20 x 12 – 20 Trends for communicators in 2012

I’ve compiled a list of 20 trends for communicators for the next 12 months.  Enjoy!

1. True Digital Communications
What many people in our industry call “digital” is just online communications. Truly “Digital” operations occur across three layers: Hardware, Software and Online. Most agencies and companies have played with Online (Social , Facebook, online communications and content, ads and so on), dabbled in Software (software as a service, apps, calculators, tools and games) and have left Hardware to their staff hobbyists, if at all.

We’re going to see some truly digital operations in the marketing and communications space, led by the big integrated agencies and/or marketing companies. Large scale technology builds to augment shopper experience and facilitate awareness and sales should be part of every marketeer’s ambitions. What is more likely over the shorter term are smaller, cheaper, more nimble executions such as: merging digital displays with other media, ensuring that point of sale systems share APIs with social networks, and building low cost gadgets and tools to facilitate communications and sales (potentially starting with LittleBits, Cubelets and other low cost electronics).

2. The Internet of Things
We’re going to see a genuine value exchange – internet connected everyday household items provided cheaply (or freely) in return for advertising opportunities. With the rise of the “internet of things”, where every day household items such as fridges, alarm clocks and even toothbrushes become connected to the internet, we’ll see them become advertising and communications displays – a home full of screens. Advertising has funded the FTA TV industry in many countries; phone calls, SMS and data have subsidised mobile handsets. The freemium business model, so popular with software, will begin to expand into consumer hardware. Data, paid for by advertisers, feeding content to devices paid for by advertisers. Clocks that provide sponsored news updates, weather vanes that give you the temperature and an advertisement for clothing are just two examples of how marketeers might create new owned media channels.

3. Digital Austerity
2012 is about simplicity and austerity. The death of the campaign site has been coming for a long time, but finally, communicators are beginning to realise that in order to build distinctive, memorable brand assets, AUniqueWebsiteForAShortTermCampaign.com is a complete waste of time and money. Short term campaign constructs lead to efforts being made dragging people to that campaign construct such as short-term Facebook Fan page, short lived apps and other useless elements, rather than getting their brand noticed, remembered and understood through developing long term brand assets – the foundations of a brand – offline and online. The corollary of cutting down a variety of different campaigns and distraction marketing is that people will notice your brand more, rather than noticing your advertising. Branded, consistent distribution points for communications should always be increased.

4. The Last Campaign
2012 should see big changes in the way many marketing departments operate, away from the on-off “campaign mentality” that has hurt so many brands with visibility gaps and lack of reach, to more realtime marketing – always listening, always responding, always mentally available, always reaching consumers. The only way to achieve this is for many companies to move away from seasonal, quarterly and campaign budgets based on time, and move towards more modal budgeting – in order to reach, to tell stories, to create distinctive brand assets, to engage and entertain – all at the same time, over time, all the time.

5. Sentiment ain’t what it used to be
While social media monitoring, conversation analysis are essential elements to learning and developing qualitative communications insights, one of the most useless elements to it, sentiment analysis, will hopefully die a quick and sudden death. There is not a digital marketing practitioner worth his salt that believes sentiment analysis is anything more than gimmickry. So much more can be gained through analysis of issues at a qualitative level, keyword analysis and a spread of sites and conversations. Conversation monitoring firms should stop peddling this snake oil and actually provide better value by being able to monitor sites where truly insightful conversations occur – primarily Facebook and online forums / discussion boards.

6. Data and Analytics
Big Data is the new oil, the new plastics, the new “social media”. Forget retweets, likes and other soft metrics – Big Data analysis allows for any organisation to understand their huge data sets in a way that will fundamentally change the way they manage their businesses. From working out how to predict when insurance claims will be made, to the likelihood of hospital visits based on previous visits to a local doctor, to the correlation between temperature and beer consumption, companies like Kaggle are making high quality big data analysis cheaper and easier. Google Correlate helps banks understand the most likely timing and location of mortgage enquiries just as it has helped the US Center for Disease Control understand the timing and location of virus outbreaks. And on a small data analysis scale, companies like Betaworks, with their stable of brands such as Bitly and Chartbeat, and ISP based sources such as Experian Hitwise and eCommerce analytics tools are essential tools that have suffered from less visibility because they’re not the new, new thing, but they are incredibly important, and 2012 will see them recognised as such once again.

