Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #4: Mobile Takes Bigger Role In Customer Experience


There's been a lot of talk in the past few years about the rise of the mobile device as an advertising vehicle. I've never bought that. Not in the traditional mass marketing sense. My mobile phone is too personal to me. I don't want push messages on there as I wouldn't have wanted them on my computer.

We all know the iphone has revolutionized the way we are starting to use our cell phones. Surfing the Web on mobile devices, Google searches, mobile apps, social mobile. And it will start to push mobile to the forefront of marketing discussions and will start to take some budgetary priority.

One of the biggest areas where we are going to start to see this practically emerge is the role of mobile in the overall customer experience. From marketing to customer service, we need to start working with clients to examine the customer experience life cycle and map where we can fulfill unmet customer needs through the mobile device. How can brands connect you with other shoppers through mobile? How can they create value added marketing experiences in retail (i.e. extend product knowledge on the retail floor?) How can they extend the actual product experience through needs based functionality?

Many clients were only starting to touch on these questions last year and hopefully we will start to see an explosion of examples where mobile starts to take a bigger and potentially even leading role in customer experience.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nobihaya/

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #3: Explosion Of Online Retailing

Well I was going to save this one for later, but Fred Wilson had a similar post this morning over at AVC.

While online retailing has been growing on a consistent basis what's starting to happen is that the world is dividing up into two camps. Those that get how to leverage the online channel to grow their businesses and those that don't. Those that get it, are going to tap into new markets to make up for the decline in overall retail sales.

Case and point? Ron White Shoes. A friend of mine who is not a particularly web savvy person was raving to me a while ago about ronwhite.ca. Now, I"ve never shopped at Ron White in the offline world said a few drive bys when I was at Sherway Gardens. However, Lianne told me she only shops there online now as it's the worlds easiest expedience. I thought, I need winter boots for my daughter, I hadn't made it out to shop because I had been so busy, why not give it a try?

Went to the site, ordered a pair of boots and voila! Within a week they arrived in a lovely gift wrapped box with a discount coupon for our next online shopping venture. Cee tried on the boots and it was a perfect fit, however, if they didn't fit, return policy? Bring back or send back to any Ron White store and bobs your uncle. No fuss, no muss. Ron White? New happy customer and I think I will never buy boots offline again!

While the keys to success for me are simple - the ease of shopping, the no risk return policy, the free shipping, the sexy packaging, the future discounts - many traditional retailers aren't getting this. They suffer offline and on top of that are missing a huge opportunity online.

This isn't about social networking or fancy marketing - it's just plain, simple, smart online design and overall attention to customer experience.

IMO, while setting up such experie3nces might put a retailer back some at first, it's just the wisest investment they could make for 2009. Talk about ROI.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #2: Rise Of The Experiential Class

Last year I wrote a post "Have We Crossed The Chasm" that questioned whether or not we need to start redefining the 'early adopter'. With the speed of change and introduction of new digital services on almost a daily basis, capturing the first and often passionate users is crucial to your businesses success.

In a US today article from 2005 that studied the make up of the early adopter across the Globe Geoffrey Moore, the author who popularized the notion described them as a psycho-demographic:

"When offered a new tech device, this kind of consumer says, "Great, let me at it," Moore says. "They like to totally engage with the novelty of the device. They're the only ones who really care about how the thing works and the properties of the new object." This group includes the "boys with toys" types who buy almost anything new, no matter what.

Back in the day, these were mostly the tech geeks but that has all changed. We now have new segments of individuals all who are clammering to test, try and play with the newest gadget and/or service.

From what I"m seeing, there are some new classes of early adopter that are as if not, more important than the traditional early adopter tech geek of Moore's theory. Who are they? I'm calling them THE EXPERIENTIAL CLASS.

Years ago I conducted a future looking research study on the digital customer. One of the most interesting insights was the cultural shift in how this new generation learns. This new way of thinking is at the core, experiential, and IMO a foundation for this new experiential class. Think of it like this:

Pre Web:
Read, Write, Remember

Early Web:
Look, Link, Think, Try Again

Web 1.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Try Again

Web 2.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Participate, Try Again

See what I mean?

This group doesn't worry about failure the same way we did. They don't read manuals to find the right way to do something. Have a hive mentality and often will ping that hive with their latest finds and develop new learnings over time through collaboration with their network. They have little or no fear to jump in and try new things and most importantly, they don't have to be tech savvy to do it.

Understanding how to reach, communicate and interact with this new class may be one of the most important trends for those marketing new products and/or services in the coming year/s.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #1: The Rise Of The Presentation Layer

Blake Ross of Firefox fame once said, the next big thing is whatever made the last big thing more usable. I've always loved this quote and I think it's going to become even more important in 2009.

Innovation comes in many forms. Sometimes it's about creating an entirely new way of doing something but more and more, it's about creating new and innovative ways of experiencing something differently that is already there.

One of my favorite examples of this is Coolaris. What is it? According to their site, Coolaris:

"Transforms your browser into a lightning fast, cinematic way to discover the Web"


In practical terms it means anytime I view images on the web I can click on the that image and have an entirely new experience viewed through the Coolaris interface.

While this may seem trivial, what's been happening is that I mostly view my Google images searches through the lens of Coolaris. Why? Because I can browse the images much much faster and the visual experience is far more rich. What this means is that I no longer have my relationship with my search content with Google - their engine has become just that - an engine for where my real experience is happening - in the presentation layer with Coolaris. And due to this, Coolaris now has the opportunity to create an entirely new business as they are the ones controlling the interface I'm interacting with.

Coolaris isn't the only example. From products like Perceptive Pixel which I talked about here and that CNN used during the elections, or newer products like Boxee that present your multimedia content in a new way, it's how we experience content that presents the opportunity.

And as we are looking for richer experiences online, it will be businesses and brands that capitalize on that who could become the next big thing.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Influence Is Earned

Mitch has a good post this morning on the entire sponsored blog debate. He makes three excellent points:

1. Real interactions between real people
2. Trust is non-transferable
3. You can't buy trust

I believe where a lot of the debate stems from is that fact that we aren't really sure how to view blogs as part of the media landscape.

With regards to 'social media' platforms, as marketers we set objectives like moving opinion. But what happens to the model when we aren't "influencing influencers" with our brilliant product, service, and/or marketing idea and instead, we are actually trying to just buy them? If money can't buy you trust, that leads to the question, what CAN money buy you, if anything?

IMO, money can buy you awareness. And maybe that's what's happening here. As mass media options continue to be disintermediated, marketers are trying to find new ways to get their messages out. Buying media remains one of the easiest ways to get that message out. In digital, this often means banner ads...and now within the blogosphere, it also can mean 'paid posts' with the 'transparency disclaimers'.

As a marketer however, you have to be sure that what you are trying to do is get awareness of your message and not gain influence on your product and/or service - because influence implies that you have somehow earned that recommendation or blog post. As the reader the blog post in question, I now perceive that piece of content differently and therefore how you are impacting my purchase decision is equally changed.

Ultimately, there is likely some influence on every level of the tactics that you choose to employ but if it's influence you want and not just awareness, that simply cannot be bought.

