Another small piece – I should turn this site into Pinterest!
It wont change the world but as an addition to my work blog / scrapbook it is always nice to be asked by the Financial Times for comment. First screen grab introduces the piece, the second fast forwards to my bit. The Link to the whole article is here.
My two pence!
Thanks to Tim Bradshaw for asking me to comment @tim
Does anyone remember the sitcom from the US called ‘Soap’? It was about a mad bunch of individuals who were pretty dysfunctional. At the start of each episode there would be an introduction recapping the previous episodes. That summation was invariably confusing and left you having no idea what was going on. The image below may jog your memories for those of you over 37 I am guessing.
Why am I writing about that? Well recently through a combination of my own experiences and reading the press I have been thinking that in the world of tech, social and mobile we are experiencing something similar. To recap;
– Google and Apple were good friends, admirers even until Google started to like phones..and music..and books, now Apple does not like Google so much and is not keen on using their search tool on their phones.
– Twitter and Google liked playing together as Big brother Google helped the new boy get a bit of traffic, now the new boy has grown up he has decided he does not need Big brother anymore so cut the rope.
– Facebook and Google were colleagues and admired each other until Google started to like this social media thing and Facebook got the hump with that, they too have decided they want to keep their people to themselves.
– Twitter and Facebook enjoyed each others company for a while until Facebook liked the look of the Twitter approach and changed their updates accordingly, this has meant of course that they will not share anymore and never the twain shall meet
– Lets not forget some other long distant cousins! Yahoo and Facebook have not crossed swords too much in the playground until Yahoo decided Facebook had copied a lot of their IP and are now contemplating suing so that will be the end of that friendship
– Samsung and Apple have just had an all out fight all over the globe and frankly not seen eye to eye for some time!
– Even the lovely and friendly Amazon has had to get dragged into the cat fight with its entry into the tablet market which annoyed Apple who promptly stopped their Kindle App from being e-commerce enabled – surely no one falls out with cuddly Amazon?
All of this squabbling leads me to see a future where we have one of the most siloed ecosystems we have ever known. Years after we criticised AOL for its wall garden approach to media we find ourselves with more walled gardens than we know what to do with and as consumers that is the honest truth.
We are edging towards a world where Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, Twitter and beyond will all be managing their own ecosystems and not allowing us as advertisers or consumers to mix and match and join up all of the platforms. It is a frustrating development as a consumer as it would be nice if Facebook and Twitter could find a way of working together. It would also be a better Google search experience if we could find results from not just G+ but also the other social media players.
As I have written about before it gets worse when you move to looking at the tech marketplace with our homes being divided into either an Android home, Apple home, Microsoft home or Samsung home, we have to make a decision and stick too it as we can’t get all our toys to play nicely together.
I am not sure how this will play out, but it is messy and not particular user / consumer friendly in my view and probably going to get worse as these Big 5 getter bigger and stronger.
Inspired by the big 5 – A week in San Francisco.
There is something genuinely special about San Francisco and Palo Alto. A place that if you are into digital you can’t help but feel excited about when you go there. First time you go it’s about going to the offices – Google HQ, Facebook, Apple etc and the famous locations attached like Mountain View or Cupertino. I have talked in previous blogs about the offices, they are a little disappointing, they are often deathly quiet and in the case of a Google a little battered and worn out, no it’s not what they are like inside.
The thing that strikes you is the scale, huge complexes, small towns in the case of Google, the meccas of those now famous names that come with such financial status and dominance and yet still have their young founders somewhere in those buildings. You can’t help marvel at that scale after so few years of history. In that mix though you feel a sense of tension between hanging onto that founder spirit and the relentless burden of financial success and expectation, something Facebook will start feeling acutely post IPO.
Palo Alto itself comes with this air of amazing entrepreneurship. Much was mentioned of Sandhill Road, where all the VCs are based, I had not considered that even VCs like to cluster, I guess I thought they would be isolated, each one trying to find the golden nugget but I suppose they are like everyone else and like to chew the fat on whether x company or y company is of interest. Fascinating I thought that at every one of the meetings we had this week, Pinterest was mentioned, it is crazy how that company has come from nowhere to being on the end of every sentence and judging by my Twitter feed, tweet, I would imagine that those investors are all eyeing that company up with much interest.
Dreams are made in this place and you can’t help admire it and be mesmerised at the immense foot print of these companies. As we walked into Apple you remind yourself you are walking into the most valuable company in the world, staggering what has happened there, or Facebook with its 100b price tag on its head and yet Facebook is still very lean, 3000 employees in US vs a Microsoft of 70,000, that paints a picture and it’s one of Facebook needing to recruit fast to cop with the demand for its products and insights.
