Schema.org – Threat or Opportunity?

What exactly is Schema.org?

  • It is a list of instructions for adding structured data to HTML pages.
  • Webmasters can choose from a long, but finite list of types and properties.
  • Data-enhanced web pages trigger richer displays in Google/Bing/Yahoo search result pages.

Why the uproar?

  • Schema.org proposes the use of Microdata, a rather new RDF format that was not developed by the RDF community.
  • Schema.org introduces a new vocabulary which doesn’t re-use terms from existing RDF schemas.

Who can benefit from it?

  • The web, because the simple template-like instructions on schema.org will boost the amount of structured data, similar to Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol.
  • The semantic web market, by offering complementing as well as extending/competing solutions.
  • SEO people, because they can offer their service with less effort.
  • Website owners, who can more reliably customize their search engine displays and increase CTRs.
  • Possibly HTML5 (doctype) deployment, because the supported structures are based on HTML5’s Microdata.
  • Verticals around popular topics (Music, Food, …) because the format shakeout will make their parser writers’ lifes easier.
  • Verticals who manage to successfully establish a schema.org extension (e.g. Job Offers).
  • The search engine companies involved, because extracting (known) structures can be less expensive and more accurate than NLP and statistical analysis. Controlling the vocabulary also means being able to tailor it to semantic advertising needs, integrating the schema.org taxonomy with AdWords would make a lot of (business) sense. And finally, the search engines can more easily generate their own verticals now (as Google has already successfully done with shopping and recipe browsers), making it harder for specialized aggregators to gain market share.
  • Spammers, unless the search engines manage to integrate the structured markup with their exisitng stats-based anti-spam algorithms.

Who might be threatened and how could they respond?

  • Microformats and overlapping RDF vocabularies such as FOAF or GoodRelations, which Schema.org already calls “earlier work”. Even if they continue to be supported for the time being, implementers will switch to schema.org vocabulary terms. One opportunity for RDF schema providers lies in grounding their terms in the schema.org taxonomy and highlighting use cases beyond the simple SEO/Ad objectives of Schema.org. RDF vocabs excel in the long tail, and there are many opportunities left (especially for non-motorcycle businesses ;-). This will best work out if there are finally going to be applications that utilize these advanced data structures. If the main consumers continue to be search engines, there is little incentive to invest in higher granularity.
  • The RDFa community. They think they are under attack here, and I wonder if Manu is overreacting perhaps? Hey, if they had listened to me they wouldn’t have this problem now, but they had several reasons to stick to their approach and I don’t think these arguments get simply wiped away by Schema.org. They may have to spend some energy now on keeping Facebook on board, but there are enough other RDFa adopters that they shouldn’t be worried too much. And, like the RDF vocab providers, they should highlight use cases beyond SEO. The good news is that potential spam problems, which are more likely to occur in the SEO context, will now get associated with Microdata, not RDFa. And the Schema.org graph can be manipulated by any site owner while Facebook’s interest graph is built by authenticated users. Maybe the RDFa community shouldn’t have taken the SEO train in the first place anyway. Now Schema.org simply stole the steam. After all, one possible future of the semantic web was to creatively destroy centralized search engines, and not to suck up to them. So maybe Schema.org can be interpreted as a kick in the back to get back on track.
  • The general RDF community, but unnecessarily so. RDFers kicked off a global movement which they can be proud of, but they will have to accept that they no longer dictate how the semantic web is going to look like. Schema.org seems to be a syntax fight, but Microdata maps nicely to RDF, which RDFers often ignore (that’s whyschema.rdfs.org was so easy to set up). The real wakeup call is less obvious. I’m sure that until now, many RDFers didn’t notice that a core RDF principle is dying. RDFers used to think that distinct identifiers for pages and their topics are needed. This assumption was already proved wrong when Facebook started their page-based OGP effort. Now, with Schema.org’s canonical URLs, we have a second, independent group that is building a semantic web truly layered on top of the existing web, without identifier mirrors (and so far without causing any URI identity crisis). This evolving semantic web is closer to the existing web than the current linked data layer, and probably even more compatible with OWL, too. There is a lot we can learn. Instead of becoming protective, the RDF community should adapt and simplify their offerings if they want to keep their niches relevant. Luckily, this is already happening, as e.g. the Linked Data API demonstrates. And I’m very happy to see Ivan Herman increasingly speaking/writing about the need to finally connect web developers with the semantic web community.
  • Early adopters in the CMS market. Projects like Drupal and IKS have put non-trivial resources into integrating machine-readable markup, and most of them are using RDFa. Microdata, in my experience, is easier to tame in a CMS than RDFa, especially when it comes to JavaScript operations. But whether semantic CMSs should add support for (or switch to) Schema.org microdata and their vocabulary depends more on whether they want/need to utilize SEO as a (short-term) selling proposition. Again, this will also depend on application developer demands.

What about Facebook?

Probably the more interesting aspect of this story, what will Facebook do? Their interest graph combined with linked data has big potential, not only for semantic advertising. And Facebook is interested in getting as many of their hooks into websites as possible. Switching to Microdata and/or aligning their types with Schema.org’s vocabulary could make sense. Webmasters would probably welcome such a consolidation step as well. On the other hand, Facebook is known for wanting to keep things under their own control, too, so the chance of them adopting Schema.org and Microdata is rather low. This could well turn into an RSS-dejavu with a small set of formats (OGP-RDFa, full RDFa, Schema.org-Microdata, full Microdata) fighting for publisher and developer attention.

