at $1,500, you probably need to have a solid bankroll or a game plan to make the money back by producing videos and taking images that you can promote as ‘through glass’.

The official post on Google Plus took several minutes to finish loading thanks to the comments from people who range from excited, to angry, depending on their global location and access to the needed funds.

There’s no mention of the public access to the Explorer Glass Edition on the official Google Blog, but last week they had Dr. Jane Goodall discussing the tools she used to document and learn about chimpanzee behavior.

When I consider the additional images/video Dr.Goodall would have been able to collect and share if her studies were done with today’s technology/tools, it really boggles my mind.

Still, I don’t have US citizenship, or $1,500 laying around, so all I can do is write with jealousy. :)

Speaking of funds, Google also just purchased Titan Aerospace, the same company that has successfully built self-powered gliders that can sustain an altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years.
 
Photo of the Solara 50 self powered glider.
 
The only figure that news sites will quote is the $60 million US that Facebook had previously offered to purchase Titan Aerospace, and the assumption is that Google obviously offered even more.

How much is it worth to Google to be able to update Google Maps image data without sharing the cost of satellite images? Millions.

What’s the value of traffic and exposure if Google’s drones can provide near real-time updates of forest fires and other large disasters? Priceless.

These self-powered gliders can apparently supplement Google’s Loon Project which provides internet access to low density population areas using ‘smart’ balloons that use the various wind layers to control their location.

If a balloon is going the wrong direction it can raise or lower to get into a different layer of wind for some limited control of it’s travel. When a balloon needs maintenance it can be deflated slowly to bring it back to ground safely, and in the event of a malfunction there’s a parachute in each balloon.

Currently the Loon project is focused in New Zealand with a future goal of establishing a contiguous ring of balloons around the 40th southern parallel that will provide uninterrupted internet access for anyone living in the 40km range of the ring.

With the purchase of Titan Aerospace and it’s gliders, Google has even more options and folks are already starting to wonder about a hybrid balloon using some of the glider technology that Titan Aerospace is bringing to the table.

Honestly, between selling connectivity and providing discounted image data for Google Earth, this purchase unlocks a ton of potential and could easily pay itself off in short order because Google’s in a great position to actually use the technology.

SEO news blog post by @ 5:00 pm on April 15, 2014


 

Is the heart of your website beating or bleeding?


The Heartbleed Bug is a serious SSL/TLS encryption vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. So what is it?


Seems like we’ve heard this all before?



To put it into layman’s terms, Heartbleed or CVE-2014-0160, depending on your pedantic nature, is a really bad thing.

In less simple terms, the ‘heartbeat’ service of OpenSSL can be exploited to ‘leak’ it’s memory and reveal the contents of of otherwise protected/encrypted data.

But we’ve heard of OpenSSL exploits/vulnerabilities before, why is this one exciting?

Heartbleed vulnerability logo

Not only does Heartbleed have it’s own logo:

..it has it’s own website: http://heartbleed.com/


If you wanted to know all about it, the heartbleed.com website is full of information and details on the vulnerability if you want to dig right in for maximum info.


Essentially these are the points made:

  • This vulnerability has been around for years and so if someone had captured traffic from a year ago, and then got your secret keys with this exploit, this could allow them access to data you thought nobody could touch.

  • Using this exploit to impersonate your servers could allow an attacker even more access.

  • This is untraceable at the moment, meaning you don’t know what secure/protected content was stolen, or when.

  • This isn’t even all about you and your servers, think about the private data of your users and how a common password could be stolen from your server and used to infiltrate other more-secure servers around the internet.



Who is impacted :

  • Everyone that uses SSL is impacted in some way. Even if you just have to change some passwords. This will impact you.

  • OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f are vulnerable. OpenSSL 1.0.1g and newer are fine. Very old servers that didn’t upgrade to the heartbeat feature may be immune.

  • It’s estimated that this applies to over 66% of the web servers on the internet.

What to do :

  • Upgrade OpenSSL and/or disable the heartbeat function.

  • If you don’t disable the heartbeat function you can expect to be contacted by security teams checking to make sure you’ve upgraded.

  • Make sure your users know, either by a site bulletin, or perhaps a blog post?

  • Urge users to make password changes once you’ve secured your server.

  • Make it clear that users need to update that password on all sites that it was used on.

  • Be honest. No data can be assumed private at this point, your users should consider this truth.

  • Revoke and reissue your server’s primary keys.

