Posts filed under ‘business’

The long tail: digital myth or not?

The “long tail” has been a theory accepted as fact in the digital community. It described and explained what we believed in so well, and it all makes sense. In fact, to some of us it was a source of credibility for whatever it was we’re doing, selling, or referring to: the power of the individual, individual experiences, tailored and customized offerings in a distributed and digital world that makes all of that possible.

Now, some people are rocking the boat and saying that it was all a hoax. Not a surprise, really. Every theory has a counter-theory. Surprising is that it took this long.

Found on Alan’s friendfeed


July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

On PR 2.0 and killing version numbers

In our network, we also have a global PR agency. Recently,we have been working more closely with them, and it’s been a great experience that has given me insights about a totally different way to work on brands. In this collaboration, I’ve come to notice the changes that are going on in the PR world too. Obviously, the fact that everything has changed for traditional marketing communication because people have been empowered by digital technologies has also arrived in the PR world. In fact, the say they knew it before the old traditional agencies even started thinking about changing their ways.

And some of that is true. If we look at Al Ries’ book “The fall of advertising, the rise of PR” which was authored around 2000, we can see that the trend was there for many to see. And it is true, that in the type of brand work PR agencies do, they have always focused on the more immediate human opinion and context in which they can positively influence brand opinion. But the thing is: it’s not that PR agencies were rising by because their work got better, or their approach drastically different. Isn’t it more likely that traditional agencies, which were the main mass media opinion shapers for brands started sucking? Or to be fair: ad agencies were conveniently repressing the fact that mass media started bleeding its effectiveness to digital channels and 1:1 and social media interactions.

What will be interesting for me to observe is: will PR agencies make some of the mistakes that ad agencies made? Like: “Hey, here’s an idea, we’ll just start an interactive agency that can adapt our stuff online,” or will they be less prone to the “channel-adaptation” mistake? I think they might. Why? Well, since the PR guy’s job is to influence opinion of people in a way that is different to regular mass media communication (the staple of the ad agency), it has always been about word-of-mouth, even before the web. Think about it: if, on one side, you have an expert of influencer opinion and how to use it to influence others, and, on the other side, an expert on creating single-minded propositions for mass media: who has an advantage in a landscape where single-minded messages are being fragmented, spoofed, barely measureable, and generally ineffective and where everyone can have an opinion, influence product design, brands and author about everything on a free blog? Yes, it’s definitely the PR guy, not the ad guy. So this is where they have the leg up, but I think they’ve had this advantage rather unconsciously. Now that the web is mainstream, even traditional PR (even if it was more modern than the traditional ad business by design), has to think about PR 2.0 just like advertising has to think about advertising 2.0. And they do, and they might want to break some of the negative PR stereotypes as they go along.

Okay, you say, but digital agencies obviously knew before. Yes they did, and if we again look at Al Ries’ book, you will notice it doesn’t even go into any detail of the potential of how digital channels are changing peoples’ behavior. And here is my point: while some PR agencies had started working closer to the context of the people in order to influence human behavior than traditional ad agencies, most of them still did it in a traditional channel mindset. The reevaluation of what a traditional ad agency has to do, or if in fact, it is still advertising it needs to create, is also taking place consciously in the PR world now. In fact, the question is: if the word “advertising agency” is passé, is “public relations” also a bit yesteryear?

The funny thing is, as the process of redefining the ad agency and the PR agency is underway, look at the schools of thought out there on this topic:

  • Markets are conversations, not messages
  • it’s about listening not talking
  • Engage people on their level, not as abstract consumers, insulting their intelligence
  • and so on and so on…

Doesn’t that sound all too familiar? Isn’t everyone saying the same thing?

Yeah, again, nothing new to anyone who worked in a digital agency, in, say 1995. The only difference is: now everyone is talking about it and it’s mainstream, oh, and bandwidth is better. This is good, mind you, but it also let’s me beg EVERYONE who works in this industry, whether they are in ad agencies, PR agencies, media agencies, digital agencies and even marketing people: don’t we all say the same thing, no matter who said it first, or who put out the best “integrated” campaign? Can’t we just decide that communication is a people business, not a brand business and that therefore everything we do should start with people, not brands, or products or categories or marketing toolkits?

And for chrissakes, can’t we stop putting version numbers on our respective displines (advertising 2.0, web2.0, PR2.0 and media 2.0) just because we want to tell everyone that we finally got the fact that people are in control?

