Monday, October 30, 2006

Measure for measure. Why google doesn't publish audience figures

Here's one for those in the business of selling ads (at least until we work out better ways of engaging...)
It's from Web2.0: Click here
See also Famous for 15 people is better than famous for 15 minutes

Mobile Social Networking: From theory to action

I've made it pretty clear to as many as will listen that I think there is huge growth opportunities for traditional media companies if they can understand how Generation-C (and it's desire for connectedness) intersects with their markets.

And I've given examples of actual social-networking successes in previous posts. And with Tomi T Ahonen's recent postings - we've got some pretty clear idea that getting to grips with this stuff is not just desirable, it's absolutely essential.

So how to translate all the airy-fairy conceptual niceties into action?

Here's Alan Moore's take. Read the full post here.

"what will we end up with - too many me-too's - if we all say "I want one like that."

"What we should be saying is - This is who we are, this is what we do, how can we create something that will ATTRACT our stakeholders, our audiences, that creates genuine value that we can develop over time.

"...Why is mobile social networking worth $3.45b?

"I admit it is complex, because there are so many issues to consider - but the real skill is to craft something of value, build it from inside out, because that way the learning enters your own 1.0 organisation, and there is a collective cognitive learning which benefits the entire organisation.

"It might be better to run a series of workshops to explore what your organisation could be doing in this space and what skills you need to get there, rather than going to buy something you don't understand.

Just a thought."

Contribute to the future of the 'net

From today, the Inernet Governance Forum opens in Athens to let ordinary net users make points and ask questions of governments, business, engineers and media, covering topics such as spam, porn, cybercrime, censorship, privay and open software standards.
It's being run by the United Nations, webcasts of the main sessions are available, and a collaborative website has been set up to build and encourage discussion online.
It's located here:
If you feel strongly about it.

Mobile money makers (Tomi's Pearls)

Last week Tomi Ahonen (he of Communities Dominate Brands) had his eureka moment - his vision of what's going to make big bucks from 3G and 4G mobile applications (see post below - and very important stuff if you've missed them around social networking and the revenue opportunities).
Now Tomi's hit another milestone: 1000 Pearls. These are examples of great ideas that are actually already working and making money in the mobile digital environment.
Read his article HERE

Friday, October 27, 2006

Google 2006 plans leaked....

Someone appears to have obtained and published a company paper outlining the key plans and aims of Google for 2006...

To summarise they want to improve their infrastructure to enable their engineers to become more productive, become carbon neutral, be the best in search by reducing spam and having the world's top AI laboratory. They also want to push their ad system, make sure their tools are everywhere, focus on innovation and...

"internally test a Google News prototype during the fourth quarter. This “radically improved” prototype should allow “other news sources, and organizations and individuals mentioned in news stories to debate specific points.” "

Intriguing....more details on all the summary, here:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Defending old media?

With the current, and understandable, desire to integrate User Generated Content into sites, whether it's via citizen journalism, blogging, or old-fashioned forums, it's always a nice surprise to see someone actively defending the role of the old media in a brave, new, integrated world...

So step forward Guy Kewney of, as published on theregister in response to an attack on leading articles in print.

"A final point: the BuzzMachine is being perhaps a touch naive in saying: "Most [research] confirmed Sweeney's theories that Millennial students are not reading books for fun, watching television news or reading newspapers. Nearly all said they get their news from Yahoo!, Google, or other sites."
Yes, of course. We all do, for goodness sake. I do get a paper edition of a news journal, most days, but only because I can't get Google on the London Underground!
But when you go to Google, looking for (say) iPod virus news, what are you searching? "The internet" sure! - but not Technorati, not Digg, not the blogosphere; you're searching the Old Meeja - newspapers, mostly. Look down that list, and see whether it includes newspapers or not!
People who say "I don't read newspapers, I read Google" are deceiving themselves. It's like saying "I don't go near any cows, I get my milk from the dairy!"
As to how long the bulk of Google's news will be derived from the big news agencies and newspapers, before "great newspapers" all become online institutions, is quite another question. But whether printed on paper - like the Guardian - or published online - like the Guardian - they'll still need blogs and leaders to share important information that underlies the raw data.
If there is a "Kewney's Law of Media", then it's very simple. "A new medium may displace old media from top rank - but the old media will always live on."
We have blogs, and we have leaders, and they aren't the same thing. They overlap. The arrival of the blog, however, does not signal the end of the leading article or anonymous comment any more than the arrival of television marked the end of radio, or YouTube marks the end of TV."

I think one of the important points to take is that yes, kids today will look to mobiles, the net and TV for news and information, but if you have a valid and respected source, your work will be the thing they are looking for. You just need to make sure it's available in each format they require, whether it's print, net, mobile, or beamed directly into their tiny little minds.

Mobile Social Networking - examples

If, as a result of the last couple of days of excitement around social networking on mobiles, you'd like to see a few examples, start off here: or dodgeball
Or here for a list of applications
And this article from mid 2005 gives a summary of the position then.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What CMS?

