Category Archives: social-media

Conventions 2008 and GOP Unconventional

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Conventions 2008 and GOP Unconventional

The presidential election of 2004 delivered the first recognition of bloggers into the credentialed coverage of the Democratic and Republican Nation Conventions.  That year the DNC hosted 40 bloggers and the RNC let in a mere 12 bloggers.  Roll the clock forward to 2008 and the RNC has credentialed nearly 200 bloggers and will not make a distinction between them and all other journalists and media organizations.

New media and social media have come of age in the political arena.  Mainstream and corporate media organizations are committing to the use and integration of social media into their coverage.  For example, CSPAN has just announced their Convention Hub production for both the DNC and the RNC.  The Convention Hub will include the following features:

— Real-time tracking of credentialed state and national political bloggers, aggregated on the websites, to enable users to follow the latest online convention news and analysis;

— Video clips from the network’s convention coverage, embeddable, to facilitate use by political bloggers and other convention watchers;

— Linkable access to the complete C-SPAN Video Library, allowing interested users to fully search all C-SPAN video content;

— Live coverage of C-SPAN television and radio networks;

— Blogger Tips and Online Convention Video Finder tools;

— Real-time feeds from Twitter users using the hash-tags #RNC08 and #DNC08

Major developments in the ease and low cost of production have generated an explosion of indie media in 2008.  Blogging has transformed into microblogging with services like Twitter and it’s open source alternative  Online video has transformed from YouTube to Qik and even more powerful platforms like Mogulus have provided the tools to integrate all forms of indie media into full featured interactive TV.

Many of these tools are still in beta state, but their existence along with the build out of faster mobile networks have freed the production of media from multi-million dollar broadcast studios to the mobile phones in everyone’s hand.  “We the media” has arrived.

Not only are corporate media organizations coordinating and cooperating with indie media producers and bloggers, but many protagonists are by passing CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and other news organizations to engage in conversations directly with the public and their constituents.   The role model for early adoption is Representative John Culberson (R – TX).  Culberson not only established a presence on Twitter, but he regularly engages in dialogue with anyone in the network who attempts to communicate with him. Further, Culberson regularly posts video from outside the House chamber on Qik.  All of this Rep. Culberson does using his Nokia N95 for video and his Blackberry for Twitter. A number of Republicans have followed John’s example are now engaging with the public using mobile social media and publishing tools.

I considered my own coverage of the Republican National Convention pondering what I might add to the obsessive commentary and observations by cable news, network news and blogger pundits, wonks and journalists.  The short answer is: nothing. But what I could add of value is to train and equip actors and protagonists of the RNC, itself.  I can enable the creation of a view of the convention from the people who are behind-the-scenes presented and duplicated by all other media outlets. Thus was born GOP Unconventional.

Mobile Technology plays a major role in the production of GOP Unconventional.  With the help of sponsors including: Cradlepoint Technology, Qik and Mogulus and using powerful mobile devices like the Nokia N95 and other smartphones GOP Unconventional will deliver workshops on the use of the technology for creating a unique and “unconventional” perspective on the event.

We are still looking for additional sponsors to support the creation of media and also to provide giveaways which will go to lucky audience members during the week of Sept. 1 – 4.  Stay tuned to the site for more information on show times and how you can win some of the mobile technology we use to create GOP Uncoventional.   You can follow us on Twitter too at GOPUnconvention.  Twitter didn’t allow the enough letters in the id to get “al”on the end.

Improving Audio in Nokia N95 Videos – External Microphone

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Following my experience at CTIA Wireless 2008 with streaming video from a Nokia N95, I’ve sought a solution to adding an external microphone. The N95 has an input that is designed for making phone calls and adding a headset for this same purpose. It includes noise-cancelling automatic gain adjustment to make phone calls using the phone’s built-in microphone appropriately loud or soft depending upon the speaker’s voice level. The noise-canceling properties of automatic gain adjustment built into the N95’s microphone improves audio quality for phone calls by separating the speaker from the background noise which is problematic when that background noise is, in fact – not noise – but an interview subject.

