Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How long can we expect UGC for free?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about ratings and reputation recently, about their importance in sustaining communities, particularly co-creating ones.

I come to conclusions such as:
Review systems which attach no value to reputation are doomed.
Reviews by people for whom the loss of reputation means nothing are likely to have less value to your average internet user. And reviews with less value = less incentive to contribute and less opportunities to inspire a purchase.

This makes it a critical element in any revenue-generating model. I've written more on this here (why reputation holds the key to revenue success). And more recently: Here

I believe it's all a question of what is at stake for the contributor of UGC. If there's little this may explain why it's a) not valued by contributors and therefore not growing like you expected it to, b) not inspiring a bucket-load of trust-related purchases to pay your bills.

So why do people so freely contribute to things like tripadvisor (10million+ reviews so far!). You can't even build a reputation for yourself on there (at least not one measured by community score).

It's likely people contribute because they have previously derived some value from a review before they booked their tip and, therefore, felt in some way obligated to return the favour. And there's clearly enough people who feel this obligation to overcome the freeloaders who just come, take their fill, and never contribute. Except of course the 'freeloaders'
are contributing, by notching up page impressions and clicking on ads.

I still feel a model without a reputation system, and one which has a value attached, will eventually fail.

One reason is that there's another reason people are contributing reviews right now: Because they can.

It's not so very long ago that the only people who could publish were the owners of the means of publishing production. Now we're all publishers. And the novelty has yet to wear off. We get to see our work 'published', we get a little bit of fame, a little bit of influence.

Indeed it's only in recent times that models, such as TripAdvisor, have emerged which place user reviews at the heart of their proposition. Even more novel!

But as we become increasingly used to being able to publish our views and reviews perhaps this ability to out the bad and praise the good, and our valuation of our little-bit-of-fame, will need bolstering by getting something in return for our efforts.

It might be as simple as you-only-get-to-read-reviews-if-you-contribute-one. It might be a revenue share on items sold off the back of your review efforts.

Eventually we want a payback. And when you want something in return we need proof you deserve it... hence the need for reputation.

Ratings and reputation should vary depending on the context. For example a stag party might rate Malta a dull location. A couple seeking a romantic break would rate it higher. Your value of the review provided by the stag party will vary depending on how similar your needs are to theirs. Their reputation as raters of stag party venues may be high - of romantic locations, low.

Speaking of which, slightly at a tangent; Technorati's reputation system fails to understand how reputation should vary. It's a bit of a popularity contest rather than a selector of the best fit with what YOU need.

This blog's reputation is 55 today. Its value to people seeking blogs about horse racing ought to be close to 0. It's value to people interested in its themes might be much higher. All the rating tells you is that it's of a certain global value - but not what the value should be to YOU.

That value to you remains in the gift of the network of trust all blogs are capable of generating. If Technorati could segment ratings based on your specific interests, you might find the scores more useful.

Is Google's free mobile dream closer than we thought?

Is there an answer to my prayers in sight? Ofcom is urging mobile operators to slash the cost of using mobile internet (and sending texts) abroad. (See Telegraph)
As I'm not alone in pointing out, mobile internet - particularly search and location-based services, come into their own when you arrive in an unfamiliar city - very often involving hefty roaming charges.

The barriers come down one by one.

The operators are said to be resistant, of course. Wonder how resistant they'll be should google ever realise its dream of making all call charges and data free...

Imagining a mobile internet revolution from that perspective perhaps informs Google CEO Eric Schmidt's view that it's a revolution that is going to happen this year.

Wonder if that means Eric & Co are closer to realising that dream than we might have thought?

What happens when you write a blog post

Neat interactive graphic.

Dodging cannon balls

I don't know why, given how often it happens, but I still find myself getting wound up by the way old-style business is regarding the emergence of the networked world - and even how mass media reports on it. Together they seem to repeatedly miss the point. Heads in the sand?

I recall the Times report on Radiohead's 'pay-what-you-like' download. How they sniggered when people paid a low average price. Why did they reject the significance of 1.2m downloading it in a month?

Another example today report from about a debate at Davos.

The guts: "In debates at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, enthusiastic technologists and advertising agencies pronounced that 2008 would be the year in which (social networks, video games and mobile phones) marketing techniques would become mainstream.

But sceptical media owners disputed their growth predictions, questioning consumers' appetite for advertising campaigns in such new areas.

"The [supposed] solution to everything at the moment in the digital space is adsupported," Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, told the Financial Times. "While advertisers are happy to talk that up, there is a limit to the amount of money available."

