Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seattle Start-up UrbanSpoon Aquired by IAC

IAC Announces the Acquisition of Urbanspoon

NEW YORK, April 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IAC today announced the acquisition of Urbanspoon, a leading online local restaurant guide that aggregates restaurant reviews from across the web, from newspapers and professional food critics to bloggers and diners. Urbanspoon will remain an independent brand and a wholly-owned business of IAC, and will report to Jay Herratti who oversees Citysearch, InsiderPages and Evite. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

For IAC, Urbanspoon rounds out a portfolio of premium local brands which include Citysearch, ServiceMagic, InsiderPages, and strategic investments in OpenTable and MerchantCircle. With a wealth of trusted restaurant content, an avid user community, and a leading iPhone application, the acquisition of Urbanspoon will further solidify IAC's leadership role in the local space. Integrating Urbanspoon's content across IAC's local sites, including Citysearch and InsiderPages, further reiterates IAC's commitment to building a robust infrastructure of local content for consumers all across the web.

"With a dedicated and comprehensive focus on restaurants, Urbanspoon is a pioneer in the online and mobile space with a truly unique, innovative and consumer-friendly product," said Jay Herratti, CEO of Citysearch. "Aggregating content from across the web and blending it with distinctive features including a polling system to rank restaurants, Urbanspoon is expanding the realm of what's possible for consumers when it comes to finding local content on the web."

"With millions of downloads of their iPhone app, Urbanspoon has demonstrated that they can successfully distill mash-up web content and deliver it through mobile for foodies and local restaurant seekers alike," said Dinesh Moorjani, SVP of Mobile for IAC.

Already a member of the Citysearch Partner Network, Urbanspoon has been integrating IAC local content throughout its site since 2008, laying the groundwork for this expanded relationship.

"IAC is a leader in the local space and we are excited to be a part of its family," said Ethan Lowry, co-founder, Urbanspoon. "With access to IAC's resources, we can expand our reach and develop new products while maintaining our brand identity."

The deal closed on February 13th, 2009.

About Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon is a leading online local restaurant guide that aggregates restaurant reviews from across the web, from newspapers and professional food critics to bloggers and diners. Available online or via its popular iPhone application, Urbanspoon provides reviews for restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Urbanspoon is an operating business of IAC . For more information, visit

About IAC

IAC operates more than 35 leading and diversified Internet businesses across 40 countries... our mission is to harness the power of interactivity to make daily life easier and more productive for people all over the world. To view a full list of the companies of IAC please visit our website at


IAC Investor Relations: IAC Corporate Communications:
Eoin Ryan Stacy Simpson / Leslie Cafferty (212) 314-7432 (212) 314-7470 / 7326

Brandi Willard

Web site:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tony Hawk Twitters Clues to Hidden Skateboards

Want a way to quickly increase you brand presence on Twitter? Hide a bunch of sought after products around the world and start tweeting clues to their locations. Yeah, Geocaching has been around for a few years, but Twitter is making this soooo much easier to do, mostly because of its accessibility on mainstream mobile devises.

Check out how Tony Hawk did this – first out of pure curiosity and then as a global campaign.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Technology Generation Gap at Work

According to a recent survey by LexisNexis the generation gap at work is really wide with vast discrepancies when it comes to what the appropriate use of technology is at work.

The survey compared technology and software usage among generations of working professionals, including Boomers (ages 44-60), Generation X (ages 29-43) and Generation Y (ages 28 and younger). The total sample size was 700 legal and white collar professionals with 250 coming from the legal profession.

Not surprising Boomers felt technologies such as PDAs, cell phones and laptops in meetings were highly distracting and that blogging and logging into social media forums and sites such as Facebook during work were "unacceptable."

The survey also covered a section about the boundaries of work and home and said that Gen Y workers multi-task at higher levels. What's your opinion? Is it bogging us down or keeping us current and helping to be more efficient?

Read the full story here:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quick- tell me about your agency!

If you had to, could you tell someone about yourself- your strengths, capabilities and past successes- in a 140 characters or less?

Well, in the not-so-far future, you might have to.

