Jargon Watch: Porncast

Porncast – It had to happen, a new media opportunity opens up and the adult entertainment industry jumps right in.According to Wired columnist Gina Linn there is a small community of people making audio erotica recordings on MP3, and video is starting to appear on aggregators of podcast content including

Odeo.Major players like Penthouse, Private and Playboy made thumbnail-sized picture collections available to capitalise on the iPods photo viewing feature.

Easier to conceal in a school bag or briefcase and less likely to be found than a magazine stash under your bed, porncasts offer descrete consumption on the go. See also Podnography.


Rabbit-Proof Fence

Thanks to the Interesting People email list for pointing out this: if you input Tianamen with a capital T into the Chinese version of Google, you get images of the student protests from a number of years ago.

Hot Stuff

InfoWorld‘s daily podcast claimed that Wi-Fi hotspots had passed 100,000; 2,000 of which are in Seoul (South Korea). The US had the most Wi-Fi hotspots, with the UK in second place.Talking of hotspots, Simon Willison pointed me in the direction of Memeorandum.com which highlights what’s the heat online in terms of blogs and news articles. At the moment it has two sections: technology and news.

The folks that write the WWNK newsletter look at the likelihood of a hot war with Iran and indicated that the next edition of their thought provoking emails will be their last:

Dear Subscribers, After more than two years and 114 issues of What We Now Know, it’s time to say goodbye.

The reason why we are calling it quits is trivial but significant: Money. Call it filthy lucre, but as our investor-readers know, ultimately it’s the substance that makes the world go around… and that keeps newsletters get published.

What We Now Know initially started out as a pet project of Casey Research’s Managing Editor, David Galland–soon after being fed and cared for by Senior Editor Shannara Johnson and a small but excellent team of freelancers.

WWNK was controversial and funny, scientific and flamboyant at the same time. Not everybody always agreed with its contents… in fact, it managed to step onto various toes with precious regularity. But it also amused, informed, entertained, and touched many people.

Like all proud parents, your editors had high aspirations and goals for our brainchild, and we frequently talked and dreamed about what it might become when it grew up.

Destiny had planned differently, though. The big brothers and sisters of What We Now Know grew and blossomed far more quickly and soon overshadowed their little brother, taking precedence in daily business. Sadly, we had to admit that although WWNK was receiving raving reviews from its readers, it failed to pull its own weight.

So, in the same way as we buy stocks low and sell them high, we feel it’s important to give up a good thing while it’s still good. It was a great ride, and we don’t regret a minute of it.

Next week’s What We Now Know (1/31/06) will be the last.

Meanwhile the folks at IG Trendcentral had a couple of interesting links:

  • Gabriel Urist makes jewellery based on classic trainer designs for a touch of bling. It reminds me of the adidas superstar pendants that Oki-Ni had when adidas did the big celebration of the the superstar last year.
  • Worn Piece make clothes that look like Maharishi raiding a thrift store. They customise surplus fatigues and have clothing designs that make political statements a bit more clever than your red Che t-shirt.

Trust me, I’m just like you

I got up early on Monday to go Edelman’s seventh annual Trust barometer roadshow thanks to an invite from Richard Edelman and Dr Stuart Smith. There was some interesting items that came out of the research conducted by their StrategyOne division. The rise of bloggers and individuals as pundits was a cornerstone of their presentation. People want to hear from their peers rather than a CEO, or a PR person and blogging is a key facilitator of this trend.This means that the standard ‘command and control’ way of corporate communications and dissemination of messaging has to adapt and yield to cope with these new company ambassadors.

Surprisingly, one of the speakers admitted that corporate reputation wouldn’t necessarily damage sales all that much, (with Nike’s success as a trainer manufacturer cited as a prime example). However, trust in a company and hence the company’s resistance to market shocks would be affected.US companies were seen to be less trusted by Europeans a so-called trust deficit. Where a company was from (headquartered) was seen as a key factor in how much trust we had in it. So if you’re setting up your Global MegaCorp, register it in Germany or Canada as these countries were universally trusted.

Edelman client Microsoft was considered the world’s most trusted company, despite the anti-trust ruling, Windows viruses, spam mail, spyware and software patches. Key to this shift was the repositioning of Bill Gates as human being with appearances on Live8 and Buckingham Palace collecting an honourary knighthood. I guess that means that there’s hope for a even poor sinner like Jim Bakker being redeemed in the public eye ;-).

Noticable by their absence, online brands had NO unprompted recall amongst those surveyed indicating that the giants of the web need to do more to build brand equity and trust amongst consumers.

