Friday, June 29, 2007

Mobile as the 7th Mass Media

On I-Phone Friday, it seems worth taking a moment to consider why the arrival of one box of technical tricks is being imbued with such significance.
In a previous post today I made the point that the I-Phone's novelty is its marketing blitz. That in itself is allowing the world in on a secret already known to Generation C (Life after the I-Phone)
It is the global awakening of the idea that mobile is not like any previous mass media.
Tomi Ahonen has described this previously in his post Mobile the 7th mass media is to internet as TV is to radio. Read it at that link and you can email Tomi requesting a further thought piece, too.
Now Alan Moore, Tomi's co-author of the blog and the book Communities Dominate Brands has offered his take, building on and elaborating on Tomi's.
Alan's executive summary 'Mobile as the 7th Mass Media, an evolving story' is available by emailing him. You'll find details at the end of this post.
Alan discusses how the arrival of each mass media, from print, to mobile, has led to the emergence of new opportunities, skills and industries. Their impact on the distribution of knowledge leads to profound changes, not least in the way markets and business models work.
Understanding that mobile is a new and very different mass media (and as a reminder, the previous six were print, recording, cinema, radio, TV and latterly, internet) explains why the I-phone - or rather what it represents - is such a big deal.
The mobile internet is NOT a watered-down, content-poor, slow version of the internet. Believing this is a fundamental misunderstanding.
As Alan's paper puts it, mobile is:

  1. The first personal mass media
  2. The first always carried media
  3. The first always-on media
  4. The first media with a built-in payment mechanism
  5. The first media always present at the point of creative impulse
  6. The first media where the audience can be accurately identified.
The I-Phone is the drum major for this change. But the band was already formed and marching. It's time you and your business learned the tune and got into step.

If you'd like Alan's paper just email him with a request. You'll find details here.

Mobile advertising milestone

Itsmy.com - one of leading mobile social networks, has just announded its 250 millionth ad served.

"The ad-financed mobile social networking service "itsmy.com", offering mobile 2.0 services with free mobile homepages and a completely personalizable itsmy.com domain for registered users, reached the record-breaking mark of 250 million mobile internet ads served from January to May 2007."

More

Life after the I-Phone

Life will never be the same. The I-Phone goes on sale today. How good the device is, how well it lives up to the claims, is almost irrelevent (as Tomi Ahonen has pointed out in his Before and After I-Phone post HERE)
What other convergent device has attracted the column inches, the Radio One newsbeat reports, the Ten O'Clock TV news coverage... the queues in Manhattan...?
Of course the queues thing has been achieved before, and the hype for that matter. Think each time a new 'must-have' console emerges - the X-Box launch, for example. And most games consoles today are exceptional convergent devices, which often allow users to communicate through them, too.
The difference is that the I-Phone is an always-on, always-with-you, example of pervasive computing in the way the console has yet to emerge as.
When has Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung or any other handset maker achieved the same?
It is the marketing, the hype and the acceptance of this that will be Apple's biggest gift since it gave us windows as an operating system (picked up and run with by Microsoft).
Now the world and his mother understands that a mobile phone is also a viable way of accessing the power of the internet.
Now the world knows that they can be constantly connected with global communities sharing information, creating content, reporting the 'news', capturing and sending thoughts and images and (alas, not on the I-Phone) video at the point of inspiration.
The consequences of a people empowered by this notion and holding these tools in its hand will be felt in media, politics, science, education and beyond. A test? Could Tiananmen Square happen again in this world of always-connected-communities?
How slickly the I-Phone pulls all this off, or not, is to a large extent irrelevant. The cat is out of the bag.
There will be no stopping its curiosity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why targeting the ad message can't be enough

