Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Revelations Instead of Just Presentations

I attended the SEGD Xlab2013 conference in NYC recently. It wasn't my idea, but should have been. My boss thought we should go, and also a vendor/partner was a sponsor. And once I checked out the agenda it was a total no brainer.

It turned out to be a revelation; inspiring, intimidating and yet comforting and revelatory all at the same time.

For almost two full decades now I have been obsessed with the changes that the internet and wired culture have done to advertising and product marketing. It started with a fascination with online culture...but has turned out to be an endless and wonderful trip. And with stints at digital signage startups, software companies and retail agencies who specialized in the industry, my interests are as comprehensive as they can be...

And, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens this past Thursday, one amazing speaker after another presented projects and concepts that tied architecture and technology together in beautiful and sublime ways; from Lady Gaga's designer's store in Manhattan to swaying illuminated shafts of light in a field at the Athens Olympics.

What does it mean when architecture and digital tech intersect? Exciting stuff...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Digital Signage - the next chapter

And the reason I haven't blogged recently is because of this...


But I will continue on; lots to say still.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Keynote Worth The Moniker

Yesterday morning at the DX3 conference here in Toronto, Benjamin Palmer, the CEO of the Barbarian group in New York City gave a disarming, yet very compelling overview of the current digital marketing landscape in his early morning keynote.

Brands need editorial voices

He described the splintering media landscape that all brand and their agencies are dealing with...and interestingly showed the morning audience what he thought was cool and current, from somebody in Brooklyn playing around with the printed catalog from J. Crew.

Here is the JCREW mash up ---

JCrew Crew episode 5 New Neighbors from Meghan O'Neill on Vimeo.

Benjamin took the crowd through his agencies work with GE, which was the very definition of optimizing blogging. He toured some of GE's far flung operations and video blogged about the facilities and the projects the company was working on.

GE has so many products and services in it's portfolio that the blog turned into an optimized channel to showcase the interesting work and dedicated employees all over the country. It was very successful and jumpstarted his agency.

He moved on to the immediate issue of emerging social media platforms, and the speed of their ascendency and adoption.

"And now we have to deal with Vine!" he exclaimed, as the crowd laughed knowingly.

That's when his keynote got really interesting for me. He sketched the challenging landcape of an agency and brand trying to keep up with customers and consumers as they moved from platform to platform. Do they see my ad on facebook? Are they using Twitter as they watch American Idol? Is my handbag uploaded to Pinterest?

In fact these platforms are emerging faster, and gaining quicker adoption as never before. As smartphone penetration grows larger and their speed and capabilities become more powerful this will only become more entrenched.

He described the Mad Men world as history now; a place where an ad campaign is created and you send it out into the world, waiting for months to hear back how it resonated.

And then he did put up a screen which resonated so profoundly for me. It was a slide with three famous editors on it; Tina Brown, Anna Wintour and a man whose name now escapes me and my google searches.

It was a revelation. His answer to the rapidly evolving digital landscapes was this; brands need editorial voices as a result. They need careful and strategic curation. They need champions who are skilled and knowledgable in this fluid, all connected media space.

And he is absolutely right. But does you typical ad agency have this mindset or talent? Do internal marketing pros think this way today? No...not many.

Welcome to the new normal...

Here is an interview with Benjamin shot right after the keynote;

You can follow Benjamin on Twitter at @bnjmn

Monday, February 4, 2013

Must Follow on Monday

Sure the FollowFriday #FF meme for Twitter has been around for years now, but I'm going to start my own trend today. So as of now, the "Must Follow on Monday" movement is born!

What shall the hash tag be? How about #MFM? Oh no, not a good one. How about #MFoM then...

In any case, the person to follow on Twitter this Monday is Matthew Stasoff (@mattewstasoff), who works at Grip here in Toronto as a Social Content Strategist.

He first came to my attention during the Golden Globes, when he expertly covered the proceedings simultaneously on his Tumblr blog, and on Twitter in real time. His Twitter profile notes that he is "consuming information as fast as my internet connection will allow me", which is something I can surely relate to.

We are in a time where real time media are out pacing the scheduled, produced-two-months-ago programming of the past, and some of us are wired to go forward, while others keep looking back.

I'm sure Grip's clients will be taking advantage of Matthew's keen drive and observations...they are foolish if they don't.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From the Social Front

Some items from the constantly evolving social media front are blogworthy this morning...

Create A Scene with Vine

Twitter released Vine last Thursday to quite a bit of media attention. To me it complements the micro-blogging phenomenon quite well, letting users create six second videos. The user interface for this iOS only app is streamlined, and even though some users complained about bugs during the first couple of days, it has gathered both a significant amount of media attention and users.

What does this mean for brands and marketers? There is no advertising model in place yet, but that is certainly not out of the question in the future, ala youTube. But already brands such as Gap and Urban Outfitters have started publishing Vines. After all, it is a free app and there sits Twitter as the natural place to push out the content links.

Will Vine be important six months or a year from now? Only time will tell. But with a clean UI and a huge installed base of iphones in the field, it has no place to go but grow at this point.

