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Fueling the resistance
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8th-Sep-2009 09:15 pm - XBox takeover
Skittish Eclipse
There's a new sponsored community, morefun_xbox360, and the main LJ site itself (http://www.livejournal.com) has a green XBox skin instead of the regular blue LJ banner for logged out and unpaid users.

ETA: This is apparently a US only campaign!

Late ETA: Here's a shot of it.
23rd-Jun-2009 02:00 pm - Signing up for LJ Messenger means signing up for MS marketing
Skittish Eclipse
The new in browser messenger for LJ has just had its first stage released.

However, in order to sign up for it, you need to agreed to Microsoft's service agreement, and there is a bit of a rider:
I accept Microsoft service agreement and privacy statement. I agree to receive e-mail from Windows Live, Bing, and MSN with service updates, special offers, and survey invitations. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time.
I imagine this is the price of the partnership--LJ gets a service for its users, MS gets a bigger marketing mailing list.
22nd-May-2009 11:44 am - Paid users in Singapore see ads on the home page
Skittish Eclipse
I didn't expect to be posting again so soon, but fresh from commentary on the latest news post: paid accounts in Singapore are seeing advertising on the home page. The source is from this comment, which provides two screenshots of a "Hot Pick" section with the brand label of "Mocca". LJ signed up with an ad company called MediaCorp for Singapore in February and Mocca is one of their platforms.

It remains to be seen whether the display of the Mocca tie in to Singaporean paid accounts is an oversight or a purposeful strategy. LiveJournal needs to tread carefully here: scant and ambiguously worded advisory board meeting minutes suggests that they might be trying switch their focus from advertising (I assume this means banner ads) to sponsorship (I assume this means more things like the Nature Made contest), along with refocusing on premium services and products (I assume this means paid accounts and integrated partnerships with companies like Blurb). However, a poll about paid account features suggests that no ads is one of the top reasons paid users pay for LJ nowadays, neck and neck with more userpics as the most important reason. If this poll is indicative of the broader paid userbase, and if it's advertising in general instead of just eyesore banners those users are talking about, that could present a problem and make integrating sponsorships into the site more tricky if paid account rates are to simultaneously be preserved or increased.

Update: marta is on the ball and has let us know that showing this to paid users is unintended, and it will be fixed shortly!
19th-May-2009 02:12 pm - Advertising in news; new community creation taskflow
Skittish Eclipse
The current news post is about the Advisory Board, but the previous post on LJ's 10th birthday had an interesting level of partnerships and marketing in it. More about the news post.Collapse )

However, the main impetus for this post is something I discovered while creating a new community: after you enter in the name of the community and its basic setup (the account level being most likely Plus instead of Paid) and press the button to create it, you are forwarded to the advertising tab of account settings. That is, LiveJournal considers the most important step in the taskflow after creating a community to be selecting the appropriate advertising for the community, rather than filling out the profile, selecting a style, or other community set up tasks. I imagine this is because community creators will go do those other tasks on their own, but few if not prompted will go fill out the advertising settings. Communities are ripe for advertising based monetization, as most paid features are irrelevant to them. Additionally, they are viewed by many people, with popular communities generating many more pageviews than most personal journals. (It is a pity for LJ's money flow that ohnotheydidnt is a Permanent account, rendering it useless for harvesting advertising revenue from its server breaking load.) Since all accounts that are not paid show advertising (Basic communities show advertising to logged out users), having more community maintainers fill out this information could dividends later. ETA: This doesn't mean that checking those boxes is a necessary part of creating a community, just that community creators are led to that page. They're free to leave it without entering anything.

The above paragraph is really a roundabout yet relevant way of mentioning that sometimes I want to make LJ meta posts that don't have anything to do with advertising, so I've created meta_lj to fill that ridiculous need for myself and hopefully others, which is how I found out about the new community creation process. I imagine I'm going to be posting more there than here now. I would also like to thank uniquewonders for her years of service to this community, as she has retired her position. I've considered retiring myself, but decided it would be better to just manage the moderator queue here and post if some event strikes my fancy (ala the death of Basic or something else quite noticeable).

On a more positive note, LJ has opted out of the UK ISP-level tracking advertising company Phorm: see ZDNet: Amazon refuses to be tracked by Phorm and Livejournal opt-out of Phorm. Time for some tupshin love.

General news about the difficulties of monetizing user content generated sites and social networks that might be of interest: here is an article on YouTube and here is one on Facebook.
10th-Mar-2009 12:49 pm - LJ's focus for 2009: branding, premium features, mechandising, and new partnerships
Skittish Eclipse
In the offshoot official community lj_advisory, a post was made yesterday on March 9th at 11am called Upcoming meeting on March 10, 2009.

