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Whats the Buzz on Google’s Buzz?

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 12, 2010 in General, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience |

Reposted from http://blog.label.ch

When in logged into my Gmail a few nights ago I got a screen that introduced me to Google’s Buzz. At a first glance I skipped over it not wanting to go to deep into a distracting setup that stopped me from doing what I had originally set out to do : check my email . In hindsight I am left questioning whether Google’s BUZZ has any buzz? Buzz will probably have impact on the digital marketing world overtime but its not that apparent at the moment. However, we should take notice of this change. Buzz is a service that aims to compete in the social networking space not unlike the services of Bebo, Orkut ( owned by Google) Facebook, Twitter to take on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, across devices like the PC and mobile phone.

What Buzz is attempting to do is add the social networking features in the burgeoning number of Google’s services, over the top of the existing number of contacts a person has in their Gmail accounts. It has 97million users at its disposal to do this but it does pale in consideration of Facebook’s 400 million users, Myspace’s 130 million user and Friendster’s 115 million users. Google’s published rationale for Buzz is to work a more centralised and sorted approach to social services, sorting out the noise and organising information into a a relevant experience for users. On its blog it says ” With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations. “

At the moment all the sentiment on the airwaves of the net, is that people have invested alot of time in developing their Facebook profiles and friends and their Twitter profiles to want to pull out of these platforms. Here is one observation I had of myself and one that I think is also being spoken about by Buzz critics. I am used to using Gmail for email, behaviourially I go there just to do that : email. I go to Facebook for other reasons , I rarely actually go to Twitter, but access it via another platform . I think changing these behaviours will be hard for Google to do unless it provides a real efficiency. It has said that Buzz is built on all the open API’s so there’s nothing to stop it creating Twitter and FB connections and adding them as services overtime too. The question is will it work? Can Buzz change people’s behaviours ?

The other side to this is its business case. It obvious that Google is trying to hedge into social search to monetize social networking in terms of semantic and geo targeted advertising . It has long been locked out of Facebook and not privvy to the masses of consumer behavioural data that Facebook has been accumulating and only recently coming to terms with and being able to create some intelligence out of it. This is potentially a huge market. Google can calculate and index underlying semantics and intelligence surrounding peoples conversations, interests, geo location using this information for a more targeted and semantically driven array of advertising services.

Google is also well aware of the mobile advertising potential surrounding both mobile use and geo location. There are critical statistics surrounding mobile use and social networks ( lets look specifically at Facebook )

• There are more than 65 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.

• People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are almost 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

• There are more than 180 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

The Buzz service is only open to or limited to Gmail users or through Google’s mobile phone , but knowing Google this will not stop just at Gmail. Remember Google got into the consumer electronic space via moblies , why ? Not to build devices but to protect it revenues into the future. People are moving away or adding a smart phone in addition to their PC, and in the developing world the PC isn’t the connection to a digital world, the smart phone is. So mobile advertising is critical for Google’s growth or maintenance of its business revenues in the mid to long term.

We have seen social media destinations like Facebook or Qzone , Hi 5, Twitter grow at exponential rates in the past few years and take of the form of the new giants and the “Colossus”, Google, is now stepping in with a bid to compete for the consumer attention in social media. Google is no small player and has in recently shown it will flex it muscle and take on the giants or Microsoft and Apple. Buzz possibly has the potential to be a ” Game Changer” if they get the adoption equation right. The game change will not only be for the established Social networks but for many small startup companies. Take for instance Foursquare or Brightkite who are rapidly gaining popularity these maybe shadowed and pushed into the margins very quickly or get bought as Android and if Google’s phone gains greater market traction. As Google says on the Google phone , “Google Buzz is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context — the answer to the question “where were you when you shared this?” can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint an extremely rich picture of that place” with a Buzz overlay on Google maps.

Sadly Google Buzz on the iPhone is a clunky experience.
My thoughts. Buzz will take a long time to take off. Its hard for people to change old habits if there is no significant increase in efficiency or simplicity.Its a play for social search for targeted advertising tat will become increasingly important, and Buzz mobile may be the real mid to long term winner.

To view the Buzz offer you should take a look at the Google Blog.

The Blog is maintained and updated by John Horniblow AKA Bladedigital – On the cutting Edge

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