Friday, 30 November 2007

Data Doesn't Kill People, People Kill People

From AVC's post Facebook and The Privacy Backlash this morning

"My point is that there is way more good to be done with this data than evil. I am happy when I see the beacon popping up on my screen these days"

Let me give a scenario:

- I go to Cuba in the winter because there are great cheap deals at Expedia.

- I buy a cute Che handbag and have pictures uploaded to Flikr with me and the bag

- I shop at Amazon and buy my nephew a bunch of philosophy books because that's what he's into these days. Marx is one of them.

- I write a blog post referencing the Dixie Chicks "Shut up and social network"

- I join a facebook group in support of Amnesty International.

- I twitter a comment that I saw The Daily Show last night and what an idiot Bush or an equivalent public figure is.

All pretty mundane stuff. As well, i've life streamed about a gazillion other things including my trip to Vegas, my purchase of cook books, joining the I love the Wii facebook group, twittering the weather, etc. Data. Who cares.

But wait, where there is data, there is filtering technology. And worse, there are people who can use those filters to pick and choose from your life stream to build a story of their own construction.

Remember this guy?

And if you think that was then, and this is now and it can't possibly happen in the US or Canada? Well it has as people like Mr. Arar can attest. And no one will think their being evil. It will all be done in the name of truth and justice.

If history tells us one thing, it's that data isn't evil, but people? That's another story all together.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Shut Up & Social Network

I don't really get people sometimes. So, a facebook group was created called Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy! that basically takes Facebook to task for their privacy policies.

But if you read the wall on the group, there are many people berating the joiners for being concerned. It's all with the attitude, "if you don't like it, leave".

Here's one example from Adam Wolfson:

"No one likes having their privacy invaded, but at the same time, you ALL join facebook on your own volition, and ALL accept their terms of use. If you have an issue with this, take your account off line.. Then you won't have anyone ruining the surprise you were planning for Christmas. This is a free world and Facebook sets out the guidelines of use. When you accept, you must take the good with the bad. Grow up and stop crying about things you could easily avoid."

I watched the crowd sourcing talk at Mesh and this seemed to be the general theme for justification of anything on the Web. If you don't like it leave. If you don't like what Flikr does then don't use the service. If you don't like how google is tracking everyone, use a different search engine. If you don't like it, hell, don't go online! As if those companies have no culpability and no standards that they have to adhere to. But I don't think that's the case.

There are things like privacy laws and frankly, corporate social responsibility guidelines, as a means of ensuring companies, particularly those with a great deal of power (which we can say google and facebook certainly have at this point) to behave. And IMHO it's not only our right, but our obligation as citizens not to just OPT out, but to bring these issues to light in order to ensure a healthy debate for those who simply wouldn't other wise, know, hear or think about what is happening out there is the big bad and new world of digital communications and technology.

'Shut up and social network' is an oxymoron and I simply don't buy it.

update: good news privacy groups filing an FTC complaint against Facebook...

Monday, 26 November 2007

What Would Stacy London Have To Say? Social Marketing Fashion Do's & Don'ts

Oh dear. Here we go. As marketers jump on the latest trend bandwagons (see here and the even worse example here), they dress their clients in a myriad same yet different, bad social media marketing outfits.

I wonder what Stacy would have to say about that? Wait, I actually know what she would say:

"Stacy London, host of TLC's Fashionably Late and What Not to Wear, says women [brands]who are overly concerned with trends make the biggest fashion [marketing] faux pas. "There are three things always you should consider—your body [brand] type, your age [customer] and your [their] lifestyle. And that's how you decide what trends are going to work for you. Not every trend works for every person [brand]."

You go girl! Sock it to 'em Stacy....

Cultural Mood Boards Role In Brand Strategy

Designers use mood boards all the time. Why don't customer insight strategists? We used to do brand video's all the time for clients when I was at MacLaren for new businesses pitches and they always managed to capture the magic that static brand strategy documents can't. Peter thinks maybe it's a new type of mood board - as we do with planning documents - maybe a cultural mood board instead of brand? Hum...I think he's on to something...

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Raising Awareness For Asian Culture (& The Lego Brand)

Found via my newest feed, Andre Brocatus (I may just like a Tumblr log afterall), The Building Asia Brick By Brick Project. From their site:

"Working together, ArtAsiaPacific and People's Architecture have invited leading Asian and Pacific architects to create original architectural models from custom kits of white LEGO ® bricks with the intent that the models should be exhibited and auctioned to raise awareness about architectural preservation in Asia."

I think it's great that Lego got on board with this as this is the type of community based generated content that really rocks. The idea didn't start with the marketing department of Lego, but rather with some creative minds who ended up not only building awareness for Asian culture (the original intent), but for the Lego brand as well.

