Category Archives: Marketing

Dawn of the widgeteers

Funny how things change. One minute we’re all shouting about websites, WAP sites, social networks, the mobile web, and the need for these to be branded, marketed, accessified, monetised and measured to within an nanometer of perfection.

Then what do you know – along comes the widget.

When Sam and myself at work settled on the idea of doing an event on this, as we batted the concept around amid the usual multi-tasking mayhem, the questions that came out of our minds were more far-reaching than we’d anticipated.

Do newly launched brands and businesses even need a website? Isn’t mobile the better platform for RSS feeds and widgetised content? Are web services the new black? [okay, the last one's a bit less pondersome].

As I’ve written in our latest Chinwag Live newsletter [and BTW I *know* most of you don't subscribe because you're strict RSS discplinarians, but patience people ;-) ]:

“One thing’s for sure, widgets are shaking up the way we consume information. When you can get all your favourite bits of the web delivered to a feed reader, blog widgets or personalised homepage, bypassing the “destination website” setup, what are the implications for brands, marketing and digital media?

Do we really know where we’re going as media is delivered by RSS and content is “widgetised” – deportalized, snipped, aggregated and mashed up everywhere?”

To which I would add, how do we search widgetised and dis-aggregated content? How do we enable its discovery? How do we archive it? Some folks out there must be cooking up the answers.

Springtime for widgets and feed readers…

Hopefully YOU, or your partners in crime :-) And along with our panellists at Chinwag Live: Media Widgetised on 16th May, perhaps we can start to get more of a handle on all this upheaval. Or, at the very least, over a few drinks, we can come up with some even more mind-melting questions (feel free to pop them in the comments here too why dontcha).

Who are the panellists? Mark Taylor, Head of Content at Eircom & founder of Sleevenotez, George Berkowski, Head of Internet Strategy at BT Retail, Fergus Burns, CEO & Founder of nooked and Jonathan Gabbai, Solutions Manager at eBay, with Steve Bowbrick chairing (more info and bookings here).

It’s also on the newly Yahoo-ified Upcoming.

So, if the widgetsphere is starting to remake the web, does that give you the late-night-sweats, or are you downright hugging-yourself excited? Either way, this event is made for you.

Newsweek declared 2007 the year of the Widget. Well I reckon May 2007 will be the month of the widget (more on that soon). You heard it here first.

PR unspun – social media sews creative destruction?

Participatory media causes problems for PR and for how brands manage deal with perceptions and discussions of their goods and services.

But it also offers new and significant opportunities for smart brands and operators in the PR space.

How much have they changed though?

At an NMK January event Beers & Innovation 7: Do Agencies Innovate? that I largely put together before I left NMK, Desiree Collier of Burson-Marsteller made the interesting observation that PR agencies are in a much stronger position to develop both innovative and holistic communications solutions for their clients than marketing agencies, because they have more far reaching and integral contact with clients, and the work is more strategic and less campaign-based and short term in nature.

[For readers pining for B&I goodness, Monsieur Ian Delaney has a cracking write up of B&I 7 here]

As Ian recapped of Collier’s points

For all kinds of companies, in all kinds of contexts, conversations are becoming key. So, in many respects, PR matters are at the forefront of companies’ marketing concerns

But having just finished reading The Cluetrain Manifesto (mea culpa, I was just a entertainment and consumer-type web editor back in Bubble 1, and missed the whole Cluetrain fandango), I get the feeling something more fundamental is being avoided.

In the final chapter – ‘Post Apocalypto’ – the author quotes Polish journalist Ruszard Kapuscinski from 1991:

The situation is a demonic paradox: we have toppled the system but we still carry its genes.”

So…. I’m expecting a constant thread in the discussion at the next Chinwag Live event on 24th April – PR Unspun – will be that of how brands and companies can *control* and *manage* perceptions and *control* the conversation.

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong (nothing new there then), but seven years on from the publication of Cluetrain the book, am I really far off the mark in saying PR and marketing are still largely paralysed? Can they really change their spots? Back to Cluetrain again:

“…so while business stereotypes are largely empty, or come from another day and have long since lost any real descriptive power, we find ourselves replicating the behaviors they caricature.

Why? Well, because we’re business people, of course! And that’s how business people behave. Welcome to the hall of mirrors. Welcome, as Vonnegut put it, to the monkey house.

We don’t believe what we’re saying at work. We know no one else believes it either. But we keep saying it because because because because the needle’s stuck. The record’s broken. Because we just can’t stop. Because who would we be if we didn’t talk like that?”

Seven years on this is still pretty powerful stuff.

Is social media sewing creative destruction? Are the incumbents poised to make gains, or will new players challenge their rule? And how much truth in the notion that PR will inevitably be distintermediated – at least in some sectors – by the social and behavioural changes wrought by participatory media?

