Crowd-Sourcing Start-Ups Give The Audience More Of A Voice

Web 2.0 rolled into San Francisco last week where a few new start-ups caught my eye. Along with the conference came a big announcement from Google, which, when added to Oprah's first live tweet event, made the week a little more invigorating than usual for those of who get excited about this stuff (a pitiable lot, I'll grant you, but someone's got to love this stuff). Here are the highlights. 


Bubbalon - I met "Chief Ideas Guy" Todd Hamilton at the Bubbalon Pod in the Longtail Pavilion, where Web 2.0 puts early stage start-ups (it's also where the only action at the conference can be found). He and his team have developed a content rating system that relies on an embeddable slider that publishers place on their pages. The audience uses the slider to indicate the degree to which they liked or reacted to the content they're seeing.  They also have a multi-slider, which Hamilton says is good for brand marketers who want to measure multiple attributes of a piece of content such as a product page, or a special offer. Bubbalon bubbles-up all these ratings to its own site, where publishers and marketers can survey the metrics for their accounts. The audience can also share its rating across their social graphs.  It goes beyond the Facebook "Like" or the Google "+1" (more on that in a minute) to get at more complete reactions from the audience, which may be useful in refining content strategies, product promotions or offers. 

CapSEO - Anji Ismail, the young CEO of CapSEO, a pay-for-performance talent sourcing start-up, says its platform matches skilled freelancers to companies with content, SEM and SEO needs. Using a proprietary matching algorithm, companies enter their requirements and CapSEO finds the right talent to deliver on those. Unlike oDesk, you have no relationship with the talent; CapSEO is your only point of contact, and you use its dashboard to keep track of the progress of those working for you and the results they're producing toward your stated objectives. Might be worth looking at, given its pay-per-performance model. 

Ideavibes is also about matching people with business needs, only its focus is a Crowd Engagement Platform, which it says enables publishers and marketers to source content and market-test ideas or products.  In order to better demonstrate how its platform works, it launched a crowd-sourcing contest in San Francisco called The goal is to get the best ideas for addressing affordable housing and transportation issues in the city.  Check it out. 

Zite is a new iPad news aggregator app that takes on the dominant player Flipboard, but goes it one better with a proprietary learning algorithm built over five years at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where it is based. Zite determines what you see in the magazine-style app based on your Twitter graph and Google reader.  Then, it enables you to indicate which content you liked or didn't, which sources you prefer or don't, and uses other signals to learn what you might like to see most. It has a fresh and simple user interface, which isn't as beautiful as Flipboard's, but definitely more practical. When I first started using it a couple weeks back, it was serving full articles and associated media from the content source. The day after I met with its CEO, Ali Davar, at Web 2.0, it was slapped with a cease and desist letter from a coalition of the biggest publishers in the country demanding that it adhere to fair-use standards at work in most other readers / aggregators.  When we spoke, Davar said company strategists were interested in building the best possible user experience, which is why they initially flouted the fair-use doctrine, but always comply with publishers who ask that they adhere to it.  Good as his word, by Friday the app was featuring only the headlines, snippets and thumbnails from all the publishers covered in the cease-and-desist, requiring readers to click through to the full article at the source to finish reading the story.  Still, the user experience has suffered very little from this setback, and I find it an incredibly useful way to catch up on everything I missed before turning in for the night.  Download this app right away -- I think you'll be impressed. 

As for Google's "+1" button, it's clearly another signal that, in addition to the company's growing interest in all things social, it is interested in listening more intently to its users, and leveraging those queues to make search results -- and PPC ads -- more useful and relevant.  Like the crowd-source start-ups I mentioned earlier, suddenly the audience is more empowered than ever before.   

It also means both publishers and marketers are able to listen more carefully than ever before.  This can only be a really good thing, and is something worth getting excited about.

1 comment about "Crowd-Sourcing Start-Ups Give The Audience More Of A Voice".
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  1. Ronald Stack from Zavee LLC, April 4, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.

    For a locally-oriented loyalty/rewards program that also lets consumers crowd-source their purchase decisions, check out

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