Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#YouTube #Counterculture and #Transmedia #Art

Swiss artists Comenius Roethlisberger and Admir Jahic have created these renditions of YouTube videos “in an attempt to disrupt the haphazard collection of archived videos that YouTube has become.” The artist duo has “transformed the visual (virtual) language of ‘broadcasting’ back into physicality by producing illustrations on a heavy handmade paper from virtual references with elemental art materials to do what they do best, that is, add to the confusion.”

Comenius and Admir touch upon the Warholian nature of Pop...

... To more Degas-like Impressionism (or more aptly known as disambiguation).

Right on, fellas.

You might even consider this a collective form of transmedia narrative, but I’d rather not confuse things any more ;)

Then again, this makes you think about what other elements we can extract from digital culture at large, recontextualize, and then shape as our own.

This also makes you wonder about what experiences can really mean in a world that is this hyper-connected and hyper-socially challenged... And how individuals like you and I can profit from the delivery of alternative, or augmented, perspectives by connecting the dots in more meaningful ways.


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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blogs, Vlogs and Pay Walls... Now What?

There are now over 200M blogs in the world. Video consumption is spiking. Display ads are resurging. Search advertising is on the rise. Most newspapers are dying a quick death, while the best are doing better. Many are implementing pay walls. And like cable TV, people are willing to pay for premium content (okay, premium can mean a lot of things, but work with me here...).

What does this tell us? Ultimately, that advertising and publishing are becoming one and the same.

The simple truth is that there is a glut of content on offer, just not a lot of good or great content. The Long Tail has created a mighty middle, dedicated to the mediocre and often mindless contraptions of sensationalism.

Remember, we are now at a state in our existence where people are actually searching for meaning. Really, they are. Just look around you.

Ok, so that said, Burns would tell us to stop bitching and to pony up for that great content we seek (or the content that seeks us). We sure as heck know Rupert would too. And we now have a pretty good idea of what Chris Andersen thinks about all of this. Oh, but wait a second... Rupert makes money off of Burns, and Burns sells ads. Free means compromise, and it’s not entirely clear, at least to us little people, if this is a good or a bad thing.

[image credits: &]

So now what?

As the saying goes, Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy.

If you don’t want to look at ads, then it’s time to pay the piper. And believe it or not, that piper... Could be you.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to the Age of Personalized Publishing

Welcome to The Age of Personalized Publishing. All in one, one for all.

I can create my own dynamic platform. I’m hyper-connected. I don’t have to follow anyone or join groups because my preferences constantly change. I can be wherever and whomever I want to be. I don’t have to search for great content, it finds me. And I can act with purpose.

My content is a direct reflection of my social identity, and vice versa. I don’t just live in the Cloud, I am the Cloud.

I can avoid ads, or, I can create them. I can create, buy, sell or place media. If I’m good enough, people will pay for my content. If I’m smart enough, I can do this as a partner to major brands. Or, I can build my own brand, and create products supported with tools provided to me by corporations. Or individuals. Or both.

The term ROI is no longer thrown around egregiously. It can mean something like ‘Reciprocity of Intent’. Or it can mean absolutely nothing at all.  

Blogs morph into content hubs.
Banners are now publishing units.
Microsites are now micromedia.
Search is a sole function of community.
Social utilities are a part of the mainstream.
Doing good is the same as making money.
‘Online’ and ‘offline’ are married.
People are media.
‘Experts’, ‘gurus’ and ‘evangelists’ no longer exist.
Great storytellers do, however.

Production is truly democratized.
Collaboration is editorialized.
History is recontextualized.
Artifacts are cherished.

Agencies are facilitators.
Brands are micropublishers.
Publishers are anthropologists.
Technologies build culture.
Networks provide meaning.
Studios support infrastructure.

Governments listen.
Politicians act.
Teachers transcend.

Please, tell me, is this just a dream?

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Digital Landscape: No Longer Truly Predictive, No Longer Purely Online

There has been a lot of exciting talk about 2010 and where digital marketing is headed. No doubt there are some very good insights being shared from a lot of very bright people.

But as marketers, I think we all tend to get caught up in predicting things like channel adoption, how to somehow reengineer ad content, and in figuring out ways to deliver the “soft-sell”.

The reality is that all of the variables around engagement as well as conversion — actually, building relationships — are all attributable to culture, first and foremost. And while we can make predictions about human behavior, we’re still figuring out the nuances of how communities share information and content. We know that people now sell products and services to other people, but what what we don’t have a firm grasp on just yet is why.

But that’s where things are getting quite interesting.

Take a social utility such as Facebook, for example. We’re seeing tremendous growth in adoption, yet profound shifts in retention, and a noticeable decline in attention. This means that people are yearning for experiences they can’t get anywhere else (or those they can get anywhere), and are not interested in being herded into a corner to find them. They also crave ubiquity — this means less time spent in a particular location, engaging with content we think they care about. Blogs for one, are taking a huge hit in this regard simply because people are starting to figure out that they don’t need to visit a destination site to get the information or content they need.

Consumptive behaviors and user archetypes are constantly changing, and these aren't purely functions of 'digital' or 'analog', 'online' or 'offline', but rather experience extraction, creation and recreation. And these aren’t things we can predict, but rather things we must adapt to.

As Griffin Farley puts it so brilliantly on his blog: “Plan not for the people you reach, but the people they reach.”

As for being smarter about developing and selecting ads, what all of this data tells us in sum is that no one really cares about ad-like objects... and if that means disguising ads as entertainment, then so be it, but the reverse is not likely, at least not anymore.