  • As servers get patched you can reconnect with them, but there should be a ‘patch first, trust after’ policy.


..and above all else, Don’t Panic. :)

Update: If you are hosted on CentOS don’t assume you are vulnerable based on the version. In our case we had version 1.0.1e installed but it has been patched for CVE-2014-0160, which I can confirm with SSH access and looking at the RPM changelog.
 

SEO news blog post by @ 3:27 pm on April 9, 2014


 

Don’t farm the wrong email list..

I am a typist of sorts; I don’t dictate in a court of law, or even have good touch typing skills, but I honestly communicate via typing almost as much as I do with spoken words.

So I have a thing for nice keyboards and I made the mistake of trying out a new product, before it’d been thoroughly tested/reviewed: the Mionix Z60 mechanical keyboard.

It’s a really sturdy well built device with plenty of high end features that were what I wanted in a keyboard, however there were some critical problems with it that caused me to send it back a few times just to get a working unit.

Even after contacting the manufacturer’s support/warranty team on multiple occasions resulting in a few returns/replacements of the KB for one reason or the other I cannot reliably boot PCs with a mouse connected to the Mionix KB I finally ended up with, but I got tired of mailing things around so I just decided to live with the issues.

Yesterday, being April Fools, Dave snuck over to my PC and plugged my mouse into my KB. He already knew this would drive me nuts wondering what’s wrong with my computer till I noticed it and he was right! Curses!

So this morning, when I got 3 copies of a spam email, thanks to my numerous contact efforts, from Mionix advertising yet another crazy custom product, I laughed at the ‘day late’ April Fools joke, but seeing how they had three different email addresses due to my numerous support contact efforts, it was a good reminder:

“Do not send unsolicited advertising to the wrong email list.”

Unsolicited advertising to random people is bad enough, but to dump spam on some people who are frustrated and unhappy with their existing purchases is just reminding them to dislike you.


(Image credit: Terry Border – Bent Objects.)



… Unless you were so keen to get a brand mention that you intentionally contacted upset users hoping for backlash? In that case congrats. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 12:03 pm on April 2, 2014


 

Oculus VR SOLD to Facebook

About an hour ago (it will be by the time I post this) it was announced that Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual headset for roughly 2 billion in cash and stocks.

oculusvr soldout

Targeted marketing: Now in 3D!!

If you review the products that Facebook has purchased/acquired recently you’ll see a very consistent logic in going after products that they can control and lock down to their own services. The goal is very simple, get a technology off the public market so you can control it, brand it, and eventually monetize it with user tracking and advertising. All of which are bad for the Oculus VR’s development.

So what was an exciting new product is instantly becoming a pile of speculation and distrust, not even 7 days after the DK2 kit became available for purchase, and exactly 1 week from April Fools?

Talk about ‘deeply’ suspicious folks! In the first half-hour of the news break on Reddit the /r/oculus threads are full of people overusing ‘sell out’ and just pummeling Palmer Lucky, the man who used to call the shots over at Oculus VR, with insults and insinuations.

Just 1 hour ago Minecraft’s Markus Persson (AKA: Notch) has already publicly hit the NOPE button:

While this means that Minecraft won’t officially support the Oculus Rift, it really boils down to needing user-based modifications to support the Oculus hardware as Mojang won’t be wasting time on a Facebook property.

This is just hours after the announcement so I would expect Minecraft to be tip of the iceberg when you really sit down and think about who’s in business with Facebook:

- Microsoft
- Oracle
- Nokia
- Zynga
- etc..

Things over at Facebook are a bit of an axis of evil in terms of IT culture, soliciting a slew of ‘dark side’ remarks from upset users replying to Palmer Lucky’s sale post. It’s my opinion that as many people who would complain about losing access to such a device, there’s many more that would understand that this could be the end of a great thing today.

It reminds me a bit of a movie I watched where there’s a jolly fat kid carrying around his bag of candy pieces only to have a bully come along, steal a candy, stick it in his nose, and then drop it back into the bag with a shake to make sure it’s well sorted.

At this point the entire first page of the Oculus VR subreddit is entirely devoted to negative responses to this news, including this juicy revelation:



People are now shifting interest and focus to other projects and /r/virtualreality just got subbed in for a ton of ex-oculus fans.

SEO news blog post by @ 4:58 pm on March 25, 2014


 

Is your business wearable aware?

Has your SEO been mentioning Mobile/Tablet apps and designs a lot?