"The business model is not there today [for mobile advertising]," said Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal.

Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard, was similarly sceptical about advertising-funded video games, saying: "It's early days. I wouldn't go in that direction myself."

The issues here are manifold.

1. "consumers' appetite for advertising campaigns" - Two problems. Keep thinking about consumers and advertising and you are only going to see a downward spiral.
Of course there is less appetite for advertising campaigns. That's obvious. Consumers are gagging on interruptive ads of all varieties - whether on old media or in new. They might, however, want to take part in the community-dominated creation of value. They feel under assault from 'campaigns'. They also want to be treated as something more than consumers - converged individuals who are part of the creative process.

2. Scepticism over a business model for mobile advertising? Tell that to Admob who are busily serving 1bn ads a month. And perhaps its worth considering NEW business models which aren't about same-old interruptive ads. Consider Blyk, for example. Your business model 'may not be there' today, old chap, but those adapting to the 7th mass media are making hay.

3. Early days for ad-supported games? Tell that to MyNuMo - who are busily creating (and making money from) exactly these for the Iphone (and others) in the States. If more people spend more time playing games than watching TV and all you want is eyeballs (let's not make this too complicated for the disconnected...) then... well, there's the water. Drink if you want to.

Thankfully there was a voice of reason - and one you'd expect even the most stuck-in-the-mud to have a twinge of respect for: Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google.

"(mobile represents) the recreation of the internet, it's the recreation of the PC story, it is before us - and it is very likely it will happen in the next year," Eric Schmidt, chief executive, said of the location-based advertising made possible by the mobile internet."

It is Eric - it's the internet revolution all over again, only this time its personal - it's that PLUS.
And if you aren't already familiar with Tomi Ahonen and Alan Moore's work on Mobile as the 7th Mass Media - now would be a good time to catch up.

It seems bizarre that some of those who are witnessing the failure of interruptive advertising appear to draw the conclusion that there is no (or slow growing) revenue to be made with the networked world (either via social networks, mobile...what ever). Perhaps it's because they keep looking at the world from the centre-out, rather than the edge in.

Shift your perspective and you might see a crowd willing to join with you, rather than cannon fodder waiting to be assaulted by your next campaign.

No wonder we do all we can to dodge your cannon balls...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

iPhones: The Great Escape

Looks like a quarter of the Apple/AT&T cellmates have gone over the wall: Yep 27% (or 1 million) iPhones sold in the States have been unlocked, according to a BBC report.
Information wants to be free. So do consumers, it appears, in a networked world.
Looks set to cost Apple $500m in lost revenues by the end of the year (they get a share from all revenues derived through AT&T).
Wonder what the unlock rate is in the UK?
Leaves me a little baffled though. Presumably to acquire your iPhone you've had to sign up to some lengthy contract - which you are committed to continuing to pay whether you use it or not. And then you have to pay to use your iPhone with another operator.
What am I missing? Are 27% of people unlocking their iPhones just because they can?
Please, if anyone can clarify... you know the drill.

Powerlabs - harnessing our desire to contribute

I've just stumbled into Powerlabs - the community created by Powerset, a Silicon Valley company building a new search engine based on natural language processing. It's worth a look to see how one socially-focused play is working to harness the power of 'we'.

Unlike the keyword tradition, Powerset reads and 'understands' every sentence on a web page and allows you to ask questions in plain old English. They aren't the only ones doing something similar. There is an increasing understanding that keyword alone is not enough (see Google doesn't know what you're looking for) and a move towards social solutions.

It therefore makes perfect sense that Powerset should share what its doing (in the form of ever-updated demos), encourage contributions and feedback and use the wisdom of the crowd to improve its product. Your reward? Er some 'karma'. And you need a bag full of it in order to access some of the newest and grooviest test stuff.

In other words, the pursuit of knowledge about new stuff first - and access to it - would appear to be your only reward.

Pride and standing in this particular community equate to building your reputation. But I think why/how people value this is because they are banking on an emerging value.

Perhaps it is as simple as the hope that by raising their reputation this may result in something like a job offer?

It is intersting that there are clearly large numbers of people who are apparently willing to contribute on this reputation-building basis alone. And in the process they create a great deal of value for Powerset.

But perhaps the emerging value those of us considering balance sheers too often over look is the sheer satisfaction of working collaboratively, the joy of human cooperation - the basic need to work together that's been in us since we first worked together to hunt on the savannah.

