If you're keeping up with all this March Madness, there's never been a more fun and better way to keep up than the CBS Sports NCAA basketball "Official Tournament Bracket" application.
When it works.
TechCrunch reported on Friday that there were a few minor snafus with the application...oh, like the system not knowing that Texas A&M beat BYU (And I'll restrain myself now with the Aggie jokes, considering that I live in Austin).
Mike Arrington points out that "this is the risk that big brands take when they put an app out on Facebook." Risky business indeed, especially in a Cinderella upset year, which we seem to have at least some of this go round.
Me, I don't tend to get too worked up about these sorts of things -- unless, of course, they involve golf. Then you'll see my commenting on the Facebook group as well.
So for me, using the Facebook tournament brackets app was all in good fun and, surprisingly, I found myself leading my small circle of friends who had also downloaded the app (49 points at last count) and filled out their brackets.
Me, the guy who never even started a basketball game on his 8th grade team.
Alas, I did not have Davidson breaking out, and I certainly didn't pick Duke to take an early fall -- but my East and South brackets are poifect.
We'll see where they end up, but the data don't lie so far.
On the subject of nothin' but net data, Mediaweek is reporting that ESPN is cutting ties with Specific Media and other "unnamed" ad networks.
Why the change?
They're more about "arbitrage" than algorithms, which Mediaweek's Mike Shields explains "crystallizes a philosophical debate in the online ad sales industry."
There are those who want to do things the old way, he explains, with the direct selling of premium content brands, and then there are the geeks (NOTE: My phrase for the "math-loving crowd that favors automation and data. Yeah, Google and the like.)
I'm not so sure the two have to be mutually exclusive.
But if you follow the growth curve of Google's share price and compare it to that of most media companies over the last several years, I would submit to you that the geeks (and the ad networks) are leading in growth, if not in absolute $$$.
As Shields also observes, most large publisher sites are "swimming in avails" (available ad inventory) that they can't sell, with between 20 and 70 percent going unsold at any given time.
Ad networks help close those gaps and sell the remnant inventory.
Explain to me again why they wouldn't want to use the ad networks to offload that inventory?
Shields suggests a few reasons, including that large publishers see networks as profiting on "their" brand investments and "their" data, or that using ad networks devalues the power of content.
I think this could be penny wise and pound foolish. If these large publishers have excess remnant availability now, where does that 20-70 percent range slide when the recession heads further down the post?
No, it seems to me the order of the day for Web advertising is more data and more scale, not less.
Privacy concerns aside, the large ad networks deliver both, and the reach and impact of the network effect they can effectively leverage cannot (and should not) be ignored.
But what do I know? I had Duke in the Sweet 16.