Or, you can simply create a conversation and then determine what your messaging can be as the result of a collaborative experience. Here’s an example of a happy medium we’re developing through a platform we call AdTalker (and no, we’re not afraid to share this because the idea isn’t entirely new, but the backend data framework – the secret sauce – certainly is ;):

The larger point is that all of the real-world intelligence we have available at our fingertips is actually reopening the doors of self-actualization, because we are now seeking  action, not just alignment with our personal value systems. The social web of the last few years has validated much of our beliefs, and now it is formalizing more viscerally in the way we build our social graphs and in how communities band together. We are witnessing a profound shift in consciousness, and this is not something that I think any of us could’ve predicted or even imagined, at least not to this extent.

Perhaps now we should be really focusing on things like:

  • adaptive analytics — how we move with markets, not just channels or inventory
  • publishing versus messaging — creating, enabling and propagating conversations & experiences
  • thinking of mobile (or mobility) as more than just a platform — geotilities as the regular instigators of physical connectivity
  • socializing the more 'traditional' forms of media through these stronger content offerings and extensions (OOH, print, radio & TV)
  • living a more enriched life -- (you fill in these blanks ;)

Going forward, do not fear technology, because even though it has leapt ahead of our thinking for a good many years, it now depends on our evolution as people. Technology, after all, cannot create experiences, it can only enhance them and help make them more accessible.

People are pixels. People are media. Fathom that, and then entertain the possibilities, because now, we can all play a significant role in this evolution.

<div style="width:425px;text-align:left" id="__ss_2668124"><a style="font:14px Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif;display:block;margin:12px 0 3px 0;text-decoration:underline;" href="" title="Technology Integration: Adaptive Versus Disruptive Engagement">Technology Integration: Adaptive Versus Disruptive Engagement</a></object><div style="font-size:11px;font-family:tahoma,arial;height:26px;padding-top:2px;">View more <a style="text-decoration:underline;" href="">documents</a> from <a style="text-decoration:underline;" href="">Gunther Sonnenfeld</a>.</div></div>

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jon Samsel » Blog Archive » 30 Ad Agencies Ranked By Heardable Score

My friend and colleague Jon Samsel, SVP of Interactive Marketing at BofA, played around with Heardable tool in private BETA and wrote a nice piece on his findings earlier this month, including a bit on how some of the top global agencies rank based on their Heardable score.

It's interesting that this list should come out now, considering all the recent talk about how agencies should practice what they preach, particularly in their social communications efforts.

To reiterate, Heardable scans more than 20 on-site and 20 off-site variables (meaning outside of the main site but across the digital landscape) to provide a holistic purview of a brand's online visibility. We look at the primary areas of portability, shareability, measurability, sociability, actionability and searchability to assess a brand's score, as well as how it might compare to others in a particular category.

One other important thing to note is that while we start the process by scanning in a URL, we look at a brand's website as a conduit for its overall presence, meaning that in today's consumer environment, content must be syndicated and hyper-targeted to individuals and groups as they share and consume, when they share and consume. In this way, brands have effectively become publishers, and people follow good content (as well as engage with it), so those who serve up the best stuff in the best of ways will capture loyalty... plain and simple ;)

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Talent imitates, genius steals: Myth of the Near Future

This film from Faris Yakob, in my humble opinion, really sums up the hypersocial relationship between brands, technology and entertainment in a simple, thought-provoking and powerfully contextual way. And of course, uses a nice narrative to do so ;)

And speaking of narrative, also note how Faris describes the use of transmedia elements as an integral part of one's social identity (that transcends one's presence online or offline, and certainly blurs the line between the two...), what I believe is a key distinction between transmedia development and integrated or branded content development.

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A Glance at Online Brand Visibility Within the Automotive Category

As a lead strategist on the Toyota national account (I'm a hired gun for the Omnicom agency, RAPP), I can tell you that the Heardable platform (wide BETA release to come in late January) has been invaluable in helping to prove out the importance of online visibility. In fact, not only does the Heardable score reflect the constant need for the Toyota brand (and its various portfolio brands) to uphold and manage its online reputation, but in using our comparative analysis tool, we can see exactly how the competition might be gaining ground, when, why, and how often.

The good news is that the brand is taking very active steps (and following our advice) to improve its content base. The great irony that we must all realize as digital marketers is that beyond technologies themselves, lies a vibrant, yearning and demanding culture, one dictating that brand relevance comes in the form of compelling and engaging content. In other words, we have plenty of delivery systems to choose from, but if our words aren't strong, then it doesn't matter what we proclaim to be or do as brands.

I've been running a comparative analysis on Toyota versus the 4 primary U.S. market competitors since the beginning of November, and the brand overall seems to be holding on fairly strong, despite the fact that its content offerings are disjointed... to put it mildly. The following are some cursory screenshots of the results.

You’ll notice in this next section that Honda and Nissan are not very far behind, and both have a much stronger social presence online than Toyota does. The takeaway there is that Toyota, as the biggest car manufacturer in the world, has more cars on the street than the other guys, which means that there is more content by default being indexed into searches.

Now of course, this poses a curious debate over the value of online conversation. If you look at the Toyota diagnostics, you’ll see that the brand still has no text, audio or video feeds on its main page (; we also don’t detect any analytics packages, but upon second glance at examining the code, we found Google Analytics embeds. One of the things we like to point out with our tool is that if critical feature sets such as shareability, measurability or portability are not detected through a scan, then it’s likely that the brand is not doing a great job of making this information known or accessible. The bottom line is that it’s only a matter of time before one of these other brands gets ahead in the race... That is, if we can’t get this new, market-relevant content developed and syndicated asap.

Theoretically speaking, all of this suggests that if a dominate brand can generate equity in the marketplace by virtue of its ongoing advertising efforts, and of course, by putting out solid product, it can sustain its place in the market only for a limited time.

But we all know that Being Heardable, and more importantly, optimizing brand visibility, is about going the extra mile (pun intended). And that’s what we all live for.

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