More traditional technology companies benefited from a positive attitude and a lack of baggage like obesity for food companies, or global warming for energy companies. Though I couldn’t help but wonder how long is it before the likes of Greenpeace puts e-waste on the agenda with Dell and Apple in the dock?

Media and entertainment companies had a low level of trust, but are still relied upon as providers of trusted information.

I got buttonholed by a PR manager from a breast cancer charity who wanted to find some one with expertise about blogging so I gave her my business card. I am sure that she will be also availing herself of Edelman’s pro-bono consultancy carried out through the Media Trust.

Blogging seems to have worked corporate communications managers into a bit of a frenzy in the same way that webcasting did seven years ago. Things are about to get interesting…

On another note, it looks like Richard Edelman is about to start podcasting.

Movin’


My first transaction online was registering and paying for a piece of shareware software at Kagi.com for my Mac whilst I was still in college. I can’t remember what it did now, but I remember that the author was a student at a Scottish university.


The first thing I purchased online in what most people would understand as e-commerce was a Kevin ‘Reese Saunderson CD under the name e-dancer from Boxman.com. I can remember why I loved Boxman.I had read about them in an article in the Sunday Times, it was a way of getting CDs from all over Europe in one place, Boxman would buy at the lowest price, consolidate their stock in one warehouse in Holland and pass on much of the savings to the consumer.

(CDWOW have a similar approach and have incurred the wraith of the record industry who like to have keep up market barriers to maximise profit margins.)I picked up an import copy of the Troubleman soundtrack by Marvin Gaye, when I couldn’t get a UK copy on back order from HMV. The mix of choice and price the e-commerce killer application for me.

Unfortunately Boxman.com unraveled for a number of reasons. Usability experts put it down the search function on the site being the only way for finding what you were looking for (although I had no trouble). Tony Salter, one of the directors in the business laid the fault at the foot of the software which controlled the supply chain of the site. In order to fulfill on its promise, Boxman needed to:

  • Track wholesale prices and cost of delivery across Europe, including comparison pricing for the same product with different national catalogue numbers
  • Organise shipping in the most effective and efficient manner
  • Track customer orders and trends
  • Calculate the most effective and efficient ways to ship goods

This was on top of the complex website functions visible to the consumer. The system would be much more complex than your typical JD Edwards ERP set-up, so Boxman got some of the brightest names in IT to help out: IBM. The project seems to have been a learning experience for IBM as the software failed to deliver on its promise. Anyway, Slate.com have a timely reminder on the importance of logistics management, before we all get lost in reverie around web services revolutionising the online world.

Jack’s Back Baby, Jack’s Back

 Those lucky buggers in the States now have series five of 24. Over at Slate.com they have an interview with the writers, where they talk about the methodology for ensuring plots that get the viewer to suspect their disbelief, why complexity engages audiences, how the real-time action concept came up and the renaissance in quality TV drama. On the downside it means the continued popularity of THAT pikey ringtone.

In show sponsorship All-American Jack Bauer has moved from the Detroit muscle of the Ford Motor Co. to automotive Gojira Toyota.

Jargon Watch

Arc – The length of a story line carried through a series, for instance in a soap opera like Coronation Street, plot lines and characters have run for decades, whereas in a series like the Love Boat would have an arc of one episode as each one was a self-contained story.

The Trend is Trends

No sooner had I blogged on the McKinsey report on macro-economic trends that will affect business and Consolidated’s 2006 trends presentation than I get a mailer from Firefly highlighting trend analysis supplied to them by The Future Laboratory. Obviously, trend surveys are the new way to kick off the new business drive for 2006.Incidently the Firefly / Future Laboratory sheet focused on Ladults which is an ideal concept for them to upsell and cross-sell clients like Motorola and Casio.

Oh and according to IG’s TrendCentral, the new place for singletons to meet their soul mate is not over the frozen cabinet in the super market or watching the world over the rim of a latte mug in a coffee shop but going fishing.

Trendspotting

McKinsey the management consultancy have highlighted the ten trends that they feel are the most important future influences on businesses.

 

  • Centres of economic activity will change regionally as well as globally (due to shifting demographics)
  • The public sector will grow due to older populations and will have to be funded by productivity gains
  • The consumer landscape will change (demographic factors, population growth, economic development in developing countries)
  • Technological connectivity creating more transparency
  • The war for talent
  • Big business role in society and conduct increasingly scrutinised
  • Demand for natural resources will grow
  • Industries will restructure globally
  • Management will become a science, not an art
  • The economics of knowledge changed by technology

Meanwhile Dominic Payling, planning director at Consolidated gave an interesting presentation on what 2006 holds. According to Dominic brands are all going to be about control this year, giving customers permission and the tools to take control of their situation. The desire for control comes from the increasing complexity of life.Payling cited research conducted by Professor Lord Richard Layard of the London School of Economics that happiness is what developed nation governments should strife for in economic policies as fiscal differences only went so far.

