Rocketboom: Almost 10X Ze Frank's Downloads

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Videoblogger Ze Frank is in what he calls a nerd fight with Rocketboom producer Andrew Baron. Frank says that Baron’s numbers are inflated and make it difficult for he and other video bloggers to sell advertisements with much lower numbers to offer. I spoke with both of them on the phone, looked at Rocketboom’s traffic logs and ran my understanding of what I saw past several podcasting industry experts who confirmed my analysis.

I think that if Baron is exaggerating, it’s not by very much. I think his rough numbers are more or less accurate. I also think that’s just the beginning of the story.

Baron says that episodes of Rocketboom are downloaded about 300,000 times each. Frank says his show (called “The Show”) has about 30,000 viewers. Rocketboom delivers its show from four different servers, Tivo, iTunes, Hellio mobile phones and all over the web. Viewer numbers and ad impressions are impossible to quantify absolutely, but it appears to me that each show is getting downloaded through verifiable channels between 150 and 200 thousand times.

Are other, non verified by me distribution channels, bringing those numbers close to Baron’s 300,000 claim? I think they are probably coming close enough that Baron’s number can be accepted as generally accurate with a large grain of salt. Ze Frank himself emphasizes that good analytics are just not available in this brand new industry.

In other words, Baron’s show may only be downloaded 7 or 8 times as much often as Frank’s, not ten, but his claims appear to be in the ball park. Heather Green of Business Week’s Blogspotting just posted on this as well and came to just the opposite conclusion of mine but based on the same numbers. The issue here, though, is the ability to sell ads. Whether Rocketboom has 250k downloads or 300k isn’t the issue if Frank has 30k. The point is that Rocketboom may not be strong in some metrics (like pageviews) but when it comes to downloads the show is scoring high. As Green points out, it also shows that the loss of Amanda Congdon did not cause great pain to the number of downloads.

Big Issues

Numbers and money are obviously what pays the rent and thus they are important, but there are many things that matter more than these numbers. The number of downloads does not equal the number of people who actually view the show. The number of people who press play does not equal the number of people who watch long enough to view an ad. Tacked on ads like Revver serves up for Ze Frank are very different from innovative ads like the one based in Second Life that Rocketboom recently did for a rechargeable battery recycling company.

Pageviews are very difficult to track and are close to meaningless anyway, particularly when it comes to multimedia. See this Alexaholic graph, for example, that makes it look like Ze Frank is beating Rocketboom handily and that TechCrunch is much larger than both of them combined. I’ve seen Rocketboom numbers, the show is of general interest and it is everywhere. In fact there is little reason to come to the site if you like watching the show. I believe that they have a larger number of downloaders than we have subscribers and page visitors. Of course we’re a very topic specific site.

What people get out of watching is an other key question. Jeneane Sessum says there needs to be a likability metric and Robert Scoble says we need a way to measure engagement.

Ze Frank viewers leave hundreds of comments, participate in contests, send in clips of themselves and donate money. Comments are far sparser at Rocketboom. My girlfriend once spent all her free time for a week watching every Ze Frank show that’s been made and I laughed out loud after most of them. If I never saw another episode of Rocketboom again that would be ok with me. I like Ze Frank’s content much better.

The fact remains however, that Rocketboom’s content is being downloaded nearly 10 times as often as Frank’s. I accept Andrew Baron’s explanation of that, too. Rocketboom exercises almost zero control over distribution of their show – other than to push it into as many channels as possible. Frank prominently asks his viewers to keep his videos out of sites like YouTube, presumably so he can track the numbers closely. Rocketboom also has first mover’s advantage, is work safe and, as unfair as this may be, plays the attractive woman card.

Ze Frank and many other video podcasters ought to be able to make a living doing what they are doing. The question of numbers is probably one part of what’s slowing advertising spending in the space. The fact that Rocketboom is as well known as it is shouldn’t lead advertisers to believe that every other video blogger’s audience is insignificant. It’s a changed game and it continues to change.

To see more top video blogs, check out the site of the upcoming Vloggies awards.

  • http://www.fongenie.com James

    Good stuff but…

    What is their definition of Small Business?