To paraphrase Mitch, money can't buy you trust.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Socially Connected Search

Mark Ury put a link on Twitter that poses an interesting theory about email as the social network. Om Malik also referred to this in his post a year back asking the question, is email the ultimate social network?

Leaving aside the fact that the younger generation is using email less as a means of communication, I have to wonder as we become more ingrained in network culture, if the notion of email as the platform is completely missing the mark?

While our address books are certainly reflective of who we know, email is for the most part a means of communication with our strong ties. One of the advantages of social networks are its ability to leverage the connections of our weak ties as we all acknowledge that in real life, managing 250 'friends' would be a pretty difficult task.

So I'm not buying what Om says in his post:

"The only way for Yahoo or Google to challenge the social networking incumbents like Facebook [is] to leverage their email infrastructure ..."

Why? Because to me, Google in particular has another infrastructure that seems much more relevant - their search infrastructure. While everyone focuses on serving more relevant and 'personalized' ads, I have to wonder why they aren't also putting equal focusing on connecting people who search for like minded information? After all, if they did that, then as I developed those connections over time, I could then start to search like those individuals I'm connected to or see what content they thought was most relevant based on their searches - and even discover new searches that might be of interest to me?

I've touched on this type of search before. So in my mind it won't be email as a socially connected platform, it will be search.

(This blog post was written with a baby in my arms so excuse any mistakes or fumbled grammar :)

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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Blogger Mat Leave



I keep writing half finished posts being optimistic that at some point inspiration will come. But truth is, focusing my efforts on the new office at Twist Image and getting ready for the baby that is due in oh, two weeks, my energies are not on the blogging. So I'm accepting the fact that I'm taking a Blogger Maternity leave for now anyhow!

I'll still be on friendfeed, twitter , tumblr and the usual other suspects (facebook, linkedin) so keep in touch!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Serious Business Of The Great Schlep

I thought Sarah Silverman's The Great Schlep (via Mathew) while a bit off colour, was hilarious. Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, and had a Bubie who had a condo called the Green Apple Apartments in Fort Lauderdale or maybe I just happen to find Sarah Silverman funny, but I loved it. And apparently, so did 7 million other people. Another Internet phenom.

But what i didn't realize (because I wasn't really paying all that much attention until this was mentioned on CBC Radio 1 this past weekend) was that the Great Schlep was not just a funny viral video, but rather, it was a strategic marketing response to the very real issue of elderly Jewish voters in Florida not rallying behind Barack Obama.

The organization behind the video was concerned over the lack of support for Obama, and according to the CBC radio interview, linked it back to 18 months of a subversive and anonymous email campaigns specifically targeting older Jewish residents in Florida which suggested that Obama was not only a Muslim, but a radical one at that. From their site:

"In presidential elections, when choosing between a more progressive candidate and a more conservative candidate, Jews overwhelmingly choose the more progressive candidate. Between 1924 and 2004, Jews have given their vote to the more progressive candidates at an average rate of 76 percent. In fact, none of the more conservative candidates has ever mustered more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote, while more than half received less than 20 percent.

Given this history, why is Barack Obama hovering at 60 percent of the Jewish vote, according to three separate polls? Is this all the product of a highly effective rumor campaign, spread through Jewish networks often by well-meaning individuals concerned that they information they received was true? Or is there something more?"

Was there something more? Regardless, the response to the Great Schlep has been impressive with Jews all over the US rallying their grandparents to ensure that Florida not be the deciding vote in an election that will surely be one of the greatest US Presidential races we've seen in a long time.

Our own Canadian election is not immune to the impact of the Web, and no i'm not just talking about Jack Layton being people's Facebook friends. Strategic voting sites like Vote pair and various facebook groups have popped up where people are actually swapping votes in specific ridings with each other, begging the question as to whether or not our foundational systems like our legal and political systems, have the nimbleness to adapt given the speed of change with which people are using these technologies in unexpected and impact full ways.

Did subversive emails impact an entire voter group? Will the comedy site, "The Great Schlep" counter those efforts and make a difference for Obama in Florida? Will internet vote swapping on Facebook determine the next Canadian Prime Minister? Hum...I guess only time will tell but understanding the potential and real impacts that this medium has on our opinions and perceptions may not just be a matter for marketers but also one that could rock us to our fundamental and democratic core.

Friday, 10 October 2008

How To Get A Writing Gig With The Globe & Mail? Write A Blog First

I kept meaning to blog about my friend Jeremy Bell's blog 360 Winnett Ave. Jeremy by trade is a digital Creative Director, but has a particular love of architecture. When he and his wife Jessica decided to build a new home, not only did they decide to go the eco friendly route but they also decided to start a blog and document the entire process.

Since that time, I've completely enjoyed following along with the trials, tribulations and eco design choices Jeremy and Jessica have been making...and apparently, so has the Globe and Mail. Jeremey twittered this morning that his first of a five part series of articles on his project has appeared on the Globe & Mail Website.

For any aspiring journalists and writers out there, this is the way to do it. Create interesting content on your own and the opportunities will come.

Congrats Jeremy & Jess!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Does The Engagement Justify The Means?

Facebook is experimenting with new business models. Well, to be more specific, Facebook is experimenting with new ad concepts.

"[Facebook] has been testing an interactive product that draws willing consumers into the advertising itself. MTV tried it out to promote its latest video music awards, posting clips of Britney Spears, for example, and allowing viewers to post comments about them. Those comments then appeared in other users' News Feeds, the Facebook function that tells you what your friends are doing and saying."

Facebook's CEO Sheryl Sandberg talks about this new model in terms of "demand generation". But just because I want to see what applications my friends might be using or see what they might be doing in their status update, does that same thing apply to what advertising they choose to participate with?

It's a rather fundamental question that gets to the heart of whether or not paid/bought advertising models will continue to thrive. Invasive media while still appropriate in some cases, in the interactive model don't seem to work with the fundamental dynamics of the medium. And yet for the most part, advertisers continue to work in a paid media mindset that places invasive banners, buttons and other types of bill boards across the Web.

I like the fact that the Facebook experiment seems to be attempting a hybrid model between bought and earned media - the brand/service purchases placement and then looks at creating some value for the customer (clips of Spears) to engage in a somewhat meaningful social way (comments).

But the million dollar customer question will be, does the engagement justify the means (in this case the paid Ad) and the subsequent WOM FF feed?? What do you think?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

[Joke] Trying To Hire In The Digital Market Today

Mark Rouse sent me this joke that i just had to post given the current hiring climate in digital marketing and communications. Enjoy!

Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young Interactive person, with just 2 years experience, "What starting salary were you thinking about?"

The candidate said, "In the neighbourhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years - say, a red Corvette?"

The candidate sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

The interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it".

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Inbox Spam Drives Up The Value Of Social Networks

Two small cans of Spam. One is closed and the ...Image via WikipediaPeter forwarded me this interesting post on Searching For The Value in Facebook that explores the reasons behind a AOL style closed garden working in an age of openness and transparency.

While this is a larger topic, one of the things it did get me thinking about was why I sometimes use social networks like Facebook and Linkedin to send messages to people. I mean, after all, I have their email addresses for the most post and it's just as easy to drop them a line the old fashioned way isn't it?