A certain Mr J Adams gave me the tip off about a useful site. Assuming you're ever in a position to choose your CMS, rather than it being handed to you, it's worth taking a look at:

You can compare and contrast most available offerings, although you may need to find a grown-up web nerd to explain the more complex terminology. Then again it's cheaper than hiring in experts to tell you what you could find out for yourself

And if you're one of the two people in the entire world who might care about the future of online competitive gaming..(told you), there's a new rambling missive on

Google Customized Search - search for social networks?

And while we're talking about the explosion in social networking - is google customized search (just launched, and see an example in the left hand column) the google response?
Anyone know if you can get it on your mobile yet?
I left the one on this blog open so anyone can contribute sites to help hone the returns. Have a try!

Killer application for 3G discovered. Media firms queue here.

"Anyone in the media industries, or running an internet service - needs to know... if you are not on mobile, you won't be relevant soon... Any service, product, company, brand or entity needs a mobile phone based digital community presence."
Tomi T Ahonen

SMS has been the killer application of 2G mobile. It was only ever added as an after-thought so that you could be sent an alert when you got a voice mail. Now it's the biggest single data transfer process in the world. There are almost twice as many active users as there are of the internet. And it makes huge amounts of dosh.
So the challenge for experts in the 3G field has been finding the same surprise killer application lurking in what 3G can do/make available.
Tomi T Ahonen has been seeking it with the best brains in the field for years.
And now he thinks he's found it.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE on Communities Dominate Brands (see recommended blogs).

It's a response to questions raised by CDB regulars (myself included) following on from Tomi's report on the staggering scale of revenues now being earned in Social Networking on mobiles.

Here's just some of the highlights:

"3G is looking for a killer application. It is hoping to discover the surprise hit, the kind of totally unpredictable upside surprise, that SMS text messaging was in the 2G world.

"Now I finally have it.

"Mobile Community Services will be the killer app for 3G. Call it Mobile Social Networks... Call it Digital Communities on 3G. Call it mobile blogging, moblogging. User generated content on mobile. But trust me, Communities Dominate.

"We now have found our first true killer application for the 3G space. And it is the digital community services.

"For the mainstream IT, telecoms and media world, interactive social networking - like blogging - is still a "black box" science, a voodoo mythical enigma, perhaps best left for the younger generations...

..."nearly 2.6 billion users with mobile phones, and close to 10% of them already using the high speed 3G phones. Anyone in the media industries, or running an internet service - needs to know this is the biggest pond, if you are not on mobile, you won't be relevant soon.

"This is the industry to be in. Any service, product, company, brand or entity needs a mobile phone based digital community presence.

"If you are not there, your competitors will be, and you will be crushed. If you are there, this is the place where finally, of internet services, you can earn money. You do not need to wait for some magical level of "eyeballs" to sell advertising.

"The mobile internet is inherently better than the traditional web, because of that very fact - every service is billable, every time your service is used, you get paid. Not to mention it's much bigger than the internet and more addictive and the clear choice of younger users.

"Understand that you can be part of the growth, when the 3.45 Billion turns to over 5 billion next year, and over 8 billion in 2008. Make your millions in it NOW!

"Do not for one moment think, that mobile will be "enough". NO. You HAVE to be multiplatform."

The need to move to social communities on mobile has been clear to me for some time (and focused for me by reading Communities Dominate Brands).

My worry is that media companies are shunting this into a bit of a ghetto, just like they did the internet in its infancy. This should be at the heart of our plans for real and rapid growth.

I believe there are HUGE growth opportunities even in what we think may be mature of declining markets - IF we understand how Generation-C intersects with them.

It's not enough to make old-style offerings on what you might regard as a Gen-C platform - and to a non Gen-C audience!

That is our most pressing challenge. Where is it placed in your strategy?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Famous for 15 minutes? Famous for 15 people is better...

A mate of mine rang me last night (mobile-to-mobile even though we were in our own homes... see below etc etc...).
He told me he'd been spotted in the street. His claim to fame? An 11-year-old lad had seen him on YouTube.
Now, this mate of mine ain't LonelyGirl15! The video the lad had spotted has been viewed a grand total of 244 times since early July. It's an obscure bit of nonsense filmed in a pub.
But the content ain't the interesting bit here - it's the reaction. The lad had probably been looking for videos from his home town - because that's what interests him. Low viewing numbers (on YouTube or anywhere else for that matter) are clearly irrelevant - a handful of engaged viewers must have much more value.
Classified video ads anyone?
Land Rover Owner (0ne of the brands I'm currently working with) has clicked up 80,000 views of its videos in the last few months. They've never been featured, none has huge individual viewing numbers - but I bet they've all been found by people specifically looking for Land Rovers - exactly who these videos were aimed for.
Briefly - this is just one more example of the ever-growing body of evidence that big viewing numbers aren't the all-important measure they once were. Engagement through self-selection (by search, platform, niche brand etc) is where growing response (with real value) lies.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Social Networking on mobile - Ker-ching!

For those who still don't subscribe to the notion that mobile-is-king for social networking,
take a look at this; from Communities Dominate Brands:
I think the word I'm looking for is Ker-ching!
For those who just love this blog so much that they simply won't click the links...