Still - at the end of the day - it was always better if we got a share of the meat...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Qtrax: Free legal music downloads - but not for your Ipod

Qtrax launches this weekend apparently. It's free, legally downloadable, ad supported label-endorsed music. It comes with one of the biggest buts in history.
But you can't download to Itunes or your IPod. Or any other portable mp3 device.
Just another walled garden then.
Or the end of the IPod...

Ready, fire, steer

Twitter is a goldmine sometimes. Luke Razzell of Blogfriends twittered 'Ready, fire, steer' as a strategic metaphor, not 'ready, aim, fire'.
I didn't need the context. It's a model for how non-linear, evolutionary business models have to function - that is - the ones that are the best fit for those two key complex adaptive systems - the web and the economy. Neat metaphor. Thanks Luke.

Who needs marketing when you've got a gun?

I found this amusing. If the mobile industry and its operators amuse you too... give it a whirl. via Jon Burg.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Follow me...

I'm off to Seville this afternoon. And I've just downloaded version 2 of google maps. Would be a great asset in a city I don't know (apart from razzing round it on scooters on a launch years ago...). Trouble is, it's a data heavy application and while I have a flat-rate data tariff (with 3) that only applies when I stay within the confines of the UK.
So the moment I hit a foreign city - the moment mobile guidance services acquire their greatest value - I'm disinclined to use them.
Must be a model brewing here for google maps? Ad-supported perhaps - free at the point of use where-ever you are?
The new version (only available through 3 in the UK, they claim... someone tell me this ain't so!) geo-locates you via the 'my location' function. Very useful. I'll find out just how useful when it starts working. First couple of attempts resulted in the 'your current location is temporarily unavailable ' message. Funny, since I appear to be here...

Anyway on a similar 'how much for that data!?!' theme, expect me to be updating twitter (which'll bounce through to facebook status, too) via sms text while I'm away - and not via the facebook mobile app.
So if you want to be first with the news of which paella I'm trying next, follow me on twitter.
(see left hand column further down the page).

UPDATED: My twitter-updates-facebook-updates-twitter ruse turned into a nasty spiralling mess. I will therefore only be updating twitter for the next few days. Like I say... follow me!

Shock stat of the day

Five of Japan's top 10 best-selling books started out as books written for and read on mobile phones. (via Communities Dominate Brands)
No one will ever consume lengthy content or spend long staring at those tiny screens... will they?

Our news 1 Their news 0

Fascinating moment in news history last night. I was watching the BBC1 TV 10pm news (which was frustrating and angering me in equal parts - but that's another story).
While the various BBC Hughs interviewed each other and sat back smugly folding their arms, I was on facebook via mobile (got to pass the time some how...). Noticed a couple of status updates referring to the death of actor Heath Ledger.
Five minutes later one of the BBC Hughs broke into his 'two-way' with another (donchyer just hate journos interviewing themselves?) to reveal the 'breaking news' that Heath Ledger had been found dead.
Bear in mind that this is the BBC broadcasting live news as I watch it. And Facebook friends beat them via my mobile. Twitter was even faster (Dan Thornton tells me).
It seems that not only are people plus social tools providing more relevant news to each other than the big broadcasters can, they are also capable of producing 'news' of equal quality - certainly if you believe 'being first' in news is all!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The proof of the new marketing is in the conversation

I'm a bit of a sucker for conversation (I even draw graphs). That, combined with the fact that I'm speaking alongside Joseph Jaffe at Digital Marketing Briefing in March has proved enough for me to join in an experiment Joseph is running to promote his latest book: Join the Conversation.
His idea is to try to prove his particular pudding by giving bloggers a taste (or Using New Marketing To Prove New Marketing... UNM2PNM if you must).

The idea is that bloggers tell Joseph they'd like a free copy and they get sent one. Deal is you write a review, good bad or indifferent.

The powerful play of course is that you only discover the offer if you already happen to be part of the community of purpose/interest. What I mean is, if I didn't read Joseph's blog - or got introduced to the idea via someone else I trust (or someone else's blog I trust) it's unlikely I'd know about the offer.

It's therefore likely Joseph's message will fall on receptive ears.

But that's not to say everything HAS to be rosey - after all bloggers can be an egotistical bunch and if they think they have better ideas and know where Joseph has it all wrong, they're going to say so. Hold me to that when I write my review!

What Joseph clearly appreciates is that informed debate of his ideas can do nothing but good for both his reputation and sales of his book. Upside - fawning advocates selling the book as hard as they can, worst case, savvy people granting Joseph the level of respect required to give serious consideration to his ideas. Even if they do end up rejecting them they introduce them to their own network of trust.

Is there anyone in new marketing who doesn't market their work this way?