7. The Game Layer
2012 is the year that game dynamics or “gamification” crossover into the every day. Gamification is, in simple terms, a series of emotional mechanics communicators and marketeers can use to encourage purchase or incite reaction. A traditional example of gamification is happy hours in pubs. If you attend a pub (location) at a specific hour (time) you receive half price beers (discount reward). Airline rewards points are similar: purchase a flight (transaction), and you’ll get points (artificial reward points). The more you purchase, the more points you earn, therefore you increase your status (level-up) for greater benefits (point reward status). This is no different to addictive games, where the more you play, the more experience you earn (XP), the better your weapons / players / options. Humans are irrational, emotional beings. The key for communicators and marketers isn’t to change the way they communicate, but to change the way they get noticed and increase relevant associations with their communications, building a “game layer” over their existing communications and marketing.

8. One Hundred Seconds of Solitude
Solitude and silence will make a considerable comeback in 2012. Shutting down notifications, turning off phones, removing oneself from data access will become more and more valued. Out of office replies and voicemail is diminishing, with the expectation that we’re always connected, always plugged into the network. As a result, we’ve seen a consumer backlash in the form of email bankruptcy (deleting one’s entire inbox and writing an out of office alerting people that anything they’ve sent over that period has been lost/deleted) and overall attention deficit, not a disorder, but the deliberate lack of attention. Now we’re seeing apps such as MacFreedom that allow you to block the internet for up to 8 hours – and as the name suggests, earn “freedom” from notification. International holidays have an unintended benefit in that the prohibitively high mobile data costs stop people from checking in on the road, allowing a respite from notification fatigue (which for some is an asphyxiating disconnection).

9. Attention Shifting
From Instapaper to uTopic to Pinterest to YouTube’s “Watch This Later” to Safari’s “Reading List” – we’ve moved from appointment based media such as traditional TV and radio to time-shifting media such as podcasts and video recording to now “attention shifting”. We see it now, we can access it now, but we’re not ready to actually consume it and think about it now. These tools are in essence “Wishlists” for free content – despite it being free (cost-wise), we’re not free (time-wise). We’re going to see a lot more of these tools, “Attention shifting shopping carts”.

10. Advocacy Fatigue
Why listen to loyalists? They’re buying already. As for their reach, it’s limited, despite the protestations of many a social media “guru”. The excellent Ehrenberg-Bass Institute recently found that less than 1% of existing Facebook Fans were actively engaged in their Fan Pages, and existing fans didn’t buy any more of the products compared to non-fans. The social media industry needs to focus on reach, rather than niche; the industry needs to use social conversations as a means to understand what people are thinking, the questions they are asking, and what they’re searching for and visiting, rather than defining success on the actions of the very few “likes” and “fans”. What is more important is to speak to the many people who aren’t buying, talking, sharing, liking and blogging about your brand – the everyday consumer, non-existent or light buyers of your brand. Many social media campaigns ignore this very obvious paradox: the very people who are the lightest consumers (who are the source of sales growth) are the very ones who aren’t engaged, who aren’t participating, who aren’t fans – and who have little or no interest in the brand. Further, with the exception of high involvement purchases, current fans are unlikely to advocate to these others on your behalf.
Provide better communications to get noticed by the uninformed and disinterested – yes, involve the key opinion leaders, involve the niche if you have the luxury – but effective storytelling has to happen across media, for the many, not just the few.

11. Social Signon
Here’s a puzzle: If you consider the entire Hotmail user base, where are the largest number of users based? If you answered China, you’re wrong. Japan? No. India? Indonesia? Brazil? United States? Germany? United Kingdom? All incorrect. the answer is AFGHANISTAN. Before you wrack your brain considering the reasons why, the simple answer is that Afghanistan is the first country that comes up in the login / signup page, therefore people click Afghanistan rather than scrolling down and accurately filling in information. People are sick of signing up and logging in, but this isn’t new – 88% of people claimed to have provided incorrect information when joining services in 2011, up from 76% in 2010, according to a recent survey for Janrain. Facebook Connect – using Facebook to automatically fill in signup documents and login isn’t new either – however 2012 is the year when “Social signon” will move towards universal adoption. By the end of 2012, sites that do not offer social signon (whether via Facebook, Google Account or Twitter), and true connections to the social graph, will suffer drastic declines in visitation, interaction and most importantly, the ability to deliver customised content and advertising to users.

