Monday, June 30, 2008

Why traditional advertising won't work in social networks - and what will

Finally got round to doing a slidedeck which I hope graphically demonstrates why traditional ad models are bound to fail in social networks.
It also illustrates the ways messages ought to be released into the wild if you expect them to survive (succeed) in a group-forming environment.
Of course, we don't just form groups in the digital world, but the internet is a more rapidly enabling environment on a global scale than most physical ones. But the two are coming together.

Further inspirational reading:
Here Comes Everybody (now only £8 gah!),
Everything is Miscellaneous.

David Armano
Legendary 'visuals' dude Dave Armano tweeted of this slideshow: Armano @davidcushman nice visuals. Like the happy faces. Social networks are made of shiny happy people (holding hands)...
Who said Americans couldn't do irony?

Eat'n'Tweet: Introducing it and us

A handful of interested/interesting people who have found each other through the power of the network (blogs, twitter etc) are getting together for an informal meet at lunchtime on Thursday July 3. If you've found this you're interested and almost certainly interesting - so you can come too!
You'll find us, on this occasion, at The Couch in Dean St, Soho, London from 1pm (well, that's when I'm aiming to get there).
If you can't make this one, I'm planning one in Cambridgeshire in the near future, too, with colleague badgergravling.
Tweet ups by their nature our generally adhoc and self-forming. I'm just giving this one a little helping hand with this blog post, too.
Anyway, zeroinfluencer asked if I'd do a few intro's ahead of time. The following are links to the individuals' twitter account - where you'll usually find a little bio and a link to a blog or similar. So, here we are (so far...)
davidcushman (that's me)
Also attending: Tim Russell from yospace
Other possibles include:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Social tools in the enterprise. Contradiction in terms?

Just added a new post to /message. All thoughts welcome!

Lessons in co-creation. Ignore them if you want to fail

James Cherkoff shared the June 2008 McKinsey Quarterly document via twitter. The Next Step in Open Innovation (by Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui and Brad Johnson) includes these gems:
  • "25 per cent of Western Europe's internet users now post comments and reviews about consumer products of all kinds."
  • "User-Generated media sites are growing in numbers of visitors and participants by 100% a year, traditional sites by 20-30%."
  • "40% of would be co-creators will refuse to co-create with companies they don't like or trust."
Lesson one: Don't assume co-creation is for the geeks. It's rapidly going mainstream. The majority is no longer silent - it is a participating thinking outloud one.

Lesson two: Don't slap yourself on the back for a 20-30% growth rate in visitor numbers. As Professor Malcolm McDonald reminded me this week, we often fail to look at what the whole market is doing and how we are performing against it. The whole market in this case is growing at a rate of 100% a year. Anything less and you're falling behind, failing.

Lesson three: Trust in your brand is worth 40% of the new value co-creation is unlocking. Work at it, invest in it. Never abuse it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What do you pay for when you use ITunes?

I was on a panel at Digital Asset Management in London yesterday and threw into the ring that perhaps the 'assets' that we aim to manage don't have value (at least not in and of themselves).
I was talking, of course, about the Because Effect. You might not make money with content but you're likely to because of it.
In other words Prince understands that his music is freely shared so he gives it away for free. That which was scarce has become abundant.
The because effect is that more people hear his music and he creates more demand for the thing that he does have that is still in limited supply - live concert tickets/ merchandise/limited edition this and that...

Someone asked, but what about ITunes? People pay for content there - and the success appears to continue to grow.

I don't think its the content we are paying for on Itunes - it is the service (with the experience intertwined in this).
You could go and find the same music freely shared somewhere else. You could. It might take you a while. You could find ways to get it on to your ipod. You could.
But it's all time consuming and clunky.
You pay itunes to take all that hassle away and make the download quick, easy and beautifully done.

Services around the effective delivery of the right content? Now there's a thought for media.

By the way, I've posted this from an I-google gadget (in other words without leaving my google homepage).

Cool little widget. A service I have taken with me on my journey - one which treats the user as the destination. Neat.

What world 2.0 looks like.

If you have the time... appappeal has the links. This image (at least the version here is) is made up of thousands of links to 2.0 apps and links. Roll your mouse around and up pop the logos of web2.0 - complete with links to them.
So this is what world2.0 actually looks like?

Why hits MUST have less value in the networked world

I spoke at Digital Asset Management in London yesterday, on a panel in the morning and on my feet in the afternoon.
I also had the good fortune to hear Professor Malcolm McDonald speak about marketing (a real pleasure - you really should check him out if you haven't come across his work) and to be interviewed by the clearly brilliant Michael Moon - in for the event from San Francisco.

Once again during the Q&A sessions I was involved in I found myself trying to explain the 'reason' why hits MUST have less value in the emerging networked world. I've never included slides for this in any of my presentations. So, I thought I'd better whip some up.

They are shown below (and on slideshare). Your thoughts, as always, actively welcomed. Apologies for the quality - hope the relevance counts!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We're All Publishers Now: My presentation for Digital Asset Management?

I'm speaking at Digital Asset Management in London, tomorrow, June 25.

I'm on a panel in the morning and due to speak, on the topic "We're All Publishers Now" just after lunch - pay attention you at the back!

Please come and say 'hi' if you are attending.

The presentation I'll give is very similar to the one I gave in New York last week at widgetwebexpo - Media Transformative.

Here's the slidedeck for it (below), together with a transcript of my notes. Your comments, as always, very welcome.

Delighted to say SlideShare selected it for the top of its 'featured' list on the homepage on June 26.

The power of the network changes the traditional media model through two key disruptions. First it disrupts how, and by whom, content is created.

Second it disrupts how, and by whom content is distributed. Together these offer an opportunity for the traditional chasm between advertising and content to close. This session will consider how 'media' companies can reform themselves to change both what they do and the way they go about it to deliver products and services which are a better fit with the inhabitants of the networked world.

Slide 2
One of the few images we have of William Shakespeare comes to us not because the artist charged with making the image was selected as the finest of his day, nor because this was the image chosen by Will’s adoring audience as the most accurate or representative (SMS voting of the American Idol variety hadn’t quite hit London in the early 1600s).

William Shakespeare was the most important play-write of his day – and this was a day when the play was THE primary form of entertainment. He was a big deal.

And yet the picture we have of him is… well it’s a bit rubbish really.

The creator was a young man named Martin Droeshout. And while he may not have been possessed of a huge artistic talent, he did possess something more fundamental to his ability to form the rare and enduring image we have of Shakespeare. He owned the brass-plate printing gear required to print Will’s mugshot on the famous first folio.

He who had control of the means of production got to control the information – even if that information wasn’t particularly great.

The information, in this particular case was packaged up in books by the media business and distributed by the media business.

Slide 3
And this remained the case as media revolutions swept through the 20th century – print was followed by audio recordings, radio, cinema, TV.

And the model remained the same, the same rules applied.

Media controlled the production of content. Media controlled the distribution of content.

This was true right up until the arrival of the internet. Even while the internet remained in its 1.0-pre broadband incarnation it was still essentially true – while publishing remained relatively complex and expensive.

Slide 4
But with the arrival of web2.0, with its really low technical barriers and promise of the ubiquity of tools for creating and sharing, the grip on control has been shaken, loosened… broken.

There are new ways for people to gather.

Now we can all sit on the global hotdesk, forming into adhoc communities of shared purpose, sharing and learning in real time on a global scale.

As Stowe Boyd puts it: “I am made greater by the sum of my connections, so are my connections.

Slides 5-6
Who gets to control production of content now?

Anyone and everyone. Good and bad. It’s all relevant to someone.

Social networks are made of small groups of purpose. Groups of people looking at each other – not at you! This is not an audience.

So congratulations on the scale of the gathering - but you have to understand these are an aggregation of small groups sharing separate purposes.

Slides 7-8
Who gets to distribute content now?

Anyone and everyone.

Shared with who they choose, chosen by who wants to share.

Widgets lower the technical barrier of this and make the disruption explicit.

