Tuesday, February 28, 2006

SF Power Out! Cafe Blogging Today/AT&T Delivers...what?

Well, the big storms have hit San Francisco, taking a whole lot people off the grid, including your's truly. Luckily we have great spots like Muddy's, a cafe here at the southern end of the Mission with free-WiFi. Thank you! I'll be here for a while, I think. I understand close to 30,000 people are without power today.

Speaking of being in the mission today--I'm in the shadow of one of their new billboards. AdRants pointed out the apparent preposterousness of this outdoor campaign, especially with a billboard that has "Blogging Delivered" on it.

The version of the campaign that seemed to pick random Internet 2.0 style keywords and place them on a billboard was enough of a stretch. As AdRants points out, it doesn't even seem that AT&T had much of a sense of what a blog was, let alone what gave them the opportunity to claim credit for "delivering" it.

But, here, in the shadow of Muddy's, I've got one that says "futbol" delivered (this being a predominantly Latin neighborhood. Last night, I saw one that said "close friends" delivered. I gotta call them on this. One of the big mistakes that brands make in campaigns (it seems to me) is to over-estimate their importance to a consumer. They do this, and it looks like the brand is focused on itself, grandstanding and trying to hop on a bandwagon. Definitely not a leadership position.

AT&T is an enabler brand: they help to make experiences happen. They are not the experience themselves. This is what MasterCard so brilliantly nailed with the priceless campaign. AT&T needs to shift the spotlight away from themselves and back onto the experience itself. Or they simply need to find a way to actually deliver blogging (like sponsor someone interesting to blog, say). But simply claiming credit for some buzzword? That's not going to cut it.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Google Calendar Rumors Heating Up

"The World's Information", remember is a pretty broad net to cast.

Google's mission statement to organize the world's information usually makes people think about all that public content. But, really, it also includes all of your own personal content: email, photos... stuff.

Mathew Ingram points out that one enormous category of content that is not currently organized by Google is dates, appointments and events. Google Calendar, where are you?

The question has to be: "what specific value does Google-organization bring?" They seem to have good solutions for email and content in general. How will they makes calendar information organization any more valuable?
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

NPR Weekend Edition: Baghdad Girl Blog

Did anyone catch Weekend Edition on NPR this past Saturday? Anchor Scott Simon found a blog run by a girl, living in Baghdad. He tells the story and makes a connection in a pretty profound way. At least, I certainly found it moving. Take a listen.
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Friday, February 24, 2006

What is/was the Metreon?

In 1999, Sony opened up the Metreon, here in downtown SF. Anyone who's visited the City for a big conference (like Macworld) is probably familiar with this...thing. It sits just behind the Moscone Center and next to Yerba Buena (an absolutely fantastic urban park). It has some stores, restaurants and a big movie theater--but its not a mall. It's an urban entertainment destination.

Only its not. Its a mall. A badly designed one at that.

The Chron's David Lazarus has a great story today about the sale of the Metreon (by Sony, to Westfield), and it really exemplifies what happens when a breakthrough idea goes into committee. The original vision (as described in the article) was a sort of retail/entertainment wonderland, with unique experiences clearly intermingled with shopping and eating. This was certainly how it was pitched to us, as it was being built.

But as soon as you got into it, it was confusing. There seemed to be stairs going every direction, with some interesting and cool stores seemingly stuck out in the middle of nowhere. There were attractions, but it ended up that you had to pay to go through them. There was the movie theaters (which are actually quite good), but that was clear at the top of the building. No reason to do anything other than buy tickets, go to a movie and go home.

Ends up that the movie theater is the only successful thing in the building. Actually, its an enormously successful theater. It just happens to be sitting on top of a confusing mess, which I'm sure will soon be filled with Gap and Hot Topic stores.

This is a good story, though--about what happens to ideas. Any authors out there?
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

P&G Tightens the Roster

P&G has cut a few agencies from its approved roster, and added a few more. You can check AdAge for the list of agencies. There's no reasons listed, but its clear that Critical Mass was able to get themselves inside the Towers without even being on "the list".