12. The Tyranny of Popularity
Facebook is making it easy – too easy – to automatically share our activities. We read an article on the Guardian or Washington Post Website, and it automatically adds it to our Facebook feed. We don’t even have to like it – simply participate, and it shares automatically, “frictionless sharing”.
There is a problem with this – there’s so much info out there. Facebook is breaking with its past of “Top Stories” and moving the other way – overwhelming us with more information than we need – or like. While sharing is always important to the sharer, too much sharing is a burden on the consumer. That’s the key problem with Twitter – it’s a torrent, not a stream. In the era of information overload, and attention bankruptcy, we now have too much from Facebook. Most people aren’t good at working out what’s interesting to others and what isn’t, so we require filters to identify the best stories and content – some filters are professional people such as editors, while other filters use aggregate measures such as clicks and “likes” and serve us the most popular. If something becomes popular, it moves to the top of social rankings, which begets popularity, whether the content is “good” or not. The only way to ensure that the most popular content changes on many sites is to introduce decay rates to content that ensure even popular content falls off the perch quickly enough that people won’t get bored by it. Google overcame this issue, what was known as the “Google effect“, when it used to promote the most clicked link higher up the search order. Since then, they’ve improved their algorithms to ensure that it’s not just the most popular (ie: social), but the most relevant and most authoritative link that gets promoted, but this will change in 2012 with increased social search results.

13. The Payment Layer
Digital has lead to an explosion of channels across so many industries – from music to social to content to platforms. However, one of the holy grails of the internet – reliable, universally acceptable and rigorous payment systems are rare. After PayPal, there is daylight. WePay, MoneyBookers, Amazon Payments and Bitcoin (despite it’s recent troubles) are potential challengers, while Square’s growth has been slow and steady.
Google Wallet is slowly growing, while Near Field Communications will be integrated into everything from digital panels to vending machines to supermarket checkouts – allowing us to pay by waving our mobile phone over a payment terminal. Once payment systems become more sophisticated and allow us to pay in increments of hundredths of a cent, then we may see an improvement in the way copyright is adequately remunerated outside of specific distribution channels, from text to images to video to audio.

14. The Rise of APIs
APIs, Application Programming Interfaces, are ways in which software programs communicate with each other. Simply, it’s how you’re able to get the weather on your iPhone app – the weather bureaux (or source of content) creates an API that your mobile weather app accesses in order to find out what your local weather forecast is. APIs aren’t just used for weather, but by organisations of all different types to open up their systems and allow people to build apps, software, games and solutions using that information. A perfect example of that is the NYSE, who opened up all of their data in the form of APIs, so that people would create software that analyses, tracks and provides solutions related to any part of the NYSE. Another example is auto manufacturer – General Motors has recently created a number of APIs in their cars, allowing people to control elements of the car’s operation using their mobile app – whether starting the car remotely, or setting off a map based alarm to warn the person that they should stop as they approach a petrol station. APIs aren’t just about access, but about building an ecology around products and services for the betterment of the consumer. American Express and FourSquare trialled a system whereby offers and specials through Foursquare were automatically redeemed if a person used their American Express card – without staff or consumer having to wave a coupon or delay the transaction. All of this powered by their respective APIs. 2012 will see a boom in APIs as organisations see the benefit of opening up their APIs and allowing customers, suppliers and consumers to mash up the benefits and reap the respective rewards.

15. The Internet is Leaking
As much as we love our flash in the pan status updates, tweets and other digital ephemera, people are looking for a reversion to the tangible, the tactile, the real. It’s been happening for a while, but there are a distinct lack of providers in this space. Berg has just launched Little Printer, a prototype for a “social printer”, a means to deliver up to the second status updates, weather reports, photos, coupons and other ephemera in printed form. Apple have recently added a very useful “Cards” app, that allows iPhone users to send greeting cards direct from their mobile phone using photos they’ve just taken. From the NewspaperClub.com to Postagram to Printstagram, tactile options are on the rise. As wonderful as digital is, it’s not great at giving us texture, despite the proliferation of Instagram and Hipstamatic film grain packs. 2012 will provide us with many more examples of where the Internet has leaked into our rooms.

16, Mesa Checkins
Forget checking into a venue – what are you eating there? What is the event you’re attending? 2012 will see an explosion in the detail checkin – not the generic venue, but the specific product, service or event. If I want the best spaghetti bolognese within 1km, a check-in service such as Oink will help me find it (despite it recently being purchased and shut down by Google). I might not be a fan of a sports stadium, but I’m a fan of the team who are playing there that day. Mesa checkins – “mesa” coming from the Greek “inside”, tend to be more active – I’m “watching” / “eating”, rather than the passive “I’m at”. Mesa checkins are also rapidly extending into traditional media, with an increasing number of media-synching apps that allow us to check-in to songs (Shazam, SoundHound) and TV shows (Miso, GetGlue, Into_Now, Meta Mirror, Flingo, Media Sync and GOAB) while we’re watching them.

