Peanut Labs Fireside Chat with Founder of Seesmic

Our very own Murtaza Hussain takes a moment to catch up with founder and CEO of Seesmic, Loic Le Meur. For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with Le Meur’s platform,  Seesmic produces one of the most popular Twitter and Facebook social software applications on the web,  helping users to share and receive feedback for up to 50 social networks. In our interview series, Le Meur discusses his web application, as well as his desktop and mobile platforms such as Android and Blackberry.  Business Week Magazine also named Loic one of The 25 Most Influential People on the Web.


Peanut Labs Launches Social Media Australia

Peanut Labs’ New Sample Product to Provide Access to Over 226,000 Respondents Down Under

SEATTLE – February 25, 2010 – Peanut Labs, leading provider of social media sample for market research, today announced the launch of its Australia sample consisting of over 226,000 Aussie respondents. Social Media Australia is the first of the company’s Social Media International Suite, being rolled out in a number of different countries throughout 2010.

“Our goal for this year is to become more proactive about understanding and addressing our clients’ research needs,” said Sean Case, senior vice president of Peanut Labs. “We recognize that there is an increasing demand for access to respondents outside of North America and the UK and are aiming to rollout our family of social media international sample across 20 different countries in order to best meet such requests.”

Utilizing a unique methodology of sampling respondents through online social platforms such as Facebook – which alone provides access to over 6,500,000 active users over the age of 13 who live in Australia – Peanut Labs now has the ability to target Aussie residents based on age, gender, employment status and marital status. Peanut Labs’ Social Media Australia sample offers market researchers a chance to better understand the consumer behavior of this country down under.

For more information regarding Peanut Labs’ Social Media Australia sample, contact Sean Case at sean.case@peanutlabs.com or sales@peanutlabs.com.

About Peanut Labs

Peanut Labs is changing the way the world conducts online market research. With its social media sample, Peanut Labs enables online market researchers to make informed decisions based on quality data through its advanced recruiting methodology and partnerships with over 200 leading online social networking applications and communities. Peanut Labs is based in San Francisco with offices in Seattle and New York City. The company was founded in July 2007 and is privately held. For more information, visit http://www.peanutlabs.com.

Highlights of Last Week’s Discussion Panel

If history is truly written by the winners, then last Thursday  will likely  go down in history as a pivotal discussion between a handful of social media giants.  As we mentioned on Monday’s blog, our COO Ali Moiz roped in a panel of of 2009’s biggest “winners” into an engaging  discourse on the future of the social gaming platform for 2010 at the Google headquarters in Mountain View. Included in the panel is the shrewd wisdom of well -seasoned editor Eric Eldon of  Inside Social Games .

If you’re anything like me during the State of the Union address, then you appreciate highlights in a blog to serve as a useful companion to the videotaped event. Look no further. You don’t want to miss out on the insight of these power players.

The backbone of the discussion, of course, rested on the future of monetization in the social gaming space.  Here’s a round-up of some of my favorite dismal, riveting, and sometimes optimistic insight from our panelists.

Daniel James fired up the symposium, immediately reiterating his position about the future of social gaming and monetizaton.  James’ recent post on his blog, The Flogging Will Continue seeded the topic of the discussion. James denotes,  “Customer acquisition is cheaper on Facebook than it is on the Internet …so you look at that and you say, well Facebook isn’t making any money off of this and that is absurd. From their point of view I think it’s perfectly legitimate for them to say, ‘Okay, we’d like to take some of the money here, how can we do that?'”.

He concedes,”Why shouldn’t we as game developers have to pay to access a user base?”

But all is not lost for the little guys tinkering away in their developer garage with minimal VC funding.  James asserts, “Revenue will increase this year.  But I don’t think that that means necessarily that the same gold rush circumstances that have existed previously will continue.”

Jonathan Flesher, VP of Business Development, Zynga softens the blow: “I do think in the end, games will still continue to grow on the Facebook platform and it will be a better user experience overall.”

Lisa Marino, Chief Revenue Officer of RockYou presents an interesting model to help remedy the fear of shark tank economic trends, arguing, “In general…I think the overall trend is— especially with the Facebook changes, this seems much more of a math equation and much more of an advertising game.  And I think what Facebook is doing on the credit side is an interesting alternative that really helps some of the smaller developers stay in the game and it helps to even the playing field. Because unless you’re RockYou or Zynga, where you can throw many millions of dollars at a game launch, it’s very difficult for a smaller developer to get a game off the ground. And by participating, I think, on the payments platform, you’ve got an opportunity as a smaller developer to leverage some of the distribution that Facebook’s bringing to the table as part of that overall program.”

As Daniel James strongly argues on his blog that “there just aren’t many more people left who havn’t made a FB account,”  Mark Rose, Director of Product, Payments and Platform, Playspan, counters ” Facebook has let’s say 300 to 350 million users it’s still at the end of the day it hasn’t gone completely mainstream yet.”  Rose fights with indisputable numbers as much as James sways with gut hunch.

