Now that we've pushed back from the Thanksgiving table and returned to work, it's worth focusing a moment not on our abundance of blessings, but on our glut of content across platforms. These blessings are decidedly mixed. Faced with multiple options we graze and gorge on empty calories, but rarely succeed in satisfying our hunger.
Last month a brouhaha emerged when US Supreme Court justices had a hard time differentiating between the technologies at the center of an important privacy case. Now, no one would reasonably expect a Chief Justice to know the nuances of Twitter as well as Lindsay Lohan, but Roberts allegedly inquired after the difference between email and pagers. Other justices needed a basic lesson in texting. This might seem amusing, except: how is it possible to responsibly adjudicate the issues of the 21st Century without a working knowledge of the platforms that pervade our social and working lives? Being conversant in these items, my dear sirs and ladies, is absolutely part of your job.
A new accelerator is looking for how we’re going to create and view content. What’s the future going to bring?
Jacq and I just watched Adele Live At The Royal Albert Hall (amazon affiliate link), and though every song was just wonderfully done, I found myself fascinated by what Adele was doing in between each song. Because even though most people would be interested in hearing her belt out her amazing repertoire of hits, what I took away from the performance was Adele’s real magical ability: the ability to resonate with her audience.
There’s been plenty of debate lately about whether Twitter has become “mainstream” or not, but examples continue to pile up of how the social network/microblogging platform has worked its way into our lives, to the point where it has become a form of media unto itself. Whether it will ever become mainstream in the sense that it gets used by your aunt or grandmother is almost irrelevant — the reality is that, for all its flaws, Twitter is a publishing tool, and an increasingly powerful one. And it can be used by anyone, journalist and non-journalist alike.
Facebook pages can be quite a dynamic location for your brand and now there is a growing push towards monetizing pages from within Facebook. By utilizing shopping cart software built exclusively for Facebook, retailers can now sell products right on their Facebook pages – no need for users to ever exit Facebook.com. These e-commerce platforms are still quite new, and users should be aware of the eventual fixes and potential upgrades that they will have to prepare for when implementing. However, for those with large fan presences, these e-commerce platforms can be extremely beneficial.
Yahoo Inc. will soon roll out new ways to view content from Facebook Inc. across its websites, according to people briefed on the matter, as it aims to prevent Yahoo users from defecting to the social network. As part of a partnership with Facebook announced last December, Yahoo will begin allowing users to view their stream of Facebook updates—which Facebook calls the "news feed"—from Yahoo.com and Yahoo Mail, these people said. The company will also more easily allow users to post actions they take on Yahoo, such as uploading a photo to Yahoo's photo service Flickr, back on Facebook, these people said.
The Pew Research Center released an interesting study last week that offers some sobering — if unsurprising — insights for the news business. Researchers examined top news stories in the mainstream press as well as what news got traction on blogs, Twitter and YouTube. A main finding was that what’s hot on social media differs — a lot — from what leads in the mainstream press. But what’s even more interesting, I think, is that what’s popular on one form of social media differs significantly from what’s trendy on another. For example, Twitter’s domain is technology, not surprisingly. Blogs and the mainstream press focus more on politics and government. Also not a shocker. As my kids might say: “No duh.” But what isn’t so obvious is what this might mean. I’ve written before about how I believe the real reason many people don’t subscribe to news online — or in print — is about commitment, not money. This study crystallizes my thoughts. I suggest these findings illustrate the radically different way today’s consumers think of news, compared with the past. It’s not brand based. It’s not even platform based. It’s based on niche, which many have said before. But the niche isn’t just in the content or the subject matter; it’s in the mechanism of transmission.
Last week I presented at Stanford Graduate School of Business in a session on Mobile Computing called, "Creating Mobile Experiences: It's the Platform, Stupid." As the title underscores, I am a big believer that to understand what makes mobile tick, you really need to look beyond a device's hardware shell (important, though it is), and fully factor in the composite that includes its software and service layers; developer tools and the ecosystem "surround." Successful platforms, after all, are more than the sum of their parts' propositions. They are not simply a bunch of dis-integrated ingredients.