I see just one potential fly in the ointment. The amazon affiliate link Joseph has asked reviewers to include points to the US Amazon site - which can put off many buying in other parts of the world or in other currencies. Pity, because Joseph is donating revenues earned in this way to charity.

Videos from Never Mind the Bloggers

Towards the end of last year I had the pleasure of hosting a seminar and workshop on blogging (Never Mind The Bloggers). And while it was only open to employees at the company I work at, both our speakers - Alan Moore and Euan Semple - were happy to share their presentations with you on this blog, too.

The size of the files and the everyday demands on colleagues' time has meant it's taken until now to make those videos available. Big thanks to Angus Farquhar for attending, filming and making available the videos you will see below.

Video 1: David Cushman intro's the day:

Video 2: Introducing the speakers:

Video 3: Alan Moore:

Video 4: Euan Semple

Video 5 Q&A (excerpt... until the card filled up!)

The value of random friends: Just another reason why open will beat closed

I've spent a few days out of the office discussing things as diverse as fashion, aggregation, how companies function, mobile communities, pervasive computing and the future of marketing and advertising. Talked about football, too - but that was on my own time...

Many of these discussions get heavily skewed by notions of openness. Facebook is our reference for closed (I-tunes and Apple offer another version).
And I've often said open will always beat closed. So here's another reason: the value of random friends.
You'll have heard of small world theory, or six-degrees of separation. The reason these are possible is because random friends are introduced to networks - people outside of your usual experience. For example, someone you meet on holiday, or at a party - who opens up a whole series of new connections for you.

These do not happen when you are in jail.

Some people I have met in this open way are among my closed facebook friends. But I didn't find any of them on facebook - it's closed nature prevents just this kind of random connection (this and the suspicion you feel when you receive an unsolicited friend request, which perhaps is part of the paranoia of the closed).

Random friends are the parts of your network which allow its value to grow exponentially (see Reed's Law). Remove them and your network has considerably less value.
And perhaps this is why my facebook connection's value will never be as great as, for example, those acquired through this blog.

The blog is the medium through which connections are made (those self-forming groups of shared interest and purpose I believe create so much value) while facebook becomes the habitat in which SOME of those random friends are caged.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Squace: the latest mobile internet navigator

I've been having a play with Squace this morning - which launched in Beta earlier this month.

It's a Swedish-based play to compete with the likes of Widsets and Mippin

In the same way as both you can create your own sites on it free (so for me, another place to vent the rss spleen of fasterfuture). Like Widsets (and unlike Mippin) you have to download a bit of software. Very intuitive and seemless for my Nokia N73 - as was the case when I tested Widsets.

I like the grid-like interface (it's a series of tiny squares which you scroll over to discover what you want) - it's a good effort at making a navigation which suits the mobile screen rather than following the list-like precedents of web1.0.

What I do like is that using the rss feed to build a site retains the links (even though if you do click a link to a page which has not been perfected for mobile the experience gets shaky. At least the opportunity to point is retained - a key element of the power of the network).

How does Squace stack up against my old moon-on-a-stick measures?

1. Really easy creation of mobile pages (on fixed line and on mobile)
2. Really easy ability to change the design to our tastes (and I'm thinking icons/desktop style as well as background colours and layout)
3. Ability to add and create rss feeds
4. Ability to add code snippets (ie YouTube video, google adsense)
5. Really easy share/ creator propogation (ie socially networked)
6. Enabled for social trade.
7. It has to be free to the site owner.
8. Option to offer as an application-based widget.

Squace scores well on 1, though I think you'd struggle to make a page via your mobile for it. It is very easy online (seconds of your time!).
On 2, halfway there, easy to add your own background image or logos. The grid (very well designed for mobile) can't be changed (correct me if I'm wrong on that, but it does appear fundamental).
3. Easy to add your rss feed.
4. Nope - can't add code snippets.
5. Easy share is very much front of mind.
6. Not as far as I can see.
7. Yep.
8. Not yet - let's see where the developer forum goes.

All in all, a very fine contribution to enabling the long tail of mobile internet. Many congrats - but not quite the full cigar.

How it works:

Ford slaps down its biggest fans (ex-fans?)

