Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nutcracker Suite played on Bike Parts (for an ad!)

Bike parts, good music, smart advertising. My word, this is the perfect storm of my interests. Goodby hired someone here in San Francisco to create a bit of the Nutcracker Suite solely on bike parts, for use in an upcoming ad for Specialized.

Check out the details and the clip.
Save This Page

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Reccomendation Market: Consumers must get some value

Check out this CNN Money article about the drive for recommendation engines. They outline the concept and list about a dozen different engines and projects to come up with the ultimate tool for suggesting movies, music, books and other stuff.

I completely agree that this is a burgeoning marketplace. The writer pretty deftly connects the notion behind branding with the develop of this software:

We don't just buy products, we bond with them. We have relationships with our things. DVD collections, iTunes playlists, cars, cell phones: Each is an extension of who we are (or want to be). We put ourselves on display through our purchases, wearing our personalities on our sleeves, literally and figuratively, for the world to see.

And if you don't subscribe to this sort of materialism - if you don't define yourself by the clothes on your back or the neighborhood you live in - well, that's just another brand of expression.

In the real world, we use apparent information, coupled with context, experience and stereotypes, to size each other up. This sort of intuition is useful and often accurate, but it's also fallible.

Online, the picture becomes clearer. Consumers now routinely rank experiences on the Web - four stars on IMDb for "The Departed," three stars on Epinions for a Roomba vacuum, a positive eBay rating, a Flickr tag. Each time you leave such a mark, you help the rest of us make sense of all the look-alike, sound-alike stuff on the Web.

I buy that. I wonder, though, if there is going to be a real push to get the value being created by surfing, choosing, buying, tagging and rating back to the consumer? If I put up a solid rating on a product, I generate some value for some company. If I visit 3 sites about ska-punk, SUVs, or the RNC, I've generated some value. That value is obviously used by the observing company, and (soon enough) will be traded on an open market.

The value that the consumer--the actual creator of this value--gets is...better recommendations. Yeesh. What a let down. If I do the SUV site surfing, suddenly a CPM to me jumps from a measly $5 to $75. I think a company could go extremely far by shuffling some of that value back to the consumer.
Save This Page

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Chaos 2006 talk

I'm just back from the Chaos 2006 conference. I have some things to post up, but thought I'd share the text from my presentation.

(at the conference, someone had this clever idea of giving everyone a T-shirt with just "Advertising Is" printed on it and nothing else. Attendees were supposed to answer the question with a permanent marker, and place their creation in a pile. You could then take any shirt that you found appealing)
Someone wrote on an "Advertising Is" t-shirt the following: "Advertising isn't a part of the is the environment." A bit of hyperbole, I suppose (although not much), but let's accept that premise for a minute. I mean, if it's printed on a T-shirt, it must be true, right?

How do we measure environments? Consider the message inside the movie "An Inconvenient Truth". Certainly we can measure individual factors within an environment: the amount of rainfall, the density of glaciers, and the temperature of the ocean.

But if we become wholly factor-focused--dedicated solely to one individual data stream, we will always miss the big picture and never fully understand the environment as a whole. It is time, I believe that we need to face the ad industry's own Inconvenient Truth, and it is that the "Head ON" spot was clearly the most effective ad campaign of the last 12 months.

OK. Just kidding. A little.

Really, our truth is that, although we known that everything done to, with and for a brand either builds or diminishes its value, but our industry is generally not structured to measure in that way. We--as a collection of companies--are hampered by the problem generally known as "who gets the credit". When TV spots air, Web searches go up. Web searches go up, and frequently generate in-store sales. Clearly all of these factors are co- and interrelated. But they are managed by different organizations, and funded from different budgets. There is little sharing of data and significant suspicion around its use.

Here, however, is a humble proposal of how we might begin to get away from this. The company that I work for, Ammo Marketing, has begun implementing this process, but it still is in early development.

The measurement approach begins by accepting the truth that advertising has an environmental effect. SInce all aspects of the environment are connected to one another, moving one (up or down) will have an effect on all the others, and ultimately on the environment itself. The first step, therefore, is to build a model, using all available data that accurately depicts the environment. The short list of potential data sources includes: web site analytics, query volume, buzz data, market growth/shifts, sales data, customer satisfaction scores, call center data and all brand health metrics.

