Friday, June 30, 2006

Well, damn.

I hate that my sport keeps getting hit with this stuff.
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Book Recommendation: Conquest of Cool

It seems like today's a day to recommend books. Russell's doing it. John's doing it. All the cool kids at Fallon are doing it. I'm gonna do it!

The absolute most insightful book on advertising I've ever read is Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool. I've recommended this book before and will probably do it a few more times. Ostensibly, the book is about the Creative Revolution--the dramatic change in advertising that took place in the sixties.

For me, the entire book turns on a single line:
Whatever form prefabricated youth cultures are given by their mass culture orginators ultimately doesn't matter: they are quickly taken apart and reassembled by alienated young people in startlingly novel subcultures.
First off: I would cut off one of my fingers to write a sentence as balanced and lyrical as that. Yeesh, I feel like a total writing-clod when I read stuff like that.

BUT: read that line one more time. Not only was this was written about the sixties, but it was written a good seven (or so) years ago. But this is exactly the animating insight behind consumer generated media.

Let's say it outright: the CGM Revolution is as important an event in development of advertising culture and practice as the Creative Revolution. In fact, they may be direct descendants of one another. This book doesn't often show up on these lists because it is not a business book, per se. But I've kept a dog-eared copy on my desk for a long time.
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Great Brand Moments: Home Depot

Alright, this isn't really Home Depot's fault. But it's worth repeating. My 2.5 year old son and I were in Home Depot last night buying paint. Home Depots are (as you probably already know) warehouses, with very high ceilings.

So, my son is sitting in the cart, when all of sudden he asks me "What's this?" I looked down at him, then up at the very high ceilings.

A pigeon had pooped on my son. I believe this is the true hidden danger of the big box stores.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Co-Worker's IMHO in iMedia

Co-worker Chris Gatewood's opinions into iMedia today, as a part of their creative showcase. He's talking about a video campaign, and I've got to say I agree with him. Read his thoughts!
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

it's coming

It's only a matter of days. Here's my top three (someone just asked me this):

1) Basso
2) Vino
3) Ulrich
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In Real Life: West Coast (San Francisco)

This is an idea I like. Russell Davies is a blogging account planner. He's got this simple idea to cut through the social networking, media scene: he's inviting others to hang out at a cafe near him to meet and chat.

Alright: let's give this a try. I've always been a big fan of Afternoon Coffee. This Thursday (29th), I'm going to head over to Cafe Centro at 102 S. Park here in San Francisco at about 2:00 PM. If you can make it over, please join me.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

YouTube: I think I get it.

I'm a late adopter. I'm an early watcher--I watch pretty closely as companies and trends develop. But I don't necessarily use those things.

So, I'm just beginning to use YouTube in earnest. It's fairly extraordinary, in the way that Napster was, back in its hey-day. When Napster first came out, you could pretty much type in any song you wanted and almost immediately own it. It didn't matter how obscure. It seemed to always be available. That's the power of the crowd: the probability that someone, somewhere is thinking the same thing as you is high, but hidden unless there are connections in place.

YouTube's got a little of the same feeling. I was chatting with a CD here the other day and we began talking about 80s bands. I mentioned seeing the Pogues on Saturday Night Live forever ago, and laughing about the performance. I went back to my desk and for kicks typed "Pogues Saturday Night Live" into YouTube and found this:

I suppose I should be paying for this (which was the Napster problem, naturally). But what a great experience. Napster felt like it was right. I never had any doubt that the experience was illegal. It just has to be. But since the experience was so strong, it means that the model should be rethought. YouTube is starting to evolve, and it will be interesting to see where it goes. It already is starting to feel like a social networking site: I've got friends and feeds and all.

Garrett French is getting deep into YouTube and I think he's pulling me in. His thinking on the site is pushing its borders pretty far.
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Magid: Millenials Consume Media at more than Double Normal Rate


The Research House Frank M. Magid Associates claimed at a conference that Millenials (those consumers aged 9-28) consume 20 hours worth of media in only 7 hours. What could this possibly mean? I'm only reading a report of a conference session and not seeing the report, but I'm a little stumped. This is one of those stats that seem accurate, but is more than a bit confusing.

OK, we know that this demo tends to flip among multiple TV stations, while listening to music, surfing the Web, SMSing, IMing and everything else. I suppose this stat could mean that we older demos would do these things non-concurrently, thereby taking much longer. But a song is a certain length (for example, I just downloaded The Clash's Bankrobber off iTunes; it's 4:35 of pure brilliance) and TV shows are as long as they are. There's no real way to watch a show faster (is there?).

