Friday, September 29, 2006

BBC and Microsoft hold hands

Very interesting bit of tie-up news here
Beeb were also checking out the makers of Second Life while doing their US tour!

Media Impact Webinar

As circulated by Charlie W

Below is a link to the recording of the Media Impact webinar presented by Heather Hopkins, Director of Research at Hitwise and Amanda Davie, Head of Search at i-level:

You can listen to it online.

Ebay boosts its social networking side

Charley D spotted this today:

Now eBay does the MySpace thing.

Alpha User vs Target Reader

There's a new flash term being bandied about for marketeers to get excited about and editorial gurus to focus on: The Alpha User.

The alpha user isn't (necessarily) an early adopter. In fact an early adopter may be a bit techno geeky and engrossed in their own latest toys to play the role of alpha user.

If you're an early adopter, don't feel bad - you've still got a role to play - but it may not be as the alpha user.

The alpha user is someone who will have many light relationships - ie they 'know' loads of people, probably very chatty, socially skilled with lots of social aquaintances. Because they are so good at this stuff they spread information very quickly.

They are among the sharpest in their community when it comes to the latest communication methods, too - even more critical in the digital world.

In the past we've had 'influentials', 'carriers' and 'evangelists' to go after. In the digital space (and this is an argument first made in Ahonen, Kasper and Melkko's 3G Marketing in 2004) it's possible to identify the one key 'connector' in each virtual community.

They apply the same kind of theories used to trace the spread of disease to find this Alpha User. Identifying the alpha users in social networking hubs (eg who is the MySpace lynchpin in the bike world?) is meant to be the best way to go properly viral.

Finding them in your own digital space could prove critical in achieving support for a new business proposition - or simply new functionality on your website.

How is the alpha user different from our much-relied on Target Reader?

Is it simply that an Alpha User emerges and is a real person, while a Target Reader is created by us in a smoke filled room - and never actually existed at all?

Or do they have two distinct and different purposes anyway? Please share your thoughts below, anonymously if you prefer:

BTW: If you like to 'see' this kind of stuff, I reckon demonstrates this in a very graphical way. Have a play.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

From 3Cs to 4Cs

We hear a lot about 3C websites - Content, Community and Commerce.
Communities Dominates Brands (see recommended blogs), discusses 4C solutions: Community, Commerce, Connectedness and Culture.
Oh blimey!
We can simplify this a bit for our purposes: Culture=Content.
However the emphasis on Culture suggests content emerging from the community much more than being broadcast to it.
The connectedness element is all about the way emerging communities are constantly connected through their mobiles. They are able to share, by 'word of mouth', in an extremely fast and powerful way. Flashmobbing is just one example - where large numbers of people are inspired to act swiftly and together.
Successful business models will have to combine the four and allow and celebrate their overlapping - the community creating the culture; the culture dictating our commercial practices, commercial offerings arrived at through community consent; the culture can become a commercial offering etc etc.
These four areas are converging and where they come together you have a business which delivers exactly what its community wants, in the way it wants, in the context it wants.
It won't just fit them really well, it will be the result of their own interaction and labours - it will be them.
And they will be the best marketing for it you ever dreamt of.

Or am I just talking cobblers? Tell me so below. Or have a think about the ways we could strive to create a 4C sweetspot?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Where should you break your news?

I'm hoping this is something of a no-brainer. But I'll make my case and then take cover with a tin-hat on.

Your news - provided it is not 100% exclusive (if it's entirely exclusive it's up to you on which channel you release it) - should always be broken online and or via mobile - and not just a 50 word summary.

1. Our users have access to the entire internet (through their phones, too) - not just our sites. Just because we don't publish it, that doesn't mean your users can't find it. We have to deal with life after google news alerts!

2. If we don't publish all the detail/pics included in press release material - someone else will. Our users care enough about the subject to go and find it for themselves - and then tell all their friends about it

3. Holding stuff back for your print publication can only diminish your brand in the eyes of your community because
a) They'll think you're off the pace cos sites which aren't associated with (held back by) print brands will be merrily publishing away
b) Yours will be the only (relevant) site on the web not reporting the event/launch/news in detail.

