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The Signal – Instrumenting Our Social Lives

By - March 16, 2010

From my FM column: Tuesday Signal: Get Ready for a Real Conversation About Privacy, Publicy, and Social Media

I’ve long said that I’m a fan of social networks and media, of course, but I’ve also pointed out that most of it is artless and ingenuous in comparison with the sophistication each of us has when it comes to “being social.” So far, our technologies lack the instrumentation each of us employs when interacting in the simplest social situation. We have the benefit of hundreds of thousands of years of social evolution – not to mention millions of years of biological evolution. Yet as social creatures we flock to technologies that allow us to express that fundamental need, even if it fails to truly reflect our nature.
What’s heartening is how our culture has begun to ask interesting questions about what this all means – for our businesses, as marketers, as citizens, and as individuals. As Danah Boyd states in her opening keynote at SXSW: “ChatRoulette may be a fad, but the idea that publicity and privacy will get mashed up in new ways will not be.”
Tens of millions have flocked to ChatRoulette - and while it may well be a fad, the impulse which sent so many to “only connect” is not. Understanding who we are as private and public beings will be a fundamental component of what it means to be literate in a modern society. And marketers who make a practice of understanding this will succeed over those who do not.
I predict a punctuation mark in this conversation over the coming months, in the form of Facebook’s public data firehose. Expected at their F8 developer conference this June, the Facebook firehose will allow developers to create all sorts of unexpected applications and services which leverage Facebook status updates, wall posts, and more. Twitter should get the credit for pushing this open architecture, but Facebook’s implementation of it will be revelatory – and not necessarily in ways that might be positive. I predict one of the first applications created will be a site publishing Really Stupid Pictures You Probably Should Not Have Posted To Facebook, for example. Cue media frenzy and….well you get the picture.

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FM Signal: Wired's "iPad Demo"

By - March 14, 2010

I’ve posted Monday’s Signal over at the FM blog. From it:FM-signal-header.gif

What I find interesting is the media’s response to the iPad (and I include tech blogs in the category of “media”). Overwhelmingly, the media wanted to believe that a hip magazine like Wired (caveat, I was a co-founder) would, natch, have the hippest iPad demo, a demo that, natch, would prove the viability of … the media’s own threatened business model!

The truth, however, is a bit more complicated.

The Wired demo was pretty much the starting gun for a month of media frenzy about how great the iPad is going to be. Wired’s own posting about its demo is titled “Wired Magazine on the iPad”.

However, the truth is this: This demo was made using Adobe software (not available in native runtime on the iPad) and run off a Dell laptop. I’ve confirmed this with Adobe. Also true: the software used to create the demo will absolutely NOT create or compile apps that work natively on the iPad. And this is due to decisions made by Apple. Yes, there is a kludgy workaround that Adobe has authored, but it’s handicapped, to say the least. As much as the Apple would like to claim it has banned Adobe for technical reasons, by all accounts outside of Cupertino, Apple has banned Adobe due to control and economic issues: It simply doesn’t want developers able to create software from which Apple won’t profit.

Friday Signal: Location Location Location

By - March 12, 2010

Screen shot 2010-03-12 at 7.17.59 AM.pngToday’s Signal is brought to you by the letter B. For Baseball. Every year around this time my son and I head out to Scottsdale, where our beloved SF Giants play Spring ball. We play hooky for a Friday and see a few games. It’s bliss.  

So despite a few interesting bits of news about location services, Signal will be a bit weak today – back at you strong on Monday. Here are some links worth perusing:

In stock nearby? Look for the blue dots. (Google Blog) Local is the new black. In this case, Google closes the loop between local, mobile, and commerce. Great idea, but it needs scale and participation from major retailers. Lucky for Google, it has AdWords. Which nearly every major retailer uses. Watch this space.

What’s Happening—and Where? (Twitter blog) As I said…location location location.

Foursquare and Starbucks Team Up to Offer Customer Rewards (Mashable) Foursquare is the new black of location for marketers.

