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Why Don't Mobile Apps do a Better Job with Push Notifications? CNN, ESPN, Bin Laden & Andre Ethier.

One of the most powerful elements of mobile applications is ability to push notifications. Meanwhile, push notifications are rarely integrated / integrated well... and misuse is quite dangerous because it leads to consumer fatigue and removal. I've thought and written about this before (see here and here). But a couple unrelated things occurred this past week that got me rethinking about push notifications: 1. I was alerted almost instantly of Bin Laden's death by CNN's push alert (which was followed by tons of SMSes).

The CNN app sensibly sends notifications for important breaking news. They do a good job. It would could be improved significantly if it learned more about me and sent more than national / very mainstream news... but it's effective and not overwhelming. There are multiple ways this could be achieved. For instance, a deeper notification control panel (I'd instantly opt in for business, local, sports). Another option is to use Facebook Connect and my personal activity to target the news.

2. There were two no-hitters this week and three or four more games that took no-hit bids into late innings. Meanwhile, Andre Ethier's historic 30 game hit streak was broken. And millions of viewers suffered through 2.5 hours of boring telecast to see a 2minute horse race this weekend.

Point #2 is obviously centered around sports - but it is applicable to any field / interest.... so let's go down the sports example you can extract how this is meaningful for your audience / application.

I am a clearly a big sports fan. I have several ESPN applications and an MLB app that I paid ~$15.00. I would have appreciated being alerted that I might want to tune in and watch the 9th inning of a no-hit bid. Or that Ethier has one more at-bat to extend his streak to 31. Or that the Kentucky Derby horses are FINALLY approaching the gates. All three are examples of the applications being lazy: they are relying on me to proactively open the application and seek out information. Well guess what? I have given you permissions and invited you to do more.... and that's a powerful opportunity. So take advantage of it.

Just as CNN decides what is important enough to message their millions of mobile subscribers - other app providers (in this case ESPN and MLB) can do the same. As active consumers of your application, we defer to you to tell us what is breaking and newsworthy. If you do it right, you can instantly engage with your users (and engagement is the key to mobile).

Quick Hits: Dogpatch Labs, Living Proof, JibJab & StickyBits

A few Dogpatch Labs / Polaris related updates - which I typically try to bundle together!

1. Dogpatch Labs New York featured on CNN

CNN's recent piece "The next Silicon Valley? It may be New York" looks at the growing tech scene in New York and features Dogpatch Labs and our focus on "open-source entrepreneurship."

2. Living Proof unveils unique referral program

Living Proof, who just won three CEW Beauty Awards, launched a referral program that: 1. rewards recipients 20% of their purchase 2. and gives successful referrers a $48 gift card

3. StickBits 1.5 Launches

StickyBits has released a new version of their application and it features "official bits", threading, voting and more. iPhone users can download the newest app here and Android users can go here.

4. JibJab Launches World Cup themed videos

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Apple's Latest iPhone Advertisement: All About Big Brands

In March, I wrote about Apple's full page advertisement in the New York Times touting the iPhone as a weekend tool: "Getting the most out of your weekend, one app at a time."

In yesterday's New York Times, they ran a continuation of the ongoing campaign - but with a slight twist: promote the branded apps (I wrote a post this week about seven of the best branded iPhone apps):

"It's pretty amazing who's on the iPhone these days. From CNN to Nike, Starbucks to FedEx, there are over 100,000 apps for just about anything. Only on the iPhone and the nation's fastest 3G network." It is a poor photo, but you can see that each of the applications comes from a very recognizable name: Nike, Starbucks, eBay, CNN, Gap, ESPN, Facebook, Target, Bank of America, Whole Foods, CNN, USA Today, Avis, eTrade, Pizza Hut and Barnes & Nobles.

Also of note, other than CNN's $1.99 app, all of these applications are free. In many of Apple's advertisements - and certainly in their app recommendations - they tend to promote paid applications... but here, the brand names are intended to sell hardware and reputation rather than micro-purchases.

iphone apps new york times ad

Watching Michael Jackson's Memorial Service with CNN Live

Earlier today, I wrote about how Facebook Connect is being used by CNN during their televised and online broadcasts of the Michael Jackson memorial service. CNN Live's online coverage has officially kicked off and so to has the Facebook Connect integration / chat widget. Not as well done or interactive as the Youtube / Green Eyed World implementation (namely because CNN isn't filtering the Facebook discussion!). Also worth noting: if you watch the broadcast, they mention Facebook every few minutes and encourage people to interact via the CNN Live / Facebook integration. It is clearly a focus.