The notion of the approved list has always been a bit troublesome. Its hard for an agency to devote resources to pitching to get on a list. They're doing work not to win business, but to win the opportunity to win business. And, really, what is the point of a list if non-list agencies (like CM) are still able to get in the door? Plus--there is so much partnering and sub-contracting that it seems like trying to boundaries around a fog bank.

This is, of course, not even considering the definition of an Interactive Agency. Lots of traditional agencies are very comfortable building Web sites. So--congratulations to those on the list, but one really has to wonder what it actually means.
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SBank invests in Asain Citizen Journalism

Softbank Ventures has given $11mm to a Korean citizen-journalism site called OhMyNews. It's certainly not a huge amount of money (not that I'd say no to it). But it certainly is a good reminder that the nature of interactive journalism is not US/Europe based. The CEO recently said:

“You have made one-way journalism into two-way journalism. Citizens are no longer spectators. A new era has begun in which regular citizens can become reporters whenever they so desire, and by doing so contribute to public opinion.”

Pretty clearly a universal concept. In other Asian news, I also found on Business 2.0 that more than half of all white-collar workers in China's biggest cities keep a blog.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BuzzMetrics is now Nielsen BuzzMetrics

The deals have finally closed: BuzzMetrics is now officially Nielsen BuzzMetrics. It's a bit of a complex story, but the company I work for is now a complete integration of BuzzMetrics and Intelliseek, under the mantle of Nielsen.

All of this means that NBZM is now a solid leader in this space, not only in terms of people and practice, but also technology and leadership.
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Interactive Agency SuperGroup Launches

Publicis has gathered some pretty bright stars together to form Denuo, an interactive-ideation practice. The goal is not to be another interactive agency, but rather (in the words Nick Pahade): "We want to get back into the business of being paid for idea generation."

Certainly good work, if you can get it. I imagine that the idea-marketplace is beginning to re-emerge. There was a lot of work in idea-creation in the late 90s, but that crashed quickly, giving way to the Accountability Era (which we're currently in). But now, with a solid base of successful campaigns (using things like rich media and targeting), there may be a little room to do Blue Sky thinking about how technologies can affect brands and marketing.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Tour of California CGM

3 days into the race, 1802 photos posted on Flickr.
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Starbucks Moving Content Unit (yes..."Content Unit)

(via Paid Content)

The lines, they are a'blurring...Starbucks is planning on moving its content unit down to LA (from Seattle). The content unit, evidently, will benefit from being closer geographically to the studios and record labels. I think they'll also benefit from being closer philosophically to those companies. Last year, Yahoo! opened up a content division down in LA, and its presence very clearly communicated a level of committment to blending what they do with what Hollywood does. It's an old story, right? Go to Hollywood and get discovered...they won't come to you.

The move, therefore, definitely speaks back to what is becoming a recurring theme: the dual-purposing of a product distribution channel as a media distibution channel. Already we've got the Starbucks retail store devoting some shelfspace to CDs. They've experimented (unsuccessfully) with magazines. But clearly they understand the cross-over of their product and media. After all: theirs is a product that is designed to be enjoyed slowly and thoughtfully.

So: when will the trend go bigger? Ever? Clearly music labels marketing departments are thinking about Starbucks in a similar way to how they think about Rolling Stone. We'll need to watch the annual reports from Starbucks to see how revenue from advertising grows. Hey...it worked for Google, right?
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Owning the Channel: On-Pack Magazines for CPG

I wrote in ClickZ last week about marketers owning their own channel (self-link; mea culpa). There's a story today that's definitely in that same vein: a company is launching that's putting mini-magazines on the side of soda bottles.

In the past, I've met with people at CPG companies who have noted that their product-distribution network is larger than any media companies. The problem was always what do to with it. This is certainly an interesting solution. There are a ton of questions about whether publishers want to create content this size, whether consumers want to read something this size, and how the whole pricing model will work.

The company evidently has been testing and refining this for a while now, so they may have these issues sorted. The idea, though, that the product channel is being leveraged is very cool, though and certainly points to new ideas.
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Consumer Generated Product Placement

Umm...this guy is offering a unique ad opportunity. Pay him and he'll take a funny picture of himself and your product. Evidently, there is still some room left for innovation.

