A Googlers "Jerry Maguire" Moment

Sifting through some posts on Valleywag tonight, I clicked on a link to the Google Blog and read a long (over 4,000 words...) post from Google's SVP of Product Development, Jonathan Rosenberg.

It is quite a read - not because of it's length, but because it sheds some light on the attitudes and beliefs within one of the most important web companies in the world. It's a piece about the future - of the internet, how data will be used to customize content and help people make informed decisions - and of course - how Google will be at the center of everything.

One of my favorite parts (that won't seem like a new concept if you are in digital) is when Rosenberg describes his ideal online news experience:

"This is a problem, but since online journalism is still in its relative infancy it's one that can be solved (we're technology optimists, remember?). The experience of consuming news on the web today fails to take full advantage of the power of technology. It doesn't understand what users want in order to give them what they need. When I go to a site like the New York Times or the San Jose Mercury, it should know what I am interested in and what has changed since my last visit. If I read the story on the US stimulus package only six hours ago, then just show me the updates the reporter has filed since then (and the most interesting responses from readers, bloggers, or other sources). If Thomas Friedman has filed a column since I last checked, tell me that on the front page. Beyond that, present to me a front page rich with interesting content selected by smart editors, customized based on my reading habits (tracked with my permission). Browsing a newspaper is rewarding and serendipitous, and doing it online should be even better. This will not by itself solve the newspapers' business problems, but our heritage suggests that creating a superior user experience is the best place to start."

A big part about the Second Digital Decade (to steal a recent Bill Gates term) is about sites and experiences that are tailored to individual users. With emerging platforms like Facebook Connect and OpenID becoming more mainstream, this is going to occur extremely quickly. And it's something that I'm immensely excited for - as a user and communicator.

Although the article is dripping with Google "we are the best" themes, it does provide a perspective into the future from a company that makes their living off being futuristic - from developing tools that, in the end, make our individual experiences better.

A must read.

A Complex Issue - Simplified

Absolutely love this video. As communication people, we need to be able to take a complex topic and turn it into something for everyone to understand. The credit crisis - for all of the reports, articles and stories - is extremely complicated. So how do you understand how we got to our current, global economic state? Watch:

The writing, visuals and animation make it easy to understand the basics of the credit crunch. What complex topic can you make easy?


BK Mistake? Contextual Ads Gone Bad (#43093403)

Yet another example of why human placement is still better than computer. Ouch. First chink in the armor, BK? Hope not. Found via Copyranter.


We all knew this moment would come. It's been waiting to occur for the last two or so years.

Bud.TV is dead.

When launched during the Super Bowl in 2007, it was hyped up by executives to be the second coming of brand sites. New video content would be produced on a regular basis, viewers would come to the site and be offered everything from free games to shows (and also have a chance to register, give their information over to Bud and - of course - watch any hilarious Bud or Bud Light TV spot from the last few years).

The original goals of Bud were to have 2 million site visits a month. But, as AdAge reports, in the second month of the site's launch, traffic had reduced to just over 150,000 unique visits. Things wouldn't get better either.

For the last year and a half, the site has struggled to retain and attract new visitors. It became a place without a purpose - filled with OK content but no reason to return. After all, if users wanted to watch something funny and new, why not check out Joost, CurrentTV or YouTube?

In the end, a brand learned an expensive, $15 million dollar lession - that sites that are dedicated to creating content, or aggregating it, will always win over brand plays that don't necessary offer content that a user can get anywhere else.

Ever been in a meeting where someone suggests that the best digital idea for a brand is to aggregate a certain type of content (news, sports, business tips, etc) and provide a user with one, simple place to find and view tips? Hint: it already exists. It's called Google. Or LinkedIn. Or Facebook. Or Twitter.

What I do give Bud props for was that they wern't afraid to try something - even if it was expensive. They led the way for original content creators and brands are following but have learned from their experience. Content is still king, however some would argue that the conversation is quickly becoming the new leader (and emotional messages might trump them both).

Just remember, the next time your client or boss suggests a content portal with original video, audio and stories on a budget 1/100th the size of Bud's, flip him a link to Bud.TV and let him know what the site might look like 2 years after launch.

iPhone Applications - An Overview

A few weeks ago, I posted about the siren's song of the iPhone application for communications people. It's the new hot thing and a lot of marketers / agencies are saying "we need an iPhone application!" without thinking through the "why" part of the equation.

Adverblog has a great post about the contradictions of the app store and global brands which is well worth reading. They also have a link to a presentation with some mind blowing stats about mobile apps (sorry, the link is broken so I can't embed).

It's a bit of a sell deck to show how great applications are but the statistics are quite stunning - especially the fact that there have been well over 500 million downloads from the app store and the level of engagement for some branded applications like Audi's.

Canadian penetration is going up (even though iPhone app sales slowed in Q4) and as smartphones become more ubiquitious, the call of mobile applications will get lounder and louder.

Is your brand ready? More importantly, is your brand right for this medium?


Ad Industry, It's Time to Step Up

To many agencies, working with not-for-profit companies or charities provides an excellent opportunity to do great creative. Most charities have little funding for agenencies which generally means that clients are more prepared to give-up some control to the creative teams (and that usually results in great work). Charities provide compelling briefs and stories that can inspire agencies to do their best (and also give them a powerful campaign to enter into awards shows).

This relationship seems to suit agencies and not-for profits - we give you a cheaper rate and, in turn, you enable us to do work that is game changing (and a bit more risky).

But why don't we just do something for the sake of doing it? Rather than focus on awards, our portfolio's or resume points, why can't we just help out a good cause?