The baleful consequences of the Great Recession cannot be resolved by maintaining the same approaches as when we created it. The "new normal" in business means many brand owners need to leverage something much larger than a re-take on marketing. They need to accelerate their collaboration with consumers, so that principles such as "for people, for planet, for profit," combined with tools of the web and next-generation media, can transform brands' role in the economy, society and business.
Electronic books are expected to be a major selling point for Apple Inc.'s iPad, which goes on sale Saturday. But competitors, particularly Amazon.com Inc., could end up as major e-book providers for the new device. One reason is that Apple won't start with the same leg up over competing content providers that it has had with the iPhone and its iPod media players, which have built-in connections to the company's iTunes music and video store.
MSN on Tuesday officially debuted its refurbished home page, with a greater focus on Bing-powered search, local content, in-line video, and top social networks. "This marks the beginning of the ramp-out over the next couple weeks of our new home page here in the U.S.," said Erik Jorgensen, ccorporate vice president at MSN. The new site, which went live in beta form last November, also includes a new MSN Local Edition, which will exist as a stand-alone Web site, but will feature prominently on the relaunched MSN home page.
French beauty marketer Clarins Fragrance Group is launching a major global campaign Monday that's missing one major thing: the product. That's because the unusual push for Clarins' Thierry Mugler perfume brand, rather than touting a new scent or the brand itself, is marketing an online media platform dubbed "Womanity," on which the public can come up with the next big products that will hit the shelves.
There's a struggle with defining "branding" in digital. Some people claim that brands should be about utility, others that we need to build brand platforms and yet others think that brands should entertain us and give us something to talk about. Yet overall, surprisingly little has changed in the actual branding strategies in the industry. Something is wrong here.
This is something we keep hearing about, how people and companies need to add value. Adding value is fast becoming the new bubble. A few years ago, Marshall Goldsmith, the world's top executive coach, questioned the cost of adding value in his debut post at Fast Company. In the opening, Goldsmith outlines a very powerful piece of advice: In my experience, one of the most common challenges that successful people face is a constant need to win. When the issue is important, they want to win. When the issue is trivial, they want to win. Even when the issue isn't worth the effort or is clearly to their disadvantage, they still want to win.
There certainly will be advertising winners (and losers) on Super Bowl Sunday but let's hope that the Monday morning quarterback chatter doesn't obscure the larger shift at hand for marketers this year. 2010 will be the year of the "platform" for advertisers. Unlike a website, banner, Facebook application or 30-second spot, a platform is an always-on digital environment that allows brands to run specific or multiple programs. The goal is to meaningfully engage consumers on multiple levels.
Almost three years ago, I wrote a piece on Facebook's monetization strategy. At that time, Facebook was rumored to be valued at $10 billion with revenues of approximately $150 million--a level that clearly did not justify the valuation. Since then, Facebook has executed well and built up real, sustainable revenue models around its application developer network. I cannot help thinking, though, that my strategy advice to the company from three years back still remains valid. So, here it is again, folks. Listen up!
I can remember when I first thought seriously about Twitter. Last March, I was at the SXSW conference, a conclave in Austin, Tex., where technology, media and music are mashed up and re-imagined, and, not so coincidentally, where Twitter first rolled out in 2007. As someone who was oversubscribed on Facebook, overwhelmed by the computer-generated RSS feeds of news that came flying at me, and swamped by incoming e-mail messages, the last thing I wanted was one more Web-borne intrusion into my life.
Google’s SVP-Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg has published a manifesto explaining Google’s commitment to open systems. The post — otherwise a paean to the virtues of openness — contains a crucial caveat about the proprietary platforms that provide 99% of Google’s revenue.
It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we'll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we've enjoyed for the past two decades. But I'm betting that things are going to get ugly. We're heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it's more than that, it's a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we're facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill. And it's time for developers to take a stand. If you don't want a repeat of the PC era, place your bets now on open systems. Don't wait till it's too late.