    • http://www.dotcominfoway.com/mobile-application-development/i-phone joaquinadley

      Another good business integration relationship with Google. Salesforce an on-demand Customer Relationship Management solution vendor. This gaint integration has found a lightweight Contact Manager Edition, which will store and manage all contacts and accounts in the cloud and the product will integrate with all leading email system and easily track them.

      We have to wait and see to what extent Salesforce’s CRM combined with the steady growth of Google Apps puts pressure on Microsoft?

  • Sean

    Salesforce is such a scam. Usability is in the pits and customization and tweaking required is astronomical. It has effectively no advantages over traditional CRMs

    • http://blog.jeffdouglas.com Jeff Douglas

      Obviously you’ve never had to customize SAP or Oracle applications. You lack of knowledge if obvious.

    • http://blog.jeffdouglas.com Jeff Douglas

      Obviously you’ve never had to customize SAP or Oracle applications. Your lack of knowledge is obvious.

    • http://cambridgecloudpartners.com James Sullivan

      Jeff is right. Sean, what app do you think is more usable and configurable?

  • http:///www.newsmaker.com.au Leila Henderson

    Ditto – and does it include the email campaign manager? Otherwise the price sounds right :)

  • http://www.pricingwire.com Chris Hopf

    This is certainly the result of a commitment to customer research and such pointing to the existence of a segment that they can target and convert more effectively.

    Taking a proactive approach to getting to know your custmers provides key insights and opportunities to develop solutions that strengthen existing and create new competitive advantages.

    Salesforce is not messing around, they have every intention to remain the leader in this space. Well done.

    • Nicholas

      I certainly requested such a product as a small business. I’m looking forward to getting a good look at it in a week or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon_Harris/8828063 Brandon Harris

    @Sean, I agree.

    Contact SBS Group in New Jersey if you are looking for a top notch CRM install. MS CRM is the way to go.

  • Alex

    This is a good move by SF. In fact, this is to fend off Zoho.com which has gained much traction.

    • Jack

      Yeah, this is clearly a defensive move against zoho CRM.

      • Bud


  • http://12seconds.tv Jacob Knobel

    Go Marcus!

    • http://salesforce.com Marcus Nelson

      Thnx man. I’m working at it ;)


  • http://johnhaden.com john

    you know what would be rad ? is if you could set up several accounts withing salesforce w/o having to logout and login… where you manage different customers / prospects for different companies… I do contract sales for a few companies and it would be killer to just use one salesforce account with all of them, yet have the emails, customers or prospects pertain to the particular company I am working with at the time.

    • http://sterlingpr.com Kawika Holbrook

      +1 Having client-specific notes and actions for the same contacts would be helpful.

      • Scott B

        Create a custom field as a pick list with all the companies that you contract for, in the lead, account or contact tabs. Then you can track and even report on that with one login, it took you under 5 mins to add this to the application.

    • http:www.touchahead.com Catherine Briggette

      Hello Kawika & Scott,
      Touch Ahead Software has created a CRM that has both of your requests. And is ten times faster than Salesforce. It is called EquityTouch

      twitter: @touchahead

    • http:www.touchahead.com Catherine Briggette

      Hello John,
      Touch Ahead Software has created a CRM that has both of your requests. And is ten times faster than Salesforce. It is called EquityTouch

      twitter: @touchahead


  • Brent

    Does it integrate well with Mac Mail?

  • B

    Is this live? I can’t find it, can you add a direct link?

  • Vincent

    Hmm, pretty sure it’s a limited offer… that ends on 31st of August 09? At least that’s what it says under pricing: http://www.salesforce.com/crm/editions-pricing.jsp

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marcus_Nelson/541751300 Marcus Nelson

      Hey — the Contact Manager link is live now: http://www.salesforce.com/crm/editions-pricing.jsp

      Happy linking!

      • http://yahooom thomas leda

        I saw your profile on this site and after going through i decided to write you a mail that i know it will benefit you , if you are intrested write me back with this email address which is thomasleda@yahoo.com ,or you call me in this unmber +225 49939889 i will be waiting to hear from you soon .
        Mr.Thomas anthoney.