Mark Squires of Nokia’s Social Media group tried to arrange a discussion for me with someone from the company’s accessories group, but I was scheduled too heavily with interviews to meet him inside the convention center. I shared with Ray Haddow who manages Blogger Outreach with the Social Media Communications group the solution developed for Reuters and their MoJo reporter’s kit, and asked if other adapters might be available.

Both Mark and Ray transformed the discussions and information from our emails into internal discussions about how Nokia might provide a solution. Afterall, the N95 as a “multimedia computer” is enjoying a symbiotic demand relationship with mobile video streaming services. All social media is creating a strata of use cases: from those who create V.I.T.A.L (video, images, text, audio & links) media for a few freinds, to those eager to add video to their toolbox for personal brand and even those who are using the N95 to report for MSM publications and networks like Shelby Highsmith for MTV Choose or Lose.

MTV’s Choose or Lose production is one example of how the combination of the N95’s 5MB video camera, and mobile streaming video services like Qik are being used to report in near-real-time on the events of the 2008 Presidential Election. Michael Scogin talked about the production and MTV’s citizen journalists during my interview with him at CTIA.

After CTIA, I connected with Michael Fortson of Qik via Twitter. We talked by phone and Twitter about the problem and need for a solution as so many of these high value on-the-spot videos were devalued by the unacceptable lack of audible audio. You can degrade the quality of the image and still have a compelling video, if the audio is excellent. The reverse is not true.

Michael pointed me to Jim Long, self-described new media guy trapped in an old media body. Jim uses an N95 to record images and videos from his vantage point of literally behind the camera. He is an NBC cameraman assigned to Washington, DC. Jim found this experiment by Steve Garfield using the N95 bundled external microphone.

And next he sent along a link to this experiment by Bloggerman. I received a pointer to this video from a few people.

And then others who have a stake in finding a solution to improving the quality of real time video through better audio also joined the conversation taking place openly on Twitter. Kartin Verclas from MobileActive and Shelby Highsmith one MTV’s citizen journalists. We all discussed the service offerings for live mobile video, the shortfall of the N95’s audio and potential solutions.

Shelby Highsmith recommended using a BT headset as a microphone, and made a video to demonstrate how the BT headset would function in a high noise environment like technology conferences, bars or restaurants. Meanwhile, I made a trip to Radio Shack and purchased two adapters for the experiment suggested by Bloggerman using the TV cable. Bloggerman stated the red cable plug must be used as it delivered the audio from among the three RCA plug set color coded red, white and yellow. But that didn’t work.

The results from my attempt to connect the N95 TV cable set to a female-to-female RCA to RCA adapter, the second adapter a male-t0-female RCA to mini 8″ connector and finally plugging in the mini 8″ microphone cable allows the use of an external mic with the N95 proved successful after, in his own experiment Shelby Highsmith chronicled in images and video the right combo. He discovered that the yellow cable connector was the correct connector, rather than the red one recommended by Bloggerman.

Important Note about the microphone you choose: it must either be a battery-powered condenser microphone or a dynamic microphone. Dynamic mics don’t require a power source, whereas condensers do and the Nokia input port does not supply power to the microphone. If a condenser is used it must be battery-powered.

I’ve tested this solution with a battery-powered Edirol C15 condenser mic and the results are promising. The real test is in the field with an interview subject. My field tests will begin next week featuring some live streaming from the polls in North Carolina’s Democratic Primary Election. Tune in to or watch my Twitter stream at for notification of when I’m live.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion and the many experiments to narrow down the possibilities. I hope everyone who is creating mobile video streams using the N95 will find this solution helpful and we all can continue to move the production quality forward.

Mark Squires of Nokia at CTIA 2008, Sans Streaming

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A version of the interview with Mark Squires, Head of Social Media Communications at Nokia. This video was also captured using an N95 8GB, but minus live streaming. It was recorded directly to the device and as is probably obvious wasn’t on a tripod. Tripods are hugely helpful in these type of recording environments. Everyone’s hand does shake at least a little.The audio codecs used by streaming services come into question when viewing the local recording as the sound is much improved. So is the solution is likely an external mic AND a better audio codec on the streaming service.If you listen closely you’ll notice that we have a scoop on Nokia’s internal blogging effort going live. Tough to prove it as it’s not public, but 800+ internal blogs is quite the undertaking. Now, I wonder about Nokia Twitter which would likely deliver the internal news service in a more efficient manner for everyone at the company.

