February 28, 2002

Why Google Loves Blogs
Mike Golby points us to an article by John Hiler that tells us why.

February 27, 2002

"When you cut out the bullshit, what's left of marketing?"
Doc points us to this oldy but goody in response to the conversation on the Dvorak piece (of crap) on Cluetrain. Also, I can't go without pointing you to Cluetrain co-author Chris Locke's eloquent response to the article. Dvoraks pitiful rebutle. And RB's response.

February 26, 2002

From David Weinberger in a Fast Company Interview: Web Sites Need to Belong to the Customers
"The biggest mistake that most companies make is to think that a Web site belongs to them. Companies just don't get it. Individuals believe that the Web belongs to us. ... On the Web, companies can only control the conversation by being interesting -- and most corporations are afraid of being interesting."

"Most important, I'd avoid the temptation to think of my Web site as mine. Look at the Royal Dutch/Shell site [www.shell.com]. There, visitors can engage in online conversations on a wide range of social issues. Many of the comments are critical of the company, but Shell doesn't interfere. The company understands that it can't own the Web. In a way, that's a huge -- and rare -- leap forward."

I can't get this out of my head: "A company's web site should belong to its customers." This just makes so much sense. I think I feel a Paradigm Shift coming on. Look out!

February 22, 2002

Advertising After the Revolution
Rageboy points us to this verycool piece and this piece too on the Cluetrain list. Give yourself 10 minutes and some speakers and enjoy.

If you like those, taste these here.

February 20, 2002

Google Enhances Ad Offering
Google has made it's relevant advertising a little more relevant. Ever notice how when Google adds something to it repertoire, it's always really, really neat?

February 19, 2002

Is Advertising Dead? Adweek's Jack Feuer, Gonzo and Cluetrain
My December 3rd issue of Adweek has been sitting on top of my dresser for the past couple months folded (now permanently) to an op-ed that brings up a feeling I get reading Cluetrain and Gonzo.

The feeling is ... do exceptional advertising professionals already use the same concepts written about in Cluetrain and Gonzo? Are we just frustrated at the advertising junk which increasingly pervades our lives while not recognizing true advertising ingenuity and greatness? Because I think ingenuity and greatness in advertising is out there.

Within Reach: Looking for people, not their demographics or lifestyles. The author is Jack Feuer. (Sorry no link, Adweek doesn't keep an archive online). This is how the story goes:

Jack's revelation occured while sitting behind a Land Rover with tinted windows. The truck had a sticker most have seen: That snarling kid taking a whiz. The Land Rover and pisser sticker juxtaposed, Jack reflected. Why doesn't a lot of advertising work?

Jack writes:

Advertisers know all about fragmented media. They don't know enough about fragmented consumers .... [Advertisers] change us the same way they have changed the media.

For sure, they recognize that we have endless choices. That we are in control of the ever-multiplying array of media we are exposed to every day. But what's needed is real insight into how that choice and control change us. [personally, for that insight I recommend reading Cluetrain and Gonzo Marketing].

They change us the same way the have changed the media. We are demassified.

This, of course, is why marketing to demographics doesn't work as efficiently anymore. But the obvious response to that--crafting media plans and creative based on lifestyles--is equally futile. Because each of us is now a market of one."

Jack gives us an example of himself. Jack's demographic makes him out to be the bar hopping type. But Jack's really a huge Buffy fan...

If you knew me as a demassified individual, as a market of one, you'd forget my penchant for dimly lit bars and bad scotch. You'd ignore the gray in my hair and the extra pounds. You'd advertise on a TV show only 12-34s are supposed to like.

All the talk about relationship marketing and one-to-one communication is just vapor, because those concepts are mostly honored in the breach.

With all the vaunted technology that advertising brings to bear, we still haven't really figured out how to reach people as individuals. How to reach them through their minds instead of their demographics or their lifestyles. Through what they care about instead of what they're supposed to care about.

Optimizers won't do it. Focus groups are mostly just exercises in creative collective lying.

And this is where I think Jack takes an interesting turn. Instead of saying, "go out and buy Gonzo Marketing to learn how to converse within the micromarketplace," he says "Perhaps media people ought to act a little more like creatives. Get out on the street. Talk to people. Pay more attention to the 'outlyers' on both ends of the tabulation charts. Barrow some account planning tricks."