(via Metafilter)
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Not Death of TV Ads--Shift in Their Purpose

Scott Karp, over at Publishing 2.0 is rapidly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. Today, he's got a post about the Death of Television advertising, pointing to a new Coldwell Banker campaign which is focused on bringing people online, rather than into the branch.

Scott writes about value draining from TV and onto digital media, but I think there's another angle. The TV ads are actually, in this case, still highly valuable--as an invitation to a relationship. Negotiating the relationship, of course, is better handled online (the medium is interactive, right?) so that's where the focus should be. TV ads are not becoming less valuable. They are simply shifting away from the center of the marketing universe.

Consider Coldwell's situation: they are focused on the home buying/selling market. They are an established player in a world where companies like Zillow are bursting on to the scene, complete with stacks of ads for mortgage brokers, realtors and more. They need to cement their relationship with their audience and demonstrate why an established player is a good choice. Blending broadcast (which connotes size, status and stability) with online tools seems like a savvy strategy.
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CGM: Cyclist Generated Media

It's cycling time here in California. Yesterday, the AMGEN Tour of California started, with a short time-trial from the waterfront to the top of telegraph. This is a photo I took of American Bobby Julich in the last 200 meters or so. He finished second, just behind Levi Leipheimer.

What a great day, and what a huge crowd. One of the truly fascinating aspects of bike racing is that it happens on the streets: there's no admission fee, no reserved seats, and no restrictions on recording the event. Take a look at the crowd in the background, behind Julich: I count 10 people, 4 of whom are taking pictures (not even counting the guy with the camera on his back). In my little sample, that's 40% of spectators creating a record of the event. Certainly there is going to a lot of photos taken by professionals, but that pales in comparison to the amount of citizen media that's generated by this event.

It's no wonder that cycling.tv (the reason the Internet was invented) sent out a note over the weekend to local cycling teams and clubs all around, requesting videos of local training rides. Assumedly, they'll find the best clips and post them up. Sounds like good watching for me. Welcome to the long tail.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

CPG Manufacturers: Use Online to Forge Relationships

Great article on DM News, Outlook 2006: CPG Marketers Find Web is the Place to Build Relationships. I certainly hope this happens in 2006. I've been in this camp for a long while, arguing that building loyalty is the core interactive for CPG manufacturers, and that building loyalty is the only business driver that really matters anymore.
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Pew: Understanding Social Nets for Marketers

There's a report from Pew called "The Strength of Internet Ties". It was published last month, but today's article in iMedia brought it to my attention. What specifically caught my attention was one of the authors of the report said:

We found that the internet plays three important roles as people seek help when they face important decisions. First, the internet helps people connect to others who can offer them advice and support. Second, the internet yields information that allows people to compare their options. Third, the internet is seen as a source where people can find experts to help them work through all the information they find. If marketers find out how to tap into one of those three realms, they could prove helpful to customers.
Well that makes is abundantly clear. People using the Internet--computers really--are not having solitary experiences. A while back, I was working on a project for an online photo site. We did a good amount of research and very clearly realized that sharing was the killer app. People like being able to organize and archive, but the real juice comes from sharing. Not only that, sharing is the pathway to revenue for the company: the service is free, but they charge for prints. The more people that see a photo, the more chances the company has of a selling a print. At some point, profits-on-prints starts to skyrocket: the cost of maintaining the print stays static, its reveneu generation heads to the sky.

So, in this case, both the consumer and the company had the same core motivation: inject the notion of sharing into everything. It's been noted that Amazon's primary directive is "every page sells". In this case, it was "every page shares".

The idea, though, is ripe for spreading. I see (via TechCrunch) that there's a new FireFox plug in that puts a permanent buddy-list into your browser. Great. There should be a permanent buddy list in everyone of your applications. The idea of social connections should be applied to every single application. OK: Maybe sometimes it won't fit (like Solitaire, maybe) but there are more places that it will.

Consider this: one document is passed along a team. Every person who touches it gets added to a registry; whenever that document is opened, word pops a pane up that has all of those people listed, clickable to chat or screen-share. Same thing for a spreadsheet. Potentially, you can publicize some section of what you're working on and find others tackling a similar problem. A dynamically generated workgroup.