Acts, not ads!

PS: I will be off on a vacation, so there will be no posts for a while.. Cheers.

May 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm 2 comments

Stating the obvious: Online Social Media generate awareness, influences opinion.

Okay, sometimes I have to repeat stuff I’ve already said before, even if it is the equivalent of stating the obvious. I do this usually when I find a study with an air of scienctific credibility that supports something that is being talked about, but lacks the digits.

In this case, I stumbled upon an article in Adweek which states that a new study was release proving that some of the most desirable consumers use the opinions of others from blogs, and social media applications to make their purchasing decisions. In fact, 74% of people polled do this. Of course this means that the brand message and promise seems to be becoming less important than what other people say about the brand and customer experience they have had. Which in turn means, that mass media advertising is becoming less important. Thanks for the statistics, but as I said, it’s still a “duh-moment.”

Still, I like it when marketing people are quoted with something that is a Heureka moment to them. Here it is:

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies,” said Ganim Nora Barnes, a senior fellow at SNCR, in a statement. This demo includes adults 25-55 with a college education, making over $100,000 a year. “These most savvy and sought-after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve.”

Yeah. Stop making advertising to generate awareness if you cannot listen, respond and improve. Otherwise you will get grilled and served with a slice of lemon on a nice “ineffective traditional advertising sampler platter.”

April 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

Reputation Defender

Doing some research, we found a site called The concept is very simple: as more and more of people’s lives are becoming transparent as they sign-up to a plethora of social networking sites, write blogs, comments on other blogs and give opinions on products and services or describe their experience, the question is: does it damage my reputation? What can people construe about me that could ultimately be bad for me?

In comes which will scour the Internet for you and inform you about your visibility and “destroy” things you don’t want. I am not sure how they go about that aspect, but it’s an interesting idea. Also, the site allows you to protect your privacy against direct marketing and telemarketing, as well as your child.

January 17, 2008 at 10:10 am 1 comment

Tools for retaining creative knowledge

Great post by my former colleague Tim Büsing, now at NetX in Aussieland, on the difficulties of retaining knowledge within creative and planning processes. Enjoy it and dare to be insprired by something no creative would usually really even look at.

November 22, 2007 at 6:00 pm 3 comments

Duh 2.0

How nice. Finally some people are waking up to the fact that web2.0 is sort of a hype consisting of stuff that has been around for a lot longer, except that you got some more bandwidth and the fact that your granny might be on the interweb too.

I congratulate the analysts at Gartner who caution wild marketing sprees into the virtual and web2.0 worlds without any understanding for the channels used, and construed based on the mere pressure of: “crap, we need something on second life, cuz the others do too.” Come on, we’ve had this thing happen before. Let’s not make bubbles where no bubbles are due.

Read the article here:

or in German:,39023450,39157048,00.htm

August 17, 2007 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

The case for Experience Research.

As someone in the line of experience planning, I know how, over the years, hard it has always been to convince companies to pay a little more to learn more about their customers. Even if you get them to pay for research, it is usually limited to research on perceptions and messaging in line with traditional market and consumer research methods, while the methods of user or shopper research such as shadowing, task analysis, user testing, etc have been even harder to sell.

Most of these insight generating practices aren’t even that expensive and bring truck-loads of new insights you wouldn’t have even imagined when you designed your product or service. In the end, this saves a lot of money when you market a product that has usability faults, or when your marketing does not conquer the “last stretch” into the customer’s life-style.

In my opinion, marketing can’t be about awareness and campaign-thinking only. In order to build long-lasting repeated product usage, you need to invest in this type of stategic planning. After all, the product or service your customer buys stays with them longer and/or has a more immediate effect on their opinion of your brand than the advertising you do. It is certainly as, if not more, important than to pretest your print ad on whether that caucasian male in the key visual looks urban enough to the target audience.

Maybe because some of the methodologies come out of software engineering and user experience design, brand and marketing clients have been slow to pick up. However, as the success of brands depends more and more on how relevant they communicate in the context of the touchpoints of today’s empowered digital customer, it’s a good idea to ask your agency whether or not they have capabilities in this line of research, regardless of how digital your product or service is.

It’s good to hear that some companies do invest in this sort of research and allow the customer help build their business. After all, it the an effective way to help brands communicate in a relevant fashion.

July 22, 2007 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

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