What’s next for Social Media

10 insights:

1) The physical and digital worlds will be more highly connected than ever before – already today we are able to run in the park and track our progress online while sharing it with our friends or track our weight loss, or even our ovulation (well, some of us, that is) with iPhone apps that connect to our Facebook and twitter profiles and enable us to keep track of our progress as well as share the data with our friends. Robert Scoble had a brilliant presentation on this topic at the last TNW Conference in Amsterdam. You can see it here.

2) Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks will become increasingly what Fred Wilson coins “Social Dashboards”. In essence, Facebook and Twitter are social channels on which other companies can grow and develop their own technologies and businesses. Both Facebook and Twitter have created economies far larger than many nations. Take for example, companies like Stocktwits, Tweetdeck and Zynga, (amongst others) that have gained huge profits “piggybacking” on these two platforms.

3) Until now, brands have been very concerned with bringing as many people as possible to their pages. Consumer brands can now finally reap the fruits and build social commerce stores where Facebook users (all 700 Million of them) can purchase products on their favorite social network without needing to go to any destination site. Facebook will become one of the major channels of future online shopping.

4) Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are currently collecting information about each any every one of us: Our likes and dislikes, our interests and disdains. Soon in an age of Web 3.0, an age of Semantic Web, we will no longer need to search for information on the Web as information will find us based on all this data which companies are collecting. The right information will be served to the right people at the right time, saving us all a lot of time, effort and energy.

5) Mobile technology will become more dominant and NFC technology will be developed further enabling it to offer us special promotions, coupons and tips based on our geographical location and the interest graph we discussed in insight #3.

6) Human Relationships will no longer be as physically dependent and we will befriend and hang out with people from all over the world and all walks of life, all ethnicities and all beliefs, creating a worldwide melting pot.

7) We will no longer be passive media consumers. Media will interact with us in dynamic ways on all platforms. Just like gamers playing WOW today, we will all become a part of a virtual world unknown to us yet where we will all be avatars in the game of life.

8 ) As the Web is overloaded with more information, the content that we are exposed to will become more and more customized to our needs as companies will large sums of money to companies like Facebook and Google, making sure that the information we are exposed to is highly targeted to our interests. Rather than experiencing information overload, we will actually experience the opposite effect.

9) Companies will understand better how to measure the ROI of social media and realize that social media is not about the number of people brands have in their communities but rather the amount of engagement that they see on their page and the overall online sentiment they faced this month as opposed to the last. See Gary Vaynerchuk’s response to how companies should measure the ROI of social media in the video link above.

10) Services will become increasingly crowdsourced. Whether it be the way that we get from point A to point B (Waze), the way that we find answers to our questions (Quora), the manner in which we test our Websites (uTest), the way that we get things done (Fiverr) or the way that we share information (Wikipedia).




The future of marketing: Why Brands Need a Digital Customer Experience Strategy To Stay Competitive

Why Brands Need a Digital Customer Experience Strategy To Stay Competitive

Ron Rogowski is Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, serving Customer Experience professionals. His research on digital customer experience strategies will be presented at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, June 21 to 22 in New York.

Once upon a time, companies differentiated themselves almost entirely based on the things they made. Early in the 20th Century, the ability to produce items quickly and efficiently was a key differentiator for corporations that brought affordable products to the masses. Over time, production processes became so cost-effective that firms looked to streamlining distribution and opening new markets to gain an advantage. But there, too, they reached an efficiency plateau.

At the end of the 20th Century, the Internet opened up content distribution, but lately there has been a shift in focus. Companies still need to build innovative products and get them to market, but as the differences in many of those products become more subtle, companies need a new way to differentiate. In this new era, companies expect experience to be that new differentiator.
The Role of Connected Devices

Driving this shift is the proliferation of connected devices. These gadgets put serious computing power in the hands of consumers and enable them to have deeper, more enriching relationships with companies. Today’s mobile phones have nearly as much computing power as turn of the century desktops, while marrying the virtual and physical worlds. But it’s not just mobile phones that have had an impact. Touch-screen tablet computers fill a key void by enabling easier input and more multi-touch manipulation than mobile handsets, while providing more portability and a better tactile experience than notebook computers.

This suite of empowering devices has driven customer expectations to new heights, and has increased the frequency of interactions between customers and businesses. It also opens a world of opportunity for companies to enrich their relationships with their customers. The problem is that companies struggle with what experiences to provide on what devices — and which ones to build first. Because companies have typically been organized by channel, they tend to develop siloed strategies for each new touchpoint available to them. This approach to channel development can confuse customers with disjointed experiences. It also doesn’t provide an overarching framework for prioritizing which channels to invest in, leaving companies vulnerable to chasing shiny new objects.

Instead of focusing on channel-specific experiences, companies need to pay attention to the realities of today’s multi-channel customer who may use multiple touchpoints in pursuit of a single goal, and expects all touchpoints to be in sync in visual design, behavior and content. Firms need an overarching digital customer experience strategy.
Where to Begin

A digital customer experience strategy helps guide the activities and resource allocation needed to give customers a great experience across all points of digital interaction. It needs to address the identity and behaviors of target customers, where experiences will take place, and brand image across all touchpoints. How can companies get there?

Start with company and brand strategy. Firms need to ground their digital efforts firmly in the mission and value proposition of the brand. A digital customer experience strategy should translate top-level business objectives into an actionable plan for every digital channel.
Describe the intended digital experience. A strategy paints a vivid picture of how the company’s digital interaction points meet customers’ needs, make the company easy to work with, and provide an enjoyable experience. It should call out the aspects of customer experience that are most critical to a company’s aspirations for differentiating itself.
Direct activities and processes that support the defined experience. Companies set themselves apart by performing a different set of activities than their competitors or by performing the same activities differently. When customer experience professionals have a clear vision of what they need to do and how, they’re better equipped to make decisions about which projects to pursue.
Guide digital channel investments. Firms with a clear strategy prioritize investments in interactions that fulfill the brand promise and avoid wasting money on chasing new shiny digital capabilities if they don’t. With a clear strategy in place, firms can make informed decisions about the projects that have the most impact on their businesses instead of chasing features that might work for another company with a different strategy.

A few years ago, having a digital customer experience strategy meant having a website strategy. But in today’s reality, successfully delivering a cohesive experience that meets and exceeds expectations requires a more thoughtful approach that considers the entire customer journey. If you think customer experience is important, and digital channels are core to delivering those experiences, isn’t it time to make it a strategic priority?




future of Marketing – Brand Purpose

Procter on Purpose
Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble seeks deeper brand meaning.

No longer is it good enough to make the best products. At Procter & Gamble, a brand is not a brand until it makes a difference in your life. A P&G brand must have a purpose that transcends its benefits.

This is why Pampers are now thinner, Tide is doing your dry cleaning and Mr. Clean wants to wash your car. Believe it or not, it’s also why you can smell like Isaiah Mustafa if you want to.

It may not be a new idea that a brand should solve your problems or make your life happier. But as Procter & Gamble marketing chief Marc Pritchard suggests, it is transforming the way marketing — if the term even still applies — is done at Procter & Gamble.