4. Blogs will make all this redundant anyway - unless you are going to prevent users from publishing good relevent and newsworthy content. In which case, who would use your blogs when so many others offer more freedom?

The trick is to understand this and reposition what our print brands do in response to this. If you've got nothing to add to the press release, why are you running it in print?

This problem will only get worse as internet reach extends and blogging accelerates.

Race game with no cars and no place to race!

You may have heard that the new Gran Turismo game will be available in two versions. One comes with no 'content' ie no cars and no tracks. You buy these for micro payments and play rivals online. It's a great example of the money in MMRPG and the ease with which users can be converted to buy content via their mobile.
Pricing and more details: HERE

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dot mobi addresses launch

Just in case anyone missed it in the feeds displaying on the left:

Generation-C: How do you know if you are part of it?

Generation-C is a term used by the authors of Communities Dominate Brands. Not surprisingly the C (in their use of Generation-C) stands for community.

The important difference between this new Gen-C and previous ones (where C may have stood for connected) is that Generation-C has its community in its pocket with it at all times - its virtual network of friends is permanently available to them - essentially through sms and or mms messages.

But it's a mistake to think the mobile phone is the only important element in the creation of this generation. It's more their use of it, and other connections, to maintain relationships that is new. Here is a generation who don't knock on doors to ask their friends out to play - they text.

This is a generation that spends up to 90% of its available resource on their mobiles (cigarette and sweet sales are tumbling in these sectors). They buy their music as downloads to their phones, they buy their games this way too (or pay for upgrades to their more traditional games this way). They send sms rather than pass a message across the room.

They start relationships - and end them - through sms.

They need loads more discussion (and Communities Dominate Brands is a great starting point) but how do you know you are part of it? If you can answer yes to the vast majority of the following questions, you're Gen-C. So please add to the list!

1. Do you return home to get your mobile if you forget it.
2. Can you happily ignore the ringing of a mobile (because you know if its important, they'll text you, or you'll answer when you feel like it).
3. In order to maintain a relationship you feel you need to text at least once a day
4. You think predictive text is for old people
5. You've grown up playing online multi-player interactive games
6. You know how to share digital stuff easily - and do so regularly
7. You are almost certainly under 27
8. You regularly rate content, products, services and firms via systems like those found on eBay, Amazon, YouTube etc
9. You are happy to use your phone like a credit card - and aren't surprised to learn that mobile users in Korea can pay for petrol with their phone.

er, that's all I've got off the top of my head. If you have any other definers, your input could really help us all understand how best to reach Generation-C.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ebay enters consumer magazines (albeit online)

Charley D spotted the following:

The American arm of eBay Motors has launched a free monthly online magazine called Winding Road: eBay Motors Edition. The magazine will apparently feature news and information such as "trend reports, information on future collectible cars, new parts and accessories, and interesting and off-beat finds from eBay Motors". Jim McCraw, former editor of Hot Rod and Motor Trend, is the editor. The magazine will also feature a regular column by editor-in-chief, David E. Davis, Jr., former editor-in-chief of Car and Driver and founder of Automobile Magazine.

Winding Road has been around a while. Looks like they've partnered with ebay. What might that mean for our brands? Must partnering with them do more harm than good?

The edition will apparently only be about 14 pages long (compared to a full winding road page count of around 200)

Massively Multi Player Role Games

MMPRGs are growing very fast. They do well, particularly in younger markets. Have we got an in? I'm not suggesting we become a games developer (not yet, anyway) but we could certainly partner up with a big un doing good stuff online.

Here’s conversation I had this morning. It would be great if others who a) know more about gaming b) actually play games like Secondlife or Everquest, could share their wisdom on this.