AOL Launches Lifestream As New Standalone Product. This Is What Google Buzz Should Have Been (TC) Mike likes him some AOL.

Who Are We Really? And Why Marketers Should Care (AdAge) Smart commentary on our multicultural reality.

Google Is Bing’s 4th Largest Referring Source (SEL) Google is the heart pumping the oxygen of attention around the web (at least, it is for now.) So this isn’t that big a surprise. But it is kind of fun.

Thursday Signal – Repeat After Me: Apps Are (Currently) Myopic (Or…We've Seen This Movie Before…)

By - March 10, 2010

Screen shot 2010-03-10 at 8.26.08 PM.png

I’m not claiming to be deeply informed about the app marketplace, which Google stirred up today (and, to my mind, the market could use a few more spoons). But I do use apps. At least, I use enough of them to feel like a nearly typical member of the species (as compared to a few of my peers, who are so deeply involved in AppWorld that they have – just maybe – lost a bit of perspective.)  

So, here’s my beef with AppWorld. In short, it reminds me of computing back in about 1987. Yeah, 24 years ago, back when I was a cub reporter for MacWeek, I covered the burgeoning world of Apple and Apple developers. And trust me, I’m getting a pretty strong sense of deja vu. I guess being old counts for something.

Back in the late 1980s, folks who developed applications for the new Macintosh OS had two very strong sentiments about Apple. One, they LOVED the company and its Macintosh development environment. They loved it for what it was, for what it could be, and for the opportunity it presented to them – a newly fallen bowl of virgin powder, into which clever and entrepreneurial programmers could strap it on and push off to lay fresh tracks. Imagine the possibilities! A program that let you paint with your mouse! A program that let you visualize otherwise mute spreadsheets! A program that taught you how to type by watching actual fingers move on a keyboard on the screen! Holy cow, the possibilities were limitless!

But then there was the second strong sentiment. I’ll sum it up in a phrase: F*cking G@#$%damn Apple! The company was impossible to work with, utterly controlling, miserly with its developer tools, overbearing in its demands, myopic in its decision making. In fact, an entire organization sprung up, the Macintosh Developers Network (I think, not the current MDN, which is a UK org), seemingly driven by its members need to console each other in the face of the inscrutable Cupertino. (Apple never did really embrace the MDN, though I found in its members some very good sources…).

So let’s fast forward to today. Once again, Apple has created an extraordinary new environment for developers and entrepreneurs, and once again, it has fostered pretty much the same two sentiments.

But unlike the late 1980s, this time the world is different. It’s connected. It’s web-driven. The Web is the World, and the world demands connections.

But so far, what I’ve noticed most about apps in AppWorld is that they are, for the most part, all about themselves. They’re not connected to the greater web, and they don’t encourage you to move seamlessly from one app to another, depending on your intent.

And that, to my mind, can’t stand.

Just a thought. Now, onto some good linkage:

Google Launches the Google Apps Marketplace (Mashable) As I said….

comScore Reports January 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share (Comscore) Because you can’t get enough datapoints about something that confuses us all.

Engage your users to survive, Google tells newspapers (Guardian) Google, lecturing publishers on engagement. The world is truly upside down.

Gen Y Goes for Online Banking (eMarketer) Take heed. Are you offering your services online? Why not?

ARM sees over 50 new iPad-like devices out this year (Computerworld) Thank God.

Why MySpace Co-Presidents Aren’t Worried About Growth (PaidContent) Well, I doubt that will last.

FTC Said to Ask Google Rivals for Statement on AdMob, May Signal Challenge (Bloomberg) My my. Hmm. My.

Corporate Branding Goes Rogue (AdAge) “Social media is not just another tactic to be tacked onto the proverbial backside of a corporate identity system. It needs to be recognized for what it is — the disruptive technology that radically changes the game. So much of what operated in the old corporate branding model simply does not apply anymore.”

RealNetworks’ Rob Glaser on why Apple’s model must be stopped (TechFlash) ….and as long as I’m on the hobbyhorse…comScore: Android Shows Strength As Mobile Web Usage Grows (SEL)

Announcing The Fifth Annual CM Summit: Theme and Initial Lineup (FM blog) I had to remind you of this, didn’t I? Great lineup….