Wilson Kriegel, VP of Business Development and Ad Sales, Outspark shares some of James’ self-dubbed “slightly apocalyptic” outlook when he warns, ” quite frankly, the cost of direct marketing will go up.  The cost of operating a business will go up.  The cost of development per game and game production development needs to increase in quality.  Ultimately it comes to the LTV is going to be the big buzz word of 2010, which is one of my predictions I guess. LTV is how you’re going to run your business…you don’t own your users. So, reality check, Facebook owns the users. You […] are just able to monetize them”.

And the little guys?

“VCs are going to stop funding a lot of the small players because they won’t be able to compete and they won’t see the ROI.”

Kriegel’s prediction isn’t completely dismal, however.  He offers valuable insight and ups the ante on the 2010  social gaming platform.  2007’s enchantment of short-lived “distractions” of super pokes will give way to the longer embrace of deeper connections through social gaming. “Right now … I believe they’re really scratching the surface on what it means to be social. I think we’ll see something that is much, much more social in social games next year that will have a huge effect on the industry.”

Quite possibly, 2010 will see gaming developers concentrate on long-term goals by evolving the quality over quickfire ways to bloat viral growth spurts. Imagine a harmonious marriage between a user-centric approach and stronger long-term relationships with investors.

Eric Eldon predicts, “I think we’re going to see another company, at least, it might not get quite as big as Zynga but it will come out of nowhere and surprise the industry”. All ears perk up in the room.  Sure. Every rep there has been a part of that.  The surprise contender from out of left field is what every developer strives for, is inspired by, or is wary of. Usually all of the above.

Eldon also touches upon the very important topic of mobile apps: “I think, a lot of mobile app developers who are building social cell games on the iPhone, Android, et cetera…I think they’ve been experimenting with virtual goods now that Apple is letting them do that more within their games.. [and] come out with the next generation of mobile games that monetizes much better with virtual goods and social features. ”

And Lisa Marino agrees. She ends this portion of the discussion with what I believe to be the most riveting and perhaps inspiring note: “Brands are now really coming online to embrace, and want to participate in, social gaming in a very big way and they want to sponsor premium experiences inside of games.”

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Only history will reveal.

Our very own Ali Moiz shares his own 2010 forecast on Eldon’s blog Inside Social Games.

1. Non-premium apps that generate “viral” traffic and make money largely off display ads will take a big hit as a category. There will be individual apps who figure out how to go viral, but in aggregate this category will decline at least 25% in terms of MAUs.

2. Social games will be affected as well, though not as much as 1 since they can compensate through ad-spending and a higher % of returning users. Competition will heat up since there are less free/viral users to go around. Ad spending and user acquisition rates will increase, rewarding those developers with deeper content that monetizes better.

3. Friend app invites/requests will become largely ineffective. Their proposed placement according to current FB screenshots means they will be checked as frequently by users as “Updates” currently are in the Inbox, i.e. almost never. Expect this viral channel to become ineffective compared to today.

4. Developers will spam email en-masse in desperation, resulting in that channel becoming useless and ignored. Relevant email updates will likely get drowned out by email spam generated by other apps. Already there are email providers offering to “sell” Facebook emails collected from apps. I’ve been pitched rates of $150 per 1 million verified FB emails by 3rd-party vendors. At those rates, there will be massive spam flooding the system next month via email.

5. The newsfeed will be the main viral channel left for most apps. Apps will genuinely have to push out more relevant and highly engaging content to get exposure. Current newsfeed spam methods will become less effective when everyone starts spamming the newsfeed next month.

What (if anything) does the iPhone 3G mean for mobile research?

Apple iPhone 3GUnless you’ve been keeping your head buried in the sand these past few months, you must surely know what this gadget is. Yes, the Apple iPhone is releasing in less than a week. And I can’t wait. Among other things the new iPhone 3G offers 50% faster internet speeds, full MS Office and Outlook integration, and perhaps most interestingly an expected market of 20 million iPhone converts by the same time next year. Sounds outrageous? Apple expects more. This recent order of 50 million 8GB Nand flash memory chips placed by Apple from Samsung Electronics suggests that they expect the new iPhone to fly off the shelves.

It doesn’t matter whether you hate Apple or the iPhone, or if you’re a crackberry fan. By the end of 2008 Apple will have sold over 12 million of these things (they’re already past 6 million now). This creates a large standardized platform that is incredibly valuable and lucrative for anyone who wants to build a mobile business. What does this mean for mobile market research?

1. Safari.
The 3G high-speed internet, coupled with a powerful, full-featured Safari browser means that you could run exactly the same surveys on the iPhone that you currently run online if you really wanted to. The functionality is all there, including the zoom in/out that allows a user to view complex web pages on a 3.5″ screen. The touchscreen limitation however means that in practise it will be difficult and painful for complex surveys to work well. We can’t expect users to make choices on a 12 x 24 grid of options on a tiny screen. But we can expect them to answer polls, or multiple-choice questions with relative ease. Safari will allow researchers to do more with mobile surveys than they currently can.

2. Apple Notifications API
By using a new real-time notification API researchers will be able to communicate directly to respondents, in real-time, on the device they have in their pocket. Notifying a respondent immediately when a survey is available for him/her is an obvious first application which would significantly improve project delivery times.