Those twin disruptions are serious for every media business model. Not just for content producers either, but for anyone employed in the business of being the middle layer, the mediator, the middle man.

We now have a way around you!

Slides 9-10
Who gets to control the user experience?

With a print publication we produce the content, we control the distribution, and through our editorial selection, our choice of what to include and how to present it, we control the user experience.

Same applies to broadcast media. The programme maker decides.

But in the digital space that control is lost. Building intuitive user journeys remains a wise investment of time, but we cannot rely on users following our breadcrumbs. In fact, expecting them to is a bit patronising – as if we think they are too stupid to work out where they want to go.

The digital world is formed of discreet units each of which can be accessed from any other and in what ever order the user chooses. The user controls their own A-Z journey. Actually it’s A-Anywhere now.

The old model was based on building destinations and harvesting eyeballs. In the digital networked world we continue to try to build destinations

The new world is a very different place…

Slide 11
If you want to evolve to survive in this world then your first step has to be to live in its environment.

So write a blog and you’ll understand how easy it is to be a publisher, how easy it is to create and share content, how easy it is to form groups of shared purpose in networks of trust, how easy it is to find relevant content and for relevant people to find you.

Build a widget and the process will illustrate that we are all distributors now.

You have to start by trying to guess who might choose to share your widget or be enthused or impressed enough to pass it on.

And that reveals something of the new challenges and opportunities for media.

Slide 12
Think about this in the context of traditional advertising (and by association we'll realise we face the same issues with content, because as we discover over and over again, in this world they are heading towards becoming the same thing).

My first thought, on discovering that I could build my own basic widget through the likes of Sprout Builder (I don't code) and publish it, and all for free, is to consider ways the media company I work for can take advantage of this for low-risk experiments in widget making.

A quick easy option: RSS feeds gathered into an easy-grab widget that users can place where they choose.

In other words, offer a simple way for users to choose to disaggregate our content and make it portable. RSS enables this itself, of course, but grab-this-widget functionality and sharing through the likes of facebook make this a possibility for those who find the technical barrier of RSS still a little high – and I don’t underestimate how many people that still includes.

This extends our reach and (if we limit the RSS character count) it calls those interested in particular content back to our sites where they could be fed in-context related ads. All good.

Slide 13
But what about revenue models integrated with the widget itself?

When I choose to distribute a widget that's been made on Sprout Builder every iteration carries a link back to Sprout. Want to make your own? Click here? Every YouTube video functions in a similar way. And if you have Google Adsense enabled on your site then it will display related advertising, too.

But these models still treat the ad and the content as separate entities. The distribution of the ad message relies on users choosing to view and to participate in the distribution of a separate ‘editorial’ content.

The ads piggy-back on the content that the user actually wants. Perhaps this is a bit parasitical, a little like sneaking in the back door?

Slide 14
What if the advert was the content the user chose to distribute? That makes life interesting, doesn't it?

If ads and content are coming together, and everyone is a content producer now… doesn’t that make everyone an advertiser now?

With that in mind,would anyone choose to place 95% of 30-second slot TV, banner ads and the usual 'creative' solutions on their own (user-generated) content? Would they choose to grab it from where they see it and share it with others?

Slide 15
Take my simple widget (please!); it is an editorialised version of how widgets should be. First – I've decided the content. I have edited your choice, I've been the filter on the way in.

And that's hardly enabling a personalised outcome.

I would have preferred to make it a 'my favourite fasterfuture post chooser' in which you could make up your personal outcome from the full selection of my outpourings. Maybe those posts that get chosen most often would rise to the top of the list the community of users is then offered? You get the general idea.

The widget should allow the user to make the choice: That which we create we embrace. If we participate in the process we're more likely to share the outcome and to actively promote it.

This is obviously true of the marketing, too. I am more likely to choose to display the results of my personal choice of content and my personalised version of that content (or advertising message).

Because that which we create, we embrace (Alan Moore, et al).

Slide 16
It’s worth noting that this works because we live digitally in a community context. It's what the network is all about.

There is little point in me sharing what I think is cool unless I expect you might think it’s cool, too. We do this by sharing within our networks of trust. Just as we share links in twitter or thoughts on blogposts.

There is residual mass media thinking in the notion that you should create a place on the web for people to show off what they have done with ‘your content’ – for example the ‘for everything else there’s mastercard’ campaign - (all those personal outcomes) as if just anyone, any old set of eyeballs, might be interested.

The collective site might not rate your personal take – your friends will.

The real value is in the sharing of results with friends, who will be interested because that personal outcome involves a friend - in whom they are personally interested.

Then if they take the results and create their own personalised iteration, they'll have friends they may choose to share with, and so the iterations repeat, amplifying the original.

This builds on the understanding that the advert transitions into a recommendations. This is most likely to occur in communities of purpose, places where people share cool stuff with others because they believe those others think it’s cool, too.

The receiver decides if the advert is a recommendation – not the would-be recommender (the sender).

Marketing is not done to you, it’s done by you.

Slides 17-21
The outcome relies heavily on three things:
1. A willingness to relinquish control.
2. Toolkits users can play with.
3. Creative users.

2 and 3 are in place. Are you ready for No1?

The people best-placed to make the most effective iteration for their peer group are outside of your control.

Slides 22-26
The disruption to control revealed by widgets brings us back to that really tough question:

If media’s role is no longer about controlling who makes the content, and it’s not about controlling how content is distributed and it’s not even about controlling the user experience, what role can media play?

I think there are three potential plays.

Slide 27
1. Be the thing that’s paid for at the end of the ‘user experience’
2. Be a discreet element of the digital experience
3. Be the menu from which those experiences are selected.

1. Is obvious. 3. Is our default2.0 response: we are the aggregators – the nuancers of your experience. And there’s certainly mileage in this.

Number 2 is the part that we often neglect and it is the part that can be well served by widgets. Create something so useful that users choose to make it part of their own personal user journey from A-anywhere. A service.

And if you can do all three, be the menu, be on the menu and be the meal that’s consumed and paid for as a result, media has a great triple play.

Slide 28
It’s worth us getting our heads round this and perhaps more rapidly than we may have thought necessary. I’m starting to believe the impact of change wrought by the internet has been seriously underestimated while the impact of social networks has been underplayed.

This has much to do with how tools turn from geeky high tech oddities to the familiar items of everyday life.

Slide 29
The telephone didn't make us communicate. It’s a tool for communication. The internet doesn’t make us form groups. It’s a tool for us to do this through.

Yes, the internet is a tool for forming groups.

The tool that is the telephone didn’t change the way society functioned - until it was in the hands of the majority - and until that majority was comfortable using it.

It moved from being an odd piece of high technology to being a familiar tool. We certainly needed the network in place for this to happen. But we also needed a really easy way for us to understand how to use that network - an interface.

Once we had both, everything changed; from how fast news travels through networks, to how widely it gets distributed, to how many bank clerks and insurance salesmen need to be employed (witnessed through the dread edifice the 'call centre'). Emergency services, journalism, military activity, shop delivery systems, politics... you name it, the ubiquity of the telephone as a tool alongside a wide network to make that tool useful, changed our world.

Telco networks aren't a tool, they are the medium. The handsets are the tools.

Slide 30
And social networks are to the internet what the handset is to the wires of the phone network. They are the easy-to-use interface which allows the majority of people to access the disruptive power of the network.

Email 'newslists' and forums may have been with us since deep into last century but there was a reason people who used them were considered 'geeky' or 'nerdy'. You had to be of a particular type to early adopt. They were flat two-dimensional implementations brought with us from a flat broadcast world.

Social networks have been spluttering into existence since about 1995 but they certainly weren't ubiquitous back then. It took lesson-learning and the explosion of broadband to move them into the 'familiar tool' category.

By 2005 MySpace was clocking up more page impressions than google.
This perhaps marks the watershed in the move out of 'geek' and into 'familiar tool' for social networks.

Slide 31
In other words, we haven’t had 15 years of disruption caused by the internet – we’ve had 3.