I was at MobiAdnews' Nokia-sponsored thought leader meeting today on the subject of mobile advertising, and I have to thank the organisers for bringing us together.
It was a small but interesting group ranging from representatives of creative agencies, to brand owners, to media buyers, to content creators, to yet-to-be launched mvnos, to handset makers, to bloggers...
Some great ideas and predictions were shared, many of which will be summarised in the MobiAdnews reports on the event (which I'll point you at when they become available).
And while there was some consistent thinking around some of the barriers we all see, and the potential opportunities, the one thought that stayed with me was that there remains a huge reluctance to let go of mass and centralised control.
Ajit (Jaoker - OpenGardens), and I both raised the impact long tail will have on the mobile internet - and the neccessity to create opportunities for advertisers and content creators at this end of the spectrum (a la google adsense).
But there may be a more fundamental issue. If you are wedded to the notion of selling mass produced products to mass audiences, you're likely to be tied to the ideas of mass markets, mass media and attention for eyeballs.
To really grasp how things are going to change we have to understand that the same thing that is happening to media (ie disaggregation, co-creation, the use of platforms to serve communities of shared interest, setting their own agendas and creating their own rules, content (and yes, 'adverts') will inevitably happen to all mass produced things.
How do you sell a mass produced one-size-fits-all product to people who want their content disaggregated and delivered to them exactly where they want it, when they want it, and honed to the interests they self-select and/or navigate to/discover through trusted communities?
One answer might be to tailor the advert to the segmented user group. Take a look at realtimecontent.com for a vision of this.
It's a brave attempt to solve a difficult problem. But I'm not comfortable with it. I wasn't sure why before. Now I think I am - it doesn't address the fundamental miss-match here - that we're trying to sell the same mass produced product to different people by effectively pretending (spinning that) it's a different product.
It ain't, it can't be and it won't be until you let the community of shared interest take a stake in the creative process. Context is not enough.
How does that work in the production of things in which mass means affordable - cars for example?
Well, on a niche global scale, a group of people sharing the same interest in developing the perfect car for a family of 3, which also uses it for the weekly shop and occasional trips to the dump etc could be huge. Certainly large enough to benefit from economies of scale.
If you have that community engaging in the process of design, assessment, testing etc they'll not only become your ready-made market, they also become your ready-made marketing force. They already have a personal investment in the future success of the car. Powerful.

ADDED June 27:
Further to the above - consider which have been the most successful/faster growth consumer products of recent years - PCs, mobiles, mp3 players.
What they all have in common is that they can be hugely personalised. This may not always mean that you can change the style/look of a device, but it does mean that their function can be creatively hacked to meet the individual users requirements. In the case of PCs and mobiles this is through everything from the software they run to the look and feel of their 'desktops', wallpapers, etc etc. In MP3s it is through how the user chooses to fill them (ie uniquely tailored 'content' for you).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Flixya.com: Where the co-creators get their dues... almost

Interesting new arrival on the social media scene: Flixya.com - where co-creators of content earn "100% of the ad revenue they generate" (as seen on killerstartups.com.
At first look you'd think this is way better than just creating your own content and adding google adsense because google adsense only pays you a portion... (certainly not 100%)
And then you discover that this is actually powered by google adsense. So you don't do any better than creating your own content elsewhere (ie on a blogger blog). Flixya offers 100% of what they'd get - but you'd need to talk to google about getting the full amount!
The extra incentive Flixya is offering (apart from the tools) is that it aims to aggregate an audience in the way that facebook or myspace does (and in the way that blogger doesn't).
And if you are a constant updater of facebook, twitter, etc... why not get a little something back?
It treats the user as a much more converged creature (ie creator/consumer/marketeer)
I guess they hope to earn their pound of flesh by offering other services (ie at the moment there are ringtones you can pay to have - but they aren't offered in a particularly engaging way).
To that end, while they may well be offering the co-creators 100% of the available interruptive advertising revenues... it's unlikely they can continue that ratio for the emerging engagement opportunities.
But perhaps this is just semantics - you get to keep the ad revenue - we'll have the engagement marketing cash.
Fair and accurate - or a bit of spin? You decide.
All in all, it's about the most interesting start-up I've seen in a good few months. Didn't see a mobile play in my quick once-over. If you have, let me know!