Notably, there is a lot of focus around direct revenue features, as opposed to advertising revenue: "The expansion and enhancement of premium features are a big priority for LJ in 2009." This is unsurprising, with banner ads on the site reaching saturation (with most active unpaid accounts being Plus, and Basic accounts showing ads to all logged out users) and experimental advertising opportunities not appearing to have been wildly successful (sponsored communities, sponsored layouts, sponsored v-gifts, paid surveys, sponsored paid accounts, partner link space in Explore).
25th-Feb-2009 09:58 am - LJ ad serving in 2009
Skittish Eclipse
LJ's sales page says that "During 2009 LiveJournal is relaunching its brand and service."

SUP has LJ news items about completing an advertising sales representative agreement with MediaCorp in Singeapore (Feb 9th) and another exclusive agreement with sales house FISH for Ukrainian traffic (Jan 28th).

LJ has also just moved away from Six Apart ad serving links according to changelog; the ad base now seems to be Doubleclick.
18th-Feb-2009 06:24 pm - WordPress: The cheerful opportunist, and others waiting in the wings
Skittish Eclipse
When LJ went though its grim staff purge at the start of January, WordPress made a post with instructions on how to import from LJ (LiveJournal Migration Made Easy). After January ended, they observed that 7,111 blogs had been imported, despite the clunkiness of the process (January Wrap Up). Apparently the demand inspired them to make a much better importer, comments included (Even Easier LiveJournal Migration). Soon, those comments will even be threaded. WordPress.com does have ads, but they keep them as inobtrusive as possible, to the point where many people are under the mistaken impression WordPress.com is ad free. Additionally, the next version of WordPress will come with this importer fancy new importer, including mood and music custom fields, for those who prefer to self host.

In other news about places to move, and because I am a shill, Dreamwidth entered closed beta last Saturday, and currently is shooting for open beta mid-April, depending on the amount of bugs testing turns up. It's planned to be ad-free.

At this point in time, the LJ clone InsaneJournal is still alive and holding steady at around 72452 active users a month, with 30902 monthly and 13265 weekly posters. The community aspect seems to be stable and sustaining; time will tell if the service itself will be. IJ is ad and paid user based.
6th-Jan-2009 01:57 am - LJ in 2009 -- The Grim Purge
Skittish Eclipse
Starts out with half of the San Francisco office personnel being laid off in one week, with no advance warning and no severance, including personnel like janinedog and chasethestars, who have always been nothing but kind and courteous and helpful to us here out of nothing but their love of all things LJ. There might be more detailed posts on this subject to come, as information becomes less sensitive. In the meantime, I will collect links to public posts that I consider notable; feel free to suggest any by commenting here or through other means. (Note: Valleywag's original numbers of 20 out of 28 let go, and those citing them, are not accurate. The true numbers I hear are more like 13 let go, 17 kept in total, and 12 let go and 12 kept in SF--in total, around 20% of LJ staff according to their PR correspondents. Always be skeptical of Valleywag.)

Our condolences to everyone.

Confirmed lost:
chasethestars (Design -- Visual and Interactive Designer), janinedog (Engineering -- Software Engineer), gregorykennedy (Design -- Global Creative Director), lizlux (Design -- Web Designer), gorman (Product -- Product Manager), kazwell (Product -- Product Manager), mberardo, tiko_san (Product -- Head of Project Management), james (Engineering -- Software Engineer), wfinley (Operations -- Senior Director of Operations), sonman (Operations -- Senior Enterprise Architect), mariat_george (Operations -- Senior Enterprise Architect)
Known remaining:
tupshin (Engineering -- Director of Development), coffeechica (Customer Service -- Technical Support Manager), marta (Customer Service -- Community Relations Manager), astronewt (Customer Service -- Customer Support Representative), arie (Customer Service -- Accounts Manager), henrylyne (Engineering -- Software Engineer), urban_yogi (Product -- Director of Product Management), sunrise_bee, dwell (Operations -- Manager of Operations), nicholaskurjan (Senior Systems Administrator), mhwest (Operations -- Linux Systems Administrator), joemacf (Director of Editorial Content and Community Care), markf (Customer Service -- Abuse Manager), slikrikk (Administration -- Office Manager), sgravelle (Director of Finance and Administration), lyndaellen (Editorial -- Editorial Manager), katfaw (Administration -- Accounting Manager)

Official Commentary

Official Press Release -- "valued colleagues" are "leaving the company". Nice PR speak, there.
Twitter: "LJers! Don't worry, the news of our demise is premature.Yes, there were layoffs, but that does not affect your LJ! http://tinyurl.com/9rzk5y" Oh, classy. Salt, meet wound. This is an official Twitter account. "My" LJ won't die from this, it's true, but the layoffs certainly affect it.
chasethestars in lj_design, saying goodbye -- It's still official, dammit, and I like it better than the other two posts.
gorman in teamlj -- LJ employees making gallows humor and staff pages with X's printed out. Considered official to balance out that dreadful Twitter post.

During Wednesday's emergency maintenance outage:
LiveJournal.com is currently unavailable due to emergency maintenance. Don't worry, this has nothing to do with our recent company layoffs! It's a technical problem, not a lack-of-personnel problem.

