What consumer marketing has come to mean

I hate flying. Have I mentioned that? I do. The thought of being closed off in a metal case and lifted into the air gives me nausea and palpitations. I fly, though. Because I have to, being torn between my conventional desire to not move ever and my unexplainable fear of being stuck in the same place. But I hate flying.

So recently I have been enjoying the pleasures of living somewhere close to everything and being able to take the train. I take the train to everywhere: work, my boyfriend’s house, places I want to visit in neighboring countries. And being able to travel in an environment where self preservation as well as preservation of the basic intimacies of humanity and also of the basic hygiene requirements are not longer a concern (trains in Great Britain are clean, fast and comfortingly on time) I find myself relishing in the delight of a couple of hours where I can detach from myself, the Internet and just think.

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Respect the attention you’ve been granted

This is not my idea and not my title.

This is something Russell Davies said during a presentation on the GDS and what it does, at a Google sponsored event called Firestarter.

I have been talking about the GDS since they first released their rule-book so to say, a series of principles which guide the implementation of everything for the government portal. The fact that they also blog about every step of what they do is also genius and raises a lot of good points about how citizens react to governments being more transparent. [THEY LIKE IT!] [Read more...]

Smart things I heard today

I went to listen to Russell Davies speak at the Google sponsored Firestarters event. He was there to discuss the good job himself and Ben were doing on gov.uk and he ended up saying a few really smart and insightful things about, well, product development and maybe even marketing or just…well, life really.

[these are not quotes :) ]

1. Just do something people want to use – this creates reputation which works very much like branding only it costs nothing because it is predicated on something you have already done rather than a promise as in the case of brands

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We need a new system to distribute movies/sitcoms and we need it now

A week ago while walking through the land of the liberated (ie. for me, London, where I expected to be able to watch, purchase, eat and see everything I have ever wanted with no restrictions) I glanced across a billboard that said True Detective and showed both Matthew McC and Woody Harrelson and what appeared to be a neat new series. Half a day and a bunch of praise-filled reviews later I was obsessed: I needed to see True Detective NOW because it seemed awesome and because, of course, being in the land of the liberated, I should be able to do so without any remorse or recourse to “means which shall not be named”. Yet another half a day later it dawned on me that I could not see True Detective because the only place you could in the UK was Sky and I do not have cable TV yet.

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Ce sa fac cu blogul asta?

Cam la doi trei ani in viata unui blogger vine un moment in care te intrebi ce naiba sa faci cu blogul. Problemele sunt de cele mai multe ori aceleasi, stii ca trebuie sa iti faci un plan mai clar, iti dai seama ca trebuie sa te focusezi, iti dai seama ca e musai sa iti alegi o nisa, nu mai ai chef, ai alte prioritati sau pur si simplu, cum zice englezul, you’ve outgrown the idea of blogging.

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So just do not advertise anymore

Online does not work, Google doesn’t work, Facebook doesn’t work. We already knew TV did not work, radio either, OOH was a joke and not even measured. I mean at least TV and radio invented some tricky form of measurements that nobody understands to blind us with statistics. But we knew TV did not work. We were soooo happy Internet came along to kill bad old TV because it was simply hateful to have to learn all that lingo when we KNEW it did not work. All those bad, bad media agencies making commission from kick backs and discounts, they were teaching customers terminology that we did not believe in and then they were all in cahoots, the TV stations and the media agencies and the brands. And then along came internet and we said well this is going to be measurable but NO, now we know, internet does not work either. Facebook is lying, Google is lying, Twitter …pshaw, Twitter does not have reach, Pinterest is a fad. It does NOT work. There are no measurable results. None of the metrics are real. Engagment is something evil people at large internet corporations invented to trick us. Just like TV did back then. They lied and we KNOW it does not work.

So I say  just stop advertising. If you know it does not work, just stop doing it. Advertise somewhere you KNOW it will work. Choose something that is sure. Leave your brand to the hands of those very few people who know where the truth is. Not in TV, not in the Internet. But somewhere where advertising is an exact science.

Do that.


What to do when you are more than one person online

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you realize that unless you are your own brand and what you make also bears your name, you might need to separate your personal, professional and extracurricular personas online.

These days we all have at least three people we can be online:

-       the personal us – with families, friends, school colleagues etc

-       the professional us – if your employer agrees to you acting as an ambassador for them online

-       the extracurricular us – when and if you get involved in your own freelance work, hobbies etc.

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Do you see dead people? And does it make you feel good?

Do you see dead people? And does it make you feel good?

I have though long and hard about the way social media/ new media deals with death. A while back I was looking at the way people cope with friends passing away and how memorial pages could be set up for the deceased on Facebook. I also tried to understand stuff like people getting together and updating the page of a dead person with mementos of that person and also with news that they thought that person would have liked to hear. I also found that while the voyeurism of taking pictures at funerals had nothing to do with the management of grief, social media does help people get over the grief of having lost someone. [Read more...]

What cross-platform should really mean these days

I have spent the better part of my last year worrying that people were not “getting mobile”. Signals were coming from everywhere that mobile was getting bigger and yet people did not seem to be concerned.

When I say “getting mobile”, I mean people actually spending cash and time on getting mobile-ready websites. When I say “people”, I mean most of the customers I worked for and most of the websites I visit.

6 out of 10 links I click from my smartphone take me to a website which freezes my screen or takes forever to load or is unreadable on a smaller screen. Some things I can buy on my mobile but most things I cannot. So cross device experiences and making online work on smaller screens was something I worried about.

