March 28, 2008
March 19, 2008
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.
March 15, 2008
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 Contextual – Sphere 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
March 3, 2008
Today 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
February 29, 2008
Mark 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
I 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…)