In Marc’s eyes, consumers and shoppers are people, not demographic profiles. Marketing is communications, a two-way (or more) conversation. It is more about providing a service than sending a message.

This perspective — coming as it does from the most influential brand-building organization in the world — clearly has huge implications not only for those who create products but also those who bring them to market.

In other words, it has huge implications for the way we think about retail, and “shopper marketing”… if the term even still applies.

Indeed, while Marc says that P&G’s approach at retail is still “technically” shopper marketing, he also says the company is “moving that whole shopper-marketing craft to a new level.”

This entails re-thinking retail in terms of design, navigation and emotional connections. Perhaps that brings a whole new dimension to the meaning of “touch-points.” At a minimum, it demands approaching the retail experience on “purpose.”

What distinguishes a purpose brand from other brands?

Procter & Gamble’s purpose is to touch lives and improve the lives of the world’s consumers. We expect each brand to define how it uniquely touches and improves the lives of the people that it serves.

Purpose-inspired brands look more broadly at consumers as people and how we can make their everyday lives just a little bit better with our brands.

That drives us to find insights that are not just about the product benefit but go beyond that to look at a broader human insight that really motivates people and motivates action.

We look for insights that represent human truths, motivations and tensions that only our brands’ benefits can solve. That spark can create big ideas that can then invite their participation. At its best, it can inspire movements where people advocate on your brand’s behalf.

Didn’t your brands always have a purpose?

Our brands always had a purpose because our implicit purpose as a company has been to improve the lives of the world’s consumers. That’s something that we first stated explicitly a little over 20 years ago. In the past, we’ve thought more of equity benefits that brands have had, which was a bit narrower.

How do you decide which purpose goes with which brand?

We ask a simple question: How does your brand uniquely touch lives and improve life for the consumers and the people it serves? What you then have to think about is: Okay, what is it about my brand that’s unique? Does it uniquely touch lives and improve life? That depends a lot on its heritage, the roots of the brand.

Joey Reiman, who has helped us on some of our “purpose” work, says, “the fruits are in the roots.” We look literally at all of the creative work and the history of that brand from its very beginning to see the inflection points along the way. We then use that to more precisely define the brand’s purpose and the equity benefits that go along with that, which helps guide the creative expressions of it.

Does the purpose change based on geography?

Actually, we have found that a purpose is a common element of the brand around the world. We have brand-franchise leaders, who are essentially global brand-managers for close to our top 50 brands, who define a purpose that is pervasive around the entire world.

They also define the equities, which would be the ways in which the benefit is expressed, the character of the brand, and even some executional assets. What’s different is the way that’s expressed at the local level, in terms of language, for example.

So, the execution can be somewhat different, but the common elements are the brand’s purpose, its equity, and benefits.

Is there also a connection between brand purpose and social issues?

That’s an element of it. How a brand touches and improves lives addresses social and environmental issues because people are looking for brands and companies to help solve some of these big problems. Pampers, for example, has chosen to partner with Unicef to provide vaccines to about 47 developing countries to eradicate neo-natal tetanus.

Which P&G brands have changed the most by virtue of having found a purpose?

I can’t say which brands have changed the most. But I can say that Pampers has certainly been one of our shining stars in terms of how it addressed purpose and expanded into different ways of expressing its purpose.

We also have a major program in Tide’s Loads of Hope. We found that whenever a disaster strikes, food and water obviously are the first two things that people look for, but in many cases the third most important thing is clean clothes because they provide dignity and normalcy.

We literally go in and do people’s laundry. We started with Hurricane Katrina and then moved to Haiti and other places around the world where they’ve had natural disasters. That’s one of our better examples of broadening the way the brand has thought about itself.

Is brand purpose more about the way people think about the product than the product itself?

Its purpose certainly gets people to think about the brand differently, broadens their thinking about how the brand fits into their lives and is more relevant.

However, the purpose also does inform how we design products. So, when thinking about a brand like Pampers, where the purpose is a baby’s happy and healthy development, you want to make sure that a baby can sleep, play and explore.

To do that, they need better fitting diapers, thinner diapers, diapers that allow them to move more freely and absorbent diapers so they sleep through the night. That causes you to think about a diaper’s purpose a little differently.

Are higher profits always the goal of higher purpose?

When you create value for the people you serve, and touch and improve their everyday lives, naturally you get more loyalty and sell more, which then drives profits.

It’s a virtuous circle. When you focus on profit solely, you will certainly make progress, but when you focus on purpose in order to make people’s lives better — that ultimately leads to better profitability.

It also engages employees in a much more productive way. When people have meaning in their work, they tend to come up with much more creative ideas and have more passion and energy. That makes the whole business better, too.

How does P&G’s entry into the car wash and dry cleaning businesses support brand purpose?

When you think about a brand’s purpose and how to make people’s lives better, you begin to move into different areas. What we found is that your clothes matter because your appearance matters.

As we looked at the dry-cleaner experience, we found that it’s typically not a great experience, or it certainly could be better. We decided to look into how we could provide this service in a different way, through franchisees. We didn’t let the physical constraint get in the way; we just thought about how we could provide the service to people.

How else might your brands be developed as retail concepts?

I would say this: We very consciously focus on shopper marketing. When we think of marketing, we like to think about executing it from the store back through the other mediums — public relations, digital, as well as traditional print and television.

What we look at — at the store level — is how to create experiences. This is part of a design organization that we have started. In the last year-and-a-half, we have integrated the four different functions of marketing, consumer and market knowledge, design and external relations into one integrated, brand-building organization.

We’ve brought a more deliberate focus to blending and integrating marketing with design. Design helps you have a better experience at the store level. Packaging is another obvious area, so our packaging is much improved. Beyond that, we’re increasingly lending our design capability to improve the overall shopping experience.

Is that still shopper marketing or is it something else?

It’s still technically under the category of shopper marketing, but it really is looking at the shopping experience and making that overall experience better.

We work with our customer business-development group to make sure that that whole shopping experience starts off by making it simple. We then look at how to guide people, and how to delight them not only with simple navigation and information, but also the overall design esthetic and the experience. So, it’s kind of like moving that whole shopper-marketing craft to a new level.

It sounds like it’s less about promotions and displays, per se.

Yes. Displays and promotions are fundamental, but they are also short-term. What we want to do is make the shopping experience a better one, because people come back to experiences that they enjoy.

Has the brand purpose idea changed the culture at P&G?

It has provided people with a greater sense of meaning, and it’s definitely opened up a lot of possibilities in the new approaches and new ways of serving consumers. In the brand building part of the world, it’s really opened up some big creativity on ideas.

Has it also changed the way you work with your agencies?

Yes, because it’s unleashed some creative freedom. Big ideas really come from doing creative work. So, what it’s allowed us to do is inspire creatives to think and give us bigger ideas to build a whole brand and not just individual initiatives. That’s been a very, very productive part of this whole effort.

Why do you prefer to refer to consumers as “people”?

That’s because when you think about marketing to consumers, you sometimes bring a fairly narrow focus to it. You tend to think only about how they may relate to your brand in the context of how they buy it or what they consume.

When you think about the consumers you serve as people, you think about their whole lives. You think about them much more broadly in terms of how to make your brand more relevant on an everyday basis. It also helps you think about different products and different ways of doing things.