Here's the core bit:

"...3.45 Billion dollars this year ! Wow. A bit of context:

  • All of iTunes revenues last year were about 400 million dollars.
  • TV-interactivity (voting for Big Brother, Survivor Island, Pop Idol etc) were worth 900 million dollars.
  • Internet gaming revenues, all multiplayer games etc, were worth 1.9 billion dollars. All internet adult site revenues were worth 2.5 billion dollars in 2005.
  • Two years ago - when we were researching our book, the total value of mobile digital community services was well below 200 million dollars.

Today in 2006, the total value of mobile digital community services is 3.45 billion dollars. Wow. That is a true explosion in revenues. Oh, just to be clear - that mobile digital content revenue is more than all (non-mobile phone based) online social networking revenues combined. In only two years, the mobile side of digital communities has shot ahead of the online world. Amazing!"

And here's a bit of the 'how':

"The two biggest reasons for this incredible number - are the interest for the mobile telecoms industry to capture the "MySpace and YouTube" type of experience - so very many operators have launched social networking services. But differing from the online world, EVERY mobile digital community delivers actual user revenues from day one - totally differing from most online (ie internet based) services which mostly depend on building a large community and then selling advertising to them."

From Tomi T Ahonen on Communities Dominate Brands

Formic User Experience - Information and ants

i have wanted to contribute for a while but needed to get a different google account (far too many blog id's not enough memory) and an evening where i can do something useful to contribute rather than just read.

I have been looking at a lot of material regarding user experience online and how the human brain searches for and organises information. UI studies and information architecture. Google it. There is a lot.

Then start reading the web focussed AND the non web focussed books on human information processing, memory, social group behaviour etc etc. No one seems to agree 100% on any of it. Despite the fact there are established psychological studies plus servers full of user interaction information it still seems to come down to a little research, a little luck and more often than not an inspired team who "feel" what is right along the way to get a website right for its audience. There is basic mechanical information and common "gotchas" to avoid but a guaranteed recipe for success with any audience at any time (as opposed to the current web zeitgeist du jour). Not that anyone is giving up easily. And with the greatest respect to the heads on sticks we have at the moment i don't think they have the silver bullet either.

I started typing up some of the more psychological and historical background as an intro (including some good stuff about networked social intelligence and ants - hence the post title), i got to 2000 odd words and thought i would save that for another time. Theres some good concepts but it may be simpler to post a bibliography and ask questions at the next book club.

so many people i speak to can almost subconsciously tell you how to put together a magazine in terms of organisation of information, source material, house style and design so that it completely nails what its users want in print but what is essentially the same thing scares the living bejeebus out of them online.

Which is quite funny as i do know the basic mechanics of what they are doing in print but even with reference to books, diagrams and experience of my own as both punter and trade i know i would struggle to capture that special essence that makes a title really interest, enthuse and inspire its readers. It would mechanically function and nothing would offend but to get that special something, i am not sure. Scary not really but daunting certainly.

So i have been looking for good examples of how to look at the user experience and trying to find articles that help explain in less technical terms what can translate from what we do so well in print to online. And everything i have read makes me think we know this stuff, we just need to think about it calmly and apply the lessons we know from building a print title in a niche market to an online version to work with it.

One of my favourite sites for coding snippets and web development also gives some consideration to the user experience of this march of technology and information. It rarely gives answers its very Zen but it does make you think about the process and that thinking can remind us of the basic ideas that make people read our brands and why people buy and get info online. Loads more on there but these are a couple i read again recently.

Alistapart - Users
Alistapart - The Money Page

Friday, October 20, 2006

Web2.0 vs mobiles - who needs who most?

Spotted by Charley D - "There's a big divergence of opinion headed this way between the Mobile 2.0 and the Web 2.0 camps…."

Quick quote from it: "By the end of the afternoon it seemed apparent that the mobile world needed "Web 2.0" quite a lot less than the Californian web cultists needed to go mobile."

Why 'niche' isn't 'niche' anymore - and the global solution

Mass marketing may well be ass-whipped, but should that be a major concern for niche publishers?

There’s an argument that adverts in niche market mags are altogether more effective and engaging than, for example, a TV ad broadcast at all comers just before the 10pm news.
Interest in the niche magazine ad is self-selecting by virtue of the reader.

So niche magazines are the future – hurrah!

Yet magazine ad teams report dwindling ad response – and prefer to think this is wholly a result of dwindling eye-balls as circulations slide. "Bloody editorial should pull its finger out" (etc etc mutter, mutter).

They may well have a point. But incremental improvements in editorial quality can only be a small part of the answer.

We know audiences are fragmenting – and they are doing this because more precisely targeted experiences are available to them. ie why buy a car title when what you are really interested in is your type of car. And if there’s a website focused on it, peopled by a passionate and knowledgeable community tempting you away from your old medium…

Those niche market mags that are holding up well are those that either still supply news content which beats (by virtue of cast-iron exclusives) alternative sources (and for whom news is a core brand value) or those that are already incredibly well focused/segmented (ie one marque titles in the car sector).

Those one-marque titles are (usually) so small as to stay under the market-share radar. They rarely have ABCs. But you can bet that’s where much of your missing market has gone.

Not so many years ago a reader of a magazine about old cars had little choice but to enjoy the variety offered to him. Now there is still a subset of readers who enjoy that variety. But those who were itching to have more focus on their specific area of interest can now get it. And if that market is too small to warrant a glossy print publication, now it can migrate online.

