Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Twebinar - all those who fit hail the Twebinar

I learned something very valuable today. Wait. No I didn't.

I didn't really learn it as much as it kind of came to me while watching the Twebinar, that long awaited brainchild of Radian6 (who I think completely rocks) and Chris Brogan (who I think hosted it, even though it said JJ something or other under the guy in the top left...)

The premise is simple.

Use Acrobat Connect to broadcast a bunch of pre-canned videos and don't bother using the chat window built into the app, instead opting for a much more public chat to take place about the content streaming on by in the whale-plagued Twitter, which was actually holding up to the perfect storm of 500 mavens posting to 500 mavens about what 500 mavens should well know by now.

It was indeed an awesome primer for social media newbies, but I wasnt aware of any of them in attendance. It did indeed give clear examples of how really huge companies were doing things in small ways some of the time. And, low (real low) and behold (if you were in the first 500 viewers) almost all of the mavens put in a reel for us to be in awe of.

What did I learn?

1. Echo chamber, echo chamber, echo chamber, echo chamber....

2. There are clearly both an "I" and a "ME" in social media, in that order.

Okay it wasnt that bad, but @melle got a lot of followers out of being grumpy, so I thought I would jump on that bandwagon. What? Ever!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Many still catching up, world moving on

iMedia is picking fights today with headlines including such posturing as "How Google will kill ad networks" and "the end of rich media" and such. It strikes me that there is a whole world of businesses still catching up on the new new things for online advertising, and yet we as an industry continue to posture way out in front of the curve.

That said, I kind of agree with the end of rich media - like rich internet application, new media and other now ambiguous terms it often makes it very hard to position new services and technologies - like my current pet project, Overlay.TV - using these staple terms.

Let's examine for a moment why John Vincent, the founder of EyeWonder, considers this "end" to be nigh. Findings of an anonymously fielded online survey of online advertising influencers conducted by EyeWonder in March 2008 highlights the inadequacies and confusion within the industry. The survey revealed that:
  • 62 percent of the respondents agree that the term "rich media" is too "generic and meaningless."
  • 66 percent of industry execs surveyed did not believe that "rich media" accurately defined today's online video ads.
  • 76 percent of agency executives did not believe it to be an adequate term to cover "emerging platforms" -- mobile, IPTV, etc.
  • 68 percent agreed that a new category name for "rich media" is needed (term "rich media" doesn't capture where digital advertising is headed in the next five years; it is too generic/meaningless).
  • 92 percent of agency influencers had a positive to neutral opinion of the term "Interactive Digital Advertising," finding it more accurate than "rich media."
While I agree that I could also be categorized as neutral on interactive digital advertising, I think in general this fails to get to the heart of the matter. There are many, many kinds of "advertising" that can be done in a digital forum, and most or all of them are interactive in some way. I think the IAB and other industry leaders need to set standards for describing the properties of specific advertising technologies so that the players can in turn use that to describe what is unique and different about their specific advertising. Many other players exist in this field so as part of my own product research I intend to catalogue and identify the many field species of "interactive digital advertising" I encounter.

Hopefully I will be able to share that here shortly.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Edicts for Monday

The world has enough neo-classical drones.

Two thirds of the population must learn to identify the branches of government.

20% of people should study astronomy at least to get the earth sun thing straight.

Economics doesn't want your input - it wants your soul. Give it input. Keep soul.

Delve beneath the surface and answer fundamental questions.

Stop consuming 1.4 tons of pork per year.

Resume the flow of nature into people's lives.

Continue on approach to global humanity carrying capacity.

Do not cry out wordlessly for help.

Smash the hall of mirrors.

Clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish.

Question the model.

Question the math.

Thank someone.

Thank everyone.

Press play.

Press pause.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Broadband doesn't change the rules, even if it does change the game

Every day advertising seems to be thrown into the abyss of opinion, change, progress and subservience to the technology goddesses . Broadband technologies are essentially (apparently) rewriting the rules for every business, remaking many industries, and apparently its going to take a team of millions to decipher how advertising should respond to the challenges. I'm in.

According to Stephen P. Bradley, a Harvard professor, there are 3 key concepts that need to be considered in the path of evolution from Marlboro Man to BMW Films (which are no longer available on BMW site but still up on YouTube) to Subservient Chicken. I quote this article:

· Traditional advertising vehicles such as television are becoming less interesting to advertisers because of fragmented viewership and inadequate user data.

· Broadband technology is becoming more important to advertisers because of its ability to move the consumer closer to a transaction decision and to deliver clearly segmented audiences.

· The advertising industry is wrestling with this transformation in part by merging with media companies and by launching creative ad alternatives.

I am struggling with exactly this issue right now, actually still struggling to some degrees would be more appropriate. Despite spending years in the ad business, working at Yahoo!, meeting with the world's top agencies to discuss this and driving product strategy that is meant to address exactly these issues - I still feel like we are waiting for the bright light to go on, and maybe that is exactly the problem!

Let's look at Marlboro Man to understand what I mean here. In his day, only a handful of advertisers used "spokespeople", hardly any ads used nature and roughing it as their way to tell the story, and most importantly, the Marlboro Man was in a lot of places in his 45 year reign of bringing early death to his loyal followers (1954-1999). Prior to the Marlboro Man creation by Leo Burnett, they were out and about with a "Mild as May" campaign that extolled the gentle virtues of the brand targeted at woman, and in a matter of weeks they had transformed the campaign into a masculine, outdoorsy, cowboy focused squarely on the aspirations of the lesser sex.

Same situation applies with BMW Films series The Hire, which saw Clive Owen doing a fast-paced increase of 12% sales and driving 11 million views and 2 million website registrations in a matter of four months. Prior to this BMW was struggling with how to elevate their brand status and effectively engage a somewhat elite audience that was starting to do more and more research online prior to purchasing a car.

Subservient chicken - well, suffice to say we all play with our food, we just hadn't really done it like this before.

If these are indeed some of the cornerstone examples, then I have to push back on the Harvard-trained theory of the problem, and the same said quest for a solution. The solution is exactly what it always has been.

Great creative transcends cultural barriers, fragmentation, and even the medium/message borders that we need to carefully observe with mediocre creative. We are going to have to crack this same nut here at Overlay.TV, and already I can say without a doubt that it is in the conversations with Amber Mac, Kevin Nalts, iJustine, EMI, JWT and all the other very forward-leaning, uber-creative types we are talking to that the real ideas are evolving. And each time it is that difference - that unique creative spark - that transcends the platform, delivery, technology, and even the current audience demo and psychographics of the individuals or brands involved.

Great creative unfragments audiences. Great media, technologies and platforms put more simply, serve to support a more rapid unfragmentation.

Let's not confuse ourselves any longer with a technology discussion. Take it for granted and get the into the bar or boardroom with a pencil or projector and start brainstorming now!