Rachael Gerson spearheads the Analytics division at SEER Interactive. Follow her on Twitter @rachaelgerson.

Over the past eight months, Google has steadily released one revolutionary new feature after another. On March 17, the company announced a new version of Google Analytics. Up until this point, users could decide whether they preferred to stick with the old interface or switch to the new one. However, Google recently announced that the old version of GA will be turned off in January 2012.

If you’re not already familiar with the new version, take the next few weeks to get comfortable with it. To help you get started, let’s review the top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


1. Dashboards


Dashboards got a much needed overhaul in the new GA. Users can now create up to 20 personalized dashboards, developing widgets and formats that make the most sense for them or their company. For instance, each company department could develop its own distinct dashboard to quickly access site performance statistics that relate to department goals. Keep in mind: Dashboards can only be shared by users on the same login.

At a minimum, these four widgets would benefit the average user.

  • Visits – Timeline (can also include Metric)
  • Goal Completions and/or Transactions – Timeline
  • Source/Medium – Table
  • Bounce Rate – Timeline

2. Keyword Clouds


Rather than viewing a long list of keywords to spot trends, users can now evaluate a keyword cloud. This cloud makes it easy to visualize top keywords based on different user-selected criteria, including visits, bounce rates and pages per visit.


3. Real-Time Data


In the past, Google Analytics data was typically delayed up to 24 hours after the visit. For the first time, GA offers a real-time data solution. With its real-time reports, users can view the activity on the site as it happens, drilling into the top active pages, top referrals, keywords and geographic locations driving the traffic. In addition to monitoring current activity on the site, these reports can also be used to test campaign tracking prior to launching campaigns.


4. Site Speed


When Google released this report several months ago, it required additional code to be added to sites. Now speed reporting is standard on GA, and doesn’t need extra code. Use the site speed reports to get information about average page load time.

Why is this important? A slow site can have a negative effect on quality score for paid search, so visits can cost more to a slower site. Google has also indicated that site speed may be an important factor in organic search rankings. Additionally, a one-second delay can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Use this report to monitor site speed and avoid these issues.


5. Search Simplifies Navigation


GA has activated menu search, a phenomenal usability update. The tool makes it easier for users to quickly navigate to the proper report. Google also created an account search that lets users directly access the correct profile, rather than scrolling through hundreds to locate the right one.

GA also introduced the ability to switch between multiple profiles while staying with and maintaining the settings of the same report. Previously this could only be done using a Firefox plugin.


6. Webmaster Tools


The new integration incorporates Google Webmaster Tools data into Google Analytics. Using this tool, users can get a better sense of which Google property (web, image, local) drove site traffic. Similar to statistics provided to paid search advertisers, Webmaster Tools provides impressions, average position and CTR data for GA.

Although the numbers are not 100% accurate, they can be used to evaluate relative trends and to provide insight into data lost due to Google’s search update. Although the Webmaster Tools report is in Google Analytics, it’s limited to a single part of GA.


7. Social Engagement


Use Google Analytics to track how visitors interact socially with your site. A 2010 study showed 54% of small and medium-sized businesses said they already use or plan to use social media, and 17% planned to increase their social budget again from 2010 to 2011. With more companies making a push for social, it makes sense to analyze social site interactions.

GA’s new social reports break down how many of a site’s visitors are socially engaged with the site, itemizing which social source and action occurred. That way you can determine how many of your visitors +1′d site content vs. how many Liked it, as well as the pages that prompted this social action. Social plugins ShareThis and AddThis easily integrate with Google Analytics, passing information on social interactions back to GA with minimal changes.


8. Visitor Flow & Goal Flow Visualization


Flow Visualization was announced in October, but only recently started rolling out to most users. Flow Visualization consists of two reports: Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. The Visitors Flow report can be used to visualize the “flow” of visitors through the site, while the Goal Flow is an improvement on the original Funnel Visualization reports.