Social networks reveal to the users the new and very disruptive low overhead cost of forming groups. Easy-to-use social networks reveal this, and allow large numbers of people to experience this, in ways that previous connecting software and technologies could not match.

And as more and more people become more and more familiar with the power of the network through the familiar tool of the social network, so the disruption will bite deeper - the one that will remove the mediators in supply chain after supply chain as new networks form supply and demand webs. It will remove the mediators.

Slide 32
The 'familiar tool' social networks (of which facebook and twitter appear to me the easiest to use and best at revealing its group forming nature) do a different job. They put group-forming at their heart. They allow the user to dial D for disruption the moment they start a group.

How fast does the change happen when ubiquity arrives? I spoke at EPublishing in London in May, where Vin Crosbie gave the keynote.

Vin showed pictures of a London street just before the internal combustion engine became ubiquitous. Streets filled with horses, a transport infrastructure to support all those horses, how far and how fast people, goods and ideas travelled controlled by those horses. 20 years later the horse was all but gone from London's streets. They were filled with cars, buses, taxis and trucks.

What do you expect the pace of disruption to be in the digital space in the 21st Century?

Consider this. YouTube launched from scratch a little over 3 years ago. How differently do we think about TV three years on?

Dr Mike Wesch says 83% of YouTube content added in the last six months is user generated. This accounts for more content than has been broadcast on TV – ever. More than half of teenagers are creating UGC.

We are only a few short years into the real disruption – the one being wrought by the arrival of the social network as a familiar tool.

Slide 33
How many people are familiar with using social networks today?

Among online American teenagers, according to Pew a year ago, 55% were using social networks. Comscore stats in April this year suggested 60% of Latin Americans online use social networks.

40% of US Mothers are on MySpace.

Facebook claims 40% of online canadians use its service, alone.

In the UK, Ofcom found a quarter of 8-11-year-olds already have profiles on social networks. They are growing up fast and they are growing up connected in Total Communities – communities in which to take part you have to create part.

They are growing up understanding the power of self-forming communities of purpose - with a tool in their hands to access it.

They are growing up with different expectations not only of media, but also of business, politics, education and society and their own role within each of these. And this will change everything.

The silent majority have had their day. The participating majority are coming.

Slide 34

Widgets give us a mainline into the DIY distribution element of this revolution – an opportunity to enable and facilitate.

And through this we will discover our place in the new world.

Through this we may adapt to it.

Through this we may earn our place in it.

Wanted: Web Producer with a passion for two wheels

Once upon a time I was the editor of
The guys there are looking for some new members of the team and I'm happy to point you in their direction.

Here's the job ad:
"Got a passion for the internet? Love motorcycles? Want to develop your skills with the backing of a major UK publisher working on the UK’s biggest motorcycling website and the world’s biggest selling motorcycle weekly?

"We’re looking for a Web Producer to join the team producing You’ll get to write, edit and publish content viewed by the biggest audience in motorcycling as well as learning how to create, edit and produce multimedia content.

"You'll be bursting with new ideas to drive people to the website and ways to market the website throughout the internet, whether it’s on social networking sites, video sites, or an entirely new way to reach more motorcyclists.

"You’ll also have the opportunity to contribute to the print edition, travel to bike launches and events in the UK and abroad, and even take your motorcycle licence and test the latest bikes.

"Writing or blogging skills are essential and previous experience in website production is preferable, as is a love of all things motorcycling .

"The position is based in Peterborough, UK.

"To apply, please email your CV and any examples of previous work to"

I'm now collaborating with Stowe Boyd at /message

I'm pleased to share that I've become a contributing blogger at Stowe Boyd's /message.
Stowe and I have met before (in London) and followed each other's work for some time.
But it was after seeing me present at WidgetWebExpo that he asked me to join in at /message.

You can read my first contribution here. It's titled Twitter Isn't About Conversation, It's About Forming Groups.

Stowe's a legend and I'm genuinely delighted to collaborate with him (and a handful of others - look out for their contributions, too) over at /message.

This doesn't mean this is the end of Faster Future - far from it. It simply means that from time to time I'll invite you to join in the conversation at another url. Hope you'll join in?

Carnival of the Mobilists #129

Delighted to say the presentation I was due to give at Mobile Advertising in Brussells on Monday is gaining a wider audience.
I had to cancel my speechifying at quite late notice so decided to share the slidedeck and what I was going to say here.
And that post has been selected as part of this week's Carnival of the Mobilists.
The Carnival celebrates the best of blogging about mobile and is hosted at a different blog each week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

To advertisers: stop targeting, start broadcasting

We're getting better and better at targeting advertising - at sending users messages we think they'll actually find quite useful.

But the increasingly free expression of metadata changes the game regarding the way we 'target'.

Indeed, it may reveal that who-does-what-to-whom in this relationship can and should be turned on its head.

In the process we may have to let go of one of the grand promises of the digital world - that we can target individuals with such precision that they'll always want what we target them with.

In this world of freely-exposed metadata by all parties advertising is not about targeting, it is about making a message available as widely as possible.

Sounds counter-intuitive in the digital age, right?

But it starts from the notion that recommendation happens in the mind of the receiver, not in the mind of the person making the recommendation.
Simpler still: Marketing is not something advertisers can do to people (ie target and deliver at them), it is something people (with the assistance of other people) do to themselves.

A TV advert is a broadcast of metadata. If some of that metadata hooks up with your own then you find it useful. The advert transforms into recommendation in your mind. When it achieves that status you may transmit how useful you find it to other people.

Trouble is, you can't share how useful you've found it while sat alone in front of the TV.

Which is why the best place to broadcast advertising (as metadata) is in a digital social network. Again, sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Banner ads etc have failed miserably in social networks (certainly in terms of click-thrus and/or engagement).

So, let's be clear. I'm not advocating broadcasting any old-style, fixed, centre-out message will get you endorsed by an adoring public.

No. You have to understand that when you are invited into the 'huge crowd' of a social network you are invited into one of thousands of small groups, each one made up of people looking at each other - not at the stage.

Getting the signal right for each of those small groups is close to impossible (hello 0.01% CTR!) - if you try to do it yourself.

So let the receivers' adapt it. Let them shape it so that its likelihood of being passed on within that receiver's peer-group goes through the roof. Who better to put the message in the most effective terms?

Nutshell: I pass things on that I think are cool, to people who I believe will also think it is cool.

If I get this wrong I lose some of the trust and authority I have built up with my group. So I do this with care and judgement. Much more care and judgement than the one-size-fits-all brand-control-driven centre (the broadcaster of a traditional ad message) can hope to muster.

Critically, emotions are at risk. I don't want to look bad to my peers. I'm a social creature. A human being. An ad message is not. This informs my decisions about what to pass on. Data has a hard time understanding this.

By targeting, the advertiser starts selecting where they are going to choose to share their metadata. They are saying they know who the message is for and who will respond best to it.

Fine. But they are reaching the tip of an iceberg. If you allow the receiver to decide for themselves whether your advert is a recommendation, they will take that message with them deep within their peer groups - where iteration after iteration of your message can spawn - where the next generation of receivers are available to decide if the message is an advert or a recommendation for their peers and so on...

In this context broadcast ain't all bad.
We all broadcast our metadata all the time in social networks and mediums - advertisers and receivers all.

The advertiser can't assume they can calculate what it is that the receiver will decide to morph into recommendation today, right now, in the social context they are in. Their peers may be better placed - their current adhoc community of purpose.

The sharing of metadata encourages us to form into groups - communities of purpose no matter how adhoc in nature.

And groups with whom I share purpose are in a great position to spread advertising messages that morph into recommendation when I receive them. They share stuff with me they think I'll think is cool.

Targeting tries to calculate this. It rationalises our preponderance to respond in certain ways.
People, however, can feel this. Which is useful; because we're rarely entirely rational when it comes to purchase (or any other) decisions.

As Mark Earls suggests in Herd - we're post-rational creatures. We do stuff and then try to rationalise why we did it, later. If this were not the case you wouldn't smoke and I wouldn't be overweight.