Ad Publishing Tool Bridges Traditional And Online Media (MediaPost)

Google Gains Traction In Display-Ad Push (WSJ via ATD)

Video Chat on the Plane? Illegal? OK? Legal Gray Area?

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201003101937.jpgI’m writing this at around 36,000 feet, on a United Airlines flight between New York and San Francisco. That’s not so unusual – anymore – Wifi had been on planes for over a year now, and I’ve grown accustomed to the service.

Why? Well, because my family also has Wifi, and my kids can now gather around any one of our home computers, fire up iChat, and BAM! they can see me even as I zip across the Nebraska sky at some 400+ mph.

Except tonight, as I was chatting with my lovely wife and two lovely daughters (much to the amusement of my seat mates, using Bose headphones and my MacBook’s built in microphone), the very nice steward – who I must note brought me extra nuts even though he didn’t have to – told me I had to quit my video chat.

“Security. Cameras not allowed!” was the response. There was clearly no argument.

Screen shot 2010-03-10 at 7.17.08 PM.pngI protested, but not too loudly. I don’t want to end up stripped searched in a cold basement cell below SFO, after all. I told my family I had to quit the video chat. My girls were not pleased – today my oldest got a new bed and REALLY wanted to show it off (and let me tuck her into it from an airplane. I mean, how cool is that?! Isn’t that what Cisco makes the commercials about? Or AT&T back in 1994?! You Will? Until someone tells you that you won’t!). My wife spent three hours putting it together, and she wanted me to see it too. (Well really, she wanted me to see the look on our daughter’s face when I saw it, anyone who’s a parent will understand…)

So what’s a curious guy to do? To the Internet! Which is exactly what I did. Responses starting pouring in. Including one from a pal at the State Department, who echoed my basic goal: To use video chat to tuck my kids into bed isn’t a crime. Or at least, shouldn’t be.

Anyway, this is clearly a wonderful charlie horse. The flight attendant just showed me the United policy manual which prohibits “two way devices” from communicating with the ground. However, the PLANE HAS WIFI. To combat this, not unlike China, United and other airlines have blocked Skype and other known video chat offenders. Apparently, they missed Apple iChat. Oops.

DOH! It’s a conundrum! More on this as it develops. My pal at State is working on it….

At least I can still write a post from 36,000 feet. Kids, you’ll have to wait for the tuck-in…for now. (Despite my son and wife’s attempt at busting me by repeatedly inviting me to new video chats…)
(image credit )
Update: My pal at State says she can’t find any government rule against video chat on a plane. She did point me to this FAA fact memo, which says the reason Skype et al are blocked are to stop chatty folks like me from bumming out their seatmates. Not exactly the same logic used by my otherwise stellar United flight attendants…

Announcing The Fifth Annual CM Summit: Theme and Initial Lineup

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summit-arrow-color-2.png(cross posted from FM blog )

I’m very excited to announce the theme and line-up for our fifth CM Summit, to be held in New York June 7-8 (it’s the kickoff conference to New York’s annual Internet Week).

We’ve got a lot to talk about this year – our theme is “Marketing in Real Time.”

2009 was the year the web went real time. Twitter grew five fold and became a major online player, tens of millions of us learned how to live out loud in public. Facebook responded by changing its approach to user data, making its more than 400 million user profiles publicly searchable. And Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo began integrating Facebook and Twitter’s real time signals into their search offerings, creating an ever-circulating ecosystem of conversation across the web.

2009 was also the year the web went mobile and local. The “broadband of mobile” – 3G – became ubiquitous. As Apple’s iPhone consolidated its grip on the smart phone market, Google and its partners introduced the open-platform Android, Palm introduced its Pre and Pixi, Verizon its map, and AT&T responded in force, kicking off what is sure to be a multi-year, multi-party marketing war. “There’s an app for that” became a cultural catchphrase, and even Intel prepared to become a player in the new app economy, driven by the rise of a new class of devices, including netbooks. By year’s end, Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker had predicted that the mobile web will far exceed the current web in scope and opportunity.

