Welcome to our top five picks of some of the digital stories that have got us talking this week, brought to you by a selection of Brasscals.
Got an opinion or musing on any of this week’s stories? Join in the conversation with the comments box at the bottom.
Andrew Brown, Creative Director
This week Tech Crunch reported that Wizard101 has reached 20 million users and rivals Moshi Monsters has 50 million kids subscribed. One of the first MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) I came across for kids was Disney’s excellent Toon Town. Disney doesn’t release subscriber numbers, but it’s figured they have around 1.2 million active.
With the huge success of grown up games such as World of Warcraft and Eve Online it’s been no surprise that the big franchises have started to follow suit. Guestimates of Eve subscribers are around 700k – a less impressive figure than Moshi Monsters, but remember Moshi and the like are Freemium services whereas Eve subscribers each pay $10 (£6) each per month. According to Wikipedia, WoW has 11.4 million paying subscribers.
DC Universe and Star Trek Online allow for deep storytelling and sandbox story creation and the largest branded franchise aimed at kids in this area is Lego Universe, attempting to replicate the success of their console game titles which include Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
As the final Harry Potter film dawns upon us, JK Rowling’s Pottermore is an attempt to open the Harry Potter world out to fans to develop and extend the existing Harry Potter stories seemingly in a similar way to Neal Stephenson’s Mongoliad. That sounds fine – but not half as much fun as enrolling in Hogwarts yourself would be. Here’s what Massively have to say about the subject.
James Wheatley, Head of Technical and Scoping
Paywalls, do they work?
The Times Online reached a milestone last week with 100,000 subscribers. At £2 a week, this adds up to a tidy £10m a year. Though the real money in newspapers comes through the advertising, a place where interest is still thin on the ground for the Times Online. 100K people aren’t worth advertising to compared to the millions that can be reached with a free to view news site. With print sales down as well, News Corp is playing a waiting game, banking on subscriptions raising enough to get advertisers interested. Although I do seriously wonder if the number of people willing to pay will plateau, the sign up rate is already falling.
It will be interesting to see how News Corp react after yesterday announcing they were closing down the News of the World, ironically after hacking through people’s phone walls.
Ally Manock, Head of Connect
On Wednesday evening, Barack Obama was the star of Twitter’s first ‘Twitter Town Hall’. The US President already has 8.9m followers and has been known to involve social media a great deal in his activities (e.g. his election campaign), so it was sure to create a lot of interest.
Twitter Town Hall invited people to tweet their questions about the American economy and healthcare to Obama using the #AskObama hashtag.
Whether or not you’re interested in the US economy, the interesting part was how Twitter ran the event. They teamed up with a company called Mass Relevance, who “curated, visualised and integrated conversations” for the event.
There were more than 70,000 tweets sent and this is how they were dealt with:
“Twitter Search algorithms identified the most engaged-with Tweets from your questions and retweets by a panel of seasoned Twitter users with experience discussing the economy. Questions were read live to the President by Twitter’s Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey; the questions and @whitehouse summaries were retweeted by @townhall.”
You can see the recorded webcast at http://askobama.twitter.com
Mark Kelly, Digital Solutions Director
Channel 5 has announced that it has tied up with Facebook to allow fans of their recently acquired Big Brother show to vote off contestants, using an app for their laptops or smartphones.
Voting rights are purchased via the Facebook Credits payment system. This is interesting in itself as it’s the first instance of a broadcaster using Facebook in this way and chimes with a recent blog post we wrote about the growing integration of Social Media and TV.
It’s no longer about a website extending a programme’s interaction (as per the early days of Big Brother) but about feature rich social media channels and apps. Features that include live news feeds, video highlights, voting and (possibly for Big Brother?) selling merchandise, all away from a website.
Martin Davies, Online Visibility Manager
It’s always great to see new link building ideas surfacing using new tools and services. These creative link building ideas come from Jason Stinnett of Internet Exposure for using Google’s new image search in a number of ways. Jason has identified three main scenarios for using Google’s search by image:
1) Research industry influencers
2) Identify link opportunities by searching for popular guest posters
3) Find coverage that didn’t result in a link
Research industry influencers
Identifying industry influencers and what they like is key to building relationships and hopefully links. Online personal branding is important; I often read blogs can identify people I’ve seen at other blogs by the picture they use when writing in the comments section. You can copy the image URL and search using Google’s image search to see where they hang out online and what their interests are.
Identify link opportunities by searching for popular guest posters
This scenario is great for highlighting where influencers have guest posted on blogs in the past and therefore which blogs might present an opportunity for guest posting on in the future.
Find coverage that didn’t result in a link
Another way you can use Search By Image is to mine for press coverage and participation in offline activities that didn’t result in a link. Searching by brand logos and “stock” CEO photos are a great way to find pages where a company or employee is getting highlighted.