Sunday, December 28, 2008

Obama's Digital, Transparent Presidency

In mid-November, the President-elect’s office announced that Obama would post weekly addresses on YouTube. So far, 37 videos have been posted on the channel. While this is seen as a government embracing Web 2.0 and social media in general, Obama and his newly-appointed cabinet have done something more using the Internet to gain voters and provide two-way communication. With a President who is using Twitter and YouTube to get a message across (the former hasn’t been updated for a while, however, but that will most likely change soon), what we’re seeing here is a the future of a new government who will want to bypass the mass media and communicate directly to viewers via more personal channels of communication.

The beginning of a digital and transparent presidency is allowing the population to feel like they have a direct connection to their newly-elected leader, as a result of new technologies that bypass the mass media. We’ll look forward watching, texting, commenting, blogging, and twittering with this type of new government.

Entertainment and Communication in 2010

A video gazing into the near digital future. Different from videos that are more sci-fi than realistic, it highlights trends that are already happening (except the Google G drive). Overall, interesting to watch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Broadcasting Social Media Cues

As technology advances, people have been treating their location (or rather their community really) as part of their identity.

With examples such as Loopt, Bright Kite, ShareThis, AddThis, the popular Twitter, Urban Spoon, Flock, FriendFeed, the creation of social badges using Retaggr, and more recently Facebook Connect, it’s not much surprise that savvy users of the Internet are using such tools to make the entire Web social.

The advent of such services is an overall trend that points to a larger notion of broadcasting location, identity and behavior as part of one’s social media cues. Showing others we are reading, listening to, downloading, watching, and which causes we support allow us to influence the behaviors of those within our social circles. These tools and technologies are providing us with new ways to broadcast such actions, and making the Web more social and connected through our individual point-of-view.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Portable Social Graphs

Presentation given by Razorfish regarding the possibility of portable social graphs using Facebook Connect. I believe that looking at the future of social media should not only been seen from a technology standpoint, but also from a cross-platform perspective in making the entire Web social and in connecting social graphs across all media platforms and services.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Evolving Distribution Platforms in a Fractured Media Environment

In a previous post, I mentioned a quote about making the entire Web social.
It also makes me think of the never-ending challenge for publishers trying to reach audiences that are no longer visiting their sites to receive the same information elsewhere.
Another quote from Razorfish’s 2008 FEED report sums this up nicely:

“Distribution must evolve into a science, as reaching consumers in a fragmented, personalized environment will become increasingly complex… Major publishers are now forced to completely rethink the way they reach consumer in a fractured distribution environment. “
Part of the reason I think that users are embracing media across other areas of the web is not that larger publishers are producing stale content or uninteresting media, but as a result of the way in which content is presented, as well as the lack of tools and features on these sites. This has caused users looking elsewhere to help them participate in and personalize their experience around the same content.

Per recent comScore data, media entities that are conversational in nature, such as posting comments, blogging, and other forms of social media are seeing the fastest growth in total minutes spent and number of visits by audiences online. While this a no brainer, the good news is that some larger publishers are already in fact making progress that will bring users out of their social media ghettos and back into the mainstream light where personalization and participation can occur.

To further prove my point, comScore is also reporting an increase in time spent on top news and content sites. However, this trend is not entirely attributed to consumer trends in hyperconsumption, but also as the result of publishers who have been smart enough to revamp their sites, making them easier to navigate and easier to consumer content.

As publishers begin to get what makes their readers come back for more and engage with their content, larger web properties have made efforts to improve their sites, such as providing more snack-size video, providing areas for users to comment on articles, send-to-a-friend/sharing functionality, and even embedding the now standard web 2.0 icons allowing users to bookmark on delicious, post to facebook, embed video on their blog, digg articles, and so on.

Making the Entire Web Social

I have always appreciated Razorfish for their enthusiasm and leadership in pioneering new ideas in the digital space. If you haven’t had a chance to read their 2008 Consumer Experience Study entitled FEED, I highly suggest reading it.
One of my favorite quotes from the study comes from Marissa Gallagher regarding designing experiences for the Facebook Generation:

“What is happening is that the concept of social networking is evolving and morphing. It’s now about making the entire Web social instead of just creating a ghetto of destination sites where people have to go to socialize.”
Read the report (pdf), via the Digital Design Blog.