Last week, I said that the future of news is entrepreneurial (not institutional). Today, a sequel: The future of business is in ecosystems (not conglomerates or industries). At the Foursquare conference last week, I was struck by the miss-by-a-mile worldviews held by the chiefs of big, old conglomerates and the entrepreneurs starting new, nimble companies. The conference is off the record, so I won’t quote anyone by name. And in truth, these are the same conversations I hear often elsewhere. Having these different tribes conveniently in the same room merely focused the contrast for me.
Another week, another blog post on the subject of “why creative advertising folk need to embrace ‘technologists and their geeky ways’” once again ignites vigorous debate. The post in question is by Joe Mele, VP Client Partner at Razorfish, and received a great many comments and a huge number of re-tweets of the @BBHLabs‘ tweet that contained a link to it. The citizens of Twitter seem to react with a combination of self-loathing and schadenfreudian glee to the disruption that social technologies are wreaking on advertising. It’s a little bit dull and frankly misses the point – and it wasn’t quite (I don’t think) what Joe was saying. Of course, how advertising responds to the digital challenge is a roasting hot topic.
At Picnic I attended an interesting session called The City as an Interaction Platform that took this theme as its point of departure: Cities have always been about providing frameworks of services to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses. How will social networks, mobile devices, reactive environments, and cloud-based data services transform the experiences of living in cities in the coming years? What new municipal infrastructure will evolve to meet the needs of citizens looking for the type of real time information and configurability they have come to expect from Internet applications? It was interesting to see three completely different takes on these issues. First Ben Cerveny of Vurb sketched an optimistic view of the ‘cloud city’ – a future scenario in which citizens could get easy access to urban informatics and use those as the foundation for a blossoming civil society. Greg Skibiski of Sense Networks provided another optimist vision – be it based on a different paradigm – in which urban computing is used as the base of offering ever more personalized information and localization services for urbanites. Adam Greenfield however argued that when taken up in a certain way, the rise of urban computing might do urban culture more harm than good. What is at stake, he argued, are some of the essences of urban culture.
When we think about media, we think about reach and volume - how many people will (potentially) see your message at any one time. The message could be relevant to them directly, and to their friends and neighbors indirectly. Unless they see it though, they won't be able to find it. Mainstream media still manages to capture the lion share of distribution and ubiquity. It was curious to see that the Wikipedia definition of mass media now includes the Internet - blogs, message boards, podcasts - because individuals have now the potential to a means to exposure that is comparable in scale to that previously restricted to a select group of mass media producers.
For AT&T, the small-business owner is so key a customer the company needed more than regular marketing tactics to reach it. Its solution? Original content. To create it, AT&T turned to an outside firm called Associated Content -- a startup with a network of 300,000 freelance content creators -- to produce over 100 how-to articles. Topics range from setting up a wireless network and building a marketing strategy to writing a business plan. The material will appears on the AT&T Small Business InSite destination. "The ability to distribute content offers us a credible way to connect with small business owners," said Chris Schembri, vp of media services for AT&T. "We're able to provide valuable information that comes from a third party that will be a little more believable" than brand-created content.
This might be the most subtle yet important shift that marketers face as they deal with the reality of new media. Marketers aren't renters, now they own.
Historically, marketing has been departmentalized in corporations and positioned as a college major. With the advent of social media and our current economic situation, marketing has become a topic that everyone should—and can—care about and have expertise in. Now anyone with an Internet connection and some ambition can develop their own marketing platform, which can be harnessed for both career and financial success.
In a world where the real social media players count their subscribers in the tens or hundreds of millions, Friendfeed hardly moves the needle. Mired at a million or so unique visitors a month and facing the likelihood of being crushed to a fine powder when Google Wave hits the streets, Friendfeed's investors and managers decided to take the first convenient off ramp when Facebook came a-calling. By now you've probably heard the specifics, since practically anyone with a keyboard has been breathlessly tapping away since the deal was made public late Monday: $50 million, most of which will be paid in Facebook stock. A nice payday for Friendfeed's small team (and most likely a relief to the company's investors, who must have known Friendfeed wasn't going anywhere as a solo act). But not a vast sum of money for a company that pays a million dollars a month just the keep the lights on. So why all the attention?