The Goal Flow report is especially valuable, as it simplifies evaluating a conversion funnel. Have a checkout process six pages long? Now you can determine at which page people are abandoning their carts. Then improve the process and save the sales.


9. Event Tracking


Prior to this new feature, any goal interaction with a site that didn’t result in a new URL needed to be tracked using special code to create a virtual pageview, which resulted in inflated numbers in GA. For the first time, Events can be used as goals. Want to find out how many people downloaded a PDF? Interested in knowing how many visitors viewed more than 30 seconds of a video on your site? Now users can easily track these events without affecting other metrics.


10. Multi-Channel Funnels


The Multi-Channel Funnels are a series of reports intended to help provide attribution information. For example, a person visits your site first from a paid search ad, then from an organic search listing, then from a link in Twitter, and finally from an email link. Therefore, which channel should get credit for the conversion? With many analytics platforms, the credit goes to the final funnel, thus, the email marketing campaign.

Multiple reports in the new Multi-Channel Funnels allow users to view further back than the final channel. Now GA shows every interaction a user had with the site in the 30 days prior to conversion. Using these reports, departments can take credit for their assists to conversions, and companies can make more informed decisions about which marketing activities have the highest ROI.

These are just a few of the many great advancements made to Google Analytics with the new rollout. While there are still several features missing (such as the PDF and email export functionalities, percent comparisons, missing graph by week option, etc.), Google is constantly striving to correct these with future iterations of the platform.

What’s your favorite feature in the new Google Analytics?

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Google will discontinue news-reading tool Fast Flip, to shift resources to its more widely used products. It will be removed from Google News and Labs in the coming days, though its approach to web content display will be integrated into other tools, Google announced on its blog.

Fast Flip, which celebrates its second birthday this month, is at the top of the list when sorting Google Labs projects by popularity. The tool aims to replicate the print-reading experience online by allowing users to browse stories more quickly. It came at a time when more news organizations were willing to experiment with web content distribution and boasted it had an impressive list of launch partners, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fast Company. These media companies share ad revenue generated through Fast Flip with Google.

Though the product didn’t show much promise from the start, it may have seen success if it had been reworked as a tablet app. As evidenced by CNN’s acquisition of Zite and AOL’s release of Editions, news organizations are shifting focus to optimize mobile reader experiences in a big way.

News aggregation apps Flipboard and Pulse are seeing growing audiences as tablets continue to prove themselves as great content consumption devices. Google may have been better off creating a feature to simplify browsing news on a tablet rather than the conventional web.

Fast Flip is one of nine in a batch of products to be discontinued from Google Labs. The company announced it would shutter Labs experiments shortly after releasing its second-quarter earnings results in mid-July.

Other Labs products Google will shut down:

  • Aardvark: Social search product that helps people answer each others’ questions.
  • Desktop: Gives instant access to data while online or offline.
  • Fast Flip: Provides a faster, richer news content browsing and reading experience.
  • Google Maps API for Flash: Allows ActionScript developers to integrate Google Maps into their applications.
  • Google Pack: Makes it easy to download and install a package of Google and third-party applications.
  • Google Web Security: Protects against web malware attacks.
  • Image Labeler: Helps people explore and label images on the web.
  • Notebook: Helps people combine clipped URLs from the web and free-form notes into documents they can share and publish.
  • Sidewiki: A browser sidebar that lets people contribute and read information alongside any web page.
  • Subscribed Links: Enables developers to create specialized search results that were added to the normal Google search results on relevant queries for subscribed users.

Would you have used Google Fast Flip on a tablet? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: google fast flip, google labs





The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to transform the way they develop applications that serve wide and diverse audiences. They are currently running Apps for the Environment, an app development challenge — with a deadline of September 16 — that is meant to encourage the public to come up with new ways of leveraging EPA data.

“The premise for a long, long time has been that the government knows what is best for folks,” says Robin Gonzalez, acting director of the Office of Information Analysis and Access within the Office of Environmental Information. “We collect data from the people we regularly work with — industry — and others and try to put it into digestible formats which usually come out as sets of reports or raw data sets. The EPA has a number of large databases, such as Envirofacts, and is looking forward to “seeing what kind of apps students and developers come up with using our data.”