[yeap, at some point we will be talking about cross platform measurements. But not today]

However, having recently travelled to London to stay for a while, I spent a lot of time researching everything I needed down there before I got on the plane. I compared phone plans, internet providers, gas and electricity providers, real estate agents, banks etc. All of this online, of course, because I could not appoint someone to go to their HQs and ask for info. I ended up with a short list and went about the business of customizing my perfect internet connection, phone plan, bank service and rest of things I needed to survive in a new city. But, the first problem I had when getting to my new place was that really these things could not be solved via the Internet. I could not wait for 3 days for a sim card to be delivered to me, nor could I wait for Amazon to deliver a new phone or a dongle I so-needed to get Internet for my Mac at home. Therefore, armed with my customized perfect solutions, I travelled to the offline stores of the providers I had picked.

And here, ladies and gents, is where you can see that while consumers DO do ROPO (research online/purchase offline), some retailers don’t really get that they also need to have a seamless cross platform experience online to offline.

What I found was that people in the store were seldom aware of what the website said. Offers on the website were not the same as those in store and even my proof print-out sometimes failed to convince the sales people that I wanted something their website was showing as available. The most acrimonious encounter was with Barclay’s whose online chat support assured me I would have no problem opening an account and even sent me a link to a page listing the documents needed. When I got there though, the bank clerk in their street office looked at me blinking expressionlessly while emphasizing that NO, I could not get a bank account unless I brought proof from my employer or proof or residence. None of which had been mentioned by Barclay’s own chat support guys.

Why online and offline experiences should be so different is beyond me. There is no more doubt that people come to your offline store armed with research done online. Why sales teams online work from a different procedure sheet than those offline is, again, beyond me.  It’s one company. One experience. One sale. Cross platform should really mean making the purchase funnel work the same across everything. From phone to desktop. From desktop to tablet. From tablet to store. From store to desktop.

I also have a hunch it might, in the end, cost less. And make the system more accountable.


The Newsroom, an image of traditional media struggle with new media

The Newsroom, an image of traditional media struggle with new media


I have no clue who writes Neal Sampat’s part in The Newsroom and also do not know if there is a special writer in charge with inserting new media issues in the series’ script, but if there are people doing this, they are doing a masterful job while leaving some of us downright frustrated.

Not sure if you guys have seen the Newsroom, Sorkin’s latest TV hit series, starring Emily Mortimer and Jeff Daniels, but if you haven’t and are interested in the whole debate over journalists vs bloggers, citizen journalism and crowdsourcing, you should give it a try because it lays on the table some interesting scenarios.

So, here’s the deal (no spoilers, don’t worry): the ACN works with a bunch of editors and assistants to put together a news show based on news that matters. Among these people who have spent time in war zones, embedded with soldiers or covering the Courtroom beat, we have Neal, who is the guy maintaining the show’s website AND writing Will McAvoy’s (the main anchor) blog. Neal is the new media guy and the one writers use to raise issues related to social and new media.

To start off, what’s wrong with this picture? One guy? To maintain a whole website and a blog? Okay, because sure enough new media is cheap, free and easy to do.  Will and the show also have Twitter accounts, as we see in Season 2 when @pepperberg send a tweet to Will with the #ACN. Who mans these accounts? It seems the same guy, Neal who is also a consultant on what the news show’s and Will’s reactions on new media should be.

Neal Sampat also gets in touch with Wikipedia page editors – so he has privileges and knows something about creating back links (Season 2, when Mac’s Wikipedia page needs altering), knows how to manage “complicated information” like phone aliases (Season 1, when Mac accidentally emails everyone using an alias), can unblock phone numbers (Season 2, when two pranksters try to get on air), monitors tweets (Season 2, when Jesse hashtags ACN when trying to come out on air), follows Reddit and other aggregators and is involved with OccupyWallStreet (Season 2). Again, this is ONE guy.

Meanwhile, Will does not know he has a blog, (“Will cannot find Will’s blog”, quote Mac in Season 1), he is amazed there are more than a thousand websites in the world, has no idea you can have an authentication system for comments (Season 1) and while pondering on the importance of communicating on Twitter eventually gets sidetracked by the more important problems of The News.


In turn, every single major character of the show goes through what seems to be a crazy display of unawareness of the use, importance, role or new/social media while, at the same time, being helped, tipped off, taught lessons by the same. Mac makes fun of Anonymous and Jim brushes off Wikileaks, Leona and Rebecca shamefully mention Twitter as a source of info and Jim and Don use Twitter tips in the show without giving credit to the source. Don is actually involved in a textbook situation where a rumor he starts gets picked up by a random site, which gives him (or the show?)  the opportunity to point out just how unethical online journalism is. Sloan’s broken relationship gets exposed on a photo share site and really, the incident that sets off the entire series is Will’s breakdown captured on phone camera and SHARED on Youtube.

One cannot help but feel that whoever is writing this stuff is trying to raise a lot of questions about online and new media. The problem is that most of the questions raised do not seem to get a real answer and Neal Sampat’s struggle is never vindicated by a win. What also strikes me as odd is the speed at which a bunch of ultimate professionals [as the guys in The Newsrooms supposedly are] catch on. It takes 20 episodes (!!!) for anyone in the studio to start really discussing new media as MAYBE something one should pay attention to. That’s a long long time. BTW, no mention of Facebook. Probably the writers didn’t get to find a way to insert that into the conversation.

If anything, The Newsroom only works to show how difficult it is to position new media within the Media landscape. It’s like they cannot decide.

But frankly, by this time some things have been decided.

[images from Hollywood Reporter and HBO Canada - I liked them both, but together :) ]