Or transform "advertisers" to the real people in the corporation. Let them talk to the customers. Underwrite sites of common interest. --- alright, Jack didn't write this last part.

One of the things that kept tugging at my conscience while reading Gonzo Marketing were the role of Account Planners and exceptional creatives in creating effective advertising in the age of the web. They don't talk in "corporate-speak." For example, Nick Usborne isn't breaking any companies, he's writing great copy for the web. Just like great copywriters have written great copy for great ads for over a century. I don't think every (qualified) individual in an entire corporation has to start communicating with the outside world for corporate communication (FKA advertising) on the web to be effective, as Gonzo suggests.

Good advertisers need to understand how the web works. Know how it empowers customers. How customers are people. Not demographics. Not targets. Not to be marketed to.

Gonzo teaches us many things. Primarily, broadcast doesn't work on the web. Also, people are talking in micromarkets on the web. They are smarter and more cynical about advertising. But I think Gonzo is a tactic to be used. It's not the system's new replacement.

February 15, 2002

Blogging and Journalism
I've read a lot recently on comparisons between blogging and journalism. I never made the connection until I read Doc's blog today.

What's wrong with Journalism today? As Deborah Branscum, a contributing editor to Newsweek and a contributor to Fortune.com's Valley Talk column, alludes to in her blog, journalism has become "the space between the advertisements, which pay for the entire operation." She continues describing how journalists only know what they're told, which is often one company's spin on how they want to position themselves ... and in worse case scenarios flat out lies to cover up scandal (i.e. Enron).

Blogging on the other hand, like Doc points out, allows individuals to tell stories as they see it. Not as what they're told to say. Because blogging is so personal, not influenced by ad revenue (or any outside revenue/pressure for that matter), but projects one's true passions and visions, more truth is seen in in blogging. And truth is the ultimate goal of journalism. Doc even goes further and says the conversation--the give and take of blogging--produces more authentic truths:

We're all sources for each other here, and don't have the pressures of space, deadlines or formats to restrict who we source or the stories they tell. Here we can vet ideas about what might be true, in faith that others who know more will correct us, or pick up the story and carry it forward.

Blogs are thickly woven into the web of what we know, what we want to know more about and how we inform each other. That makes them vastly different from the information distribution system that constitutes Journalism as Usual.

On the Web, we are not distributors of Information. What we give and gain is not a commodity. It's what we know. And when we share what we know, we get improved knowledge and far more well-qualified opinions.

Journalists blogs will become a great source of information. My question for the audience is (all one of you), does the public in general realize and care about the pressures from ad revenue and limited sources? Will they become tuned in to blogging? Or will it seem to the Bud Light drinking, Friends watching, NASCAR loving typical American like some weird internet thing for techie geeks? How and how quickly can the masses become engaged with blogging as a source of information?

February 08, 2002

Brainstorm Better
Just something very practical from MarketingProfs. Though some of this might seem obvious, we sometimes need a refresher because of all the deadlines we're under and the expected reactions we obsessively anticipate from clients.

February 05, 2002

EGR: Watching the Detectives
Where to start??? And how ironic. I'm seriously chuckling. Big brother is watching, and look what they snagged. My employer, like many, has decided to start using software to monitor emails coming into my inbox. Looks for "dirty" words. Literally. This is the message I received:

-----Original Message-----
From: spamadminit@.com [mailto:spamadminit@.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 9:18 PM
To: "ScottKnowles@mail..com"
Subject: Dirty Words_Notify

************* eManager Notification **************

*****Your message was trapped due to foul language. Please contact the sender of the message and have them remove the offending word and resend. Please refrain from future use of foul language to prevent your messages from being trapped again. *****

Now this wasn't one of the hundreds of peda-porno-necro sleeze ball spamo email messages I have received at my work email address over the past year. It was the latest enstallment from EGR. Of the 2,952 words that so brilliantly, intelligently and informatively appear in the text, a whopping 2 fit one's definition of "dirty words." (Don't get me wrong, I don't claim to understand 2,245 of those words, but somehow it all jives together) I do have to disclaim: I typically don't receive any Locke related email at work (I know better than that), but email problems at Excite (which, I must say, they handled extremely well considering the crap they had to put up with) forced me to make a temporary change.

One final thought: The irony of the title of Locke's latest send, "Watching the Detectives." I think it's time we start watching the detectives.