The Challenge


Gonzalez says this challenge presents a different way for a government agency to operate. It lets the market dictate how years of valuable EPA data can be put to good use.

The Apps for the Environment challenge welcomes individuals, independent programmers and corporate programmers to participate in developing apps for consumers, business-to-business and even government-to-business scenarios (or vice versa). The three categories for entries are Professional, Student and People’s Choice, with one winner to be chosen in each category.

The apps submitted must address one of the Seven Priorities from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, such as taking action on climate change or building strong state and tribal partnerships. The apps should also be useful to individuals or the community at large. Developers can get ideas from webinars available on the site, which consist of audio interviews, slideshows and transcripts.

Even non-programmers can contribute to the challenge by submitting ideas for potential apps. The EPA’s challenge currently has 90 app ideas on their site, including:

  • An app that would identify nearby recycling centers for disposing household hazardous waste
  • An app that combines air toxics data from the EPA’s National Air Toxic Assessment (NATA) database with environmental public health data from the Centers for Disease Control and National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program to identify areas with high emissions that also have high incidences of disease
  • An app that identifies all available beach advisories and/or closings near a user’s current location
  • An app that allows users to compare the environmental impact of two products, such as grocery and household products

Developers are encouraged to either submit apps based on their own ideas or peruse dozens of app ideas from others. There is even a Hack-a-thon taking place on Labor Day weekend and hosted by American University that aims to bring together developers and teams from universities throughout the area, professional coders, as well as EPA data specialists. The goal will be to develop apps for the competition.


App Contests Are Going Mainstream


While app challenges aren’t new (take NYC Big Apps, the Civic Apps Challenge in Portland, Oregon and even a DC apps challenge called Apps for Democracy), what makes the EPA Apps for the Environment challenge different is that it is national in scope. The EPA challenge also encourages the use of not just EPA data sets but data from other agencies as well.

The EPA announced Apps for the Environment in June 2011 on the heels of another national app competition supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called myHealthyPeople Challenge — a part of the Health 2.0 Developers Challenge for rapid app development. The goal of the HHS apps challenge was to develop a custom Healthy People 2020 app for professionals, advocates, funders and decision makers who are using the Healthy People initiative to improve the well-being of people across the country. Challenge winners were invited to meet with HHS leadership to demo their apps and to strategize additional development opportunities. The Healthy Communities Institute won the first place prize of $2,500 for its online dashboard that checks the status of all the HealthyPeople 2020 goals in Sonoma County to assess and improve local community health.


The Reward


On November 8, the EPA will present awards to the Apps for the Environment challenge winners in a high-profile event in Northern Virginia. At the same event, the Department of Energy (DOE) will announce details about their upcoming apps challenge. As federal agencies pass the apps challenge baton, they can learn from their predecessors and their own experiences in accelerating the development cycle through crowdsourcing. Additional federal agency apps challenges can be found on Challenge.gov.

Gonzalez acknowledges that apps challenges are a form of crowdsourcing for app development, and while their current app challenge doesn’t include a monetary award, he says the EPA is exploring several models of payment for future app development initiatives.

“We’re looking to streamline the app development process, looking at this as a model that will inform that process going forward,” says Gonzalez. “We don’t expect to get everything for free, obviously, but at the same time we want to do this in a more innovative and more competitive way than exists today.”

Gonzalez says he has a team in place examining how their initial apps challenge effort can lead to future challenges and future app development work at the EPA. The goal is to look for different ways than the traditional model of determining the app they want produced, writing up specs, putting out an RFP, letting vendors bid on it and then picking a winner who then builds the app. By getting the public involved, new opportunities may arise that wouldn’t have come out of the usual RFP process.

