Posts Tagged ‘digital media’

eBooks and Advertising

September 13, 2007

In the article Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books, Brad Stone remarks that ebooks have never caught on with the mainstream crowd. Why? Is it because ebooks have not “adequately duplicate[d] the book reading experience”, as Burt Helm once posited in the article Curling Up With a Good E-Book? Is it because electronic tablet-like gadgets go against nearly 1,800 years of reading bound books, and the human race needs more time to switch from such an ingrained practice? I don’t believe so.

Think about it this way: we are trying to bring reading into the future by having consumers switch from good-ol’ paperbacks to reading these books on ridiculously expensive gadgets: “You want me to buy a $500 dollar piece of technology, and then pay for the books to put on it?” That’s what I’m thinking. Personally, I’d much rather walk from my Flatiron-district office during lunch to The Strand on 12th & Broadway to buy Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (which, at the time of writing was available in paperback for $10.46). Do you see what’s missing? The incentive. So here’s my proposition: if someone’s already willing to spend a few hundred dollars to bring their reading into the future, why not make the books more expensive as well!

You heard me.

Why make them more expensive? Because it would help alleviate the licensing nightmare my solution would create. For example, some of my required reading for work currently includes The High Rise Low Down, which is a tour of the history behind New York City’s most prestigious addresses. I’m not more than fifty pages in, but I already know this: when the authors are describing the view from the Time Warner Center, I want to see pictures. And I want to view see interviews with Yoko Ono about her time with John Lennon at their Central Park West estate (if such a thing exists). In other words, if we’re trying to bring reading into the future, then bring it into the future. Reading a fiction book where the narrator describes his love of the song ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s? I want to listen to it. Or even watch the music video. Do you see what I’m getting at? If we’re going to do this, push reading to the next level and make it a new, rich and exciting experience.

And advertising. If Amazon’s new ebook has wireless capabilities, then expand that to include other options. Want to look at the brochure for xyz but don’t have the time to stop by the sales center and pick one up? Well, open your ebook tablet and download it. Reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being but want to read the Nietzsche book he mentions? Well, highlight the title or keywords and download it through Amazon in a few seamless steps.

You get the idea. There are so many untapped possibilities with the ebook, and yet we keep thinking: “Make the screen look more like real paper” (read the aforementioned NY Times article about that), or, “Just copy the text and paste it on a screen and people will read it.” No, they won’t. And most importantly, they haven’t, despite the numerous launches of ebook readers throughout the past. Isn’t the definition of insanity trying something repeatedly despite getting the same result? Now go to people!!!

Modeling The Flow Of Information In Social Media

June 20, 2007

A blog entry at MediaPost pointed out that consumers can avoid the salesmen/admen assault and have a new freedom to seek out product information because of Web 2.0 technologies; social media facilitates a process where companies and their products are now sought out instead of vice versa. But when spending ad money specifically within the realm of social media (online display ads/search ads not included here) Josh Lovison does a great job of reminding us exactly what we are trying to buy: influence, not direct conversions. In other words, within this niche of the digital world we are trying to create a self-sustaining PR machine: the goal of a social media campaign is to generate consumer interest among individuals who will then spread their enthusiasm to other acquaintances, hopefully creating a chain of brand advocates. Thus, as Brian Solis asserts in Social Computing Magazine:

Social media has created a new layer of influencers. It is the understanding of the role people play in the process of not only reading and disseminating information, but also how they in turn, share and also create content for others to participate. This, and only this, allows us to truly grasp the future of communications.

Accordingly, understanding the process of this information flow is one of the most critical goals to envisioning the future of advertising in emerging media.

One applicable model is diffusion research, commonly referred to as ‘diffusion of innovations theory.’ I first came across this term in a New Yorker article about ‘Cool Hunters,’ a pdf of which you can find in my Box widget to the right. Another applicable framework is utilizing epidemiological modeling to aid our understanding concerning the potential of an online dialog. One group posted a lengthy article about their research into a similar matter, during which they came up with a fairly effective mathematical formula to model the spread of an idea (the pdf ‘Power of a Good Idea’ is also available in the Box widget). Unfortunately, the math is way over my head, so unless you are a large firm that can afford a consultant or happen to have a math genius on the staff, it may be a little unrealistic; however, it really may be worth a try.