Utter madness over at Ford (via Todd Defren's PR Squared). They've slapped a ban preventing fans of their Mustang car from producing a calendar of pictures... of the fan club's own cars. Reason? The whole car is the trademark of Ford, apparently (sounds completely insane to me).
I'm not too concerned about the legal niceties of this (though it does seem to me that if you need permission from the manufacturer each time you want to print a picture of a car then car magazines and police forces are going to be keeping press offices and pr departments very very busy indeed...)
The result is that the brand's biggest fans are given a really nasty kicking. Oh dear.
And this at the same time as Ford is reaching out with social media. Someone over there is working out who is really in charge of the brand...
Left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
Reminds me of the story of when some forward thinking marketing types at the cartoon network started putting some of their content on youtube to take advantage of the new user-as-distributor model...
It worked. Lots of people took notice... including the cartoon network's legal department, who promptly fired off cease and desist letters to youtube...

UPDATE: See the clarification and comment from a Ford PR person which seeks to clarify a key misunderstanding. Seems, as I suspected, the use of pics was fine - the use of trademarked logos for profit, less so. Have to wonder if the amicable solution was reached as a result of the stink the blogosphere kicked up?

Bottom line - seems like Ford has been given too hard a time over this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Facebook. Just another rss aggregator?

The bulk of activity I now see on my facebook newsfeed is gathered from other sources. In other words facebook is acting as an aggregator of stuff going on elsewhere. A bit like any other rss aggregator then?

Twitter updates bounced into facebook lead the way, followed by notes, imported from friends blogs (in both cases we're being treated to a one-way narrowcast - unless we make the effort to follow the link... actually come to think of it, we can comment on an imported note - but few 'in-the-know' would bother, since it's kind of a ghost version of the original - and you have to kind of figure the real conversation is going on back at the base! So facebook is the ersatz conversation!?).

Yes, of course many people update their status with a pure and simple filling in of the box (I know I do - and via mobile a lot... and in both cases that gets narrowcasted out to my minute band of twitter followers...)

In between there's a little bit of 'X has sent Y a gift' - yeah the real need-to-know stuff, invites to be a zombie or take part in a My Little Pony quiz.

I won't deny there is some valuable stuff. Some potentially very valuable stuff.
X has just joined Y group. I like those bits. That's the non-directed self-forming group bits, the bits where people can organise around a purpose and make things happen. Not a lot of this though.

And I begin to wonder if there's enough of the valuable stuff full stop. I wonder if there's enough of it to sustain the closed world of facebook in a disaggregating, widgetised world.

I'll tell you what I don't see much of. X is a fan of Y product or X has just bought Y product.

UPDATE Jan 16 2008: See comments below for more on this. I like what spokeo and latterly yahoo are aiming for: newsfeed from all your friends from all sources - but in an open way - treating the web as your newsfeed. When open takes on closed I know which I'll always place my money on! Read more from Harrison (aka twhman) at spokeo here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rich media? Think about enabling conversation

In previous posts I've wittered on about the how the 'rich media' fantasy of video leads us all too often back to being petit broadcasters - complete with a nasty dose of TV envy.
And I've bemoaned the fact that there is nothing available in video so far which replicates the ease of ability for all to contribute, with the low technical barriers that blog or forum-style postings allow.
I'm coming to the conclusion that the most helpful definition of your digital trickery is not how 'rich' it is but how conversation enabling.
Twitter seems the most conversation-enabling network we're currently witnessing.
No coincidence that it's heavily and robustly text based (though you can point to video, images, sound and all that 'rich' goodness of course).
Seesmic (which I have only just signed up for) appears to be the best stab yet at the video equivalent. That was my initial thought - and one which Ivan Pope - a longer time user - confirms. "It is like Twitter with video, has its own community feel, very addictive generally. See you there!"
What I like about this is that it enables real-time conversation, through video. It has its issues, not least of which is the fact that no-one dare leave it on for long for fear of burning out their harddrives - which means an inevitable lean towards asynchronous communication (ie not real-time and same-time). Early days.

Anyway. Just to crystalise this easy (technical low barriers) -hard (technically high barriers), broadcast-conversation landscape, here's a very simple (and terribly drawn) graph (see above).

I reckon the closer to the top right corner, the better the fit with the networked world.

A traditional TV channels would sit in the bottom left corner. Twitter is quite close to the top right - as are all the best social networks.

Where would you place your favourites or what you are working on?

Bonus: Ivan Pope on how 'everything is falling apart' and coming together again. Apologies for the out-of-synch sound. Think it's part of the joy of mp4 on my N73!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What next for advertising and marketing?

The following is an excerpt from a white paper. I thought I'd share this summing-up to see what you think and perhaps entice you to read the full version (Marketing and Advertising Models for a Networked World, see left-hand navigation).

All contributions to the conversation actively encouraged.