And yet, if I really want to get in touch with someone in particular who I don't communicate with often, I tend to do it through those other communication vehicles. Why? The answer is simple. Spam.

Spam has become such a problem in my personal email inbox that I tend to lose important messages either amongst all the SPAM or those messages accidentally get lobbed into my SPAM filter. My assumption is that others have the same issue. So if i really want to get in touch with someone and MAKE SURE that they actually get and read my message, I will sometimes send it through a social networking service.

I started to ask around to my friends, and as it turns out, at least with my compatriots, they all tend to do the same thing. What does this mean for the future of CRM based communications? Hum...not sure yet. But definitely working on it.


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Monday, 15 September 2008

The 12 Year Old Does Insights Research

I am a huge believe in customer insights research but the truth is that not all clients you work with feel the same way or have the budgets to pay for third party research. But that being said there is ALWAYS a way. In the past, planners and the consumer insight obsessed have spent hours scouring the Internet for free white papers, press releases, viewing ratings sites, reading consumer forums and comments etc.

Just the other day, a new source popped it's way into my life brought to me by my 12 year old daughter Cee. I was helping out my brother with a new company he is starting that will be manufacturing authentic high quality horse hide leather jackets. At some point we started to bring her into the conversation and asked her what leather jackets meant to her. She gave some impressions (it's for tough people etc.) and then got bored with us (big surprise there) and skipped off into the computer room. After about twenty minutes she came back and said,

"By the way, I posted your question on Gaia and got over 25 answers already"


Ok so were the answers all that helpful in this particular case? Well probably not but truth be told the Gaia audience is not really the high end vintange leather jacket market. But what I did find interesting (other than the fact that all kids seem to be born marketers) is a new way to use social networks to potentially garner consumer insights and research in the future.

How about you? What are your favorite free consumer insight research sources?

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Blurring Of Fictional & Real

Jay FairesImage via Wikipedia I was followed today on Twitter by Betty Draper. For those of you who don't know, Betty is the wife of Don Draper, a fictional Advertising Creative Director on the show MadMen.

Now, I do not follow any of the MadMen characters on Twitter so I was a little surprised she found me. I went to see her Twitter stream and found this interchange between Betty and a friend of mine Dondy...


What I find so interesting about this is the on-going blurring of the lines between fictional and real that digital is facilitating. Some say content is king, others community, but IMO it is connection that will be reigning supreme.

A while back, I met someone from the social network Bebo who was in town from London for their NA launch, and she told me that one of the most successful parts of their site (and what they consider a key point of differentiation) is their exclusive webisodic videos. The video viewing numbers she gave me were impressive but more importantly than that were the top 15% of fans who were not only joining in on blogs and other UGC but choosing to interact with the characters of the shows as well.

How this will impact content creation going forward and what it could mean for brands ongoing remains to be seen although it will certainly be an interesting trend to watch.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Open or Die: The Value Of Robust Ecosystems

From a philosophical place sometimes it's hard beat how Google approaches product development. Let's take Android as a great example. For those of you unfamiliar, "Android...[is] the first complete, open, and free mobile platform."

Why is this so significant? As I discussed in a post long ago "Closed Ecosystems Die, Shouldn't Someone Let The Cell Phone Companies Know?", most mobile companies and handset providers have created closed ecosystems. Breaking in a new product such as Android in such a tightly controlled environment seems somewhat doomed to fail unless of course, you go in the opposite direction.

In Androids own words, "The concept is simple: leverage Google's expertise in infrastructure, search and relevance to connect users with content created by developers" which will be released in the Beta Android Marketplace...for what they are calling a user driven content distribution system.

Will Android and Android driven handsets be able to compete? The value of robust ecosystems and connecting with the developer community particularly in the difficult mobile market place will absolutely blow the doors wide open. Already hand sets with more robust browsers like the iPhone and the Bold are changing the way that people extend their desktop experiences to the mobile work force and economy.

And what will happen to the mainstream players who have up to now kept their ecosystems closed? Open or die will soon become the motto and that's not just what i believe. That's just an ecological fact.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Data Base Marketing: A Life Saver?

I have always been one of these "paranoid, big brother is coming" types who has been very vocal about online privacy. Because of this that I don't give my postal code out when stores ask for it and am pretty stingy about being on mailing lists. In general, dbase marketing as a consumer (note not marketer) makes me crazy. I don't want to be tracked and see very little value in it for me.

But that was before last week. What happened between then and now?

I belong to Costco. And I have to say, in spite of myself, i love Costco. It's around the corner from my house and always has something that I just can't seem to live without (can you say 40$ cashmere turtleneck sweater?).

Because they are a "member" only business, I have to use my Costco card every time i go there which means I'm tracked to the max. Now at first, this bothered me. But they assured me I would not get Costco mail (which I have not), Costco phone calls (which i have not) or any other annoying usual dbase marketing communication.

And in the past week, I've come to realize that dbase marketing could actually save my life. How?

For anyone not familiar with the story, Canada had the largest recall of food products in its history with Maple Leaf Foods recalling untold amounts of processed luncheon meats with the current death toll of 11 from the bacteria listeria.

I mentioned the food recall to Peter (the hubbie) who was up North and had bought a bunch of stuff at Costco before he left. He was sure that Costco meat was not on the recall list. I double checked and it's not (It's still not by the way). However, later on when i checked my voice mail, i had a phone call message from Costco saying that we had bought a Kirkland meat Pastrami which was from Maple Leaf Foods and should be thrown out immediately.

If anything was going to get me to change my mind that there is some value to dbase marketing, that moment was it. It might have saved our lives. Now if only they had ALSO refunded us the cost. :)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Age & The Invisibility Of The Network

Fred Wilson had a post the other day talking about When You Wake Up Feeling Old.

It used to be that when you no longer recognized faces on the cover of people magazine or listened to the radio and had no clue who the latest "it" band was that the age thing would hit you.

For me, it's been similar to Wilson, in realizing that people in the generation younger than me "understand how the web works at a level I'll never understand."

Those that are brought up with the network truly don't see technology or even go online as it's just always there and pervasively present (the UCaPP world).

Specifically interviewing this week, it's been interesting talking with so many people about their experience with digital, what it means to them.

And it appears as mostly it means nothing at all. Not that it's not important. It's that its simply so core that it just is. Talking about it almost seems stupid.

And yet at the same time, clearly the invisible impact of the network on how they think, and lenses of how they view the world is creating patterns, attitudes and cultural shifts that we are only starting to see and understand.

There is definitely a learning curve here for anyone trying to connect with this generation. The ways of the past are not going to work. Our old rules will no longer apply. Experience design is probably going to see some of the biggest shifts in the coming few years as we attempt to bridge the chasm between what we have traditional known and seen to the new reality. It will close down debates between navigation styles and do we like Flash or not, to task and experience oriented expectations of monstrous proportions.

And probably and most importantly for marketers, brands that say we can't change because that's the way we've always done it or that's what our guidelines say, will become less and less relevant as companies that focus on the
invisibility of the network and understanding how to communicate and connect with the generation that doesn't even think about it, start to dominate the market place.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Who Died And Make The Box King?