3. App Store
Apple is giving independent developers and enterprises the ability to directly reach millions of consumers through the new App Store. And you don’t have to pay anything to Apple if your app is free. I can see some of the mobile research companies developing a free survey app that will be distributed to thousands of consumers at no cost through the App Store.

Greenfield and some of the other companies experimenting with mobile research are excited, as they should be. This could be the big break mobile research has been waiting for. Will the iPhone get 20 million converts by the same time next year? Am I drinking the Apple Kool-Aid? Time will tell.

Technology Review

The year’s largest technology conference in Market Research is happening this week in New York. Among other things, the hot topics should be SaaS (“Software as a Service”) and the Research Quality panel. SaaS is a trend that has been happening in the wider software industry where consumers are increasingly using hosted services and software. The preeminent example of a SaaS company is Benioff’s Salesforce which has used its exclusively SaaS CRM platform to compete effectively against older, more entrenched competitors. Will this trend carry over into market research? I believe so, given a few years. Companies such as ClearView, Decipher, Insight Express, Zoomerang and others are offering fully automated, self-service SaaS research software that is web-based and operated through any browser. This is also the future that Google’s new Google Docs is betting on – a world where people will use Word / Excel / Powerpoint through the browser. Enterprise software should be worried. Very worried.

The other interesting to come out of the conference will be Data Quality, which has been the most important issue in the online research industry over the last couple of years and which was the subject of a recent Forrester study. As traditional market research faces increasing pressure from new web-based technologies, what sets researchers apart from everyone else is the validity of their predictions. The science and rigor of creating appropriate sample frames and adjusting for bias will never go away. This is the competitive edge of traditional market research – both online and offline. It can “predict the future” based on a consistent and replicable scientific method. Other techniques such as web polls are not representative of the general population or the target market. Poor data quality from cheaters and spammers therefore hits right at the center of what should be market research’s forte – valid, reliable data. It scares researchers.

Peanut Labs, OTX, Burke and Kantar will be participating on the panel at CASRO Tech discussing data quality and various approaches being developed in the industry to address this problem. We welcome you to drop in and share your thoughts.

A Great Mind: Ali Moiz

 

For the past 54 years, the best and brightest in advertising, marketing, and media research have stormed the halls of the ARF Annual Convention and Expo.  This year’s Re:Think 2008 show promised the same allure of years past, and indeed, delivered just as much action-packed excitement.   

As we reach the climatic close of the convention each year, ARF takes time out to recognize the rising stars in research innovation.  These important leaders of the research industry have taken the initiative to pioneer new methods and strategies, offering unique solutions to our dynamic industry.  This recognition comes in the form of the “ARF Great Mind Awards,” presented to only those few professionals whose excellence is uncannily seen in the eyes of the market research industry.

The 2008 ARF award for the development of the most innovative research idea, AKA “The ARF Innovation Award,” goes to Ali Moiz, COO, and one of the chief “nutty professors” behind the innovative research sample and related technology-based solutions of Peanut Labs. Inc!

Our hats off to all of this year’s award recipients, and to Ali, and his industry leading powerhouse at Peanut Labs!

A note re: Keynote

It has begun! The ARF Re: Think 2008 convention has officially commenced, and what an inspirational start. This morning’s keynote session did exactly as it was intended to do.

The 3 Keynote speakers set the tone, amped the cause and kicked-off what is sure to be a very educational and forward thinking 3 days.

Alan Wurtzel, from NBC Universal Research hit the nail on the head – we’re in a sea of change, and the only way to keep from being crushed by the waves is to research and adapt accordingly! Exploring the influx of new media types provides new avenues for advertising, marketing, and of course research.

Sean Bratches of ESPN explored diversification in ways to reach fans (consumers and customers). Coming full circle, technology is also giving fans new ways to interact with their favorite brands (or in some cases, their least favorite). Something to think about: how are you reaching out to your brand’s fans, and how are you encouraging them to interact with you?

Carla Hendra of Ogilvy demonstrated the very innovative model their organization is adopting in order to better serve their clients. By flattening the hierarchy and bringing all of the diverse and creative elements of the company together, they can provide a complete 360 solution in a fast and efficient way. I would venture a prediction that we’ll be seeing more adoption of this type of model as we forge forward in this diverse and ever changing world. The need to integrate diverse specialties and expertise channels is even more important as the landscape continues to evolve and change.

Of course the panel on Media-agnostic ad agencies provided very interesting insignt into the world of agencies who are forging forward and innovating in the way we can all start to integrate new-media into the ways we reach out to our customers and potential consumers. Bring these new media options into your office and see how they expand your horizons. Are your colleagues on  social-networks? Do you use Flickr and Twitter to interact with your colleagues and peers? Doing so may help you to find new ways to use these mediums to connect with consumers.

 Themes to look out for over the next few days:

  • Digital opportunity
  • Investing in research = investment in the future
  • Re-invention
  • and most excitingly, innovation!

We’ll be blogging throughout the conference, so stay tuned for updates, thoughts, questions, themes, etc. Be sure to check out the Keynote Opening Session sponsor Peanut Labs, Inc.