Once online, that market becomes global with the potential to achieve commercially viable scale in a new way.

I guess this is just another example of listening to what your community is telling you.
So, do you know enough about how your community is behaving and how it is fragmenting? Have you placed any value on joining with the new (often global) communities that are emerging? Or are you content to watch your pot getting smaller?

If you know of niche mags which are doing well and which don't fit the model described above - please share and tell us what you think their formula for success is.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Strategies for growth - where to start your thinking?

Next time you're asked to come up with a strategy - large or small - read this first ( new thinking on Strategy, Marketing and Value Innovation from INSEAD)
It's a pdf hosted on the SMLXL site (see recommended links).
It's a great reminder of where we all, so often, go wrong.
It really takes significant effort to break yourself away from traditional 'me-too' benchmarking (focusing on the competition) - but a quick read of the document should demonstrate why it's at least worth the effort of trying.

If you really haven't got time to read it in its entirety; here it is in summary:

"Perhaps the best way to start is to ask what it takes to win the mass of buyers even without marketing?"
"When companies frame their strategic thinking in this way, the futility of benchmarking
the competition becomes clear.

"To create a compelling strategy for an organisation, one that achieves the financial
rewards of value innovation, achieving both exceptional value for buyers and low
costs for companies, begin by asking four questions:

  1. What factors should be eliminated that an industry has taken for granted?
  2. What factors should be reduced below the industry standard?
  3. What factors should be raised above the standard?
  4. What should be introduced that the industry has never offered?
Get those right and the company should be on the path to success."

Brilliant strategic thinkers (and the rest of us...) are welcome to shout it down or big it up below. (click on comments)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

YouTube ads really annoy (the ones the community calls ads, that is)

This video (below)...

...was in the main featured slot on YouTube for the best part of 3 days - racking up over 300,000 views in that time. It's an advert. And judging from the comments it's really pissed off the YouTube Community. Maybe that's why it's not featured any more - or maybe they only paid for three days. Whatever the case the community is fearful this is the evil hand of google at work.

I really hate it, too. I regard it as disingenuous because in its design, style and call-to-action it is EXACTLY like all other (user generated and contributed) videos on YouTube.

Now that's not really on. In print if you run an ad feature you have to, at least, change the fonts and layout from the editorial norm and make a clear statement that this is an advertising feature (at least, you do in the UK).

Even on TV it's very clear what is advert and what is program content - the ad breaks are clearly signed.

I don't think it will take reglation to stop YouTube doing this stuff in the future - just concerted negative community response!

However, what's interesting is that certain kind of adverts don't FEEL like the one that's annoyed everyone (above). And they seem to elicit a positive response from the YouTube community.

I'm talking about trailers for movies and TV series. Perhaps because these are things people actively want to know about. eg...

Maybe this is a reflection of the fact that the consumer wants to make their decisions rather than have them thrust on them by an ad. (might be worth checking out this from Doc Searls - and particularly the Vendor Relationship Management link, or even this previous post of mine.

"If I want it it's fine - and you'd better find out what it is I want before you offer it!"

And to do that of course, you have to engage (see engagement marketing etc).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Reuters opens agency in Second Life

I've got to say - I love this: Reuters open an agency in Second Life. as reported on the Beeb. How long before it goes that step further - and carries regular reports of virtual activities on real world networks? This is great marketing for Reuters (perhaps reaching a generation who would claim to be 'bored by' news). It should offer a great new way to validate your Second Life achievements, too. Who's next into Second Life then?

Economist: Future of Telecoms and Convergence Special Report

Regular watchers of this blog will know I keep a regular eye on what the Communities Dominate Brands guys are up to.
Read this one-man demoltion of the Economist's special report - particularly (but not only) if you've read the Economist.
It's good to get a different (and extremely well-informed) perspective:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Co-Creation and the perfect group discount

C0-creation of content is a running theme in every digital plan today. But (and this is where I might finally be getting a handle on Communities Dominate Brands' use of culture instead of content as one of their 4 Cs) how will you allow your community to create its culture - and then embrace the results?

In simple terms, is your digital offering allowing communities to do what they want, rather than what you want them to do? Allowing them to 'create their own culture' by what they do with it may even reveal new ways of transacting.

Let's say your community hates 'ads' but is quite prepared to create a wish-list, or actively pull suppliers to them (by their own rss or similar). Suppliers may have to bid to provide that service to them (there are similar ideas already out there).

But this is where the culture your community co-creates comes in to play. Perhaps you don't charge either party - you allow them to contribute what they think is fair. The culture within that community will create its own pressures for users to conform. Perhaps suppliers pay to subscribe to feeds? I don't have the answer I'm afraid - I'm just keen to raise the question!

And while I was thinking about this stuff it occurred to me, the internet used to be awash with this kind of thing: Join a group buy to get a discount. But I don't come across them so much these days.

Perhaps, with the rise of 4C, systems like this will get a new lease of life.
Imagine, for example, that you could join a group to not only get a discount, but create something with shared specification you all agreed on - a car, a computer?

It's now possible on a global scale for enough people to come together through digital means and say what they actually want and have a facilitator tool up and make it.

Now, that IS co-creation.

Further reading

Am I just a figment of the community's imagination?