Spontaneity is out due to time poverty, but people are still interested in having ‘shared experiences’, like festivals and dinner parties. Shared experiences were important because they were a major source of day-to-day happiness according to Daniel Kahneman of Princeton. Payling claimed an estimate of 1/3 billion dinner parties to be held in the UK during 2006 as part of this participative trend.

Life-caching was used to describe the online shared experience phenomena around MMS pictures, photo blogs, podcasts, picture albums. People who create content to cache are known as ‘generation c’, there is no age range on this, motivated by wanting to be involved.

Nostalgia for a simpler time that never existed was driving themes like the desire for manners (despite the fact that every society since before the Romans thought that it was going to the dogs).

Obsession and cranks would come into their own as the new experts or influencers (God help us). The over 40s were driving the foodie movement. The whole healthy eating including organic food has moved from a health thing to a moral jihad as consumers see fair trade and organic products as stemming from the same place. The market has become very complex as 10 fair trade products launch every week.

The new social category is the Ladult:

  • 25 – 35 year old single male
  • Rents rather than owns his home
  • Earns 25 – 45,000 GBP per year as a middle manager
  • Likes authenticity, ‘real talent and skills’
  • He is a backlash against the media’s attack on maleness, he is not metrosexual
  • Is a technophile

Media landscape

Newspapers move into magazine territory with TV and celebrity gossip has turned into a battle royale as the likes of Zoo and Nuts hurt sales of the red-tops. Expect magazines go weekly and even twice-weekly. As Payling said “Let’s hope they duke it out and kill each other’. Podcasts and downloads become popular with traditional media as they are unregulated and a potential source of revenue from subscriptions.

On TV, reality TV will stay, but game shows to make a come-back in the autumn.

Media Gossip & Speculation

  • Radio 4 likely to be shaken up, John Humphreys alleged to be on his way out and the Today programme given a makeover
  • News International is likely to launch a challenger to Nuts and Zoo
  • The Times is moving to become more women friendly
  • The Evening Standard predicted to look for a new editor

Cringely gets company

PBS.org has a new media column joining its work with internet and technology maven Mark Stephens (aka Bob Cringely). Mediashift is penned by Mark Glaser, a well known media industry commentator. Kudos to Frank Barnako’s Internet Daily newsletter from MarketWatch.

Another management consultant joke

Kudos to LawrenceA cowboy was herding his cattle in a remote pasture, when suddenly a brand new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud toward him. The driver – a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie – leans out the window and asks the cowboy, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, “Sure, why not?”

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location, which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an e-mail on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored.

He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an e-mail on his Blackberry, and after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, “You have exactly 1586 cows and calves.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says the cowboy. He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on, amused, as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”

“You’re a management consultant,” says the cowboy.

“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required,” answered the cowboy. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked; and you don’t know anything about my business – now give me back my dog.”

Jargon Watch

Picture from merenge

Hikikomori – Its a Japanese word that means withdrawal. In Japan, some young men are retreating to their bedrooms away from normal life, like school, getting a job and having a social life. Hikikomori is used to describe both the phenomena and the people who suffer from it. They stay in there over six months to be classified as hikikomori, though many have stayed inside for years.They may venture into the sitting room, or make a late-night dash to a convenience store for a snack, computer games, DVDs or CDs. The phenomena is not fully understood, other developed Asian societies like Taiwan are said to also suffer from the problem, but on a much smaller scale.

Experts cite a multitude of reasons for hikikomori from over protective mothers to the hot-house education system and societal pressure to be a success.

Those that withdraw for more than a year are at a serious risk of fully integrating into society. It is considered to be as much of a social issue in Japan as eating disorders are in western cultures, since Japan is already sitting on a demographic time-bomb of a rapidly aging population and once their parents die or are unable to care for the hikikomori, they are may fall through the cracks of society. Maggie Jones of The New York Times magazine wrote an article

Shutting Themselves In (January 15, 2006) on the hikikomori where you can read more about the problem.

How will word-of-mouth marketing affect genuine influencers?


Picture courtesy of JUN.

I’ll be upfront, I don’t have answers just a sense of unease about word-of-mouth marketing so I thought I would throw all this material up on this blog post and encourage whoever reads regularly (that includes you Mum) or if anybody whose just dropped in from somewhere else to add their contribution in the comment section.My sense of unease was pushed into action when I read about the success of BzzAgent in an article on News.com.I have some questions without answers below, but here’s the scene setting:

We know that people have become media literate, so advertising messages don’t have the degree-of-impact that they used to have previously.