I've been meaning to post a long-ish rant on the importance of celebrities taking control of their own platforms, but never gotten to it, in part because I'm not that enamored with the incessant selling of celebrity that occurs in our culture. Yeah, I sound like a grumpy old man, but I can't help myself. It bums me out - not because I don't like celebrities, but because the current approach strikes me as driven by short term thinking.
Star Wars, an idea that is now thirty years old, gives brands much to learn in how they consider their future in a digital, conversation driven world. Star Wars is a platform. A story told over 25 years, six movies, a cartoon series, innumerable video games, plastic toys, and a sea of licensed novels.
Yahoo is unveiling a major overhaul of its vaunted home page, a redesign aimed at creating a less cluttered, more malleable and cohesive user experience.
I've never written those three words before, but he's never disagreed with Chris Anderson before, so there you go. Free is the name of Chris's new book, and it's going to be wildly misunderstood and widely argued about. The first argument that makes no sense is, "should we want free to be the future?" Who cares if we want it? It is. The second argument that makes no sense is, "how will this new business model support the world as we know it today?" Who cares if it does? It is. It's happening. The world will change around it, because the world has no choice. I'm sorry if that's inconvenient, but it's true. As I see 'free', there are two forces at work:
Back in April I interviewed Mark Zuckerberg as part of my research for Wired’s Great Wall of Facebook piece. Here is an edited transcript in which the Facebook founder and CEO talks about the limitations of walled gardens, the evolution of privacy online and why Home Depot should “humanize” itself.
Recognizing that the online encyclopedia Wikipedia is increasingly used by the public as a news source, Google News began this month to include Wikipedia among the stable of publications it trawls to create the site. A visit to the Google News home page on Wednesday evening, for example, found that four of the 30 or so articles summarized there had prominent links to Wikipedia articles, including ones covering the global swine flu outbreak and the Iranian election protests.
Google has spent a lot of time in the past few years trying to quell fears it's out to disintermediate advertising agencies. Now it's undertaking a major effort trying to educate them on all things digital. Enter AgencyLand. It may sound like an amusement park, but it's actually an online educational portal Google is developing for ad shops, one that likely will help the search giant deeper entrench itself in an ad-agency community that's often been wary of it.
Gaining the awareness, the attention, and ultimately the trust of a community online is a challenge many people are working to accomplish. Whether for your own personal interests or for a business-related use, we look to build relationships using these tools so that we can have conversations with the right people. But where should you start? What comprises a good methodology for using the platform? What’s the proper etiquette. Here are some starter moves to consider when building a presence framework for business communications purposes.
Microsoft is often referred to in the tech industry as "the ultimate platform player," because its considerable fortune has been earned by dominating platforms, most notably the Windows platform that most of the world's PCs use. Lately it has been adding platforms, notably Xbox, which has morphed from a games platform to an interactive device capable of serving all varieties of content, including streaming videos and access to social networking sites and services, and it continues to develop its Windows Mobile platform, whose latest iteration is version 6.5.
In January 2009 I pondered whether or not Twitter was a viable conversation platform. After all, Twitter is one of the darlings of Social Media and it is conversations and the democratization of content that fuel the rapid expansion and adoption of social tools and services.
As YouTube has grown into the preeminent video sharing service online, marketers have tried, with limited success, to broadcast themselves and to reach audiences with their messaging. And while individuals have used YouTube as a platform to step into the spotlight, most brands have been left behind in the shadows. Save for the occasional media-supported viral video blitz, or user generated contest, commercial success on YouTube has been elusive to the many brands that have tried to reach for that brass ring.
When the Facebook Platform was launched in 2006, it immediately became a hot property as thousands of eager developers rushed to launch the next great Facebook application. A few brands made the early leap as well, with some successes and a few total failures. It quickly became clear that if brands were to succeed on Platform, their applications would have to provide value, and not use Facebook as just another medium to push advertising messaging.
Twitter connects people through a rich and active exchange of ideas, thoughts, observations, and interests in one, highly collaborative and promising ecosystem. The Twitterverse advances micro interaction and connections through an expanding network of applications, engendering the potential for macro reach and resonance online and IRL (in real life).