I think there is some real fun to be had is with younger markets - the unders 27s in particular; They love the multi-multi-role-player games (imagine a Match football one with news via text messages etc etc)
He: I could imagine a Max site where one builds cars in cyberspace then shows off with 'em. Kind alike Fast & Furious meets Second Life. Doubtless this already exists somewhere?
Me: Yeah it kind of does, that's the problem I suppose. But in these online ‘virtual world’ games people develop new levels just for their mates. Perhaps we could do a deal with a developer to do a Max level or a Match level in a footy one (dunno if there are MMRPG in football but I imagine pretty much every new PlayStation game will come set up to play against others online.
I'm pretty sure a game like Grand Theft Auto, Need For Speed or Gran Turismo offers some of the functionality. Not sure they do the full virtual life thing - which may be somewhere we could do something different. ie a level could be a Max Power show and you have to build cars to win prizes at it, and have the best stand, with the best birds on etc
There could be two revenue routes: selling ads/sponsoring elements in the game itself and or sms to buy upgrades or get news of what others are doing/ allow others to share what they are doing. "

What are the chances of an MCN race championship in SecondLife, or an LRO off road centre? Is this new marketing, new revenue - or both?

er... please post your thoughts -

YouTube - how did that happen then?

YouTube - pretty much the fastest growing community website in the world. And community is all - particularly for Generation-C (of which more another time - or just check out Communities Dominate Brands in the recommended blogs).

But how has it got to where it is and what does the explosion of brands like this mean for those who felt we owned the routes to market?

Watch the video (apologies, it was a done in 30 minutes job); add your comments; here or on youtube... it has to be up to you!

How big - what's the score? HERE

Friday, September 22, 2006

How to spot new advertisers who want your content

Ok, here's a really simple tip and a very quick way of finding out what other advertisers your brand may be able to target online.

Go to google to download and install their adsense preview tool.

This does require some registry editing (which you may have to get helpdesk to allow on your pc).

It's worth the hassle because using the tool allows you to see which google advertisers are buying keywords that indicate they are extremely interested in advertising against exactly the kind of content you provide. And you can do it without having to sign up for google ads.

For those not familiar - google serves ads against key words to offer related (and in context) ads.

We can use the tool to identify new advertisers. And if you add google ads too, you'll find you get cash from advertisers who wouldn't usually trouble themselves with you. Land Rover has traditionally not advertised in LRO (Land Rover Owner) for reasons best understood by themselves.

When we trialled google ads, guess who started appearing? And we got the revenues each time their ads were clicked - which they were. Nice. Land Rover should see in their accounting that clicks are coming from - which should give us a stronger sales story in the future.

BTW: Please don't click any google ads you may see on emap sites (if you're within emap, that is) because that's a sure-fire way of getting us kicked out of the program.

If you use the preview tool YOU CAN click on the ads that appear within it.

If I've made all that baffling, go to the google link above for a fuller explanation.

Please add your thoughts via the comment function, or email me... or whatever!I'd also welcome any links you think should appear on here - and any RSS feeds (see those technology news ones already appearing on the left column).

Some ideas/themes for the future of publishing

I've been involved in digital publishing for a fair few years now, on a number of websites primarily (though also sms in its early days, and now blogging, V-blogging and moblogging.

We're all struggling to make sense of all the rapid changes the collaborative, everything-for-free, empowering, nature of internet - and latterly the mobile phone - is making to traditional publishing models.

So, to start things rolling - here are a few things I'm currently concluding (and this may change by the week) should guide our developments, marketing and communication as the future accelerates towards us.

So, here's my top 10 list for today:

1. The mobile phone is king - it's the one piece of convergent technology every economically viable human on the planet carries with them at all times. Google predicts you won't pay for mobile calls within 5 years.
2. Virtual commodoties (and virtual worlds) have a real and extremely rapidly growing value - what are you doing to cash in?
3. Blogging and their interconnectivity - all journalists should become bloggers
4. Mass communication is over - micro mass communication is the way ahead
5. Be led by your community, let them test and contribute to product development
6. Have an authentic voice - not a corporate line.
7. Create new market space (blue seas vs red seas)
8. Communities will tell you what your brand is - their use of it defines it.
9. Marketing must be 'non-interuptive'
10. All content has to be free - sorry but there it is. You can make cash from advertising around it and offering other services around it.

Please add your thoughts via the comment function, or email me... or whatever!

I'd also welcome any links you think should appear on here - and any RSS feeds (sse those technology news ones already appearing on the left column).

BY THE WAY: I note the FT had a supplement covering many of the themes this blog wants to explore, on Friday, Sep 20. If anyone read it, please let me know and I'll invite you to blog about it (ie you'll be able to contribute it direct rather than simply as a post).

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?