Mobile, local, real time, social – in its second decade, the web has matured and taken a central position in our culture, one that no longer relegates the Internet to role of “other.” The web is now a part of every aspect of our lives, and as marketers, we must integrate this fact into our strategy and our execution. That means rethinking what we’ve grown accustomed to calling “traditional media” and imagining new ways to blend offline and online. It means developing the skills and practices of a publisher, and taking a platform-based approach to connecting with customers. And it means rethinking some of our “best practices” – including measurement, research, and the agency-client relationship.

So what can we learn from the past year as we enter a decade where the real time web will become ubiquitous? What worked, what failed, and why? What platforms have emerged as steady new partners? What startups are lurking in Silicon Valley’s wings, poised to once again change the game and offer new channels of communication with our customers?

At the CM Summit you’ll hear cross-platform case studies from senior marketers at brands like Starbucks, AT&T, Adobe, Paramount, and many more. You’ll meet the leaders of platform companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. And as always, you’ll discover the next wave of disruptors – companies like Foursquare, Boxee, and AdMob.

Here is the initial 2010 speaker lineup – expect more announcements in the coming weeks. Register now (while the early bird price is still in effect!), and I look forward to seeing you in New York!

Omar Hamoui – Founder & CEO AdMob

Ann Lewnes – SVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications Adobe

Chris Schembri – VP Media Services AT&T

Henry Blodget – EIC The Business Insider

Avner Ronen – CEO boxee

Ken Wirt – VP, Consumer Marketing Cisco

Deanna Brown – President and COO Federated Media

Dennis Crowley – Co-founder foursquare

Rob Norman – CEO Group M North America

Bradley Horowitz – VP, Product Marketing Google

Susan Wojcicki – VP, Product Management Google

Dennis Woodside – VP, Americas Operations Google

Arianna Huffington – Co-founder & Editor-in-chief Huffington Post

Joel Lunenfeld – CEO Moxie Interactive

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. – Chairman The New York Times Company

Amy Powell – SVP, Interactive Marketing Paramount Pictures

Bob Lord – CEO Razorfish

Chris Bruzzo – VP- Brand, Content& Online Starbucks Coffee Company

Dick Costolo – COO Twitter

Hilary Schneider – Executive Vice President Yahoo

The CM Summit thanks its sponsors:

Premier: Adobe Diamond: American Express Platinum: Blend Interactive, Intel Gold: Dell, HP, Verizon Media Partners: IAB, Internet Week NY

PS – If you’re interested, follow us on Twitter, fan us on Facebook and join our Linked In Group. We look forward to shaping this conference together.

Weds. Signal: Get Me a Mobile Strategy or You're Fired!

By - March 09, 2010

201003091750.jpg(Cross Posted to the FM Blog, where Signal will have a permanent home soon)

Mobile. It’s on everyone’s lips, but no one knows what the hell to do about it. At least, that’s what I hear from every single marketer I talk to, and I’ve made it a point to talk to a lot of you in the past few months.

It’s a source of significant frustration: Everyone’s saying mobile is the next thing, but no one has a solution for how to market in the space in a way that delivers the four pillars of brand marketing: Scale, Safety, Quality, and Engagement.

Sure, you can now buy banners across ad networks in mobile, and lord knows that ability has paid off handsomely for AdMob and Quattro (acquired by Google and Apple, respectively, for very large multiples of very small revenues), but honestly, we all know that’s not an endgame. More like an opening gambit in a chess match where nearly everyone feels like they’re playing checkers. (Except Steve Jobs, natch. He’s got it ALL figured out).

OK, forgive me the snark, but if Apple has this figured out and the rest of us are consigned to tithe at the church of iPad/iPhone, we’re well and truly screwed.

Ditto for the strategy of “I’ll get me a cool app”, which feels about as innovative as “Get me a viral video” did back in 2007. I’m not saying having a good app isn’t part of a great mobile strategy (I love what Oakley has done for surfers, for example), but one good app don’t a solution make.

