Are You Selling Cave Swiftlet Saliva Or Kraft Cheese?

18 02 2010

What publishers must learn from CPG:  my latest blogpost at Jack Myers MediaBizBloggers. A brief preview:

We can ask, “how can publishers stop content from being commoditized?” but it won’t help.

I think it’s time for a weirder but more productive question.

Are You Selling Cave Swiftlet Saliva Or Kraft Cheese?

Cave Swiftlet saliva is the main ingredient in bird’s nest soup. It’s so rare and so differentiated that a bowl of soup made from it goes for about $30. Nice business. But the other 99% of what people consume are essentially commodities. Salt. Coffee. Cheese. Publishers can learn a lot from consumer packaged goods companies. Especially food marketers.

How would a food company look at the problem of commoditized content?

Read more here.

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Is It Time For The Chief Brand Integration Officer?

10 12 2009

Once upon a time, marketing was easy.  In fact, Ed or Jimmy or Bubba from sales could handle it.

You didn’t need an MBA: the booming postwar economy made even lousy strategy look like a stroke of genius.

You didn’t even have to understand advertising. You had an ad agency to handle all that Hollywood  junk.  All you had to do was make some phone calls, steer clear of company politics, and have the occasional 12-martini lunch with your pals on Mad Ave.

Fast forward to 2010, and it’s a mess. Your traditional agency still does gorgeous TV, and some of their young guns really do “get” digital. But, maybe their digital offering isn’t as good as agencies that were born digital.

So, how do you manage this?

You can do what most marketers do and work with a crazy-quilt of agencies. You’ll have a traditional agency for TV. Another that does paid search, one that does social media, one that does mobile, one that does PR, digital ad infinitum.  You’ll get best-of-breed thinking, but you’ll spend a lot of time playing coordinator and referee. Oh, and trying to coordinate all the data from these disparate efforts will be a ginormous pain in the shorts.

Or you can go with a “we-do-it-all” interactive agency. They may not be as deep in search as a pure-play search agency, or maybe they’ll be stronger in analytics than in creative.

But at least all your stuff isn’t in silos.

Except… it still is.  If you’re like most marketers, what about the impact of the other 80% or more of your spend that remains in traditional? How does all that integrate with your digital efforts?

The Integration Problem

I’ve worked in traditional, digital and now I’m on the client side. Having seen a 360 degree view of this, I’m more convinced than ever that marketers must take the lead across all these different specialties and integrate them to drive results.

It would be great if you could have your lead agency do this, but you really can’t. No matter how great an agency is, I think it’s impossible to be entirely objective.

Every agency is passionate about their specialty. If they’re not, they can’t be good at it. And as a practical matter, every agency is in business to sell more of what they do. They need to upsell as much as you do.

So the job of integration, of synergizing disparate efforts so that 1+1 adds up to 11, has to be done on the client side. Easy, right? Well… maybe not.

The Overloaded Brand Manager

The job of integration usually gets placed on the shoulders of a brand manager who is already tasked with managing far too much.  Trying to wrap your head around traditional, digital, manufacturing, innovation, social media, competitive threats, private label, and the ugliest roughest retail environment in history all at once ain’t easy.

And, marketing organizations typically lack people who have enough experience across these silos to see the opportunities that exist — and especially not those that can be created.

Is It Time For The Chief Brand Integration Officer?

Marketing organizations now need a senior manager with deep experience in both traditional and digital who is tasked with integrating them.

A strong Tradigital exec who can look at great ideas from different agencies and find the ones that work not just as one-offs, but multiply the power of the overall effort.

Today, 10 years after the dot-com bust, a small number of these people exist. They’re the oldtimers who left successful traditional advertising and marketing gigs to dive headfirst into digital.

What do you think? Does a new position like this make sense? Who ought to do this job, and why? How would this work within a traditional brand management structure?

Comments, please…





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.





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”.

.
072009-Bernoff

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.





The Real Time, Mashed-Up Future Of TV?

26 06 2009

What do you do with a medium that’s fragmentized and atomized, whose antique analog economics have been flung out the window into a digital hurricane, and is rapidly becoming a great big mess?

If you ask Shelly Palmer, the answer is to stop fighting fragmentation and start harnessing it.

I love this idea. How much more fun would TV be — even old shows we’ve seen a million times — if all the production elements were given to the world to mashup in real time?

honeymashup

Radical Common Sense

This might sound insane at first.  But the more you think about it, the more it sounds like radical common sense. Pay close attention to what Shelly Palmer is saying:

“We have entered the super-digital age and now all television is digital. So why are we still broadcasting combined, fully finished, masters in real time? We don’t have to. It would be much, much better to (…) break the data down to its component parts and broadcast them separately. So, text, graphics, music, script, metadata, voice-over, picture elements would all be packaged as individual data streams and made available in real time.”

Wow. As I’ve written before, everything is an ingredient. This takes things to an entirely new level. And it works whether your passion is to produce content, or sell it.

As a creative person, I’m excited by Shelly’s idea because it opens possibilities.  I believe all creative thinking is basically mashing up existing ideas in a way that reveals something previously unseen.  To borrow a line from U2’s song “The Fly”, “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.”  Mashups just make that process explicit, and part of the fun is spotting the purloined bits. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go download the Kleptones “Night At The Hip-Hopera”.  It explains everything.)

As a businessman, I’m intrigued because it means you can do insane experiments with re-thinking TV without having to kill it in the process.  Old and new can co-exist, until new finds the place where it stops seeming crazy and starts making money.

Is It Time To Stop Fighting The Future?

Digital makes mashing things up easy — in fact everything in this blog post is mashed up from somewhere else, from the Honeymooners pictures and script, to the quote from Shelly Palmer.

What great things can happen if we stop trying to fight the future and  just let digital do what digital wants to do?  Who knows where it can lead us?





The Gateway Recession: What’s Next?

25 06 2009

Essential reading from The Counterintuitive CEO Blog, whether you’re a CEO or not.  Thanks to my friend Mike Troiano of Crimson Hexagon for pointing this one out.

Here’s the deal. We’re at a portal between eras: what was, and what will be. We’re not talking about change.  We’re talking about CHANGE. There’s a difference.

portal

Key takeaways from the article:

1) Digital will be mandatory, not a choice. But you already knew this, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog.

2) Brand loyalty will be limited. The news from the recent CMO study already wasn’t good news. Can we afford for it to get worse? I don’t think so.

3) Customers will look very unfamiliar, as shown in the Forrester report, The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2008.  You may not like it, and you may not understand it, but your customer is being changed by technology — and your customer will change your company.

4) The war for people will be intense. Now’s a smart time to hunker down and develop skills that will be worth fighting for.  Which side of the portal are you on: the past, or the future?

5) You will sell differently. Many traditional channels won’t survive in the new era — because the new consumer won’t pick them up or tune them in. You will have to reach customers in new ways — blogs, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and whatever supersedes them.

6) The way you innovated is dead. This is actually good news: the old way hadn’t worked anyway for a long time. Isn’t it a relief to know it’s not your fault?  🙂

Click here to read.





The Day The Media Died

5 06 2009

Have you heard “Mad Ave Blues” yet?

OK, the lyrics don’t scan quite as well as they could. And, for comedy, it’s kind of a sad song.

But if you’re in advertising or marketing or media, this should really hit home with you.  It did for me.