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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lessons from Social Gaming Summit

Many good presentations here. Two that are stand out of the crowd are from MyYearBook and Kontagent.

MyYearBook Ideas

  1. Games Should Advance What Site is About
  2. Play games within streamOpening doors for 3-rd party developers
  3. Anyway games are popular for 6-8 mth except “platform” games
  4. Game promotionViral channels “promotions”, a way to present apps:
  • Bulletin board
  • In-stream games
  • Action Items (below user profile picture)
  • Notifications
  • Profile Box (badges, etc)
Metrics for Social Games (presentation from Kontagent)
Trend Observation: From Viral Analytics early on to User Lifetime Value vs External User acquisition so Retaining engagement is important!

Key matrix to use these days for social apps:
1. Entry event distribution (why and how users get back to the system). More ways to incentivize entries
2. # Outbound messages/Users
3. Viral messages/Conversion (clicks per post)
4. Virality (K-factor) on FB it’s max at ~.5 these days
5. Engagement (time on site, #times user play, #user actions)
6. Exit event distribution (mindset of user when they leave app, indicate potential problems)
7. Retention (revisit rate), measure of engagement. %% users come back in week-by-week bases 8. Lifetime network value revenue_per_user/(1-K)
9. Conversion to Paying Users
10. Avg revenue per Paying User

My Side Note: Advertising should be used for acceleration of successes and should feed from analytics. If detected that app is doing particalually well in some age/gender/area/channel – ads should be (auto) targeted to this area.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Posting to FaceBook feed using Graph API

Graph API was announced at F8 with a promise to dramatically simplify the FB API.
I checked the read access over the new interface during the presentations and to my big surprise it worked flawlessly and from the first time.
When I tried, JSON-formatted info about the FaceBook page was returned (as expected).

Then I tried OAuth 2.0 way of accessing the API to post a message to the feed.
And to my even bigger surprise it worked too!

Here is what you need to do to access Graph API over OAuth:
1. Create a FB app, store app properties to a file:

  1. $appkey = '7925873fbfb5347e571744515a9d2804';
  2. $appsecret = 'THE SECRET';
  3. $canvas = '';
2. Create a page that will prompt user the access permission (I am prompting for the publish_stream and offline_access permissions at the same time)

  1. //
  2. require 'settings.php';

  3. $url = "";
  4. $url .= "client_id=$appid&";
  5. $url .= "redirect_uri=$canvas/callback.php&";
  6. $url .= "scope=publish_stream,offline_access";
  7. $url .= "&type=user_agent&display=popup";

  8. echo("$url");

3. Create a page to handle OAuth call-back with token and do the feed post:

  1. require 'settings.php';

  2. function
    callFb($url, $params) {
  3. $ch = curl_init();
  4. CURLOPT_URL => $url,
  5. CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS => http_build_query($params),
  7. CURLOPT_VERBOSE => true
  8. ));
  9. $result = curl_exec($ch);
  10. curl_close($ch);
  11. return $result;
  12. }

  13. $token = $_REQUEST['access_token'];

  14. $hello = "Hello from Graph API";
  15. $params=array('access_token'=>$token, 'message'=>$hello);
  16. $url = "";
  17. callFb($url, $params);

Important! Do not forget to select "new SDK" on the application settings page (I think that Facebook documentation fails to mention that)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“Default is social”, notes from the f8, FaceBook conference

Policy changes:

  • Single permissions dialog
  • Data retention policy changes

Platform changes:

1. Social Plug-ins (tested on this blog)

o a way to provide personalized experience with “Like” button in the core, work on any site
o works via iframe, single line of HTML code
o activity stream plug-in (newsfeed filtered for events only related to the site)
o recommendations plug-in, personalized recommendation experience for users about any product or service
o log-in plug-in that shows friends who are already there
o FB chat plug-in
o “Like” button in the center with hope to serve 1 Billion “likes” within 24 hrs after roll-out

2. Open Graph protocol

o Semantic markers (my understanding is that is another name for microformats)
o Design to represent any object on the web – books, celebrates, movies, etc
o Objects has the same properties as FB pages

3. Graph API

o Complete re-architecture of current platform/API/SDK
o No need for SDK code
o – is a universal way to access/search for objects, people, or connections
o RealTime callbacks (WOW! Finally! App will be notified what users do/change/ when they do that)
o OAUTH (2.0) (like it!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What is more expensive than Gold?

After a trip to a local pharmacy, and a sticker shock from one of the prescribed medications (one that treats pimples), I decided to cool myself with bit with arithmetic.
  1. Retail price for the medication (30x 115mg tablets of Solodyn) is $700.99
  2. Current price of gold is $1134 per ounce
Question: What is more expensive, Gold, or medication for treating pimples?

  • $1134 x 1 ounce/31.10 grams = $36.46 is the price per gram of Gold
  • $700.99/(30*.115)=$203.18 is the price per gram of Solodyn
Conclusion: Solodin is more than 5 times more expensive!

Observation: No point of Gold prospecting these days. Just find a deposit of Solodyn!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Giving a newborn baby a firehose to drink from"

After a complete system rearchitecture, full code rewrite, and database migration, Trusted Opinion Site was re-born.

Birth was painful (as it should be) with sleepless nights and emotions were running high. But that's pretty much what was expected. What was not expected is the huge amount of crawling traffic the site got from the second it was up (hundreds of thousand hits per hr). It looked (and still feels) like we are under DOS attack. But we are not! That's the new reality - computers are much better at networking than humans are, and by the virtue of the Internet, they use their potential to the full extend.

I like the quote from our COO Todd Greene: Launching the site these days is like giving a newborn baby a firehose to drink from"

A few lessons from the launch:
  1. What looks impossible and feels impossible, is possible as long as everyone ignores that it is impossible
  2. Food is important! After 30 hours of work it becomes even more important than internet connectivity
  3. People mood is more important that server health (and harder to fix)
  4. Shortcuts always bite. Taking shortcuts in data migration bite really hard. Even in order to save a few hours of downtime, even if you really-really want it, do not take shortcuts!
  5. And, the most important, do not forget celebration when the job is accomplished! Even thou I put it into the migration project plan, we managed to ignore the task.