The Age of Conversation, One More Time

16 03 2008

Bigger and Better… What more can you ask for?

Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan are at it again, with the next incarnation of last year’s The Age of Conversation, a collaborative book project where 100+ bloggers contributed short articles on various issues surrounding media today. You can still buy it here.

However, this time around yours truly will a contributor.

It is a fantastic project and I’m very humbled to have been selected to participate.

In addition, all proceeds will be donated to Variety’s LifeLine charity of kids. It’s win-win, you get to gain more perspective on the state of media today, and the budding media strategists of the future will have an opportunity to live full, fulfilling lives.

Finally, we are planning a huge Bum Rush for new book on March 29th, so please support the project and help spread the word.

Details here.





Becoming Gatekeepers: How Old Media Can Leverage Brand Trust

28 11 2007

“This is art? My 4 year old could paint this”

Any person that has ever walked into a museum, especially of the modern/contemporary variety, has no doubt uttered an iteration of these words. Lets face it, art is an ambiguous concept and us laymen goto museums because people that know far more than us about the art world carefully curate the pieces that are displayed. They are our filters to the art world, and I would say 95% of the art I am exposed to is in museums. Of course, aficionados have expanded circles of exposure beyond museums such as galleries, art shows, artist friends, publications, books, etc.

The art world is a great metaphor for today’s media landscape because for the same reasons that we allow curators to filter our peek into the vast artistic realm, we allow media outlets such as Vogue, CNN, BusinessWeek, etc. to filter our fashion dos & don’ts, world news, and business thinking. The answer? Trust.

As productive people we often don’t have the time to waddle through 3000+ blog posts a day so we either trust other bloggers like Robert Scoble to filter news for us, or let it bubble up to mainstream trade publications and news sources. To further clarify, just like in the art world the hardcore among us read everything ourselves and conduct our own filtering, but that is merely because our egos tell us that we are the best curators for our information, which sometimes can be true as no one else knows what information you deem most relevant.

So, what is this holy grail that I speak of?

Well the most trusted media sources are offline entities, although they may have online components. Therefore, they are in a position to leverage their clout to become online filters for their area of expertise. For example Vogue should reach out to fashion bloggers, allow them to become affiliates that they can sell ads for, and create a mini-portal where they aggregate posts they feel are most relevant for their readers on their site. It’s a win-win situation: Bloggers get better CPMs and more exposure, and Vogue becomes a gatekeeper and increases their online ad revenue. I spoke about topic-centric vertical ad networks in my previous post and in my opinion these old media powerhouse names are best positioned to take advantage of this new trend.

Thoughts?





Gamers, Geeks, Nerds, and the Power of the Force

26 11 2007

Gamers are an incredibly influential segment.

First of all a happy belated turkeyfest to all, and apologies for the lack of posts over the past week.

I grew up as a gamer and did stints at in-game ad network Massive Inc. (Microsoft owned) and advergame developer Arkadium; thus, I stand behind many of the conclusions in the new report by Ziff Davis Media’s Gaming Group. The report dives into a sample pulled from subsidiary web property 1UP Network, which is a leading source of game related information.

The high level conclusion of the survey is that gamers are, as a whole, an incredibly influential group when it comes to technology purchases, music, and movies. Being an ex-hardcore gamer and current technophile I can atest to the powerful nature of word of mouth in this passionate segment. Members of this group are often the family tech gateways and also have an innate ‘need’ to share information with their peers.

However, gamers are a tough crowd. If you try to deceive them – Sony PSP Blog – they will smear you with a level of ferocity found in few other segments. In addition, many marketers still approach gamers as pimply 14 year olds, which is a myth that needs to be dispelled NOW. That said, if you make an effort to talk to them on their terms they can also be your most vocal advocates. The Toyota/World of Warcraft spot, which can be viewed here, is a fantastic example of infiltrating the gamer world and speaking their language (just check out the positive comments). The spot was a parody on one of the most famous World of Warcraft clips where a character named Leeroy Jenkins – who is now a cult icon with mentions on Jeopardy – rushes into battle. By parodying a reference that only Warcraft fans would pick up on you are building in a level of exclusivity into the message, which appeals to the segments as you are identifying them as a valuable group.

Here is a brief overview of the conclusions via MarketingVox

“The survey, which garnered response from a predominantly male audience, with an average age of 24, reflects interest particularly in the entertainment and technology realm, such as consumer electronics, music and movie purchases.