17. Life Telemetry
Formula One cars are at the bleeding edge of electronic innovation, particularly their telemetry systems that monitor hundreds of variables on a car and instantly send the information back to base, in order to provide the teams with the ability to modify the performance of the car, thus improving performance. With mobile phones in every pocket, with accelerometer, compass, microphone, camera and other sensory inputs, why not track every element of your life and thereby improve your performance? Whether it be tracking your sleeping patterns with sleep apps such as Sleep Cycle, monitoring your calorie intake with LoseIt! or your jogging distances with Nike+Fuelband, the mobile device as sensor and quality infographics as output should increasingly allow us to monitor our life telemetry – from calorie intake to productivity to moods.

18. Smarter Search
As good as Google is, it only supplies us with a list of links where it believes the information lies, rather than the information itself. The greatest online success stories are platforms for sorting and filtering information – Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon – they are in essence elaborate curators / editors – with either ads or a retail store attached to monetise them. We require better search, “plain English” search, and actual answers, not results. From Google Squared (recently shut down) to Wolfram Alpha to Siri to Google+, we are in a new era of search wars, based on providing us with real answers and solutions with a social, local, intent / historical context.

19. Second Screen Culture
We’re all accustomed to text search. For many of us, Shazam was the first app we installed on our smartphone – with its wonderful ability to ID any song we might hear out and about. We may even be in the vast minority who scan QR codes to access product information. Increasingly, 2012 will see visual search increase dramatically, especially when shopping – note eBay’s recent introduction of visual search. Second screens such as mobiles and tablets will give every single element of a brand the ability to be multi-dimensional in its communications. Where visual and audio search will play an increasingly important role is using the mobile as a media enabler – where people want to know more about a product at point of sale, or while watching an advertisements, they’ll simply be able to point their mobile phone at the device and allow the product packaging to “speak”. 68% of Americans watch TV with their smartphone, tablet or laptop in hand. How many marketers are providing complementary content for this second screen?

20. Vertical Social Networks
In the “good old days” of the internet, people would gather around interests and hobbies. News groups, with names such as alt.music.house were large planets that we would orbit around. We gravitated around interests, not people. These communities evolved into online forums – on topics as varied as fashion to football to cars to politics to music. These online forums are still the primary and most popular way in which people converse online – bringing together total strangers, generally identified by pseudonyms, around one common interest. Social networking sites such as Facebook are different – they make the person the “planet” – self-focussed, with a person’s life being the major topic that others gravitate towards. Vertical social networks bring together people who aren’t necessarily friends, but gather around an interest, just like online forums. The difference being they link the best of forums with the best of social networking; around specific topics. LinkedIn is a good example – people brought together around careers and business networking. Sermo is another – a social network for medical professionals and doctors to discuss medical issues. Myspace went from a social network, to trying to become a vertical social network around music, looking for focus and a specific interest to provide a hook for users. 2012 will see more and more of these vertical social networks arise, with the key being that they are mobile enabled – localised and using the cameras and microphones on phones to bring content “from the street” to the network instantly. PearlTrees, FoodSpotting and GetGlue are three examples; by the end of the year, there’ll be many, many more.

Me + Campaign Asia + Social Gaming

I have been quoted in a new piece in Campaign Asia Magazine on Social Gaming.  Here’s a link to the piece: Campaign Asia April 11 Social Gaming

My full response for Campaign Asia:

Q: What has been the impact of social gaming on the general gaming landscape?

Gaming was always seen by people as anti-social, but social gaming has destroyed that myth. Social gaming – whether games specifically based on social networking sites (Such as FarmVille and CityVille), Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (such as World of Warcraft or Everquest) or Console Networking games (such as Call of duty: Black Ops or FIFA 11) have opened up gaming in a number of ways; it has increased the number of gamers (with a strong growth in older females), it has increased the number of gaming sessions (as people are encouraged to play with their friends, and it has also increased the duration of gaming sessions (as the previous limitations of computer based intelligence are now superceded by the ability to play against real people).

