li'l engine techCrunch50 Wrap-up
TechCrunch 50 is a yearly conference for IT startups to showcase their products & services for judging by the public and expert panels. Every year new startups come and go, occasionally some startup’s make it big ( Mint anyone? ) but most do not.
Day 1 of the techcrunch50 delivered some impressive and unique products & services, some of which relate directly to Search Engine and Internet marketing, here is a round up of the highlights and how it will effect SEMs and internet marketers, remember most of these companies are in Beta Testing right now and offering free registration and sign-ups.
Just a quick note as I live in Australia, I’m having to stay up at ridicules hours to catch the live stream and bring you this news Hope you guys appreciate it!
New market emerging in virtual worlds focusing on children and education
Two startup’s this year are tapping into children’s edu-tainment market, Clasemovil from Finland and Toon Tunes from the USA.
Clasemovil is a virtual world where children can sign-up and learn math, history, language and science through a colorful multi-media interface and mini flash games delivered via a virtual world. In this virtual world children can interact with each other by playing educational games and buy / sell virtual items ( movils ). Teachers and parents can sign-up and become moderators of this virtual world. Movil also incorporates a backend for teachers where each class or student can be profiled to understand which areas they may be under-performing.
Toon Tunes is online subscription based leisure product, where kids can create music and interact with other children by virtual clubs, gigs and share their music via facebook and download their track as a ringtone. I have to say, the interface looks fantastic and some of the music creation tools are very cool. By putting a social media element to the product, kids are able to upload their recorded tracks ( complete with loops, synths and their own voice recording ) to a virtual club, and the playlist will stream their track to the other kids that are in the club as well.
Mobile social gaming and entertainment
This is a huge untapped market, 3 startups this year are set to coin in this niche to deliver entertainment content via the internet to hand-held devices, with the increase in bandwidth and broadband connectivity I think they have timed their entry in perfectly.
StorySomething delivers customised children stories via email or to the parents iphone, each story is customised to your child’s name. Authors can sign up and submit their stories to be published, which they will earn a commission.
ToyBots have created an innovative platform where toy manufactures can make toys that can interact with the internet social crowd. An example demo’ed was the Woozee Doll, the doll is able to interact with an online service where friends and families can send voice recorded messages, kids can download new personalities and interact with other dolls. The platform includes a hardware component which has a GPS, accelerometer, wifi and onboard memory. This is a new step towards robotics in my opinion, and ignoring the fact that its a childrens toy, the idea behind this is very powerful. I predict we will see many other similar products for adults in the near future.
Spawn Labs will appeal to teens and adults that are into video gaming and console gaming, which is one of the biggest money making industries. By attaching a special hardware box to your gaming console (xbox, playstation etc) and connecting it to the internet, you are able to play the game through any computer or laptop connected to the internet, anywhere around the world. The platform also supports social gaming, where you can join in other gamers console around the world.
Social Media Network services and advertising.
No surprise this year had 3 startup entries related to the booming social media market. I think this arena is a way over crowded at the moment, and with each new startup, innovative ideas become far less interesting. Here are the three entries;
Sealtale lets bloggers create custom seals or badges related to their favorite product, blog or website, than place these seals into their social media network sites such as facebook, blogger. The interface was nicely designed, and the hope to generate revenue from companies that sponsor a seal, once sponsored the advertisers can place their advertising messages, special offers etc onto the the badge and when clicked the badge will display these details. This one is set to fail in my honest opinion.
Udorse has more of a potential by giving users a cash / donation incentive when they tag their social network photos with ‘endorsements’, these can be directly linked to a advertiser, which they will get a commission everytime someone clicks on the tag on a watch, dress, gadget that appears in the photo. I see this working well for viral marketing, if you managed to get a photo of a celebrity holding, wearing one of your products, you can tag it for everyone to see.
Rackup Interesting business model, where consumers can bid on how much additional money they can add to your giftcard. Its not a gambling based system, because the consumers always get the amount of gift card + bonus, they will never loose that giftcard amount. The catch is to get in as early as you can, providing you are in the top 10 bids list, you will get the giftcard + the bonus.
Good model I think for all parties, business get more “prepaid” sales, Rackup get about % comission per card and consumers get some nice bonuses, however the issue will be increased debt, as consumers may buy these cards on a rush of blood to the head, but cant actually afford them.
Search Engine & Web Design related
FluidHTML is a new markup language which aims to solve the major problems related to Adobe Flash. Flash is not crawlable by search engine robots, flash websites often avoid deep linking and flash sites are hard to maintain and update. FluidHTML uses standard HTML / CSS in addition to special “Objects” or tags which gives designers flash objects.
