mobile media

asking for IT vs. earning IT

  • Asking for it Is it ok for a blogger to ask for votes in a contest?
  • Is it ok for a company to ask/suggest that their employees embed a video, share a clip/widget/app, or digg a piece of "viral" content?
    • Must the employee disclose that they were prompted to share?  Must their friends or family do so?  How do you disclose a digg?  A tweet?
  • Is it ok for an ePR/Social Media "Guru" to use his or her network to promote their clients?
    • It is ok for clients to ask for/expect this?
  • Is it ok for a company to "follow" many people on Twitter without joining the conversation?
  • Is it ok for a Social Media Advocate to "become" your "friend" if they don't really care about friendship?
  • Is it ok to ask someone to recommend you on LinkedIn based on your blogging alone - without any insight into your productivity?

There is something fundamentally different between asking for it, and earning it.
    If you can't earn it on your own, when is it ok to ask? 
        How should one go about asking for it? 

photo credit here
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when a series of tubes go tubeless - the evolving natural web

The Windows Network and Internet icon employs the 'tube' metaphor

Image via Wikipedia

The internet is just a series of tubes, right?

It's a connection, it's a lifeline, that can be turned on and off.  It's a utility.  That's why we need net neutrality, right?

While the world of the internet within the browser or within a dedicated connected application (ex - widgets or Outlook) is far from gone, the time has come for marketers and technologists to look at the internet as more then a channel.  The connected web is the natural evolution of the human experience.

Higher speeds, open platforms, more intuitive development kits, these are all small pieces in a larger puzzle.  There is a greater endgame at play.


  • Social media has evolved via digital connectivity, and it continues to evolve.
  • Video viewing has evolved, and will continue to evolve.
  • Mobile connectivity has evolved, and clearly will continue to evolve.

We cannot look to the future without remembering the past.  The media and technology landscapes have greatly evolved over the past century.  And they will continue to evolve.  But the world didn't turn on a dime, it will not change with a single keynote.

The world is going to continue to change, but without looking through the lens of the historical human perspective, we are doomed to chasing waterfalls.

Dreaming is great for ideation, but insight is what fuels the future.

So what are your insights?  What are the key factors driving tomorrow?

the evolution of mobile phones (w/ video)

The mobile communications platform has come a long way.  And we still have a long way to go.

Imagine an internet where users had to pay separate fees for:
  • sending IMs
  • receiving IMs
  • checking email
  • accessing video
  • streaming music
  • downloading a wallpaper
  • downloading a desktop theme
  • playing a casual online game
In this model, the internet would have been crippled before it even began.

The only reason that mobile web usage is growing is because we need it (despite the back end business model that fuels it).  Whether it be aggregators, standardization issues, or even carrier restrictions, the system is broken.  Nevertheless, the industry is set to grow.  Because we, the users need it to.

And with that, I leave you with a video-pictorial history of the evolution of the mobile phone.  Video below/after the jump.

Have a great weekend.

life in the fast lane : perpetual nascence

On_the_edge_3 The fields of new media and emerging media are not new, nor are they temporary.

Print publishers probably fretted over the rise of the radio.  And radio and print fretted over TV.  And network TV fretted over cable TV.  And TV is fretted over the internet.

The media landscape has always been in transition, the only thing that has changed is the pace of change.

Those of us working in "emerging" media however, frequently misjudge the timing and pace of change.  We advocate advanced social media information mining before our clients have managed to harness most of their own internal customer information.  We speak about IPTV when it isn't even available in most major markets.  We speak about WiMax, Android and Open Social before the true capabilities are yet known.  We are talking about the death of the 30 second spot while most major brands are still investing most of their money on television.

We are living ahead of the curve. 

In the words of one of my teammates, we are living in a state of "perpetual nascence".

And sure, QR codes may make it big in 3 years from now.  But in the meantime, it is far more important that we understand and appreciate the unique position that we are in.  We are AHEAD of the curve.  Preparing clients for the future isn't necessarily about building tomorrow today.  Rather, it is about incremental innovation, setting the seeds for tomorrow, building familiarity and a strong foundation on which we can activate in 3 years from now, when the world has caught to us. 

