Category Archives: Uncategorized

Google vs News

It seems like a good 20% of the news produced on the internet in the last few months is about news on the internet. Declined as newspapers are doomed, journalists are doomed, journalism is doomed, we are doomed.  And if you’re looking for the killer, you should probably head to Montainview.

Perhaps that explains why like Google has recently joined the club or the more-or-less enthusiastic supporters of micro-payments, using the Google Checkout platform.

However media companies shouldn’t be celebrating, as I think this will turn out to be little more than a PR initiative from a company that’s being accused of being a parasite.

The reasons why micropayments are very unlikely to work still stand:

– In the math of consumers, unlike the math of business models, the difference between zero cents and 1 cent is not one cent. It’s the difference between the feeling of grabbing something for free and the feeling of paying with your limited resources, plus the hassle of registering into and going through a payment verification system. (Dan Ariely has done lots of interesting research on behavioural psychology, check him out)

News can be easily replicated and divulged. Apart from any ideological considerations now why news should be free, it’s simply impossible to keep them from spreading. The same applies to editorials and any other from of digital text.

The analogy with iTunes is wrong: music is something that you own and use over time, whereas for everyone but researchers news are disposable.

The analogy with iTunes is misleading: from every song purchased on iTunes, an estimated 99 are still downloaded via p2p piracy. That’s not what I would call a successful business model for an industry.

Pricing policies would be a nightmare: is an all-you-can-eat model feasible for a search-driven, snack-size consumption? Can you fragment a newspaper down to its elementar financial value? (Clay Shirky suggested you can’t back in 2000, it’s funny to see how the debate hasn’t moved further.)

– They provide a massive advantage for free-riders: the one news organization that will publish news for free will receive almost all the traffic, and the related ad-driven revenues.

It’s no coincidence that 2009 was supposed to be the year when media starts demanding its money back, and so far everyone’s waiting for someone else to take the first step, and the risk of being considered a fool.

Final Burp: So, why is Google going down this route? PR. Why are media owners doing it? Self-delusion.

Pizza Hut made me feel like an idiot. (And I’m not sure it’s a good thing…)

pizza-hut

 

I found a link to the above site from Pizza Hut, and I thought: wow!, what a brilliant and simple idea!

The privilege of having your face featured on a pizza is no longer reserved to Jesus, Mary and Kurt Cobain…

This is what I would expect from Domino ever since they started working with Crispin, and instead it comes from the same Pizza Hut whose latest brand initiatives were,  let’s say, debatable at least…

 

So I gladly uploaded the picture I wanted on my pizza:

brian-griffin

 

 

 

and this is what I got back:

 

pizza-hut-2

 

And it made me feel like an idiot.

Now,  I don’t know who pitched this idea to Pizza Hut, but I’m pretty sure they said that it would be “fun social content” that would “engage your hard-to-reach, on-the-go, web-savy consumers”,  allowing the brand to “entertain them”, and of course “it would go viral”. 

My problem with this is that April’s Fools are designed to make you feel like an idiot because they are clearly  hyperbolic stunts that no person with a sense of reality would fall for. (Like, let’s say, building a global financial system on mortgages paid for by people who can’t afford them, backed by houses that noone would want to live in…)

In this case, portrait pizzas are feasible. You need a relatively simple algorythm (one that you can find online for free), a variety of different ingredients (the same you can find in any Pizza Hut) and a little time (maybe more than what Pizza Hut is currently taking to bake a pizza, but I have no doubt taht consumers would be willing to wait 10 minutes longer to have a personalized portrait pizza).

So, to sum things up:

  1. Pizza Hut came up with a feasible and unique marketing idea
  2. Instead of making it happen, they used it as an April’s Fool
  3. In doing so, not only they walked away from its marketing value: they made their potential consumers feel like idiots

 

The irony of all this is that the more people try to customize their pizza, the more an evidence it is that it could have been a great marketing idea. And instead, it’s just more people that will be annoyed at Pizza Hut.

Quite an achievement for a brand under pressure.

It will be interesting to see how many people actually redeemed the coupon, and how this influenced brand perception…

 

Final Burp: Do you want to do something audacious, engaging,  edgy and viral as a marketer? Make a damn good product! That’s your job.

It’s coming

waitrose

 

My new neighbourhood Waitrose, in Islington. 

Next to Sainsbury’s, opposite from Marks & Spencer. Slurp!

 

Final Burp: Oh, sweet anticipation…

What do you still Google for?

Here’s one thing everyone knows:  Google’s success lies in managing abundance, delivering you relevant results.

Here’s one thing that apparently is not related to this:  a report on how Facebook could kill Google, based on analysis from Ross Sandler. (Just so that you know, the article doesn’t  say how Facebook could kill Google, it just compares the size and growth rate of the two giants.)

Here’s one thing worth thinking about: how Facebook could damage Google. Not as a social network in itself (in a way Google is a social network), not as a competitive ad destination (there’s still plenty of money to flow towards online advertising), but as an alternative search engine. Here’s why.