CTIA 2008 with Social Media Sizzle

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In less than a week, CTIA 2008 kicks off in Las Vegas. The conference is self-proclaimed as the largest wireless conference in the world. Some might argue that “the conference formally known as 3GSM” is bigger. I’m not sure. What I can say for sure is that the big boys from the wireless industry are getting together in the desert, and this uptight overly formalized event needs a big dose of Social Media.

CTIA is an organization primarily representing the America’s carriers by a bevy of lobbyists and lawyers. It isn’t the free wheeling environment of SXSW, and certainly not the event where social media practitioners preach to the converted. All of which I believe makes it the idea event to go all out with social media and indy production. So, next week in Las Vegas Bena Roberts, founder and chief editor of the awesome blog GoMo News and I, as the newly appointed US Editor for GoMo will bring a compelling social media experience to the conference.

We kick off with an invitation only party Sunday night, March 30th at the Hard Rock Cafe to unveil our mobile video broadcast studio. An RV brightly marked will cruise up to the Las Vegas Conference Center and pick up our interviewees who will be whisked away from the saturated towers serving the CC. We’ll set up to stream from the RV and go live with a variety of pioneering people and innovative companies along side the big brands that fuel mobile content and services.

Watch GoMo News for all the up to date information on where and how to watch the broadcasts. The Sprint EDVO Rev. A network with it’s 1.8MB upload capability will provide the bandwidth we need and a couple of Nokia N95s will be the video capture devices. How are we using N95s on a CDMA network? I’ll reveal that during the week. In addition, Flixwagon is a sponsor of GoMo News on Wheels! and will be used as the service to stream from the device, store the videos and alert Twitterfollowers or Flixwagon fans that a new video is LIVE.

The interviews and product demos are designed to be informative and conversational. Our audience will be invited to join in with their own questions through chat during the broadcast. We want to encourage respectful participation and exchange. Ask your own questions, and I’ll pass along as many as I can. As a preview, Tuesday, April 1st between 9:15 and 9:30 AM I’m interviewing Louis Libin, who serves as Chairman, Political Conventions Communications Committee. The Committee is responsible for coordinating all the wireless users for the Democratic and Republican Presidentials Conventions and events surrounding the conventions. The users include the broadcasters, Law Enforcement, the organizing committees and others.

We start March 30th approximately 9PM Mountain Daylight Time, MDT, (GMT -7). See you there.

We are grateful to GoMo News on Wheels! sponsors: Flixwagon, mPulse, MCN, and Smaato. And to the GoMo News Blender sponsor JumpTap.

The Attention Economy and Mobile Web 2.0

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Pay attention! This phrase takes on a whole new meaning in the context of information overload from our modern day communications choices. The 24 hour news day, 500+ channels of TV on cable and dish networks, radio, XM, Sirius, and the web along with one of it’s offspring, the blogosphere, are producing an unprecedented amount of media all vying for our attention. Attention economics is here and beginning to be realized and leveraged by companies large and small. Individual attention is a scarce commodity; scarcity creates value. The primary function of company involvement in the Attention Economy has been focused on advertising, and “paying attention” hints what some hope are the dynamics of Long Tail participation in this market.

Media is the dominant delivery mechanism of advertising and by necessity locked in fierce competition to capture and hold your attention primarily for the purposes of securing ad revenue for the profitable development of their creative products and services. Whether one watches Lost on ABC, listens to All Things Considered on NPR, or reads Robert Scoble’s blog, advertisers or sponsors are funding that experience to gain access to the media consumer’s attention. In the realm of media, the producer acts as the owner of your attention. You pay attention to their media properties. Producers collect information on what and when you pay attention, and in turn, sell your attention to advertisers who wish to deliver their marketing messages.

Who owns your attention

When you use Google or Yahoo! for web search or visit blogs that partner with Adsense or Yahoo! Publisher, it is the search engine that acts as owner of your attention. Stored on Google and Yahoo! servers are the clickstreams of millions. Whether you click through the results of a web search or on an ad placed on a blog, the search engines sell your attention and gestures to advertisers who pay for the increased likelihood that they will get your attention long enough or at the right time to convert you into a customer for themselves or their client companies.

