AT&T's a Big Buzzkill
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