I hope some of you will come along and put some challenging and interesting questions and points to the panel at Chinwag Live: PR Unspun.

The panel features speakers from the big corporates Edelman and Burson-Marsteller, through to brand and reputation monitoring service Market Sentinel and Second Life trailblazers Crayon LLC.

More info here: http://live.chinwag.com/prunspun (NB: 50% discounted booking rate ends Thursday 19th April)

[UPDATE Thursday 19th April: This event is sold out now]

Roll on SXSW Interactive in Austin!

I’m off to SXSW Interactive in the morning! And it’s in Austin, a bohemian oasis isn the middle of redneck Texas.

Went last year, had a tremenduous time, and have been planning my return pretty much ever since I arrived back last year.

I think it’s the only large-scale digital / tech conference (in the English-speaking world) that’s also a festival.

Daytime sessions that have caught my eye so far include:

Online Publishers & Ad Networks
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060200

How to Bluff Your Way in Web 2.0
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060169

Turning Projects Into Revenue Generating Businesses
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060246

Under 18: Blogs, Wikis and Online Social Networks for Youth
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060248

Kathy Sierra Opening Remarks
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060180

Tag. You’re It
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060222

Everything’s Gone Douglas Coupland
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060283

Games + Entertainment Brands: Five Top Trends In 2007
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060284

Mapping: Where the F#*% Are We Now?
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060187

Web Hacks: Good or Evil (or: Welcome to Web 2.666)
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060263

Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Presence and Reputation
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060150

Using RSS For Marketing
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060252

Web 2.0 and Semantic Web: The Impact on Scientific Publishing
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/conference/panels_schedule/?action=show&id=IAP0602

Why We Should Ignore Users
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060271

Non-Developers to Open Source Acolytes: Tell Me Why I Care
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060196

How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Mashup Culture
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060170

User Generated Content and Original Editorial: Friend or Foe
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060251

Why Marketers Need To Work With People Media
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060270

Open Knowledge vs. Controlled Knowledge
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060202

MobileActive: Mobilizing The Masses With Mobile Technology
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060190

There’s no Such Thing as the Mobile Web (Or Is There?)
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060244

The Global Microbrand: Are Blogs, Suits and Wine the New Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll?
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060165

And that’s just the ones I *really* want to go to!!

All the panels:
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/

I’ve also put myself down for more than a few parties over the 10th – 14th March duration:
http://upcoming.org/user/45382/

Stamina will be required ;)

Attention economy up for grabs?

Big-red-shiny-flashing-light regarding one branch of my erstwhile NMK gig. Yes brothers and sisters, this here is an old skool Beers & Innovation alert!

Tomorrow night (Tuesday 6th March) you can catch Beers & Innovation 8: The Attention Seekers as there’s a few tickets left.

Although I see it’s been re-named ‘Beers & Innovations’.

I guess the extra “s” means that it musta got betterer lately ;-)  [UPDATE: Ye olde title has been reinstated!]

All the more reason to make that last-minute booking and whisk yourself down there! [having noted details of the new venue, of course]

Attention makes its UK live debut?

Other reasons include the fact that this is, I think, the first opportunity for folks in the UK to settle down in a comfy bar and collectively grapple with the Pandora’s box of issues that are unleashed by the ideas of the Attention Economy and Attention Economics.

Is there mileage in these concepts and will they ever get traction beyond certain circles in the blogosphere? What of the measurement and metrics issues around attention? Is it just another way to aggregate eyeballs? And does Doc Searls‘ notion of the “intention economy” get a look in?

In turn, you get to chew the attention fat with some interesting panellists - Chris Seth, MD of social network Piczo; Sam Sethi entrepreneur and co-editor of Vecosys; and Alan Moore, co-author of ‘Communities Dominate Brands’ and CEO of engagement marketing firm SMLXL. Chairing is George Nimeh, MD Digital at Iris.

I’m very intrigued to see what comes out of this one.

Book your tickets here.

Round up of my NMK events

While at NMK as Editor, I gradually (and unexpectedly) became the developer and organiser of many of its regular events.

NMK (New Media Knowledge)As NMK is a publicly-funded organisation that exists for the benefit of the digital media industries, in order to fulfil its accessibility remit, reports of these events (and conferences) were also produced by me and posted on the website.

I hope these reports have been, and to some extent continue to be, useful for practitioners, researchers and students of digital media.

They’re also historical records of a group of very interesting discussions and debates that happened at a time when the UK digital economy finally emerged from the long, nuclear winter of the first dotcom crash.