So, given all this. Why spend the time and trouble targeting? Put your metadata out there - as widely as possible - and hope to be pulled to the people who find it useful, who can shape it to be useful to other people they know.

Messages don't do marketing. People do.

Please, help me on the journey with this one...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Using mobile social networks to target advertising... one day

I was due to be in Brussells on Monday to present on the subject of using mobile social networks to target advertising.
For a variety of reasons I can't make it. My good friend Jonathan Macdonald is going to fill in for me. Many thanks for that.

Still, I'd done all the prep work so I'd rather share that than waste it. Right below you'll find the slide deck and then below that my notes to go with them. It's not quite the real thing - but if it gets you thinking and makes you want to take the conversation in various directions, I'd be delighted to read your comments.

In summary:
  • First we need ubiquity
  • UGC-powered broadcast models and Total Community models require different approaches
  • Viral is something we do together
  • Be ready to give up control

  • Slide Two

First things first.
The company I work for, Bauer Consumer Media, is one of the few media brand owners to sell its own mobile advertising, at least in the UK.
We can do this because we have long term excellent relationships with key operators. Our brands include FHM, Grazia, Heat, Motorcycle News, Angling Times, Mother & Baby, Your Horse, Zoo, etc.
In mobile our best known brand is Eyevibe – the video mobile social network which operates across 3, 02 and Vodafone in the UK.
Selling our own advertising reveals two significant truths for us:
1. A lot of people still don’t know where to start if they want to place an ad on mobile.
Is it with the operator, the agency, the media property, the handset maker even. So just to be clear: If you want to place an ad on any of our properties come and speak to us!
2. We’ve learned a bit more about the scale of the opportunity than most media owners. And right now, that opportunity is small.

  • Slide 3
What that means is that while I’ve been asked to talk about ‘exploiting mobile social networking and user generated content to deliver highly targeted mobile advertising’ the reality at present is that none of us have big enough pies for media buyers to trouble themselves with slicing up.
At the moment we are stuck with selling our services, and the eyeballs gathered by whatever community features we deploy.

  • Slide four
Eyevibe has 350K unique users a month generating 28m page impressions each month.
That may sound impressive, and in mobile internet terms, it is. But it’s not enough to start dicing and slicing for the average media buyer.
We know for example that our core age group on eyevibe is 18-25. 18-25 year olds who are heavy users of mobile internet are a pretty focused group right now. That’s focus enough to offer advertisers without going too much further.
  • Slide five:
One current example: Doritos is carrying out a mobile advertising trial with Bauer. The five shortlisted entries to its £2.5m 'You make it, we play it' competition are being shown as post-roll ads on not only eyevibe but also on Empire and FHM’s mobile sites. They are targeting 18-24 year olds. Users are asked to vote for their favourite and the ad will be aired on TV during the UEFA European Championships.
  • Slide six
Mobile is playing its role in an integrated campaign and one in which the planners have identified mobile as having high penetration among the 18-25 age group.
Targeting broad channels within a mobile social network, rather than tightly targeting individuals within it may be the best fit for today’s media buyer. In fact that’s an approach we are working on with eyevibe – the sponsorship of channels.
In short, it is too early to be deploying highly targeted advertising on mobile..
  • Slide seven
Why is this? Because we are not at internet scale yet – or anywhere near it. It’s more like the mid 90s on the internet. And remember, Google adsense didn't emerge until there was already a good deal of advertising volume on the internet. Ubiquity first, targeting second.
We are not yet at that volume and your business plans for the short to medium term must take account of this.
Pains me to say it, but it's important to understand the reality of now before examining how value will be created in the near future.
  • Slide eight
Now, all that said, scale is coming. Only a fool will think otherwise. Flat rate data is becoming ubiquitous, 3G footprint is expanding, emerging nations are going to mobile first adding billions to those online, search is improving, walled gardens are coming down.
So no wonder Google’s Eric Schmidt now predicts more ad revenues from mobile internet than fixed line in a few short years.
What I'm going to talk about speaks perhaps to the understanding google has arrived at. Google are focused on services – where ads and content meet. They also see a new slicing and dicing niche emerging from location based services.
When we reach scale then we have the possibility to create more value with real relevance. Ads have the opportunity of moving from interruption to engagement – from lowest common denominator to being focusedm useful content for the user.
  • Slide nine
So with that in mind, let’s return to that question ‘Unleashing the power of the user: Exploiting Mobile Social Networking and User Generated Content to Deliver Highly Targeted Mobile Advertising.

Is it right to lump these together? Perhaps not. Here’s why.
  • Slide 10:
I think there are two kinds of user generated content models:
broadcast and total communities.
Youtube and wikipedia and our own eyevibe are great examples of UGC-powered broadcast models.
1% of users contribute. 99% consume.
Let me be clear. This is not a bad thing. The 99% now have something they want to consume, created by that busy 1%. It didn't exist before. It's been carved from that cognitive surplus that Clay Shirky introduced us to. New value has been created.
It’s actually a very good thing if you’re an advertiser of the old school. Youtube, for example has some videos which have been viewed by 1m plus. That’s an audience – and it’s one in consumption mode.
  • Slide 11
What they are consuming is content. And if your advertising model functions in a content way you have opportunities for success. In simple terms: music video to promote sales of tickets, downloads etc, discount vouchers to promote sales of products, wallpapers to promote fan affinities etc.
Users in these worlds soon spot straight-forward 30 second spots though – and turn on them. Yes they are ready to consume content on youtube, but not to be spun at.
  • Slide 12
Simple ad models we are familiar with such as pre-roll etc have a better chance of success if users are receiving something in exchange – your download is free if you watch this ad, for example, seems a reasonable bargain. Just make sure the ad is relevant to the content if you don’t want those eyeballs to simply turn away…
Consuming your ad as a part of their selected experience can work.
There are, for example videos on youtube which reach multi-million audience. eyeballs matter when you have this scale – for branding purposes at least. an ad for a web2.0 conference on a great bit of web2.0 thinking could work well.
The greatest aggregate value will of course be achieved by activating advertising in the long tail in self-formed audiences.
So UGC-powered broadcast models can deliver value and are relatively easy for traditional agencies to understand.
  • Slide 13
Then we have Total Communities, the other UGC model. These are communities in which to take part you have to create part.
Think of twitter. If you don’t create a profile you can’t take part. And if you don’t contribute some thoughts through microblogging you’ll get little value.
These are models which aren’t architectured to be accessible to large consuming audiences – they are for small communities to form around shared purposes and interests – facebook, myspace, secondlife… social networks/mediums.
Itsmy is a fine example in the mobile world.
And in these cases I’m going to suggest traditional ad models will prove less effective.
  • Slide 14
So it may not be a question of using social networks as a vehicle to deliver highly targeted advertising, more that unless you consider different advertising models advertising will simply not be effective in social networks.
In Total Community models ads as content models are king.
Itsmy allows users to choose if they want to display ads, and if they do, they get to choose which ads to display. It changes the relationship with the brand. Now your choice of relationship with your brand says something about you, it’s now your content.
Even in huge networks like facebook and myspace, we know response rates even to relatively targeted banner ads is poor.
I believe this has much to do with the mode of thought people are in when they are using Total Community sites – they are more creative than consuming.
They are also looking at each other, rather than at you.
Give them an opportunity to join in the creation of an ad message and they are not only more likely to respond, they are also more likely to share.
As Mark Earls, author of Herd, says, “give them something to do together”

  • Slide 15
This is at the crux of the idea that viral marketing may be “the key enabler for the success of mobile advertising”.
To be successful viral marketing must follow the rules of a networked world – and they are rules that appeal to people in creative mode, the mode we find people in in total communities:
Speak in an authentic voice (close the gap between creation and marketing)
2. Lose the TV envy (think relevance over quality)
3. Give people tools to make it their own (that which we create, we embrace)
4. Don't bother with urls, links or 'brand messages'. (We don't do spin) If people are interested they will search. Buy the keywords if you want to make it easier for them.