There's also one other item tossed in here, though, that's interesting. Magid says "[this group] gets much of its information from word-of-mouth or from social networking sites on the Internet. That's interesting. Maybe the point is not that this group has some super ability to pack more than 60 minutes into an hour. Rather, they zoom across the medialandscape plucking only what they need. They do this in the most efficient way they can.

This is the real power of this group. They have mastered digital technologies. We know that, but that doesn't mean they know how to install Linux, delete their cookies and program the VCR (as the old joke goes). Rather, they have figured out a method of gathering and dispersing information, using these tools, in dynamic, fluid ways.

This is a bit of the idea behind an ISOBAR notion: continuous partial attention. This is a way of describing this experience. There is a laser-focus on the information gathering/dissemenation process. But it is a mistake to imagine that the attention truly rests on any particular data stream.

Whither marketers? The opportunity is to either think holistically about your campaing (have your message spread across multiple platforms) or pick a single platform and totally rule it.
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Politics and CGM

ClickZ has a story today on the use of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) and political campaigns. Ends up, it's important ;-)

Seriously, there's an important point in the article:
“The challenge as a political candidate is you don’t want to dampen anybody's enthusiasm, but you don’t want someone running your campaign who’s not you,” explained Mark SooHoo, VP of Campaign Solutions, a political consulting firm that works with right-wing candidates.
That is a critical point, and its worth noting that the source is a consultant working for right-wind candidates. I'm not talking about my own political leanings (although I have hugged a tree in my checkered past). But: it is fairly clear that the current conservatives are much better at creating points of differentiation versus the current liberals. Or, more to the point, the percieved position of liberals seems to be largely dependent upon where conservatives place them.

Conservatives have benefited in the recent past by keeping a firm grasp on talking points and positions. It is clear that they want to use the channels of CGM, but want that to be an amplifier of their messages. (see quote above, again). The liberal net-roots movements, however, tend to use these channels to be inclusive and for the goal of evolving opinions from a group of consistuents. More of a Wiki approach.

As to which is the more 'correct' use of the medium, I think you would have to say the liberal approach. Which is the more effective at controling messages and motivating voters? The inclusive approach has the distinct danger of appearing wishy-washy, and (dare we say it) flip-flopping.

OK. I'm no political consultant, and (again) this is not a forum for the discussion of issues or the presentation of my opinions...expect for those that relate to advertising effectively. I have to say that the use of CGM in political campaigns can benefit greatly from direction. But then, political campaigns have always benefitted from strong leaders.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My WOMBAT Slides

I posted up a PDF version of my slides from WOMBAT. When I get some time, I'll annotate these and put up a new version.
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Nail and Influence 2.0

Cymfony's CMO Jim Nail dropped by Club Ammo the other day. We went to lunch along with co-workers Andrew and Kerry. Jim was in town for WOMBAT, naturally, and took advantage of flying west to get in early and hang out on a beautiful day.

Jim outlined his thoughts around Influence 2.0, a topic pretty dear to our hearts. He's in AdAge talking about it as well.

The topic is certainly familiar--how are companies going to continue to successfully market their products and services in a media-world turned upside down? There's so much momentum behind the old way of doing things (run a TV spot, paint your logo on a bus), that it seems nearly impossible to see a real change.

Jim's approach is to start a Wiki. He's got an e-book in the works and will just simply launch it out there for anyone to change, update and comment. It's a pretty bold move. I mean, this isn't an encyclopedia. This is a business 'book' and business books are about providing specific recommendations and specific advice. One can imagine product reps beginning to move into this space and gently shifting conversations one way or the next. This clearly happened with Wikipedia. How will this one work?

Whatever it may be, Jim's to be commended for sparking the conversation. He and I used to be sworn mortal enemies. He was at Forrester; I was at Jupiter. Of course, it never really worked that way. I always liked talking with Jim and reading his stuff. Same with Charlene Li. But he's got that analyst approach tattooed in his mind, and this is an analyst job.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two more sources

For the latest WOMBAT News

The Official Blog
Brand Builder

(no photo of me? Wheresthelove?!)
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WHOA!-ma San Francisco

WOMBAT San Francisco is on!

There seem to be more than a few people live-blogging this one. I know Pete's doing it over at CGM.

