Archive for March 2010
The day when commercials are indistinguishable from the programs they support finally arrived -- just before 10 p.m. Eastern last Thursday night. That's when an ad for Dr Pepper ran after NBC's insider-y sitcom "30 Rock," making use of recurring character Dr. Spaceman, played by comic Chris Parnell. In the spot, which was paired with a more-traditional TV commercial for the soda, Mr. Parnell's fictional medical practitioner decried boredom and told viewers how drinking Dr Pepper could banish it. A few moments later, viewers saw the credits roll for "30 Rock." Staffers from "30 Rock" were not involved in the creation of the commercial, according to a person familiar with the situation.
If a stranger came up to you on the street, would you give him your name, Social Security number and e-mail address? Probably not. Yet people often dole out all kinds of personal information on the Internet that allows such identifying data to be deduced. Services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are oceans of personal minutiae — birthday greetings sent and received, school and work gossip, photos of family vacations, and movies watched. Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person’s identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number.
That limited, old-school perception of design is missing out on something important: Today's increasingly complex and multi-faceted marketing campaigns are, in essence, design projects. With the splintering of "old" media and the explosive rise of social networking, marketing messages now are constantly morphing and being reinvented--taking new forms that range from highly innovative viral stunts and films (such as Volkswagen's Fun Theory) to branded social networks (Nike Plus) and even sponsored save-the-world movements (Pepsi)'s "Refresh Everything" project).
The internet has changed the way we do research. Sure it's cheap and fast, but is the ability to get instant data actually making executives smarter about market opportunities? Not always. In too many companies, online research creates an illusion of rigor while actually sowing confusion about market truths, leading executives -- in particular CEOs and CMOs -- to miss the big picture and waste opportunities right under their noses.
I was asked to give this talk to invite you to think deeply. For those who don’t know me… I'm an ethnographer. I study how social media has become a part of daily life. I'm also an activist, driven to making the world a better place through the production and dissemination of knowledge. And I'm also a geek and a blogger. I've been blogging for 13 years, determined to communicate to the world what I've had the privilege of witnessing. I love technology but I also love to be critical of technology. What keeps me up at night is trying to make sense of how social media transforms society and, more importantly, what it helps make visible about humanity. Technophobes love to talk about how technology is ruining everything and technophiles obsess over how everything is radically different. I like to wade through the extremes to see the subtle inflection points. Reality is always in the details. My goal today is to invite you to step back and ask: what hath we wrought?
Digital-marketing companies are rapidly moving to blend information about consumers' Web-surfing behavior with reams of other personal data available offline, seeking to make it easier for online advertisers to reach their target audiences. Advertisers say the push could enhance their ability to target ads at specific types of consumers, but it is drawing scrutiny from Congress, federal regulators and privacy watchdogs, who are already concerned about the use of Web-surfing data.
In my work as a cognitive anthropologist I study how the mind works, how people "make meaning," how people form attachments to things (brands), and how people make decisions. Decisions like how to select what to invest in, whether stocks or mates; why and under what conditions, people prefer Coke over Pepsi (or vice versa), Charmin over Cottonelle; why a person believes in one God over another. In that search I have inadvertently uncovered something about viva la difference: WOMEN CYCLE, MEN CONSUMMATE.
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts about the iPad and the direction that Apple is taking computing along with it. It’s really an extension of the way they look at the iPhone, which I found unsettling at the time but with the iPad, we’re all finally coming around to the idea that they really, really mean it.
Computer users searching online for information say they are “Googling.” Commercials running in states like Michigan and Ohio suggest that shoppers go “Krogering.” But what will investors make of a campaign that proposes they start “Vanguarding”? The campaign, scheduled to begin this week, turns the Vanguard brand name into a verb, the better to help potential customers remember the company’s mutual funds and other investment products.
It looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Three years ago, Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, jogged onto a San Francisco stage to shake hands with Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, to help him unveil a transformational wonder gadget — the iPhone — before throngs of journalists and adoring fans at the annual MacWorld Expo. Google and Apple had worked together to bring Google’s search and mapping services to the iPhone, the executives told the audience, and Mr. Schmidt joked that the collaboration was so close that the two men should simply merge their companies and call them “AppleGoo.” Today, such warmth is in short supply. Mr. Jobs, Mr. Schmidt and their companies are now engaged in a gritty battle royale over the future and shape of mobile computing and cellphones, with implications that are reverberating across the digital landscape.