And you can rest assured, we'll be talking about as yet unknown technologies and platforms, and perpetually planning for the arrival of the nascent lives we are living.

adding carrier value to the mobile phone

So you're shopping for a phone. 

Phone A is $30 with 2 year plan. Slim, sleek, and flashy.  2 megapixel camera.  High speed internet.  Virtually no internal storage.  Flash drive slot.  This phone is available on T-Mobile.

Phone B is $80 with 2 year plan. Slim, sleep and flashy.  2 megapixel camera.  High speed internet.  Mp3 player.  Video player.  Virtually no internal storage.  Flash drive slot.  This phone is on at&t.

So I took an informal survey of friends and coworkers.  Almost everyone goes for Phone B.  And nobody uses the mp3 player or video functionality regularly.

  • Carriers are desperately trying to hold on to their ownership of the user mobile experience. 
  • Many carriers are doing so by discounting flashy and fun phones. 
  • But there is a smarter way to go. 
  • There is value that the networks can offer - unique value that device manufacturers cannot replicate.  Value that will carve out a significant value add for individual carriers.

If you had a choice between added built-in entertainment functionality like an mp3 player you will never use - or integrated services - like an emergency roadside assistance program, medical emergency assistance, cheap/affordable voice driven emergency directions etc - which would you choose? 

Would these value add services provide a better, stronger more differentiated revenue stream for carriers than integrated mp3 players?

what IS digital marketing?

Google_dictionary_2 Tangerine Toad over at Marketing Profs asked the question, "What is digital marketing?"


TT goes on to list a number of tactics, in an effort to isolate a single tactic that defines or otherwise embodies the essence of digital marketing.  However, to define digital marketing by a tactic or list of tactics is both narrow minded and shortsighted.

Wireless_baby_2 Digital Marketing is more than online marketing.  Digital marketing is more than one or two tactics.  Digital marketing is not about marketing to a platform or a technology.  Digital marketing is the act of marketing in a digital age.

As consumer's live become increasingly digital, as convergence and "always on" connectivity become increasingly mainstream, new doors are opened to marketers.  Marketers now gain the ability to enhance, empower, (interrupt?) and otherwise live within ever deeper segments of consumer's lives, well beyond the interruption and often irrelevance of the 30 second spot.

Digital marketing is more than a tactic, it's marketing reborn again in a digital era. It is about persuasive and at times pervasive engagement. It is about reinventing or more accurately the evolutionary revolution of the brand experience. Digital marketing is about returning to the core of marketing, the human experience, and enabling brand experiences and interactions in this new dynamic.

note: the Google Dictionary image above is photoshopped.  The cartoon above is the work of Avi Steinberg, close friend and raving lunatic.

innovation in an ROI driven world

Innovation_connection Over the past year I've encountered dozens of solutions, technologies, sales vendors, advertisers, marketers and futurists, all claiming to embody a single phrase - innovative. Yet to be totally honest, I haven't seen all that much that really blew my mind.  Is this because innovation has been stifled by realism, near term ROI concerns, a lack of vision, or is this a symptom of something greater?

Everyone claims to be pushing ahead, innovating, bringing forth new solutions that are "groundbreaking".

But most of what I've seen looks like everything I've been seeing for the past 5 years, just ported into a new channel.

As I see it, there are two types of innovation:
A) Incremental Innovation
B) Disruptive Innovation

Incremental Innovation is where much of the business world feels most comfortable.  This type of innovation is often referred to as, "the lowest hanging fruit".  This is innovation that takes a process or a concept that is already established and familiar, and builds on it.  It's not about reinventing the wheel, but adding a new feature to the wheel, making them somehow incrementally better.  Think of mobile OLA: it's nearly identical to regular OLA, just on a phone.  It's innovative,  but not yet a game changer.  Nearly all of the innovation I have seen over the past year falls into this bucket.

