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Posts from November 2006

How to Sell New Technology


The problem most technology companies face when it comes to marketing is a form of tunnel vision caused by love.

Technology companies are, for the most part, run by engineers who love the technology for its own sake.

This tends to lead to communication that focuses on technical specifications: 1500 mega pixels/gigabytes/bit/dual core/megahertz processing wi-fi wi-max ajax interbox.

This of course means absolutely nothing to anyone who isn't fascinated by technology - the vast majority of people who just want to know what it does for them.

So how do you sell a whole new kind of technology? For example, how do you convince people of the virtures of a whole new kind of interface, as has been developed for the Nintendo Wii?

Simple. Show what happens when people use it.

The Long Tail Eats the Head

Google's business model derives from the long tail of advertisers, as much of the growth in online advertising has done. Whilst ad spend online has rocketed, the vast majority of this spend comes in relatively small increments, from relatively small advertisers. The lower entry costs and demonstrable returns that search marketing can deliver tempted innumerable smaller players into advertising.

Now Google is providing a similar service on other media. 

Google Audio Ads, derived from its acquisition of the dMarc automated radio ad platform, takes it into radio. It's opening up traditional broadcast media to the long tail.

Yesterday, Google announced it would be rolling a similar model into newspapers, following a test in magazines last year. Newspapers are under pressure fill some of the holes in their ad revenue  caused by the migration of much of their traditional inventory, such as classifieds, online. Using their AdSense model, Google intends to facilitate the flow of money back into papers, by making their display inventory a viable option for smaller advertisers.

But brokering the deals isn't enough to generate the greatest value from the long tail - they want a bigger piece of the action that they have enabled. Hence Google are now looking to buy into Clear Channel radio. By rolling out their model across other channels, and then buying themselves into them, Google can begin to offer a complete cross channel advertising solution, becoming a traditional media owner, as well as the world's largest media company.

The long tail of advertising is enabling Google to eat the head of mainstream media.

People thought AOL /Time Warner was a big deal but the synergies available to a channel and content provider at that time were overstated.

But when Google starts to buy its way into TV, the media landscape is going to change completely.

Eight Traits of the Emerging Media Landscape


Alexa pointed me in the direction of Henry Jenkins' blog today, from which the above image comes, where he's posted his eight traits of the emerging media landscape.

This will be familliar to readers of Covergence Culture but it's still excellent reading and entirely relevant for anyone thinking about transmedia planning.

The central premise is worth bearing in mind - it's not the technology it's what people do with it that's important:

Most often, when people are asked to describe the current media landscape, they respond by making an inventory of tools and technologies. Our focus should be not on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices.

Henry's Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape are:

  1. Innovative: the rapid development of media technologies means that the cultural impact is unpredictable - each new technology spawns a range of different uses.
  2. Convergent: every idea, image, story, brand and relationship will play itself out across the broadest range of channels.
  3. Everyday: the pervasive nature of media has led to new behaviours like "continuous partial attention", coined by Linda Stone, a researcher at Microsoft. The danger is that with media being pervasive, we will no longer be able to see it, any more than fish can perceive water. It becomes a new kind of medium, as it were.
  4. Appropriative: here he talks about the emergence of a remix culture.
  5. Networked: media technologies are increasingly interconnected, allowing the effortless flow of content from person to person, or increasingly from many to many, replacing the sender / receiver mainstream media model of old.
  6. Global: media flows across national borders [except into China] and allows the development of international communities - like all of you out there.
  7. Generational: increasingly generations define themselves around their media behaviours - think the Myspace Generation - making inter-generational understanding even less likely.
  8. Unequal: his point here is about the digital divide - being visible online is a prerequisite for participation in this culture - anyone unable to participate is rendered invisible.

How we adapt to the world we are creating is perhaps the most interesting thing about working in any part of the media.

But I think people confuse colonising Second Life with understanding what people are getting out of online role playing games, what motivates people to contribute to online communities and what that might tell us about how people think about the world and themselves.

Emergent platforms are not spaces to invade - they are spaces to learn.

Read the wise man's wise words here.



McDonald's wants to show that "the customer experience can be really valuable to companies" - by paying people $10 to blog about their experiences there.

I imagine they won't be as happy to pay for negative experiences.

PayPerPost certainly aren't - they pay "consumers" to write positive comments about products on blogs. According to the site's founder, this is a "consumer-generated advertising network".

As a geek type, I often get clients asking me how to use blogs. The answer is: not like this.

"Shall we get a blog?" Often the answer is no, even forgetting the above. Like any communication - "what are you trying to achieve?" and "how is it going to deliver value to the consumers that choose to let you talk to them?" are the questions to be asking. Not how do we jump on the X bandwagon.

Why not roll this model out into the mainstream media? Simply pay for laudatory editorial for your company - it's a PR dream. If it's not appropriate for mainstream journalists, its not appropriate for bloggers.

People are your partners. Word of mouth is the advertiser's dream because people believe other people, not advertisers.

But if it's not genuine, you've just hired another paid shill, which means they can't give a genuine opinion, negating the effect you wanted to achieve in the first place.