  • Bud


    I noticed there is no mention in your post about the price increase of the group edition to $35/user/mo from $9/user/mo. Contact manager is a trimmed down version of Group Edition for the old price of Group Edition. Essentially, this entire move was designed to increase prices. Also note the 2 user limit on Contact Manager. So limited, it’s not worth it.

  • Roscoe

    SFDC has mastered repackaging and rebranding the same stuff. Apex, Appforce, Unlimited, Force.com, etc… Hard to believe these are the guys who used to make fun of how complex Siebel’s pricing and product portfolio was. Isn’t hosted CRM supposed to be taking over large enterprises? Interesting that SFDC is now feeling the need to fight off the low-end… getting pinched on both sides is what did in Siebel. I thought these guys wrote off ACT! and Goldmine and the like 10 years ago.

    What’s truly amazing is SFDC’s demonstration of the power of marketing. They have kept a ridiculous valuation afloat for several years despite lousy margins and the need for vast amounts of SG&A, all the while winning over many of the expert “analysts” who rode Siebel from $100 down to $5.

    It would be more interesting if these guys would develop a broader on demand suite, rather than their absurd assertion that third-parties will build it all on their platform. If they were to go the suite route, we might see a more credible threat emerge to SAP / ORCL and a distant third MSFT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah_Green/100000191340403 Sarah Green

    Always thought Salesforce was a great product. Glad to see a lightweight version. I’m sure this will be successful.

  • http://www.zenkraft.com David Hall

    Actually their platform is brilliant for building third-party applications on: no servers required, rapid go-to-market and access to 63,000 customers.

    In fact it is possible to go from idea to first customer for $0. Where else can you do that?

  • http://curecrm.com Alex Schliker

    Salesforce is a great product and platform for big business. For the little guys, it’s a nightmare to get going.

    This is a great move and will help reach out to a ton of SMBs who need a more lightweight solution.

    Their AppExchange environment is also a great channel for distribution – for apple-loving, startup-type nerds, it’s like the enterprise “app store.”

  • http://www.behindthedot.net Ed

    I find Salesforce such bloated software and the UI is very messy. Although they have done so much for making web apps acceptable in the enterprise market. So, yay!

    • alex

      it’s not software so how can it be bloated?

      • Todd

        What do you think a website is, then? It’s software.

  • Eric

    Agree with everyone, their UI is a mess, old, and antiquated.

    And yes this is a price increase in disguise. How could the Group Edition which was $9 go to $35 per user?

  • http://mas90guru.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/salesforce-launches-9-per-month-lightweight-contact-manager-for-small-businesses/ Salesforce Launches $9 Per Month Lightweight Contact Manager For Small Businesses « Wayne Schulz Random Thoughts

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julian_Andrew_Hornbrook_Lukcs/517713776 Julian Andrew Hornbrook Lukács

    maybe all of my old school training has made me suspicious off totally cloud based setups… i just like knowing there’s a server somewhere in the building i can kick :)

  • http://geekfluence.com/salesforce-and-small-business Salesforce and small business | Geekfluence

    […] Link: Salesforce Launches Lightweight Contact Manager For Small Businesses […]

  • steve

    I’d be interested in a comparison of this new Contact Manager edition and the free Personal edition that I’ve been checking out. I can’t get that address map (as seen in pic) to integrate that way with Personal edition, for example. I can’t add anything from appexchange, even the free stuff.

    This seems to be not only a price increase opportunity for Group edition, but also a way to charge people who have been happy enough with what personal edition offers.

    Is personal edition still an option? What do you get for $9/mo. beyond what’s already free?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian_Richard_Hendry/536260194 Ian Richard Hendry

    If Salesforce.com leads the CRM space, where is a competent Social CRM offering?

    So far all they have done is:

    1) Show a web capture form on a Facebook page

    2) Add primitive Social Media Monitoring to their dashboard.

    I have no doubt in my mind that the way to go is taking cystomer record data from public sources, solving CRMs biggest issue: keeping data current.