Social networks like MySpace, Facebook, Beebo, Flickr etc. act as the owners of your attention. As you participate in building your profile, interacting with objects in the network (e.g., applications, media, other users) and/or publish your own original content an overwhelming amount of information is available on where and to what you are paying attention. This treasure trove of data is combed on both the front-end and back-end of these networks by advertisers eager to get their message into your view and attention.

John Stratton, CMO of Verizon Wireless (VZW), dramatically declared to big media and advertisers that they own the attention of their subscribers. The following audio excerpt is from John Stratton’s speech at AdAge’s 2006 Madison & Vine Conference bringing together Hollywood and Madison Avenue. In his speech, Stratton explains the value of Verizon’s subscriber attention by describing how his company sold 10,000 concert tickets in one hour.

Stratton sees Verizon Wireless as the owner of your attention to be sold to both Hollywood and Madison Avenue and likely anyone willing to pay Verizon Wireless for ad delivery. Did you download a hip hop ringtone last month? Are you a mobile gamer? Do you live in Los Angeles? Is your name Stacy? VZW’s view into your clickstream is even more powerful than the view of Google, or Yahoo! Web companies have mastered the collection of to what and when you’re paying attention, but VZW can add the layers of where and who you are (identity).

The US government mandated E911 regulation requires carriers to build the infrastructure to accurately determine your location and provide that information to public safety organizations for emergency services. As a result, GPS equipped devices are widely deployed and in use (e.g., personal navigation is one of the breakthrough applications on the carriers’ data networks). Further, your mobile phone number identifies you just as surely as your driver’s license or your passport. Credit checks and state issued identification are requirements for the process of purchasing a mobile phone.

Attention Trust & Root Vault

Your attention has value. It is scarce. Businesses are using technology and services to act as owners of your attention. In 2005, the Attention Trust was formed by Steve Gillmor and Seth Goldstein in an attempt to conceptually create property rights around attention and ensure the ownership of that property resided with it’s originator, you.

Attention Trust

Beyond providing consumer protection and the creation of property rights, Attention Trust seeks to enable individuals to capture their own clickstreams and bring them to market just as your many service providers do. The Attention Recorder is a browser plugin that enables an individual to collect their own clickstream and store it. Individuals may choose to store their clickstream on a local hard drive or on one the services authorized by Attention Trust.

Attention data stored on a service can be bought, sold or traded. Third party investors may purchase attention data and act as arbiters. Advertisers might bid on clickstreams or purchase them outright. The originator of the clickstream owns their data and can chose who is allowed to purchase the data and who is not. It remains to be seem if these initial efforts and services can sustain themselves until the market can be educated.

Attention Economy Leverage

Some companies are getting wise to the fact that the byproducts of Attention Economy also have value. A blogger swarm on any given topic can generate millions of page views; a rapid worldwide spread of a technology, story, event or concept (i.e., a network effect); and the energy drink of all web site owners – google juice. Google juice and related mechanisms for driving an Idea Virus into mainstream consciousness, generally occurring through the leap from the blogosphere into the mainstream media, results in economic value not only in the context of attention, but also, monetarily.

An early example of leverage applied to the attention economy is the phrase Web 2.0. The phrase was coined in 2003, by O’Reilly Media to name a conference held in October, 2004, and instantly popularized by the technology blogosphere. O’Reilly had partnered with CMP to produce the series of Web 2.0 conferences. A blog swarm formed across technology bloggers around the first conference and it’s central theme of “the web as a platform.” In November, 2004, CMP applied for a service mark on the phrase Web 2.0. A service mark is a type of trademark that is used to mark services instead of products.