I just can't resist a great rant. This one from Virginia Magaletta who is the CD at Twist Image (my new place of employment) and doesn't like boxes.

"I'd like to toss my hat into the ring, on the issue of BOXES. What is up with all these boxes on line? What makes a site with BOXES more navigable than one without BOXES? Why do we think that putting a BOX around something and then putting another BOX right next to that with something else in it is the best way to design a site? Who died and made the BOX king?"

For more boxy juiciness go here.

Photo credit: Flikr1309

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Pitching Is For Baseball Players Not Bloggers

There's been a bunch of buzz lately about how to "pitch" bloggers your product/brand and or service. And most marketers (whether they be PR companies, Ad agencies or even old school 1.0 digital agencies) are struggling with the right way to approach this.

I've heard some of the dumbest ideas in meetings which usually start with the sentence "let's send the bloggers..." at which point I generally put my hands in my shaking head and try not to look like I'm going into seizures.

My opinion on the matter is pretty simple. Getting witty emails, fun packages, or even an invitation to the CEO's summer manor for a get to know you spa day, does not take the place of genuine engagement. It means participating in conversations that matter, it means contribution and it means understanding reciprocity and the value you BRING to the network before you attempt to extract value FROM it.

Mitch (Joel) calls it "in praise of slow", and in his words

"Digital Marketing is not a one night stand (like more traditional advertising - "wham, bam, thank you ma'am")"

Now would we like to be able to sit in a room, get paid a schwack of dough and help you figure out how to 'go to market' with a deadline of next month with some fancy pitch to bloggers? Sure we would. But that isn't going to get you what you need and in fact may do more damage to your brand than anything else.

Pitching is for baseball players not bloggers. :)

Saturday, 9 August 2008

My New Gig: Twist & Shout

Mitch used 'Let's Twist Again' so i had to find me a new song metaphor.

Those who are linkedin to me probably noticed that I changed jobs to be the Managing Director of the newly opened Twist Image office in Toronto. Sometimes an opportunity comes up that no matter what, ya just can't pass up. Twist Image is one of those. As someone once said to me, if a rocket ship is about to take off, get on. And that's what I've done.

So i got a bunch of emails from people - what's a Twist?

Some people know of Twist from Mitch Joel. Hey just read his bio. Everyone should strive to have a bio like Mitch's. He and I had been on a panel a while back and I thought he was super smart but I wasn't sure how he'd be to work with. Firstly, we had such a fun interview. I loved him. He's totally humble and doesn't have one of those manly agency egos (you know what I'm talking about). Having worked with him for a while now, is a truly smart street savvy marketer who is a privilege to be working with.

Alongside Mitch is an incredible team. Mark Goodman, CEO who is formerly the founder and long time President of FCB brings his sharp business mind to the group. Then there's Mickael Kanfi ECD whose multimarketing skills in 3D animation, video and audio production as well as digital skills make him one of the most diverse CD's I've ever worked with. And finally Aubrey Rosenhek, Managing Director who brings a creative spirit to actually getting things done on time on budget but with the care that is required to ensure the quality of the product not just the profitability of it. (run on sentences must mean i'm excited).

For the Toronto office, we don't have furniture yet (it's coming!) but we have brought in the incredible and unique talent of Virginia Magaletta who worked with me years ago at the agency formerly known as Maclaren McCann Interactive. It's rare in digital to find someone who is both conceptual and understands brand but is also great at design and building a team. Virginia has it all and then some.

As well we are in the middle of hiring a whole host of staff including Account Directors, Account Executives, IA, Art Directors, Designers and Writers. Already we are getting some of the best. You'd be amazed how many people, particularly those that have been around for a while, who are ready to come on this new journey with us.

I've blithered enough. Won't say too much more. We will be having a more official announcement and office kick off after the summer once we've got the core staff in place.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Corporate Participation Ladder

Anyone who works in the digital industry can see in practice that the Corporate public engagement paradigm is changing. Many clients are not only looking to increase their overall use of digital communications within their marketing mix from a campaign perspective, but they are looking at how social media is impacting their relationships with their customers on a much more fundamental level.

Strategies of engagement, the extension of their brand voice within social media conversations, as well as governance models with their employees are all within the new realm that crosses customer service, marketing and PR (talked about here)

After reading Jeremiah Owyang's post on the new job market for roles such as 'community manager' it made me think about Charlene Li's social media ladder needing an internal counter part. So I attempted to create one - a Corporate Participation Ladder (apologies to all those who can actually design diagrams outside of power point in advance).

Enjoy and as usual, all 'how to make it better'suggestions welcome.

Friday, 1 August 2008

If This Happened In a Print Publication....

Someone would be fired.

Peter sent me this classic yesterday - Hole in the plane story on the left with a West Jet Ad to the right. Talk about dynamic targeted online media. Nice.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Slow & Steady Wins The Web Marketing Race


Old school marketing has the model where you make the big splash. You know what I"m talking about.

Objectives: Awareness and drive traffic to www.whateveriwantpeopletouse.com

Sounds like a good idea. If we were selling chocolate bars.

But unfortunately for the new search engine supposed Google killer Cuil, they weren't.

Truth be told, digital consumers are in Peter's words "technology empowered schizophrenic kids in a self serve candy store. The customers from hell!"

It's not that we don't want you to succeed, because I would say all of us want to find new products that solve old problems in new ways. But...our expectations are high and our loyalties are fickle. So when you tell us you are bigger, more relevant and more comprehensive than any other search engine on the Web, we expect you do be. And when you do it with the big bang PR blitz and get every tech blogger on the planet writing about you, our expectations are that much higher (Atta way to under promise and over deliver).

And if you aren't all those things you've promised? Well, then you just appear as if you suck, and suck worse than you probably even do. And Cuil, i have to say, your search results for Leigh Himel sucked. Unlike Google that has my linkedin page, friendfeed, disqus profile, flikcr account, you had secondary posts from other people's blogs that included at least two posts that had me looking like a dude with glasses (no offense intended to the dude with glasses).

What does this all tell us? Go big or go home is yesterday's marketing strategy. Just because they find out your there AND they come, doesn't mean anything good is going to come from it.

Remember, meaning marketing isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Soft launching, getting a groundswell, finding a passionate community that wants to help you build your product and eventually tell two friends, may mean slow and steady but that's ok, cuz we all know how that story ended.

Photo credit: Wikemedia Commons Tortoise & The Hare

Monday, 28 July 2008

Opt Out Should Be Banned From The Marketing Playbook

I don't understand why marketing departments still have the chuzpah to use opt out as a valid conversion tool.

Case and point - CIBC new Infinite credit card. According to CIBC, I have been chosen to the premier service which has no down side and gives me new benefits such as the ability to go over my limit with out a penalty.

Apparently, in one of their direct mail pieces they gave me the option to opt out. Of course, I don't read DM and frankly I get so damn much of it them, unless it's my VISA bill or my account info i tend to toss it in the garbage without a second glance.

Now, I guess from their perspective, I should be thrilled to have this new card. But these days, time is more important to me than trip cancellation service. Without warning, the other card has stopped working on my online banking and I"m officially being forced onto this new card.