To see more of the Lego sculptures, go here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Wanted: Social Media Manipulators

Some things make me want to lose my mind as someone who works in digital communications. Last week I got a bit pissy in the comments on this Marketing Pilgrim post "How To Create User Generated Link Bait" and today i read the offensive post on Techcrunch talking about how to go Viral with your Video.

From my comments on Pilgrim here is my take:

Wanted: Social Media Manipulator

qualities desires:

- supreme liar (that includes lying to oneself)
- ability to manufacture relationships based on false premise
- complete lack of integrity masked in big comfy blanket known as marketing creativity"

Look people, successful marketing doesn't make it successful marketing. Stats are misleading. You want to take the chance that it doesn't get out that you participated in this type of BS? And what is that going to do for your brand. How is that going to build trust in a participation economy exactly?

I know chances are you won’t get caught. Just remind yourself that that's probably what all those fine folks in Heidi Fleiss' little black book thought too.

Quote Of The Week

Peter sent me this from A List Apart:

So what is web design?

Web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity.

Let’s repeat that, with emphasis:

Web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity.

(i love the way he repeated it twice....goooooo Jeffrey Zeldman!)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Most Tumors Start Off As Pre-Cancerous Cells - Kinda Like Facebook's Beacon

So Mathew doesn't think Beacon is a big deal . I told him i think he is mostly wrong (actually i said totally wrong but he said that makes him right so I modified my hyperbole).

A lot of people have talked about privacy concerns and other things so i'll just go to my friend over there at Bubblegeneration who I can't seem to disagree with about almost anything these days....

"So there's this kind of massive myth floating around the mediaverse today:

"I don't mind Beacon, because it lets Facebook make a buck, and stay in business".

He goes on to say that the logic is backwards and really it shouldn't be that way at all and instead something more like this

""I don't mind Beacon, as long as it creates value for me, because it's letting Facebook make a few bucks. Otherwise, I'll defect to another network".

Facebook is making an extremely evil play. Nothing about evil in my mind can be overblown. Especially when you have so many people participating. Mathew thinks it's benign? I don't think so. Sounds much more like pre-cancerous cells waiting to turn into a tumor and spread like wild fire if you ask me.

High Tech Goes Ad Tech

Les sent me this article from Business Week yesterday that talks about how the high tech industry is embracing the notion mapping trends and influence...A day in the life.

Here's a shot of one tool...

Reminded me of a pitch day in the life I had created, i guess it would be over 8 years ago (all of a sudden I'm feeling old), with our media group at the Agency....

I think it's interesting that interactive communication companies have been so reluctant to take some of the best tools that agencies use (many of which are around customer/consumer insight) even though they borrow all the time from so many other industries (business management, software engineering).
But it’s nice to see especially when it comes to planning that high tech isn’t too snobby about low tech to not see the value in ad tech. ☺

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Brand Mashing: To Enable Or Not To Enbale That Is The Question

When Vanessa first talked to me about xml back in the day, I had to wrap my head around a major shift that I think sometimes I am only beginning to understand the profound impacts of. I remember sitting in meetings with clients and taking a marker and madly putting big crosses on the box formally known as a website and starting drawing circles that represented bits and pieces that i then started drawing arrows to and from with words like, business requirements, marketing objectives, customer need states yada yada.

Think data i would tell them...
Think digital!
Interconnect them...
Think networks!

But most of this thinking at the time was in relationship to connecting customers with brands and brands with customers. But while we could now, differently than traditional mass media communications, morph and shape the communications based on customer interactions, what we didn't really conceive of at the time, was the fact that our customers would spend the majority of their time out there....on the network....connecting with EACH OTHER...

How then, do we start to fundamentally change the way we create more connected interactions? In essence, if the party is happening elsewhere, how do we get an invite?

Today's conventional marketing wisdom would have us widgetize the experience and I get that. A distributed brand experience model is certainly a step in the right direction. But the truth is that still involves US creating SOMETHING (in this case a widget) that we then CONTROL and give out for DISTRIBUTION.

See.. the widget is still a thing... a website, a webpage. It's not thinking bits and pieces, networks, or layers.

So I got to thinking about the open code brand and what Blyk is trying to do (that I wrote about here) and it got me blithering (It is Leigh's blitherings for a reason after all)…

Traditionally, brands try to control their standards. I’ve been in meetings where brand champions simply freak out when customers utilize their standards in a way that is not considered appropriate. While this thinking has changed a bit with the entire UGC, no one has really taken the bull by the horns. What if clients websites became open APIs? What if they actually encouraged customers, users to take whatever content they wanted and mash up their brands?