Do you also see a difference between “consumers” and “shoppers?”

I’m not sure my view on this is broadly held, but I do like to think about people in terms of how they engage in certain activities — and then we like to engage them when they are in that mindset.

People don’t think of themselves as consumers or shoppers. They think about themselves as people who like to go shopping and enjoy it. When they use products, they like that to be an enjoyable experience, too.

When brand and marketing people think about how to engage people in different situations in their lives, it really does lead to better overall marketing and better overall brand building.

How important are people’s attitudes relative to their behavior?

I think people’s feelings and emotions guide behavior. We try to create an emotional connection with people, because when they feel good about a brand, then you’ve already won half the battle. And then if you can engage their minds in terms of providing that additional rationale as to how this brand can be better, you can then solidify the relationship.

So, many decisions are made by how you feel. At the Olympics, our campaign was about “the proud sponsor of moms.” It made people feel good about P&G. We didn’t sell them anything; we just connected with people. That just resonated with people.

We thanked moms for being there for their families every step of the way. People felt good about it. They felt good about the company. They felt good about the brands that were associated with it. And it translated into purchase intent. It translated into about 10-point favorability bump for P&G and the brands associated with it. We ended up generating more than $100 million in extra sales. So, feeling does have a lot to do with brand building.

Why do you prefer the term “communications” to “marketing”?

I like to use the word “brand-building” more than I like to use the word “marketing” because it’s a broader term and it’s more of what we try to do. It’s not then thought of as narrowly as a discipline.

I like “communications” more than I like “advertising” or “marketing” because you communicate with people. It’s a two-way, and in many cases, a multi-way exchange.

When you “market” to somebody, you are trying to get them to do what you want them to do. When you “communicate” with someone you’re engaging and listening, so you can have more of a relationship. When that happens, you can engage people and then give them what they want.

Are changes in marketing more about the way marketers think and talk about marketing than anything else?

There are some forces at play, and one is that technology is actually accelerating. People have access to information in real time, very transparently, all the time. The recession created a shift in economic power, but it also created a more discerning consumer, in terms of people really wanting to get deeper into what they are buying.

The other force would be that the trust in institutions is eroding. People want to know who is behind brands and companies and what they value. They want to know if we are interested in more than just making money; they want to know if we’re interested in making life better.

People also want to participate, and they can. Those factors have led us into having to think about how we build brands differently in the future. When we think about connecting our brands to a higher purpose, it gets us to express our beliefs and our values, and bring that to life for people. That helps people become more connected to the brand and actually trust the brand more.

What is the biggest consumer — or people — misperception about Procter & Gamble?

Interestingly, what we have found is that not as many people as we thought know all the brands that are part of the P&G family. When they find out that Tide or Pampers is a P&G brand they feel better about the brands. When they find out that all these brands are part of P&G, they also feel better about P&G.

So, we are actively trying to build a greater connection between P&G and the brands of P&G. That’s why we’ve done the Olympics program, as well as the P&G People’s Choice Awards. It’s why we’ve connected and done the Walmart and P&G Family Movie Night.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The constant change and dealing with the forces we’ve been discussing, particularly the real-time nature of things, is particularly challenging. But it’s also a big opportunity. It requires some new models in terms of how we approach things. That’s a great intellectual challenge that we can experiment with.

Another challenge is that there are so many opportunities out there, and we have to know how to pick the right ones and make the most out of them.

As long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen such an opportunity for real, productive change. I think that we will look back on this era as being one of the most exciting in terms of the way brands are built. We’re on that journey right now and I’m excited to be a part of that.

MARC PRITCHARD is global marketing and brand-building officer of the world’s largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble. He is accountable for setting the media and marketing strategies for P&G’s global portfolio of brands, representing nearly $80 billion in sales


the future of marketing

How Social Media Has Helped to Reshape Marketing
Marketing is an ever-changing landscape, which we’ve seen with the rise and fall of SEO and the revolution of Inbound Marketing led by the guys over at HubSpot. Social Media has also become one of the big influencers in marketing, becoming an integral part in any successful business marketing strategy.

Here are some ways that Social Media has helped to reshape marketing.

Facebook and Twitter’s new influence on Search

With how ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ plus ‘retweets’ are becoming more and more important in getting the word out, the big search engines have started to realize that those public announcements are like a vote of confidence from the sharer. Permanent links were what all SEOs had dreamed about. Now, SEOs are hoping to get their links shared by influential tweeters, which are proving to influence search ranking factors. Here’s an unexpected case study on a tweet’s effect on rankings by SEOmoz Of course, there is more value than just the boost in search rankings from ‘likes’ and tweets. There is brand exposure and clicks, which also are valuable things in marketing. But there is no doubt that with the search industry continuing to grow, that Social Media should be an important part of any SEO strategy, what with the growing influence Social Media has on search rankings.

Companies Focus on Engagement versus Selling

Think about how back in the day we used to have our local dry cleaner who everyone in the family knew and who knew everyone in the family, the convenience store clerk who you talked to about your problems at work while he made your favorite cup of coffee, and the homely waitress at the local diner who knew how to get your eggs just right. Those were the days that were less about profit and transactions and were more about creating genuine, personal relationships. Businesses now, through Social Media, are working to reverse the effects time has had on the personal customer experience by engaging users to create more loyalty. It’s not unusual to get an @reply from a company saying thanks for sharing a neat tweet or even engaging in an intellectual or simply fun exchange with you.

Blogging to Build Influence and Authority

I was recently approached by the awesome Noah Kagan who asked about leveraging blogging to build influence and authority after seeing my name pop up in some of the bigger outlets in the startup space. An authority in the marketing realm himself, I was more than happy to oblige because I had much respect for the former Director of Marketing at Mint.com and current Chief Sumo at App Sumo. Wise professionals and marketers like him are continuing to understand the value in blogging. Both in the networking value because you become part of the writing community where other writers treat you as a peer, and in the authority you build, becoming an expert and influencer in the space you write about. I also had a recent chat with Scott Gerber, expert on young entrepreneurship, who is syndicated in outlets like Entrepreneur, WSJ, FoxNews and more. By blogging, he became one of the leading sources in everything about young entrepreneurship, and is constantly receiving inbound inquiries (perhaps more than he can handle) about what’s new in youth entrepreneurship.

Social Media as a New Distribution Channel

By using channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, you leverage your network, your second- and third-degree networks and heavily trafficked platforms for mass distribution because of the viral potential these channels have. Here’s an interesting study by ChompOn showing the  value of social action in online commerce. These days, it’s less about the stale press release, which is arguably dead, and more about empowering customer evangelists, who are more trusted referral sources in spreading the word. In fact, some businesses leverage Social Media to create hype or make announcements about exciting things they’re doing. The popular Robert Scoble played an integral role in helping to launch the awesome Flipboard app, which couldn’t support all the great hype it got during launch, but was able to rebound.
Social Media Advertising

It’s amazing what’s happening in marketing these days, especially in advertising, which supposedly became a dying channel once other cost-effective channels like SEO and Social Media started popping up. But one new form of advertising emerged from all this change, Social Media advertising. For example, you can do Youtube video and channel sponsorship. Some of these YouTube vloggers even have agents, just the same way famous movie stars and athletes do! But with sponsorship of a Youtube vlogger, you can promote your business and product to that special vlogger’s community of thousands of subscribers that might even reach millions of viewers. A killer success story here is with custom women’s shoes startup, Shoes of Prey, sponsoring a 16 year old video blogger to create a video promoting their product which led to 500,000 views in one week and a permanent tripling of sales, absolutely nothing short of most marketers’ dreams. Then, there’s also sponsored blog posts, which are noted as such, on blogs with massive followings to get links and traffic, plus a permanent post to be used as reference when Googlers search it, or when readers are looking for something related to your business on that blog. There are even endorsed tweets, with networks like Ad.ly where you can pay to get a celebrity to endorse you through Social Media. Other networks even let you sponsor the average layman to tweet your link letting their followers know they support you.