The biggest trend in computing (this year) is clearly the notion of networks. Will they be held inside of distinct applications? Maybe. Or perhaps we should not worry so much about whether or not Google is going to launch an OS and consider whether or not LinkedIn will.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Visualizing Mobile Networks

A company called Indiro Technologies is beginning to offer a system that enables mobile phone companies to map their call traffic into social networks. Fairly fascinating stuff. The company's site offers a page that hints at another way for telecom companies to value their customers, based not on usage but on connectivity.

This is an interesting twist. The telecom model certainly is interesting. Indira is hinting that, if you identify a certain person as being influential, s/he is more valuable. Assumedly, you would adjust either products or pricing so that your service is more attractive to him/her.

What if you applied this model elsewhere? Imagine if the price of a song on iTunes was based, in part, on my Technorati profile. If I have a proven track record of posting, recommending and influencing music tastes, I might get a better price.

As "influence" becomes a more measurable, trackable number, this approach certainly has hypothetical possibilities.
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Sopranos to Use GoogleMaps in Promotion

When Google Maps launched, it sparked a wave of innovation, as people began to both mash up the service with other sites and just build on top of it, via the API. Advertisers, never too shy to hop on an already-speeding bandwagon, began to wonder aloud how they could use GoogleMaps in their campaigns. This was especially true of certain wide-eyed columinsts ;-).

Well, there's news today that it has finally happened, in a significant way. HBO is going to use Google Maps in an upcoming promotion for The Sopranos, reports AdAge. This is a very cool idea: part of the allure of shows like The Sopranos is that they feel very real, blending elements of the real and the imagined pretty freely. Plotting significant spots on the maps seems very much like an online version of those walking tours of cities, based on televisions shows. There's been a "Seinfeld Tour" of NY for a while, for example.

This also seems like a particularly good tool to provide to the community of fans. We know that discussion around these shows is rampant and focused. Woe to the producers if they ever have a storyline that has one of the characters moving between two places without enough time. Some blogger will plot the points and cry foul...or declare there's some other, more devious explaination for events.

In any event, this is good, not because it uses some cool, relatively new technology. It's cool because it really demonstrates a way of thinking that says "we are looking to more deeply involve you in the story", which is really a way of saying "we're building the brand".
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Congratulations Edelman & Rubel

Edelman has hired Steve Rubel.

Steve deserves his spot as Top Ad Blogger, not only because he's super smart and deeply insightful, but he is also an absolutely great person. He is loaded with integrity and focus; I'm always happy to have him on a panel or in a discussion.

I'm glad this article came out as well: in it, Steve admits that he starts blogging at 4:30AM. I finally understand how he gets all that content up!

Best of luck.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Yahoo Buzz Log Goes for Complaints

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Atkins Tries to get away from...Atkins

Brian Morrissey wrote about a re-launch of the Atkins site. The trouble of course, is that they are saddled with a brand that doesn't have a whole lot of appeal right now. They are clearly looking for a way to continue to have the brand Atkins stand for healthy living/eating. The marketing chief notes that their target audience doesn't even necessarily follow the Atkins diet.

So: the question is how do you evolve your brand away from your core product and toward a more sustainable, conceptual position? Certainly Atkins is not the first diet to rise quickly and then fall from favor. The phrase "fad diet" is deeply in the culture's lexicon.

Atkins is potentially going down the right path, by adding the concept of "Advantage" to the brand, and shifting focus from dieters to the broader segment of heathy living/on the go people.

I grabbed that graph from BlogPulse, and I think it shows an interesting phenomenon as well: notice how Atkins and South Beach both rise in tandem around holidays/resolution time? This graph doesn't show this, of course, but one can easily imagine that a lot of that discussion is among people saying they are moving from Atkins, to South Beach.
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AdFreak similarly confused by Visa

Good to know I'm not alone in my confusion over "Life Takes..." AdFreak points out the connection between odd eating habits and using Visa.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yahoo improving RSS?

Well, a day after complaining about RSS/blog reading interfaces, I see an improvement on My Yahoo. Seems like they are grabbing the icon for the blog and have this nifty mouse-over feature: hover and you get the first few lines from the post.