Some survey highlights:

  • The gaming community is heavily composed of technology enthusiasts. Over 80 percent own a mobile phone, DVD player, and desktop computer and over 50 percent own a digital camera, MP3 player (without video), Wi-Fi products, PC storage/hard drive and flat panel PC monitor.

1up-network-gamers-consumer-electronics-ownership.jpg

  • Gamers are looking ahead to the latest technology for future purchases, with about one-third considering a purchase in the next six months of flat panel/plasma/LCD TVs, HDTVs and high-end audio systems; another 25 percent is considering purchasing digital camcorders and laptop/notebook computers.

1up-network-gamers-consumer-electronics-purchase-consideration.jpg

  • Gamers are enthusiastic about and comfortable with new technology and consumer electronics (93 percent), with 76 percent described by their friends as being into the latest technology and 61 percent being the first among their friends to buy new technology gadgets.

1up-network-gamers-attitudes-toward-technology-internet-lifestyle.jpg

  • Music is an important part of gamers’ lives. MP3 players are on the rise within the gaming community, with 71 percent planning to purchase an Apple iPod in the next six months, 43 percent Microsoft Zune, 28 percent Apple iPhone, and 24 percent Creative Labs.

1up-network-gamers-mp3-player-purchase-consideration.jpg

  • Gamers are also avid movie watchers, with 64 percent going to theaters at least once a month, 91 percent watching a DVD movie at least once a month, and 76 percent renting an average of 7 movies in the previous 6 months.

1up-network-gamers-movie-watching-frequency-medium.jpg

  • Moreover, Gamers enjoy a variety of movie genres:
    • Comedy (89 percent)
    • Action/adventure (88 percent)
    • Science fiction (79 percent)
    • Animated (64 percent)
    • Comic book (59 percent)
    • War (58 percent)
    • Martial arts (58 percent)
    • Anime (51 percent)
    • Horror (51 percent)

About the study: comScore surveyed 1UP Network visitors, 989 of whom completed the survey, which was conducted August 13 – 31, 2007. Visitors to the 1UP Network were recruited directly off the site via house banner ads.”

 





It’s all a matter of perspective: Letting our physical spaces define us

19 11 2007

Our minds are built on patterns.

We are creatures of habit and we attempt to understand our world by forming patterns based primarily on our past experiences. But, unfortunately life, nature, and people we aren’t that simple. When we are children we learn through association: Fire is hot and it burned me therefore other things that are hot should burn me too; however, as we quickly learn, these rules can breakdown under certain situations. For example, I remember sticking my hand in a bucket of dry ice when I was 5 and being extremely confused as to how I got burned from ICE.

In the grand scheme, these types of survival based constructs are static and with a few exceptions serve us well in understanding our surroundings and staying alive. However, when trying to apply these types of associations, that work so well, upon ideas and concepts in flux like trends, it narrows our field of vision. The tough part then becomes being able to break through these layers of patterns and reverting to a child-like state.

This is a topic I have touched on before in a number of posts, but here I wanted to discuss how physical spaces influence our perspectives by reinforcing or diminishing our patterns. For example, if you are a high-powered CEO nestled in your office surrounded by your ‘success’, it reinforces your patterns since your previous applications of understanding based on those associations got you where you are today.

In the picture at the top of this post we see a series of concentric circles that are dependent on the physical location they are viewed from. Step out of your comfort space. Step out of the world you have built around you to reinforce your ideal self.

Trust me it isn’t an easy excercise.

But, try to build small escapes into your daily routine such as having lunch outside the office in varying environments, or conducting meetings outside the corner conference room.

Here are a couple cool examples of how we jump to conclusions too quickly (a bit NSFW)

Part 1

Part 2

More cool examples of the pic at the top of the post.





Facebook Fan Pages Guide: Destinations vs. Collaborative Conversation Spaces

13 11 2007

Facebook Fan Pages need to be conversation spaces not destinations.

There are a lot of posts flying around the blogs on Facebook‘s new Fan Page system, covering privacy, just outright outrage, and even a couple kudos on tapping into the influencer hierarchy.

However, very few are addressing the core issue: How to implement a successful execution and how it fits into the mix.

First of all, DON’T create a destination, no one needs another “branded space”.

People don’t need another location where they can download Mountain Dew wallpapers. The approach that is being pitched is basically just an extension of the groups feature with some extra bells and whistles attached, wrapped up in the ‘products’ category. Now let’s be honest, groups are just badges to show off to other people, in essence, cool by association. There is very little running interaction on most groups and most of the content is lackluster. Some of you may disagree, but you probably run in new media circles and thus are more inclined to interact. You’re not the status quo.