Once the winning apps are chosen, the EPA will not own any of the apps. As long as the information retrieved from the EPA’s data sets is not misused in any way, the completed apps are property of the respective developers, who can then market and sell the apps themselves. The challenge winners will be invited to present their apps at the November awards ceremony to an audience that will include representatives from the EPA and other federal agencies, the media and even venture capitalists.

And more apps challenges are on the horizon for the EPA.

“What we currently develop is what we think is best for the public. Our thinking is changing,” says Gonzalez. “We believe that there’s a whole lot of innovative ways to approach development of our applications.”

Apps challenges are the EPA’s move in a more open and inclusive direction.


Series Supported by BMW i


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

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Martin Odersky is Chairman and Chief Architect of Typesafe and creator of the open source Scala programming language. This post was co-authored by Chris Conrad, an engineering manager who is part of the Search, Network and Analytics team at LinkedIn.

While interacting with social media and other consumer websites has become routine for many of us, ensuring a seamless, positive user experience is still the Holy Grail for web developers. The volume of queries and messaging on websites increases every day, as does the challenge of keeping the underlying infrastructure running smoothly for millions of users.

Below, we’ll highlight key challenges facing web developers of high volume sites, provide examples of how to address these hurdles, and discuss the role of emerging open source platforms as a modern approach to overcoming them.


Three Key Challenges


  • Performance: While web application developers of high volume sites face many challenges, performance tops the list. With consumers now demanding blazing computing speeds and uninterrupted service, a wait time of 250 milliseconds can mean the difference between a successful service and a failed one. For key user operations, such as interactive, real-time slicing and dicing of large data sets, performance is essential. The application needs to perform flawlessly and logically in order to attract and keep consumers.
  • Efficiency: When operating services on a massive scale, it’s essential to make the most efficient use of hardware assets. For example, optimize the use of memory and available processing resources. In practice, this often means using event-driven and distributed architectures like node.js, versus previous generation thread-based models like traditional Java Servlets. Developer productivity programming languages are further facets of efficiency. Fewer lines of code, made possible by concise languages like Scala and Ruby, generally translates to higher productivity for application developers.
  • Reliability: Systems need to remain resilient against component failures, including hardware, software and network crashes. An ever-expanding ecosystem of applications depends on reliable access to user-generated content, like LinkedIn’s, for instance. As such, the network needs to target “five nines” availability goals that have previously been benchmarks for the telecommunications and electrical power industries.

  • Real-World Applications


    LinkedIn faces these challenges every day and is always looking to incorporate the most advanced technology to keep its services running smoothly, reliably and efficiently. For example, to support the Signal product introduced last year, LinkedIn created a high performance web service written in Scala. This service is accessed through a REST/JSON-RPC model that enables quick ad hoc data manipulation and fast iteration from the web-based user interface.

    For its real-time people search service (with a peak demand exceeding the hundreds of queries per second), LinkedIn uses a scatter-gather approach that distributes search queries in parallel across a large server farm. This approach balances quick response time with efficient use of server resources.

    To support reliability, LinkedIn created a cluster management and workload distribution library called Norbert, which it implemented in the open source Scala programming language. It then incorporated open source technologies from the Apache ZooKeeper, Netty and Protocol Buffers projects. Norbert is a key component of several mission-critical applications at LinkedIn, most notably its social graph engine, which fields a high volume of requests per day.


    Open Source – Solving Today’s Modern Programming Challenges


    In the last few years, many new open source technologies have emerged to help web application developers. Open source projects such as Norbert, now available under the open source Apache license at sna-projects.com, are readily available to web developers charged with tackling such challenges.

    Open source programming languages and frameworks that enable parallel and distributed computing can be especially helpful in keeping today’s most trafficked websites running steadily and smoothly. Below are key considerations to keep in mind when programming for today’s multicore paradigm:

    • For applications that benefit from highly interactive user experiences, like LinkedIn Signal, developers should consider breaking data-intensive functionality into asynchronous web services that can be integrated into the web-based user interface using REST-style APIs.
    • To encourage “efficiency by default” for today’s web-scale applications, developers should look to modern frameworks like Akka and Norbert that incorporate capabilities like event-driven processing, asynchronous I/O and cluster-aware fault tolerance.
    • For applications that can truly scale up and scale out, developers should favor languages like Scala that provide first class support for functional programming, which discourages the use of mutable state. This allows applications to more easily scale hundreds of cores on a single server, and thousands of servers on a network.