The reason for the trip was to bring the VivaKi Nerve Center to the wider Publicis group and let them come together and meet with these amazing digital beacons. A fascinating few days as the Saatchi’s and Leo Burnetts came together to discuss and learn how we can all work together more effectively with these leading digital companies of the world. This new world of social by design has revolutionised the media and creative approach from a ‘bowling ball’ approach where a carefully aimed ball was fired at the consumers and hope to hit a few of them to the ‘pinball effect’ where you send the content into the mix and watch it get fired around.
There were some revealing debates about social and where it fits creatively and who is driving those conversations, we have as clients some very sophisticated marketeers and those who are more tentative but all of them are becoming more global, more scaled and more digital and it is the role of The Nerve Center to help our group capitalise on our amazing partnerships to be able to respond to those trends in a material way.
So as a marketeer who do you care about? Google, Facebook, what about Amazon? Apple and Microsoft will all lay claim to be the companies you need to work with, there are others of course but after a week here you start to consider exactly who are you missing if you work with these companies? The issue comes with knitting these companies together, in the last few years the rivalry has been intense with various fissures opening up between the companies and that’s where organisations like Publicis and The Nerve Center come in. When you sit opposite a Google or an Apple, they often hold many of the cards and yet all of them want to see the whole picture and the agencies hold those cards and they want to learn from us, so it’s a hugely valuable position to be in and one we must exploit on behalf of our clients if we are to get the most from an Apple or Facebook.
Based on this trip and my time at CES I can’t help feel this sense of a more and more closed world vs Open. Facebook’s mission statement is all about connectivity and openness which felt strangely at odds with their restrictions on how we as companies can track anything or the fact that their content can’t be found on Google search. Apple seemed very happy to sit and not want any sort of cross fertilisation, they felt that their billion devices is a big enough footprint for anyone. Everywhere you turn we are organising into silos, TV platforms with Samsung, Apple etc, social platforms controlling their data tightly, not an issue for consumers, harder for advertisers.
That said, when you see the power of YouTube, Facebook’s scale and social by design capabilities, Google from search to display to G+ combined with Microsoft and Xbox/Kinect or Apple’s incredible footprint through hardware it’s hard sometimes to imagine that a global client needs to go much further a field to reach and engage with their audiences. These companies are uniquely global, consistent and so as a global brand you can work on the same platform across multiple markets which will be an important offering of the future.
The days of media schedules with 40 sites on them have to be dwindling or dead, the specialism of tech press or context led site lists can not be totally recreated but you can go a long way towards that same effect through audience buying, targeted Facebook work, Search and so on. These companies and platforms could be the media plan, if only the advertisers themselves could organise in the same global fashion. They don’t right now, but they will and they will want agencies who understand and have very grown up deep relations with these companies and that is the aim of our Partnerships team at VivaKi and VivaKi Ventures which aims to keep us wired to the new start ups as well.
This week was about that, it was about saying lets work out how we can work together and not on the premise of spend and price but intellectually and strategically work to create the media and technical solutions of the future. My last meeting was at Mountain View with Google and what they are working on is mind boggling and makes you realise that although there are many companies out there with great marketing decks and some very bright people, they are dwarfed by what’s going on in this company.
And above all as I sat delayed by 4 hours I thought what an incredible part of the world this is and how inspirational these companies are both person ally and professionally. I also thought that I am working for the most forward thinking organisation in the advertising and media industry and one which is full of very smart people all looking at this business through different eyes and that is fantastic. VivaKi Nerve Center.
I am pleased to see how Twitter have very publically made changes to their security. A clear not that cant be missed as to what is changing and how it will affect you. I guarrantee it wont create the uproar that all the Facebook changes have made, but its positive in its transparency.
It is a good combination of making applications work more smoothly with Twitter – ie if you change your password, your app will still work, good for Twitter, good for you, aves the annoying updating, but you are still required to approve and App and there is an easy way deauthorise it. This make sense and will be a much better user experience.
I think Twitter have learnt a lot from watching Facebook make these mistakes, although I feel like they were always more likely to act in this way from the outset.
Also the changing of shortened urls into something you can work out where you are being led to is important too and a nice change for the better, no more being whisked off to god knows where to read an article and pump up someone’s traffic numbers.
Good work Twitter..now for the advertising solutions?
I realized the other day that I had been in touch with someone at work for weeks and had never seen so much as a business email or phone number. Or that I had lost the number of one of my best friends from University and yet had never lost touch. Staying in touch now is through a plethora of different channels where they do the hard work for you.
There was a time when my contacts in my phone were like gold dust, a pain to lose and painful to replace and yet now I am less precious about it all because some kind website or other has those people just a click away. My roller deck is kind of old fashioned looking, every time I deal my way through business cards I do think how backward it all feels.