The Ubiquitous & Invisible Web

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” -Roy Want, in an article written for Scientific American.

Even though those words were uttered almost 5 years ago, the reality of an “everyware”, ever-present, and always on Web living both online and offline is now closer than ever. Faris Yakob’s article on the Invisible Web for Campaign magazine is a great read which puts this concept in a perspective not too distant from the near future.

A highly recommended read (pdf).

Future Vision of Manufacturing

As a fan of futuristic videos, this one from Microsoft on the future of manufacturing is worth a watch, especially seeing their vision of how a product is concepted and moves down from the manufacturer to its channel partners

via Helge on Deeper2k

Monday, December 22, 2008

Calm Technology

The best technology is truly the type that we no longer have to interact with. Along the vein of automated computing through the use of RFID tags (TikiTag and Mir:ror come to mind) continues to excite us for the near future, but on a grander scale, RFID tech, Augmented Reality, and the Internet of Things are all really a part of a idea known as Calm Technology. The phrase, coined by Mark Wieser of Xerox in 1991 (imagine talking about this then, who’dathought?), refers to any network of mobile and fixed devices that would do things for us automatically and so invisibly that we would notice only their efforts.

These systems are calm technology because they would make it easier for us to focus on our work or recreational activities, instead of demanding that we interactive with such systems, such as the typical computer does today. The overall concept of ubiquitous computing where small sensors would be embedded in everyday objects all around us and, using wireless connections, would respond to our presence, desire and needs without being actively manipulated, is truly the future of a Web that doesn’t exist solely online, nor offline, but literally everywhere.

Why the media industry even exists, and if it is doing anything to prepare for the next seismic change in digital

“We are not in the business of supporting a media industry; we are in the business of connecting with our customers.” – Trevor Edwards

I just love this quote from Nike’s Pres. of Global Brand Management. Often times I think of the handful of online publishers that really are vested in providing agencies and their clients with solutions beyond the banner that actually help to connect brands with consumers fostering engagement and communication between the two. Others are simply monetizing their pages with ad revenue from banners. Of course, this is one of the many staples now in digital media plans, but one that has long been commoditized, which is ultimately cannibalizing media to cookie-cutter campaigns that stick to the tried and true, but who doesn’t love positive ROI?

However, my question is, at what point will banner, email and search campaigns cease to be effective to provide value beyond awareness and site traffic and even engagement? What then? If TV killed radio, what will kill online advertising, no matter how rich and interactive campaigns are? What is the next killer app, literally? Will it be centered on social media, video, gaming, news & info consumption?

While I don’t believe anyone has a complete solution, I do believe that some have already begun to think about the next seismic change in digital. With more blog posts, articles, research and presentations popping up to talk about The Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, and services-based marketing, I think that the cogs are beginning to turn, albeit slowly, into the next wave of thinking that even today’s social and viral marketing is not yet a part of.

Behavioral Targeting: Works in Some Ways, But Still Lacking

Now I know there are more articles about the benefits of BT than any of us could possibly count (as well as posts about how BT could possibly just be a bunch of bull, but…in all fairness, I’m sure the behavioral likes of Tacoda, Revenue Science, and a slew of networks have been able to capitalize on this technology over the last several years, so its obviously working for their clients.
One of the most recent industry ads that I actually saw came from a question that Revenue Science composed, which basically states, “does your campaign know the difference between Interest vs. Intent? They’ve even created a landing page,, which by the way, doesn’t even make an attempt to inform interested parties about how the ad network goes about distinguishing between the two (it’s just a lead gen form).A favorite quote of mine that really address this from an interesting point comes from Digital Planner Helge Tenno:

“There is just no way an inanimate piece of coding could understand a persons interest, mood, motivations, patience’s, finances, dreams or attention span at any one time.”