It is notable that the Web 2.0 service mark application was filed not when the term was coined in 2003 or even over the next year during conference preparation. It was applied for after the conference in November once the term had been popularized among technology bloggers. The existence of the service mark was largely unknown until a small not-for-profit conference in Ireland chose to use the phrase Web 2.0 in the title of it’s conference in 2006. CMP sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that IT@Cork discontinue the use of it’s service mark. However, according to trademark law a mark loses protection when it becomes a generic term. According to the Harvard School of Law’s documentation on trademark law, Web 2.0 not only “lost” it’s protection via genericity,

A word will be considered generic when, in the minds of a substantial majority of the public, the word denotes a broad genus or type of product and not a specific source or manufacturer. So, for example, the term “thermos” has become a generic term and is no longer entitled to trademark protection. Although it once denoted a specific manufacturer, the term now stands for the general type of product. Similarly, both “aspirin” and “cellophane” have been held to be generic. In deciding whether a term is generic, courts will often look to dictionary definitions, the use of the term in newspapers and magazines, and any evidence of attempts by the trademark owner to police its mark.

but the clearly generic nature of “web” should have prevented the mark from becoming registered at all.

Finally, a generic mark is a mark that describes the general category to which the underlying product belongs. For example, the term “Computer” is a generic term for computer equipment. Generic marks are entitled to no protection under trademark law. Thus, a manufacturer selling “Computer” brand computers (or “Apple” brand apples, etc.) would have no exclusive right to use that term with respect to that product. Generic terms are not protected by trademark law because they are simply too useful for identifying a particular product. Giving a single manufacturer control over use of the term would give that manufacturer too great a competitive advantage.

CMP leveraged the attention network effect created by the swarm of technology bloggers writing and commenting on the Web 2.0 concept. They captured the term’s accrued value by securing a service mark. Whether these events have a direct relationship to the next case is unknown, but a precedent for business and leveraging the Attention Economy was set.

Verzion Wireless announces Mobile Web 2.0(SM)

Verizon Wireless authored and distributed a press release that no doubt many have read as it was reported across the blogosphere, trade press and the mainstream press earlier this week. The press release was titled: Now It Is Even Easier to Get the Info You Want With Mobile Web 2.0 From Verizon Wireless. On seeing the document I immediately took note of the (SM) following mentions of Verizon Wireless’ Mobile Web 2.0 product, as in the following example.

VZW Mobile Web 2.0 SM

In addition, VZW’s press kit (pdf) dated 08/17/07, also, carries the service mark on it’s new product name, Mobile Web 2.0. I phoned Jim Gerace at VZW for comment to verify the service mark application and the date of application, but my call was not returned in time for this article.

VZW is capitalizing on the existing high attention valuation for the phrase Mobile Web 2.0 and it’s forerunner Web 2.0 which has clearly reached mainstream awareness and has become part of the technology vernacular globally. Applying the concepts of Web 2.0 to mobile data applications began at least 2 years ago as evidenced by a book titled Mobile Web 2.0 published in 2006, 272 mil search results at Google, and 3,164 blog posts as indicated by Google Blogsearch. The company can leverage this attention valuation to save on marketing spend, and equally prevent competitors from sharing in that value by using a service mark to proclaim ownership.

Does Verizon Wireless plan to defend this mark? If not, why apply for a mark at all?

Mobile is a generic term. Web is a generic term. The practice of versioning originally used in software parlance has produced gems such, “Al Qaeda 2.0″ from CNN, and “Al Gore 2.0″ from Fox News. Further, the application of Mobile Web 2.0 to VZW’s mobile web service is the very definition of a generic mark in trademark law.

Generic Mark Defense by Payola

One of the more sensational instances of a company defending a generic mark was the case ofMicrosoft v. Lindows, Inc. Microsoft claimed that the name Lindows infringed it’s trademark on Windows. In this case, Michael Robertson founder of Lindows, Inc. and previously, was well armed to demonstrate that Windows was a generic mark. The term “windows” was used extensively in a generic sense by the Unix community and in early documents from research at Xerox Parc to describe UI design elements.

Lindows, Inc. had Microsoft in an awkward position and the company’s choices became increasingly limited. They could bring Lindows, Inc. to court for infringement and risk invalidation of their Windows trademark, or allow Lindows to dillute the trademark and lose it that way. The only way that Microsoft could save its Windows trademark in the end was to pay Lindows, Inc. $10 mil to change their name. So, Lindows, Inc. became Linspire, Inc.