Active Listening to Incorporate Customers into the Feedback Loop

The age of Social Media came with the age of active listening. Consumers now had a voice, and businesses were now lending an ear because businesses that didn’t faced a ton of flak from those now empowered and vocal consumers. But with all this active listening came active responses, allowing companies to figure out better ways to serve and target their audience after learning more about their core consumer’s desires and needs. Active listening and responding to your community keeps businesses lean since they’re getting feedback and iterating based on that feedback, which is more than just analytics and data alone.


The future of marketing

Coca-Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions

A lot of us remember when the role of the CMO was much simpler. Information flowed in one direction: from companies to consumers. When we drew up our plans and budgets, the key metric was consumer impressions: how many people would see, hear or read our ad?

Today the only place that approach still works is on Mad Men. Now information flows in many directions, consumer touch points have multiplied, and the old, one-size-fits-all approach has given way to precision marketing and one-to-one communications. Perhaps the most consequential change is how consumers have become empowered to create their own content about our brands and share it throughout their networks and beyond. It has changed my role as the chief marketing and commercial officer at Coca-Cola, and the company’s approach to consumer engagement as we work to double our business by 2020.

In the near term, “consumer impressions” will remain the backbone of our measurement because it is the metric universally used to compare audiences across nearly all types of media. But impressions only tell advertisers the raw size of the audience. By definition, impressions are passive. They give us no real sense of engagement, and consumer engagement with our brands is ultimately what we’re striving to achieve. Awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level. (I used to think that loyalty was the highest rung on the consumer pyramid until I became the CMO of Allstate Insurance. There, I saw clearly that so much business was driven through personal referrals and advocacy by individuals for their agent.)

So, in addition to “consumer impressions,” we are increasingly tracking “consumer expressions.” To us, an expression is any level of engagement with our brand content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a “like,” uploading a photo or video or passing content onto their networks. We’re measuring those expressions and applying what we learn to global brand activations and those created at the local level by our 2,700 marketers around the world. For example, in our 24-Hour Live Session with Maroon 5, we captured impressions (the number of online views) but gained tremendous insights from expressions by our consumers — their comments, input on the song that was being created and what they shared with their networks.

So what are the keys to winning in this new era of empowered, engaged and networked consumers? Here are some of the top “expression” lessons we’ve learned so far:

Accept that consumers can generate more messages than you ever could. Don’t fight this wave of expression. Feed it with content that touches consumers’ passion points like sports, music and popular culture. We estimate on YouTube there are about 146 million views of content related to Coca-Cola. However, only 26 million views were of content that we created. The other 120 million views were of content created by others. We can’t match the volume of our consumers’ creative output, but we can spark it with the right type of content.

Develop content that is “Liquid and Linked.” Liquid content is creative work that is so compelling, authentic and culturally relevant that it can flow through any medium. Liquid content includes emotionally compelling stories that quickly become pervasive. Similarly, “linked” content is content that is linked to our brand strategies and our business objectives. No matter where consumers encounter it, linked content supports our overall strategy. When content is both “Liquid and Linked,” it generates consumer expressions and has the potential to scale quickly. An example of “Liquid and Linked” was our FIFA 2010 World Cup program, which was the largest-ever Coca-Cola activation in history. More than 160 countries used a common World Cup Visual Identity System, a pool of television commercials, and a common a digital platform. All were linked by the common thread of celebration.

Accept that you don’t own your brands; your consumers do. Coca-Cola first learned this lesson in 1985 with the introduction of New Coke, but it’s become even more important with the growth of social media. As I write this, Coca-Cola’s Facebook page has more than 25 million likes (fans). Our fanpage wasn’t started by an employee at our headquarters in Atlanta. Instead, it was launched by two consumers in Los Angeles as an authentic expression of how they felt about Coca-Cola. A decade ago, a company like ours would have sent a “cease and desist” letter from our lawyer. Instead, we’ve partnered with them to create new content, and our Facebook page is growing by about 100,000 fans every week.

Build a process that shares successes and failures quickly throughout your company. Increasing consumer expressions requires many experiments, and some will fail. Build a pipeline so you can quickly replicate your successes in other markets and share the lessons from any failures. For example, our “Happiness Machine” video was a hit on YouTube so we turned it into a TV commercial, and we’ve replicated that low-cost, viral concept in other markets.
Be a facilitator who manages communities, not a director who tries to control them. In 2009, we launched Expedition 206. Consumers voted for the three people they wanted to see travel the world as Coca-Cola Ambassadors, visiting most of the 206 countries where Coca Cola is sold and driving an online conversation about what makes people happy around the world. On every step of their 273,000 mile journey, the ambassadors blogged and created all the content. Our role was to facilitate their journey, which was no small task. We had to give up control of the content, so our ambassadors could share their own experiences. In an era of consumer expressions, seek to facilitate and participate with communities, not control them.

Speak up to set the record straight, but give your fans a chance to do so first. Of course, not every consumer expression will be positive. You have to be part of the conversation so you can set the record straight when you need to. Even better, we’ve found that our fans make online communities self-policing. When our Facebook site was targeted by an activist group whose members posted negative messages, our fans responded with messages of support for our company, and our fans challenged the use of the community for activist purposes.

Marketing has changed dramatically since Doc Pemberton poured the world’s first glass of Coca-Cola in 1886. On May 8th, 2011, Coca-Cola and our fans around the world will celebrate our 125th anniversary. While I’ll be curious how many impressions our activities generate, I will look most closely to the expressions of our consumers as a better measure of our success in keeping the world’s most valuable brand relevant for the next 125 years.

Joe Tripodi leads global marketing, customer management and commercial leadership as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of the Coca-Cola Company.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/04/coca-colas_marketing_shift_fro.html <http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/04/coca-colas_marketing_shift_fro.html>

The future of media 2011 – the social web


Our identity crisis

Kevin Kelly @Wired made an interesting point during a keynote speech at a Web 2.0 expo, (I paraphrase) “We put so much of ourselves into the web, our status, shares, location, correspondence. Are we approaching an identity crisis? Where do ‘we’ stop and where does the ‘internet’ start?”

It’s a interesting point, perhaps a little too provocative for everyday consideration, but it hints at a future vision, a vision that might very well be the future social web. To tackle this further, it’s worth back tracking a little, down the evolutionary path of the Internet and exploring our access to some of the corresponding technology that has been powering it. It’s worth doing, because it’s interesting to observe our relation to the web and technology and how that’s changed. How it all seems to be getting closer, as if it’s being pulled together by a kind of cyber gravity.

