AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

11:25 AM -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) have all learned the same lesson -- you can't just create buzz and expect people jump on board. Literally. Sites named Buzz just aren't working.

AT&T shut down its social search site, Buzz.com, on Monday, around the same time Yahoo is planning to discontinue Yahoo Buzz, its content aggregation site. Meanwhile, Google's Buzz social media network is still up and running, but continues to attract criticism -- and lawsuits -- for perceived privacy violations.

So what's the deal with Buzz?

Social aggregation sites just may not be that buzzworthy, for one thing. But for AT&T, I think it shows that carrier-branded services remain challenged.

AT&T's Buzz site was designed to peruse a user's social networks, including Facebook , Twitter Inc. and Yelp Inc. to get recommendations on local venues. But, according to Forbes, the carrier is refocusing on its core local advertising products, specifically on making its Yellow Pages business, YP.com, more social.

David Krantz, head of AT&T Interactive, which oversees YP.com, told Forbes that there was a strong awareness and trust in the YP brand already.

AT&T also has brand awareness, but not for one-off services like Buzz. Carriers may continue to find that they are better off throwing their weight behind an established brand, rather than trying to compete with them. They'll never have the cachet, nor the "hip" factor, that a Facebook does.

One area where AT&T may have better luck is with its Placecast-powered local ad service, ShopAlerts. I've been part of the trial for the past few weeks and, so far, the family deals at K-Mart and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) printer discounts haven't appealed to me, but AT&T is creeping closer to relevancy, without annoyance. (See CTIA 2011: Operators Tread Lightly With Opt-In Ads.)

At the least, AT&T's ShopAlerts is a service that's uniquely operator-focused, mobile and more buzzworthy than one that replicates what successful social networks already do well.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:07:18 PM
re: AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

The answer may be: "We can use your location and connectivity frequency at specific WiFi points to tell that you are a frequent shopper -- and reward you accordingly."

It's not clear what AT&T wanted to do with Buzz. I first heard about it while reading this story.



sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:07:16 PM
re: AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

I agree - location is the value of mobile afterall.

Well, if Isis does all it promises, then in early 2012, you will be paying for the thing that ShopAlerts suggested with your phone and then getting an electronic receipt to store in your handset. We'll see, but here's hoping.


sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:07:16 PM
re: AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

What you're describing is more in line with what ShopAlerts is trying to do, not Buzz, which is why it may be successful (rewards!) while Buzz was a flop. Buzz was trying to be a young and hip Yellow Pages...whatever that means.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:07:16 PM
re: AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

ShopAlerts sounds interesting. I'm beginning to be location snob. If I'm using a mobile app search function and it doesn't assume some knowledge of location in the results it really does disappoint.

Next, when will a service like ShopAlerts just go ahead and let me buy something with the phone bill being the receipt?


sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:07:10 PM
re: AT&T's a Big Buzzkill

An AT&T spokeswoman says that Buzz is being "transitioned" and they plan to continue to experiment with social media on that URL. So check back to see what they try next...

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