SEO Concerns for Mobile Websites – August 16th, 2013

Google Q3, Mobile Ads & Hummingbird – October 21, 2013

I For One, Welcome Our Google-Android Overlords! – May 3, 2011

Who needs a mobile website? – June 23, 2009

It seems like YEARS of nagging, so why haven’t you made the moves? Are you waiting for the mobile fad to die?

In 2012 Google dropped the bomb that Android installations had hit the 400 million mark with a pretty snazzy video:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1UhGM2us8eA?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

Then in 2013 Google did another high-def video announcing they more than doubled the install base in just one year to 900 million installs:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1CVbQttKUIk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

While I haven’t seen a video for 2014 yet, I can only imagine that we are in the billions of installs now and here I am still trying to get business owners to see that even if this was a fad, it’s worth being part of, in a big way.

Need more ammo to dig into the mobile ‘fad’? How about Google going public with the Wear SDK for Android?

On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, the Offical Google Blog published:

Today we’re announcing Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables. And we’re starting with the most familiar wearable—watches.

Google is not only ‘gearing up’ with the recently acquired Motorola Mobility division, but it’s also working with hardware partners like Samsung, LG, HTC, Asus, and major brands in the chipset manufacturing/fashion industry to make sure that top tier products will soon be available from multiple brands, with high tech and high fashion rolled into a desirable wearable.

The ‘Information that moves with you’ video, aimed at consumers, is a bit ‘goofy’ and the shrug at the end sums up how I feel about these demonstrations of fledgeling hardware innovations.

However the developer preview video is where I would like business owners to focus their attention:
[iframe width="549" height="309" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0xQ3y902DEQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]

This video is FAR more interesting in that what we want to do is get behind this tech before our competition, supporting not just early adopters, but also getting the recognition that comes from being first to market with a solution.

As an SEO, Beanstalk has to constantly monitor and appraise site health and rankings for a number of our client websites. Right now we’re just testing our automation and only publish monthly reports focused on key areas of interest, but that’s going to change as we push our abilities.

Worried about negative SEO tactics? Very soon we should be able to offer a unique level of protection for our clients with respect to instant alerts for a spike/drop in backlinks/no-follow flags on backlinks. If you suddenly lost 100s of backlinks overnight and there was a spike of backlinks becoming no-follow, wouldn’t you want that info immediately?

Want to watch for syndication of an article or keyphrase with some special criteria? We would be able to get that outreach info to you instantly on the Wearable SDK thanks to the scripts and tools we’ve purchased and developed for maintaining our client’s web rankings.

Obviously our client’s core SEO needs always come first and we’re in the midst of a server hardware rollout so I can’t say “check back next week” but I can say to expect more from us soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 2:08 pm on March 19, 2014


 

Google Goes Network Hunting

Last week, I reported on Google’s takedown of AngloRank, a supposedly solid link network used by black hats to boost their sites. It was amusing to follow AngloRank’s sales thread on BlackHatWorld, because Matt Cutts’ proud Tweet announcing the torch was actually seen as free publicity and the network saw an increased interest in their packages.

Well, it seems that Google is making network-hunting into a bit of a sport; last Friday Cutts reported the takedown of another link network, Backlinks.com. This service was yet another “undetectable” link buying program; they offer “2 types of text links: Standard text links which display a simple text link of up to 30 characters and Content Links which display a text link and additional surrounding text of up to 120 characters.” You can also sign up to sell text links from your website, for which you will receive 50% of the revenue generated. Like AngloRank, if you work with white hat SEO tactics it’s a little bit of a shock to realize that these sorts of networks are still around—it’s sort of like seeing someone walking out of the Apple store using a first-generation brick-sized cell phone.

Backlinks.com has a far more professional-looking website than AngloRank, which seemed to do most of its advertising on the BlackHatWorld forums, where SEOs largely knew exactly what they were getting into. The network hasn’t commented on the penalty, and Search Engine Watch reports that, in fact, they started a promotion on the same day as Cutts’ tweet which offered 3x the number of links for the same price. Whether they’re desperately bailing out as much cash as possible or simply puffing out their chest in the face of a challenge is unknown.

duckdogsI headed over to the BHW forums to see what they thought of this latest takedown, and again the response surprised me; while I didn’t expect them to be mourning the loss of their links, they were quite critical of Matt Cutts for announcing the Backlinks.com takedown with such pride; one user compared it to “a top cop reporting about petty theft. Just sad and disgraceful.” It’s quite the difference in impact between Google and the black hats; while the white hats celebrate another bad guy biting the dust, the black hats roll their eyes and complain—not that their link networks have disappeared, but that Google shouldn’t even be going after them in the first place because they should have bigger fish to fry. To them, Google is ruining a person’s business, and trying to win an endless game of cat-and-mouse. It’s not unlike the dog character in the classic NES game Duck Hunt, who pops up to giggle at you when you’ve missed a shot.