Let’s begin the back track at Web 1.0

Web 1.0 was all about accessibility of information. The boom of the global library and the rise of email as the modern communication alternative to the telephone. We could log on through our dial up connections for a look around, accompanied by modem sounds akin to loading a ZX spectrum game through the tape recorder (for those of you who remember Jet set Willy ;). We could even Yahoo!

But any form of interaction with the technology and the data on the internet at this stage was seriously limited. It was a read only era. The content of the web was contributed by the few (comparatively) and managed by few developers, who held all the responsibility for content contribution. Back in those days if you mentioned open source, most people probably thought you were referring to new product development for Ketchup.

Then Web 2.0 arrived

Web 2.0 was and still is mainly about interaction and connection with the network. The Wiki model, the contribution of the crowd toward collective intelligence. Co creation begins and starts to lead to crowd sourced models for business and for fun. Dell turn their business round with IdeaStorm and consumer power. Threadless and Spread Shirt start to create a demand and supply model for T-shirt production, completely created, voted and powered by the crowd.

The rise of the social web

It was also the rise of the social web and the billowing of public content contribution. This trend of social sharing brings many more of us into an active connection with the web, a social and more personal relationship with the technology. Bringing us closer to our own data and closer to our friends and our associated tribes data and content.

Blogging and social network activity on social platforms or integrated onto websites was starting to fill the network. It still is on an increasing trend to become the majority share of web content. As of 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence [Wikipedia].

As we all start to populate the Internet more, the network starts to become our repository for everything. Calendars and scheduling ahead of what we will do. Logging, organising, conversing, inviting and attending. Then capturing our locations, our moments through comments, tagging, photos and sharing, both while we do it and afterwards. TechWatch have recently published a report which reveals that sites like Facebook and Twitter accounted for 12.46% of all web traffic in January. But with 1 million links being shared through Facebook every 20 minutes, social media is becoming a huge traffic driver for the rest of the Internet.

Technology became more flexible

The technology has also brought us closer by becoming more flexible, more useful to us. We saw open API’s start to arrive on the scene, allowing developers to tap into existing functionality and data, rather than re creating it. Google allowed developer access to their maps application, creating a phase of map mash ups. Flickr open an API on their photo streams, leading to a big social boom in sharing photo moments and many more APIs open up.

A project was launched from Mozilla labs called Ubiquity, talking of an intelligent application layer at our fingertips. Based on a common command layer principal, whereby you have an intelligent layer of access to all your applications. This was a project predicting a future where you no longer needed a developer to create bespoke functionality, linking applications – like linking your calendar to your map, to plan an event for instance. Ubiquity meant you could do it yourself, when you needed to. All your applications and data pulled together, calendars, friends, places, maps. it’s a project that has been shelved by Mozilla for now. Certainly many applications are now built with this kind of socially linked support.

Technology now enters our reality

But the command layer ethos, is something that has re surfaced in the form of Augmented reality. The Yelp iPhone app had a hidden ‘easter egg’ application. If you shook it 3 times, it revealed a layer of location aware ratings through your iPhone camera view. It was one of the first experiments into a live overlay of technology on our view of the world. Many more have followed.

An intelligent layer of support from the network. Connecting our actual view and experience with reality and influencing our decision making. So the cyber gravity increases as we are pulled closer and closer into contact with technology and our relevant social data.

The network not the website

The social web and the ‘cloud’ that we are moving toward now, is not so much about the Internet any more. Well what I should say, is that it’s not so much about ‘websites’, the front face if you like – the reception area of the network. It’s now more about the network that sits behind the Internet. Because thats where the data and content sits, the website is merely one of many ways to access that data. Your TV, mobile, games console, cash registers, your various Apps, your Sat nav, even your fridge and domestic appliances. All accessing and linking to YOU through your social profiles.

Open id connects us further to the social web

The rise of Open id platforms has also had a dramatic effect on the social connection on the network. Facebook connect, Twitter connect and others have meant an exponential growth of social connections with any new internet application, site or device. Everything is plugging into the network. YOU are plugging into the network, but your connection to the network only brings you into closer contact with YOU, your data, your socially connected data, friends, likes, recommendations. And so the pull of this cyber gravity between YOU and the network increases.

The social web and YOU

This social web and YOU are now starting to become almost inseparable. Try this… have a little think about your past, some, if not many of your past experiences reside on the network, on a server somewhere, in some shape or form, even though you may well have forgotten about many of them. They have now become part of your digital subconscious. You may well have found old pictures on Facebook in someone else’s gallery and had a little chuckle, remembering that day. You realise that your life has left a trail through the social web, a series of memories and digital foot prints, living on, on the network.

Ok, so thats the past, but what about your digital future. Let’s take another example – Your next cultural fad – The drumming group you haven’t found yet. But you will, you will find it on Meetup.com next week. In the future you will attend that event, but that event is already set up and waiting for you, that exists already, on the network.

Semantic – bringing meaning to data

And the interesting thing about the network, full of all our data, is that it’s getting more and more intelligent. The semantic web is about intelligent data, where data and the technical structure that supports it starts to understand it’s own meaning. This means that the network structure starts to make some decisions for us, to help us find more relevance and even bring relevance to us – without us going to find it. With this our reliance and connection to the social web deepens further.

iArnie, the 400 pound cyborg

This is not an apocalyptic prediction. This is not a scary prediction of technological destruction from iArnie the 400 pound cyborg, wearing his all seeing pair of Augmented Reality Googles 😉

It’s just evolution, a series of facts. Evolution is purely our successful ability to survive and adapt with or against our circumstances. Well surely technology deserves to take it’s place in that bracket of evolution with us. It’s amazing, just waking up and being able to find, meet and discover new ideas, people and places, that fit you, that you will love. All before you’ve reached your front door to leave your house and find them. Assisting our ability to heal, learn and improve – that’s evolution alright.

A glimpse at a social web future

In my opinion the social web is giving us a very clear glimpse into the future. A future where technology will converge further with human behaviour and human reliance. Where the social web will become more and more an important and treasured part of our lives. Where our relationship with the social web can only get closer together.

Sure it will have it’s faults and flaws that will be exposed from time to time. But is that not just displaying the human characteristic of error? Evolution learns just as much from mistake, as it does from success. So maybe the social web is pointing us to a place where the line of identity between us and technology does get a little blurred.


The future of media: Flash vs HTML5 and mobile apps

It’s all about reach…

by Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Brightcove

The recent introduction of the new Apple iPad has stirred the discussion over the future of web content and application runtime formats, and shone light onto the political and business battles emerging between Apple,Adobe and Google. These discussion are often highly polarized and irrational. My hope in this post is to help provide some balance and clarity onto this discussion.

I have a particularly unique perspective, stake and role in this discussion. My first company (Allaire) was born during the advent of the Web, with the idea that a browser and HTML could form the basis for creating content-rich, interactive software applications, ones that didn’t require native code and could be platform and operating system independent. We built ColdFusion as a way to realize this vision. We later became deeply committed to the world of HTML as a developer format, acquiring and building HomeSite, what was the world’s dominant Windows-based HTML authoring application.