Thank you for your patience.

The news post, 48 hours later.

Onsite Commentary

xb95 -- Rest In Peace (significant other a casualty of the layoffs; one of the heads of Dreamwidth)
idonotlikepeas -- sup, LJ, layoffs, and such (Support member, some analysis, links to backup)
azurelunatic -- Support means just that. (one perspective from the broader Support community)
synecdochic -- FYI (former employee, one of the heads of Dreamwidth)
scrottie -- LJ itself (one perspective on value of the people let go and buying companies in tech bubbles)

Offsite Commentary

ValleyWag -- The Russian Bear Slashes a Social Network (Misleading numbers silently corrected late Tuesday.)
CNet -- LiveJournal confirms layoffs, says rumored numbers exaggerated
Alley Insider: Livejournal Implodes: Staff Let Go* -- Claim to have been told lies by LJ spokespeople: "LJ laid off about a dozen employees, which is less than 20% of the entire LJ workforce. And contrary to some online gossip sites, LiveJournal employees leaving the business as a result of the restructuring are receiving comprehensive support from the company." Bold part is, so far, a lie. I hope it becomes the truth.
paidcontent.org -- LiveJournal Lays Off San Francisco Staff, Will Operate From Moscow -- "In July, Paulson told paidContent.org that LiveJournal traffic had doubled since the acquisition but the San Francisco team was being retained for proximity to Silicon Valley’s development pool. Indeed, it hired Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) product manager Berardo away to run LiveJournal’s US ops."
10th-Oct-2008 10:54 am - How clever!
the girl who shares needles
Ads? In my secure login page? It's more likely than you think.

So, now what are the option(s) for logging in without ads?
6th-Sep-2008 06:26 pm - Partner communities and sponsored communities
Partner communities went live some time this month: india_writing (which was a sponsored community at first) and the newborn bollywoodclub. They have a special icon, which will look familiar to you if you were there during the sponsored comms saga, can be spotlighted but as marked as such, use tracking cookies, yadda, yadda. They don't seem to be very different from sponsored communities. In fact, it's quite unclear what's the difference between them.

Here's what the FAQ about partner communities says:

Read more...Collapse )

And here's what the FAQ about sponsored communities says:

Read more...Collapse )

While both types of communities have a banner clearly marking them as sponsored or partner on their layouts, only sponsored communities are clearly labeled as such in the bio section of their profiles. Account level can be anything so that won't help you if you're using the old, still default profile version as the various account icons are not shown in this one.
29th-Aug-2008 01:40 am - Basic users: choose your ads
As we noted in our last News post, as of today users will be able to downgrade their account to Basic through the Manage Account page. In addition, visitors who are not logged in to LiveJournal will now be seeing ads on Basic accounts and communities; the experience of logged-in users will not change.

Consequently, all Basic and Early Adopters accounts have now access to:

Change Journal Theme → 3. Choose a Page Setup → Ad Placement, and Ad Settings, presumably to choose which type of ads they want to show logged-out users and where.

ETA: Ad Settings works for Basic communities now.
20th-Jul-2008 09:22 am - Essay recommend
Skittish Eclipse
synecdochic has written an exceedingly long and notable essay called: Why Monetizing Social Media Through Advertising Is Doomed To Failure, which I felt people here might enjoy if they have not seen it already, as we have been watching the doomy spiral here for some time.
17th-Jul-2008 01:23 pm - Proposed ad placements on Basic accounts or for Basic users?
Mat Bowles
So, they've announced that Basic accounts will return but the flip side is that they want to monetise them in some way. At least they're being honest and open about it, but given our no-opt-in statement, I'm really not keen on some of the proposals, especially both 3s. I think prop 2 looks the least worse, although it means no opt out at all. 1 would fulfill the mission, sort of, but I think would likely hurt the site/journal owner as ads would be displaying to non-LJers, which should always be viewed as potential account holders, right? Anyway, c/ping the proposals from the post for reference, but it's worth reading the whole thing:
Different options under discussionCollapse )
13th-Jul-2008 01:31 pm - CAPTCHA turned on for non-members
We've had lots of comments from spam bots so I had to enable human tests for comments from users who are not members of no_lj_ads.
Sorry about that. Let's hope I can turn it off soon.

Please report any suspicious comment so that I can ban and report them if they're bots.

Comments are screened.
9th-Jul-2008 05:49 pm - Web bugs in RSS feeds
Skittish Eclipse
We've spotted a code change that adds what appears to be a web bug (since the code returns the HTML for a 1x1 image) for each RSS post in SUP journal feeds; the image uses the SUP_BASE_ADCALL_URL, so although it may not have anything to do with ads, it seems to involve the ad server in some way. It's conceivable this will be used to give SUP users statistics on readers of their RSS feeds.

On an unrelated front, the previously mentioned Dreamwidth is looking for mood themes (mailing list post). They are also looking for a site copy editor and FAQ team.
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