Uch. Opt out. Unless it's for organ donation, it should just be stricken from the marketing playbook all together. That's my story and better credit or not, I"m sticking to it.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Big Brands Want To Go Micro, And Micro Brands Want To Go Big

Hutch Carpenter had an interesting guest post Louis Gray's blog today about bloggers interactions decreasing with prominence. He notes

"One observation to make is this: the level of interaction seems to vary by the blogger's level of established reputation. As a blogger gets more well-known on the Web, the level of interaction declines."

The notion here is that as micro/personal brands go big their desire to communicate goes small. As their brands become established (and dare i say they get established in part due to the conversations that are occurring about them within the social media landscape) they no longer make the time or find themselves with the desire to communicate with the very audience that made their brand in the first place.

What I find interesting is that the exact opposite thing is happening for big brands. If anything, more and more large companies are starting to take social media (for lack of a better term) quite seriously as a platform to communicate with their community. They are looking for ways to credibly and authentically open new channels as the old forms of communication become less relevant. They want to invite those brand advocates and passionate communicators into their world any way they can. They know that their customers are creating their brands as much as they are and want to at least start participating.

It's a strange world out there and all i can say to the micro/personal brands out there is to watch out for this one. Keeping brands relevant on an on-going basis is hard to do if one loses touch with those that made you. As they say, what makes you can also break you.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Reputation, Racism & The Reality Of Search Results

Louis Gray twittered asking the question as to why Techmeme didn't post anything about the ongoing racism conversation that is happening in the Blogosphere and places like friend feed. (To have a look link here to the friendfeed debate).

Techmemer, Gabe Rivera made his comment saying:

"So, what's the story here? Some anonymous losers said nasty racist things in some chat area (which happens all the time), and then Louis Gray noted how bad that is? Hmm...if you're going to suggest that an omission on Techmeme is wrong, you're gonna need to find something more uncontestably newsworthy than that."

What I found interesting was that I was sure I had seen a number of discussions tracing the original debate that started this all (Complaints about techvideo comedienne/commentator Loren Feldman's Verizon deal due to a parady he created a year called TechNigga - read Mathew Ingram's post here)
So rather than searching by subject, I typed in Loren Feldman's name and what I got was this below (and a bunch of posts on the entire puppet debacle)...



Now I've got a pretty balanced view when it comes to this type of stuff. I personally don't think Feldman is a racist although I do think the video was stupid, insensitive and not particularly funny. But the truth is, regardless of his intent, when you so grossly cross a line (that he had to have known he was crossing unless he's lived under a rock for the last ten years), you have to be prepared for the consequences.

In the technologically networked world that we live in, the repercussions are that the majority of the network will end up discussing their opinion of you and what you've done. You can certainly comment if you want on friendfeed or on your own blog. But search engines aren't built to tell two sides of the story and at some point you have to look at the power of technology over reputation and concede that what you meant to do and what Google says about you are two different things.

Mea Culpa in such situations, may not only be the RIGHT thing to do but it's also the smart thing to do and something that Feldman finally did yesterday. Corporate brands are learning the need for speed and vigor with which they have to respond to these type of PR disasters a while ago and it's something that personal blogging micro-brands might like to pay some attention to as well.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Supply/Demand Vs. The Power Of The Network

So Rogers finally changed their outrageous data plans for the iphone after Robert Sheinbein received over 58,000 signatures on his petition. And he isn't backing down now. They say thanks but it isn't enough as they now focus their efforts in a new direction. According to the site, they now say:

"Thank-You Rogers for helping out. We still need more help. We need your offer to be:

1. Unlimited Data Plan
2. Not a limited time offer
3. Competitive rates on your voice plans"

So what could have been a huge brand halo for Rogers has now become their biggest nightmare since negative billing. And why?

You can just see the business heads over at Wireless. With ongoing shareholder pressures, they focus on the short term. Screw those silly bastards over in the Marcom group who try to build brand and engagement with customers. Here is our opportunity, however short it may be, to make some serious cash off those iPhone fanatics. Let's face it. Most of them are rich anyhow. It's just an issue of supply and demand. We've got the supply - they've go the demand.

Oh wait. Or is it? Everyone goes to the conferences where they hear that the marketing world has changed. But are they LISTENING. The power of the network to mobilize citizens around issues in a short period of time has no bounds. A commentator on the CBC this morning said, it best, if it were a few years ago, this would have been a couple of angry people petitioning outside Rogers who could be ignored.

Networks are much harder to ignore. Ruinediphone.com plans to hold a Webcasted rally on Friday. Check out the deets below. This will be an interesting one to watch.

Date: Friday July 11, 2008 10:00am EDT
Description: Join our Free Online Webcast Rally
Agenda: Get fair cellular voice and data plans
How to Join: Click Here or goto the below link on Friday July 11, 2008 at 10:00am EDT

http://webcast.streamlogics.com/audience/index.asp?eventid=81099

Agenda:

1. We will provide a live statement from ruinediphone.com

2. Then we will have a message from David McGuinty, MP

3. Provide Rogers a chance to say a message

Monday, 7 July 2008

Testing Disqus Integration

Couldn't add Disqus until my rating was above 1.
Now to see if it works.....

Ok appears as if comments aren't showing up at all for new posts (no really, click on the link that says comments and watch comments magically disappear)

Have sent a note to support at Disqus. I'm sure they'll help me fix it.

Blogger. Nothing is ever simple.

:)

Update: Apparently there is an issue with Blogger. Daniel Ha of Disqus is trying to help so we'll see. I hate having to integrate things with my blog. Every time i sit here in fear that i will accidentally destroy the whole thing. I think there is a new blog post idea in here somewhere.

Update 2: Ok, got a new template from Daniel. Let's see if this works! Fingers crossed....

Heroic efforts from Mr. Ha finally got it working. Yeah! Welcome Disqus to my blog.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fear Is A Losing Game


You simply cannot buy the lessons I have learned being a co-founder of a tech start-up. Regardless of oponia and ucaster's success or failure, it's been a business roller coaster ride that would put any executive mucky muck MBA program to shame.

One of the biggest lessons I think I've learned is about fear. Looking back I see fear as a losing game and thought i'd jot down some of the biggest fears start-ups seem to have and my rear-view perspective on them.

Fear of Openess:

- If you can't be open about your idea (stealth, nda's) then you are losing an invaluable opportunity to get the right people to give you feedback and ideas on how to make your idea better. Most people are going to be genuinely excited and want to help. Listening can be your greatest advantage but if you can't speak to anyone or show what you are doing to anyone, then you'll have no one to listen to but yourself. And that's never a good thing.

Fear of Being Wrong:

- You will make more mistakes doing a start-up than anything else. And in fact those mistakes can lead you in a new and much better direction. Move fast, learn quickly and don't be afraid to have people throw tomatoes at you. If you find yourself not being able to make a good argument on your own behalf, then they just might have an important point you should listen too. Your users are your target market not you.

Fear of Giving Away Too Much

- We had the opportunity to bring someone on early who probably would have made a huge difference to our business. We thought at the time we would have to give away too much. Since then, I have been asked by some people to be involved in their project and wanted to bring a team of people on board and they thought we were asking too much. If you think it will up your chances of success, don't be scared to give away too much. Whether that be shares or money. Build the right team first. Having a smaller part of something great will be better than having a huge part of nothing.