In 2000, it became clear to me that web applications and runtimes were not advancing fast enough, and that with the emerging world of broadband internet connectivity that an entirely new realm of rich internet applications would be possible. We (Allaire and Macromedia) merged our companies with the vision that a new class of browser-based applications would emerge, and that we could evolve Macromedia Flash Player from its origins as an animation and motion-graphics engine into a real application platform and rich client runtime that fused media (text, audio, images, video), communications (web services, real-time APIs) and interactivity (rich client-side object model and UI component framework). In March of 2002 we launched the Macromedia MX Platform, anchored around the new Flash runtime, and realized this vision for the transformation of the Web experience and enabling a new class of rich, browser-based applications.

For several years, the Flash Platform was unique in its ability to create highly interactive browser based applications. Around 2003-2004 HTML/JavaScript (Ajax) started to meaningfully emerge as a competing approach to building apps on the Web. Meanwhile, as new Flash Players shipped, it’s ubiquity ensured that the birth of the online video industry would be largely built on Flash. This gave birth to everything from YouTube and Brightcove and Hulu, to hundreds of other online video companies.

Today, my company sits at the center of these new battles over the future of web content and app formats and runtimes. We work with thousands of media publishers who aim to maximize the distribution, reach and user opportunities with their content. This new re-fracturing of web content runtimes is creating challenges (and opportunities) for us and our peers.

A Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Developers (and Audiences!)

I think it’s critical to first frame and understand this discussion with the broader political economy of Internet software platforms. Most of the debate and discussion over HTML5 vs. Flash vs. Native Apps has little to do with what is the right technical approach, or whether something is open or closed, it has to do with the expressions of power and control that drive the businesses of the Internet’s dominant platform companies — Apple, Adobe, Google and Microsoft.

Each of these companies seeks to create unique runtimes and APIs that provide a strategic wedge that can drive other aspects of their business. At one level this is a battle for the hearts and minds of developers and ISVs, but these developers are merely a means to an end. Gaining broad adoption for their runtime platforms translates into their ability to create massive derivative value through downstream products and services. For Apple, this is hardware and paid media (content and apps) sales. For Google, this is about creating massive reach for their advertising platforms and products. For Adobe, this about creating major new applications businesses based on their platform. For Microsoft, it is about driving unit sales of their core OS and business applications.

Web Apps and Content

I’m often asked “Will HTML5 replace Flash?” on the Web. The quick answer is no. However, there is a lot of nuance here and it’s helpful to make the distinction between two broad classes of content applications that are deployed in browsers.

First, there are what I would call Web Productivity Apps. These kinds of applications require responsive, cross-platform, desktop like and highly interactive experiences. They often require seamless integration with existing web content and data. For several years, the Flash Platform was the best platform for creating these types of applications (per above). However, in the past several years, HTML+JavaScript (Ajax) and now HTML5 have created a highly compelling framework to build these applications, and for a large number of web productivity apps, the HTML5 approach will become the preferred model. The best examples are Google Apps, Salesforce.com, and even Microsoft’s forthcoming Office Online. There are also a class of Web Productivity Apps where Flash is the preferred runtime, especially those that involve working with and manipulating media such as images, audio and video. We, like many companies, are pragmatic and use both Flash and HTML as the technology needs require. Other examples of this include rich data visualization applications, where Flash has gained prominence inside of enterprises because of its rich data and visualization features.

The second broad class of applications are what I would call Rich Media Apps. These kinds of applications include largely consumer-facing, audience and media centric experiences. In particular, this includes online video, rich media advertising and marketing, and online games (casual games). All of these kinds of applications are highly focused on having a great and immersive experience that just works, and the creators of these apps are very focused on audience reach — anything that impedes 100% consumer acceptance is a significant concern. Here, Flash is dominant. The unique runtime characteristics of Flash, combined with its incredible reach, has led these types of apps to become highly dependent on Flash, and massive amounts of the broadband economy are dependent on it. It seems unlikely that HTML5 would be at all positioned to replace Flash for these categories, though it is clearly worth watching how consistent rich media runtimes find their way into the HTML5+ standard. Right now, it is a non starter.

The Handheld Disruption

Much of the above classes of content applications are in reference to the PC/Browser-based Web. The explosive growth in hand-held computing has introduced an entirely new dynamic into the content and app run-time battles which in turn will have a cascading impact on the PC Web. Hand-held computing includes smartphones (iPhone, Android, Nokia, et. al), portable music/entertainment devices and tablet computing devices (iPad and Android devices).

In many respects, the successful launch and growth of these devices has created an entirely new and largely blank canvas for content and applications. First, these devices offer new native services and OS-specific features (location, multi-touch UI, local media, wireless networking APIs, cameras, offline) that are giving birth to a massive new class of non-Web Apps that are built using proprietary native-code APIs and runtimes. Because of always-on broadband connectivity and easy to discovery App Stores, there has been rapid adoption of these new “disposable content apps”.

Hand-held platforms create a new opportunity for platform vendors to disrupt runtime hegemony from platforms that have seen ascendance on the PC/Web, and controlling these new run-times and developer adoption of these runtimes has a direct impact on these platform vendors ability to own audience relationships and monetization opportunities. For example, a web-centric, HTML5-centric handheld world favors Google because it can leverage it’s existing dominance in search and web advertising. A proprietary App-centric universe favors Apple because it can become the primary gatekeeper to reaching the mobile audience and already has a pole position in integrating payments and advertising into content applications.

In the case of hand-held platforms, however, it seems quite apparent that it is not a zero-sum game. Three runtime platforms will gain adoption and often even inter-mingle — HTML5 content and apps, Native Apps (that may contain Flash and HTML content), and HTML5 apps that contain and leverage Flash Player. There is a rich pallet of capabilities emerging, and each developer will need to consider what will be appropriate for their specific audience or application. It is also clear that the adoption of these diverse run-time platforms has the real potential to reconstitute fundamental relationships to audiences and monetization systems.

Video as a Cornerstone Issue

I’m also often asked “Will HTML5 Video replace Flash Video?”. Posited as a winner-take-all, absolute, the answer is clearly no. But like the nuance of HTML5 vs. Flash on the Web, there is also a very nuanced and complex evolving landscape in the video format world.

On the PC/Web, video has gained enormous momentum as a fundamental media type for all content on the Web. This has largely been driven by the adoption of Flash Video, which has approximately 75% market-share for online video. For most web and content app developers, this is fine, it is a great run-time and offers an excellent user experience and Adobe has done a very good job keeping the platform contemporary with the most demanding needs of video delivery and quality.

It is the rapid emergence of hand-held devices, however, that is bringing this issue to the forefront. With massive growth in hand-held web browsing from smartphones, iTouch devices and the pending iPad product, this has raised a deeper issue for media publishers who are eager to have their content be accessible to end-users. In particular, it is the show-down between Apple, Google and Adobe over who can control video formats on these devices that is creating challenges. Again, this is not about “what is the right technical solution”, it is about the political economy of who controls the formats that in turn lead to owning downstream audience and monetization opportunities.