Right now there are useful tools such as Technorati, Alexa and BlogPulse, but I have yet to see this information overload put into a coherent and accessible tool which greatly hinders our ability to find out what works. Hopefully we can get to that discovery sooner rather than later and stay ahead of the game.

Monetizing “Web 2.0,” Part 2

May 8, 2007

I think one of the biggest hurdles we face in monetizing the burgeoning field of social media (i.e., content that is consumer-generated) is how we have misconceived the problem in the first place; it seems a more radical conception of what “Web 2.0” really means for the advertiser must first be achieved before moving forward in this question.

Revolution = Re/evolution

If new media and Web 2.0 truly represent the democratization of media, etc., one thing we at Madison Avenue have yet to be forthright about in our plethora of self-gratifying blogs is the true structure of our “old” advertising model: totalitarianism.

Although many marketers are planning on using social media in the near future, many executives still report they are afraid to embrace this new technology. While we keep trumpeting the arrival of a digital revolution and the seismic shift we are about to experience, we remain wary and hold the future at arm’s length because we want to protect our expensive branding campaigns, abhor the possibility of losing control over that content, and have become comfortable with delivering our message in a one-way conversation again and again and again, ad infinitum (or, at least as much as our clients’ budgets allow).

This is my concern: the majority of the discourse I see in my (ever-growing list of) RSS feeds is usually centered around the idea of how to use new media as a tool for our current campaigns… I believe this is completely missing the point. We have become robots, stuck in the mode of 1) Create an ad campaign, 2) Beat the message over the heads of consumers repetitively (and maybe throw in a contest to encourage participation). As Web 2.0 comes along, many marketers have written in a manner such as: “Wonderful! Now we have tons of new channels to get our message out!” Do not miss the subtle but critical fallacy of this thought. In our “old” model, we place a pitch with some graphics into a magazine which (we hope) spurs the social interaction of a purchase, and perhaps some word-of-mouth marketing by consumers happy with our product as a bonus. Now we weave a pitch into a blog and there may immediately be dozens of comments, some about the post itself, and some in connection to other comments consumers have already left about the post. Do you see the difference? An immediate dialogue; instantaneous interaction. This is a world apart from a magazine ad…

Thus, I feel it is imperative to recognize that Advertising 2.0 should be conceptualized as its own entity, rather than a slightly modified iteration of our current practices. In essence, the current mode of advertising is incompatible when users have power over content. So, what might this re-evolution of advertising look like? Can it be profitable? Come back after I finish some brainstorming (I can tell you right now that my jumping off point for my thought process, as of this moment, will be the techniques and theory behind adventure education).

Participation In Web Innovation

April 27, 2007

For all the hype about Web 2.0, Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion points out that there are still many people who have yet to participate. Mr. Rubel posted a graphic representation of how an extraordinary number people do not take part in simple online activities such as blogging; this reminded me of a presentation I did a few years ago about “cool hunting,” which I first came across in the Frontline show Merchants of Cool, a journalistic piece about trying to market to the hard to reach Generation Y. This report mentioned an article about a company called Look-Look, which had been profiled in a New Yorker article about “cool hunters,” a method that is based around the field of “diffusion research.”

I believe this shows that although influential people on sites such as MySpace are central to word-of-mouth marketing (according to a new report News Corp. put together), the 52% of people considered “inactive” in the digital world may pose a large problem for generating revenue: currently most Web 2.0 business models are based on ad-generated revenue, so the more visitors a site has, the more clout it has in charging for ad space. However, if we are not expanding the base of users, most sites are doomed to failure without other revenue channels. Fortunately, one point of data shows that diffusion is happening, according to a report that broadband subscriptions are rising; this does not mean, however, that those users are using social networking sites. So, how do we convince people to start participating? What strategies do we implement to help people begin to engage with new media?