    In summary, web applications and their supporting infrastructure need to be robust and efficient as more of society shifts its everyday interactions online. Fundamental advances in technology, many driven by the open source community, are making it possible for today’s web application developers to stay ahead of the scalable computing needs of consumers.

    Image courtesy of Flickr, Fon-tina

    More About: apps, linkedin, programming, Web Development

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Adobe released the public beta of its new website creation software, code-named Muse, on Monday.

Unlike Dreamweaver, Adobe’s flagship web development tool, Muse is for graphic designers who want to create elegant websites without having to code.

We’ve been playing with Muse for the past two weeks as part of the private beta, and we are impressed with the tool’s functionality and featureset. What differentiates Muse from some other code-free website creation tools is this: the user interface and the design paradigms mimic those from other Adobe Creative Suite applications, namely InDesign.

This was by design. Adobe says that the majority of users who identify themselves as graphic designers — i.e., not web developers or interaction designers — still primarily work with print. Muse is for these users.

A common scenario is that a graphic designer will create a website in Illustrator, Fireworks or Photoshop and then pass the flattened file off to web designers who will then do their best to code the comp.

With Muse, Adobe hopes to eliminate that coding step for users whose sites don’t need lots of dynamic content — and who want to lay out and generate the code for their site with one tool.

Check out this video to see Muse in action:


Small Footprint, Lots of Features


Perhaps the most surprising feature about Muse is that it is an Adobe Air application, rather than a full-blown native app. That means it works on Mac and PC.

I’m not particularly fond of Adobe Air on the Mac; it tends to have sub-optimal performance. But in Muse’s hands it is fast, efficient, and auto-saves frequently.

This is a public beta, so crashes will happen. When they do, you can just start the app again and resume without losing too much work.

Muse was built to take advantage of certain HTML5 and CSS3 properties and to generate semantically-correct code. We’ve heard all of that before, but in our tests, the code that Muse outputs is clean and readable.

You can add your own HTML snippets or dynamic content information to a Muse page, and the app also comes with a set of pre-defined widgets. These widgets are written in jQuery and can be modified like any other element. CSS3 transitions are also possible to create in Muse; the process is seamless.

You can preview a page locally using the built-in WebKit browser or by opening up a file in the default app on your Mac or PC. This is great for seeing exactly how something looks in a browser before publishing.


Why Not Use WordPress?


The main question that comes up with these types of tools is this: why not just use WordPress, or some similar content management system?

Adobe’s answer is another question: how many types of designers actually need a database system?

For brochure sites, landing pages and sites that don’t have frequently changing content, a database web system usually isn’t necessary. If you can embed JavaScript, RSS feeds and other information into a site itself, a designer might not even need to bother with the whole CMS process.

That said, Muse could easily be used to prototype content that would then be implemented into a system like WordPress. For instance, a page and section layout designed in Muse could become a new WordPress theme.

In fact, users of the private beta are already exploring these kinds of options, and Adobe is open to expanding on them.


Publishing, Pricing & Availability


Muse is available in public beta now, and Adobe has said the program will be free until its official release in early 2012. That gives designers a chance to offer their feedback.

Once Muse launches under its final name in early 2012, it will be available by subscription. This is the first Adobe product to have a subscription-only pricing scheme and it will be $15 per month with a one-year commitment or $20 per month on a month-to-month basis.

Users who want to publish their sites can choose to use Adobe Business Catalyst for their hosting needs and publish directly from Muse.

If you have hosting setup elsewhere, you can export the contents of your site as HTML and upload the corresponding files, images, HTML and CSS files to your web server.


