communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.
"NASA did a long-term study decades ago where they tested a group of Kindergarteners on creative problem solving. 95% scored in the highest quadrant. Then they came back and did the same test every year with the same kids all the way through high school. By the time these kids graduated only roughly 5 percent still scored as highly-creative problem solvers..."
But first things first, without any background I tend to credit MTV for the concept of "making of" simply because that's where we all started going behind the scenes of videos and what not. The idea of "making of" created the first real bridge between artefact - which was the musical or in any way artistic work, and the public. You could see how things were made and that created a form of intimacy with the artist. It also made the whole process more exciting because you got the see the workings behind the final result and sometimes even facets of that work you had not considered. It gave you a different perspective.
Somehow as time passed by "making of"s became as important as the product itself and with Internet I tend to think that the Making of is just as important as the work itself. Witness the Sony Bravia campaign where the first commercial was followed up by a teasing of the making of the second commercial. Also think of most of the eepybird experiments which are always presented in conjunction with the "making of'. The same works for Post-It experiments done by the same team. And of course, now we have "How it's made" on Discovery/Science.
In all instances the way the thing was made is just as interesting as the things itself. The making of becomes ... well, a thing in itself.
[PS: that's what you get from watching modern art projections all evening...]
- while in the bathtub
- on the loo
- while I cook breakfast (well actually, then I watch TED conferences)
- in bed
- on the floor
- in the airport toilet
- in hotel lobbies
- hanging from the corner of a balcony to catch a free wifi
- on the sidewalk in front of starbucks
- in the mall loo
- in the cinema
But recently, one marketing manager chose to promote herself with the classical means of offline advertising: she needed a job and so she booked a huge mesh prism in downtown Bucharest which sent you to a website. They both said the same thing: "17 years of experience, 4 multinational companies, 9 brands introduced: Marketing Director Seeking Employment".
The initiative created a storm online with people speculating that it was: a) a hoax b) real c) a great guerilla campaign by a new jobbing service.Everyone was mesmerized by this, either because it was so daring and so crazy, or because it was so desperate and crazy. Eventually, pretty much everyone got convinced it was real (the person exists, people have worked with her).
But the question remains: WOULD YOU HIRE CARMEN?
There is always two sides to advertising and we never seem to understand which is the one that matters most, or that makes the difference. We have awareness, everyone is talking about Carmen and then we have affinity, the right people are saying the right thing about Carmen. Which is more important?
Awareness was achieved in this case: she got people talking. A lot. Mostly that she must be desperate, that the crisis was hitting deep, that she was taking huge chances, that she was paid to do it. Everyone knows Carmen.
But did she get affinity? Did her audience - CEOs in search of a marketing manager - understand that she was proactive [she did not sit on her ass and expect to be head hunted or simply send out CVs], and using the tools of her trade [she is a marketing manager, so she used advertising to market herself]?
This is where the connection breaks because if no one hires Carmen then she will have made the point that awareness/buzz is not enough and that her message somehow was not sent using the correct means or to the right people. Which I tend to think is the case. But what if, seriously, what if someone does hire Carmen? What then?
Then, we have two ways of looking at it: a) mere awareness is still enough of an incentive to buy or b) innovation will make a difference. Once. At least for Carmen :D
Some context: don't know about you but I have always lived with the fear that at some point I will not have anything left to do. I fear lack of purposeful activity so when I was at university I used to make endless lists of books left to read in case I had managed to be left without anything else to do. When doing my Masters in London, I asked my supervisor to enlist me for double the classes because the required number did not seem to fill my time. Later on, when I became an adult and got my first serious job I found myself again in that conundrum and quit that job to find another that would keep me busy as long as I wanted.
Today the fear of not having anything left to do/read/inquire about/search is meaningless. I wake up every morning at 6 and go to bed every night at 12 knowing that there are a million things to be done tomorrow and the day after. If I chose to not control it, life now would happen to me without me having anything to do about it. There is no respite. There is no time when I have nothing to do. Because of Internet.