That's a good thing. Yahoo is doing a lot of work bringing RSS to the world. There's still a long way to go, but I like this improvement.

YEESH! I'm blogging about RSS reading technology. If anyone asks, I'm channeling my inner-Steve Rubel.
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Visa Repositioning....I don't get it

I'm going to cry no-clothes on the new Visa positioning. In the abstract, I thought the campaign sounded good, although I'm a little hard pressed to think why "everywhere you want to be" needed to be changed.

But I see the executions and have to admit that I don't get it. One caveat: I haven't seen any broadcast spots. But the outdoor and the online leaves me stumped.

I've got a banner on Yahoo! right now that tells me life takes "posers"--complete with a photo from the prom or wedding or something. Five women pucker up in over-dramatic kisses.


Apart of the total disconnect from anything having to do with using a credit card, I don't know that anyone would want to be classified as a "poser". Plus--the ad offers absolutely no incentive to click through.

The Visa company is built upon the intelligence of smart marketers. I've written and spoken deeply about their phenominal ideas happen campaign. But this corporate branding? I just don't get it.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but I am going to start watching for this campaign to either correct its course or get pulled.
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Cool Widget

Co.mments.com has a new bit of software that allows you to keep track of comments and conversations all in one place. Worth checking out. I'm starting to spend more time posting comments on interesting blogs as a part of my overall participation in the conversation. Being able to watch how these conversations develop seems like a good idea.
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Book Recommendation Engine/Affiliate Model

I just came upon What Should I Read Next, a search engine that allows you to put in the last book you read (or any book, I suppose) and get a list of recommended books to read next. For example, if you recently read Martin Amis' Money, you would get this list.

Of course, you can buy the books from Amazon, directly from that list. Take a look at the URL--it has the code "wsirn-20" in it, which connote that the site is an "associate", a part of Amazon's affiliate program.

Good for them. They've isolated a bit of functionality and used it to drive their own business.
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Cable TV Model Broken

Or so claims the Red Herring. I tend to agree. The cable industry is fighting the idea of a la carte channels, of course, because its clear that subscriber-bills will go down. The latest won't-someone-please-think-of-the-children (WSPTOTC) reasoning rings pretty hollow: breaking up channels will lead to the end of avant-garde programming. Riiiight. They're suddenly concerned about independent film-makers.

The truth is, the digital-evolution of content and services like Google Video are pushing fringe-offerings. Plus, the availability of very specialized content online is a huge opportunity (let us, again, thank the Gods of Television for www.cycling.tv. Thank you).

I do wonder, though, about the government's moves in regard to cable. I mean--what do they care? How come the government is so concerned about us having good TV? To be fair, this is a big, popular industry--and it warrants care, observation and (potential) intervention. But it also is not a real-necessity right? Its not heating-oil.
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More Worries on Blog Readership

Another poll has been released today, this time from Gallup, hinting about a slow-down in the blog phenomenon. From the study:
...one in five Web users read Web-logs, or "blogs," either frequently or occasionally. Though this translates into 40 million readers, it relegates blogs to the bottom pack of Internet activities...
There are a two well-established thoughts that the blogging community tend to rely upon when these sorts of numbers come out: People don't necessarily know they are reading a blog; the interface for blog-reading is miserable.

The first one is absolutely accurate. We continue to see the growth of blogs, despite an apparent awareness of their presence. Consider the graph above. The blog Engadget got a nice, sustained boost right around December. OK, they pale in comparison to CNet, but I imagine Engadget's operating and traffic costs are also a fraction.

So, clearly people are reading blogs, but I have the sense that they are coming to blogs not because of their format, but because of their content. That is, its less interesting that Engadget is published multiple times a day via a socialized technology, and more interesting that they have a good review of some MP3 player.

Asking the question "do you read blogs" may be totally irrelevant. The answer most likely is "no" (as we see in the data). But to see that people connect with and consume the content found in blogs is important and probably not catchable with a survey.

As for the interface. That's a whole 'nother story. I will admit that I have yet to find a good way to read blogs and RSS feeds.
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Friday, February 10, 2006

"A now, a word from some guy with a DSL connection..."