A Muse Site


Adobe’s website for Muse was created using the app, which is an impressive example of dog-fooding. Just to get a sense of what the app could do, I put together this layout for one of my domains, christina.is, in about 20 minutes. Most of the time was spent aligning the social media icons and aligning that text within the confines of a JavaScript accordion.

This isn’t the most beautiful site in the world — however, for less than 20 minutes of work, it’s not a bad start.

What do you think of Adobe’s new website creation tool? Graphic designers, are you interested in an InDesign-approach to layout and semantically generated code? Let us know in the comments.

More About: adobe, Adobe Air, muse, Web Development, website creation

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The Web Development Series is supported by Rackspace, the better way to do hosting. Learn more about Rackspace’s hosting solutions here.

Nearly two weeks after Tumblr requested that unofficial browser extension Missing e go offline, the useful utility is planning to make its way back to users.

Missing e is an unofficial browser extension that adds functionality and enhanced features to Tumblr. The ability to reblog yourself, enhance the “Ask” feature and a host of dashboard tweaks are just some of the many features in the extension. Originally, the project started off as a few userscript enhancements, but over time, it evolved into an extension that was frequently updated and frequently developed.

Missing e is one of the few extensions I have installed on every browser on my laptop and iMac. In fact, I like Missing e so much, I reached out to its developer Jeremy Cutler earlier this summer and asked if he would agree to be interviewed for a story on various Tumblr hacks.

Just days before Cutler and I were scheduled to meet in person, Tumblr reached out and asked him to take the extension offline until some issues could be sorted out.

On its face, it looked like Tumblr had problems with the way that Missing e was making some of its API calls, as well as questions about whether or not Missing e followed the guidelines set out in the Tumblr API License Agreement. After Cutler agreed to make changes so that the code was more efficient, as well as removing a feature that would hide the Tumblr Radar, it appeared that the bigger problem, at least from Cutler’s perspective, was the way that Missing e modifies the Tumblr Dashboard for its users. Cutler was left with the impression that without stripping away every feature that would make Missing e useful, he would be unable to satisfy Tumblr.

When we met last week, Cutler opened up to Mashable about some of the technical, ethical and social challenges that have in essence, forced him to throw in the towel on Missing e.

The loss of Missing e wasn’t something that the community took lightly. More than 2,500 users signed a petition to save Missing e and prominent members of the Tumblr community expressed their support for the extension.

Still, Cutler wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue with the project. When we spoke to Cutler last week, the entire issue was still raw. As he wrote on his own Tumblr last week, “it’s hard not taking this personally.”

Tumblr, it turns out, is most responsible for the change in fate for Missing e. You see, earlier this week, some new features made their way into the Tumblr Dashboard. These are features that bore striking resemblance to some of the preferences in Missing e

As Cutler told us via email:

“I had been working a little bit on the code when the mood struck, but when they began releasing features similar to those in Missing e, I have to admit that I got my back up. I am glad that they are trying to improve, whether or not they’ve taken their cues from me. Still, I think the way they’ve implemented these new features leaves a little to be desired. The new release will fix the tag wrapping problem and allow users to make automatic tag reblogging optional.”

At this stage, Cutler is preparing to release a new version of Missing e. This version will not use the API in any way, which to Cutler, should clear him of any violation of the API License Agreement. One of the casualties of not using the API will mean that timestamps on posts in the Dashboard will not supported.

Cutler is also going to remove the popular Follow Checker and Unfollower features from Missing e. As he puts it, “that amount of scraping really isn’t fair to Tumblr’s servers.” And while he expects to lose some users over this feature, he’ll also be getting rid of his biggest source of support queries.

For its part, Tumblr has been quiet regarding the issue. After speaking with Cutler several times last week, the company hasn’t contacted the developer again since the incident received some press attention.

Frankly, as disappointed as we have been that this entire situation has unfolded this way, we’re happy to see that Missing e is going to be back in action. Cutler, who is a software engineer in his day job, is the type of person most companies want as add-on developers.