I had a lot of fun with my presentation. I'm going to load the slides up onto this blog soon as I get myself settled, and will pass along any news that I happen upon
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fun with Referers

Every now and then, I like to delve into the logs for my blog, specifically looking for search phrases that bring people here. The following is a list of the more interesting ones:
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ClickZ Video Event this Friday

I'm heading off tomorrow to the ClickZ Online Video Ad Forum in lovely New York. If you're going to the event, please stop in and say hello.

As far as I know, this is the first event specifically focused on online video ads. I think we're hitting a critical point here with video ads: the amount of money being spent on these things are significant, and we're seeing more inventory becoming avaialable. Taking a detailed look at them makes sense.
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Post Scoble World

Scoble's leaving Microsoft.

It's very possible that we'll refer to the last few years as the Scoble Era, not only at Microsoft, but for corporate culture as a whole. Yeah--Corporate Culture. Very clearly there is an advertising/marketing angle to be discussed here, but the lasting effect of Scoble is an awareness of the fact that direct communication between consumers and employees can be value-creating.

It's great that he named his blog Scobleizer. Some consulting firm could go along way, offering a Scoblization Process. The steps would look something like this:
  1. Identify someone inside the company with a ton of ethics, a lot of charisma, an actual passion for the products and the nerve to speak his mind.
  2. Give him or her a forum to express those views
  3. Turn on comments
  4. Monitor those comments like mad
  5. Get out of the way
Oh yeah...and work on a retention package that will keep him in the company after he becomes a celebrity.
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Friday, June 09, 2006

Specialized is Podcasting

Oooh! ooh! Bike stuff manufacturer Specialized is podcasting!

How cool is that?
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iPods: Better than Beer!

Evidently, iPods are more popular among college students than beer. Well, more accurately, more college students consider the iPod to be "in" than consider beer to be "in". I can't imagine that means we'll see an end to beer consumption. But it is one more bit of evidence of the rise in popularity of the little digital music device that could.

I don't have one. I know...loser. Luddite. Caveman. I just don't. So, I'm going to take this unbiased stance to look inward at the iPod Nation. I remember when the iPod first came out: it certainly looked good, but it didn't really provide that much more functionality than other devices on the market. The interface was breakthrough, but now there are a few questions about its genesis.

But there are two things about the iPod Nation that are clearer in retrospect and help to explain why its so freakin' popular:

1) It delivers the seamless experience that people crave from digital devices and content
2) It acts as a badge for those who have one, telling the world that they "get it".

The first one is clear: iPod and iTunes have paved over the rocky road that split up devices and content. Along with an unending list of accessories, people can have their content with them wherever and whenever.

The second one is potentially more important. If the iPod is a savvy, sophisticated choice, you want to broadcast your own particular in-ness. The iconic headphones achieve this. As you walk down a block in any city, you can begin to pick out those who have taken the leap. If you're in the iPod Nation, you can quickly find your co-horts.

Test this theory: offer anyone you know with an iPod a free set of headphones which are better quality, but have a generic look. Forget it. The identification of membership is key to the product beneft.
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I'm Back!

Yeeeshh..any one else have Blogger issues the last few days? I've totally been unable to connect or post. Well, not totally, but things were so slow that it was difficult to keep attention on the task.

I certainly learned something though: blogging has become woven into my patterns pretty deeply. The best way to see if you actually need something is to try to go without it. This was imposed on me for only a few days, and I certainly have learned a little something about myself....
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Product MashUP: Diet Coke & Mentos

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Marketing Haiku: Add your Own!

Feeling creative?

I wrote 6 haikus for my ClickZ column this morning, and invited people to add their own. Please leave them in the comments section!
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Friday, June 02, 2006

WOMMA update

WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association) has been going strong all year. I'm lucky enough to be involved in two big things going on over there, and wanted to pass along the info.

Word of Mouth Researh Blog. WOMMA's got a new blog written by a collection of people, including me. Actually, I get a bit dizzy when I see this list of authors. I'm honored to be a member of this group. I'll cross post a little here and there, but mostly, this is going to be a chance for me to talk about some of the research that is going on, and how it is turning WOMM into a true business practice.

WOMBAT conference. Happy to announce that I'm speaking at WOMBAT again this year. I've got an early session, laying out the sort of framework of WOMM. It's a good slot at a great confrerence. I hope to see you all there.

(BTW: I baby-blogged most of this post. Pretty amazing what you can type with a kid in one arm and the other arm in a sling ;-)
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