I’m sure that in the case of Revenue Science (and other similar ad networks with a focus on BT), there is some proprietary algorithm that goes about determining what could be, let’s say, simply browsing behavior, versus something like consuming information on a specific topic that is driven by search behavior (many ad networks providing BT also provide re-targeting capabilities based on users’ search behavior on engines such as Google and Yahoo). However, I agree with Tenno’s point about how no matter how sophisticated a certain targeting technology is (in this case BT), it really doesn’t get down to anything that could really gauge a person’s actual mindset.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is much value in targeting within media campaigns in order to reduce waste, and it goes without saying that online media campaigns shouldn’t do all of the lifting in reaching a relevant audience (that’s what strategists, account planners, creative’s and media planners are for). I’m sure there are handful of case studies that the ad networks are willing to share over a sales meeting to try and convince us. I’m just still waiting on how any type of technology can come up with an algorithm that truly addresses a users actual mindset (although 24/7 Real Media has partnered with Mindset Media last year in making a bold but rather vague attempt at this) In the meantime, our fancy technology will continue to try and make heads or tails of reaching relevant audiences, and we’ll have to continue depending on the current technology that we have available until we can actually get into people’s brains, literally.
Note: As part of OMMA’s 2009 Survival Guide, They’ve published the “10 Things You Need to Know about Behavioral Targeting,” found here.

Recombinant Trends Over the Next 15 Years

I enjoy pondering just as much about the future as much as those predicting the trends for next year, 5 years, or even 10 years. But what about the next 15 years, or 50 years for that matter? Speaking outside of the retro-futuristic, the reality is that all new trends are recombinants of previous trends as the result of new technology, change in culture, and the adoption new things merged with consistent values. For those who haven’t yet seen Faris Yakob’s talk on recombinant culture (video), you'll see that the concept even applies to new trends are ensuing among groups.

So, I thought I would use the Trends Generator to recombine some trends of my own. The following are some of the most interesting which I randomly stumbled upon:

Nano-retail Ecomony
Self-Ethical Markets
Digital Food Agenda
Social Media Hacking
Perma-Rich Society
Hybrid Austerity Realism
Premium Lease Society
Omni Medianomics
Urban Hardware Futures
The Nano-branding Generation
Authentic Heritage-preneurship

Who knows, maybe some of these trends will actually emerge over the next decade and a half, give or take 5 years…

Companies Outsourcing Media Planning to India?

I’ve been following this trends for years, and every time a search for media planning is done on Google Trends, India comes up as the country most searching the topic.

With agencies being hit hard this year as the result of the recession, is this one more thing to worry about?
(Sorry for such a doomsayer post. I’m just sharing what’s the data is showing, even if it is only semi-directional at best. If anything, it’s actually funny :)

Young People Resemble Their Grandparents More Than Parents

An interesting study was released by Microsoft in conjunction with Synovate highlighting the lives and motivation of today’s youth. Among some of the research findings (most of which tries to demystify some common misconceptions about what youth are really interested in) is a statement that people closely resemble their grandparents more than their actual parents, with the only difference being today’s access to technology compared to that of several decades ago.

A recommended read for those who are curious (pdf).

How-Tubing and User-generated Education

Thousands of “self-made educators” today are teaching through web, which provides a free and barrier-less form of distribution to any individual wishing to share their knowledge among the collective group online. With YouTube videos consisting of how-to videos and tutorials from guitar lessons to modifying an Xbox, such videos are allowing practically anyone to share their individual expertise.

This idea of Streamed Learning extends beyond users sharing their unique and often self-promotional trade. According to Microsoft’s Young Adult study, over one-third of young adults are viewing clips demonstrating or reviewing brands and their products, and presents an opportunity for brands to continue receiving user-based and socially-focused reviews from the How-Tube crowd.

Paid Media vs. Earned Media

In thinking of paid media vs. earned media from a digital perspective, one could categorize them as follows:

Paid media is the media you buy online regardless of how well you think it may perform. This includes relevant media placement that continues to hold water as the result of optimization, fresh messaging, engaging creative, and overall impact for that which historically has performed the best at driving engagement, site traffic, signups, sales, or anything else marketers are asking from consumers.

“At the end of the day, however, paid media is just that: media purchased which allows markets to buy the right to say what it is they have to say and ultimately end up asking us to do something.

However, earned media goes beyond advertising that can be tracked by DART, Atlas, brand studies, or other ways of justifying ROI in the short run. Becoming more than a message, earned media is created as the result of a service, something useful that brands can give to their audience that the consumer can take and make their own, something they will want to propagate among the collective crowd and share because of its utility.

Whatever the idea is, the brand responsible for it will earn a lot more than share of voice, reach, and the title of Sponsor. Rather, it will earn respect, plenty of attention in the blogosphere, and ultimately influence consumers in news ways in digital space, all of which cannot bear a price tag.