Twitter, Facebook - and the battle for advertising dollars

Facebook and Twitter logos

It's been a dismal week for social media companies that aren't Facebook.

Last night the professional networking site LinkedIn posted a disappointing revenue forecast, sending its shares plunging 25% in after-hours trading. Earlier in the week, Twitter had also shocked the market by missing revenue forecasts.

Both companies have sky-high valuations in what is a pretty frothy technology market, with investors betting that they will grow very rapidly and deliver huge profits in a few years' time. Now, both Twitter and LinkedIn are still growing users and revenues - just not at the rate that the markets demand.

The other difficult question for Twitter in particular is whether it can ever convince enough advertisers that it is the place, rather than Facebook, to reach an online audience. When Facebook floated a couple of years ago, it warned that its ability to make money from mobile advertising was uncertain - and back then you might have thought Twitter was better positioned for the mobile era. But today mobile revenue accounts for 75% of Facebook's very substantial earnings.

Twitter's problem is twofold - it has a much smaller audience, and is far behind Mark Zuckerberg's company in developing its advertising proposition. For years, it seemed determined not even to talk about a business model, now it's desperately trying to convince companies that it offers all sorts of attractive ways to reach consumers.

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Secret fails fast - but did Silicon Valley fail too?

Secret app logo

Silicon Valley is applauding the founder of the Secret app, which allows people to share rumours anonymously. Which is strange because he's failed.

But what he's done is admit that the project has gone wrong, shut it down and return the remaining cash to investors. And in the West Coast start-up bible, failing fast and moving on has become one of the 10 commandments for all true entrepreneurs.

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Brand/Miliband: Is this the real start of the 'social media election'?

Russell Brand and Ed Miliband

Was Ed Miliband right or wrong to agree to an interview for Russell Brand's YouTube channel?

I'll let you be the judge of that, but the strategy seems clear - reach an audience of young people who are more likely to watch online video and share news on Facebook than tune in to TV news or read a newspaper.

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Google’s 'mobilegeddon'

Google on mobile

If your business depends on people finding your website, then this will be an anxious day for you.

Google is making changes to the way its search engine ranks sites, and that could send some hurtling down the rankings.

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Is Google a fading force?

Searching on Google

So here's a funny thing. The day after the EU accuses Google of abusing its dominance of the search market, new figures are published showing it's not quite so dominant after all.

Comscore reveals that Microsoft's Bing now has 20% of the desktop search market, Yahoo, which has a search alliance with Microsoft, has nearly 13%, and Google has a measly 64%.

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Maaxi - will we care for sharing?

Black cab

Want an argument with a London taxi driver? Just use the word Uber and you can guarantee the air will turn blue with complaints about unfair competition and the failure of Transport for London to sort it out. But now the controversial Californian car service is facing new competition from an app which the black cab drivers won't be bad mouthing.

That's because Maaxi's strategy is all about giving taxi drivers a better chance of competing with Uber. Its key idea is to use its technology to let customers share a black cab. I shared a ride with the firm's chief executive Gabi Campos and he explained that customers could potentially pay even less than Uber charges. "If you get four people in a cab that can get you close to the rate people pay for public transport," he said.

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How far can a government police internet porn?

Keyboard button on computer says "Adults only"

The other day I asked whether technology would be an issue at the general election - and concluded that it almost certainly would not.

Well, within a couple of days I was proved wrong. The Conservatives came up with a plan which could involve major changes in the way the internet is regulated.

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The British tech companies at the top of their game

Midoki employee works on screenshot of Plunder Pirates

What connects a Victorian house in Leamington Spa with an ugly 1970s office block off London's Old Street roundabout? Each is home to an innovative games studio whose success tells the story of a British industry confident that it can beat the world.

I visited the two companies for Radio 4's World At One, which is marking its 50th anniversary by celebrating some great British success stories.

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Will it be a tech election?

Martha Lane Fox

It's among the most important issues in the upcoming election, up there with the economy, immigration and the NHS. Or at least it should be - according to Baroness Martha Lane Fox. She believes debate should be raging over the coming weeks about the role the internet can play in the UK. But is she just whistling in the wind?

In her passionate and witty Dimbleby lecture last night, the web entrepreneur and digital evangelist outlined her plan for our country to become "the most digital, most connected, most skilled, most informed on the planet". She laid into politicians, company bosses and the media for failing to understand the importance of digital technology.

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Meerkat v Periscope: Who will win the live-streaming video battle?

A live-stream demonstration of Meerkat
A live-stream demonstration of the Meerkat app

For the last couple of weeks the hot new thing in tech - or at least the most talked about at the SXSW music and tech festival in Texas - has been a live-streaming video service called Meerkat.

Now Twitter, which just days ago acted to prevent Meerkat tapping into its own users quite so easily, has launched a rival service called Periscope. Battle has been joined and there's unlikely to be more than one winner.

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