I don't play video games. But if I did, I think I would listen to these guys for reviews. Two kids have created their own video game review show, the first episode of which is up on Google Video.

The camera-work, I should note, is pretty bad. I thought they were going for a sort of NYPD-Blue type effect, shooting with a handheld camera. But really, I sort of think they just not sure what they're doing.

But: they are broadcasting their opinions for all of us to see, giving insight and feedback on the games that they are actually buying, playing and recommending to their friends. We can assume that Nintendo and the rest are listening.
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nothing Succeeds like Success, and other WOM truths

Interesting article today on the popularity of music. The results of a new study showed that, when people are aware of what others consider to be good, cool or interesting, it propels that thing to popularity. The experiment was around 'hit' songs. A group of teens were given access to a music download site with a selection of songs from unknown bands.

The group was split in two: one group could see the choices made by others, the other group could not. The song that ranked number one on the communal site came in a dismal 40th on the individual site.

Amazing, the power of influence. It's been said that some products are hits because of the marketing. That may be a thing of the past. The next wave will that things are hits because of their public endorsements.
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Gallery of Limited Edition Candy Wrapper

(via Metafilter)

I just love it when we see evidence that marketing tactics do in fact have some impact on consumers. There is a Flickr gallery of one person's collection of limited-edition candy wrappers. There is certainly a bit of irony here, but this person clearly has an affinity for the moves made by marketers to get Shelf Pop (that magic quality that makes one package stand out from the rest).
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A9 Exec Leaves for Google: Bezos on Chair-Throwing Watch

It looks like the Google team continues to grow. When Amazon's search engine A9 was launched, it felt like it was built on the brains and determination of one guy: Udi Manber. There's news today that he has decided to move to Google.

A9 is a particularly vexxing. It always seemed to me that A9 was a cautionary, protective move by Amazon. They clearly depend on traffic from search, but they are also a search engine in and of themselves, for products.

But the question has always been "what exactly are they going to do with this thing?" The departure of Udi is interesting. The opportunity certainly exists to try to break into the top tier, but you have to be ready to commit serious resources. Where they go now, without their head, is going to be key to understanding what Amazon's long term search plan is.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another Job post for WOM expert

New job listing today on Craigs list, looking for someone who "can create buzz" The ad itself is a unique challenge:

Word of mouth. Water cooler conversations. Getting people to click on a link from the article's four word title...

If you're not sure what I'm talking about then please don't respond to this ad.

If you do know what I'm talking about then respond to this ad in a way that shows me!

Sounds intriguing.
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Monday, February 06, 2006

Help Om! (cool polling widget)

Om's trying to decide whether or not to buy a new Mac. You can help him here. I have to say, I like the little polling widget he's used. You can create your own here. This may become a new part of the Steinblog offering.
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Half-Baked SuperBowl Thoughts

There's a Google Video link for most of the ads from yesterday's game. I only caught the second-half, including part of the Rolling Stones (yeesh: we're they really badly lip-synching?). So, pending-further review, here are some thoughts:

Best Ad
The one for the NFL itself, just saying thanks and reminding people that they'd be back in the fall to show more games. Great idea, very understated and the notion that we're all united in "the game" is about as genuinely true a statement as I've seen

Worst Ad
Ameriquest Mortgage. A quasi-funny bit is fine, but this was so far from associated with the company's actual product to be pointless. A man and woman end up looking like they're fooling around on a crowded airplane. The conclusion is something random, making a tenuous connection to the brand.

Not even worth considering
GoDaddy. What a mess. They seem intent on spending these millions to celebrate themselves and an adopted-for-no-particular-reason bad-boy image. Please. This ad would be great for Maxim magazine, maybe. But for an IT service?

Game-turning play
The Ike Taylor interception. The Steelers looked like they were running out of steam until that play. Then, you knew it was over.
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Friday, February 03, 2006

New Essay: Moonlit and Dream-Visited Worlds

I finished a new essay a few days ago on interactive strategy, titled "Moonlit and Dream-Visited Worlds: From Ones and Zeroes to Subservient Chickens". It captures a few different ideas, and a couple of concepts from a class I used to teach at SF State.

