Archive for December 20th, 2006

Umbria - Bulk Blog List Buying

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Umbria logoYesterday, buzz monitoring firm Umbria annnounced the launch of a new service, Umbria Connect, that provides blog lists to companies looking to connect with individual bloggers. The lists are tailored for specific niche topics and areas of interest. This facilitates conversation and discussions between the client company and bloggers.

Umbria gathers publicly available data, information, and input to locate individual bloggers who may be of interest to a given client. Subsequently, Umbria sells these blog URLs in blocks of 25 on a subscription basis. Lists are updated on a monthly or quarterly basis to provide the most accurate picture of the current blog landscape.

According to Umbria, the monthly list of bloggers are created based on the client’s selection of age and gender. In other words, Umbria is not only targeting by niche topic, but also based on more narrow demographic information.

These bloggers may become a client’s:

  • evangelist
  • product test market
  • PR team

I am a big advocate of blog marketing  and targeting specific niche groups, therefore I see huge value with such a service. The elimination of time and hassle cannot be overstated. If indeed the lists are accurate and highly targeted (which I do not know), then the advantages of this service are obvious. However, an automated system cannot be trusted without major scrutiny, as the blogosphere is extremely dynamic and perpetually-changing. If upon further analysis the Umbria Connect tool is able to connect clients with the appropriate blogs, then this may be a big hit.

Otherwise, simply type your ‘niche topic’ into Technorati and start researching.

Jaxtr - Beware the Dark Side

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Jaxtr logoMuch hype has surfaced around a new Valley start-up named Jaxtr. The buzz began after LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke jumped shipped to become CEO of Jaxtr. Why all the hype? Why all the fuss? Well, if Jaxtr were a cake, then we’d need to mix a little bit of VOIP with a little bit of widget to achieve this delicate offering. Think of it as Jajah meets embedding.

Jaxtr allows you to receive incoming phone calls by embedding a widget within your profile on a given social network (MySpace, hi5, Friendster, and so on). The process works as follows:

  1. Joe visits your profile.
  2. He enters his phone number.
  3. He then receives a call.
  4. After Joe picks up, you receive a call.
  5. You pick up.
  6. You chat with Joe about your love for poetry and gardening for hours.

It does sound strikingly similar to Jajah, doesn’t it?

A couple of points to note:

  • Jaxtr provides the ability to receive voicemail if you are not present for a call.
  • You are able to block unwanted callers and/or provide the ability for only certain friends to call.
  • Caller phone numbers are never revealed.
  • A link in an e-mail signature can be used in place of the widget.

Revenues will be generated via enhanced features and advertising.

I definitely think that this company has a good thing going. However, I often enjoy stepping over the fence and playing devil’s advocate. In this case, I think that a lot of bloggers and PR juggernauts have overlooked a crucial element. Let me present my case, your Honour…

A Jaxtr call is essentially an anonymous call from anyone viewing a social network profile to the profiled user. Now, if I’m not mistaken, a majority of social networks are tailored around the teenage demographic. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now all of a sudden, you get a small percentage of sick, perverted individuals calling up 15 year old girls with ill intentions. Albeit this is definitely a minority crowd, the predicament is still present at all times. The only prevailing force is parental intervention (this is assuming that prevention was absent in the first place; hence the teenager roaming the social network). However, if the teenager is home alone, who knows where this simple, innocent conversation may lead and what kind of details the caller may be able to extract.

This level of voice communication is really the first of its kind to expand the social networking horizon. If parents thought they had problems with their children posting personal information and contact details before, Jaxtr is going to provide a whole new world of challenges.

I’m not trying to bash this offering, but simply provide an analysis from an alternative point-of-view. I will be the first to praise the company if it is able to implement preventative measures to overcome this hurdle, although I’m not convinced it can be done without hampering the user experience. I’m afraid that for some, Jaxtr will equal jail.

All it takes is one malevolent call for this to turn into a PR nightmare.

I nervously await the public launch…