I came across this tweet from @SocialMedia411 today: HEY AGENCY PEEPS! Current TV is looking for a full service agency via their "TwitteRFP"

I went to the site and the only requirements are to include your agency name and what you could bring as Current's partner. Based on those tweets, they will then choose 5 to receive the RFP.

This is a cool idea.... right? Will this prove to be successful? Who knows. It will definitely force agencies to be concise and to a certain extent, it will force people to be more creative, at least in the way they look at their work. But creativity knows no character limits- and capabilities and successes often can't be boiled down to 140 characters (or less). And would you really want to rely on 140 characters to make a decision about someone or something?

If you can do this- pitch yourself well within a small set of characters- then kudos to you. You'll do well when more companies start interviewing on Twitter.

Shameless plug: You can follow me on Twitter @KFontanilla. I post fun, quirky tweets about myself, the world, science and technology. (That was less than 140 characters!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here comes TwOprah

Oprah continued her world domination today by joining Twitter. To celebrate the occasion, she'll have Twitter CEO Evan Williams and actor Ashton Kutcher--who just reached 1 million followers (!)--as her guests on today's show. I'm not sure what's more scary...the number of people who follow Ashton or the number of people who will get the fail whale while trying to sign on to Twitter today.

CNET predicted that this means Twitter has officially broken out of it's tech niche and will become a much more mainstream form of communication. In honor of this occasion, I've created my own list of what it means to have Oprah join the world of Twitter:

  • Stedman's 20 minutes of attention per day will now be reduced to 17 while Oprah does her tweeting
  • Oprah's next weight loss-themed show will feature a heart-felt plea to the fail whale to really get to the heart of why he's so fat.
  • The words "TwOprah" or "twOprahing" will now join the Twitter lexicon
  • Gail will be replaced by a cute little bird as Oprah's main sidekick
  • People who miss an episode of Oprah will be able to get the highlights on Twitter, "Tom Cruise on today's show. No couch jumping. We got him a leash. "
  • Producers of the show will only be able to speak to Oprah in 140 character statements.

Ashton Kucher has 1 million followers! *yawn*

So, Ashton Kucher crossed one million Twitter followers last night and we're bound to see another hysterical round of Twitter stories.

I'm not a Twitter hater. I actually think it's an extremely powerful tool for creating communities but there definitely needs to be a dose of perspective for where this "milestone" falls in the grand scheme of things.

So, here's a brief list of some other folks who have a lot of "followers."

- Christ - 2.1 billion followers
- Mohammed - 1.5 billion followers
- Communist Party of China - 1.3 billion "followers"
- Buddha - 324 million followers
- Barack Obama - 69,492,376 followers
- Susan Boyle - 30,000,000 followers
- Jack Bauer - 10,958,000 followers- Confucious - 5-6 million followers
- Al Franken - 1,212,431 followers
- Norm Colman - 1,212,206 followers
- Barney and Michael Jones, leader of The Jedi Order in the UK - 390,000 followers

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Find Out What People Are Saying About Your Clients w/ Tinker

Tinker is a micro-blogging tracker that scans for specific topics on both Twitter and Facebook and then enables these findings to be republished as widgets on blogs or other websites. The service offers a streamlined way for brands and products to not only see what's being said about them, but also to show their customers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Value of Virtual Friends

Can you really put a price on your social networks? Apparently, yes.

Aside from the social capital generated from social networks, recent research suggests a relationship between social network and earning power.

Porter Novelli CMO Marian Salzman suggested as much in her recent trends discussion in Seattle. Marian predicted platforms like Facebook and Twitter may shift to a model where those with extensive personal networks will continue to use the service for free down the road. Maybe even earn money from them as marketers increasingly look to leverage the power of these social networks and word-of-mouth communications.

According to BusinessWeek: "Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! are hiring economists, anthropologists, and other social scientists to map and classify new types of friendships—and put a value on them."

It's probably a bit early to place a value of the broadening variety of personal connections made on the Web, but in the meantime I'll continue to build up my own. You never know how they may pay off down the road.

Marian's Predictions Coming True Already?

