Inside Facebook and Social Network Trends
In a recent article, Inside Facebook, a research and marketing group that collects and analyzes Facebook data, posted some numbers that suggest that the world’s biggest social networking site is having trouble retaining traffic in Canada and the US. According to Inside Facebook’s tracking service, Inside Facebook Gold, Canadian Facebook traffic has only grown 7.4 percent in the past 12 months, and significantly dropped in May and June, falling by 1.52 million down to 16.6 million.
Inside Facebook’s report wasn’t entirely shocking, but it did rock the boat enough to prompt a collective media discussion about the future of Facebook and social networking in general.
Nevermind the fact that Facebook draws nearly 700 million users; in total, Inside Facebook says that the site lost 6 million users in the US alone during the month of May—the first loss the country has seen in the past year.
Naturally, Facebook responded coolly to Inside Facebook’s report, and refuted any claims that trouble is on the horizon.
“From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn’t designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook. We are very pleased with our growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook on any given day.”
So, the big question is: will Facebook fall from glory like MySpace and Friendster, the sites that once ruled the social web?
Not any time soon, anyways.
For one thing, these numbers may hold less weight than many believe. Inside Facebook has admitted that it can be tricky to measure traffic numbers.
“Bugs in the Facebook advertising tool that we draw this information from, seasonal changes like college graduations and other short-term factors can influence numbers month-to-month and obscure what’s really happening,” Inside Facebook’s Eric Eldon wrote in a post on the company’s site.
But even if the numbers reflect the state of the Facebook Nation, they don’t overshadow the most important determining factor—Facebook’s total global saturation. Even if a fraction of Facebook’s users give up on the site, the numbers show that the site is so frequently used, they’ve already gotten us all hooked.
Inside Facebook has found that “by the time Facebook reaches around 50% of the total population in a given country…growth generally slows to a halt.”
In countries like Canada and the US, Facebook’s presence is so intense that almost everyone who wants a profile already has one. New users don’t come along often.
Without high traffic numbers, Facebook won’t be able to draw advertisers, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. But considering its growth in highly populated countries like Mexico, Brazil, India and Indonesia and its worldwide influence, that shouldn’t be a problem any time soon.
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”