I find now with such a connected world that I am approached by a mixture of friends and business colleagues through any number of channels. Sometimes it’s a tweet, but that is still not quite there yet as many of my friends have just reached Facebook so Twitter is like a distant dream. Work people on the other hand, far more, starts with a Tweet and then it’s like a courtship depending on the keenness of both parties as to how quickly it progresses! Is it straight to sharing emails? Perhaps a dalliance around Linkedin, takes things on a step further without full exposure of details..it’s an interesting progression. Perhaps this is why we have cards, it’s like consummation, you have been on an electronic courtship and now you have met and been able to exchange paper titles and verify you are both real.
Once you have crossed all the barriers then you can contact people in so many ways, I have often checked my work email to find that note someone sent me to no avail, ah well it must be in Linkedin, nope, Facebook and on it goes, Foursquare has now moved the game on to straight stalking. I said no the other day to a couple of people, last thing I want is a couple of weirdos following me around and trying to sell me data!
All of this of course means we hardly pick up the phone, the calls are drying up and texts and FB and LI are taking over, you don’t need a call, you just saw them check in at Soho House. I think generally we are over calls and cards. Maybe not the girls, but the boys definitely, It’s always better face to face, so let’s use every means of technical kit to get us face to face and so we can get down to the serious business of exchanging old pieces of worn out card..
Contact me on….
Yes I am addicted to the web and I love Facebook for staying in touch with people as well as a lazy address book and Twitter for sending me through everything I have ever needed to know, and much I didn’t about my business. Since having a child I seem to have only 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there at home and my iPad really fills that gap. It is especially good as you can carry it around when the baby is in a sling – perfect!
I still feel though that I am constantly jumping in and out of apps, looking at facebook, twitter and the rest and also clicking on links and waiting for videos to load, but now that has all changed. Flipboad has arrived. It is what I would describe as the first App made for the iPad with real innovation and thought, its an amazing piece of kit. So amazing that if you try to download and use right now it is overwhelmed with people trying to sign up.
Take a look at this video
It looks slick, it is a brilliant concept, I may never go to any of the other sites again, it makes Tweetdeck look like something from the dark ages and overall shows up the rest of the developer world for being lazy and slow, this should have been created by someone like Facebook or a publishing group or someone who took the iPad seriously.
I wish Flipboard all the best, I love it, and I truely believe this to be the first App made for the iPad
Monday to Thursday was the plan, but then work got in the way! So instead we went for a Tuesday afternoon flight, one that I of course missed by one minute, one minute that cost me 8 hours! I eventually arrived via Amsterdam and immediately got out into the thick of the event, it’s an impressive set up, there are not many places where you can meet up with all of your work colleagues from across the industry in one single city which is buzzing with both work and play conversations.
Down at the Gala event it was heaving with people from across the business, the business being very varied. Media groups, advertising groups, content companies, digital, film, music you name it, all here. A lot of drunken idiots as well to be fair, in fact some people were such imbeciles I was amazed they had been let in the country!
It was a fantastic evening, I met with Christian and Kate from AOL at their own party on a roof top, very civilized and a great ease into the evening, obviously as a reciprocal arrangement from zeitgeist, who should I see there but Damian Burns, Global Head of Agency Relations and Ben Faes from Google. Later in the evening there was Tom George from MEC, Stephen Haines from Facebook and a few other golden oldies. Although of course most of the talk is social, there is some interesting conversations about what has been seen and heard during the day. Apparently the Ben Stiller/Yahoo event was a little weird and did not entirely work, that said by then we outside the cleverly Yahoo sponsored ‘gutter bar’ which was the end destination most evenings and stayed open until way beyond you should have been in bed, luckily it was next to the Martinez where I was staying, so that worked!
The next morning after 2.5hrs of sleep Vivaki and Microsoft had their ‘steering committee’ meeting which lasted for some hours and covered the state of the nation between our two companies, an interesting meeting with some grand ambition which I am looking forward to working on in the coming months. After a lovely lunch a couple of meetings around ad exchanges (my topic of choice at the moment) and then on to the football. Microsoft hosted a great event with all of the UK people seemingly choosing their beach club to watch, great atmosphere not least as the US were playing and the Americans were getting very excited about their game too, we exchanged cheers through the afternoon, although i suspect they were less sure what they were cheering for!
Later at the awards I took my seat, waiting to see what award winning work looked like, there was some great stuff, I loved the recruitment work from one agency that distributed a calendar with a resignation letter for each day, waiting for the day you had had enough. The Aides campaign from TBWA France was also the rudest thing I have seen on the web, a willy chasing a vagina round a homepage and eventually having sex once safely inside a condom was pretty risqué, but brilliantly done.