Conclusion

I am glad that Microdata finally gets some deserved attention and that someone acknowledged the need for a format that is easy to write and to consume. Yes, we’ll get another wave of “see, RDF is too complicated” discussions, but we should be used to them by now. I expect RDF toolkits to simply integrate Microdata parsers soon-ish (if we’re good at one thing then it’s writing parsers), and the Linked Data community gets just another taxonomy to link to. Schema.org owns the SEO use case now, but it’s also a nice starting point for our more distributed vision. The semantic web vision is bigger than data formats and it’s definitely bigger than SEO. The enterprise market which RDF has mainly been targetting recently is a whole different beast anyway. No kittens killed. Now go build some apps, please 😉

Via bnode.org 

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Users Say They’re More Likely To Buy If A Business Answers Their Question On Twitter

By Ramy Ghaly

According to a recent survey of 2049 Twitter users completed by Twitter Q&A search service inboxQ, I am not alone: 64% of the inboxQ survey respondents were more likely to make a purchase from a business account that answered their questions on Twitter, 24% were just as likely and only 12% were less likely.


Another added benefit of answering user questions on Twitter (ARE YOU LISTENING @USAIRWAYS?) is that users are more likely to follow a business that answers their questions, at 59% versus 29% who are just as likely and 12% who are less likely.

 

By  – Viactrl-news

 

How “mobile Ads 2.0″ Will Let You Take Control of Your Monetization

By Ramy Ghaly

Along with the growth on the product side, monetization has followed, as Google’s recent earnings call demonstrated. We were fortunate to join the team at AdMob that pioneered some of the first mobile smartphone banners, which have driven results for advertisers and publishers alike for years. 

However, now that smartphones are increasingly consuming users’ attention and discretionary purchasing dollar, we are starting to see a shift in how advertisers and publishers think about monetization in mobile. This is resulting in a new wave of mobile advertising innovation – “mobile ads 2.0” – and with it, a wide range of novel approaches. 

The key theme of mobile ads 2.0 is publisher control.

Mobile monetization is not just about ads though.

Mobile ad networks are a component of successful monetization but can’t be everything

Even for large publishers, these ad products can complement the rest of a publisher’s ad targeted strategy to achieve optimal monetization with modest effort.

Mobile Ads 2.0 will be characterized by publishers increasingly taking control of their monetization strategy to drive more revenue and create better experiences for users.

By:  Via ctrl-news

Global ad spend ‘hit by Japanese earthquake and Middle East

By Ramy Ghaly

 

ZenithOptimedia cuts forecast for worldwide ad market by almost £1.5bn, as Egypt and Japan almost halt commercial ads

The Japanese earthquake and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East will strip almost $2.5bn (£1.5bn) from global advertising spend this year, according to a new forecast from Publicis Groupe’s media buying network ZenithOptimedia.

ZenithOptimedia reckons that Japan’s ad market is set to dip by 4.1% this year and Egypt shrink by 20%, but in 2012 the two will rise by 4.6% and 12% respectively.

The company also said that internet advertising will overtake newspapers to become the world’s second largest ad medium – behind TV – in 2013 .

ZenithOptimedia forecasts that newspaper ad expenditure will fall from $95bn in 2010 to $91bn in 2013, while internet ad spend will rise from $63bn to $94.5bn over the same period.

 

By   Via Ctrl-News

RockMelt Makes Browsing a Social Experience

By: Ramy Ghaly

More than 500 million people are on Facebook, and Twitter adds 500,000 accounts a day.

Mountain View’s RockMelt is betting big that a lot of them are, and will want to use its social Web browser. Backed by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and made available in March, RockMelt is a new browser with Facebook, Twitter and other applications built in. 

The browser market has been shaken up more as users increasingly access the Web from their smart phones, particularly Apple’s Safari on the iPhone.

RockMelt isn’t the first or only Web browser to add social elements.

Dubbed the Facebook browser, it’s easy to see how it earned its nickname. One of the first steps to using RockMelt is signing in to Facebook and giving the browser permission to access data from the social-networking site. 

RockMelt features a thin vertical bar on the left side of the browser that shows the user’s Facebook friends, including the ones who are online and available to chat. 

The two started to look into developing a browser soon thereafter, with Andreessen as an adviser.

By SFGate Via Ctrl-News

Web advertising spend tops £4bn for first time

via Flickr”][ The New Generation URBAN LANDSCAPE ] The HER...

By Ramy Ghaly

Online advertisers in the UK took their annual spend to more than £4bn for the first time last year as the digital market share hit a record high.

Research published today by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that online advertising grew by 12.8 per cent, from £3.5bn in 2009 to £4.1bn a year later.

The digital share of the UK’s total advertising spend of £16.6bn last year rose to 25 per cent.

The consensus expectation for online advertising for this year is growth of 7.7 per cent, although the IAB said its internal predictions were more optimistic.

Much of 2010’s online growth was driven by display advertising, which increased by 27.5 per cent from a year earlier to £945.1m, as more and more companies shifted spending on to the web.

Search advertising continues to dominate online advertising spending in the UK, which rose 8 per cent in 2010 to £2.3bn.

By THE INDPENDENT via Ctrl-News

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