The basic idea behind HTML5 video is that there would be a common video format that could be placed and rendered into any compatible web browser, conceptually replacing the need for the Flash run-time to render video in browsers. But there are enormous challenges with this, some political, some technical and some based on audience behavior.

First, right now, there is a lack of common approach among browser makers on what format to use for the HTML video object. This lack of agreement represents a proxy for broader political battles. Apple promotes MPEG-4/H.264, which it uses for it’s device platforms. Microsoft promotes VC-1, it’s own standard video codec. Google has yet to fully weigh-in on what format to support, which leads me to speculate that they will soon introduce a new format, based on On2 VP8, but under a broad open source license to the format and technology. Firefox, with 24% share of the browser market, proposes to use the open source Ogg Vorbis codec. What few people realize is that while H.264 appears to be an open and free standard, in actuality it is not. It is a standard provided by the MPEG-LA consortsia, and is governed by commercial and IP restrictions, which will in 2014 impose a royalty and license requirement on all users of the technology. How can the open Web adopt a format that has such restrictions? It can’t. Google will make an end-run on this by launching an open format with an open source license for the technology, which according to industry experts delivers almost all of the same technical benefits as H.264. All of this is a long way of saying that there is still significant format tension and that it will take a long time for it to be resolved in next-gen browsers.

Second, but related, is the raw reality of browser adoption and churn cycles, and the fact that online video publishers will only adopt standards that have extremely broad adoption. Until penetration rates consistently reach 80%, it will be hard for publishers to switch and adopt a single, new solution. It is more likely that HTML5 Video adoption will reach that critical mass on hand-held devices before it does on the PC/Web.

Third, and equally important, is the more practical issue of the massive industry-wide ecosystem support for Flash Video. From advertising formats, to business logic for the interaction of video with ads and analytics, hundreds of 3rd party technology companies who have built solutions around online video that are built on Flash, not to mention high quality design and authoring tools that sit at the center of a large labor market for Flash design and development; all of this creates inertia for Flash and a relatively high industry-wide switching cost.

But stepping back and looking at this specifically in the context of hand-held computing, where Apple is politically motivated to block the Flash runtime, it is apparent video publishers will be driven to build and operate solutions that leverage HTML5 Video on mobile and iPad browsing environments.

It’s All About Reach

Whether on the supply side of content and applications, or on the distribution and run-time side of the equation, what is abundantly clear is that reach is still king. For platform makers, these battles will continue as they all seek to drive sufficient reach for their open and proprietary standards such that they can exploit this distribution for their core commercial goals. Likewise, and more important, whatever standards and models deliver the broadest reach will ultimately drive what is adopted by publishers, developers and ISVs.

While it is easy to take a binary position in the future of content applications and run-times, it is evident that the competing interests of platform vendors, consumers and app and content publishers will ensure that this remains a fragmented and competitive environment for many years to come.

original article source

: This is post written by Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Brightcove. Prior to Brightcove, Jeremy founded Allaire Corporation which was subsequently acquired by Macromedia due to the success of their web development tool ColdFusion. At Macromedia, Jeremy helped create the Macromedia MX (Flash) platform. You can see a recent interview of Jeremy here. As one of the guys who helped build the Flash Platform, we asked him to weigh in on the recent HTML5 v. Flash debat

future of media: 10 top tips for mobile apps

Mobile applications are high on every digital marketer’s agenda at the moment. But what exactly are they for and how can you get the most out of them?

Following on from our ten things you absolutely have to know about mobile advertising right now, the IAB has once again collaborated with our mobile council and other IAB members to come up with ten things you absolutely have to know about mobile applications right now.

1. Only do apps when you need more
Compared to browsing, mobile apps offer a richer level of user interaction allowing more complex graphics, media and information to be presented. They also provide a more robust and secure environment for user engagement. But, if you can deliver what you are trying to achieve through a browser you will be able to reach far more consumers.
Jeremy Copp, CEO, Rapid Mobile Media

2. Tell people about your app
Don’t just rely on app stores, you can distribute apps via mobile sites, operators and through multiple ad placements and formats for maximum impact and reach.
Theo Theodorou, EMEA Sales Manager, Mobile Advertising

3. Think further than the iPhone
The iPhone offers fantastic functionality for developers and users alike, and apps developed for the platform are eminently PR-able, and are often shared virally. It has a fast growing user base, and reaches relatively wealthy 25-44 year olds who actively use mobile media very well; but also developing a java version, optimised to work over a wide range of handsets including BlackBerry will give you a far greater potential reach.
Mark Angell, Business Development Director, Marvellous

4. Getting the balance right
There are 2 fundamental balances to achieve. Firstly, business objectives vs user needs-for the application to be effective the business needs must carefully consider the user as well as commercial objectives. Secondly, the three E’s (Engagement, Entertainment and Effectiveness)-functional apps often outlast the usage of entertainment based apps.
Paul Taylor, Strategist & Planner, COI

5. The average app user
There are 8.7 million people who have used a downloaded app in the UK which is 18% of mobile users. 60% of these users are playing games that they have downloaded. The median age of an apps user is 32 years old and 43% are female. 36% of app users own smartphones compared to 15% of the total market.
Alistair Hill, Analyst and Mobile Products, Europe, comScore

6. Brand-building vs sales
Free applications get the most downloads, where as paid-for applications generate revenue. Knowing whether you are branding or selling is a key point when launching your first application.
Ross Butler, Creative, Parrott and Miller

7. Product longevity is essential
Every service needs a roadmap, no matter how basic. Customers will quickly get bored with a uni-functional app which has no new features or capability added over time. By adding functionality as time goes on you can create brand advocacy.
Christian Harris, CEO, Gorilla Box

8. Send them in the right direction
Ads in existing applications are a great place to advertise, but make sure that the destination site is optimised for mobile. If you don’t then you risk low conversion and a poor perception of your brand.
Jonathan Abraham, Brand Sales Director, AdMob

9. Test, Test and Test again
If a customer can access it on their handset it needs to work. If it doesn’t it will do more damage than good to your brand. Invite feedback and always read customer reviews (don’t just ask friends to write them!) to ensure you’re meeting the needs of your consumer.
Oliver Newton, Head of Emerging Platforms, i-level

10. Be on brand
Just like with any form of communication ensure that your app is ‘on brand’. Tone of voice, brand values, message, production values and brand fit are essential in making a great brand app.
Kieron Matthews, Marketing Director, IAB

Follow the IAB on Twitter


feed the conversation – you can’t control it

‘Feed the conversation – you can’t control it” – is the title is from a recent presentation I gave at the world magazine conference. This article from the Economist seems to back that thinking up…

THE race is crowded, but San Francisco stands a fair chance of becoming the first major American city without a daily newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle, founded in 1865, is trimming its already pared-down staff in an attempt to avoid closure. And if it does disappear? “People under 30 won’t even notice,” says Gavin Newsom, the city’s mayor.

Most industries are suffering at present, but few are doing as badly as the news business. Things are worst in America, where many papers used to enjoy comfortable local monopolies, but in Britain around 70 local papers have shut down since the beginning of 2008. Among the survivors, advertising is dwindling, editorial is thinning and journalists are being laid off. The crisis is most advanced in the Anglo-Saxon countries, but it is happening all over the rich world: the impact of the internet, exacerbated by the advertising slump, is killing the daily newspaper.