Paying Attention to Verizon Wireless

Shouldn’t VZW’s move to Mobile Web 2.0 be celebrated? Afterall, the carrier is willing to embrace the principles of Mobile Web 2.0, like open APIs, open standards, the full web browser interface, the internet as platform, and the power of indy content. This is great news for subscribers and developers. Finally, carriers will lift their heavy boot from the stream of innovation that open APIs represent for developers and restore that direct relationship loop between user and developer that has propelled WWW innovation.

Similarly, Vodafone’s move to open up the full web experience to their customers this summer was met with praise across the blogosphere, mainstream press, analysts and from their subscribers in the UK. Carriers and operators are at long last understanding the value of taking down their walled gardens of content. Acceptance of Mobile Web 2.0 from VZW means the subscriber is in control and true choice is at long last possible.

Recall that the Stratton speech focused on VZW as a media company. The full embrace of Mobile Web 2.0 means that VZW would compete for ad revenue against the Internet media giants like Yahoo!, Google, MSN, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. What a huge change this new openness represents over the carrier’s attempt of being an application company and the “Mobile Internet” (which became known to users as WAP is Crap) initiatives of the past.

VZW’s Mobile Web 2.0 is…

an updated version of their portal with space for advertising. To VZW Mobile Web 2.0 is a walled garden. Access to the walled garden costs $5.00 per month plus air time (VZW charges it’s subs for the minutes an application is open on a handset along with the monthly subscription for application access) AND comes with advertising on every page. There are, also, featured links which is code forpaid placement. So then, Mobile Web 2.0 is a maximized revenue instance of a walled garden. Who knew?

So the joke is on everyone. Not only does VZW trademark a term popularized by indy media, and countless conferences where hands are held across the divide between web development and mobile development, but in a kind of one finger salute, VZW applies the term for ultimate mobile openness to their walled garden.

It’s time to pay attention to Verizon Wireless. Those who write, speak and evangelize independently may not have legal standing or individually the legal resources to follow the USPTO’s trademark application objection process, but this is the Attention Economy. We can create a negative incentive on VZW’s misappropriation of our attention. A different precedent is needed.

Perhaps a mobile startup will want to play the role of Lindows, Inc. A $10 mil settlement would be a nice round of funding with no term sheet attached.

Data Goldmine from Mobile and Social Networks

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The BBC reports on how real time data on mobile phone use in Rome is being used by MIT researchers to observe how people move around the city through the day.

Map of mobile usage in Rome

Anyone who has ever driven in Rome or any city in Italy knows the chaos which results from traffic congestion.  Researchers are looking to the mobile networks for real time data on the movement of people through the city.  Mobile networks must track phones to execute handoffs between towers as one moves in through space to ensure optimal signal strength.

There is little doubt that the mountains of data we generate when using our phones for talking, texting surfing the web or engaging with our social networks offers astonishing opportunities for new applications, targeted marketing, and new lines of business for those who house and store our data.

In Rome, one possible application for all this real-time information is its use by traffic planners to expand roads or increase public transportation resources in obviously high traffic areas.   The article extends this idea.

…in future sic buses might not stick to a fixed timetable or even route.

Sending busses to where the people are rather than vice-versa could mean fewer wasted journeys, so Real Time Rome might ultimately be good for the environment.

Better route planning for buses and cars could mean less time standing in traffic, pumping out noxious fumes.

Another example of how this data might be put to use was a demonstration by Verizon Wireless for the AdAge’s Madison+Vine event in LA last year.  Verizon wanted to show Madison Avenue the power of data mining its users to generate targeted advertising.  The demo consisted of a list of Verizon users in the LA area who had downloaded a hiphop ringtone during the previous 30 days.  A group of 10,000 of these identified subscribers were offered concert tickets for a same day outdoor concert and all of the 10,000 tickets were purchased in the span of one hour, according to John Stratton, chief marketing officer, Verizon Wireless.

And finally, consider MySpace’s move to launch a record label, and now, it’s own TV network.  These new lines of business are enabled and assured by the knowledge of what music and media (think YouTube) that MySpacers are consuming and promoting to their networks.  Further, the company knows much personal information about the demographics they can target with new media services.

The backend data from social networks, mobile phone networks and of course, mobile social networks and social media is a treasure chest for the data miners, researchers and marketeers wishing to understand or monetize your interactions.