Sphere Blog

March 28, 2008

Sphere has a new blog….come visit us!!

Filed under: Blog News — Josh Guttman @ 4:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sphere blog.png We’ve moved the Sphere blog. You can also reach it through the navigation on our homepage. We won’t be posting anything new here going forward so come visit our new home….

March 19, 2008

Connecting The Conversation – NYC Fete

Last night Sphere co-hosted a cocktail party with The New York Times, Automattic (WordPress), Giga Omni Media (GigaOM), Hearst Corporation and True Ventures. Matt has some great photos up at his blog. We celebrated the evolution afoot in the media industry, bringing together large publishers, micro-publishers and bloggers. Quite an evening. Thank you to everyone who joined us and a special shout out to True Ventures and Hearst for making the event possible. Here are a couple of photos from the event which took place at the top of the new Hearst Tower overlooking Central Park.

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March 15, 2008

Sphere vs. The Competition

Filed under: Competition,Entrepreneurship,Sphere Tools — Josh Guttman @ 10:13 pm

People often ask us how Sphere’s products and technology fare versus our competition. While we believe that the results (namely our footprint) speak for themselves, it’s worth discussing some of the key differentiators between Sphere and other similar services out there:

  • Behavioral vs ContextualSphere contextual matching will generate higher quality results on content more consistently than behavioral analysis. Several well-funded companies are competing for a piece of our market’s mind-share by offering related content powered by behavioral analysis. In other words, people who read this article also read this one, so we believe there is a relationship between them and you might also want to read it. This technology is very cool and we love it when it comes to e-commerce and the like. When I buy a digital camera, it’s helpful to see the memory cards that other consumers most often purchased. When it comes to content, however, we think it’s much more difficult to establish reliable relationships between, often, very disparate articles. We also understand that click-through rates generated by these services on content are typically significantly lower than those generated by Sphere’s contextually related content approach, and we think this confirms our hypothesis.
  • Dynamic Results Guarantee Freshness – Sphere’s related content results are generated dynamically in Java-Script every time the page loads. This guarantees that we’ll provide the reader with the absolute freshest content. If I’m reading an article and a blogger and/or journalist published a contextually relevant piece within the past hour, this is something that I’d like to see and thankfully, Sphere will provide. Getting back to the point above, behavioral relationships typically takes time to establish, which prevents me from seeing the freshest results, from the source I’m on or elsewhere.
  • Breadth of Related Content – Our technology is super-flexible and this means we can generate related content results from a multitude of different formats and sources – including articles, videos, photos and podcasts. When you integrate Sphere with your site, we can generate related content from your own articles or videos, as well as from external sources including blogs, videos and podcasts. Since we maintain one of the largest indices of the blogosphere, segmented by topics, and already work with many large video providers, this all happens very quickly.
  • Simplicity of Integration – Speaking of speed and quickness, this is the icing on the cake. Several of our competitors require significant excavation and retooling of publishers’ CMS and website. Instead of offloading the work on our partners, we do all the heavy lifting at Sphere, including the indexing and configuration. When it’s all complete, we deliver some slick code wrapped in a red bow with instructions for implementation. That’s it – signed, sealed and delivered. Our typical implementation from start to finish happens in just a few days!!

If you’re a site owner or publisher and any of this gets you excited, send us an email by clicking the “contact us” link at the top right of our site.

March 10, 2008

Cigars Everyone

Filed under: Sphere Team,Troy — sphere @ 11:46 pm
picture-6.png Troy and his wife Kate have a brand new baby girl. Troy joined us in 2007, a great addition to our talented client services team.
Congratulations, Kate and Troy.

March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Tony!

Filed under: Birthdays,Tony Conrad — Josh Guttman @ 3:08 pm

tony-conrad-picture.jpgToday is our co-founder and CEO, Tony Conrad’s, birthday. Tony is 38 today. Several famous athletes have been born on March 3 – Rick Mirer, Ben Roethlisberger, Herschel Walker, Jackie Joyner-Kersee; a few musicians – Dave Amato of REO Speedwagon and Jeff’s favorite, Tone Loc; plus at least one braniac, Alexander Graham Bell. Not surprising company considering Tony was a college athlete, all-around groover, and well….our CEO. Happy Birthday Tony!!

March 1, 2008

Bienvenue Josh

Filed under: Josh Guttman,Sphere Team — sphere @ 12:22 am

waxes.png  Josh on the best value proposition in widget-ology.

February 29, 2008

Journalists? Bloggers? Micro-Publishers?

attack.pngMark Glaser has an interesting post on the narrowing gap between bloggers and traditional journalists. As Mark points out, the distinction is less relevant more than ever. Traditional journalists blog, they write shorter articles, they post more frequently and they invite comments – all things the bloggers first demonstrated had appeal. Big blogs have Editors, Sales professionals and operate more like savvy publishers everyday.