Fear of Putting It Out There

- I've had some people talk to me who are shy by nature and say they can't start a blog, aren't good at presentations etc. Get over it. You cannot do a start-up and be shy. These days to be successful you have to put it all on the line and be prepared to be the clown, the idiot, the fool. Now of course, we all hope everyone will think we are brilliant most of the time, but the truth is everyone is going to have an opinion and you have to be prepared to put yourself out there day in and day out regardless of how strange it might feel.

Cheesy Courage poster via: http://tinyurl.com/5gasqd

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The First Paragraph Of My Novel

Nicely abstracted by our friends at Wordle

Friday, 20 June 2008

Ebay Pisses Off The Longtail


"We formed the economic base of eBay from the start, and we are hurt," said Karen Bendorf, who sells a small number of kitchen collectibles from her home in Menlo Park. "We're just appalled that eBay could treat us in such a manner."

Wow. You gotta wonder what the heck is going on over there at Ebay. The latest in a string of bad decisions Ebay has decided to give larger discounts to its top sellers.

Now, out in the non-digital world, this might seem like a completely natural business decision. There are loyalty programs galore for high sellers and purchasers. The issue here however, is that Ebay was built on the long tail. Its base has always been the little guy/gal and yet that very little guy/gal is the one continually being screwed by Ebays policies (go check out their angry forums one day - quite a treat).

I can't imagine my brother, who is a vintage clothing whole seller, won't go on a complete rant in the comments on this post (as he does to me almost weekly) about how Ebay has gone from the centre of his business world to the bane of his existence.

And maybe some of you think Ebay shouldn't care. The little guy isn't worth the big bucks so screw 'em. Keep raising their fees, don't give them equal treatment as buyers on the reputation rankings and continue to change your policies to support only the big revenue players.

Only problem? The reason Ebay was able to dis-intermediate traditional buying and selling models and the reason it became a monopoly in the auction market, wasn't because of the big guys. It was built on the little masses. Now those masses continue to defect and are looking for the next big thing.

I think Etsy should just go to town - right now. Open their doors up beyond the handmade market and make themselves the worlds largest marketplace for the little guy. A little downstream disruption in the small seller game is exactly what Ebay deserves and I personally can't wait for it to happen.

photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/6gmrdo

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Social Media Experts Are Like Mushrooms & Dove Evolution Is Like Woodstock

Amanita muscaria (fly agaric), NorwayImage via Wikipedia I bumped into this oh so true quote via Gavin -

"If someone tells you they are a social media expert, run" -- Connie Reece

I was joking around with a client the other day about all the agencies popping up social media groups like mushrooms on a old decaying log.

We are in experimentation mode. We are all testing and learning. We are in a few year long public beta where the results of which are only starting to come through. For that reason, there is no ONE proprietary methodology that works. There is no STANDARD for measurement and there are only a sea of opinions rather than any real "experts" on how we should be approaching this new networked marketing model. Anyone who tells you anything different, well, as Connie put it, RUN!

And on a separate ranty note, I think it's funny how the DOVE campaign has become like Woodstock -- apparently all boomers were at Woodstock and similarly, everyone in advertising worked on Dove. I thought I would state for the record that I did NOT work on the Dove campaign and had absolutely NOTHING to do with DOVE evolution.

There I said it. I'm not an social media expert and I didn't work on Dove. I hope you don't think less of me now :)


Zemanta Pixie

Friday, 13 June 2008

The Scarcity Marketing Ploy Is Soooooo 2007

Brad Feld complains about the whole concept of 'Private Beta'. He's done with it because in part it really means to him:

""we are early and buggy and can't handle your scale, but we want you to try us anyway when we are ready for you." I've grown to hate this as it's really an alpha."

I tend to agree with him but for me what i hate the most about private beta? The fact that ever since Google launched Gmail, private beta has been synonymous with attempting to create the notion of scarcity. We are so cool that everyone wants to get into our beta.

But more and more I'm seeing that strategy failing, flopping and being downright rejected by the community. Private Beta is boring and as we develop closer ties to our weakest links, we want to be able to ensure not only the cool tech kids get to play, but everyone gets to.

So down with scarcity marketing and up with getting it right in Alpha so you can stop pretending and just let everyone in!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Canada's Second National Anthem To Be Replaced By UGC?

Hockey Night in CanadaImage via WikipediaI can't say I'm an obsessive hockey fan. Btu truth is, as a Canadian born and bred in Toronto pretty much you have to love the game on some level. Much of my childhood was spent being forced to watch the Maple Leafs lose by the rest of my male family members.

It's part of what makes us Canadian. And it's not like we have that many years things that pull us together as a Nation. I remember taking a Canadian studies class at U of T where the entire focus on the course was trying to figure out 'who we are' and 'what makes us Canadian'. (From the students POV, it pretty much all came down to beer, maple syrup and hockey)

The truth is, when you hear that duh da da duh da music start for hockey night in Canada, it is much like the website dedicated to the theme song says, our second national anthem.

So imagine my dismay this morning when I heard Andy Barrie on CBC radio say that the CBC couldn't come to an agreement on the song's usage with the composer (who was paid $500 for each game broadcast) and that instead, the CBC plans to have a nation wide contest for a new theme and the winner will be paid $100K.

I dunno. This depresses me. The proper usage for social media in this case is to get the CBC to relent and rethink this entire silly business. You want to replace a TV commercial with something done practically free by a user? Sure go ahead. But not an anthem. Some things are sacred.

Zemanta Pixie

Friday, 6 June 2008

Come Laugh Your Ass Off: Korean Drummer

It's been one of those weeks. It's been a long time since I've had such a week. So I thought to end it I'd post something that made me laugh my ass off. Marie Bee sent it to me in email. Apparently, the drummer lives somewhere in Richmond Hill Ontario and is the dad of someone she knows. Even if you've seen it before, it's worth a second go. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

I Am Context, We Are The Network

I was intrigued by a conversation in the video below where the hosts all discuss the elevator pitch by Daniel Ha the CEO at Disqus.

Feel free to watch the entire video below, but what struck me was a few quotes from the guys having a somewhat philosophical discussion on comments in general.

Let me paraphrase one part in particular. Ezra (the guy with the glasses) says, "Comments are usually pretty tightly intertwined with whatever the content piece was but if you start to abstract them away from whatever the symbiosis with is with that piece of content they begin to really drift…." to which the other dude starts talking about the continuity of the conversation. Because it starts with the publisher, they view the community and ecosystem from that perspective.

What I found interesting from a relatively new disqus user's perspective, is that I don't view it at all like they do (ok it's an ugly diagram but you get the idea).

They talk about context. Context can be important but comments are so much more to than that. They start to shape and form a piece of one's online identity. I can't tell you the amount of times I have linked from a disqus profile from a blog comment to read through their other comments and further link from those to other posts/conversations. What they say on an on-going basis is a key to who they are. They become an accumulation digital memory by digital memory through the myriad of Web services (disqus being one of them) that they utilize.