Hyperlocal was a big theme of Marian Salzman's recent Seattle visit. Looks like those hyperlocal predictions are already coming to fruition.

Tomorrow former P-I staffers are launching, and today the NYT profiled the hyperlocal movement and what it means for media.

Hmmm, can she tell us lottery numbers too?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Is MySpace Going Down in the midst of Facebook/Twitter's Success?

With news that Facebook recently hit its 200 million user mark, it got me to think that it’s interesting to see how social networks i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and MySpace are being branded in our own social media perceptions. For example, in the movie “He’s Just Not that into You” MySpace is snubbed as the “new booty call” in the modern dating world.

According to Fortune, MySpace is actually on the decline. While MySpace is by no means hurting it seems to be definitely falling behind Facebook. (Is “He’s Just Not that Into You” implying MySpace is the “sleazier” of the social media tools out there?) According to the article’s citing of Comscore measurements, Facebook now has more than 57 million U.S. visitors, up from 41 percent a year ago. On the international scope, Facebook saw 236 million visitors to MySpace’s 126 million in January.

I’m not sure if MySpace is happy about the message the movie portrayed or doesn’t care but at any rate it’s interesting to see how our perceptions of these social networks will contribute to their branding for better or for worse – especially in the face of Facebook's success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Revolution Really Will Be Tweeted

10,000 person protest organized in Moldova via text, Facebook, and Twitter. Government shuts down Internet service.

Gives new meaning to social networking...

Where's Emily Post When You Need Her?!?

As digital communications become ever more prevalent, we are facing new challenges and issues. Lists of "tech no-nos" (sorry Kristin) are appearing everywhere, as aggravating communication habits are aggregated.

There are a handful of us asking the questions "What's proper?" and "What's tacky?" when it comes to digital communications. But we might as well pose the questions via a Twitter handle with no followers, for all the insight we're getting. The problem is that no one has the answers.

Certain forms of digital communication are so new and being adopted in new ways so quickly that the societal norms and acceptable standards can not keep up. As soon as we had a universal cell phone etiquette, cell phones became able to do more: email, text, feed fish, etc. Well, that changes things. The rule of "don't talk on your cell phone at the table" does not address cell phone-based activities beyond talking. Is it acceptable to text at the dinner table? What if you're updating your Facebook status to reflect the fact that you're on a date? Or if you're Tweeting the content of the riveting dialogue you're listening to?

Today's Washington Post article, Text is Cheap, asserts that texting while in a one-on-one social setting is rude. Anyone who has been regaling a friend with horrors of online dating only to realize that the friend is texting and/or reading gossip blogs on their PDA would agree that the brush off stings.

In one-on-one settings, the choice of digital chips over live conversation is pretty clearly inappropriate. But in larger settings, the lines blur. If I'm at a luncheon with an engaging speaker and I'm texting a colleague with insights from the that rude? Would the speaker be flattered that I was sharing his/her remarks? Or annoyed that I didn’t wait until the end of the luncheon?

What other digital communications etiquette questions are floating around? What guidelines do you follow?

Send me your thoughts and complaints or anecdotes. Our collective wisdom might make Fizzle Pop the new authority on digital communication etiquette!

A Top-Ten List for Digital Communications

By: John Stone

To succeed in marketing and communications, you need to tie digital communications channels together and understand your audience.

There is a lot of discussion about social media today and my colleagues, Chris Brogan, and his team of pirates in the New Marketing Labs are paving the way with their leading work in this area. We are often asked how social media marketing fits into a broader strategy of digital marketing and communications. What is the new role of the corporate web site, newsletters and eMail? How do we tie in our event marketing and focus our strategic sales teams? How do we focus limited marketing resources and messages on the right targets?