Here is a screenshot:


Facebook Connect, Michael Jackson's Memorial and CNN Live

Today's elaborate memorial for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center is expected to be viewed by one-billion people across the world. One major component of that viewing will be Facebook - both via and through Facebook Connect.

In starting a short series on this blog about ways that Facebook Connect is changing digital media and online marketing - we get a powerful glimpse of how Facebook and Facebook Connect are transforming media viewing. CNN's coverage of the Michael Jackson memorial is a prime example:

cnn-live-michael-jackson CNN has been promoting the event for days and throughout the morning. Facebook is a core element of their television and internet coverage.... and it makes total sense:

- CNN Live allows users to RSVP to the Michael Jackson Memorial, which is then shared through the Facebook feed. This allows CNN and fans to tap into the power of Facebook's graph and the resonance of Michael Jackson's name (the MJ fan page is now the largest Facebook Page with nearly seven millions fans)

- During the memorial, the conversation about the event and CNN's coverage allow are more targeted (across my Facebook social graph) and flows in two directions (to and from Facebook)... this is a more relevant, engaging experience for users and great viral marketing for CNN

- Finally, if you believe that conversation is the core underlying of how and where the social web is moving (and I firmly believe this), Facebook Connect can be the enabling force... changing CNN from a one-directional news broadcast to a multi-directional conversation relevant to the people, media and content surrounding it.

Michael Jackson Drives Perez Hilton to Record 2m Uniques in Day

Michael Jackson's death was remarkable in several ways - one of which was what it signified for news delivery and discovery. Like millions of others, I first found out through Facebook, Twitter, text messages... all of which led me to TMZ and Perez Hilton. The first major news source to break Jackson's death was the LA Times - and it is important to note that it was done first through their blog and not the homepage. Of course, that was discovered and then shared instantly via Twitter.

Hitwise today notes that TMZ experienced record traffic - catapulting into the 60th most trafficked website (and struggling to support the overwhelming growth).

But you can also look at Perez Hilton to give perspective on the traffic growth. is measured by Quantacst and we can therefore get a public, accurate representation of his traffic. Two million uniques visited on June 26th - a huge leap from the previous high of 1.6m. Those 2m visitors delivered 15.3m total page views for the day - which was his third biggest total but short of the April 22nd record of 17.7m.

perez-hilton To put this in perspective, we can compare it to Huffington Post's traffic for June 26th (also measured by Quantcast). Measured by uniques, HuffingtonPost is a far larger site: 19.5m monthly uniques vs. 13.1m. By pagviews, PerezHilton is far larger: ~300m monthly views vs. ~220m. But Perez dominated by any measurement and, regardless of the 'winner', these are huge numbers for nontraditional media sources and proof that 'breaking' news is being delivered - and read! - in nontraditional places. 15.3m pageviews and 2m uniques 9m pageviews and 1.7m uniques


beRecruited Featured on, "Get Yourself Recruited"

This morning, beRecruited was featured on in a segment called "Get Yourself Recruited." CEO Jeff Cravens talked about the service, our growing user base, and how the current economic environment has made beRecruited more important and relevant than ever.

View it at "The Web site helps young athletes find their own ways to scholarships and college."

beRecruited on

Other interesting beRecruited mentions: - Recruiting services help local athletes make it to next level - Mashable: 200+ Tools for Surviving the Economic Crisis - Current Economy, Fall Sports Season Combine for Recruiting Site's Record Growth:

Tough economic times and the fall sports season have collectively contributed to beRecruited's record growth numbers, company executives announced today. In September alone, more than 25,000 new athletes registered with the service, a 211% increase from last September. beRecruited also noted record-growth with newly registered college coaches and parents, as well as connections made between athletes and coaches. beRecruited is the largest free online network connecting high school athletes and collegiate coaches, facilitating thousands of scholarships annually.

"The country's financial turbulence has parents looking for alternatives while facing the high costs of education and the situation with the lending industry," said Jeff Cravens, president of "We typically see growth during late summer and fall, with athletes readying themselves for their season. But as families are examining how they are spending their hard-earned money, I believe they are finding beRecruited is by far the most effective recruiting solution available."

"As a parent you can spend thousands of dollars traveling to tournaments and camps trying to get your child noticed by college coaches, in hopes of landing a scholarship," said Liz Houser, a parent of a successfully recruited beRecruited user. "We learned about beRecruited and decided to give it a try. For a one-time investment of $40, our return was Matt's baseball scholarship, which saved us thousands in educational costs. And Matt gets to play the sport he loves. I recommend beRecruited to any parent with a serious athlete."