I've been striving to communicate better with one of the communities I'm currently working with while I prepare their website for relaunch.
It has a very active forum-based community.
One of the steps I've taken is to set up a blog where I am (I think!) honest and transparent about what we are developing, what's on time, what's not, what isn't working - and welcoming feedback.
I've also recruited around 30 users to help us test it and offer their ideas and feedback. I hope they'll not only hone it, but also become advocates for it.
We've started a photo-moblog for users. And all this 4-C style stuff has been going fairly well.
But I got an unusual response to one email I sent direct to one user. After receiving it he posted this on the forum:

"OK, the TRUTH is out there; who else has been getting unsolicited PM's & e-mails of our new on-line edditor?'cos it's got me wondering; has any-one ever actually met him?I can see lots of stuff popping up on the mag site and the new blog bit, and stuff, and I was thinking it must take a lot of activity to do all that.Do they let him out at all, or is he locked in the bowls of an Emap basement somewhere, hooked up to wires, that give him electric shocs if he doesn't upload enough bites by set deadlines?Maybe, he's actually been locked in the forum hamster wheel with a lap top?Maybe he IS the lap-top. A 'virtual' person; a figment of the 'Matrix'!I dont know.Replied to his latest and asked him, but, not sure. If he replies, could still be a ghost in the machine, couldn't he.I mean, like artificial intelligence, kinda stuff.Any one care to comment?"

There followed a bit of piss-taking etc

The thing that interests me about this is the writer's automatic assumption that he's been the target of a group email of the worst corporate kind.
It was in fact an email sent to him and just five other people who have provided us with email addresses - and was an invitation to write a news story about anything he liked and have the community judge how long it stays on the homepage/comment on it etc (a bit of a warm up for the blogs mechanism we're due to launch).

What this tells me is that he has learned to expect corporate, non-specific communications from representatives of the brand. And that may take more than a few blogs and pleasant emails to change.

Just six months ago I might have thought - 'idiot, doesn't he understand what we're trying to do?'
Now I think, I'm the idiot, I've got to work harder to make my communication with the community less corporate (even though I thought I'd taken giant leaps in that direction, they clearly haven't gone far enough). I have to work harder to break down the barrier between the brand and its community.

There has been, in the past, a real ignorance of the online community view within (particularly, but not-exclusively) print editorial teams. If people posting on our forums complain or tell us we've got something wrong, I've seen print teams close their ears and bad mouth the users as their ONLY response. If you're still in that camp - you have to change.

The other thing that became clear from the recent posts on our forums was that users have worked out that this brand is not the only one I work for - that they're getting a shared resource. I think they are ok about that (they discuss it in a relatively humourous way) but what I have learned is it's not worth trying to pretend I'm entirely dedicated to them. If you aren't honest, your community will find you out, so just play it straight.

UPDATE: My response to our user above, seems to have worked quite nicely. He has responded by email to me again - in an amusing, philosophical way. He's now actively testing our new blogs. I've tried to continue to be human rather than corporate in my communications and the thaw is discernable.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This post will divide the audience...

I'm guessing as I type that 80 per cent of people reading will dismiss the following excerpt from MSNBC as ridiculous. But there's a growing number who see it as a logical progression:

" When 18-year-old Tom Taylor dropped out of high school because he wanted to play more video games, most people were skeptical.
Now he's known as Tsquared on the gaming circuit. He's earning six figures and has product endorsements and a video game tutoring business."

For a few years, anyone who played games for more than a hobby was aware of the growing trend in in-game advertising, brand promotions, and professional gaming. There are comparisons with TV and radio advertising, and with professional sports. And yet as it was always perceived as childish by the generations who associate video games with Pac Man or Space Invaders, the opportunities which would have been available for free a couple of years ago are now beginning to cost more and more..

All brands would be able to find suitable outlets for advertising and promotion with the gaming world. Whether or not the market is valuable enough to them, and whether they can arrange the right price is a different matter... but not investigating them properly now is a mistake which can be regretted for years...

The revolution will be televised

Bowing to the notion that video-snacking is now a preferred mode of media consumption for many... here's some clips (and each is very short) of Alan Moore interviewed before a Hewlett-Packard-hosted conference in Rome.
Listen out in particular for how dominant peer-to-peer communications are on the internet now. Quite a revelation!
Can't recall which clip it is on, but watching them all won't take long!
Alan Moore is one of the authors of Communities Dominate Brands - and comes complete with both insight and real world examples on a regular basis on his own blog (see recommended blogs).
But if you haven't got time to read reams; watch these clips and you'll get a taste (a video snack, indeed) of how he thinks. Our thanks to for putting the clips on YouTube.
Oh, and btw Alan, we've been using for the past 3 or so months (he refers to it as a company that has grown without marketing).

Who is Alan Moore?

What are his interests?

What key changes are happening now?

Define Web2.0

What opportunities does social networking present for business?

Do you need big bucks to make a big bang?

How fast can businesses grow now?

Opportunities for traditional media companies

Does Web2.0 mean Business2.0?

Key advice to managers in traditional media businesses.