I'm not sure if this post is being that clear, but I think what struck me as I watched their discussion on the video is how they seem to be applying traditional linear offline mass models of publisher/reader to the interconnected hyperlinked blogosphere. I don't think the old rules apply.

To me it only makes sense that comments will drift and much like my own digital footprint will. It seems right that they will ebb and they will flow. As for context and continuity which the two guys in the video discuss? I think the whole point on the Web is that it isn't the content that provides the only context. Equally so, I am context and I am continuity. After all, we all are the network, aren't we?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Exceptional Customer Expereinces


How does one define an exceptional customer experience? It is the exceptional, the unique, one of a kind. And usually one we are willing to pay for it.

Case in point, Michael Stadtlander. For those of you not familiar with one of the humblest and most famous chefs in Canada, you can check out this NY Times article. But let's just say, from the way he thinks about food, to the quality of the produce, the flavours and tastes to the execution of the experience his restaurant is on everyone's list I know of things to do before they die.


Sadly for me, I missed his wonderful Leek and Maple Syrup festival day last weekend due to illness. But Peter was lucky enough to go and my mom happily replaced me. Peter said it was one of the best examples of a brilliant customer experience that he had ever had. Not to mention the food. Top chefs. The attention to detail. And the creation of environment that was as exceptional as the food.


What does this have to do with marketing? As our world becomes more and more disposable and as products become easily replicated and distributed commodities, brands abilities to create exceptional customer experiences (wherever they may be) that cannot be replicated is going to be a major theme. Personally, if they are as yummy as Stadtlander, I can't wait!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Top Internet Trend: Digital World Becomes Filled With Big Bunch Of Know-It-Alls

Gartner came out with a list of top 10 technologies. What struck me most about the list was the comments. Every other comment was "duh no kidding" "In other news fire is hot"

Are people not excited anymore? Does everyone know everything? Are we all going to be forced to hang out with the "it" crowd at a conferences who "get it" and sit and whine about how no one else does?

One of the things on the list of Gartner's list was Virtualization and fabric computing. So these peeps can all tell me how this is going to change the Web? Vanessa (who is usually on the bleeding technology edge) started talking to me about it about 8 months ago and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it and its possible future affects.

So here's my prediction for the next few years. Top internet trend: Digital world becomes filled with a bunch of know-it-alls who miss the forest for the trees. They then realize we are only beginning to understand how any of these technologies are impacting our lives on a daily basis and eventually get over themselves and start having fun again.

As for me, I'll just continue to be one of the 'don't get it' crowd, scratch my head, talk to everyone I can, and try to get as many perspectives on stuff that continues to blows my mind.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Ebb & Flow Of Your Personal Brand

Changing a logo before the Web used to be hard. But changing a logo in the networked world is a b*tch of untold proportions. When I was at McCann and we changed the identity of Rogers Cable, one of the tasks we were given as the Interactive group was "find" Rogers old logo on the Internet and make sure it was changed. I actually had someone work for 2 weeks straight surfing the Web looking for random logos that were all over hell and gone, printing the pages out, noting the URL all in an attempt to get what they "owned", their brand identity changed.

Well, now we are all media. And just like big media found out, we are being disintermediated as our personal brands get exported amongst all these different social networks and services. Friendfeed, our blogs, twitter...with the distribution of our identities, we also lose centralized control. People save a link to my blog and converse about it where I can't hear (and maybe don't even know) and I now, like big media, have to deal with a growing lack of control over all those things I once thought I owned.

But this is the new reality. This is what flow is all about. Ecosystems don't have borders and boundaries but the good news is that as the system changes, we as members do as well. While it frustrates some, IMO it's the new networked order that we may not like, but are going to have to get used to.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Marketing Is Dead. Long Live Marketing.

When I first met Peter at McCann back in '97, one of the first things he introduced to me was the concept that with interactive media brands create customers and customers create brands. He had this slide that talked about the future of networked brands as not only the promise but the experience of the brand. I swear the first time we talked about that, I had to have him explain to me what the hell he was talking about at least a hundred times before I got it. With the continuing lower costs of interactions, and high levels of brand engagement due to the ever empowered digital customer, our brand landscape has evolved somewhat to look a little bit more like this...


And yet, we still have done very little to re-look at how organizations and agencies not only build brands but engage their customers. If customer experience is the marketing proposition then we have to look at how traditional marketing departments are organized.

Marketing is more and more about the customer. It's about engagement, intimacy, conversations and every other cliche word that we love to hear and use at digital marketing conferences. And if that is the case, should agencies be Agents of the customer? And shouldn't then marketing departments actually be about customer engagement? Shouldn't it look something a little bit more like this?


To understand the customer, CMO's should have to spend a certain number of hours a day listening to the ideas, frustrations and insights that customers bring to organizations every day through customer care call centres. They should have their email addresses prominently displayed so unhappy customers can contact them directly. They should be in charge of PR and community relations so they are keenly attached to the communities of people they serve.

Marketing is dead. Long live marketing.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

How Facebook Forced Linkedin Not To Suck

I nodded my head when I saw this report yesterday, talking about the decline in social networking traffic in general with the exception of Linkedin which is soaring.

From my own personal experience, Linkedin was on the verge of stupidity right before Facebook exploded. Every time I wanted to do something useful like, link to someone I knew but didn't have the most recent email for, they asked me for money. Strangely similar to Club Penguin, who asked my daughter for money every time she wanted to do something useful too.

And then along came Facebook. With soaring usage, they actually let you link to people, the basic premise of the value to the user, barrier free. While it took Linkedin a while, they too eventually took their sad excuse for a Web monetization strategy, tossed it where the sun didn't shine (as they should have), and let me easily actually link to people. Ultimately, those links are where I see the value for ME. Not for them. Now if they want to monetize THAT....make money off job postings, head hunters, conferences, incremental services (as they do today) then I'm all for it. But to monetize the basic thing that would actually make their service useful and grow? I don't think so. And apparently, neither did the network.

So I just wanted to thank Facebook for helping Linkedin not suck. Now how we can help Facebook not to bore me to death? Different question for a different day.

Friday, 16 May 2008

David vs. Googleith

While Facebook gets slammed for being:

"irredeemably evil. It's hell-bent not on changing the world, but on dominating it: on playing the cheesy, lame, thoroughly obsolete games of competitive strategy."

Google's brand continues to allow it to play Google the good. Google of the people. Google that doesn't do evil. Google doesn't play evil games of old like blocking out its competitors in order to maintain sustainable competitive advantage.

Or does it?

Let's go back to the Map Asia conference August 2007 and the talk given by Michael Jones Chief Technologist of Google's Earth, Maps, and Local Search efforts.

After his keynote, my brother Jeffrey who owns a mapping company in Cambodia called Aruna Technology that does work with Government agencies in Cambodia, Laos and China on poverty reduction and natural resource management programs, had the following exchange with Mr. Jones (paraphrased below):

Jeffrey Q: "We all know Google’s motto do no evil - how do you reconcile this with exclusive agreements with SPOTImage that prevent other people from using spot imagery as part of their web mapping. I work with Gov't agencies to do poverty reduction programs and it would be helpful if we could use this satellite imagery instead of derived or vector maps"

Mr Jones answered by saying that it was not the intention of Google's exclusive agreement. Rather their intention was to CIRCUMVENT the one company which he said he wouldn't name but which he also said everyone would know (duh - and no it wasn't facebook), who had vowed to destroy them.