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music image

Fifty-three years ago this week, Billboard launched its “Hot 100 Chart,” which at the time tracked top singles based on radio play and sales. A lot has changed since 1958 when it comes to measuring the popularity of tunes. Namely, now there’s this thing called the Internet all up in the music business’s business.

Granted, the “Hot 100 Chart” has been anything but stagnant over the years. Since it proclaimed Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” tops on August 4, 1958, it has introduced alterations such as the addition of streamed and on-demand music to the chart’s forumla. The chart ranks the week’s most popular songs across genres based on radio airplay audience impressions as measured by Nielsen BDS, sales data as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan and streaming activity data provided by online music sources.

Although the chart is still a major indicator of musical success, there’s now a bevy of other tools that take into account the social aspect of a song’s popularity. Read on for four ways you can track musical success based on social media clout.

Next Big Sound

Next Big Sound launched back in March 2010. It gauges the popularity of bands and artists via fan activity on a variety of social networking sites, as well as traditional sales data, radio plays, traffic to an artist’s website and P2P activity.

The website is basically a tool for fans, artists, music industry professionals and journalists to track the popularity of an artist across sites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Pure Volume, etc. Casual users can sign up to get weekly stats about their favorite bands sent to their inboxes and even compare bands’ social clout on the site. More hardcore users — like bands and labels — can sign up for the premiere service for even deeper data mining.

NBS also recently partnered with Billboard, in order to bring you the second entry on on our list …

Social 50

The “Social 50” is Billboard‘s newly minted chart. It measures an artist’s popularity every week based on social networking activity mined from Next Big Sound.

Like NBS, the Social 50 ranks artists using such metrics such as weekly additions of friends, fans and followers, artist page views and weekly song plays. Rankings are also influenced by measuring the ratio of pageviews to fans. if you’re more of a curious fan than a hardcore music head, this is likely the chart for you. It’s also usually packed with more mainstream acts, so if you’re looking for more esoteric fare, you might want to check out …

We Are Hunted

We Are Hunted is both a music chart and a community. At its core, the site features a chart that tracks songs’ popularity every day based on blog activity, mentions on social networks, buzz on message board and forums, Twitter talk and movement on P2P networks.

It also features the ability to build your own charts, which you can share with friends and other music lovers, and a “Discover” tool, which helps you find new music based on what you like and dislike on the site.

Recently, We Are Hunted has been rolling out a bevy of apps, including an iPad app for music discovery and a number of offerings that integrate music intelligence company The Echo Nest‘s API, including the appropriately blasé Pocket Hipster.

MTV Music Meter

As part of MTV’s quest to put the “music” back into “MTV,” the network recently released its Music Meter, which seeks to highlight up-and-coming artists by ranking them based on their social media status.

MTV worked with music intelligence company the Echo Nest to develop an algorithm that combs through blogs, social media, video and more traditional metrics (like radio plays and sales) to determine which bands are receiving the most attention on any given day.

MTV also rolled out an app for iOS and Android iteration, letting users go mobile with their music discovery.


Image courtesy of Flickr, craigCloutier

More About: Billboard, billboard-hot-100, mtv-music-meter, music, music charts, next-big-sound, social media, social-50, wearehunted




Google has just released a new tool that will help webmasters speed up their page load time.

Google’s new Page Speed Service takes many of the optimizations outlined in the company’s Page Speed Online API and applies it to sites automatically.

It’s a turnkey online service that automatically takes care of the optimizations by rewriting pages and delivering them to users using Google’s servers.

The tool works by having users point the CNAME for their URL at Google’s own servers. From there, Google can do the optimizations and rewrite pages as needed.

On the Google Code blog, Google says that it has seen speed improvements from 25% to 60% on some sites. Google has a gallery and a comparison test that users can try themselves.

Right now, the tool is only available to a limited set of webmasters, but you can request access by filling out this form. Google says that pricing will be competitive.

It’s rare that Google rolls out plans for a pay service, but this is a case where we think it makes sense. Would you be interested in using Google’s services to automatically optimize your website page load?

