With Pinterest Mania Dying Down, Are Fancy and LoveIt Poised to Take Over?

Virtually every social network faces competition at some point in time. For Facebook, it was last summer when Google+ was launched (though that didn’t end up being much of a battle). As soon as Groupon and Living Social gained popularity, dozens of online couponing websites sprung up. Now, Muve Music is hoping to surpass Spotify as the largest digital music subscription service in the U.S. And the list goes on.
Thus, it was only a matter of time before Pinterest competitors started cropping up. LoveIt is the latest Pinterest look-alike, and was even featured in a recent Mashable article titled, “Should You Break Up With Pinterest for LoveIt?” The article essentially answered yes, pointing out various features that aren’t available on Pinterest (such as the ability to create “private collections” and a tool that automatically credits the original content source). LoveIt launched a new feature just yesterday that allows users to import their entire Pinterest boards, making it extremely easy for users to switch over to the competing service.

Another website that strongly resembles Pinterest is Fancy. The main difference between the two is that Fancy allows users to purchase items directly on the site, and it also takes a 10% cut from sales. This provides the site with a steady revenue stream, something Pinterest lacks and has drawn criticism for. Though Fancy is far smaller than Pinterest, Business Insider recently reported that Apple is interested in buying the social commerce site, which could lead to expansion.

What do these competitors mean for Pinterest? It’s unlikely either website will surpass Pinterest anytime soon. Pinterest reached 10 million users faster than any other standalone site in history and has a devoted legion of followers. For example, a Facebook page titled “Pinterest Addicts” has more than 10,000 likes, and plenty of articles have been written about the Pinterest addiction (check out BuzzFeed’s “32 Signs You’re Addicted to Pinterest” or this article from the Washington Post, which calls Pinterest “digital crack for women”).
Pinterest should consider adjusting its own site based on what’s working for similar sites like LoveIt and Fancy. If LoveIt’s private collections are encouraging users to spend more time on the site, Pinterest should launch a similar feature. Fancy has discovered a profitable way to run their site; Pinterest needs a surefire way to generate revenue. The best thing about competitors is that you can learn from them. We’ll try out LoveIt and Fancy, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Pinterest will learn a thing or two from them.

Shazam for the Campaign Season? What You Can Learn From the Super PAC App and Ad Hawk

If you have a smartphone (and especially if you’re a music lover), you’ve probably used Shazam before. Just open the app anytime you’re listening to recorded music, and it will identify the artist and track within seconds.

Now imagine an app that does essentially the same thing, but with political advertisements instead of music. That app now exists thanks to two former students at MIT’s Media Lab who developed the Super PAC App, released last week.

The free iPhone app listens to political advertisements on television and identifies who paid for the ad and how much they’re spending on the campaign. The app also verifies the ad’s claims by pointing the app’s user to nonpartisan sources such as FactCheck.org and Politifact.

Co-founder Dan Siegel explained in a CNN article that the app works via “audio fingerprinting.” When a user opens the app, it submits an audio sample of the campaign ad they’re currently viewing. Super PAC App then matches the audio samples against their database of political ads with the help of their partner TuneSat.
According to the app’s website: “The Super PAC App is a simple way for you, the voter, to bring transparency to the 2012 presidential campaign.”
The Super PAC App is currently only available for iOS. For Android users, the Sunlight Foundation has developed Ad Hawk, an app that similarly listens to political ads and tells the user who paid for them (also available for iOS). The main difference between the two is that the Super PAC App gives users four options to rate an ad: “Love,” “Fair,” “Fishy,” or “Fail.” Ad Hawk also provides a detailed blurb about the ad, while the Super PAC App points users to fact-checking sources. Both apps launched last Wednesday.

Whether these apps will actually bring transparency to the campaign season remains to be seen. Will people take the time to open the app each time a political ad runs? A recent Pew Internet study showed that 52% of all cell phone owners use their phones while watching television, and 38% of those do so to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks. This bodes well for Ad Hawk and the Super PAC App, especially as the campaign season ramps up and people become more engaged in politics.
At best, the new apps’ unique approach to fact-checking will encourage PACs to create ads that are transparent and truthful. In any case, curious voters now have a simple way to verify claims made by PAC advertisements. Download the apps for free in the App Store or Android Market.

Boston Globe Features Beaver Country Day School Soccer Star

BIGfish client Beaver Country Day School, a private school located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, was mentioned in an article from today’s Boston Globe that featured student Zachary Herivaux. Herivaux is a talented soccer star at the high school and has been considered one of the state’s best players since last year. To read the article, click the photo above or click here.