The reports are linked to at the end of every event page listed below, with the following exceptions…

Reports for Beers & Innovation numbers 5 and 6 (+) are available here on my blog. There is no report for Beers & Innovation 4 but part of the event was captured on this video by Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage and others have blogged about it.

EVENTS I DEVELOPED AND PROGRAMMED:

Charities: Making Digital Gains – 26th May 2005
http://nmk.co.uk/event/2005/4/4/charities-making-digital-gains-nmk

Blogging: A Real Conversation? – 28th June 2005
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2005/5/8/blogging-a-real-conversation-nmk

New Directions In Search – 8th September 2005
http://nmk.co.uk/event/2005/4/26/new-directions-in-search-nmk

User Content: The Real Deal? – 8th November 2005
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2005/9/29/user-content-the-real-deal-nmk

Beers & Innovation 2: User Generated Content – 30th March 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/2/24/beers-innovation-2-user-generated-content-nmk

Beers & Innovation 3: Mash Ups & Web Services – 27th April 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/3/30/beers-innovation-3-web-services-mash-ups-nmk

Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers – 12th September 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/6/20/beers-innovation-4-rss-frontiers-nmk

Beers & Innovation 5: Aggregators & Upsetters – 17th October 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/9/14/beers-innovation-5-aggregators-upsetters-nmk

Beers & Innovation 6: Social By Design – 14th November 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/10/2/beers-innovation-6-social-by-design-nmk

Beers & Innovation 7: Do Agencies Innovate? – 30th January 2007
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/11/14/beers-and-innovation-7-do-agencies-innovate-nmk
(with input from Zoe Black)

CO-DEVELOPED & PROGRAMMED WITH NICK WATT OF NMK:

In The City Interactive – 7th June 2005
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2005/4/6/in-the-city-interactive-with-nmk
(also had conference steering committee input)

Rethinking Digital Branding – 10th October 2005
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2005/1/18/rethinking-digital-branding-nmk

Beers & Innovation 1: UK Start Up Culture – 9th February 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2005/11/24/beers-innovation-nmk
(with thanks to James Governor and Tom Coates)

Content 2.0 – conference 6th June 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/2/14/content-2-0-nmk
Content 2.0 website
(also had conference steering committee input)

In The City – Manchester music industry conference, 30 Sept-2nd Oct 2005
(co-programmed 3 digital panels and a keynote)

In the City 2005: mPod The New iPod?
http://nmk.co.uk/article/2006/4/17/in-the-city-2005-mpod-the-new-ipod

In The City 2005: Digital Creativity & A&R (Ralph Simon keynote)
http://nmk.co.uk/article/2006/4/17/in-the-city-digital-creativity-a-r

In the City 2005: Tomorrow People
http://nmk.co.uk/article/2006/4/17/in-the-city-2005-tomorrow-people

In the City 2005: The Digital High St
http://nmk.co.uk/article/2006/4/17/in-the-city-2005-the-digital-high-st

CO-DEVELOPED & PROGRAMMED WITH EXTERNAL PRODUCER HILARY KELSH:

New Directions In Mobile – 3rd October 2006
http://www.nmk.co.uk/event/2006/7/3/new-directions-in-mobile-nmk

—————-

During my time at NMK (Dec 2004 – Oct 2006) we also held many further events that I wasn’t involved in developmentally, but I helped market and promote them via editorial, social media platforms, attending external events and general outreach to the UK scene and beyond.

I’m listing them here as much for my own reference as anybody else’s

[NB. Some internal links within the pages above are broken as the NMK website has been redesigned since I left and the URL structure was changed, ie. persistent URLs were not maintained]

SXSW notes: What People Are Really Doing On The Web

This session at SXSW Interactive on Monday 13th March 2006 attracted an audience of over 200 to the main auditorium.

The big hitters of web stats and consumer / user analysis were there on stage, and there were a few nuggets amongst the factoids pumped out, but overall the session felt a little tame and the insights sparse. Guess that’s what happens when you parachute your stats and trend mavens into a conference of innovators  ;-)

PANEL:
Holland Hofma Brown (Harris International)
Dr Michelle Madansky (Yahoo! Inc)
Max Kalehoff (Nielsen Buzz Metrics – also own Blogpulse)
CHAIR: Joel Greenberg (GSD&M)

Establishing the types of market research deployed, Holland Hofma Brown of Harris International cited asking people, and “lead user theory” (Professor Eric Von Hippel, MIT ‘Democratizing Innovation’) as the primary methodologies (eg. power bars; Camelback; RSS usage). The lead users are solving the problems so look at them.

Hofma Brown of Harris International polled over 2,300 respondents between 16/2/06 and 23/2/06. Over a third would rather email a friend than call them on the phone he revealed; 55% won’t buy a product without first checking prices and researching online. Still, we’re not sure we trust the internet.