Understanding how the world has changed and looks set to continue to change – how we are rejecting interruption and embracing participation, how we are moving away from control from the centre to the dominance of communities, what should we do?

I see three immediate routes and believe each is worth pursuing. Each represents a significant shift from traditional, interruptive advertising. Each represents something other than business as usual.

1. Widget Marketing: Make use of the current advertising space and populate it with ads which follow the best practice of virals and widgets.
2. Engagement Marketing: Involve communities in the building of the brands they use – connect them to your authentic voice.
3. No Marketing: Instead, apply the new mode of production the web enables. Communities as producers of that which they desire. No ‘marketing’ required.

Widget Marketing:

Widget Marketing is the easiest to achieve right now.
It fits with the how advertising is currently done – creatives can be done, space booked and paid for.
But we will need new measures of success – not necessarily how many times your ad is seen, or how many clicks it generates (though these will still be important). A further key measure will be engagement – how many people use the tool you provide and to what effect, how many people play with it, shape it as their own, and as a consequence forward it, or display it on their own webspace? While the url remains a significant element of web architecture, route 1 will retain strong economic value.

What should we do?
Create widgets instead of standard display adverts – no matter how in-context and related you can make them. (I appreciate you’ll need a period of both, I’m not suggesting you ditch all that in-context stuff over night).

These widgets must speak in the authentic voice of the people who make the products you are selling. That means involve those people in the ‘creative’. Don’t interrupt the conversation with your own spin. They make the pots, let them sell them.

Each widget should allow a personal outcome. That is, offer tools so the user can personalise, add to, subvert, so that it becomes something they actively want to pass on.
Example: The Pampers campaign in the US at the end of 07.

Because your ad is a widget, the user can place it where-ever they wish – on their own profile page on social networks, for example. In doing this they offer their own endorsement and share it with their network of trust – the people they connect with who share their passions and interests.

It is trust which makes recommended-by-a-friend work – not simply discovery (and it is perhaps the trust element that was missing in the friendspam of facebook’s initial poke at SocialAds).

Engagement Marketing:

This can be harder. It’s certainly harder than selling or creating for display space.

First, sort your head.
Start listening. Let the community take control.
Er, and that’s it really. Everything flows from this change in mindset.

Your brand is not your own. It is ours.

Cornflakes are a breakfast cereal not because that’s what Dr Kellogg ‘made’. Kellogg was in fact out to create a food which would suppress your sex drive.
That’s not what the community of users have decided it is!
Lucky for Kelloggs that they chose to allow that development of the brand!

Engagement marketers work on the assumption that they are dealing with converged individuals – people who are rather more than simple passive consumers – of product or message.

An engagement marketing approach would open up the creation of our widget marketing to the community in the first place. A competition with rewards for the person who makes the most-engaged-with widget promoting a brand, for example.

Further, an engagement marketer would be sitting down around the campfire with the community to help decide whether a widget competition was the right thing in the first place.

Simple rules:
1. Put the community first
2. Listen
3. Change

No Marketing:

In this model there is no ‘advertising’ or ‘marketing’ as we have understood it during the mass industrial interruption.
It has nothing to do with supply chains, value chains, or chains of any kind. It is about webs – of supply and value.
It takes advantage of the match between the way in which both the economy and the web work to create extraordinary efficiencies and ultimately greater value.
To take advantage you must create platforms which bring together co-creating communities who share a purpose and offer them the tools of collaboration.

We're getting better and better (and will get better still) at delivering the right commercial messages at the right time and to the right people, by focusing on communities and making use of social data analytics. And perfecting this has big wins for ad agencies, marketeers, commercial enterprizes and media... and this is a fantastic leap forward compared to the interruptive advertising that has gone before.

But the ultimate wins are about people taking control of the creation of the product they want to own.

If a community is involved in the co-creation of the products and services it has decided it needs to call into existence, this has two key impacts.

1. It has the potential to be a perfect fit. The people who’ve been involved in the co-creation of the product or service that results will love it and 'buy' it (that which we create we embrace, as Alan Moore likes to say). They will also rave about it – recommending it to other like-minded people, attracting more with the same passion/purpose to join their niche global community of collaborators.
2. Doesn’t co-creation of this kind imply a perfect fit between supply and demand? What's the need for traditional ads. The community does its own marketing - and it's powerfully peer-to-peer and with all the ramped-up trust that implies.

What is required to make this function?
1. Communities (what makes great communities?).
2. Tools which allow communities to self-form into groups of their choosing around purposes of their selection.
3. Tools which allow them to share and collaborate to produce.

