Barack ObamaInteresting article from the Washington Post has revealed that for every dollar spent on internet advertising by the Barack Obama presidential campaign, $27.16 were raised in the first two months of 2008. Not all of the $91 million raised in January and February were donated by internet followers, but the majority was.

Obama’s internet strategy all along has been “to build an online relationship” with supporters who will not only donate dollars, but also their time to perform essential tasks such as registering voters. Ads for Obama pop up everywhere from political blogs to traditional newspaper websites, and even on search engine home pages connected to certain search terms.

One potential point of interest that should be noted is the subtle way Obama is able to attract donations. While the Clinton campaign, which lags way behind in online strategy, comes straight out and asks for money in its emails, Obama’s links from ads and emails always direct the potential supporter to sign-up pages for online groups or invitations to Obama events. It seems that by building a real relationship with supporters and not making them feel useful only for their money, Obama has actually attracted record amounts of fundraising dollars. Definitely a useful lesson for those who are looking to use new media technologies to raise money for their various ventures in the future.

But there is another unmentioned point of interest to be taken from the article-the return on investment from the internet campaigns of Hillary Clinton and potentially John McCain actually dwarf the ROI stemming from Obama’s internet ad spending. While Clinton raised $37 million in the first 2 months of 2008, a small amount compared to Obama’s $91 million, she only spent a total of $369, 000 to raise that amount-an ROI of $100.27 for every dollar spent. McCain spent $262, 000 to raise $22 million, though no numbers have been released detailing how much of the $22 million came from internet fundraising. Even if McCain only raised $11 million from his internet ad spending, that would still render an ROI of $41.98 for every dollar spent.

So in the end, it seems we’ll have to wait for the election results to see which internet strategy is more effective. If Clinton’s impressive ROI for internet ad spending doesn’t translate into votes, it’s pretty well useless. Maybe ROI should encompass votes renders from internet ad spending as well. We have a while to wait to find out the truth. In the meantime, expect plenty more articles from all the popular news sources about how Obama is revolutionizing online campaigning, even though the numbers state otherwise.

The Many Uses Of Qik

March 23, 2008

Qik Logo An interesting article from Los Angeles Times Interactive details the many uses of Qik, the new media startup that allows you to lifestream in real-time from your Nokia cellphone. Video streams live to the Qik website where it is saved for re-broadcast and even enable real-time chat as you’re taping.

While a tool that can undoubtedly be used for fun and games, Qik has several more practical uses according to the article. Hardcore user Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo, a human-powered search engine, finds quick a useful addition to his other online social networking activities. “My whole existence online is one big focus group,” said Calacanis, allowing him the insight and connections into his target market that he requires to build a product that people will try.

Besides its obvious business uses, Qik has been used for more compassionate reasons as well. One woman, whose paternal grandmother was in her death throes, was able to broadcast her grandmother via Qik so that her father, located thousands of miles away was able to see her and ultimately get to her bedside the day before she died.

Of course Qik has not-so-great implications as well. Like Calacanis notes, “The worst moment in almost everybody’s life is going to be captured on film”. But then again, we all know how few of us actually learn from our mistakes. History tends to repeat itself over and over again. But with a self-imposed big bro watching over us as technology turns life into one big lifestream, and with big bro’s vision saved on the web, maybe we’ll finally be able to learn from our mistakes by having the ability to review them. Maybe.

Is online video offer a more intimate connection with viewers than traditional television?  Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision 3, home to the huge successes such as DiggNation thinks so:

“When you watch TV, you’re seven feet away and sitting back. But when you watch on your iPod or your laptop, it’s only inches away or you’re holding it in your hands. I wonder whether the intimacy of our handheld devices and computers creates more of a sense of intimacy and sharedness and companionship than just sitting back and watching TV.”

Interesting concept to ponder.  I pulled the quote from an excellent article in the Guardian about the recent online video show trend.

The popularity of internet video continues to grow, with Google’s YouTube accounting for a whopping 10% of all internet traffic.  Internet service providers are struggling to provide the necessary bandwidth to support our incessant video viewing and downloading, and some ISP’s such as Comcast are even looking at controlling traffic by interfering with file sharing or limiting downloads.  ABI Research figures it will cost service providers $24 billion by 2012 just to keep up with the bandwidth demands brought on by the advent of digital media.  But while American internet service providers anger customers by placing limits on their internet usage, a European Union-funded P2P research project called P2P-Next is looking to revolutionize the delivery of online video.  In Europe anyway.

Video delivery has been a serious problem for ISP’s the past couple of years, especially when it comes to streaming actual television content.  The infrastructure of the internet is not set up to enable simultaneous streaming to hundreds or even thousands of homes at one time.  One potential  solution to the problem is multicasting, where a data stream such as a television episode is distributed to a series of local servers which then re-stream the content to local users.  Currently though, most IP routers don’t support multicasting nor is their a financial incentive for ISP’s to use it.  P2P-Next realizes that internet TV requires new business models to succeed and has pinpointed P2P platforms as the most cost-effective and efficient way to broadcast television content to viewers.

The idea of using P2P as the means of distributing internet television content on the internet has caught on in Europe, with the European Union funding P2P-Next with a 19 million Euro grant to develop a next-generation P2P content delivery platform over the next 4 years.  The project is a collaboration of 21 different institutions from 12 different countries and will eventually result in an open-source P2P platform that will deliver internet TV to any device.  Given that linear broadcasting and the traditional home theater is giving way to more mobility and interaction, P2P-Next will integrate social networking features into the platform, allowing users to create communities built around their favorite content for example.

P2P file-sharer Tribler, the biggest partner in the massive endeavor, says that no central servers will be need to support the distribution platform which will feature BitTorrent backwards compatibility.  Within the year, P2P playlists will be available that will function as RSS feeds do for text data currently, Wiki-style moderation will have users make sure only the best content is available from the platform and a reputation system that can have spammers permanently removed from the service.

How P2P-Next will address the issue of bandwidth glut is unclear although the consortium says this will be a technical issue they address as they develop their revolutionary new business model.  And it seems their timing is right as P2P blog TorrentFreak reports that at any one time 50% of BitTorrent downloads are popular television show episodes.  Popular shows such as “Lost” see up to 10 million downloads for each episode, approaching the number of actual viewers that tune in via their living rooms.