Any guesses who the fifth company is?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today’s most interesting:

Here's my must-reads/need-to-knows for today:
1. Doc Searls on this amazing bit of multi-platform integration in the Danish newspaper industry. And on the battle for the web.
2. Carphone Warehouse buys AOL UK - to grow 'ad and content revenues'.
3. Google launches against Office - spreadsheets and WP users can share (google docs), send to blogs and chat via.
4. Ann S, Moore on transforming Time Inc for the digital age.

The above are drawn from feeds and recommended blogs which appear in the left column of this blog. Got something to add? Post it below.

A road map for media companies

How do you come to terms with everything going on in the media/publishing landscape? How do you prioritise? Which hot cake do you queue for?
To be honest, at the moment I feel more like it's a question of 'which horse do you back?' No surprise then that the strategy for survival involves a bit of spread-betting by many.
Anyway, for what it's worth - and in the hope that this may stimulate a bit of thinking, here's my road map for media companies. It's a bit 'drawn from memory' and doesn't include all the landmarks, but it's a start.
Please do challenge it every step of the way!
This is not a long term plan - but one that has to be delivered extremely swiftly. Remember, we are in a world where being six months later than the innovator (Google Video vs YouTube) costs £900m within 12 months. (see Post on October 10)

The Road Map.

1. Depending on your market, understanding Generation C may have to be step one.
I hear a lot people say 'but do you think our market's ready for this? Personally, I think it's a poor strategy that only deals with where you think your market is today. To be honest, where ever you think you are today, it is probably behind where your market has already gone.
2. Engage with yourselves.
I mean within your company. If you can't crack this how well do you think you're going to manage when you go external?
3. Employ a team of full time developers:
Sorry that probably sounds a bit boringly pragmatic. But being able to develop new stuff and deploy new digital ideas quickly is now every bit as important as having staff to write content or designers to create pages. And there is just as much of an ongoing, every day need for them. And I'd prefer our ideas were fed direct to them, face to face.
4. Start a revolution in your ad teams.
We have to become expert in engagement marketing tools before our customers do. Consider the 'revolution in marketing skills'.
5. Establish 4-C platforms/communities. Hey - it's as simple as that. Well ok it ain't, but it's being done very regularly and we should be doing it too. More 4C stuff here.
6. Find your Alpha Users and engage directly with them.
7. Develop some new measures of digital success - are page impressions, visitor numbers or even market share important? Is quality of relationship with community of higher value in the long run - and how do you measure that - perhaps this one needs a discussion all of its own...

er... that'll probably do for now. What do you think? The above is there as a conversation piece. If it makes you think something - post it below. If it makes you do something - tell us how it went!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The First Post - a brilliant bit of marketing

Ever tried the First Post:
If I'm honest, I hadn't even heard of them until yesterday.
But I visited today - and I'm pretty impressed. I'll probably go back again. I particularly like their 'SOHO'.
But I'm not here to praise the site - I'm here to praise the way I got drawn to it.
I visited because the guys who posted this video on youtube mentioned that's who they had done it for.
It's such a good little bit of video fun that it's even the clip the BBC used to illustrate their Google-Buys-YouTube story on last night's 10pm news.
It's had over 300,000 views in couple of weeks and created loads of good feeling in the YouTube community.
Their 'we're just having fun like you-style' description of the video, says it took the makers two weeks.
Time very well spent - and a hell of a lot cheaper than a TV ad campaign.
And actually it cost The First Post next to nowt - it was the £5000 winner in a comp they ran. For more from the winner (and I have to say it all looks like genius to me... go here
For the details of the competition, go here

What this tells me?
You don't even need to spend time coming up with and delivering really good content worthy of featuring on YouTube. You just need to inspire the right people with the right reasons to do it for you (and, I guess, pick a winner which reflects both the vibe of your community - and of the community you aim to get viral among) and you'll get all the traffic you need at a fraction of the usual marketing spend. This is where ad agencies need to be right now.
Of course, you can try doing it yourself - if you've got the right people, with the time and the motivation. The brilliant thing about the competition approach is the way it finds all those for you. The Ministry of Sound has been doing something similar.

What does it tell you?

Interesting turn for blogging.

This site has been around for a few weeks now, and is an interesting novelty in blogging.

Rather than you writing your blog about playing video games etc, now your games console can blog for you... It will comment on the games it's played, and whether you've been ignoring it, etc...

Although at the moment it's a relative novelty item, and only of interest for gamers, it does raise an issue which I've been debating....namely I've got 6 email addresses, five blogs, about 10 social networking profiles, etc....

The next evolution (if anyone says web 3.0 I'll kick them in the knackers) surely has to be a centralised database which fills in all the main socail networks from one site, all the blogs etc... It's a model which Google uses with one log in to email, blog here, and doubtless will be used for future Youtube applications...

Anyway, to read what Xbox 360s are up to:
And as an example, I'll use someone elses, so I don't get caught playing games on my day off:

As a learned colleague frequently says..."One day the geek will inherit the google earth"

The magazine is dead! Long live the magazine!

Spotted by Charley D:
The magazine is not dead. Just the paper element...

Google and YouTube - and a revolution in user content?