White paper now available here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

For thems that shall not read: Cluetrain: The Powerpoint

You may not have time to read a whole book. You do have time to click through this powerpoint. Go on. You'll thank me for it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The most impressive leaving card in history

Bill Gates is calling it a day.
When I worked in print, when people left they tended to get a mock-up front page of the publication they worked on filled with made up stories about themselves.
Bill's final keynote, at CES, comes complete with a video included here, which shows how far that mock front page can go if you've got bottomless pockets - and all the celeb pals that can buy...

Open sesame: Yahoo joins google

It really is open season on operators.

Broadcasters see darkness where nodes see light

Broadcast - it seems to have an unstoppable desire to play to the lowest common denominator - even when it poses as worthy and relatively high-brow.

Tonight on BBC 1 you'll find flagship news-documentary programme Paranoia, sorry Panorama going for that traditional lowest common denominator; fear. Paedophiles, the internet, social networks, teenagers - connect the dots and guess where they go with this.

It's the same old paranoid nonsense about the web being trotted out again. The web closes the space between individuals to zero which means, when viewed from a dark disconnected world, it closes the gap between a paedo and your daughter to zero. So be afraid and unplug!

I see the world from the connected side - and it looks a lot lighter over here.

So I believe our savvy constantly connected kids are better equipped to rumble the fake voice and id of a paedo than any generation before them.

One click from danger they may be, but they are also 'one-click' (or one sms) from instantly available help, advice, someone to check with, someone to come to their rescue - all their friends. There is more good than evil - everyone who connects seems to work this out for themselves.
Connections make us wiser - ergo the web makes our kids wiser. Unplug them at your peril.

... and hark at me getting all stroppy before I've even seen the programme. And sadly I won't be watching - got humans to connect with instead tonight!

My question to the BBC - are the people behind this programme connected? Or are they whistling in the dark?

More? Dark Side of Social Media.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Video worth a thousand words (...if it's relevant to you)

I was discussing video with a colleague this afternoon - and my fear that all too often our desire for editorial control leads it to becoming a kind of poor man's TV - a broadcast tool which makes it poor media rather than the rich media it gets lazily labelled (I posted about this unfortunate TV envy late last year.).
This video, shot by Jeff Jarvis in April 07, makes the point rather well. It features Michael Rosenblum at the RTNDA conference. Nicely put Michael. Not the highest quality - but monumentally relevant - and that is very much the point.
I'm not so sure about the $100,000 journos, but all those who seek to retain centralised control would do well to listen to the reference to ebay towards the end of this clip.

And you can comment on it - and respond with a video of your own (at least on youtube, where it's from).

Still, I'm waiting for a set of tools to make video truly rich. But in the meantime, handover control to the edge.

Scoblegate? Untwist your knickers!

There is much talk in't blogosphere about Robert Scoble's inglorious boot up the behind from facebook over data scraping.

While it's worth reminding ourselves not to take all this (or ourselves) too seriously (read JP Rangaswami's Applauding Our Own Behinds) I do think it's worth considering why people are getting their knickers in such a twist (if only because I'm one of Robert's 5000 friends - whose email address, date of birth etc have been 'plundered' by the plaxo app he was testing).

Scott Karp at Publishing2.o sums it all up quite nicely, referencing Dave Winer, Nick Carr and Paul Bucheit. I'd also recommend a quick squint at Jeff Jarvis (who in turn refers to Mike Arrington at TechCrunch).

I have two thoughts. First is a response to Scott's post. Scott says the fuss over Scoblegate(tm) serves to reveal a coming war over the control of data.

War implies mighty armies clashing. I think this will end up much more a free-for-all. Perhaps Scoble is going guerilla?
Seriously; what I want is an ID key which opens the safety deposit boxes of my choice. And when I leave that deposit box, I take the whole key with me. You only get to access the data I choose to share while your application does something useful for me. Then I’m gone and you’re back to doing your best to keep the conversation going between us.

Persistent conversation rather than owned/farmed/harvested data will win. The battle, for me, is not about owning data but about owning relationships.

And relationships are not based on what I did last year or even last week. They are based on engaging with me about things I care about, and doing it regularly.

Those applications/institutions/things that are good at that will win digitally just as they do in the real world.

My second point seeks to untwist knickers.
The main force in twisting knickers in the Scoblegate affair appears to be who 'owns' the personal data. ie My name, email address and date of birth is MINE. It is not SCOBLE'S!!!! (followed by much gnashing of teeth, wailing etc)

Calm down.