This is a group roll ripped off an average female college student’s profile and it is more kosher than most:

groups.jpg

She is trying to express that she is liberal and somewhat politically inclined by being in the Stephen Colbert group, environmentally motivated with the Climate Change group, of course she wants us all to know that people think she is good looking by being a part of 5 or so groups themed around “Smoking Hot Beautiful Stunning Girls”. Think she ever interacts with any of these groups?

Empower your core base and win over your enemies.

The first couple product pages will most likely operate like every other branded group. Attract people with some discounts or “hot news”, a couple thousand sign up, spam them, spam them, spam them some more, people start to leave, and finally the marketer gets bored. The end.

Sounds bleak; however, there is a huge amount of potential in amplifying the voice of your advocates. If done right.

So here’s what I propose: Build the fan pages into conversation hubs.

Online influencer outreach programs typically are comprised of identifying various online communities and influencers – usually in the form of bloggers -, and trying to chat with them without pissing them off. These types of programs take time, can be expensive, and are difficult to manage and track. So instead of scouring the net, piecing together a patch work of comments and posts, why not have them come to you.

Build areas that become conduits between your evangelists, your nay sayers, and your company. Build a space where people can voice their opinions, good or bad (I know this can be scary for some), and be heard. Having a corporate blog is nice, but let’s face it blogs are still 90% one-way. With Fan Pages you are built into a social ecosystem where people want to connect and express themselves, take advantage. What you get in return is an IV thrust deep into the pulse of sentiments surrounding your product. What people love, where you got it right. What people hate, things you need to work on. What people just don’t get, areas you need to clarify. This information is invaluable, and just by listening you can convert your loudest nay sayers into friends. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen countless times.

That’s my 2 cents. I’m gonna wrap up this post with a challenge to marketing and companies:

Be the first company to use Fan Pages to collaboratively build or improve a product with your consumers.

Want people to use the network to amplify and pitch your product? Give them a stake in it, and allow them to spread a personal message.

Turn, “Hey, a bought cool pair of Nike high-tops”, into “Hey man, check out my new shoes that I helped design, I know you’ll dig ‘em”

Now the shoes have transcended mere mortal shoes, and have become conversation pieces, perhaps even mythical. You bet that everyone of your ‘designers’ will be telling everyone they know, and the Facebook platform will make that voice infinitely louder through the ‘products’ feed.

UPDATE:

Check out this article on Marketing Vox discussing the rising trend in people wanting to work with companies to build better products.

UPDATE #2:

Video post on AdAge of a presentation given by Facebook COO, Owen Van Natta.  He says, “Our users love the [SocialAds] system”.  Since when do people like being accosted by brands in their private communities.  Wake up.





Building the Anti-Siloing Case with Meeting Miser

12 11 2007

Break down silos to save money, talking to management.

I’ve addressed the issues surrounding siloing a number of times on this blog from varying perspectives; however, when it comes down to it, siloing causes inefficiency, which in turn costs $$$. Anyone who has worked at a large organization knows how much of a time waster cross-functional meetings are.

Well here’s a little tool that helps you calculate how much money is actually being wasted due to inefficient meetings. It has been floating around a number of blogs for a that past week or so. $$$ is the language of management, so MeetingMiser can hopefully provide you will a little more ammo to pitch collaboration promoting initiatives.

Finally, it is a great execution of a branded widget – sponsored by Payscale.com – that promotes its core values and adds a dash of worked related fun.





NBC Media Offering Goes Multi-Platform: IGA In-Game Partnership

5 11 2007

Old media looks a little fresher when holding hands with the new kids on the block.

I recently wrote about how FOX was leveraging other components of the News Corp portfolio to aide in pushing Super Bowl inventory. Well here’s another announcement that old media vanguard NBC is entering into a strategic partnership with IGA Worldwide Inc., the largest private in-game advertiser.

Personally I love these collaborations. It makes the blander TV, radio, and print sales packages sexier and allows new media companies to leverage the awesome sales power of their older cousins. In addition, it provides a boost in authenticity for these new platforms. I am extremely excited for the next upfronts as the TV ad sales game with undergo a significant transformation and I feel that especially TV will be a major conduit to funnel more money online and beyond.

In my opinion finding yourself an entrenched partner can only help a newcomer with a sexy product.

Full press release here.








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