I don’t even think of the big blog sites as blogs, they’re more like micro-publishers. They’re businesses. They worry about page-views, their brands and they sell sponsorships/ advertising on their sites at very high CPM’s. From our vantage point, this all makes sense. Why should the media industry evolve any differently than other industries where we’ve seen this phenomenon before (Music, Consumer Package Goods, Grocery Stores just to name a few)? In our widgets, we’ve already started adding some “micro-publishers” into our Related Media quadrant, thus moving them out of the Related Blogs quadrant. We’re not sure that’s the right approach but we feel like it gives some “traditional” blogs a better opportunity for exposure while not penalizing traditional media sites nor the larger blogs.

How do you think about this?

February 27, 2008

Sphere Implicit Search

Filed under: Implicit Search,Sphere Advertising Partners — sphere @ 11:49 pm

sphere-bubbles.pngI want to share a few thoughts on why advertising in tandem with Sphere’s Related Content modules (CONTEXTUAL IN-LINE & Widget) is gaining traction with Top Tier advertisers. In the past quarter, we’ve run campaigns with Dell, Verizon, Barack Obama and Symantec. The latter, currently is running it’s second campaign with us – just scroll to the bottom of this Salon article to see a live example.

As we all know now, Google Ads are so valuable in part because users have expressed an interest in the product/ service by their action of searching for that product/ service or something related. Sphere, on the other hand, has built a killer “implicit search” engine. A user who clicks on one of our links, or even looks at the module for a few seconds, has implicitly searched for that content. They have taken an action and that is why advertising to them can be so valuable. We believe this is potentially much more valuable and efficient then contextual ads that are on the side or bottom of the page — where they don’t know that the user is very engaged in that topic. In our initial campaigns, we’re seeing very high engagement/ advertising effectiveness. We believe this is partly because the reader is engaged with the content.

Sphere is now on a lot of article pages each month. Within our growing network of partner sites, (more…)

February 25, 2008

Newsweek’sphere

Filed under: Newsweek,Sphere Publisher Partners,Sphere Related Content — sphere @ 6:25 pm

newsweek-logo.pngI’m excited to update you with Sphere’s most recent launch on a major news site. We recently added Newsweek as a partner, joining a list that includes some of the best news sites on the web: The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN, US News & World Report, TIME, AOL News/Sports/Entertainment, CBS, Forbes, MLB, ZDNet, Washington Post, TMZ and several more MSM sites and over 50,000 blogs. Newsweek is one of the most well respected media companies in the world (off-line and on-line) and we’re truly honored to be partnering with such a venerable brand with the highest journalism standards. We’re very proud of the quality and relevance of our results on Newsweek, here’s what we launched :

    • *Related articles from the Newsweek archives;
    • *Related blog posts from the Blogosphere; and
    • *Recommended Blogs

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Sphere related content is on every article in every section of the Newsweek site. Here’s the most recent lead article from the home page as an example – CLICK HERE. When the page opens, just click on the Sphere icon link in the Article Tools box. This means that every article page on Newsweek displays both related articles from Newsweek and high quality bloggers, resulting in more opportunities for bloggers to add their voice to the discussion – a great opportunity for bloggers to join the conversation as well as reach a broader audience of readers. Always a good thing. Thanks to Newsweek for embracing the blogosphere and for their unwavering support in partnering with us. A special thanks to Kevin Stuart for his support and for nailing this implementation.

February 23, 2008

WOW – Link Love

Filed under: Link Love,Sphere Blog Partners — sphere @ 1:02 am

link-love.pngWe get notes from bloggers every day about links they discover from major media Sphere partner sites like WSJ, TIME, AOL, REUTERS, CBS, etc. This afternoon I got an email from one of our blog partner sites that shared performance data on Sphere Related Content Widget vs other icon links they use on their site. The data is really exciting on this end: Sphere generated 1,161 clicks on their site in January, more than double that of the other 8 icon links (1,161 vs 544) on their site. A great way to end the week – :) Here is the original email:

—– Original Message —-
From: Michael <X>
To: martin at sphere; conrad at sphere
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 12:40:55 PM
Subject: RE: Sphere’it Widget
Guys, We haven’t been in touch, but I thought you might be interested to see the use of our Feed Flair links vs. Sphere last month (Jan 08) (Mitigated by the fact that Sphere is a graphic link, of course.)
22 – “Add This!”
27 – “Subscribe by Email”
28 – “Stumble it!”
33 – “Submit to Reddit”
39 – “Save to Del.icio.us”
43 – “Subscribe to this Feed”
62 – “Share on Facebook”
290 – “Email This”
1161 – “Sphere: Related Content”
So, I guess sphere gets to stay on the island another season. WOW. Thanks for taking the time last year to make us this widget and for such a great service!

*Hat tip to Wanky Comics for the Link Love graphic

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