Such as a flash movie player, which you can directly style using CSS and because it is coded in HTML, search engines are able to crawl and index the content with ease.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the presentation, having worked as a web designer I was hoping to be wow’ed more with the demo. If you are a developer looking to integrate flash into your custom CMS site that is SEO friendly, it might be worth learning more about fluidHTML. But I suspect many of the cool objects can already be achieved with Ajax.
Google Fast Flip is a new Google experiment tool, which aggregates content from major news & publishing sites and displays them in a magazine format. Don’t worry this new tool is not going to effect anything you do for SEO or SEM, unless you’re blog is ranking in the top 100 of Alexa The mobile version of Google Fast Flip is very cool, if you are ever bored and want to catch up on some light reading, use your mobile device to browse through the latest content from the top blogs. Worth a look during your lunch break.
Bing Wave 2 & Bing Visual Search – While not a startup, Bing have announced a major update to their search platform at this years TechCrunch50. This presentation deserves a post of its own, and I have the pleasure of guest posting about Bing Wave 2 and Bing Visual search at SEOMoz ( Thanks Jen! ) Click here to read this post on SEOMoz.
The best for last, Internet marketing and Search Marketing related startups!
I’ve deliberately left the 3 most important presentation till last because I wanted you to read the entire post These three startups deserve your attention if you are in anyway involved in Pay Per Click advertising and affiliate marketing,
Refmob the refer-a-friend marketplace, is a service that helps business owners create and manage their referral programs. Many smaller business owners are missing out on an extra 10% – 20% additional business by not using a referral system and taking advantage of their customer database. Refmob aims to help these users create, manage and measure the success of these referral campaigns.
Refmob also offers consumers the ability to market their referral programs as well, the concept is a little hard to explain here, I encourage you to take a look at this demo.
This is a very interesting service with great potential, which I recommend every business owner especially small Yellowpages business that are thinking of getting into social media marketing, Refmob would be a good launchpad. The interface seems very easy to use having the ability to actually perform your mass mailing and track the progress of your campaign via an impressive dashboard.
5to1 A new advertising publishing network. Great concept behind this new ad network where publishers are able to pick which ads they want displayed on their blogs / sites. Which means no more degrading ads such as ‘hit the monkey with the banana’ or ‘congratulation you are the 1 millionth visitor’ showing up on your website. If you have worked hard to gain loyal visitors to your blog, there is nothing worst to find you have lost that following because your ad network decided to post on of these ads on your site. To me this seems like a great idea, been an obsessive designer I can spend hours tweaking the layout of my blog and making sure it looks and feels right to my audience, the thought of having remnant ads as described above has put me off joining smaller ad networks until now.
5to1′s interface looks very clean and easy to use, the ability to see the banners before they get published is an awesome feature and having the ability to turn off an ad instantly is a nice touch. 5to1 reminds me of buysellads, but since buysellads only target a small niche, 5to1 would appeal to a wider scope of blog and site owners. Great new concept! Would be worth checking out on some of your lower traffic websites, to see if the ads you selected is actually getting better CPMs than algorithm ads ( Adsense ).
DataXu An advertisers platform to optimize their campaigns. This is some serious data crunching and statistics service! On the flip side of the coin from 5to1, DataXu is focusing on machine calculated algorithms and advertisers that want to aggregate their advertising stats from larger ad networks such as Google, Yahoom, rightmedia, PubMatic and combine these stats to give a clearer view of which type of campaigns are working the best.
The data segmentation is pretty impressive, in the example DataXu shows quickly in what time of day on what category of websites the campaign is best performing on and in another example DataXu shows what time of the day in which region of America the campaign best performed, DataXu also claims to have a very powerful user profiling engine, which it shares the results with the advertisers.
I would recommend researching further into DataXu if you are a advertising company looking for better ad optimization and reporting for your clients, or in-house ad managers for mid-cap companies. I think for smaller advertisers ( <$10,000 per month ) there is just way too much data to sift through, looking at your own time vs the cost savings, I would stick with easier tools such as Google Analytics.
It’s also worth noting that during the the demo, Marissa Mayer from Google was very busy taking notes, no doubt she will have an interesting discussion with the AdSense team when she gets back to the Googleplex.
Phew! So that is my wrap-up of day 1 of the TechCrunch50 conference, thanks for reading and hanging out with me, Why not stay a little longer by discussion or commenting on any of the start-ups here!