Does that matter? Technological change has destroyed all sorts of once-popular products, from the handloom to the Walkman, and the world has mostly been better for it. But news is not just a product: the press is the fourth estate, a pillar of the polity. Journalists investigate and criticise governments, thus helping voters decide whether to keep them or sack them. Autocracies can function perfectly well without news, but democracies cannot. Will the death of the daily newspaper—the main source of information for most educated people for at least the past century, the scourge of corrupt politicians, the conscience of nations—damage democracy

Picked apart

A newspaper is a package of content—politics, sport, share prices, weather and so forth—which exists to attract eyeballs to advertisements. Unfortunately for newspapers, the internet is better at delivering some of that than paper is. It is easier to search through job and property listings on the web, so classified advertising and its associated revenue is migrating onto the internet. Some content, too, works better on the internet—news and share prices can be more frequently updated, weather can be more geographically specific—so readers are migrating too. The package is thus being picked apart.

The newspaper’s decline is both cause and effect of the worrying finding by the Pew Centre that the number of Americans aged 18-24 who got any news at all the previous day has dropped from 34% to 25% over the past ten years. But that figure may be less troubling than it looks. Because newspapers pack together all sorts of different content, many of those who claimed in the past to have seen some news probably did so for a few seconds before turning the page to the sports scores. Acquaintance as shallow as that with the news is probably no great loss to society; Pew surveys of general knowledge suggest that young people are about as well (or badly) informed as they used to be.

And the newspaper companies’ tribulations do not necessarily presage the demise of the news business, for they stem in part from the tumultuous and expensive transition from paper to electronic distribution. News organisations are currently bearing two sets of costs—those of printing and distributing their product for the old world, and providing digital versions for the new—even though they have yet to find a business model that works online.

Up to now, most have been offering their content free online, but that is unsustainable, because there isn’t enough advertising revenue online to pay for it. So either the amount of news produced must shrink, or readers must pay more. Some publications, such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, which has more than 1m online subscribers and has just promised to develop a new system of micropayments for articles, already charge for content. Others will follow: Rupert Murdoch, the Journal’s owner, has said he expects his other titles to start charging too. With news available free on Google and Yahoo!, readers may, of course, not be prepared to pay even for deeper or more specialised stuff; but since they do in the paper world, where free-sheets and paid-for publications coexist, there seems no reason why they wouldn’t online.

Better mobile devices may encourage them to do so. Apple’s iPhone is the first reader-friendly mobile phone, and the latest update to its software, due shortly, will enable news providers that currently give away content on the iPhone to start charging for it. Amazon has just unveiled a new, larger version of the Kindle, its e-book reader, better suited to displaying newspapers. Similar devices are available from other firms, with many more on the way. Better technology coupled with new payment systems will not solve the acute problems faced by newspapers today, but should eventually provide new models to enable news to flourish in the digital age.

And already, there are signs that it will (see article). New sources of news are proliferating online. Many, it is true, are unreliable. Most are badly funded. Some are the rantings of deranged extremists. But some—like Muckety, an American site which enriches news stories with interactive maps of the protagonists’ networks of influence, and NightJack, the revealing and depressing blog of an anonymous British policeman, which won the Orwell prize last month—enhance society’s understanding of itself, and could not have existed in the old world.

But the only certainty about the future of news is that it will be different from the past. It will no longer be dominated by a few big titles whose front pages determine the story of the day. Public opinion will, rather, be shaped by thousands of different voices, with as many different focuses and points of view. As a result, people will have less in common to chat about around the water-cooler. Those who are not interested in political or economic news will be less likely to come across it; but those who are will be better equippe

the future of media

I thought I’d share this from http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/17/jump-into-the-stream/


Once again, the Internet is shifting before our eyes. Information is increasingly being distributed and presented in real-time streams instead of dedicated Web pages. The shift is palpable, even if it is only in its early stages. Web companies large and small are embracing this stream. It is not just Twitter. It is Facebook and Friendfeed and AOL and Digg and Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop and Techmeme and Tweetmeme and Ustream and Qik and Kyte and blogs and Google Reader. The stream is winding its way throughout the Web and organizing it by nowness


This real-time stream has been building for a while. It began with RSS, but is now so much stronger and swifter, encompassing not just periodic news and musings but constant communication, status updates, instantly shared thoughts, photos, and videos. 


What does this mean for how we will come to consume information? John Borthwick from Betaworks has identified the real-time Web as a key investment opportunity (Betaworks portfolio companies include Twitter, bit.ly, Tweetdeck, Chartbeat, and Tumblr). He admits he and other investors are still feeling in the dark, but he describes the shift he is trying to capitalize on this way in a post titled Distribution . . . now:


First and foremost what emerges out of this is a new metaphor think streams vs. pages.


In the initial design of the web reading and writing (editing) were given equal consideration – yet for fifteen years the primary metaphor of the web has been pages and reading. The metaphors we used to circumscribe this possibility set were mostly drawn from books and architecture (pages, browser, sites etc.). Most of these metaphors were static and one way. The steam metaphor is fundamentally different. Its dynamic, it doesnt live very well within a page and still very much evolving. 


A stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe we are a part of this flow.


In a sense, he is trying to rationalize his investment strategy. But if he is correct, the shift from pages to ever-widening eddies of information will have a dramatic downstream impact on many Web businesses, especially media businesses. This rising stream has the potential to fundamentally change the contours of media distribution on the Web. Large destination sites like Yahoo and AOL, already weakened as distribution hubs by search and social networks, now face the prospect of becoming completely bypassed. No wonder AOL is sticking the stream in every part of its service, from its homepage to Bebo to AIM. (Yahoo is grappling with the emergence of the stream as well, but so far still thinks it can hold onto its place as a central traffic and distribution hub).


The stream does not replace Web pages or search, for that matter, but it has the potential to completely transform them. Already, we are seeing Web pages adopt the stream as a new user-interface. Web pages are increasingly being designed as places to present the most relevant streams of information. And with streams of data >spreading everywhere, search actually becomes more important than ever as a navigation tool. As Borthwick points out:


Traffic isnt distributed evenly in this new world. All of a sudden crowds can show up on your site. 


Traffic occurs in bursts, depending on what people are paying attention to at that second across a variety of services. Someone might notice an obscure blog post on Twitter, where it starts spreading, then it moves to FriendFeed and Facebook and desktop stream readers such as Tweetdeck or Seesmic desktop and before you know it, a hundred thousand people are reading that article. The stream creates a different form of syndication which cannot be licensed and cannot be controlled. 


The problem, more than ever before, becomes one of information overload. How do you keep from drowning in the deluge? Borthwick suggests letting go of teh notion that you can ever master the stream, even just your own personal data stream of friends Tweets, updates, blog posts, Flickr photos, YouTube video finds and so on:


This isnt an inbox we have to empty, or a page we have to get to the bottom of its a flow of data that we can dip into at will but we cant attempt to gain an all encompassing view of it. 


So jump into the stream and let it carry you away. Or you can stand timidly on the banks until everyone else around you has already taken the plunge.