Want to see how people are using Vine? You can peak into the global stream of "vines" here at Vinepeek. It's completely random, but I think that makes it even more interesting...seeing how users around the world are taking up this new app and platform for sharing.

Twitter has already released two new versions since the launch, fixing bugs, but also dealing with the burgeoning issue of porn content. Tumblr has long been porn friendly, and it doesn't seem possible to stop people from using apps such as these for that sort of content, but time will tell.

Google+ Gains Traction in Usage

I've been a big fan of Google+ since it was released. In fact I did an 80+ page slide deck for the agency I was working for at the time, introducing the staff to the features of this powerful social platform.

Since then it has become somewhat of a punching bag. "Nobody's there." Google's "ghost town..."

And these criticisms are quite understandable. After all, who wants to be the first person to join a social network? Nobody wants to be the first one at the party...waiting for others to show up.

But that seems to be changing now. Take a look at these numbers from a report by GlobalWebIndex.

The report focuses on the decline of "local" social networks, but the big story is the ascendency of Google+ above Twitter and even YouTube.

I've been a steady user since it launched and can concur that more and more people are migrating to Google+. After all it does everything facebook does, and more...better. And now that facebook usage is practically ubiquitous, more and more people are expanding their online social networking to other global platforms.

Google has also been very savvy in making sure that search and gmail users have a quick path to Google+. The now standardized "black bar" navigation element across Google properties feature it prominently.

Initially G+ was embraced by geeks, photographers and journalists. Shutterbugs especially loved the photo friendly interface and the free storage for scads of images.

But now I am convinced that users are happy to engage in the innovative video conferenceing "hangout" feature, the intuitive "circle" system that allows organization of contacts which helps manage the content stream which has practically ruined the facebook interface for many.

And with the launch of brand pages last spring, Google and users can look forward to taking advantage of the huge databases of local businesses it has neatly on hand. Is there a huge exodus from facebook just around the corner? Probably not...but a slow and steady leak? Maybe it is happening right now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The BIG Apple...

This amazing shot of New York City makes me miss it even more.

From The Atlantic---"Sergey Semonov, a Russian photographer, submitted the image to the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards, and took first prize in the amateur category. "

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scenarios for Implementing Marketing Automation #1: "It's All New"

For many large businesses with a dynamic and broad variety of customers, using modern and sophisticated marketing automation software such as Eloqua or SilverPop is an every day occurrence. If you have 300,500 customers who are ready to switch to the competition and need to promote, communicate and provide customer service options regularly… well, you are doing it already. You have to. It is already part of the aggregate cost of doing business for a company your size in 2012.

But let's look at this from a very different direction, and see if I can add some perspective and insight. Let's look at a scenario where moving to full fledged marketing automation platform makes sense from the bottom up at a much smaller company, moving to improving customer service for existing ones, and bringing new customers into the fold that we can retain and up-sell where appropriate.

You have a company in the Southern US that sells software and hardware solutions to a global marketplace, but needs to closely manage fiscal and human resources against growth. The challenge is coming from multiple areas. You have a few sets of customer contacts and they aren't consistent in format. They have been cobbled together from marketing efforts and need to be correlated against current customer records to be most effective.

We also don't really know enough about these 62,465 people to segment them effectively. We might know something about them, but we don't have a baseline reading about why they wanted to sign up for more info… unless of course we already have a-opt in mailing list already. And that is important if it exists, but lives outside this conversation for now. More about integrating those contacts later…

So what do we do here? We have about 62.5K email addresses to start with; from the web, business cards and trade shows. We may have emailed many of them already. Some are net new. Some we have emailed 30 times from existing email platforms, direct mail lists, bought lists, etc. It's a gnarly mix of this and that to begin with.

Here is what I would advise;
Step back. Look at the business objectives of the next 24 months and play that tapestry against a communication strategy to improve and expand the business against all customer segments. If proper customer segmentation strategies haven't been identified… and yet are clearly needed, the use of these marketing automation tools will be dramatically compromised.

If the research is more than a year old, then segmentation targeting needs to be handled appropriately at some distance, redone or discarded. This is so difficult from a timing perspective, as market trends are generally changing much faster than the executives who manage implementing change actually admit. Ask anybody with a substantial print media budget if last year was even close to five years ago…

Let's get back to work here. Our company is trying to keep in touch and engage it's roughly 65,000 customers and business contacts on a regular, effective and manageable way, without having hundreds of marketing minions grinding out tactics and campaigns to reach them effectively.

Start out with a series of introductory and opt-in messages. Use video as much as possible, if assets are there.

What is the outbound initial message? Broad and short. This is us and what we do. If they opt out here there would have probably done it no matter what the first message contained.

The first global opt-in coming next should be based on whatever segmentation data we have to work with for creative to connect. Images need to represent the personas in the segmentation research. "We know who you are and what you want to hear from us"… is the perfect result, but that isn't so blissfully easy to create or readily available from any of the existing brand assets.

Part 2 coming soon...