In short, it has provided a new dimension to gaming, a new relevance and greater consumer touchpoints – it’s not just about the old PC vs console battle, but the ability to play games in browser, in social network, on mobile and other touchpoints.

Q: What is the chief revenue driver for social game developers? How important is ad-based revenue?

In the old days, games were either freeware/shareware or paid products. Now, we have a broad mix of revenue opportunities: paid (buy the game for $x), subscription (per month $), paid updates (buy the new levels for $x), advertising based (in game displays or sponsorship), and increasingly in-game purchase (virtual goods such as clothes, weapons, and other virtual goods that make for a better in game experience). Mostly, gaming developers should be looking at a mix of these opportunities. Ad based revenue is at it’s best when incorporated into the game in an engaging way – rather than just using the game as a billboard for display ads.

Q: Does the advent of gaming via SNS mean that marketers need to rethink how they strategise their in-game advertising? How then should brands be engaging with social gamers? What are the challenges involved?

Yes – just as marketing communications need to be engaging and relevant, so does their integration into games – particularly how they will work in a highly social environment. The key is to recognise that you are not building a platform or a tool, but a community – and every decision should be made to encourage the satisfaction, enjoyment and interaction of that community. While many marketers are fearful of social media because they “lose control” of conversation, social gaming allows the marketer to create the world and set the expectations and actions of the participants. It’s a relatively more controlled environment.

Q: To what extent are game developers and brands partnering to build games that satisfy both consumers and brands?

One of the earliest examples of this was the Playstation game “Boxster Challenge” which was developed by Porsche to coincide with the launch of the original Boxster way back in 1997. It was more or less a completely immersive, highly engaging virtual test drive experience for the Porsche Boxster.

One other great advantage of gaming for marketers is that unlike movies or music, gaming sequels tend to get better, therefore it’s easier to predict and partner with successful gaming franchises. More recently, we’ve seen changes in the way marketers use existing gaming franchises to promote their products: H&M used The Sims to promote and sell their clothing in game and McDonalds in FarmVille. Snoop Dogg has sold over $USD700,000 in branded virtual goods.

The bottom line is – games are incredibly popular – marketers aren’t doing enough to partner with game developers.

The Ugly Death of the Recorded Music Industry

Awards nights are about telling stories and creating stories. The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards currently do neither.

The night should change – make them the “music industry” awards: Including soundtracks, best use of music in games, best gigs, best festivals, best use of music in a commercial venture, best mashups, best tour, best music industry character, etc.

“Recording industry awards” is an anachronism in the digital / experiential age.  The ARIA awards celebrate a distribution channel and the companies built from this channel, rather than a magic form of art.

The ARIA Awards are lame, they’re outdated, they’re introspective, they’re disconnected from the music industry; most importantly, they’re disconnected from music fans.

"Simplicity is clarity, transparency and empathy"

There’s a lot to be said about simplicity. It’s the sign that someone “gets it”. The simpler, the better. As Albert Einstein said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

Alan Siegel gave this speech about simplicity at a recent TED conference. I love it, it really struck a chord. We spend too much time talking massive reams of rubbish. Companies spend billions of dollars bombarding people with words – when only a few will do. A bank gives us millions of reasons to join, and when we do, it suffocates us in millions of words of terms and condition.

Siegel argues:

“There is no way that we should allow government to communicate the way they communicate. There is no way we should do business with companies that have agreements with stealth provisions and that are unintelligible. So, how are we going to change the world? Make clarity, transparency and simplicity a national priority.”

In another piece, he describes why there is so much complexity in Goverment:

…many Americans are watching their credit card fees rise without understanding why. We get health care bills and benefit statements that read like gibberish. And we struggle with incomprehensible government documents.

Yes, there are reasons why government and complexity go together like dogs and hydrants. First, many public officials think that everything they say must sound “official.” Second, new laws keep getting passed, old laws keep getting amended, and all laws generate reams of regulations. Third, there’s individual and institutional self-protection — covering your posterior, rather than communicating with the public.

Still, in a democracy, government must communicate clearly. When Americans can’t figure out how to answer census questions, complete tax forms or qualify for small-business assistance, the economy suffers, federal revenues decline and confidence in government sinks to new lows. But, when our leaders communicate clearly, Americans answer appeals for action, from President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” to President Kennedy’s call, “Ask what you can do for your country.” President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took only two minutes and 246 words.

Too many words, too much complexity. Why not cut it right down to the core and have faith that people will understand, that we don’t have to spell everything out in complex jargon?