He went on to say that he was sure for the type of applications Jeff was referring to there could be an exception, and he would be speak directly to SPOTImage to see what he could do. He invited Jeffrey to discuss it with him after the keynote, at which time he promised to look into it and passed on his card.

Since that time, Jeff has attempted to be in touch at least ten times, through multiple channels of communications (email, vm, web-forms) all with no reply. No comment. No nothing.

So while we are all screaming at the evil of Facebook and the terrible things they do to the People's company, we might well remind ourselves of this small David vs. Googaleith story and try to wade through all the technology blog media hype.


ps. thanks to Peter for the post title

Update: Jeff noted in the comments that he has been contacted by Mr. Jones via email (I was kindly cc:d). I'll update the post again once they have come to a resolution on the issue at hand.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Does Advertising Need a Lab? Disney Thinks So....

via Mr. J.Moonah's tweet, Disney is staring a new media lab.

Wow cool right? It's going to be some innovation lab where they rethink the ways in which they engage with kids and create content. Yes?

Well, kinda,...sorta...Not. It's about content alright, but it's about trying to figure out new models of engagement for advertising content.

"the [Disney] facility will conduct year-round tests to evaluate viewer engagement and emotional responses to advertising across media platforms"

Not sure how a focus on advertising is going to help any media company figure out how to connect with kids in a networked world. But probably they have some other division to do that. Right?

Monday, 12 May 2008

Wikinomics Panel On Thursday

I will be on a blogging panel (does this make me a "blooger?") on Thursday hosted by Mike Dover of nGenera Research (formerly New Paradigm Research)

Check out the post on the Wikinomics blog where you can get links to the other great panelists joining me.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Museum Without Walls


My colleague of mine, Andrew Kirby, launched an amazing project today, Sedai.ca.

"The SEDAI Project's mission is to gather, protect and disseminate the history, heritage and legacy of Canadians of Japanese ancestry."

The usage of the net as an cultural, social and historical archive is going to become more and more important as our entire world becomes digitized. Moments, memories, collected and aggregated to be preserved for future generations.

Sedai is a wonderful project and their team has done an incredible job. If you have some time, be sure to check it out as it's an important piece of our Canadian history.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Have We Crossed The Chasm?


Geoffrey Moore wrote Crossing the Chasm over 15 years ago and it's still probably the foremost framework used for launching new technology products. Wikipedia gives a nice summary to the theories basic premise:

"Moore's key insight is that the groups adopt innovations for different reasons. Early adopters are technology enthusiasts looking for a radical shift, where the early majority want a "productivity improvement". The latter group want a whole product, where the earlier group only needs the core product, and has the technical competence, and financial resources to make the rest themselves."

However, it struck me as I see more and more Agencies using this framework as their basis for go to market planning, that some significant things have changed since '91 that haven't been accounted for in Moore's original model.

One of the key foundations of the model is how they define usage by groups which brings a key question to the forefront of our current marketing reality. Has the definition of an early adopter changed? "Early adopters" are classically considered those who are willing to try virtually any new technology versus the "mainstream customers" that are much bigger in number but more cautious in adopting new technologies. But in that generation that grew up with the network and doesn't even 'SEE' technology per say (the notion that technology has become biology), is this great divide still relevant?

And that leaves me wondering one important and looming question. When it comes to technology, have we crossed the chasm? And if so does that mean the entire model of influence needs to be rethought?

update: Couple points of clarification

1. A few people have made the comment that my usage of the term technology is pretty vague and noted that there are still new technologies that fit under Moore's model. I should have been more specific that I was referring to many of the new launches of products and services on the Web (social networking, micro-blogging, SaaS, wireless handsets etc.) that are being marketed as "new" technologies in a revolutionary vs. evolutionary form. I still content that for Gen Y they don't see these services as technology the way my generation and older has. They don't go on the network - the network is ubiquitous connected and pervasively proximate (UCaPP) as my friend Mark Federman would say

2. To ladder on that point above, my other main point wasn't questioning the entire model, but suggesting that we may want to relook at how an early adopter is defined now that there has been a blurring between them and the mass. Anyone can be an influencer and our traditional (if i can say traditional) notions of the "geek" as driving market adoption may be flawed

Monday, 5 May 2008

Innovative Project Management

As we evolve from traditional software development to experience innovation, the need for creative PMs that view the world through a lens that goes beyond simply an time on budget is mandatory. Found this presentation online that sums it up brilliantly.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Are Entrepreneurs Getting Older Or Is Society Getting More Entrepreneurial?

Paul Kedrosky has a post that links to a new report on the average age of entrepreneurs. Surprising to some, the age skew is much older than expected.

This makes me wonder is it's actually part of a more general trend. With the rise of what Richard Florida calls the creative class, the growing emphasis on quality of life, and the fact that people are changing jobs and careers more often than ever, it might indicate a shift from traditional companies and workplaces unable to hold employees who are going to be leaving for start ups and more creative opportunities regardless of their age.

And it begs the question, are entrepreneurs getting older or are we as a society getting more entrepreneurial?

Monday, 28 April 2008

My Top Ten Thoughts When "Techmemed"

I find it funny to constantly read blog posts about people who are actively trying to get traffic to their blogs, wonder how they can get on to the Techmeme 100 list and/or become the next Louis Gray.

The few times I've been "Techmemed" or been in the coveted "pile on" conversation, my thoughts are less, "Yah, I"m getting blog traffic!" and more something like this...

1. Gee I wish I had more than 5 minutes to write my blog posts
2. I should consider doing grammar checks before hitting the button publish
3. I wish I could spell
4. I hope someone somewhere didn't say this exact thing somewhere else
5. I hope no one says anything mean
6. I hope I don't get mocked by someone I admire
7. I hope no one reads that 'other' post I wrote the other day which in retrospect was stupid and really poorly written
8. I wish I had called my blog something other than Leigh's Blitherings
9. I wish I had called my blog something other than Leigh's Blitherings
10. I wish I had called my blog something other than Leigh's Blitherings

Saturday, 26 April 2008

UX Experience IS The Marketing Proposition

I was having a debate with someone about an approach to solving a particular problem. At some point they looked at me and said...

"Well I just don't understand the language you use. I focus on user experience. I don't understand marketing."

It was a pretty telling comment and it's something that has been pervasive in the digital world for a long time. They don't do marketing, advertising or communications.

But here's the rub....user experience (customer experience or however you'd like to call it) and marketing are inextricably linked. If one doesn't understand marketing, they are at a fundamental disadvantage. Businesses aren't investing more and more into the digital world "because they like us"...they are doing it because that's where their customers are, their marketing has to be in order to affect their business.

Focusing on the customer will never be a losing strategy. It's always been and will continue to be the foundation. However, the strategic business power one can unleash by understanding networked marketing and branding and how to apply it across an organization is where you will find the whitespace to drive innovation and sustainable competitive advantage.

Customer experience is the marketing proposition so if one doesn't understand the language of marketing, maybe it's time that you did.

 
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