These are all data sources and feedback loops. Before we launch a project, we can build this model and run it for a stretch of time, to get a pre-campaign baseline reading. Then, we launch the campaign and begin to pull in fresh data and--hopefully--begin to see some positive changes in the environment as a whole.

The point I'm trying to communicate is that measurement needs to accurately reflect the world. We have become mired in a world where the PR group measures PR, the search team is looking at search, and the television group is looking at TV. Each one is highly motivated to demonstrate the value they are adding, and are looking for direct, linear connections. That's not reasonable, because they are not necessarily there. This approach requires all players to agree on the model, but if that's possible, then we may be all be able to take a step back and truly focus on generating value for clients.
Save This Page

Friday, November 17, 2006


I'm on my way to this new conference titled Chaos 2006 down in Austin. If you're at the event, say hello. I'll try to post during the event as well.
Save This Page

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune's Uphill Battle

Microsoft has released their Zune player today. The temptation to title this post "Zune to be forgotten" or something is strong, but I'm not going to do it. I certainly am not a gadget analyst. I actually don't own an MP3 player (but think I may buy a used one off a co-worker...I know. Bleeding-freakin'-edge). I trust Gartie and on all things battery-powered and Cardo on all thing Music related.

That said, it seems to me that the Zune's positioning is off the mark. Microsoft is an enormous company, placed in the role of a challenger brand. That's fine. Nike has demonstrated time and again that big companies can act like scrappy players all the time.

But, if you're going to be a challenger, you need to very strongly and very clearly and very immediately communicate your differentiation from the market leader, in order to jolt consumers into moments of reconsideration.

For a portable MP3 player to do that, it needed to either be radically different, or to offer some bit of killer functionality. I don't know that the Zune does either. It seems that its breaktrhoughs are a built-in radio and the ability to swap songs with other Zuners. The radio is sort of interesting, but only in a convenience kind-of way. I can't imagine adding a radio tuner is a big technological feat, and I'm willing to bet that Apple eschewed it from iPods in the same way they decided not to have floppy drives in the first iMacs, or command lines from the first MacOS. It's a clear break with the past, which communicates to the consumer that this is a different sort of device. Why make a foot in the past a major part of a new release?

That leaves the ability to swap songs as the killer app. Oh wait, not swap songs: help Microsoft sell more music. That's right. The technology only allows the swapped song to be played three times on the receiving device. After that, you have the wonderful opportunity to buy they song. This may become the next great channel for music to spread virally, but I doubt it. Are people clamoring for this ability in the first place?

I watched CNN this morning and Soledad O'Brien literally interrupted the tech-biz reporter, who was talking about the Zune, to extoll the virtues of her new, $70 iPod Shuffle. The next time the story came through the cycle, she had gotten her iPod out of her office and demonstrated how cool it was that you could clip it, and essentially un-sold the Zune, and pitched the iPod.

I'm glad there's another competitor in this space. Few things should ever be sold completely by one company. But, if we're looking for an iPod-killer, I'm afraid this one may not cut it.
Save This Page

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Interactive Strategy Template

My ClickZ article this week is all about writing interactive strategies. I've created (and CC licensed) a template and fake case study that you can use and adapt for yourselves and create your own strategic briefs.
Save This Page

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Social Network Burnout Coming

SF Gate has an article today about burnout on social networks. It's totally natural: there's no way that people are going to continue to keep so many profiles going on so many different networks. There's a quote in the article by the guy who runs Dogster (that would be the social network for dogs):
"I think it's been both overhyped and underestimated," Dogster's Rheingold said. Although some lofty expectations about how big of a business it could become won't pan out, "in the end it is going to be so much bigger than what people are seeing now."

How's that for an inherently non-nonsensical quote. Overhyped, but underestimated? That means that everyone is talking like mad about social networks, but...not quite enough? I don't buy that, at all. Clearly, the guy operating in a niche wants to believe (has to believe) that the market will continue to expand to fill in every little crevice. Or, maybe just that News Corp will expand to fill in/buy every little crevice.

This article is pointing out the obvious, but doing so pretty cleverly, by focusing on a handful of burnt-out consumers: we're bound to see a lot of contraction in social networks very, very soon. Social networks are certainly bound to become core to the online experience, like email. But, like email, there's reason to have only 2 addresses for 99% of people.
Save This Page

this belongs in your next PPT deck

why do I find things like this so funny? I may need to use this in some upcoming presentation.
Save This Page