  • Slides 16-18
What it takes to succeed in the viral environment:
  1. A willingness to relinquish control.
  2. Toolkits users can play with.
  3. Creative users.
2 and 3 are readily available.
Number 1 is down to you.

  • Slide 19
  • First we need ubiquity
  • UGC-powered broadcast models and Total Community models require different approaches
  • Viral is something we do together
  • Be ready to give up control

Thursday, June 19, 2008

OMFG! Even when we're looking (hard), we can't see

I was lucky enough to be in New York's Times Square on Sunday. It is the most message-intense place I know in the physical world.
I was there to vist ToysRus for some daddy's-away-on-business guilt shopping.
I've been to the ToysRus on Times Square before - last year when I visited with my wife.
I'm sure I remembered exactly where it was. But I couldn't find it.
I just couldn't tune out enough of the visual noise of Times Square to find what I was looking (hard) for.
Turned out I was stood right slap bang outside it. (About where that A-board is in the picture below).
The wood is so, so, so hidden in the trees.

Which is why I like the picture of the OMFG billboard (left) I took. Dunno what it means in the US but it's pretty explicit in the UK.
A very loud signal, you might expect? Yet no one, no one! was looking.

Times Square is quiet compared to the totality of messages we have thrown at us daily. That's why we no longer see them. But, just like those pedestrians walking by, we are looking where we are going.

Which is where I'm headed with some widget strategy work I've been doing: The user is the destination now.

A rare handful of things are so important to us that we are prepared to look really, really hard for them - like ToysRUs in Times Square. What has made them important is an awesome experience. Think how awesome the Times Square ToysRUs has had to be to achieve this. This is a toy shop. A toy shop with a ferris wheel, giant Barbie House and animatronics dinosaurs throughout. Oh, and a brand...

If you can't match that we won't come looking. Because looking is becoming increasingly Times Square-hard. And if you make us look too hard, we'll give up and go elsewhere. Or ask a friend.

For the rest, if you want your message to be part of our walk through the Times Square of life, you are going to have to be something so useful to us that we're prepared to take it with us and place it where we always head back to, or somewhere our friends will take us by the hand and guide us to.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fred Wilson, Stowe Boyd and Josh Bernoff at Widget Web Expo day 2

The following is simply my notes, made at the time the presentations were being made at day two of WidgetWebExpo in NYC. Lack of wifi made live blogging impossible.

I'll add a little commentary and links later (am at JFK waiting to board for Heathrow at the time of posting). Apologies if it's not polished, but it's the best I could do in the time available!!

Fred Wilson gave the key note

1.Fred Wilson: (Fred blogs at AVC)
Why widgets is the wrong word and why it matters.

"I wrote a blog post this morning and in the process I developed some thoughts. the ppt is available at slideshare.

Fred's powerpoint for WWE:

Fred referred to the widget as defined on wikipedia.

"The words are wrong and the way we are using them is wrong.

"The first i used was in 2005, the flickr badge. Eye opener for me It developed a lot of interaction, people would click through and comment on my flickr page.

"Most interesting widget i have used is the mybloglog widget. It made me realise widgets would do more than just show content, they would introduce new function – that my blog could become a social network.

"My favourite widget is one hacked together by a friend named darren, a frequent reader. we all post music. (widget is on fred's blog) you can fast forward, auto play skip, etc. pulls from tumblr.

"The problems with widgets: what is content and what is ad?
we increasingly are getting trained by google to think of organic results as content and the stuff on the right is ads. that notion of separation of ad is content is something we see a lot of places on the web.

"Widgets get relegated to the sidebars and increasingly viewed in the same way as ads and therefore increasingly ignored.

"Three times I have cleaned out widgets, I posted 'widgets suck' cos most of last year the single most used search term on my blog was 'widgets suck'. I found widgets i liked and then found I needed to clean house and I'd poll people and people said they didn't like the widgets.

"Widgets cause a painful slow down in load times."

Fred demo'd with his own blog taking 25-30s.

"Responsiveness and load time is key to success on the web.

"On my tumblog there are no sidebars. it is delivered inline and a better experience for the user – but these are embeds or feeds.

"I am enamoured with the concept of flow and rivers, we need experiences on the web that are a flow controlled by the user... a river of news or of anything, is more compelling than the more interruptive experience of widgets on my weblog.

"The challenge is how do you get into the flow, with a better end user experience."

Q&A: Stowe asked: "Why don't you come up with a better design for AVC."

"I don't really have any other way to do some of these things – I don't have a way to express my social network any other way, or these flickr photos and put them into the flow.

"Idea that widgets get served like in context ads – gthe only that appear to the user being the ones that suit the content. Less interruptive then.

"Is it just a design issue? I used to have a lastfm badge which showed my most recent songs. I took it out, in my tumblr page there's a post that's autogenerated showing my five most recent songs, in the flow.

(worth noting Fred is delivering a very publisher rather than consumer perspective, by which i mean widgets are not always 'ours'. Fred's are displays of elements of his likes and interests, not ones designed for the user to take and display for themself - to make their own).

"There's a signal to noise ratio issue. the signal on avc is now much stronger about tech and venture capital because much of my 'noise' about other things I'm interested in is now in a different flow (tumblr).

"Generational shift, those born after 1980 are much more fast paced about the way they consume content, they want to get to the answer really quickly so twitter and tumblr are doing well.

"Facebook is taking the apps off the profile and into an apps tab, the fact I've installed an app doesn't mean it should be on my profile page (though it'll be in the river of news...)

"First gen of he widget economy was powerful because it showed we can mash up on a single page. But the user interface needs to change. widgets shouldn't suck."

Chris Saad: “You don't have to consume your friends entire life stream. You post to the world but your friends should be able to filter for themselves.”

Stowe: people are experiencing blogs differently – via rss without any of the widgets.

Fred: "The ultimate power of feeds is to route content to the people who want it where they want it. Widgets can put that content before the right people at the right time.

"People are starting to access the power of rss as plumbing rather than as publishing.

Q what models are making money.
A: widgets aren't, they are marketing system to get to web services.
People say this fb app has been installed 20m times, but then you see the daily active users might be 20K. It's about the engagement of the widgets.

"I want to know how much people use a widget on my blog.

"Web is becoming more intelligent more social and more playful. the most successful widgets on fb are games, social games, with real engagement. 2m a day play one of comps games a day. 12% of worldwide fb reach.

"everything should have some game dynamic to it, it has to have entertainment value even if its just about information.

Stowe Boyd:

Social Meaning In a fragmented world.

"Tower of Babel was destroyed and everyone's languages were confounded and spread out. that's what's going on on the web.
"People are spending more time on the web, less on tv! there's a fragmentation of exp.

"Is widgeting enough to bridge all of this incompatibility, bring together all these social shared meanings?

"Can we have distributed reputation and identity. If I have rep in tech is it worthwhile in politics, can we abstract sociality.

"I am a webthropologist, I am a synthesist, trying to get a big picture view on the impact on all of us, more an art than a science.

social tools and fragmentity:

"social tools have the purpose of creating or shaping culture, not just to make communication more important.

"culture is about a shared experienced, shared context and shared ethics.

"FB and google's actions are being amplified by the herd behaviour. Large population activities can cloud what people actually do with their closest context, down to social scale. There's a whole different set of physics in social groups compared to crowds.

"You can make the wrong interpretations and assumptions, just like we did about subatomic particles.

"Individuals aren't concerned about the fragmentation of their ID. denizens of the web are trying new stuff and setting up accounts all the time. I've recently used brightkite, i used to use plazes, i was just waiting for something new.

"people are curious and looking for new things to do, this playfulness that Fred was getting at.

"They will tolerate and even gravitate towards a fragmented world, it is this willingness to use fragmented identity on the web, they want a porthole here into some other context and they want to show that to someone.

"We can't expect uniformity when there is so much innovation going on. I use, they have devised new ideas which aren't like anything found elsewhere.

"People can propose activities that other people can take on (eg give up your car). I create the activity, it is unique at the moment. You will see this innovation, new ways of sharing in social tools. and we'll see more and more innovation, leading to more fragmentation.