For me, Internet has literally killed the idea of "mental leisure" - the option to be ON all the time is something I cannot escape. Even on vacation I need to find out more about the place, to post my thoughts, to post images, to write replies. I am connected and truly find that "the machine is using me" [like a famed viral said] to perpetuate itself.
so what about you: what has the Internet made redundant for you?
Now Facebook has hit break even. How? Read this (and weep, because there is no big idea, it's just a combo of what Internet entrepreneurs hate most: advertising and gimmicks).
"Meanwhile, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg also made a significant announcement last week. This was not his revelation that Facebook now had 300 million users (interesting though that is), but that it has reached the point where its revenues now balance its operating costs. Everybody has been waiting to see if Facebook would hit on a Big Idea that would make it financially sustainable. What now transpires is that there is no Big Idea, just an agglomeration of small ideas like self-service (plus traditional) advertising, sales of gifts and "virtual property" etc which add up to a significant income stream."
The trick with that statement is that protocols are seldom exceptional, and most often they are designed NOT to help but to cover up stupidity and faults.
Case study: five days ago my cable stopped without explanation. I checked my bills and saw that everything had been paid on time. So I called the operator to ask for a solution. The reply I got was that they would come by, but I needed to be at home for two hours when the teams were coming over, anytime between 9 and 17 which is, obviously, when I am at work. Since all I have pertaining to the cable company INSIDE my flat is a cable and a cable-ending, which goes into the TV, I protested and asked to be given a reason why they would need me home. My logic went that if they came and fixed the receiver box, which is outside the flat, I would be ok when I got home. Their reply was "it's protocol". So I stayed at home and got a buzz at 9 am the day established. A man with a ladder was furiously knocking on my door. I answered and he looked in with the words "so yer cable is not working?". I nodded. He said "okay, I'll check the receiver box" [again, which is OUTSIDE my flat]. Sure enough, two minutes later the cable was working. He came back and again pounded on my door to say "it's all fixed now".
This got me thinking: why wasn't it easier for them to simply send someone to check the receiver box without inconveniencing me with three phone calls where we had negotiated the day when I could skip work. By all accounts, if the problem had not been with the receiver box, it could only mean my TV was broken or the cable severed inside the house, and that was something I could diagnose. Plus, if the TV was broken they could do nothing about it.
The only logical explanation I have for this protocol is that they need to make sure people SEE a repair person so that they cannot be sued for not showing up or not giving a crap. It's self protection, the protocol is in place to make their lives easier, not their customers'.
So then I got to thinking about how many of the things we set up as procedures are really designed to help our customers or simply to establish a pattern which is safe enough for the company...
A year on and I find myself looking back and thinking that I may not have been as silly as I was told back then. Back then, talking to a friend she saw amazing potential in the campaign, she saw campaignability and generousness, she made me think I had no clue.
Today the only thing that differentiates Orange's ads from anyone else's is, sometimes, the soundtrack (smugly and posh chosen tracks from smug and posh artists such as Nouvelle Vague, Jasom Mraz and such headliners at a possible smug festival in Bucharest). Sometimes the poorly understood insight with dreadful executions like the one about the pathetic husband whose wife won't let him do what he likes (where the pay off is "I am all the people who think they know better"). Today I remember every Orange ad, because it's just so under expectations. Common looking visuals, common looking people, septic environments, 80s style smiles and everywhere a non-sell non-telecom line "I am ...". I have no figures to support my claim but I know for a fact that I have not heard people talking about Orange ads for, hmmmmm, almost a year now. Back then the marshmallow duo was on everyone's lips, and the postpaid services with their eerie minimalistic executions were posted on artists' blogs.
I know it may sound biased because I work in an agency who works for the competition BUT Orange was my favourite brand a year ago, even with the agency working for another telecom, and I would have stuck with it. I don't do corporate brain-wash. Fortunately for my paycheck Orange did me a favor and turned bad. So now, I can be on-message with my agency: I have no reason to like Orange anymore.