Friday, June 22, 2007

News = real time personalised information part II

This recent post 'How to please all the people all of the time' might sound a little far fetched to those who don't write or read blogs.
As I drove home last night an example came to me which illustrates the notion that news has no future as a mass, BROADcast model.
I was listening to the BBC's Radio Five Live. It's a news and sport channel. And I found myself wishing I could reach for a fast-forward button so I could zip past this particular piece of broadcast news to get on to the next item, in the hope I might find the next one more personally interesting.
Apply the lastfm model to news, for example. Then I'd start to get the disaggregated pieces of 'news' (read information) I actually wanted - at the time I wanted them.
And if I can activate community recommendation/introduction/reputation systems within that, all the better.
If I, a digital immigrant, am thinking this, what must a digital native be doing? I suspect they've pretty much already given up on broadcast news - and are googling for news, selecting rss feeds, specialised podcasts etc as the closest approximation of what they really want.
Seems to me there is a news-as-real-time-personalised-community-created-and-distributed model just waiting to be deployed. If it can deliver across channels (audio - for drivers, video or text via mobile phones to commuters etc, IPTV for the home consumer) then I would no longer have to sit through dull news that said nothing to me.
This requires more pervasive computing (ie mobile hooked up to my In Car Entertainment) for the audio model - but the mobile phone is busily leading us here anyway.
News would instantly be more engaging.
The consequences of this are important. If issues that matter to you can be more readily accessible it's but a small step to a more activated community ready to participate in the politics of their world.
Give people the tools to engage with information they care about and you are giving them the 'news' they need to participate in their world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Laughed until I cried... Microsoft surface computing parody



Here's the original it takes the mickey out of: CLICK THIS

Dark Side of social media?

A couple of nights back I was at the Chinwag 'Dark Side of Social Media' evening get-together.
Some interesting thoughts about identity, but some real dark paranoia about that pesky interweb, too.
It seems to me that pretty much every disadvantage you can think of for social media - including posing as multiple identities, posing as someone older/younger than yourself, cyberbullying etc etc - can be replicated by the good old letter with a postage stamp affixed. Who checks your identity when you pop it in the post? I appreciate there are rules and regs about what can be sent - but the highly private nature of things in the post means it's extremely hard to prosecute anyone other than the person receiving.
The digital world of social connection may well mean acceleration in sharing, but it also means its easier to trace the dodgy types (eg MySpace handing over details of paedophiles) and also means we have a generation of kids growing up more savvy than ever before - placing them in the best position ever to defend themselves/spot those who might prey upon them.
The nature of this constantly connected generation means they are always but a text or a twitter away from help, too.
Dark Side? Sorry... I think the force is with us.

An aside. The Chinwag model - sociable as it is - offers just a little too much broadcast time (from the panel) versus networked conversation.
Perhaps they should try speed group dating (by which I mean informally introducing groups of people for short periods, before reforming the groups over and over) and bringing in thinkers from outside the industry. Make the new media wall a little more permeable?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How to please all of the people all of the time: News in a post-mass media age

I've grown up with the 6pm and 10pm TV news. It's hard for me to imagine a world without it. And perhaps there will always be enough common shared interest between people for this bastion of the broad to remain. Perhaps.
Broadcast - and news aimed-at-all as part of that - works on the premise that you can't please all of the people all of the time. So you try to please as many as you can, for as much of the time as you are able. That's broadcast, that's mass media.
But in a world of digitised, disaggregated content, the available response to an individual's requirements means they can be pleased all of the time. The networked model the internet provides means all of the people can be pleased all of the time.
The question for media companies is: Where is the news team which can serve this long tail of individual demand?
Answer: All around us - in the form of user generated content - communities of co-creators pulled together by their shared interests.
So what we used to call news needs to be redefined. I'll have a stab:

News is:
1. Personalised, real time, community-created, shared information.
2. Best gathered at the point of inspiration (on that handy converged device - the mobile)
3. Best distributed to the point of need (and, taking advantage of the always on, always with you nature of that same converged device, that's best served by mobile, too).

...which is just another reason why creating platforms, not content, should be the primary focus of media companies.