People will do the big things AND all the other little things.

Edge vs Centre:

"The move away from mass to social media is the move from the centre to the edge. here we talk to each other as individuals. not published by a media org. I am an individual having a conversation – and this hollows out the centre and the impact has been enormous.

"The death of newspapers is one impact.

"The difference is that people choose to find their info from people they care about.

"People find it more enjoyable interesting and rewarding to work with real people rather than companies. People can say, I really like Louis Vitton, I really do, not because I'm being paid to, it's a natural social conversation. I express myself through this.

"Ads always come up, what do ads do for us on the web? as individuals? Are they a tax – in order for this to be free...

"Is it possible that they could be supportive of what we do – not just be at best benign.

"Could they support our social tools – I suspect ads will be enmeshed in the social experience – just using them as some kind of ugc is already proving to be more successful.

"Make it easy to share ads, too. I can't reblog ads, I can't share it.
Doing something more with ads, changing the words, making it personal, voting on them, we'll see that in the context of people sharing.

Social = Me First!
"The paradox is that we connect with others, through whom we define ourselves, we have to start by defining ourselves. We present ourselves in one way or another – makes us seem a little self-obsessed but its ok cos we are searching for a reason to be – (psychological self-determination) we are developing our personal identity at the heart of all we do online.

"Sharing widgets, our favourite this or that, it's all part of that. It can be a core way in which we define who we are and what we do.

"Rep and status plays to that (numbers of my followers) etc, I'm defined by my connections. It's about me in the world of other people.

The web is no democracy but it's not a hierarchy.

"It's more like living in a village where your rep and id is not even, some have more than others. We have kin, just not genetic. We have a sense there's a whole world of people we can talk to yet we are broken into language groups. There's 2K languages. English as a second language is accelerating cos of the web. it's killing language diversity.

"David Weinberger said on the web we will all be famous for 15 people.
DW also uses the term continuous partial friendship – deep connections in short periods.

"Long tail changes our concepts of involvement.

"Does the world become a deeper place or do our feelings become shallow. No, I have rivers of information and get to know hundreds of people meaningfully. The long tail isn't just about retail, it's about the spectrum of relationships we can afford.

"Widgets can help this with a low cost of doing so.

The web of flow is huge, but not massive

"We are moving to a web of flow where streams come to you, twitter, friendfeed, new google reader with commentary and sharing, tools which allow us to mediate the web... a stream of sociality.

"It will be a socialised world, not mass media. it has to be filtered by other people – via social relationships. Fred waits to see things come around cos it gets pushed to him. There's a mass impact but not cos its a mass medium.

"Its not one person's decision but 100k peoples considered opinions and thoughts.


EXPERIENCE: we all watched the same TV and talked to each other about it. Now its fragmented. People are doing other stuff. mass media is failing as a primary experience we share. instead socially scaled tools are emerging. The experience at one places will pop up in another context, like seeds in the flowers you give to someone and the seeds falling in their garden.
We adapt to this unequal and lumpy web with different experiences, where old experiences can be re-embedded in new contexts.
eg mybloglog, people tolerated, people experimented with dozens of different widgets.

People crave these novel experiences and our use of it as a mechanism of self expression.


Big brands fear letting go of control!
Stowe: Courage is one of the key skills for people moving from mass to one-to-one. They might have to accept they will get their feelings hurt. At this scale different rules are at work, they have to have same kind of courage, they have to cede control, the control was already lost, the conversations were already happening.
Playfulness is another part of that courage thing.

Get down to social scale.

Stowe: “People departed to the web (from mass media) just as fast as it emerged”

Josh bernoff – biz case for widgets:

You better be thinking about your objectives. In groundswell this is important in any social app.

We had a client called us and said we want to start a community. cos a competitor has.
What do you want to achieve.
There was a long embarrassed silence.
The client had not figured out why they were doing this.

A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other rather than from traditional institutions.
Concentrate on the relationships.

P: People, assess your customers social activities (25-35yr olds are widgeting!)
O: Objectives: decide what you want to accomplish
S: Strategy how will this change your relationship with your customers – people officially declare they are an x fan
T: Technology is last.

Don't think of the technology first and then try to find a use for them.

Widget use in us:
12% used desktop (18+)
17% of 18+ 53% used web widgets (12-17yr olds) has a tool to look at how this ladder looks around the world.

Widget users are highly socially active. they are doing a lot of creativity and use of social tools. if you do create a widget then you can count on its users are using lots of other social technologies too. You won't reach everyone. you reach an elite, a highly influential elite.


research – listening
marketing – talking
sales – energizing
support – supporting
development – embracing

my starbucks – tell starbucks how they should improve.
widgets can do all of these.

listening with widgets – you can get insight, see MuseStorm you can measure the interactions and learn from them.

Talking with widgets: usa today isn't that sticky – it doesn't extend the conversation (just broadcasts rss).

Purina has a personal outcome version which allows you to add a pic of your pet.

Q: “people will not post your widget because they love your brand. They will post if they find something useful.”

(not always true, eg fans).

Widgets can embrace customer suggestions and ideas (bit like digg), crowdsound, salesforce ideas,

Summary: To make widgets work start with your clear objective, measure progress toward that objective, choose technology to meet that objective.

Widgets as Adverts
scott rafer, lookery

Are you trying to get people to click thru? Or enjoy themselves.

New formats are hard sell, clearspring and kickapps have some really expensive sales people – i dont have the margin, we don't pitch the agencies we don't pitch the brands.

83% of US display ads (6bn dollars) sold for under $1 cpm in 2007. on a dollar basis on an impression basis its nearer 97%.

myspace average 9c a 1000 across the entire enterprise.

There are 12bn dollars in us above this of txt ads – and most is google.

facebook has left out search from apps deliberately, so we can't get into that.

Below all this you're into remnant advertising.

We run about 3bn ads across social networks the majority on facebook.

We got most of our traffic with a low guarantee. we said we'd pay 12.5c per thousand on which ever fb apps want to play. Shared this on techcrunch. Within 24hrs loads of interest. we did 150m in jan and 3bn more than that in may.

for this to work you need to find impressions by the truck load.

Later this year we'll offer a guarantee 1c a 1000.

what widgets are actually good at massive data collection. that data is a lot more valuable than the impression itself.

Facebook has closed half of its viral routes, most people are shrinking in there, it's getting harder to launch.

Fraser Kelton; adaptive blue; semantic web type company funded by union sq ventures (fred's)

our secondary product is widgets

everything can be explained by pop culture.
Widgets: if you build it they will come... if we have thing with a grab button everyone will grab it and share it.

you need value for the publisher
value for the browser
ease of replication

the major failure usually is we leaves out the fact that there has to be some utility – otherwise we get very skilfull at tuning it out.

How can you find the equilibrium between the three things.

Value for publisher: Why do I want to put this widget on my site/fb page etc.

1.self-expression – I'm a fan, I'm showing something about me.
2.Additional content – if its pulling in rss, lazy man's update.
3.$ the potential to make money
4.playful/fun building – my bloglog
6.Increased page views – media companies want more page views cos they live on cpm models.
You can have a widget strategy that layers in a bunch of these, provided you keep the other two arms in balance:

Next: Value for the visitor.(browser)
We are good at blocking out items we don't deem the content. sidebar stuff.

Have to get interaction; something to get them to engage with the software, you're halfway to your goal of having widgets to promote widgets.

1.self expression – my bloglog face roll. chance to replace the 'you' picture with the real you.
2.playful/fun to action (shoot the monkey on banner ads, for example)
4.Ego: tap into people wanting to show themselves off – feedburner gives you a chicklet to show how many have subscribed.

Ease of replication

People have focused on this too much. In order to make it effective:

1.1-click installation – don't have pivot points
2.on-page – people don't want to move from where they are – no pop-ups etc
3.customizable – you must allow people to change it to suit a users own background colours etc. issue for people who want to control brand look and feel. ditch it! it's the basics why you wouldn't have a flexible width for sidebars, too.
5.transaction timing: a really big one. if you instal one widget on fb people get an offer of a second. that works cos of context on fb. on the web its where you see one specific widget, so when you try to do the same thing people see it as a negative thing.