Disruptive Innovation is far more difficult that incremental innovation, yet the payout is far greater.  Disruptive Innovators are game changers.  They reinvent the wheel.  They are visionaries and big thinkers.  Disruptive Innovation is both risky and difficult, yet the end game payout is tremendous.  Think Facebook and social connections, the iPhone and user experience design and pervasive digital connectivity, Gigya and the widget, YouTube and UGC, Twitter and instant messaging, or BitTorrent and content distribution.  Without these innovators, 2008 would be a markedly different.

Key Takeaway: Most of us are putting the finishing touches on our '07 business and beginning to plan for '08.  If you don't have an innovation strategy or an innovation roadmap already in the books, it's time to do  so.   You won't be successful tomorrow if you don't have a plan for preparing for tomorrow, today. 

Dedicating all of your efforts to incremental innovation may satisfy the bottom line, but won't make you into a category leader.  This is true no matter regardless of the business you're in.  The time to begin planning for the future is now. 

If you've got any questions around innovation planning, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me via email or by commenting on this blog.  Karl Long just posted a great piece around the challenges and costs of getting innovation in-market.  If you'd like to learn more about innovation in business, check out any of the many fantastic blogs in reading list to the left of this post. 

Thanks for reading and as always, looking forward to your comments!

shouldn't new media = new marketing?

Warning: this is a long one, but I think a good one.

Take a minute and think about how brands are activating in new media.  They are placing banners, building microsites, building mini-microsites in the form of widgets, they are placing pre roll, post roll and interstitials. The "savvy" brands are having conversations.   This seems to be as far as we've gotten.  This is sad.  Putting traditional media practices into a new media environment is the equivalent of placing a print ad on the television. You may be communicating a message, but you're missing out on the essence of the platform!  So why are we stuck in this innovation rut?

Because our industry is overwhelmed.  Our current industry structure is not suited to holistic new media activation.  In the interest of efficiency we all to often go after "the lowest hanging fruit". Rather than thinking about new media solutions for everything they can be, we're looking at everything we already have in the can (be it assets, messaging or marketing know-how) and porting it over into the new digital realm.

It has been a long time since I saw anything truly new in media.  Call it a rut, call it a slump, call it maturation, but there really isn't all that much blowing my mind lately.  Crayon did some cool stuff in Second Life, but I feel like this was just a first step in next gen social activation.  I'm hungry for more.

Digital Media is revolutionizing the way we interact, they way we humanize, the way we live.  Marketing is changing.  But I'm still waiting for the next innovation, the next messaging oriented communicative step the ad world will take.  I'm not talking about embedding interactivity or clickability in video, I'm talking about a fundamental change that rips through the entire marketing engine at major corporations.  I'm talking about an overhaul of everything, from the content delivery to the end user experience.  I'm talking about FREE ad supported itunes AND NBC content streaming directly to my television.  I'm talking about an end to the fluff that is buzzwords and a shift towards substance.

I've had enough of hearing about streaming HD when we really mean streaming in HQ (because our computer screens aren't HD!).  I'm talking about a Zune 2 dock that allows me to sync my Zune2 with my DVR AND use the wireless connectivity in the Zune to stream internet content to my TV - all brought to you as an add on by a brand (Microsoft, are you reading this?).  I'm talking about holistic solutions that work.  I'm talking about ads that target users by cross-pltform behavior, not by an invading of private user interactions and conversations.

Traditional media is going to take a dive in 2009.  When the spike of the Olympics and the Presidential Race are over, there will be enormous amounts of ad revenue available for digital media.  The time to begin building out a holistic digital solution is now. It's time to stop thinking about interrupting and start thinking about living.  It's time to stop selling and start delivering.  It's time to take everything we know about sociology, psychology, ethnography, user behavior, marketing, advertising, messaging, creativity, business development, research, analytics, reporting and experience design, and build out solutions that work.

New Media isn't about eyeballs, it isn't about impressions, it's about meaning.  Seth Godin always says that he doesn't want sponsors, he wants attention.  He drives attention by delivering value that WE need.  If you build out a solid consumer solution, the creative monetization solution should eventually follow. 

There is so much that we can do as an industry. 

Let's stop activating against yesterday's users and starting thinking about what we can do tomorrow.