See Also: End of the retreat: How media is the new business model

Monday, June 18, 2007

How to make money out of video content

If m.youtube.com will disrupt your video download revenue stream, you'll be searching for a new way of monetizing the video content you have.
This, from killerstartups, could prove interesting. everyzing.com converts video and audio into text so that it can be searched. From this autumn 2007, they also having plans for serving ads.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Youtube goes mobile - there goes your video download revenue stream

Youtube has just launched m.youtube.com
Go to your mobile's browser now and give it a try.
This has been threatened for a long time - and as recently as June 13, promised for 2008. But it's live and kicking now.
So, where does this leave revenues from video access/downloads on mobile?
The porn industry will remain pretty much untouched - but everyone else?
When youtube deploys a viable payment-for-ugc model, too - imagine the consequences for mass media.
Also significant - youtube has chosen a m. address - not a .mobi

The youtube arrival on the mobile internet scene is significant for a series of other reasons:
1. The strain this may put on the network (imagine all those video downloads - now this is a test of 3G!)
2. The push to 3G phones: Why are kids going to put up with 2.5G when their friends are gettting a better experience of Youtube. Watch it boom!
3. The push to fixed-price data plans: Video downloads are hugely data heavy. In fact, youtube goes so far as to warn the user this is the case and that they should seriously consider getting a fixed-price data plan before using the service (how's that for targeted marketing of fixed-price data plans?)
4. The end of pay-per-download video models (outside of porn). Youtube may not be offering ALL its/your content just yet (it's working on it) but the simple fact that you can get most viewed/highest rated etc means users will get used to free-to-play models. Who will pay for video downloads after that?
5. The acceleration of the long tail of mobile internet (via ugc, of course!)

Youtube going mobile may be as significant for the way people use the mobile internet - and the speed of uptake of 3G and fixed-price data, as the I-phone is for raising their expectations of the user experience.

Truly - exponential times.

See Also:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dehumanising customer relationships

Anyone spotting a theme here? over the last few days I've been angered by humans acting like computers at 3 over my bill dispute (see previous post today).
I'm now dreadiing opening each bill from a large company because each time I seem to discover another example of a company trying to screw its customer - and then employing humans to act as machines when challenged.
Tonight's example comes from the Halifax. My payment for my credit card bill had, apparently arrived a day late.
I pay the bill with onine banking from an account with another bank. I had set up the instruction to give it the requisite four days to travel through the banking system (and will someone, somewhere please explain to me why that's still necessary when all that's being transferred is a notional value carried in digital form?).
A Bank Holiday screwed up the calculation. The punishment for my crime was to be charged a £12 'late fee'.
I called to object, pointing out I've been a model customer for them for many long years and had made every effort to pay on time on this occasion.
No joy. The poor employee - reading out the script - is clearly told they must stick to the line no matter what the logic of the argument they are met with, no matter what the quality of the customer.
It's their customer policy not to refund late fees.
Let me tell you. it's not a customer policy at all. I asked how much my late payment had actually
cost. Couldn't answer.
I guessed in the region of a couple of quid. And for this, you are willing to end your relationship with a model customer? How much more is it going to cost you to recruit the next one? Staggering!
But this is the state of customer 'relations' in large companies today. Essentially they are automated. When you want to talk to a person, their response is automated too (they have to stick to their line). The very people who are best positioned to maintain the relationship with the customer have no power to respond to the customers needs.
In other words, companies no longer have ANY relationship worthy of the word with their customers.

On this occasion, a right-thinking manager over-ruled the person I originally spoke to. My penalty fee is going to be refunded.

But I am left with a bad taste.

How much better if the CRM they employed in the first place actually referred to my record with them before instantly landing me with a penalty? How much better if someone had called to discuss before doing it rather than slamming me with the bill and forcing me to call them?

How much better if the person I had to complain to could actually act with some autonomy.

These companies are centralising control just at the time the rest of the world is decentralising it

No wonder they are rubbing their 'customers' up the wrong way.

When is a free download not a free download?

Regular followers of this blog will know I'm a bit of an evangelist for 3's ground-breaking X-Series and its free-at-the-point-of-use (ie flat-rate) data charges.

Should end all the confusion over data charges, shouldn't it?

If only. It's a shame, but I've just had to fire off a complaint to their press office.

The crux is that as part of my deal I get '£5 of free downloads a month'. On my bill this refers to TV channels.

I decided I'd have the £5 mobile TV 'add-on' for my entitlement.

And I've spent a few months happily watching in spare moments and opportune environs.
Trouble is, it turns out an 'add-on' isn't a download. And I've been billed an extra £5 every month.

I argue this is semantics. I'm entitled to £5 of freebie - I want this bit please.

It's worth noting that I have always assumed that by using the TV add on and I am using my 'free £5 download' and for that reason have not downloaded any of the other 'freebies'.