So, to reiterate, again: do not buy links from a network. Just don’t do it. AngloRank proudly reported a spike in sales after Google announced they’d caught them, and its owner claimed that a scant handful of sites had been penalized and that customers would not feel the impact; this week, the service has ceased taking orders from new clients, and many current users have reported getting penalty warnings from Google. The network’s claim that they were untraceable has been pretty well debunked by this point. Matt Cutts, cheeky as always, won’t confirm that Google is specifically going after link networks one by one, but now that two major services have been taken down in as many weeks it definitely seems like a pattern is emerging. But the question now remains: out of Google and the link networks, who represents the target shooter, and who is the dog who pops up to laugh in the face of a loaded gun?

SEO news blog post by @ 10:53 am on December 18, 2013


 

Electric Love: Apple Acquires Topsy

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Apple has purchased Topsy, the leading Twitter search engine and analytics tool, for a rumored $200 million or more. While Apple has not released a definitive statement on what they plan to do with the service, the social web has been abuzz with what this partnership could mean for Apple’s iOS operating system and for Twitter users worldwide.

 

It is, in fact, impossible to have too much fun with Photoshop.

It is, in fact, impossible to have too much fun with Photoshop.

The San Francisco-based company launched in 2007, and is widely acknowledged as one of the best Twitter search engines in existence, thanks in large part to its incredible index; the service can access every single tweet in existence from 2006 to the present—approximately 540 billion tweets in total—making it an immensely helpful for social analytics. Throw a few keywords into the analytics search engine—“star wars” versus “star trek”, for example—and you can see how many tweets per day mention each key phrase, and who comes out on top (for this week it’s Star Wars, surprisingly). Users can also explore their entire Twitter backlog, examining which of their tweets has had the most influence on the social sphere as a whole and who they influence the most.

From roughly 2008 to 2010, Topsy was one of several “real-time” social search sites fighting for prominence; it competed with other companies like Collecta, Crowdeye, Tweetmeme, and Scoopler, to name just a few. However, the major search engines began including real-time results in their own algorithms, killing off most of these tools—except for Topsy, which remained strong as one of the few companies with full access to Twitter’s entire back index of tweets. The company won the race for good when the same search engines either shut down their social search functions or lost access to Twitter’s veritable “fire hose” of tweet data; Topsy retained what Google couldn’t keep. So it’s not surprising that Topsy was a hot acquisition property, but its purchase by Apple is an interesting twist.

There are tons of ways in which Apple could use Topsy’s services, but unlike the company’s other recent acquisitions it’s not immediately clear how it will be applied. Some analysts predict that Topsy’s information may be used to help improve app recommendations in Siri, the App store, and iTunes; if you think about it, Twitter is a far better way to discover connections between properties. Apple’s Genius tool can use a mathematical algorithm to recommend Bob’s Burgers if you’re a fan of Archer, but Twitter trends may show that people who talk about Archer are overwhelmingly more likely to also mention Breaking Bad—the crucial human element of choice and preference that may have slipped past Apple’s algorithm. Apple is also highly likely to use Topsy’s data to improve its digital voice assistant, Siri; they integrated Twitter information into Siri with the iOS 7 update, and Topsy would greatly improve the results.

While the details of what Apple plans to do with Topsy aren’t yet clear, it’s an intriguing turn of events; no one really expected that data to end up in the hands of the consumer electronics giant, and considering Apple’s recent competition with and separation from Google services it’s clear that the developers are seeking alternative methods to accurately search the web in all its forms. Whatever the outcome, it seems that little Topsy has, at last, found electric love.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:16 pm on December 3, 2013

Categories:Technology,Twitter

 

Fire at the Internet Archive’s San Francisco Scanning Center

Last Wednesday, November 6th 2013, at ~ 3:30 in the morning, a fire was detected in the scanning center at the Internet Archive’s San Francisco location.