Google's £900m purchase of YouTube not only reveals how important both 4C-style engaged community marketing is and how absolutely essential innovation is (see Death of me-to-ism), it could also represent the first giant leap towards the 'better content' that Google's chief recently referred to in a bit of a throw-away line (see here).
I initially thought that might mean choice editors (of the consumer media brand kind) were about to find an increasingly important role in a proliferating world.
But that may be just part of it.
From what I understand from the BBC's reporting of the YouTube sale, the google plan includes paying users for the content they provide. Perhaps learning from OhMyNews (see 'ones to watch) or perhaps just applying their adsense model for good, google will pay the video makers on YouTube.
Exactly how remains unclear. Will you get a share of the adsense revenue generated on ads placed against your content. Will you get a pay for play.
What ever the model the intention is clear - make good stuff that more people want to see and you'll get paid the most.
And when you line that up alongside the UK launch of Al Gore's Current TV... well, where do you think this leaves/takes media companies?
Oh, and here are the YouTube founders laughing all the way to the bank:

I also have to recommend you read Publishing2.0 today (Oct 10) (see recommended blogs) on how the gootube deal raises questions about what media is - has it got anything to do with content anymore, or is it just about the aggregation of audience by whatever means?

Monday, October 09, 2006

BT prepares users for the future

Me-too-ism is breaking out all over around internet phone calls. Skype are the big boys? Right? Sign up and see how many people are members in your town. In Peterborough today, it's 36.

No wonder Tesco are trying to get people to buy their internet phones with the promise of free calls to other Tesco signees (that could easily hit 2 in your town). BT may be the kiddies to get this one rolling.

Their total broadband package is plugging their free internet calls and a new online/offline phone is being made available in about a month. But the plan seems to be around getting as much cash as they can before people work out that skype can be genuinely free - and everyone abandons the landlines.

Even the new BT Broadband packages may amuse anyone who can see beyond the end of their nose. I've been offered a new faster broadband to 'prepare you for the future of on-demand TV and movies'. And no doubt that will be launched at me by BT very soon. This faster broadband 'preparation' includes free wireless router AND it'll cost me £2 a month less. Great.

Except it's limited to 6GB a month. Which is more than I currently use at home... but when on-demand TV arrives... well I dare say a lot of people will be stung for additional charges before realising how they've been done up like a kipper.

Google to buy YouTube? Is 'Me too' dead?

Google's much-rumoured plans to buy YouTube raises some questions about the value of brands, established routes to market, marketing (full stop) and me-too-ism.
Why has YouTube been so much more successful than google's own video offering? Technically there is little to choose between them. And you'd have to say that google would have an advantage in route-to-market terms.
As far as I understand it (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) google video arrived on the scene approx six months after google video. Six months. All google's advantages wiped out in just six months?
Perhaps it is that google is now seen as 'establishment' - YouTube was/is the dude.
Perhaps it is this, and the way YouTube functions much more intuitively as a social network than google video, that has given it this victory.
Maybe me-tooism no longer has sustainable currency. Innovation - being first with something which truly engages and which can be rapidly and swiftly marketed by those who try it and love it, perhaps these are the advantages YouTube created?
The asking price is in the region of £850 million - and google are only one in a queue of potential purchasors.
You'd have to expect that yahoo are one of them - even though they are trying a bit of me-too-ism themselves: Click here
We've seen this before, with flickr being bought by yahoo, MySpace by Murdoch. You've got to wonder - did these guys ever have a long term plan to make money - or did they just hope someone would come along with a big bag of cash?
Even if they did, these businesses only have value if you have something else you can offer these audiences - earning revenues from them.
The challenge is doing this in a way that doesn't have them abandoning ship and going looking for the next dude. Ask Ruper Murdoch.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bebo closing on Ebay as most searched for brand

Charley D spotted this - a pretty clear indication of the rapidly snowballing influence of social-networking site Bebo.

Guess it's another example of a brand coming from no where to top of the tree in nano seconds (Bebo is just celebrating its first birthday).

I'm convinced it's the connectedness of the communities that form on digital platforms like this which accelerates this growth in exponential ways traditional marketing methods can't get close to. Even eBay is having a go.

But, I post this stuff to be shot at... so, over to you.

Geek speak still baffles... so what?

The BBC and others are reporting today (see feeds in left column of this blog) that only just over half of web users really understand what a blog is (though everyone seems to know the term).

They also say large numbers don't know that the official name for news feeds is RSS - or what it stands for.

But that's far from the most interesting thing about this story. Buried in the BBC one is:
"So while 40% of online Britons receive news feeds, 67% did not know that the official term for this service was Really Simple Syndication."

Hang on a mo'. That's 40% of online Britons receive news feeds. And there are still websites published by major media firms which don't offer them!

And if half of web users in the UK understand what a blog is, that suggests to me they know what can be done with them and aren't exactly a giant leap from starting their own.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Google focuses strategy on 'better content'

Spotted on Publishing 2.0.

Google's adsense project has been really good at getting people to create content to run google ads against. But it doesn't distinguish between good and bad.

Ultimately loads of bad content results in loads of ads not getting clicked.

Google appear to admit they've been responsible for accelerating the 'pollution' of the internet in that link above.

I've long thought google has a vested interest in supporting professional publishing groups for exactly this reason.

Effective search needs effective results - and that's where we really can have a role.

The best ad response comes when it is presented with the best content - and this is a notion worthy of serious consideration as we all charge head-long at user-generated content.