YouTube Offers Election Coverage For 2012 Campaign Season

YouTube launched the official YouTube Election Hub on Wednesday, calling it a “one-stop channel for key political moments from now through the upcoming U.S. election day on November 6.” This marks the first time YouTube will be offering live streams of campaign coverage, including speeches and debates. In an article from today’s Boston Herald, David Gerzof Richard commented on the website’s latest endeavor. “If you think about it, 20 years ago, if you wanted to follow an election, you’d have to catch a politician’s speech on the nightly news, or record it on VHS, or listen to it on the radio, or read about it the next day,” he said. “Now we have political speeches on demand, at our fingertips, that you can pull down at any time of day or night. It’s all there for us as citizens to peruse through and digest, and it really does push democracy.” To read the whole article, click the photo above or click here.

GigaOM Features GreatPoint Energy

BIGfish client GreatPoint Energy was featured in a recent article from GigaOM that described how Wanxiang, one of China’s largest industrial parts companies, invested $420 million into GreatPoint Energy. GreatPoint plans on using the investment to build a plant in China that converts coal into cleaner-burning natural gas. To read the entire article, click the photo above or click here.

Rate My Professors: Is It Trustworthy?

Back to school season is ramping up, meaning many students will be turning to www.ratemyprofessors.com to get a preview of their new professors. Founded in 1999, the site now has more than 14 million student-generated comments and ratings and 7,500 registered schools. So what does BIGfish President and Emerson professor David Gerzof Richard think of the site? Click the photo above or here to find out.

President David Gerzof Richard Discusses Online Couponing

There’s an app for everything these days, and digital coupons are no exception. BIGfish President David Gerzof Richard appeared on Fox 25 this morning to discuss the ups and downs of digital coupons, including why they’re great, what to be careful about, and new apps that are taking the online couponing craze even further. Watch the video clip above or click here.

Curt Schilling Tweets Disparaging Remarks at R.I. Governor

Since the failure of his video game company 38 studios, Curt Schilling has started to criticize the governor of Rhode Island, going as far as to call him a “buffoon” in a tweet. An article from today’s Boston Herald quoted BIGfish President David Gerzof Richard on the issue, who said Schilling’s tweets reveal him to be a “rough and tumble sideline bully” and can only intensify media scrutiny of his actions. To read the entire article, click the photo above or click here.

Mister Rogers, Julia Child, and Bob Ross in 2012: The Auto-Tuned Version of PBS

PBS has always been known for its classic television shows. Fred Rogers kindly asked viewers to be his neighbor on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for 31 seasons. The French Chef with Julia Child introduced French cooking to the United States with cheery enthusiasm. Bob Ross made oil painting look easy with his gentle voice in The Joy of Painting. Although all three icons have sadly passed away, their legacies live on. Especially now.

Since June, PBS has been reviving old footage from these classic TV shows by posting auto-tuned versions of them to YouTube. PBS Digital Studios, which “takes PBS’ mission and applies it to the Internet age,” partnered with John D. Boswell (aka “melodysheep”) to remix old footage using his signature auto-tune technique.

Mister Rogers was the first to receive the auto-tune treatment, and the “Garden of Your Mind” video has already gotten more than 6 million views in just two months. In July Bob Ross was remixed, and last week a remix of Julia Child was posted in honor of what would have been her 100th birthday.

Remixes, of course, are nothing new. New York-based filmmaker Kirby Ferguson has dedicated an entire project to the idea that “Everything is a Remix” in a compelling four-part video series that demonstrates the prevalence of remixes in popular culture (highly recommended). Remixed content has virtually become a new genre on YouTube, ranging from movie footage (check out this remix of the Disney/Pixar movie “Up”) to newscasts (see the famed “Bed Intruder”). And ever since Cher released “Believe” in 1998, a number of musicians have popularized auto-tune–especially hip-hop artists such as T-Pain and Kanye West.

So what makes these autotuned PBS videos stand out? Let’s be honest: PBS isn’t exactly the type of company you’d expect to be jumping on the auto-tune bandwagon. However, that’s part of the beauty of this campaign. By auto-tuning old footage, PBS is giving the somewhat dated icons current relevance. At minimum, the remixed footage is calling attention to the PBS network, which could lead to more donations and viewers.
Think about it: an 8-year-old might scoff at the old-fashioned Joy of Painting or quickly tire of watching Julia Child demonstrate French cooking. But if that same 8-year-old comes across a remixed version of either show and finds the auto-tuned version funny or just plain cool, that 8-year-old might turn on PBS to see what else the channel has in store.

The videos have been receiving largely positive feedback from viewers, and PBS Digital Studios has already seen online traffic increase for two of its online-only series. In yesterday’s Boston Herald, BIGfish President David Gerzof Richard called the move “brilliant,” and we agree. Keep up the good work, PBS. We think your autotuned videos are great.

President David Gerzof Richard Appears on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook

BIGfish President David Gerzof Richard was a guest on NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook this morning in a segment titled “The Age of Braggarts.” The hour-long discussion focused on whether our increased use of social media has turned us into a nation of braggarts. To listen to the broadcast, click the photo above or click here.