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Developers have already flocked to Evernote’s note-taking platform in droves to provide its 11 million members with additional utility. Now, six new application makers will vie for the crown of most inventive Evernote application or integration and compete for $100,000 in prizes.

The six finalists, being revealed Tuesday, are Colorstache, MyWorld, Notablemeals, Sniptastic, Touchanote and Zendone. Community members are being encouraged to vote for their favorites.

The finalists range from the practical to the fantastical. Zendone and Colorstache are more sensible in nature, for instance. Zendone focuses on applying a “Getting Things Done” methodology to notes, while Colorstache lets Evernote users browse and search for notes by Color.

The flashier MyWorld and Touchanote add spunk and character to the Evernote experience. MyWorld gives Evernote users an augmented reality browser for viewing notes, and Touchnote makes NFC note-tagging and association possible. More details on all of the finalists are included below.

The finalists were selected based on a few key factors: finish and polish of the application, utility, originality and integration with the platform. Each will be awarded $5,000 for placing in the contest.

“Evernote currently has over 6,000 developers working on software and hardware integrations using out API,” says Andrew Sinkov, Evernote’s vice president of marketing. “We wanted to see what would happen if we did a developer competition as an incentive. We’re pretty blown away by the results. We had over 1,000 developers enter the competition from around the world.”

The grand prize winner will be chosen based on community votes, the votes of celebrity judges and live judging at the startup’s first-ever developer conference in August. The winner will revealed at the event — the Evernote Truck Conference — and will take home an additional $50,000 in cash. Evernote will also award two additional submissions with $10,000 each in the wildcard and student categories.

Check out the Evernote applications below and share your favorites in the comments. Should you wish to attend the event, Evernote is offering the first 50 Mashable readers who register via this link (with the “ETCMASHABLE” discount code) a 50% discount.

Colorstache

Colorstache, by Reno Collective, offers Evernote users a way to browse and search their notes by color.

Touchanote

Touchanote, by Wiseleap, connects the capture and organization capabilities of Evernote with the convenience of physical NFC tags. Easily associate any note in your account with a real world NFC tag.

MyWorld

MyWorld, by Wikitude, allows you to save the places you love in Evernote, then view them on a map in Facebook. You can then share your favorites with friends and view the places they’ve been.

Sniptastic

Sniptastic, from Andrew West, is a set of developer tools that let you share and organize code snippets.

Notablemeals

Notablemeals, from John McLaughlin and Kal Michael, is an iPhone app that makes it easy to capture memories about meals.

Zendone

Zendone is a personal productivity tool based on the Getting Things Done methodology. It offers a simple, well-designed interface for implementing the GTD workflow, using Evernote for collecting and archiving projects and tasks.

More About: evernote, evernote trunk, notes, startup, Web Development

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Music licensing company Rumblefish has just made it easier for professional and amateur content creators to add music to their work legally by opening its API to developers and partners.

Rumblefish announced Tuesday that it has licensed 4 million songs in user-generated videos, slideshows, presentations and games.

Now, for example, an app that allows users to make home movies and post them to social networks can also give folks the option to license music for the videos for a fee. Users can browse playlists, receive soundtrack recommendations and search for and filter music via attributes (mood, instrument, tempo, etc.).

API partners will qualify for a share of the revenue garnered from licensing as well, but Rumblefish could not provide us with an exact percentage partners will earn. It will depend on the product.

The company launched a similar service called Friendly Music last year to facilitate finding licensed music for YouTube videos.

Rumblefish already made its API available to a select group of partners at the beginning of 2011, including social moviemaking app HighlightCam, fitness provider Journey Gym and online video editing service Clipik. Now, all interested parties can apply to access the API — for free.

The announcement comes on the heels of similar news from licensing company, Audiosocket, which released its Music As A Service product earlier this month.

Image courtesy of Flickr, all that improbable blue

More About: audiosocket, Clipik, friendly music, HighlightCam, Journey Gym, rumblefish

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