Fire at the Internet Archive's San Francisco Location

You can read the full story here: Scanning Center Fire Please Help Rebuild While some folks are asking why they don’t have insurance, most are looking at this as a good reminder to make a long overdue contribution to the Internet Archives organization. Archive.org hosts a number of services:

- WebArchive (AKA: The Wayback Machine):

366 Billion web pages saved over time.

Almost everyone should know what this. It’s pretty much the only free to use webpage archive on the internet that snapshots all public-visible pages of major websites over time, saving new versions whenever they are detected. I’ve seen people resurrect major portions of hacked/deleted websites using this service, and as an SEO who often needs to know what sites ‘used’ to look like, this service is invaluable. – Video(or Moving Pictures):

This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.

A great collection of free video in many handy formats. We’ve actually used the video clips in the past for posts where we wanted a little video to go along with an SEO post. There’s even some ‘banned cartoons‘ that had to be pulled for one reason or another. – Audio/Music

This library contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Many of these audios and MP3s are available for free download.

This is a great spot for getting free sounds and other audio bits that you might need for a project. I can’t say we’ve used this for ‘SEO’ but the Community Audio section features over 1.3 million recordings that range from kids playing with microphones all the way to nice audio tracks that make good generic ‘hold music’. – Text/Books

Browse and read over 5 million books and items from over 1,500-curated collections. You will find a wide range of literature, historical texts and research materials; and wonderful thematic collections like Children’s Classics, Cookbooks and Genealogy.

While I haven’t spent much time in this portion of the archive, if someone wanted to create unique content from a fresh source, books/texts that have never previously been online might be a great place to start? I’d also wager this section is what was most impacted by the fire. From details included in the initial fire blog post it’s clear that works that were in the process of scanning were lost/damaged but otherwise the main loss is progress and equipment. – Live recordings:

A community committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format.

The Grateful Dead were early advocates of sharing live recordings and they had a ton of variety in live performances so they are well indexed on the archive. I was listening to their 1972 live performance in the Laeiszhalle. If only I knew more German and could understand some of the cheers from the audience. :)Software:

The collection includes a broad range of software related materials including shareware, freeware, video news releases about software titles, speed runs of actual software game play, previews and promos for software games, high-score and skill replays of various game genres, and the art of filmmaking with real-time computer game engines.

Ever wonder where old ROMs go to die? Well they never die, not with sites like Archive.org making backups of old FTP servers, CDROMs, and other outdated storage mediums. Need an old boot disk, driver, or just want to play some old arcade classics in an emulator? Take a peek!

Old Amiga 1000 with 1084 color screen.. I just threw one of those out last year. Great photo, pitty the advertising isn’t English. Is that ~$2,100 USD?

SEO news blog post by @ 5:30 pm on November 12, 2013


 

Fascinating Finds from the Web Graveyard

We SEOs work with the World Wide Web and the Internet every single day, and probably spend a great deal of our off time on it as well. One of the brilliant things about today’s technology is that we’ve become used to its rapid evolution and continuing changes, even when it means our jobs get a little more challenging. When I joined Beanstalk twenty months ago, we were at the very end of an era —Google’s Panda had literally just been released, causing SEOs all over the world to rework their strategies. This year’s Hummingbird has required another alteration to the way we work with our clients and the web in general.In the perpetual race to out-puppet the puppetmaster that is Google, we have come to assume that many things are concrete: the importance of certain social media properties, a set of specific tools to be used to gauge your success, and a general sense of what Google deems important in the rankings race. But the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is anything but concrete; in the three or so decades of modern browsers, the Internet has grown exponentially and for every successful website or product there are handfuls of other tools that didn’t work. It’s fascinating to go back through history and imagine what could have been if these sites had won the race to the top. In the spirit of Halloween, I took a stroll through the graveyards of a few choice sites and tools to dig up some of the oddest web products now laid to eternal, irrelevant rest.

Google Lively

 Courtesy of http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20081119/google_lively_screen2_560x392.JPGGoogle didn’t become the most successful web company on the planet by playing it safe; it’s widely known that its employees can spend 20% of their time on developing crazy projects. If you have a news alert for ‘Google patents’ you’ll inevitably find that the company is always filing the weirdest claims on technology that isn’t even possible yet — or, weirder still, releasing news related to a brand new piece of tech which was patented years before being realistically viable. But you don’t get to the summit of Mount Everest without encountering a few frozen corpses (they serve as landmarks), and you don’t become Google without some flopped experiments.