It took me a while to put all the ideas that were being thrown about in some order and also to make a summary of what seemed truly relevant.
What stayed is this:
- none of the local players knows exactly what to do with video online, except for maybe Orlando who understands that there is good content already available for online and all he needs to do is be the only one who streams it and gets paid for that
- premium content to be paid for by the user and advertising are the only two ways to monetize video right now (or ever, for that matter)
- nobody is really struggling to put video on your mobile because technology is not convergent and because simple internet on your mobile is not really raking in the shitload of money people were expecting
- producing content for online is something everyone is looking to do except that, surprise, surprise, it is not that easy to make, it's expensive and so far it does not pay off.
- if it has tits it has a better chance of becoming popular and the question are the tits we are paying for better than the free ones users post (okay, this is my silly take on the much sex banter there)
- everyone agrees that video is the next big thing
At which point I cannot help but wonder what the hell is going on and what are we really talking about. There seem to be 3-4 reasons why you would want to place [original] video online:
- no advertising during the show
- available anytime and anywhere there is a connection
- less legal constraints and more creativity (more tit-showing)
- instant broadcasting - no need to haggle with TV stations to use your content and less advertising money involved to promote it
BUT, in Romania fact is that:
- unless you place advertising there somehow, you will not be able to cover costs because nobody will pay for your content (and there was talk of inserting ads in the stream which by all accounts might be even more annoying that regular TV commercials)
- people, the big chunk of them, have fixed watching periods driven NOT by TV schedules but by everyday life. Prime time is called prime time not because TV stations decide to dump their best content there but because that's when, statistically, more people have time to watch
- so far there has been no online production capable of beating anything HBO produces :D
I think that people are looking online for things they would like to see offline but don't have the chance. Highest views are always for series we don't have on TV and someone has posted online from the US, movie clips, and stupid chimp videos. Fact is online is possibly just a means of getting to the video content that is forbidden to you offline. I wonder if someone had a hit online show what would happen with it. I'll tell you: it would get moved to TV. Effectively, online may be just an opportunity provider versus an alternative provider. So far. What are the other options?
Other points of view?
I loved this confession here
"And then there's jealousy. In all that information you're posting about your life—your vacation, your kids, your promotions at work, even that margarita you just drank—someone is bound to find something to envy. When it comes to relationships, such online revelations can make breaking up even harder to do.
"Facebook prolongs the period it takes to get over someone, because you have an open window into their life, whether you want to or not," says Yianni Garcia of New York, a consultant who helps companies use social media. "You see their updates, their pictures and their relationship status."
Mr. Garcia, 24, felt the sting of Facebook jealousy personally last spring, after he split up with his boyfriend. For a few weeks, he continued to visit his ex's Facebook page, scrutinizing his new friends. Then one day he discovered that his former boyfriend had blocked him from accessing his profile."
If you think you are not part of this, think about the following:
- do you edit the images you post of yourself? do you untag unflattering images of yourself posted by your friends? do you sneak a peek at people's relationship status everytime you visit their page? do you check out your ex's page or do you try to see who they post wall-to-wall with most? do you sometimes play with your relationship status message just for kicks? do you post status messages with inuendos? do you comment on people's relationship status? do you post cheesy love songs?
Interestingly, in a different world, not only because it's across the big pond, Faris thinks that there may be a different way of looking at this. While I find it natural to dig for the free stuff, he says
"Most people can't really be bothered to steal stuff, if it's easier not to, within certain price elasticities, I imagine. In fact, I reckon there will be room for free, ad supported and paid for versions of the same content to mutually co-exist, based on context." from here
I am trying to figure out the circumstance in which this could become a fact, an worth considering, fro Romania as well. First you would have to have relevant content and you really wanted, then you would have to have an easily accessible way of getting it at an acceptable price and finally you would have to have reliable and fast means of payment and delivery. Where we are right now? The only decent content I would pay for is foreign, there is no easily accessible route to it and I actually have to drive to pay for it or pick it up sometimes.