 

Google is great at simplifying complexity. But it’s a universal search engine, and there’s only so much it can do.  So it inevitably loses some ground to its competitors. And they’re not Yahoo or Msn.

 

When I want to know something, I search Wikipedia. Because I’m sure that there I can find the one, most relevant result. (Even Google acknowledges that, by usually ranking Wikipedia results first). And from there, I can move on to related information.

When I want to buy something, I search Amazon. Well, I don’t,  because I’m old fashioned, but plenty of people do.

When I want to watch something, I search Youtube. And that’s what killed Google Video; and why Google bought it.

 

When I want to find out what’s going on right now about a certain event, I search Twitter. Twitter gives me real time results. Not only Google doesn’t. Google is designed not to, because it privileges older results that have had time to grow relevant for its algorythm, over more recent ones that are relevant for my search.

And when I want to find someone, I search Facebook. Not only is it  a search engine for people; it’s the most relevant search engine for people. (At least in the US and Western Europe). After the first click, I get a list of people with pictures, so that I know at first sight if any of them is the person I’m looking for. After the second click, I can contact them, and in many cases find out a whole lot about them.

 

In general, it seems that internet users are devising new ways to aggregate content around a specific critera, and deliver more relevant results based on human contribution, rather than an algorythm: results provided by Wikipedia are smarter because they are created by a crowd for that specific purpose, and managed by a human intelligence.

To that same extent, every social network becomes an alternative search engine: a specialized, thus more relevant, thus better one. If I want to plan a dinner out, I’m better off running my search in a social network about restaurants/london, then Googling “good restaurant london”, and be flooded by a number of more or less relevant results.

One could argue that Google would redirect me to that social network, and many others, but why waste time with one more unnecessary search, once a preminent, relevant social network emerges?

 

This is true for simple tasks, but even more so for more sophisticated ones. If I have to research a topic I know little or nothing about, for work or study, where should I start from? If I google it, I can’t really tell the relevant results from the less relevant, and above that the most credible results from the BS, because I have no expertise in the subject.

So here’s what I’d do:

First, start from my usual, trusted sources:  Wikipedia and other knowledge social networks. Ask friends and  coworkers, fellow students. Maybe ask someone on Linkedin.

Second, check some general trusted sources. Newspapers and magazines with a good reputation. (And who happen to be desperately looking for a new purpose right now, as brilliantly pointed out by Clay Shirky.)

Thirdly, if I haven’t found enough information through my first two sources, or if I want a little more, I can Google. And hopefully by now the first two kinds of sources will have provided me with enough backround expertise to tell the good from the bad.

 

Does it mean that social networks will kill Google? No. At least not if we look at “Google as an ad platform”.

But I can safely say that  “Google as a search engine” has been steadily losing share of my time, and will keep losing more.

 

Final Burp: Specialized hubs (of knowledge, goods, relationships) will naturally gain ground over unspecialized hubs. (Until the semantic web shows up for real?)

Predictions for 2009: Social Media

Ok ok, everyone’s talking about social media, it’s gone mainstream, there’s plenty of parliamentary petitions all over the world that take Facebook more seriously than they should, and we’re all tired of it. Still, social media is here to stay. At least for 2009.

 

Highlights:

“Friend Synchronization Tools”, as well as “Tools to reduce noice, deal with RSS overload

“Doors are going to close all over the social web. The money didn’t come the way people thought it would”. Interesting, but I doubt it’s going to  happen. Money always flows to the latest trends that everyone talks about, especially in uncertain times.

“B2B goes social media” Yes, this is something I would bet on. (If I had any money, of course.)

“Google will buy Twitter

“Mobile marketing takes off”. I wish.

“Live: as it happens content”. Now, this would be interesting.

“People will really become the media”

 

Final Burp: Social media will not dictate trends, it will deliver them.

Predictions for 2009: Consumer trends

More from Trendsspotting, with some highlights:

 

“Several people have mentioned that the recession almost seems like a blessing because they are now forced to readjust their values” I heard that, too. People who are saying this have not been  hit by the recession. Those who have are readjusting their meals and clothes, not their values.

 

“Lipstick sales indicate economic recession”.

 

Lots of other statements, but none of them are really predictions: they’re either acknowledgments of what’s already happening (“People want to know where their products come from” Nah, really?) or generic declarations that could it’d be hard to prove right or wrong, pretty much like horoscopes (“It’s going to be trendy to dress dowdy, with faded colors and melancholy looks”. Already is, always was, always will be for someone. Emo, anyone?)

 

Final Burp: I’m experiencing a new sense of respect towards astrologists…

 

“Content creators are layering a multitude of media into entertainment for simulatenous consumption and engagement. For example, “Little big planet” users are gamers, social networkers and content creators…” This confirms entertainment is the industry we should all try to be in, and that lots of marketers should look at as the new outlet for their products.

Damn’, it was an ad!


Chevrolet. Smart.

 

Final Burp: I can’t stand the word “viral” anymore. But when it works, it works.