Sure it would mean that some customers are going to do things you might not like. Maybe they will start creating product by product comparisons. Maybe they will aggregate your content into THEIR widgets or reformulate your services offers or, or, or…

While we may be able to focus on what might be lost….the real question is what may be gained? Unpaid media opportunities that export your brand….likely even business value and creative ideas that maybe you haven’t even conceived of that you can capitalize on?

As everything gets connected to everything else…brand mash-ups are inevitable…As brands and businesses, we have to ask the question “to enable or not to enable" Yep that to me is the question.

Monday, 19 November 2007

A Picture Is Worth A Moment Of Silence

My cousin Victor who was in town for the funeral of my uncle, pointed our family to the family tree Website Geni. Apparently, some distant cousin of mine in Sweden has slowly been creating my dad's side of the family tree from it's origins in Eastern Europe (our family village was sometimes in Germany, sometimes in Poland depending upon the political day) to present.

Going through the over 1200 connections (and 237 direct descendants) I found this grouping that gave me pause. I guess it is one thing to know that so much of my family there died in 1942, it's another thing to see the names of grandmother's, daughters, husbands and children all born in different years, all with the same date at their end. 1942.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, this just made me pause and have a moment of silence.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Open Code Brand: Bloody Brilliant Marketing

Sometimes you've just gotta swear (*disclaimer to my 11 year old - no this doesn't mean if you see this that YOU are now allowed to swear).

I love the philosophy of what Blyk is trying to do. And the truth is, to launch a mobile phone company that is supported by advertising, traditional marketing approaches are going to fail miserably. Because you have to somehow attempt to make the notion of advertising on your phone a good thing...make the fact that you are getting something for free (i.e. you don't have enough money to pay) cool.... Well, enter Blyk's notion of an open code brand.

"When we started designing the Blyk brand we took a deliberately “open code” approach. By “open code” I mean, much like in open source software, that there is an initial hard core - the kernel of the operating system if you like - and that we allow and even encourage variation, iteration and interpretation of the brand identity. Our goal is to create the Blyk brand together with our members, to invite them to take part. I believe this is the best way for us to compete with the traditional “pay-for” mobile networks and to build a real emotional tie with our audience. This idea is carried into the illustrative style used in our launch visuals."

This is taking the notion that brands are customers and customers are brands to an entirely new level. Definitely going to be tracking this one.....

Monday, 12 November 2007

Portalized Vs. Edited Lifestreams

Experience Planner had a posting on Tumbler and the notion of aggregating lifestreams. I had made the comment on the post that i thought our generation are 'centralists' by nature - and therefore crave a portalized version of ourselves. That we "see" lifestreams and therefore want to organize and track them.

But the generation that is coming behind us...I am not so sure. They have multiple identities, that are sometimes digitally geo-location based, un-aggregated, ebbed and flowing...Less seeing than experiencing..

My thought was that this generation may be more interested in contextual flow - meaning seeking a view of someone's lifestream in a particular context or moment in time depending upon what they were interested in.

To challenge myself on this notion, I started to follow a couple Tumbler logs (see and myself.

Truth? I think I might be with the younger generation on this one(woot!). I don't really care to see all of someone's lifestreams. I think I only care about the part of the lifestream that matters to me. With information overload becoming even more overloaded, I want to be able to edit the stream.

I am not unsubcribing just yet. Maybe I haven't seen the value because I haven't given it enough time. I know lifestreams are going to be important but how they are managed and controlled has only started to be explored.

Things that make you go ...Hum....

Friday, 9 November 2007

Looking For Some Desktop Tagging Help

Anyone know of any products that allow you to tag documents on your desktop that can then be searched by spotlight? I am having a helluva time saving my myriads of research for future retrieval.


Social Networks: Web OS or BS?

And the quote of the day (really it was a week ago but i read it today) goes to one of my favorite tech geeks Mark Petrovic from his post OpenSocial: The Java of social networks, and MIPS lost.

"it’s an odd twist of events that these social networks are being termed the web OS of our time, what with applications running on them....Shouldn’t we expect more than running our apps on someone else’s platform? Isn’t this what we did back in the days of … hold on… here it comes… the mainframe?

[And it's] doing, what, again? Updating our collective Facebook status? Who would have thought that this is what would come to be understood as the great intelligence at the edge.

(note: emphasis on last sentence mine)

Thursday, 8 November 2007

It's Time For A Social Network Co-Op

You know the Ad campaign:

"Why do WestJetters care so much?
Because we're also WestJet owners."

After reading this bubblegeneration post Research Note: (Facebook's) Evil is in the DNA alongside all the Google wants our data posts over the years, here is my pledge -

The first group to create a social network co-operative - where we all own the network and then share in the creation of how our data is collected, shared, and monetized - I will join. And I will ask all my friends, neighbors and country people to join.