That's where 100 Wishes comes in. The small microsite has been created by a group of Toronto agenies, suppliers, editors and other industry folk with a simple challenge to the industry: help grant 100 wishes to children with a terminal illness.

Make A Wish foundation is the charitable partner and although the site is extremely straightforward, it carries a powerful message. The most notable part? The 100 wishes. Here is a sample of a few of them:
  • I want to have a butterfly playroom

  • I want to go to Disney World

  • I wish for a piano

  • I want to go on a shopping spree with my sister

  • I wish to have a hot tub

  • I wish to have a backyard garden

What amazed me about the Wish List was how easy it would be for an agency to help grant one or two. This is a real list, developed by the kids and Make a Wish and it's truly touching. I hope that everyone takes a minute to explore the site, read through the wishes and rally a group to donate (and pass the site on to your friends).

It's worth it.

Great work to everyone involved with the creation of the site.
UPDATE: CityTv recently featured a quick segment on the Make a Wish foundation and the campaign. Be sure to watch it here.


Will you be my Valentine?

As someone who is awful at Valentines day, I thought I'd post a short spot about a man who kicks ass. Nice execution, simple idea and a great final product:

I do wonder how this guy was selected to be the person in the spot. The pre-lead up to this selection could have been pretty cool (ie. Tell us why you are brutal at being a Valentine and we will give you an experience that your partner will never forget). I have a feeling that they just cast someone quickly and went from there but maybe next year they could blow it out into a bigger thought.

Found via Scamp.

How to Present Better [Part 3]

In the last couple of days, we've posted a few times on how to improve your presentation skills (Part 1 and Part 2). After a quick chat tonight on Twitter with social media expert / guru David Armano, I'm going to add to the series with a presentation that he recommended (and wrote) called Thinking Visually:

Finding and creating the right visual to help illustrate your point is critical and David has some of the best visuals in the business - they are simple, easy to digest and straightforward. When I asked him how he created them, he said that Adobe Illustrator was his software of choice. Still, it's the thinking behind the design that makes it powerful - not the tool that created them.

Thanks again for the presentation and comments, David!


My Wishlist: Better Facebook Metrics

There have been rumours that corporate Facebook pages are changing and become more like profile pages. For some brands with a heavy FB presence, this is exciting news. There's nothing worse than the infinite scroll down content that you don't really care about. The tab system on pages will help to streamline content and allow brands to create more immersible pages with much more content.

A collegue of mine asked me to put together a list of my 5 dream Facebook metrics. While I know that there are privacy issues around some of these ideas, as an advertiser, it would be exciting to have access to some enhanced information about page interactions. Here are my top 5:

1. Page Metrics that go further than the click - what tabs are the most popular and what are users actually doing on them? (ie. The Wall vs. Events, etc) How does tab position differ in terms of impressions (ie. being on the landing tab vs. second vs. fifth in the navigation.) Most importantly, Facebook does not currently show time spent or bounce rate on anything. These two metrics are critical to determining engagement with the page. It's one thing to say "we had 12 wall posts!", quite another to show that the average time spent on the photos page was 10 minutes.

2. News Feed comment tracking / aggregation - now that groups are becoming more like profiles, changes and interactions will be broadcast into the news feed - a huge bonus for brands and viral impressions. As a result, users will be able to comment on those news feed updates. Those comments can tell a brand a lot about sentiment. For example, if Audi uploads new photos of a car to their fan page. Are users going to respond to them as "those our cool" or as "this car sucks"? Tracking all comments could lead to solid insights about users.

3. Unique Return Visits - I have a strong feeling that people join brand groups initially (due to an incentive / contest) and never return. How many users are net new vs. current fans and how many are returning on a regular basis? Facebook always talks about the power of a fan but if that fan doesn't care about any of your page updates, what good are they other than a name on a list?

4. Viral News Feed Impressions - one of the biggest selling points of corporate group profile-like pages is that updates / interactions are broadcast into a users newsfeed. That's great. But how many people are being shown this impression? Right now we can manually see but there is no metric to show the total amount of viral impressions that have been created through news feed updates. It's always surpirsed me that Facebook doesn't share / track this metric. It's the power of their service - the viral impression - and they don't even share the number.

5. Fan Segmentation by Influencer Ranking - said another way, I want to know who are most popular fans are and be able to target them. Who has over 1000 friends? Who is our top person by friend network? Can we get in touch with them for special offers? Or the top 10%? Or users only in BC or another location? All facebook users aren't equal. Those with bigger networks can spread their messages to a larger group and we need to do everything to engage them.

5 Spots You Need to Watch

This afternoon, I was pouring through the Shots DVD's and found a lot of excellent TV spots. While my life is very digital focused, it's always nice to watch some great commercials. Here are my favorite 6:

Australia - "Come Walkabout"

When I first saw this spot, it stopped me dead in my tracks. The problem was it was the 30, not the full length. The 30 comes at you out of nowhere and I think that most viewers didn't get the story. You don't have that problem with the full length. We all know that vacations help us to get away from the stress of daily life. The strategy of ths spot isn't new - but the execution is fantastic.

Carlton - Woman Whisperer


Herringbone - Small Hands

I don't know if this 3 minute spot ever ran on TV, but it's like a short (fictional) documentary. It reminded me of the current campaign but better (and the CGI is great).

Amnesty International - Channel Surfing

What if the important events in the world were on every channel and we couldn't ignore them? In an Amnesty world, it would happen.

Telnor - Rock Star Myth

Epic commercial and although the pay-off at the end is a bit of a let down, it gets the point across - TV has changed.

Thx to Bud for the inspiration.