Customer services won't have it.

Customer complaints won't have it.

Neither would action my request to accelerate my complaint to people higher up the food chain who might actually understand the situation from the customer's perspective.

Hugely frustrating. I've ended up sending an email to the press office (which their complaints department claimed they didn't have - not the first time I've had that particular one span at me! - last time it was a mortgage company. Schoolboy error when you're dealing with a journalist...)

The message is simple really - this customer feels mislead - how are 3 going to put that right?

Answer - you clicked for the add-on service - that's your problem.

I have a thought or two in response to this kind of 'customers from mars, companies from venus' thinking.

They've turned a 3 evangelist into an enemy by being maddeningly intransigent. Not bright, is it?

UPDATE: June 15, 2007 A call from 3's executive office results in a refund. I'm told my email is now being circulated internally and that customer service improvements are about to be implemented. I offer the advice that they should empower their customer-facing staff to make decisions based on understanding the customer, rather than reading a script - and they should clarify their bills. Result: I feel I have finally been listened to, I have finally been engaged with - but it took considerable effort on my part to make that happen. Surely that's the wrong way round?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SMS addiction at the Download Festival

SMS text messaging is so addictive that a community will use it even when it is directly face to face with the people it is sharing messages with. We see this in examples of flirting, private conversations in groups etc.
Another great example cropped up last weekend. At the Download Festival at Donington Park in the UK My Chemical Romance got bottled off the stage.
Throughout their performance in front of a very live audience, members of the crowd could send, and have displayed on a large screen, their messages to each other, to the band etc.
So even though the audience could communicate so directly and overtly with the band through voice (and even through physical acts) the urge, the compulsion to text, continued.
The best example I heard of was one text to a particular member of the band which read: "That bottle that just hit you right on the head - that was from me!"
Talk about keeping all your channels of communication open...
It's essentially a text-as-broadcast model of the kind you see on TV. The difference here is that the audience being broadcast at is also physically connected by context (ie in the same space).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Google goes mobile with checkout

Here's something to throw into the mix of enabling networks of social prosumers - and potentially a challenge/opportunity for those seeking to move along value chains.
Mobhappy (see feeds, left) reports that google checkout can now be integrated with WAP.
So you can add it to your mobile site. And it trumps paypal mobile by opening the way for paying for digital content using it (while paypal mobile has focused on person-to-person payments and payments for goods).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The power of the network: For doctors and cops

Networks create value. It's the lesson of Reed's Law (Group Forming Network Theory, see resources) and one which is repeatedly being demonstrated by the success of numerous social networking sites.
Ubiquity, allowing the constantly connected community, makes the value still greater.
And often it seems we talk about the business benefits of this model - the way it enables a new ecology of co-creators - converged prosumers (see Media is the New Way of Doing Business).
But there are other, more transparently beneficial, areas the same thinking should be applied to.
I'm thinking of the medical profession, police forces - education, too?
Anyone going through medical treatment will know you'll see a succession of highly trained individuals. Typically you'll have to describe your symptoms over and over. Typically it gets written down on paper. And while professionals within a department or even at a certain strata within that department, may discuss case studies, they won't connect with others on the other side of the same hospital (or even 'above' and 'below' themselves) - who may have seen the same patient previously or learned something useful from another experience with a patient.
Imagine if doctor A had shared with doctor B about patient X. And symptom Y rang a bell for doctor B because he'd shared with doctor C on a previous occasion. Simply, allowing for emergent intelligence in the network should result in more accurate, swifter diagnoses. That cuts costs for the medical service and heals the patient faster.
Win/Win - new value created by the network.
If networks of professionals beat the best individual professional in predicting the stock market (see Reingold's Smart Mobs), shouldn't they also be better at healthcare? At policing? At educating our children?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Long tail will shake the mobile internet dog Part II

The impact of UGC is shaking that mobile internet dog ever more vigourously. (see original post on the subject HERE).
Came across Itsmy.com at the weekend. Coming up to 2million user homepages generated so far. All on mobile, all from content uploaded from mobiles. And the community shares content downloaded via mobile, too.
So who's using mobile internet? How fast is the long tail growing?
More than you thought yesterday/faster than ever.

FasterFuture.blogspot.com

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?