We will own the network. And when people ask the question,

"Why do social network X owners share their data so much?

We will say:

"Because we're also social network x owners"

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Trend Watch: Planet Doomed Because Of Eco-Marketers

Doesn't this just take the cake. Bad bandwagoning marketers have doomed our planet through overuse and abuse of the trendy and frankly, annoying Eco-marketing ploys. Trendwatching calls it Eco-Fatigue and states:

...serious ECO-FATIGUE is upon us, as independent and experienced consumers are fed up with being told what to do, or, more specifically, told what not to do. Treated like unruly infants by Al Gore and his ilk, the ECO-FATIGUED increasingly rebel against the green movement’s obsession with ‘no’"

It's ok. I had the solution to global warming a while back, it's only a matter of time until someone implements my plan....


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Networks Are Beautiful

I can't recall how I got here, but from visualcomplexity, "Skyrails is a Social Network and Graph Visualization System with a built-in programming language."

It's simply beautiful. It would be amazing to consider how we could build logic behind this and program it with client data and other behavioural marketing information to model how customers connect their social shopping patterns and/or social graphs....

Monday, 5 November 2007

Sometimes I Just Want To Jump Off The Web 2.0 Ledge

A friend who works at an unnamed place came by the other day with some classic stories. You know the kinds of things that as a digital strategist, make me want to jump off the Web 2.0 ledge. So in response, i have two things to say today:

1. Facebook widgets are not a strategy dammit! (nor is a myspace page, a corporate blog or a second life store) They are called tactics!

2. No one, and I mean NO ONE (be they clients, creative directors, account people etc.) should ever, EVER ask the question "Where are the Web 2.0 features?"

Whew. Thanks. I feel better now.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Digital Has Changed Everything: Except For Traditional Advertising Agencies

Working on the launch of Rogers@Home High Speed Internet, I remember thinking - this is the easiest gig I have ever done. The clients thought the subscription numbers were high but having tracked the growth of online for a while, it was obvious to me that the chasm had been crossed and the pace of change was going to be much faster than their highest expectations.

And here we are again. I was looking at some Forrester and Jupiter numbers for the growth of online advertising and while to the Advertising world these numbers look a bit scary, the truth is I think they are low. Why? Couple things...

1. These numbers only encapsulate traditional online advertising - meaning CPM, Cost per click and cost per action numbers. This doesn't include all the other digital advertising that is going on including corporate websites and digital experiences.

2. People are starting to get that it's not online vs. offline but rather everything is digital. Everything being connected to everything else. The implications of that will be staggering as more and more communications companies attempt to be invited into people's social graphs. The complexity and the pieces that will need to be twined together to create any meaningful stories will require new skill sets and new tools that we have not even conceived of yet.

3. Clients are starting to mandate the allocation of their budgets frustrated with the fact that traditional advertisers are not moving pace with their needs and consumer habits. I had one Sr. Executive tell me a US based client requested 35% of their budget go to digital. 35%!!! Imagine if all clients did this in the coming year. Are the CFOs out there listening?

The IAB has a recent study that states:

"More than 80% of marketers surveyed indicate consumer insights and behavioral targeting are major priorities, underscoring digital's ability to understand the customer." (please excuse the colours of the chart below - blame the IAB not me)

So it goes, digital has changed almost everything - everything except the way traditional advertising agencies build brands and communicate with customers. But the chasm has officially been crossed. It won't matter anymore if Agenices offer up communications plans without signficant homage to digital...customers by their actions are now mandating it and clients are therefore demanding it. It's finally a sea change and it's going to be a wild ride.

Update: I just found some great stats from recovering journalist further proving the point (oh by the way, i have a friend who distributes newspapers for one of the biggest here in Canada - he said his revenue goes down about a third every year if that doesn’t tell you something)

More New Stats: Via Paul Kedrosky, new emarketer stats

Even More New Stats From the IAB (this is a good one as shows history although take it with a bit of a grain of salt bc the IAB has a pretty serious bias)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Game Over Documentary on CBC Tonight

Sara Marino a close friend of my brother's and his wife Nancy, has produced a documentary on the Nature of Things with David Suzuki called Game Over about conservation in Kenya.

It's on at 8pm tonight on CBC. Be sure to check it out.

Adaptive Blue Smart Link Test

I'm testing how Adaptive Blue's smart links work. Apparently, now that i have inserted the smart link into my site, once i talk about something that then links to their partners sites, a smart link will be automagically inserted.

So i'll create a link to Grant McCracken's new book which I want to buy called Flock and Flow and apparently then a smart link will be created.

Let me know what you think!

(of both the book and smartlinks)

Real Time Web Analytics