Keep 1.2 and 3 in equilibrium (value for publisher/value for browser/ease of replication

We launched widgets a few months ago.

People hover their mouse over images. Go image heavy rather than text heavy.

Give people buttons for installation – visual. changing to logos and images made a big difference for us.

Future of online branding, content and advertising on the web, Jeff Nolan NewsGagtor.

The way audiences are engaging media is changing. They aren't going to media, they are bringing it to them so media, brands and advertisers have to change.

Newsgator works with over 100 media companies. all of our customers are syndicating their content and monetising their content with advertisers.

the best value for getting traffic is to get the people who already visit your site to promote your site.

A site that gets 200k pi, you get 50 placements = 1m more page views. widgets are traffic multipliers.

USA today works as a simple extention of reach. their audience only needs this.

If you are in music you have to be in myspace. it drives distribution and discovery. But you have to know who to seed with.

Media co's see this as a way to also synidcate content to other media sites.

See National Geographic's Our Shot/Your Shot

Danny from Amnesty demo'd Hypercube which makes widgets render as users want them in whatever networks and in an itunes style.
I like what it does, but wonder why people would visit in the first place? maybe widgets are a point of inspiration thing. you grab it when you see it. you don't go looking for it.

Top 10 widget mistakes:
vp marketing MuseStorm:

1.mismatch with your demographics or demographics of where the app is launched to take advantage of social graph
3.spend a lot before you know what works
4.don't limit incentives – push people to your site instead of have them use app (you need them using app for virality
5.Naming may be key if you have a rival.
6.its content that rules, not the brand. utility wins. a better analysis of your category before you develop your widget. try the other rivals.
8.don't bet the farm on a single social network – consider going where your competition isn't provide content that is useful remember whey people post or share – it's the content.


11.don't be self-serving and uber ad heavy. facebook demographics hate that.
12.DON'T LET YOUR Widget go stale
13.don't forget to make your widget searchable.


There are five types of widgets:

gadgets (igoogle)

musestorm wrap them so it can work across all.

preso will be on

strategy questions to answers:

who is responsible (what dept in our biz)
what is the objective (what do we aim to achieve with a widget)
then tech solutions (see josh bernoff preso)
who will use our widgets and why?

its pull marketing. the majority in facebook are staying in there, not surfing – are they like your demographics.

discover how people are using social media, the people you want to reach.
what kind of widgets are best fit for your peeps.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Media Transformative and other presentations from day 1 at Widget Web Expo

I spoke at WidgetWebExpo in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday. Michael Leis was good enough to be live blogging as I did so.
So here's a link to his writing about my presentation.
The slide deck that went with it is below:

I'm also delighted to have found some very nice tweets from the conference floor as I spoke:

mleis @davidcushman rocked the house with "the media transformative" #wwx

Armano @davidcushman just wrapped up a nice preso. I liked his POV that effective marketing happens in the mind of the individual. No hard sell.

stoweboyd @davidcushman is smart. Among other things, he quoted me! #wwexpo

Gentlemen, very flattering - and many thanks.

Fred Wilson
is doing the keynote today (June 17) and I'm very much looking forward to that. Fred sent me a link to a preview which I'm happy to share.

Will be adding more links to this the moment I get a chance!

Here's a summary of some of the many great speakers at yesterday's day one of widget web expo.

Ivan Pope opened the event suggesting widgets are a fundamental change in how we engage with online and noting that June 16 was the 2nd anniversary of the time he first coined the phrase widgetsphere.

Keynote on day one was clearspring ceo Hooman Radfar.

Some highlights:

Widgets are the building block for the social web: they have become the new web page, but they are intrinsically off domain.

When building you have to consider your experience in someone else's web space.

Advertisers are seeing them as a new kind of rich media. Entertainment industry is seeing them as a mechanism to promote their content with a higher engagement factor.

148mm us widget viewers

95% of facebook users add apps

massive adoption rate

Now they must be a standard part of online strategy.

“I don't know of any media company that doesn't have a widget strategy from the smallest to Disney.”

Widgets are not a fad, they are here to stay.

They catalyze the change of the web into more than a platform.

Kinds of widgets:

Phase one youtube and photobucket found what's missing. Youtube realised myspace didn't have a good video service and they found a way for users to add video - as widgets.

This is widgets attacking – appearing on myspace whether myspace wanted them or not.

Myspace got sniffy and battled with the widget makers. Meanwhile facebook accepted them - and open up the facebook platform.

Developers suddenly became welcomed on social networks and opened the door to the open-everything world.

Facebook let us add apps. They called us back if things broke, they allowed linking out! They opened the social context -

  1. developers had access to profile

  2. access to the network of people around them

  3. access to the activity stream, the newsfeed shared widget apps.

opportunity is to create end to end experience, you can visit me on my site which is synched with other social networks... you the url.

Important elements for social context:

  1. you need username and password consistent – open id?

  2. profile – helps everyone tailor app to you. but you are a function of the people around you. (the social graph). this is what facebook is aiming to do – be the centre of it.

  3. Presence ; what you are doing. everytime you do something on the web you are being tracked, you are generating data – so the value is in leveraging the derived data in the network.

Social context: all services on the web will leverage share of social graph. knowing who you are and that you are connected is powerful.

Layered on top of this are derivative services: video, pictures etc – how do you expose your services?

Widgets are emerging as a huge channel to deliver massive services overnight.

Hints and tips:

Think BIG act small: make widgets fast.

widgets are a building block, not a building. so think cross channel.

Need effective seeding processes; really direct people to your widget to increase your grab rates. think about your entire strategy. treat widgets like a first class citizen.

Data-driven focus on user – measure everything then you'll discover how the widget functions in different environment – measure the experience people are having. set goals and try to maximse against them. eg get people to take a quiz. focus everything around achieving that.

Iterate fast.

Repeat different cross promotion, see if you can find the viral loop, the point at which you get more inbound requests.

Study people who have been really successful, comscore200 etc. You'll see common trends so go with what works. Be rigorous about A/B testing. See if adding an image in a newsfeed makes a difference, for example. these are the things that make the difference. study the data.

cross promotion: Make sure everywhere you can you get cross promotion.

Lift your head up, ask are you really creating value. the data is a guide but human intellect is better at spotting the real value – know your user.

Be ready to fail. don't be afraid, assume you are wrong and ready to try new stuff and try it real fast.

social networks have helped us communicate better – this is just another channel, users haven't changed.

widgets have become a fantastic building block, they catalyze open social context, web is the platform. the web is becoming the centre of everything. Think big act small.

Ivan Pope: toward a long term web strategy.

When facebook launched its open thing overnight people only asked for facebook solutions.

But you don't have to second guess where your audience is and when. Widgets can do the work for you.

Widgets carry the ability to replicate themselves.

Widget strategy should look at what your biz objectives are be built to align with those.

We can use the potential of widgets to push marketing into social networks.

Widgets are mirror image of social networks, a vehicle you can use to enter those spaces, rather than an end in themselves.

Why use widgets at all?

alternatives: buying ad campaigns, building big websites, doing destination deals. widgets route around these solutions – diy solutions to carry your network into social networks.

Widgets work because:

  1. organic communication:

  2. viral intelligence; LEVERAGES the intelligence of the crowd

  3. infinite reach: they can go on forever, mutating, growing and unstoppable!

Long piece of string: you can have a piece of string to each and every widget no matter where it has gone.

Ally widgets to other strategies, don't just 'do widgets' don't build in isolation. experiment within a framework.

METRICS: what tools to use?

INTEGRATED planning: cross market,

SEO: and widgets,a huge win for people who get this right – using google juice!

AFFILIATE MARKETING: not just a crude sell this and you get x. Rather by distributing value through a chain that splits and moves on.

BBC Radio people wanted to give producers a tool kit to make widgets to add to their website BUT they have issues over control and management and re brand control, legal issues about what the bbc can do, image issues. The thought of allowing official widgets to go off where they like is difficult for them.