One of the most fascinating of Google’s discontinued products is Google Lively. It was an online 3D social arena which looked a great deal like Second Life, except that it was integrated with the Internet and accessible from one’s browser. You could explore a three-dimensional realm and chat with up to 19 other people in the same room. You could also hang Youtube videos on the “walls”, embed your personal Lively area to your blog, and read your email. Second Life users disliked the non-customizable realm and the lack of virtual commerce, and Google quietly shuttered Lively after only six months of life.

Jaiku

Right now we all rely on Twitter — for news, for gossip, and for collectively sharing how awesome the last season of Breaking Bad was. But before our beloved little blue bird there was Jaiku, a Finnish-based micro-blogging service that took its name from a play on the Japanese haiku. Released in 2006, Jaiku was compatible with Nokia phones and allowed users to post short messages, similar to how Twitter works right now. The company was acquired by Google to open-source the product; in 2009, Jaiku re-launched on Google’s App Engine. But the little bluebird had taken over the world by then, and Jaiku became defunct in 2012.

SEO news blog post by @ 1:37 pm on October 23, 2013


 

Twitter TV and Nielsen

A Good Baby Step Towards Accurate TV Ratings

It probably won’t come as a surprise to many that I’m a nerd. It’s tough to work in SEO and not be a little geeky; I highly doubt that you’ll find the typical football jock seriously considering the factors which go into your average Google search. My boss (fearless leader Dave) interviewed me in an office that was literally plastered with Star Trek posters and Jedi figurines. We celebrate May the 4th as a serious office holiday.

So what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been a fan of many quirky, nerdy, off-beat television shows over the years, and I’ve had my heart broken many a time by the callous treatment that such shows receive from their parent networks. Firefly, Futurama, Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development — all of these shows had absolutely brilliant potential, were often critical darlings, and were sometimes the best thing on TV, but all of them met their end far too soon. But what some people may not know is that watching a beloved show on network TV doesn’t actually count towards the ratings unless they are a part of the Nielsen Family audience measurement system, which has been the dominant market analysis company since before the invention of television itself.

Nielsen ratings are currently acquired through two avenues: viewer diaries kept by a target audience (always in the US), and small devices called Set Meters that are attached to a family’s television to gather viewing habits every night. If you don’t have a Set Meter in your home, then you’re not contributing to the ratings data. This truth can be a frustrating experience for fans of cult TV shows; despite a vocal following, the numbers often don’t correlate to the love. The Nielsen system has been criticized as both statistically flawed and hopelessly out of date; not only do the sample sizes fail to reflect the actual TV-watching population accurately, but the Nielsen system has overwhelmingly failed to account for the increasing number of Internet viewers, many of whom have ditched traditional televisions entirely. So it’s refreshing to hear the news that Nielsen and Twitter have teamed up with Social Guide to launch Twitter TV, a ratings service that measures which US television shows have the largest audience on the social network.

The chart aims to track an overall audience for each show based on the total number of tweets mentioning the program, and how many unique accounts are producing them. It’s a potential ratings gold mine for advertisers, and the initial rankings have revealed what nerds across the nation have always suspected: there is a huge gap—practically no overlap, according to Variety—between the highest rated shows and the most-tweeted shows. On Twitter TV’s charts, the most tweeted-about show for the week of September 23 was “Breaking Bad”; the top ranked show as measured by Nielsen was NBC’s “NFL Football: New England at Atlanta.”

While it seems that change is on the horizon, unfortunately Twitter TV isn’t quite the cult-show savior we’ve all been waiting for. The suits have all been clear that Twitter TV ratings do not translate into audience share; that’s still largely being decided by the Nielsen families. The main goal is actually related to commercial and advertising potential, as Twitter gears up for its IPO and anticipates working with major networks to coordinate advertisements seen on highly tweeted shows. But it’s a good baby step towards a more democratic view of TV, along with the proliferation of web-only series on Netflix and Hulu. As a recent convert to the CW show Supernatural (don’t judge me, the actors are pretty but the writing is solid too), I am gripped with anxiety as the ninth season premiers tonight, worrying that it will be the last, and that this new beloved show will fall under the same ruthless axe as previous favorites simply because the “standard Nielsen family” isn’t as interested as millions of online fans. We’re on the brink of television revolution, where the Internet has a serious stake in what is watched and what is produced; Twitter TV is a good first step in letting the bigwig producers know what we really want.

SEO news blog post by @ 2:25 pm on October 9, 2013


 

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