We know that our living environment, particularly in cities has become saturated with marketing messages, for example from outdoor advertisers, street marketing teams, fly-posters, ambient advertising, multimedia bus shelters, mobile marketers and Bluetooth-broadcasting (and I am sure that there’s lots that I’ve missed out).

Here’s some of the questions that I don’t have the answers to:

  • When do evangelists become salespeople?
  • When evangelists can expect rewards, are they still evangelists?
  • What effect will word-of-mouth marketing have on the real value of influencers over time?
  • Will we become blind to word-of-mouth marketing in the same way that we no longer notice outdoor advertising in the same way?
  • What impact will it have on our society in the medium to long term?


A lot of the time word-of-mouth is created by careful seeding of products and messages for example:

  • Getting your brand of vodka in the flashiest West End bars
  • Putting your viral content on the right sites
  • Collaborating with an influencer on a product like designers Oki-Ni, (examples of Oki-Ni’s work is discussed here and here)
  • Celebrity gift boxes at major awards
  • Communication through online communities like MySpace


This bleeds into other areas of brand association like sponsorship, public relations creating your own events (like Red Bull’s Art of Can) and experiential marketing since influencers live in the same marketing saturated environment as the people they in turn influence.
Much of the approaches have focused on communicating directly with the influencers and then hoping that the influencers consumed, had their consumption noticed or advocated their consumption pattern for others to copy. The returns on this are uncertain, if PR is hard to measure, this is another abstraction beyond it.

The attractiveness of word-of-mouth marketing for management teams is that it’s considered the mar.coms equivalent of money for nothing. Text-based online advertisements and search engine optimisation provide users with a call to action but there is no evidence that they can help build a brand. With their marketing budgets hedged with extremely measurable online campaigns, marketers are looking to word-of-mouth to provide ‘cheap’ sizzle to their campaigns.

Where people like BzzAgent seem to be taking this is incentivising ordinary people to become influencers. Very few people are going to admit that they have no influence in the circles that they move in.

I think that this may crank up the noise in one-to-one relationships and reduce the dependence that people put on recommendations and the power of influencers. Ultimately this would be bad for brands as they would have less perceptual differences between themselves and no brand or store brand products.

Whilst BzzAgent discourages people from selling on their site, those that aren’t really influential may unwittingly do just that.

Resources:

  • BzzAgent to their credit had collected some interesting links, documents and presentations on their website, here’s a link to their resources page (warning: their site doesn’t work well with Safari).
  • PBS online (the website of the Public Broadcast Service of America) have a documentary called The Persuaders, which was part of their Frontline series which covers marketing saturation and how advertisers are trying to get ‘cut-through’ utilising different ways to reach consumers. You can view the documentary here in segments using RealPlayer.
  • The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is a US-orientated industry body that has a website with some interesting reading materials here

Let me know what you think by posting a comment below.

Dull little boxes and an old-time smear campaign

The Apple and Intel partnership is likely to be an uneasy one. Apple did not take the 30 pieces of silver from Intel for co-marketing, putting an Intel sticker on their computer cases would have been like screaming I’m a commodity in fancy clothing. What caused more controversy was the Apple TV spots for its new Intel powered computers. The Intel chip, for years its been trapped inside PCs. Inside dull little boxes, dutifully performing dull little tasks, when it could have been doing so much more… Starting today the Intel chip will be set free and get to live life inside a Mac imagine the possibilities.

An Intel spokesperson responded that Intel’s customers aren’t boring. The ads were great hucksterism like an old story attributed to Lyndon B Johnson.

The story goes something like this: LBJ was contesting a seat in Texas against a rival who was big in agriculture. He turns around to one of his aides and orders him to spread a rumour that his political rival had engaged in sexual congress with a pig. The aide pointed out that this wasn’t true to which LBJ responded “I know it ain’t true, but I want to hear him deny it…”

The ads are yet another wily move by Jobs & Co; its no surprise that the FT is recognising the master tactician himself in a book that will be given away free with the Financial Times newspaper on January 16th.

 

You abandoned me, love don’t live here anymore

Interesting article in Metro the free paper available on the London Underground according to 20,000 a day start a blog by Stephen Hull (Metro page 16 January 11, 2005) the growth figures for blogs are a bit deceptive. It quotes an estimate of 85,000 blogs created every day in the UK. Many of the creators are serial bloggers, so a more realistic figure is 20,000 new bloggers start online every day – according to Lastminute.com (why they would be an authority on blogs is lost on me as well).

Many blogs are set up and then abandoned or laying dormant after a few weeks, however these car wrecks in cyber space still count into the success numbers of blogs.