It's hardly For Your Eyes Only stuff is it? Your dob (and I'm speaking from the UK) is a matter of public record, my email address is far from secret (it's a business one). And isn't it about time we lightened up about email address sharing? I mean, why is it any different from letting someone know your physical address. You can get junk mail at both. So what? Bin it.

Oh, and what was that third element? Oh my gosh - Robert Scoble now knows my name. Call the cops.

If other people (or applications, if you will) knowing this much about you sends you into palpitations I suggest you buy a campervan and head for the desert.

And if knowing this is enough to unlock something meant to be truly secure and personal - go back and redesign your bloody lock!

This paranoia over identity is getting out of hand. We saw it writ large in the UK before Christmas when the Government managed to lose loads of 'personal data'. But that was a load of alarmist tosh, too.

Scoble responds and explains himself.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Perfect Storm: A fourth element?

The Perfect Storm referred to in Wikinomics (and which I believe is really starting to hit this year - see Digital Media Predictions for 2008) has three elements:

1. Technology: The emergence of the new web - a read/write web where every person is their own sovereign node - with all the power and instant global connectivity implied.
2. People: The arrival of the 'Net Gen' in roles of influence.
3. Economics: Globalization.

But I've been thinking about economics recently (inspired by Eric D. Beinhocker's Origin of Wealth. It was recommended to me by Alan Moore.)

I'm starting to think there is a fourth element we must consider - a fourth driver of the storm which may be just as, if not more, powerful as any of the other three elements. My guess is that this fourth element could radically transform the wealth creating ability of the entire planet.

To be fair, this element can only happen by combining with one of the previously defined ones.

It is this: The perfect fit between the economy and the web -
The convergence of two complex adaptive systems.

Never before has there been a way in which people can connect, share and trade which so perfectly maps/fits the way in which the economy itself has evolved.

The web grew out of a series of human needs, to communicate, to create, to trade, demand and supply. So, of course, did the economy.

No one ordered the creation of the web. No one ordered the creation of the economy.

The web evolves. So does the economy. No one is in charge of the web. And despite the impression governments seek to create, no one is in charge of the economy.

The web is about connections. Likewise the economy - no connections - no flow of goods and services.

The web is about people self-organizing in non-directed groups. So is the economy (when it's left to its own devices, at least).

The web creates emerging value from connections. And that's exactly what an economy does - by ( in Beinhocker's view) differentiation, selection and amplification.

Reed's Law (which I've written about at length here) tells us that each time we add a node to a network we double the potential value of all the connections within that network. The economy is just another network.

Beinhocker's description of the economy as a complex adaptive system, rather than one based on ill-fitting ideas borrowed from classical physics (such as the 'laws' of supply and demand, the idea of equilibrium and the long run) reveals it as a hand-in-glove fit with the web.

Perhaps this is why those businesses who have truly tapped into the wealth generating potential of the web have been astoundingly and rapidly successful ($700 a google share, anyone?...
• Google is the “fastest growing company in the history of the world.” – Times of London, 1/29/06).

My contention is that the fastest growing company in history could only happen in the age of the web. It is the fact that the web is here, that it works in such harmony with the economy, that enables such startling efficiency.

I'm not sure of all the implications of this assertion - and I'm extremely open to hearing your comments and criticisms, anything you might be able to build on top of this. You, collectively, have a greater expertise in, well everything, than I do.

What I do believe is that the convergence of two complex adaptive systems makes for is THE single most efficient distribution of goods, services, ideas and the ability to implement them since the economy began. And shouldn't that lead to an extraordinary explosion in value creation?

Given that the economy has always been a complex adaptive system, perhaps it is only now with the emergence of the web that we will see it function to its full potential?

We've already seen the strain on local pricing that the web has caused, the challenge for those seeking to impose customs duties and local taxes... it's easy to imagine a world in which the imposition of tariffs, trade embargos etc, are all but unenforceable.

The web can truly free the economy.

I'm not pretending that comes without problems. It does make the $100 laptop project even more important and it may mean we have to protect those who are disenfranchised from this new web/economy ecology. But if I'm right - it looks like we'll be able to afford to...

Mobile predictions for 2008 - wisdom of crowds-style

Chetan Sharma surveyed a number of mobile industry types towards the end of last year to get our views on how 2008 will pan out.
So rather than my one-man-band predictions for Digital Media in 2008, here's the results for mobile when I joined with 195 other mobile movers, shakers and industry insiders (Chetan's words...) to gaze into the mobile year ahead. You can read the full analysis here. The graphic which sums it all up is from Chetan's blog. A larger version (and others) can be found there.

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?