But we need solutions for control and lack of control to be developed at the same time.

Let them go, but always have some control. What happens when things go wrong and we want to turn widgets off. What happens when the BNP has BBC-branded widget on their website?

We needed political cover for management!

We wrap the building toolkit into a set of feedback tools which gave a lot of control points so we could know who do what with what.

  1. legal/brand/admin control given: sign off for adding the content to a widget in first place.

  2. Templates to control the branded bit, the image issue. The org can sign off the identity of the widget.

  3. Getting data back about widgets, giving people access to crunch that data and to use that to .

In publishing companies, lots of people do their own marketing, widget control can devolve that power throughout an organisation or open that control to external orgs with the neccesary controls.

Marc Canter spoke on How to build the open mesh.

We can all be a web celeb. you can promote yourself. plurk is an example of a swarming effect – couldn't invite friends from facebook en masse.

Brad's thoughts: a whitepaper about the social graph. Unless we have a way to centralise the social graph has to be rebuilt each time a new service emerges.

A new kind of server can assemble the open mesh. an 'our data server' implementation of a shared social graph. we have shared data.

Facebook wants to maintain privacy against/data portability.

I own my data.

everything will be/is a url, every person, event, etc

We need to build our own open mesh, there isn't going to be one standard, or one platform, but we need to control our data.


  1. Liveweb: real-time communicaton, conversation, presence, microblogging, streaming, eg twitter, meebo, im, vid conf

  2. Watch: Your friends and content sources – rss, newsfeed etc

  3. Express: yourself via txt media links – publish, upload, comment, rate, bookmark, blog podcast etc

  4. Media Gallery: your media stored somewhere – upload, share, tag.

You are what's important – user centric id

no one vendor

resusable components

two-way api.


Dave Armano chairs and asks his panel to define widgets:

steph agresta, internetgeekgirl, consults in social media pr and affiliate marketting: widgets are microcontent, interacting with consumers that's not a full site.

Ian Schafer: Deep Focus: focused on distributable sharable experiences. widget is a portable exp that lives on a particular platform. web-based apps?

Steve Rubel: edelman digital. “I study internet trends and advise teams, advise clients and counsel them, alk to industry at large. When i think about widgets I think they are the beginnng of the end of something, end of the website (death of the url) web content isn't going to die, but you now have a giant iceberg that's breaking up into thousands of pieces. You have to be able to go where consumers go.

Matt Dickman, fleishman hillard, pr agency. i came from a digital shop. every type of agency is trying to reinvent itself. widget is a portable brand gateway.

David Malouf, motorola. “I also teach interaction design and rich internet apps. Widget is not accidental, its a metaphor for small components that are interchangeable and portable across various systems.”

David Armano: Critical Mass.

Q”: to david malouf – what are some of the similarities and differences you see.

A: mobile interfaces are about interruption mostly, they are interruption from what you are doing, they are moments of tangent. I design apps that aren't interuptive but are on mobile devices.

Armano: I wonder if widgets are ready for prime time, do devices like the iphone help.

Dave ixd: widgets have been around for a while. i think what is different is a richness. now there is an understanding of the information density too.

Ian Schafer, done a lot of work in myspace – re content distribution. Networks are filled with people who want to be connected, so a lot of what we do plays on that community context.

You can wield influence with your friends, we create things that help people ID themselves as influencers, and then reach them. Clients want response fast. we are trying to change that.

Steve Rubel – what's the role of the brand in the community? web2.0 is made out of people, the brand has got to get the peeps from behind the gates. if the brands are going to create their communities they have to be participate.

Rubel: i study the internet for four hours a night and read and obsess, its an education process. you have a lot of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are different from the generation that grew up with the net, they want to do an old way of business and apply it to what is new and different.

armano asks matt dickman in the context of micromedia what is the relevance of an aggregator like friendfeed.

Many people are only just understanding blogs let alone twitter etc. We have to teach them how to listen online. friendfeed allows you to aggregage (looks like my typing made up a new word here, but I kind of like it so I'm going to leave it) all of these things in one place.

Armano, back to companies listening. ff is aggregation and distribution. Can we use portable formats to listen as well.

Rubel: listening and talking is a means to an end. distributed content works where brands and users have a shared outcome. trust in peers is ever rising. ff and services that will follow after allows you to see what your trusted circle is saying. if you can find that it's huge.

Steph: what is the role of people building reputations online

“I'm always impressed by someone like zappos, a company, top down from ceo, they are using it for customer service. a lot of it is about personal brand building. Tony goes to a lot of events, they are fuel for the social media world. this trusted group of friends is built stronger.

I don't just do twitter, I still do facebook and flickr.

Rubel I suffer from shiney object syndrome. it's very easy for the clients to come in with a notion that they want to focus on one site or one tech only.

Get Me One Of Those! We hear a lot of that.

Look at the trends and look where they are in your audience. 6-20% is creating content online. Take a look at social layer on top of search, then you are into big things.

Steph: I do think there are certain personalities that do better in an environment. you have to have a good product.

Matt D: I live in cleveland ohio, 10 years ago what would be the opportunity for us to meet. I've known these people online – that level of brand building is through the content you are creating.

rubel: don't think too much about the tech or tools. secondlife was web2.0's vietnam.

don't think of it as widgets and social networks and aggregation and video, its how they all connect up.

in five years you won't buy from amazon, you'll buy from which ever site you happen to be on and pop open the relevant widget along with recommendations, chat with friends about them and make the purchase.

Panel ends

Michael Leis:
Emerge Digital

For agencies, frequency's the thing.

widgets are all about little ways to make your life easier.

Clients get back insight, the metrics show you who people are and what their lives are like.

Associating the brand with the moments that make a difference – lots of little pings to audience.

What do agencies get? Ownership of an entire channel! at the heart of where the brand and users connect in real time. essentially its own network.

We think of it as the brand as a platform, todays most popular sites are all platforms, the website sits on that, blogs, widgets and mobile all feed off the same base.

The risk is the possibilities are endless -loads of great ideas which require loads and loads of budget and then they run screaming.

So keep it simple and start with a one-way comms model.

give core users promotional tools , they are early adopters and give them a way to share your brand. it empowers them, the people who really like your content can do something with it.




means to branch out

who are the people we want to reach?

what content can we use to reach out with them?

you learn when core users are online, what channels they are using, and how often they use computers...

GoGo, bringing wifi to aeroplanes:
we thought our audience for the game to promote this would be in facebook but our biggest engagement was in hi5 and friendster. You find out the metrics after launch. the goal is to get the metrics.

University of Illinois (Chicago) 8000uu and 22mins/users a month and all sponsored.

In version 2 we then try to take those points that have pain and stop insisting they visit our site. widgets are new ways to reach out to them. conversion, registration, sweepstakes, online tools.

artefacts of personality traits:

widgets can show what you are. virtual gifts, mini-apps on social networks. apply new coding and new places...

eg Miller; platform for bartender education: videos and quizzes with prizes. we rewarded them with a facebook trophy that can live on their profile. this pivots the social graph that already exists. Viral without having to constantly refresh content.

Darkhunter facebook app – a quiz, how much do you know about dark hunter. in 6hrs we had 4000 users. In 2 hrs the amazon book rank for pre-sales rocketed. we gave a context and they came together and set up their own groups, too.

Level 3:

utility: how can you make it work for your audience in the context of your brand; integrate with existing apps; browser communicaton, outlook and appointments, PDAs (good on the enterprise side).

service: with this tech you can bring audiences new experiences they wouldn't otherwise get.

fill the need that isn't being met for my audience – how can I program for it; itunes. itunes took a simple thing to catelogue and play mp3s. ecommerce version looks just like it.

eg Nike ID system; they looked at what their users do: they run with ipods, graphs your run.

Widgets can then inform your other channels, you now know more about the exact preferences and behaviours of your audience. you can zero in on where your people are really at. creatives get their scripts written by the audience – by the audience' behaviour.

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?