Catching the blog bug

How do we use the internet to connect to others? 10% of respondents had posted to blogs (contrast with 60% of SXSW attendees who were posting to blogs). Who is reading blogs? 54%/46% men to women. Young males dominate blog readership.

How many blogs are they reading? 61% have cited 1-4 blogs in the last year. Why do people read blogs? For most part it’s a passive activity.

What kinds of blogs are people reading? Personal diaries top the charts with 45% (compared to the SXSW audience, 70% of whom read tech blogs). What makes for a good blog? The way a blog looks is less important than what the writer has to say. Who is writing? Men and women bloggers are now equal in that respect.

The connected populace: US vs UK

We’re using the internet to connect and stay in touch with others. So what aren’t consumers doing online, asked Michel Madansky. Yahoo! Get 2 terrabytes of data a day, she explained, citing the ‘Truly, Madly Deeply Engaged Global Youth, Media & Technologies‘ report (summitseries.yahoo.com – all studies are posted there).

Computer – US 86% UK – 92%

Mobile – US 72% – UK – 97 %

MP3 – US 28% – UK – 63%

Email – US 68 % – UK – 86% (at least once a day)

IM – US – 49% UK – 63%

Search – US – 45% UK – 66%

Blogging – US – 17% UK– 20%

Texting – US – 49% UK – 95%

Games – US – 49% UK – 68%

Photos – US – ?? – UK– 75%

Search, peer recommendation and beyond…

Music, sex, shopping, others are the top searches in order of user preference. Search terms are consistent over time, Madansky explained, with MySpace (number 2 term), Limewire and Facebook being the big new entries. Music is the biggest search area for teenagers. Madansky also noted upcoming new arrivals podcast (podcast.yahoo.com) and Yahoo Answers (social search).

Max Kalehoff explained that Nielsen Buzz Metrics help marketers by analysing consumer generated media. Underlying factors he highlighted – media fragmentation, the erosion of trust in traditional institutional information sources, and the rise of interactive media, democratized publishing and social networks.

Consumer generated media upends marketing’s worldview

We’re moving into a phase of consumer generated multimedia – blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc. Peer recommendation and consumer generated multimedia are by far the biggest referral source. Consumers (92%) now say they prefer or rely on word of mouth, they trust fellow buyers before they do other marketers.

The culture of information seekers and speakers, for example IAMs on Google two days ago – the third and fourth results were serious consumer critiques of IAMs. A new washing machine manufacturer looked at consumer evangelists. Surprisingly, 49% were men when 99% of their marketing had been aimed at women. Marketing programs that amplify word of mouth buzz can also be incorporated into sponsorships and event demos, he added.

Mistrust of UGC in the educational sphere

Kalehoff said we could look up his blog at maxkalehoff.com and the Nielsen SXSW 2006 surveys at (http://go.hpolsurveys.com/sxsw). He also noted the issue of lack of trust in consumer generated media (CGM) as regards to academia and how to counteract it. Edelman PR did a trust barometer study [PDF].

Michelle Madansky was asked how Yahoo use their research in the innovation process. She replied that they have a piece of software called ‘The Idea Factory’ that anyone in the company can input to – new ideas to improve current products. They have also used research to develop the Yahoo Podcast beta.

Kalehoff observed that the food industry is currently being more impacted than any other by consumer power and CGM.

Trends to look out for

What’s the difference between a snapshot and a trend another audience member asked. Brown of Harris International responded that we should watch what the 12-21 year olds are doing.

What’s coming next trend-wise as indicated by the panel’s data another delegate asked. Buzz Metrics said we’re reaching a tipping point from an era where most content was produced by corporates to a point where the majority is produced by ourselves. As search spreads and becomes more advanced this will only increase, so it’s more of a discovery process. Proliferation of multimedia is another trend.

Madansky replied that “my media” is the next big thing as consumers are in control with TIVO etc. Cellphones are becoming more important she continued, with media moving across every device. The social web was an important trend, as the sterility of being served up with yet more questions becomes more acute, and Yahoo Answers was one of the answers to this, she reckoned.

Kalehoff noted that one of the emerging trends in the Web 2.0 space was that there are so many companies doing each thing that a lot of them won’t be around in 5 years.

All SXSW Interactive 2006 panels:
http://2006.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/

My other SXSW Interactive 2006 session write ups:

SXSW notes: What’s In A Title?

SXSW notes:  Beyond Folksonomies – Knitting Tag Clouds For Grandma

SXSW notes: Book Digitisation & The Revenge Of The Librarians

SXSW notes: James Surowiecki on The Wisdom Of Crowds

SXSW notes: Running Your New Media Business

SXSW notes: The Perfect Pitch