Many elements of this new media landscape are easy to implement; the challenge is in tying them all together into a unified platform and using them to pursue an effective overall strategy.Let’s outline some of the communication channels and considerations you might have in using them effectively:

eMail - still a critical -if not over-used - channel for audience engagement. In particular, email is one of your key push communication channels that does not rely on your audience seeking you out. In general, I recommend “opt-in” or permission marketing models that engage users based on their intent, however, to inform your audience about an offering and trigger a conversion, email is a great tool. An approach that works well for me is when the sender recognizes my device and sends text-only to my handset (HTML is OK on my browser) and I like it when they make the communication very clear - with headlines and links to read more if I chose. As long as the opt-out features are clear, I don’t mind receiving emails, but the more I get the more I the messages get lost.

eNewsletters - I like the newsletter approach. When I get one from a credible source, I know I may find some valuable content and insights. It is great when I the eNewsletter has web 2.0 tools that allow me to send to a friend or save a link to favorites. From a marketers point of view, all the clicks and links in the newsletter are trackable and I can see who among my audience are reading what items. This insight into the audience intent allows met to engage them in dialog about their interests.

Digital Video /YouTube/ Viddler - I love the eTrade ads and for a brand like eTrade, what a great way to syndicate and extend the views of these commercials. We are in a “video generation” and with the proliferation of products, syndicated video is a great way to learn about products and services. The web is a great way to distribute your infomercials and educational product information - both through your own channels and through web syndication.

Webinars and Twebinars - One of the best ways we have to engage an audience is with Webinar channels. These are typically 1 hour educational programs and are great ways to engage an “opt-in” interested audience in a deeper level of content and conversation. These presentations and conversations demonstrate our expertise and also help describe the solutions we can deliver. Registration information gives me the list of attendees that I can nurture before, during and after the event. The audience has expressed their intent and given me “permission” to engage them in the dialog. As an example, we are planning a series of Webinars with the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium as part of our strategic partnership and sponsorship of this event. An innovative approach that we often use is the Twebinar - a synchronization of a webinar and live Twitter dialog.

Web Site and Landing Pages - This could easily have been the first item on this list and and a web site remains one of the most important vehicles for brand communications. Today, your web site is only one of the many touchpoints that your audience will use to see your content or engage in conversations about your brand, products and services. When you are communicating across the web through social media and communities, you (and others) will be sharing links to landing pages within your web site. Your web site needs to have a strong visual design that is consistent with your brand image, a clear and understandable user interface and information architecture, rich content to engage the audience and strong conversion points or “calls to action” with the ability to follow-through with what you are promoting, e.g. attend an event, buy a product, register for a service. With the right tailored content and web 2.0 features, your content will be extended across the web (e.g. with RSS feeds and technology) and your organic (non paid) search visibility can be particularly strong. For specialized search terms and offerings, you can also selectively use paid search terms and increase click results.
Blogs and Wikis - A blog roll that combines your (and external) credible blog posts from your thought leader community can be a terrific way to maintain a fresh content approach on your site and engage your audience with some ideas and frameworks for discussion. You should encourage active blog participation with your team and extend the publication of blog posts based on their content and value. You can also use wikis to engage on the co-creation process for projects and product development.

Social Networks and Communities - You should have a presence on the social networks, and stay engaged in the conversations. Set up a Facebook Group and fan page and manage it with content and links. You also can use a Twitter presence to communicate updates about opinions, events you are sponsoring/ speaking at, new blog posts, interesting conversations taking place in online community. LinkedIn is usually thought of as a tool for individual networking, and while it is excellent for that, it is also a great way to build a community. Check out the MIT CIO Symposium Group on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn and Plaxo profiles to share blog posts and news items that may trigger a dialog. If you want to move up the maturity curve, consider whether building an OpenSocial application on Facebook or elsewhere that can further engages your audience. Depending on your community, you may want to host and manage your own exclusive “velvet rope” space to engages your members with exclusive content, and provide member-to-member interaction, member profiles, and member publishing options that foster continued interest and engagement in the community.

Mobile & Smartphone - the popularity of the iPhone and Blackberry platforms are clear indications that you need a presence on these devices. While you can rely on individuals engaging your website directly from this smaller form factors using a WAP interface, a more advanced offering - a native mobile application - can provide your audience with a far better audience engagement experience. Apple’s AppStore has been a huge success and Blackberry and Nokia and others are now launching similar services. These capabilities facilitate easy downloading of applications to the device. If your audience is mobile and would like to engage you through mobile devices, you will need a comprehensive mobile delivery strategy.

