How To Explain Digital Culture To People Who Don’t Get It

30 07 2009

The “digital divide” in corporations, and in marketing organizations, is very real.

There are a set of people who live it, and get it.

And there are a set of people who live outside it, and occasionally take a stab at trying to understand it by reading about it or attending seminars.

What they don’t get is that trying to understand digital and social media without living it is like trying to learn how to ride a bicycle by reading a book. You can’t understand it without actually doing it.

But, this hour-long video is the next best thing. If you’re working with people who aren’t living digitally, try showing them this guide to the culture.

Why do I think this “Anthropological introduction to YouTube” will help marketers?

  • It’s in a familiar, comfortable form (video);
  • It’s inspiring and non-threatening;
  • It’s not a sales piece with an agenda;
  • It’s not about advertising and marketing

It’s not about old vs. new, right vs. wrong — it’s about culture. it does a good job of explaining internet memes, viral videos, mashup and remix culture, social media, communities, “networked individualism” and more.

Best of all, it’s not about advertising and marketing, or old vs. new. It’s about culture.

I’m planning to share this with some people to see if it can help educate them. If you decide to do the same, please let me know how it works.

Colgate Wisp: CPG Viral Video Done Right

28 07 2009

Something idiotic is happening at Colgate headquarters.

They’re approving videos for YouTube that are every bit as moronic and weird as “Keyboard Cat“, yet do a brilliant job of highlighting the features of their new product, Colgate Wisp. This is the best viral video I’ve seen since the Verizon Viral Video.

THIS is how to do viral. It sells hard because it’s not needy.  Colgate is not begging you to love the Wisp. They’re not promising the sun, the moon and the stars. They’re not pretending to be high technology or rocket science. Colgate isn’t even pretending to do serious advertising.

They’re just saying “here it is, and here’s what it does” in an idiotic way. Which happens to be very, very smart.

Mickey Mouse Measurement And The Goofy Illusion Of Perfection

27 07 2009

UPDATE 8/4/09: Good FORTUNE magazine article on “Advertising’s Revenge of The Nerds”.  Will the algorithms that were peddled on Wall Street to inflate the housing bubble wreak similar havoc on Madison Avenue? I wonder.


The Formula Herd has descended on Austin, Texas, Mickey Mouse ears and eye-tracking googles at the ready.

Their mission: find the holy grail for online advertising.


“The goal” says Disney Media Networks’ Peter Seymour, the unit’s executive vice president for strategy and research, “is ultimately to have laws that apply.”

And so, without irony, the company that brings us Disney Magic sets out to eradicate magic from advertising in favor of a formula.

As you can imagine, this is serious work: you can’t use just any old Mickey Mouse tools.

Besides the eye-tracking goggles, they have heart-rate monitors, and skin temperature readers and probes attached to facial muscles to measure every grin and grimace.

And so the holy war between art and science continues. We continue chasing the goofy illusion of perfection. goofy

I’m not anti-science, or anti-research.  And, I have no doubt that the Disney execs are entirely sincere in their desire to get at the truth and are genuinely trying to help.

But after more than half a century of TV research, we still don’t know in advance what makes TV commercials work.  In fact, the best research I have ever seen comes from Nielsen IAG. Their conclusion? Engagement (aka “executional magic”) is the best predictor of sales.

So much for formulas.

Heretical Prediction Of The Day

Yogi Berra famously said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”.  In spite of this sage advice, here goes.

On the day when all interactive advertising is successfully refined to the point where there is 100% efficiency and 0% waste, we will learn something shocking.

We’ll discover that 0% waste means we end up advertising ONLY to those people who were going to buy the product anyway – which of course equals 100% waste.

Spoiler alert: no matter how hard we chase perfect understanding, we end up in the same place of not knowing.

It’s a Zen circle. The difference is this time, it’s a Zen circle with mouse ears 🙂

Kevin Spacey Talks Twitter and Thumbs With David Letterman

23 07 2009

It’s so weird how big Twitter has become.

Can you imagine Fernando Lamas talking about Twittering and his Tweets with Johnny Carson?  (Come to think of it, I can.  In fact it’s not hard to imagine Charo getting involved somehow. Forget I brought the whole thing up. )

Anyway. This video doesn’t mean anything. But it’s fun. Enjoy.

Seeing The Forrester For The Trees

21 07 2009

I’ve been working in digital since the earliest days, and I am a true believer.

Cut me and I bleed bytes.

But, still… are we not seeing the Forrester for the trees?

How does Forrester’s projection that in 5 years digital will account for 20% of the total advertising spend count as a massive change in advertising?

The curve is sexy. Noteworthy. But… it’s still only 20%.

In fact, a reasonable interpretation of the below chart is:

“despite all the hype, what this chart really says is that 80% of the ad spend in 2014 will be in the traditional media that we have been far too quick to declare dead”.


But obviously, things are not 80% the same as ever. Not by a long shot. So what’s happening here?

I don’t buy the argument that TV is dead, or that nothing at all is changing. What both arguments miss is a broader perspective. When I step back from the question of digital vs. analog and old vs. new, I see two tremendous shifts.

The first is an explosion of content and a fragmentation of audiences that has blown a massive hole in the business models of all content businesses. This makes it tougher to reach a mass audience.

The second is a shift from long-term brand-building activities to short-term direct marketing activities.

The Two Biggest Changes And Challenges In Advertising?

Digital is a major part of what is driving the changes in advertising, but it remains only a part. In my opinion, there are two major changes and challenges that marketers must grapple with. They are:

  1. Re-aggregating fragmented audiences into a meaningful size; and
  2. Re-learning how to build brands for the long-term

Advertising IS changing forever.

But when we focus too tightly on digital vs. analog share of ad spend, I believe we are missing the big picture.

Interesting And Elsewhere

14 07 2009

I’m still digesting all that I saw and heard yesterday at IAB Mobile.  A long day, but interesting. If you haven’t seen the IAB Mobile Buyer’s Guide yet, you can download it here.


While I’m pondering what’s next for mobile, I’m somewhat at a loss for what to say.  Fortunately, for the poor souls like you who came here in search of something worthwhile, you will not leave disappointed.  The entire rest of the Internet is working feverishly to make up for my shortcomings.

Here’s what’s Interesting and Elsewhere today:

Augmented Reality Apps

Alex Bogusky on Social Media and the Changing Media Landscape

Four Questions To Answer For Success In CPG Social Marketing

How Kids Consume Media (A 15 Year Old’s POV) NOTE: Links to PDF

How Kids Consume Media (Experian’s POV) NOTE: Links to PDF

The Meteoric Rise Of The App Store

The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think

Photo Credit: Nick Sherman