Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Great Search Payola

Not long ago I predicted search companies would tie the searcher into the revenue stream. After all, if someone is making a buck from my interest and eyeballs, shouldn’t I be entitled to a cut? Today Microsoft announced CashBack, a program clearly designed to lure consumers away from Google to Microsoft’s Live Search. The upshot is, if you use Live Search and end up buying the product (online) from a participating retailer you’ll get a kickback, er…I mean rebate. While this program is tied directly to purchase, it’s only a matter of time before someone (probably Google) figures out how to include you and me in the revenue stream based on our search behavior. In the meantime, maybe Microsoft could increase their share of search by make it more fun to type “msn” than “google.”

The Expanding Social Graph

There are several sites now that provide a wealth of how-to information, including Howcast and Instructables. Far and away my favorite is Howcast, which blends professionally produced content with content from semi-professional enthusiasts. These sites provide an opportunity for marketers to reach influencers, especially for companies in this space (e.g. improvement retailers.) In addition to great how-to instruction, these sites provide a means for collaboration via social networking, allowing users to build profiles and find colleagues with similar interests. Sites like these for DIY enthusiasts and other sites like Pandora and iLike for music enthusiasts provide a new dimension to social networking by enabling people to expand their social graph to people with similar interests. Like a virtual Meetup, users will be able to connect and collaborate without meeting face-to-face. I’m looking forward to following this trend and being a part of it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It’s About the Web

I’m always amazed by the fixation marketers still have with their web sites. As if the Internet is just one giant TV station and their web site is a giant commercial (albeit one you can interact with). What about the interconnectedness of the web? What is your web site when looked at as a node in something more important? Does it make sense? Does it provide something worthwhile, outside of its relationship to your products, services and/or company? Does it need to?

Friday, December 28, 2007

What is it about Second Life...?

While the bloom is off the rose with Second Life, it is far from gone. In order to understand the power of Second Life, you need to see my 15-year-old son. He spends hours on Second Life, talking live with friends. They prowl through this virtual world and meet people from all over the country…and the world. And, most importantly, they collaborate and learn from one another. They build castles and buildings and vehicles. They have fun making each others’ avatars dance and do other crazy things. They learn as a group, continuously honing their 3D modeling and scripting skills. I see a major trend here in collaborative creativity and collaborative learning. Creative and training professionals would be well advised to keep a close watch on SL and other emerging virtual worlds.

Mass Creativity

Crowdsourcing…a way to tap the creativity of the masses. Will it make us better creatively, or worse? Some would argue that by enabling anyone to participate in the creative business we will be compromising the industry. Probably true in the short run. But typically this evens out and once the novelty of everyone being a creative wears off the best work bubbles up. Personally, I feel the more people participating in creative endeavors, the better. We need to raise the overall creativity of everyone in business today. It’s only through exercise that we’ll improve. Meanwhile, I enjoy visiting iStockPhoto and imagining that I’m a photographer...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Realistic Visionary

I like to think of myself as visionary yet realistic. Being in the ad agency business I’ve attended my fair share of meetings where ideas were discussed, all while everyone in the room knew the client didn’t have the means to do it. While I value the power of blue sky brainstorming, I’m not sure of the value of coming away with a laundry list of ideas that can never be implemented.

That having been said, never underestimate the power of using those ideas as a springboard to a great strategy or creative concept. This seems to be the part that we frequently never get to. At some point we need to look at the ideas and apply the filter of “now, what can we do with these ideas to solve X, knowing our constraints.” We need to consider the tactical issues. Do we have the budget? Can we do it ourselves? Can we hire it out? All while not letting the complexity of execution bog us down.

It’s a challenge, but blue sky ideas tempered with a dose of reality can net far more concrete results. It’s interesting how often the best ideas in an ideation session come about when everyone is sick of brainstorming the topic.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What is it about Second Life?

Second Life is getting a lot of press. Marketers are experimenting in Second Life. With its relatively small population, why are companies putting so much time, effort and money into Second Life? Many industry pundits are beginning to ask this question.

In order to really understand the power of Second Life, you need to see my 14-year-old son. He spends hours on Second Life, talking to friends. They chat live with one another using Xfire and spend hours roaming Second Life. They build staffs, wings, tip jars. And throw fireballs and cast spells. They cause each others’ avatars to dance and do other crazy things. They prowl through this virtual world and meet people from all over the country…and the world. They talk, they interact and they socialize.

So, why is it that the industry sees the power in My Space, yet seems mystified by Second Life? It’s the ultimate in social networking. William Gibson fans see it as the first iteration of his famous online world. So, get with it. Get in there. Get a Second Life. And if you can figure out how to make my avatar stop dancing, please let me know.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Importance of Brand Personality

One important component of “branding” is establishing visual standards for a brand—colors, logos, treatments. But also critical to brand development, and oven overlooked is the brand personality. Brand personality encompasses brand voice and brand characteristics. Often, voice and characteristics are overlooked, but brand development should begin with the critical elements. By first defining the voice and capturing descriptive terms that summarize the characteristics, you can guide the visual development so that the result is a more cohesive portrayal of your brand. Every brand development team should include one or more creative writers who can lead this development and capture the thinking that results. By developing the entire brand personality, including voice, characteristics and visual treatment your brand will possess a strong character that will provide solid direction to future branding efforts.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Imagination, Passion, Intellect, Playfulness

These are the cornerstones of innovation. Companies with a culture of innovation understand this and make these traits part of their culture. They seek out these traits in hiring, they nurture these traits and they display these traits in everything they do. The Internet and many of the companies that developed as an offshoot were built on these traits. How else do you explain names like Google, or Yahoo? Twenty years ago you would have been drummed out of a meeting for proposing those names for a corporation. Thank heavens this is changing. But we still have a long way to go.