Enjoy, and drop a line if you have any comments on the piece.
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Mergers Again: Web Side Story buys Visual Sciences

The pace of mergers and purchases quickens again today with news that Web Side Story is buying Visual Sciences. WSS has made a few strategic purchases in the past (notably AtomZ, the content management, search and commerce solution). In this purchase, it looks like they also get fellow recently-departed-Jupiter-Analyst Eric Peterson, who's a total star (read him here).

This is one more move toward the ascendancy of the Marketing Analyst: the person whose job it is to manage many disparate data feeds into a single set of needs and value propositions.
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Krispy Kreme to Run Ads

Looks like one of the best case studies for word-of-mouth/not needing advertising is having a bit of trouble: Krispy Kreme donuts will field a new radio and TV ad campaign this month. KK's fortunes have not been so good, as of late, and it seems like this is an effort to re-energize the brand a bit.

I wonder if they've been picking up on Dunkin' Donuts campaigns recently, especially their decision to focus on their premium coffee? In fact, the number one Google result for the brand name is about their coffee, not about the donuts. Clealry, DD has found something worth talking about, and is using it to drive their brand forward.
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CGS: Consumer Generated Stuff

There's news today that Sony is going to stop production of the AIBO. The AIBO was a robot dog that Sony began marketing about 6 years ago (Wikipedia article here). The thing was pretty pricey and definitely a niche product. Sony is in the midst of a serious re-trenching, so its not surprising that they would decide to pull back on some of these fringe-y products, as cool as they may be.

What struck me, though, as I was reading the article was the nature of the disappointment of AIBO owners...er, excuse me: "masters". In the Chronicle article I read, there were people expressing a degree of sadness that their AIBO was given only seven years to live (Sony promises to service AIBOs for the next seven years). Clearly, this is a degree of ownership that transcends simple use. In fact, many of these people had built their own extensions to their AIBO, giving

Reading it, I was reminded of the Wired Story I read the other day, about Lego Mindstorms. This robot kit (hmm...Robot theme?) has a community of users who have built their own extensions, creating amazing new uses for the simple set of tools first provided by Lego.

So: here we have it. The first two examples of Consumer Generated Stuff (as opposed to Consumer Generated Media). I'm working on a definition, but it is clearly time that we recognize that consumers not only have the ability to create messages about brands, they can actually create extensions, modifications and re-creations of brands, using the products themselves.

The difference, of course, is the ability to share these new projects. This may be simply in the form of instructions or potentially as software modules that can be downloaded. The idea, though, is a part of a new, re-configurable, fluid approach not only to brands, but also to the products themselves.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More on GOOG earnings: What Matters

Discussed in this post: advertiser expectations vs. broker expectations.

Perfect timing for our friends in Mt. View: Outsell reports that advertisers see Google as being the most valuable source of leads (over their closest competitors). This is a far more critical number than the expectations of brokers. Clearly, Google's customers are highly satisfied.
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Noted: Western Union Ceases Telegram Service

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More on GOOG earnings: God Bless Om

Discussed in this post: Silicon Valley reaction to Google, growth of revenue from ad networks

I was so happy to read Giga-Om this morning. Om reports that Google's not-meeting-of-expectations was greeted by a loud ho-hum down in The Valley. People who are steeped in the business of interactive advertising and search in particular (and start ups for that matter) recognize that the fault may lie in the expectations. I certainly don't want to give stock advice, but I imagine there is a hungry group of investors, ready to grab GOOG shares when they are done sliding.

Om also brings up an interesting point about revenues coming more and more from Google's network. This is important not only because it demonstrates the reach of Google, but the network is also a great home for innovation. The decision about which ad to place on a page and how much to charge for it has long been a focus for Google. The bigger their network, the more they can develop algorithms that determine placement and yield management.

Eric S. mentions that more money is coming from existing partners in the network, and I don't doubt it. Google gets better at placing ads, the publisher begins to see AdSense as more valuable. Of course, the network is the real competitive space right now, and we hear more about companies like Kanoodle and Yahoo. But we should see more work done here, not only in technology, but also in partern-development.

Hopefully, though, Google (and anyone else) won't be stuck paying sky-high CPMs to build the network, as they have in the past.
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