Even those entirely committed to the engagement marketing revolution and the 'everyone's a publisher now' digital future also recognise the increasing future relevance of choice editing services.

Perhaps that's what consumer media should focus on?

Marketing - new skill sets required? Editorial - lessons to learn?

In previous posts I've supported the claim that interruptive advertising is increasingly ineffective (and if anyone wants some solid evidence of how that translates online, come and check my google ad click-thru rates compared to the banners and buttons on the soon-to-be updated

I've also backed the idea that engagement marketing is the way ahead.

And that raises a number of questions, not least among them is the new skills marketeers will need, to be successful at engagement marketing.

And that's kind of where Communities Dominate Brands (see recommended blogs), leaves it.

But I think the lessons waiting to be learned in marketing can equally apply in editorial style and, in particular, tone.

I'll quote a bit of what CDB has to say about the shift in skill sets required in marketing, and see what you think - how much of it could also be applied to what we do/think/plan/deliver editorially?:

"A revolution in marketing skills

"What does it take to succeed in interruptive advertising? To be visible and heard, loud and eccentric, creative and brave, to crowd out the competition, gain attention of the audience - even annoy.
"This breeds an arrogance of "We know what is best, we won the awards, we have the training, we have the track record."
"This means many rogue marketeers break rules, live by their own rules, force their opinions upon others.
"What does it take to succeed in engagement marketing?
"To be humble, to listen, to empathise, to care, to be innovative, to be flexibile and adaptive, to live by other people's standards and rules. Subjecting one's own ego and ideas to the opinions and desires of the community: "They know best."
"To repeatedly readjust the existing and "own" ideas to the feedback of the community. My idea was not perfect, of course it should be revised again and again until my contribution disappears."
Communities Dominate Brands

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

YouTube - a whole new world of FREE classified ads?

Stumbled on this today:
While loads of media and creative types have been tripping over themselves to create free video ads (or marketing of some kind or other) on YouTube, now we're starting to see video classified ads from what appear to be small time US car dealers.
Actually, on closer inspection a small media company looks like it's selling this service to the small car dealers. Smart.
Perhaps this is actually closer to user generated content extending to the ads now?

Pause for thought.

They are placing this ad in front of a focused (via search) market, for free.
They can show/tell you much more than he could in a £30 classified ad in his local paper or specialist mag.
It's been viewed 200 times in approx three weeks.
So, the big question is, what kind of response do they get. I've sent a message to see if he'll share. And if he does, I will.

Of course, if you know your way around html even slightly, it's long been possible to place a video ad on an eBay auction item. But it sure ain't free.

Monday, October 02, 2006

YouGov report on youth use of mobile phones

YouGov has done us the service of gathering loads of useful stuff about how kids are using phones all in one place:

Check out the emerging trends - yet more evidence of Generation C (see previous post, Sep 06) arriving in the UK before our very eyes - and how social networks are shifting to the mobile phone as a preferred platform (see alpha user vs target reader post, Sep 06)

Add your thoughts on it:

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Media companies. Engage with yourselves!

Interruptive advertising, of the kind we most graphically see on TV, but which also populate our magazines (and fill our coffers) is offering rapidly dwindling RoI for a whole host of reasons.
The most critical is that people are fed up with the tone, hype, bullshit of ads - and are collectively switching off from them.

That has a message for the way we present editorial copy too - but that's another story.

What I want to discuss here is the 'new engagement marketing tools' (and whether or not you think they are actually new or just new variations on old themes ain't that important) and how publishers have to strive to offer these to advertisers.

Engagement marketing tools
( listed by Communities Dominate Brands - see recommended blogs)
1. Entertainment, info-tainment, Edu-tainment initiatives
2. Information Service brands for edited choice*
3. Audience activation via SMS text messaging, IM etc
4. Participation in discussions threads via blos, chat etc
5. Gaming, including sponsored gaming and adver-games
6. Real time community information
7. Previews offered to the community
8. Embedded sponsorship rather than 'passive' sponsorship
9. Managing multiple communication channels to that each target member is reached by his/her preferred channel
10. Activate through influencers and 'Alpha Users' **
11. Good will through volunteer evangelists
12. Word of mouth, viral marketing and 'buzz' to promote.

*Good news for consumer channels?
** See blog entry on Alpha Users vs Target readers below.

And if we don't get cracking and establish an expertise and a lead in this stuff - is there a risk that advertisers will just bypass us and our channels - and do this stuff for themselves? Direct to communities they find or help build? Almost certainly.

So ask yourself, what is your company doing to focus (really focus, not just set up a ghetto) to move this forward? How are you placing engaging communities at centre stage?

And how are you engaging with your customers, users or even your own colleagues? If you can't crack the community thing within the company, are you really ready to go external with it?

Does your company have a blog where all its customers are welcome to contribute ideas?
Boeing does - it's getting them to design aeroplanes.
Ford does. They are creating evangelists from having good conversations with consumers.

Maybe all publishers should have a blog where your communities are invited to tell you what they actually want from you? or MyIdealMobileContent etc?

If a community can design an aircraft, perhaps we could trust them to have some great ideas about media content/direction?

Sorry, that's a bit long and lots of different ideas perhaps. Your comments, as always, welcome. Your contributions, likewise (see top of page).

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?