28 July 2009

Brilliant quote from an odd source

Facebook is a social network. Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network. Big difference. And if you don't think it's changing the way that information is dispersed, for good and bad, you're insane. -- Bill Simmons, ESPN
I could not have said it any better and as such - I have no additional follow-up comment other than "Right on!"

24 July 2009

Controversial Thought of the Day

My primary issue with the Design Thinking movement is that those involved seem to think that every other discipline should learn from them - while they don't have anything to learn from any other disciplines.

Note: the issue is with the movement, not the theory.

15 July 2009

A Darwinian Moment

Miles Nadal (from MDC) had a very interesting point today. He commented that we are, currently, seeing a Darwinian Moment like never seen before in the Advertising Agency world (and in Marketing Services in general).

I think this is entirely true. We're not just in a period of enormous change - we really are seeing potential mass extinction of an entire species or two.

But I believe that the changes that are going on are not evolutionary in the usual sense of the word (where we would simply see new, refined, versions of the species emerge due to competitive improvements - "survival of the fittest").

I actually believe this is (to extend the Darwin metaphor to the breaking point) the result of cataclysmic environment changes. The obvious (and overused) analogy is the Death of the Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were ideally evolved for the ecosystems of their time - but when there was sudden and massive climate change, they were unable to adapt quickly enough and their niches in the ecosystems were filled by entirely new species that were better suited to the new environmental conditions.

I think something similar has occurred with Advertising. I honestly don't believe the "Agency" as we know it is going to survive (or at least in any form that we currently recognize) because I don't believe that the new ecosystems will support them - and in fact won't support what we have always called "Advertising." I believe that the needs and functions of both the Agency and of Advertising (the "niche" as described above) will at least largely be filled by new entities that are optimized for these new environmental conditions - and within this new ecosystem.

If you put me on the spot - I would say that the attributes that these new emergent entities will likely possess will be:
- a focus on consumer experience
- a focus on word-of-mouth
- nimble, flexible (and likely small and/or de-centralized)
- fixated on the consumer rather than their customer (the brands)
- deeply knowledgeable about memes, viral spread and influencer marketing
- at most marginally interested in traditional "advertising" and media

I think there is going to be truly massive opportunity in this space - but it's going to come at the cost of a lot of traditional players.

13 July 2009

Newspaper Publishers are Greedy Bastards

And just when I think that we here in the US have the craziest, greediest, most arrogant and most ignorant media barons in the world... The Europeans trump us.
International publishers demand new intellectual property rights protection to safeguard the future of journalism. "Hamburg Declaration" continues to attract signatures from top media owners. (press release)
This insane bullshit from the newspapers needs to stop.


Let's look at the situation from a reality (rather than fantasy) based perspective shall we?
We continue to attract ever greater audiences for our content but, unlike in the print or TV business models, we are not the ones making the money out of our content. This is unsustainable. Publishers failing will benefit no-one, least of all consumers, or indeed the search engines and other aggregators who currently make huge profits on the back of our intellectual property. -- Gavin O'Reilly
OK... so what you're saying is:
  1. The audiences for your websites are growing.
  2. You are not making money.
  3. If you don't make money you will go out of business.
  4. If you go out of business, we'll be the ones who suffer.
  5. The reason you're not making money is because search engines and "other aggregators" are taking your profits.


Okay. Let's see if I get this straight. Your audience size is growing. And the way you make money is by charging advertisers for access to your audience (advertising). So you should be able to make more money from your advertisers. But for some reason (which you claim is Search Engines), you are not able to charge advertisers for access to your (growing) audience.

Is that right?
You do realize that sounds completely crazy right? Search engines (which drive this ever-increasing audience to your site) are making it so that you can't make money from this audience. Despite the fact that you've had more than a hundred years' experience getting good at making money from your audience.

Well... let's pretend that you're not smoking crack. Let's move on and let me quickly point a few things out...

There are numerous content sites out there that are not aggregators (that generate original content) that have growing audiences and are making money. These site are very happy about Search Engines - because in most cases these search engines generate between 40% and 80% of the traffic to the websites. In other words... these "enemies of publishing" are responsible for around half of the revenues of these content sites. So what is the difference between them and you?

Well... they are web companies. They don't have vestigial print publications or legacy radio stations or other businesses that use furnaces that burn bullion to heat their offices. And they don't have the bloat that traditional media companies have - with assistants for anyone who has a title Director or above and company cars and private jets. For the most part, the people who are getting paid in these businesses are the people who do the work.

So they are web companies... but more than that... they are NEW companies. They don't feel entitled to a lifestyle and an expense model that is unsustainable.

While you all... you are fat, lazy and greedy.

Listen up... the problem isn't your revenues.
It's your expenses.

We need search engines to recognize ACAP as a step towards acknowledging that content providers have the right to decide what happens to their content and on what terms. The European Commission and other legislators call on our industry constantly to come up with solutions - here we have one and we call upon the regulators to back it up. -- Gavin O'Reilly

Gavin, Gavin Gavin....

Either you're an idiot or you think we're idiots.

I'm going to assume you're an idiot first (since the alternative is really insulting).

There is this thing called robots.txt (it's a simple text file). You can ask the web guys that you had hired that work down in the basement where you used to store the executive staff's supplies of Port and Sherry before shareholders got cranky about that perk. They'll know what it is.

Have them change it to read the following:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /
When they do this - it will result in none of your content being indexed by search engines. In other words, Google et al will no longer be able to "steal your content." You'll be in total control.

You can talk to those web guys about this - they'll tell you can even (shockingly enough) exclude only Google, or only Yahoo. You can even exclude specific content or specific types of content! And Google, Yahoo, Microsoft -- they actually all provide tools to quickly re-index your content, so as soon as you've changed this single file you can start all the search engines removing all your precious IP and you can make some real money without these pirates! w00t!!!

Now... assuming you're not an idiot - but think we ARE idiots...

Listen up Gavin.

We know what you all are up to. You don't want to give up your cushy limo. You don't want to fly business class (much less coach). You like being able to expense your links fees and your club memberships and your dinners and drinks. You like having an assistant (or two) who can run out and buy birthday presents for friends and family and pick up your bespoke suits at the dry cleaners for you.

You are scared of this new web world. You feel like you're losing control

And you see all the money Google is making - while your business is burning cash.

You know that I'm calling your bluff with the robots.txt file nonsense. The last thing you really want to do is cut off Google. Christ - that would cut off half your traffic (ie half your audience numbers)! Advertisers would shit a brick.

So like any old school greedy bastard, you're going for the shakedown.
To be honest, I've got nothing against that.

But trying to get folks like me to do your dirty work?!?!
Trying to scam me into thinking that you all are somehow special and need to be protected?

Not cool.

News needs to be protected.
Fair, ethical and honest journalism needs to be protected.

But publishers and media executives like you? You all have skimmed so much money off the top for so long that you should be able to take care of your damn selves.

News doesn't need you.
Journalism doesn't need you.
And sure as hell we don't need you.