It's a sobering and hopeful thought however, that at some point, we might evolve to the point where the desperation of a few cents or a few extra minutes of waiting will not be so excruciating to us that we are willing to spend hours on end to find a free option.
"Why is it that everyone is so dead-set on having their children exceed them? From a logical standpoint, doesn't it seem hard to understand how everyone's children are going to advance forward? Especially when there are an exponentially increasing number of children on the planet; and at the same time technology is exponentially decreasing the need for human intervention in the production of our goods and services? As we go each day into the future we have more people to do work, while at the same time we have less work to do. How are we all going to find our kids well-rewarded jobs, when we just don't need as many people working?"
Avatar (trailer below), Gamers (trailer on youtube has embedding disabled - BTW really stupid move on the producers part, but simply search Gamers trailer, and Surrogates are just three movies dealing with people leaving their real lives behind to start living in alternate realities. From the straight forward Gamers, where the plot is simple: one gets deathrow inmates to control via brain mapping and play in a bloody war, to the more intricate Surrogates where the real life human sends out a clone to live their life and finishing off with the much hyped Avatar, the concern of Hollywood directors is that technology is making people renounce their real lives to move to alternate realities where their powers are enhanced and their overall experience is heightened.
The topic seems to be endless, with Southpark also doing a hilarious episode on World of Warcraft (most disgusting scenes embedded below but it's really worth watching) and also, a similar topic under-running the script for Wall-e.
So first, the good points of the above (if you don't speak romanian)
- where's the difference between Respectful and what is happening right now?
- it's no different from TV and TV ads are the main reasons we are migrating to Internet
- how is this going to be implemented, really?
- people need to understand that good content needs to be paid for.
Now, what I was thinking about is simpler. First of all, respectful ad serving is not about removing non intrusive ads (like the simple leaderboard and sky scraper), but more about - as the name says it - striking a respect-based deal with consumers. When they care about the content they should be warned that the time they spend will be interrupted. So the idea was to mark all participating websites with a logo. This logo would, for instance, start flickering when you are in "open for ad serving mode" - meaning when you've spent more than 15-20 seconds on a page. That would make you aware that "intrusive ads" are about to be served. You can choose to leave or, like in classical TV mode, wait to see what they are and then read on. the difference is in the manner you connect with the reader: you don't push your ads but ask for permission. Once there was talk of permission marketing - maybe we can do permission ad serving.
The thing is, people, asking users to pay for content in the form of micro payments like The Economist is not going to happen in Romania anytime soon. Anderson was right: digital is free so advertising is the only way to pay for stuff online unless we finally discover that magical monetizing method everyone is talking about. That we have developed immunity to online advertising already can only be a big problem and instead of continuously relying on the famed "creativity" we can try to brainstorm for smarter and less elusive ways to handle our customers online.
I am seriously open to more reactions and maybe we can do something worthwhile with this. For instance I am going to ask Manafu to let us maybe discuss this at Webstock. Anyone interested in doing a roundtable on this?
Remeber when Facebook tried to scan all your friends' links and generate ads based on their preferred locations? Well, we might have yelled back then but check this out: people can like or unlike Ads :)...are you telling me you will not click on something 39% of your friends have given a thumbs up for?
The thinking behind is simple: with TV you accept advertising because it interferes but at measured and expected intervals. With online you don't because they come at you all the time with no regard for your linger time on the page.
So we implement something called "respectful ad serving" - meaning that large formats are only served if the user spends more than the average time on the page. The logic is that you are interested in that content and one is willing to accept advertising for content you are interested in. At the same time, respectful ad serving would also entail having one set timer for all large formats so that they go off in a sequence. Very much like the commercial break we are used to on TV.
One suggestion was to create a browser which would do exactly this: a simpler idea yet might be to get publishers involved in a "respectful ad serving" scheme.
I know lots of brands which would adhere to something like this only to be allowed to do display without being accused of being intrusive.