All the winners can be seen here
An evening spent with Google was very entertaining and good to be on the inside when they win a big lawsuit with CBS! It also appears that I was sat down to one of the men who has contributed most to the uk digital scene, our own Bruce Daisley, winner the next night at the NMA awards for the accolade. I am very pleased, if disbelieving for the lad, he is a great practitioner and a great guy, he is just no good at hosting jollies as he reminded me of our jaunt to Germany for the football.
The next morning I got the chance to see the Microsoft Experience centre, packed full of their three screens, windows 7 phone, Xbox and Kinect. All of them looked amazing and full of potential for an advertiser. As I went round though It just reminded me of how little of this stuff the average planner or advertiser has seen or experienced. There is a gap between the possibility and the reality, I don’t think advertisers see how a touch sensitive table could drive their crm or sales. The Xbox is a home entertainment system with connectivity, content and games, do advertisers see this? I don’t think so and even worse I don’t think the agency folk are much better. If you get a chance go experience it!
As my trip came to an end and I got a chance to catch up with some other agency friends on the way home I thought to myself what a fantastic event, yes there is a lot of fun and drink and socializing but it’s a chance to bring a lot of very interesting people together and the opportunity to see some great work and technology.
A 4 hour delay on the way back, rounded the whole trip off. Thanks to Microsoft, sorry I did not make it on your video blog, I must have been as dull as my blog. When I got home I had an iPhone 4 waiting for me, that’s my next post..
Inspired by a meeting today with Harriet Dennys from Mediaweek I started to think about the speed of communication that surrounds us.
Along came email, no more letters or faxes needed. Everything sped up that little bit more, having said that we still held on much longer than we needed to before giving in to sending everything via email. There were concerns at the time that it was too informal and hard copy was more professional.
At around this time we received our news via the hard copy trade titles, it was a sign of position if you were able to receive a copy of Campaign and people waited with baited breath to see what would be said about them or their clients or their competitors. Now we receive our news via Twitter feeds, Linkedin, Facebook, we sign up to far more feeds than we would ever have contemplated reading, we cherry pick. News on demand.
Today I was asked if I thought email Bulletins were too slow? Amazing thought, to imagine that we are even considering that a daily email bulletin is too slow. Harriet was right though, in some respects a daily bulletin is too slow, news is everywhere, it’s on demand, its in feeds. People everywhere are aggregating all of these feeds into one location and getting it fed to them night and day, minute by minute and that is creating another effect..promiscuity!
Like search, do you care where you get your information from as long as its correct or first? Look at the myriad of Twitter feeds, most of them are just swirling the same content around so do you wait for your favourite feed to appear with the news that interests you or just click on the first? I click on the first and I bet many others do as well. It’s all changing, its faster, its more and more digital and it is all making even a Bulletin feel slow..someone stick the brakes on!
It does not stop at news, it’s the same with email. Many media companies are also communicating via messenger both internally and externally – why? It’s quicker than email..how much quicker can it get? It’s not just the mechanic but also the expectation – are we not all on email via BB or iPhone, why would it take that long to reply? How long do we all now wait before expecting a response? Ok its 10pm but he could just fire me back a quick response couldn’t he? Email is not slow, it’s now the users that are judged for their speed of response!
I am out of breath just writing this and during the time it has taken i have received about 100 feed updates, 5 emails at 11.30pm (damn the US) and 1 text. Where will it end? Thanks HD for the inspiration!
As a follow up – check Craig Robinsons response to this blog @ http://www.swissss.com
Marco Bertozzi: 23:01:2010
Brand Republic released news of some research by Alterian that DM budgets are morphing into social media. Now to be clear, I have not seen the research so perhaps it will give me all the detail I am about to question but none the less, its still an interesting subject.
2/3 years ago every client wanted to know how to use social media in their advertising. They wanted to know how to have conversations with customers, how to turn dull into sexy, create millions of fans of car insurance and at the time, no one had an answer. Part of that was the reticence of clients, some of it was media agencies still getting their heads around it and some was actually the fact the very carriers of social audience, did not know what to do either.
While this lack of innovation continued the audiences on the likes of Facebook sky rocketed and advertising rates fell accordingly and that then opened up a huge opportunity for Direct Marketing, not one to one marketing but good old fashion buy it cheap and expect a low response rate type DM. Is this what all those advertisers that have shifted DM budgets into social media have done or have they done anything interesting, have they changed their approach or their channel? I suspect not, I imagine they have bought up vast amount of impressions, overlaid some targeting, just as they would with mail shots and they have accepted a very low response rate and carried on filling their order books. There is still so much room for genuine use of social media and that needs to come from their main brand budgets, not their backwater DM budgets.
Take a look at Compare the Market/Meerkat, everyone knows it, everyone has seen it, but that is a great example of a brave client taking the plunge to make themselves stand out from the competition. I can think of quite a few insurance companies who must be thinking, why were we not brave enough?