Event Registration - Live events remain a key element of a community engagement strategy. No digital network can fully replace the value of face-to-face meetings and dialog. Your registration systems not only must provide the right level of sophistication for event data management (show types, products, payments, on site badge printing etc. ) but it should also provide you the insights on your audience and their intent as well as a marketing list for your sales team to engage.

Audience Intelligence - advanced data management and dashboards are important in pulling all the information together about your audience and gaining greater business intelligence about the performance of your campaign tactics and your audience channel, service and content preferences. Some of the online channels will not have personally identifying information - and you won’t have a complete correlation of your RSS subscribers, blog readers, web site visitors and your event attendees, however by combining advanced social media listening tools, web analytics, and your registered users/ attendee information, you will gain an increasingly strong picture of what is working and what is not working in your marketing programs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's Next: Microblogging to Nanoblogging

Being in PR we are always on the look out for the next big thing to share with our clients...

New start-up, Flutter, looks to one-up Twitter by reducing their character count from 140 to 26. They are the leading (and only) company in the world of "nanoblogging."

WeFollow: User Generated Twitter Directory

WeFollow is a user generated Twitter directory. Not only can you add yourself so others can find you but it is a great place to track down Twitter IDs for journalists and bloggers as well.

Nature Break

Why does watching a bird in a nest via a webcam never get old?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Biggest Tech No-Nos

From Switched yesterday- the 16 biggest tech no-nos.

It's a pretty interesting list and I'm sure we can all relate to quite a few of them. Some of the ones that made me sit up and point my finger at my screen yelling, "Yeah, exactly!" include:

  • Accidentally hitting All Reply - ...then again, how else would we learn how to retrieve/resend emails?
  • Writing in ALL CAPS
  • Leaving a phone ringer on - Okay, I've done this and I realize not everyone likes Vanilla Ice- oops.
  • Being a bad customer with gadgets
  • Never removing Bluetooth headsets
  • Sharing large files

However, there were a couple on the list that made me think, "Who cares?":

  • Constant, lame status updates - My opinion? Who cares. Just skim it and forget it. Unless you're suffering from Twitterhea, or something
  • Pocket calling - Eh, I usually think this is funny when it happens to me and any fodder for mocking someone is not so bad in my book.
  • Forgetting attachments - Not really a big deal. It happens.

What are some of your tech no-nos?

NOTE: By the way: tech"no nos?" O rLy? How about saying biggest tech irritations? Or biggest tech annoyances? But "no no"- what am I, five?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Fizzle Pop Could Have Been...

I know many of you lay awake at night, pondering the future of Fizzle Pop, what your next post will be about and who will comment... but have you ever wondered what Fizzle Pop could have been?

Well wonder no more. I now take you on a magical journey of what Fizzle Pop would have looked like if Syd and Martin weren't around to act as they angels of reason on one shoulder while my nerdy, spectacled inner geek acted as a devil on the other.

Comic Book Treatment

Well, ignoring the fact that this approach makes heavy use of my adoration for nasty brown colors (its true, i really love the color brown) you gotta ask, what was I going for here? Guy in a trenchcoat, ninjas fighting in the moon... what? A blatant example of me wishing I was in a film noir comic book. This might have worked if I timed this to release on the same weekend as Watchmen since the creepy trench coat exhibitionist does resemble Rorschach.

Art Deco Treatment

Alright, so anyone who has played the video game Bioshock can probably guess why, out of the blue, I was suddenly inspired to start treating every graphic project with some Art Deco flair. Not surprising, most powerpoint presos and new biz projects don't have much need for Art Deco treatments, so I found myself clamoring to use the style in the first project I could. Luckily, this one got shot down before I finished it.

Yo! MTV Raps Treatment

The one we settled on was probably my least favorite initially. For one, it reminded me of MTV in the early 90s and Vanilla Ice. Second, I'm usually a fan of muted colors and basic lines. This assaulted my tamer/lamer sensibilities. Luckily, Martin was amped on this one, I'm guessing because it features his favorite color combos (orange + blue for those looking to get on his good side).