    SFDC is way behind some of the emerging new players in this area.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

    • http://cambridgecloudpartners.com James Sullivan

      That’s like saying BMW is way behind Tesla because Tesla is offering a production line of electric cars and BMW doesn’t have one yet. I have a family and need a wagon (like a lot of people) and want to be able to drive a long distance and get it repaired in short order so we can take kids to docs appointments and stuff. For my family, Tesla is a novelty at the moment (like the other small social crm outfits). Social CRM is fun and trendy but it’s also changing so rapidly 99% of business people are not on Twitter. The salesforce.com core CRM technology is why we buy it, because we need to manage workflow, integrate to other systems, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian_Richard_Hendry/536260194 Ian Richard Hendry

        James, where did you get the impression Social CRM was Twitter only? Or that Social CRM can’t have workflow?

        There are stackes of public profile information sources out there, beyond even the public versions of Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

        I don’t blame you for not knowing. As a Salesforce.com user I can understand how integrating all of these accurate and rich customer information sources may seem like a pipe dream. ;-)

        Ian Hendry
        CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

      • http://cambridgecloudpartners.com James Sullivan

        I only used Twitter as an example and I do have twitter integration within my Account records in salesforce.com. You didn’t respond to what I wrote in the least but took the time to drop in the link to your website again. In case you read more than 2 sentences into this response: Which CRM systems do you suggest using? Your website has an empty page (“Coming soon for Business members! Upgrade now.”) under your “Social CRM” tab.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian_Richard_Hendry/536260194 Ian Richard Hendry

        James, I read all of what you typed. This time too. Including between the lines.

        Forgive me, were you expecting me to comment on Teslas and BMWs?

        Anyway, hoping to prove my point I’ll answer your question: Salesforce.com is a great choice for a CRM system, but it surprises me that they don’t support their “lead” with some leadership in the space of integration to social networks. People (and businesses) are picking up many thousands of contacts through social media and none are effectively logged in CRM systems in the same way that contact would be if it had come in through a web contact form, or e-mail, or inbound call. Opportunities presented through the Social Web are just slipping through our fingers due to the difficulty in logging direct social networking activity and attaching workflow to it.

        And thank you for looking up who I am. In answer to your other point, the Social CRM bolt on to our sales leads network goes live on 10 September.

        I include a signature to show the capacity in which I comment. Is there anything wrong with that?

        Ian Hendry
        CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian_Richard_Hendry/536260194 Ian Richard Hendry

        James, would you like to disclose now that you work for Cambridge Cloud Partners, Inc., a salesforce.com consulting partner?

        And there was me thinking you were defending it as a delighted customer, rather than someone peddling their wares. Shame on you.

        You don’t own a BMW dealer on the side, do you?


      • http://cambridgecloudpartners.com James Sullivan

        I ran salesforce.com systems for years after spending almost 10 years running SAP, Oracle, Onyx, SugarCRM, etc. systems. My company is linked using the URL (ie. a disclosure of who I am).

        I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic / trolling. You’re complaining about salesforce.com while you’re making a social crm add-on (peddling your wares) – unless I’m missing something.

        You agreed with me that salesforce.com is a fine CRM application. Now, they have been developing social integrations as well though they’re not fully public yet: http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2009/03/salesforce-com-integrates-twitter.php

        Is your social lead trader like Jigsaw? Does it plug into other CRM systems?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian_Richard_Hendry/536260194 Ian Richard Hendry

        James, we set up our site because I got frustrated that opportunities exist on social networks but they are too hard to find amongst the noise;; how easy actually is it to focus on the “I need”, “Can you recommend”, “Does anyone know someone who can” type posts? That aspect of our site, called Biz Needs, enables a member to specify what their most urgent business need is; we then match that to other members with solutions. It’s a B2B networking site and Biz Needs works well. There’s no sales lead without a need of course and we help all of that information float to the surface.

        I’ve a background in CRM so I’ve always been keen to ensure that customer interaction online is as structured as that through other channels. We spent some time talking with CRM vendors about this and I found few seemed to take it seriously. We concluded the best way to realise our own thoughtss on how it should work was to do as much of it ourselves as we could.

        I’d rather not have taken that route if I’m honest, but Social CRM basics seem to be something many vendors are still struggling with.

        By the way I’ve seen that SFDC announcement before and I referred to it in my original post, as it seems only to be basic Social Media Monitoring but as you know it better than I, perhaps you can tell me if it creates identities for Twitter users involved in the conversations being monitored, so you can then add workflow to control the response? That is what I’d call a basic feature.


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