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A year in PR

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stephen Waddington at Rainier tagged me for a bit of reflection on the past year and crystal ball gazing into what the next year brings. I am reminded by a phrase from the Qur’an that is something to the effect of the man who predicts the future lies, even when he is proved right, so bear this in mind when you read the responses below.

(1) Most important development in social media

  • The decline of Facebook, from the new, new thing to being the dominant social network
  • There are a lot of really nicely put together cool applications out there like Yahoo! Mash, Nokia’s Widsets and further developments on Last.fm that haven’t got the early adopter attention that they deserve
  • I thought that the most exciting important development was the way many social networks extended across from the PC on to mobile devices from Jaiku and Twitter to the Facebook application on the Blackberry. We’ve still got a long way to catch up with the Korean sites like Nate.com on this though

(2) Biggest disappointment

  • Facebook, the user experience is pants and they haven’t learned from the experience of 24/7 and Engage about user privacy
  • People who keep going on about viral, when they don’t really know what it means
  • The underwhelming financial opportunity

(3) High

  • It may not be strictly this year but Matt’s Aswarmofangels crowd-sourced content creation project I think is really interesting and seems to have got traction
  • The Cadbury’s Dairy Milk gorilla advert showed how brave marketing decision-makers can be and gave me faith that risk-taking is still very much alive

(4) Low

  • People who think that a Youtube video is a panacea to everything and the lack of respect that is given to the audience. Bit of a radical concept I am going to throw out there, but the delivery channel for client content should only be as dynamic as the content itself
  • The decline of Blognation, I thought it would be a good thing to have a blogger network to counterbalance the American-based blogging networks and provide a wider perspective

(5) Biggest cock up
A choice of three:

 

(6) Predictions for 2008

  • More phones will have GPS modules in them location-based content will become more important, we’re already seeing this on Flickr with geotagging and Google Maps that allows annotations to be made. There are more exciting developments due like Tom Coates’ latest project Fire Eagle
  • Media companies will make some interesting content specially for the web like Bebo’s Kate Modern

(7) Next big thing?

  • Economic recession will sharpen client and agency minds on measurement and marketing return on investment, however it will also discourage risk-taking and investment in a brand
  • The further collapse of the US dollar will make overseas markets much more important for the technology sector
  • I still think that PROs don’t make enough use of picture-sharing sites like Slide or Flickr (rather than video), location-based information and micro-media
  • Integrated campaigns driven from social networks with real-world vouchers on the users mobile phones
  • A digital or integrated marketing agency winning a major PR account from an incumbent agency
  • A major PR agency will actually become an integrated agency and be a ‘PR agency’ in name only

(8) Most important tech development
Too many to mention:

  • The fact that OFCOM and the UK telecoms carriers aren’t willing to step up to put fibre into the home
  • Three’s 10 GBP a month mobile broadband, even available on PAYG (and Mac drivers available)
  • The iPhone, not because of its popularity (or lack thereof), but because of the demands that consumers will set on mobile device user experience
  • I would have put down Google’s Android, but I think that it will take a while to build a head of steam behind it
  • GPS receivers on mobile phones and dirt cheap sub-notebooks like the Asus eeePC and Nokia’s N810 will upset the apple cart in terms of the way that people think about and use technology

Who’s next? I will pass this on to Giles Shorthouse, Will McInnes and Jonny Rosemont.

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Is marketing dead as a discipline?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Don’t worry, I still believe in branding, trust and providing products and services that customers actually want, in a manner that they want and when they want it. However business management no longer does.

At least that’s the conclusion that I drew having read The Short Life of the Chief Marketing Officer by David Kiley and Burt Helm in BusinessWeek (November 29, 2007).

The sub headline of the story blames the new media choices now facing CMOs, but the body of the article talks about CEOs who need results immediately to try and satisfy their obsession with the stock market pice, a lack of understanding of what brand is and its value, other function heads who are constantly second-guessing the CMO and the inability to justify marketing spend in terms of return-on-investment.

Mark Jarvis, Dell’s CMO since October: “It makes for a deadly cocktail of high expectations, resistance, and complexity.”

The thing is that business managers do understand brand value when it comes to their balance sheet; the more conservative call it goodwill, whilst the more savvy may break it out sub-brand by sub-brand. But they don’t want to invest money in it.

So businesses want to focus on transactional marketing: every bit of budget leading directly to a sale or measurable form of customer interaction that they hope will lead into a sale. This makes it harder to differentiate and sell on anything other than cost: either in terms of absolute price or multiple purchase offers (3 for 2, buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF)). So, how would marketing be carved up? Social media elements such as blog and forum interaction lends itself quite nicely to the customer services operations of businesses and sales could take a lot of the other elements of marketing.

  • Where does that leave the marketers and associated professionals in areas like design?
  • And in the longer term where does it leave many businesses who are competing on price rather than harder to replicate differentiation and brand loyalty?
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商业 | business | 상업

Google steals Yahoo!’s clothes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

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When I worked at Yahoo!, Jeff Weiner talked about knowledge search as opposed to information search. Google looked to organise all the world’s information, a logical extension of their expertise in algorithmic search.

Weiner’s vision had a Fitzcarraldo-esque aspect to it: to capture and make searchable all the knowledge in the world. This knowledge could be the details about the property (real estate) market in your town or the history of of an obscure Spaghetti Western film.

Move forward 18 months and Google is taking a similar patch to Weiner’s vision with the launch of Google Knol. Knol is also a unit of knowledge within the service.

From Google’s own blog announcement:

“Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. … A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions.”

It is different to Google’s now defunct Answers product because it is based on a model that highlights individual expertise rather than resident experts or the collective knowledge of Wikipedia.

Readers can add comments, reviews, rankings, and alternative knols on the subject, but cannot directly edit the work of others. And Google is offering another incentive, knol authors can choose to include ads with their offering and collect a cut of the revenue.

The big challenge is the quality of the answers, there is an incentive to develop spam pages with ad links on them, like spam blogs.