Earlier in the Signal, I wrote about MOLRS, my entirely non-viral and made-up acronym for Mobile Local Realtime Social. My point was this: Mobile is not a singular use case. Mobile is related to an ecosystem of local (where I am), realtime (what I’m doing right now), and social (who I’m with, who I want to tell about what I’m doing, etc.).

I sense the answer to a truly quality, scaled marketing solution in the “mobile” environment has to do with understanding this broader framework. It’s a complicated landscape with way too many middlemen at the moment. But my Spidey senses are tingling, and something’s about to happen, I can feel it. If only I knew what it was….

Meanwhile, here are some links to chew on, much of it MOLRS related. It’s better than eating your phone. (image credit )

Internet Services: Mobile Advertising: The Hype, The Hope, And The Financial Reality (Weisel – pdf download) This is a research report sent to me by Thomas Weisel’s Jordan Rohan. I’ll probably get in trouble for posting it. Maybe.

Foursquare Introduces New Tools for Businesses (NYT) Analytics so businesses can figure out what they want to do with Foursquare. Smart.

Just In Time For The Location Wars, Twitter Turns On Geolocation On Its Website (TechCrunch) As I said earlier, expect Twitter and Facebook to play for the Checkin signal in the Database of Intentions.

Facebook Will Allow Users to Share Location (NYT) Hey, wait, on the SAME DAY! Seems *everyone’s* MOLRS are coming in at once…

US online ad spend set to overtake print (Guardian) Well of course it is. About time.

Bingo! Microsoft’s Search Numbers Keep Going Up (Paid Content) Bing gains, Yahoo! loses.

10 neglected interactive marketing best practices (iMedia)

Tuesday Signal: The Internet Is A Human Right (And Spending Is Up. Yippee!)

By - March 08, 2010

Well, it’s Monday night, but I’m in NYC, and I am pretty sure Tuesday is going to be a blur. So here are the links I read on the plane out here (love that Wifi). Expect news from me soon on the themes and lineup for FM’s annual CM Summit (this week I hope) as well as the annual Web2Summit. Meanwhile:

Internet Access Viewed as Fundamental Human Right (AllThingsD) Our culture is coming to a conclusion that makes a lot of sense to me – connection is a human right.

Time To Take The Internet Seriously | David Gelernter | Edge | 4 March 2010 (Edge) Hard to follow, but the fundamental argument is one he’s made for years: Lifestreams are coming, the old web structure is … old.

CMOs to Ramp Up Hiring, Budgets; Double Social Media Spend (MarketingProfs) Are you kidding me? What’s not to like about this story?

How Do You Keep Mass Influencers Engaged? An Example from TripAdvisor (Forrester) Ya’ll know I love case studies.

All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple: The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement (EFF) I am not feeling warm and fuzzy about the business constraints Apple places on its own ecosystem. It’s rather like the Patriot Act. Open up, Apple. Open = more profits in the long run.

Don’t Blame Your Community: Ad Blocking Is Not Killing Any Sites (TechDirt) A counterargument to the Ars post I noted yesterday. TechDirt is an FM author and the programs he notes are FM programs.

Statistics for a changing world: Google Public Data Explorer in Labs (Google Blog) Google creates a visualizer for public data. Do more of this, pretty please, Google.

MediaForge Ads Charge Only When People Interact And Buy (ClickZ) Interesting model. Good luck with that….

Database of Intentions Chart – Version 2, Updated for Commerce

By - March 07, 2010

There are many, many signals in the Database of Intentions, as my readers have pointed out, but the one I feel compelled to add to the chart I created Friday is the Commerce signal. This signal emerged before search, really, and has remained a constant, though honestly it has yet to become a signal that others can truly leverage into an open ecosystem (unlike the signal of search, or status update, or the social graph). I expect that to change, and shortly. So here you go, an updated version of the chart, for the record. I expect this chart may well evolve into a pretty complicated ecosystem in its own right, over time….

  DBoI v 2 3.07.10.png