Here’s what, I’ll start right now.

Monopoly’s Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMMOG)

How adland is cutting Big Media out of the future: a great piece from Wired on the Tribal DDB / Monopoly City Streets Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), and the changes for the future of brands and products.

It’s a whopper of a case study that speaks to the heart of all digital initiatives. Ultimately, the digital industry does (should) do one or more of three things:

  • Help / Augment
  • Engage
  • Entertain / Educate

Whatever the digital initiative, if it does only one of these things, it’s not enough. If it does two of these things, it’s got a good chance at succeeding. If it does three of these things, it’s likely to work very well. Reach people, get them engaged, help them, entertain them. Get them to remember you.

How this Monopoly game ticks all three boxes?

  • It helps / augments the experience of playing Monopoly by making it a global game with potentially millions of competitors.
  • It engages through it being a great game, a great product and scalable across millions of people.
  • It entertains. It is Monopoly after all.

Fear of failure, fear of apples

How sick are we of telling another website what our name and details are?

How sick are we of remembering our various passwords?

How sick are we of having to make decisions, and the risk that it might not be the right one? We are the options generation, the people that have grown up in such a period of change that we’re afraid of making commitments in case the commitment takes us down a path that is made redundant or is superseded, or just boring. HEY, there’s something new here or something better, why didn’t I recognise this earlier?!

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How many abandoned blogs MySpace pages and Twitter accounts are there in the world? How many ex’s? How many old toys? How many false starts? How many career changes? How many “we’re starting this project as a stop gap before the real project takes off once we get budget approval”?

I guess the key is learning how to make a single decision well, so that you may never have to make that decision again. You’ve decided and implemented correctly.

Seth Godin talks about the stress of choosing Apples. They’re just apples. They’ll be eaten in a minute. Why should it be so hard?

As always, he’s a top read: Seths Blog: Fear of apples.

Kiss my RSS – An Explanation of RSS

Why don’t more people use RSS? Let’s start at the beginning, with an answer to the question: “What is RSS?” The best way to describe it is as a subscription to all of your favourite websites in the form of a “ticker tape” style notification. It allows your favourite sites’ new content, stories, posts and images to be delivered to you, rather than having to visit those sites to get the content.

As soon as there’s some new content – in the form of a new news piece, new photo, new video, new comment, new post, new item – the RSS feed you’ve subscribed to from that site notifies you of the new content – and even delivers it to you.

Therefore, instead of spending all day trying to find content you might like on various websites, you can subscribe and customise RSS feeds, and the content you like finds you.

I subscribe to over 400 RSS feeds – unique sources of information – grouped around the following topics:

  • APAC Business
  • US Business News
  • Economics
  • Clients
  • Digital and Social Media
  • Fashion and Culture
  • Footy
  • Forums (Forums are where 98% of online conversations occur  – I subscribe to the most popular, across topics as varied as Automotive, Mums, Fashion, Music, Youth, Politics, Finance… You name it).
  • Friends
  • Greek Sites
  • Italian Sites
  • Insights
  • Marketing News
  • European Business
  • Asian Business
  • Middle East Business
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Music Business
  • News and Opinion
  • Planning
  • Politics and Liberty
  • Random Blogs
  • SEO / SMO / SEM Insights
  • Shopping
  • Statistics
  • Strategy
  • Trends and Future
  • Video

So – if you’d like to be able to read the sports section of the Herald-Sun, the Business section of The Australian, the Opinion section of The Age, YouTube videos tagged “Daicos”, blog posts from the von Mises Institute, the Restaurant Review section of the New York Times, the Collingwood Forum on BigFooty.com, and the latest fashion updates from [frockwriter], all in five minutes without having to swap between 100 websites, then RSS feeds are for you.

All you need to do is be on the lookout for the orange or blue RSS logo – on various websites, and you’re halfway there! Then, by using Google Reader, Netvibes or other RSS readers, you can subscribe to your favourite feeds.

The holy trinity of 21st Century communications – marketing, technology and design

Watching this video of Coca-Cola’s new interactive vending machine, Anthony J Phillips, the Global Marketing Manager of Coca-Cola, talks about the “fantastic partnership between marketing, technology and design”. I think it’s a profound and important partnership that will dominate marcomms into the future. I’d add another element – human behaviour in the form of anthropology / behavioural economics.

How best will we marketers and communicators best be trained for this future – in order to best understand and communicate with people? Technology studies? Cultural anthropology? Town Planning? Data science? Architecture and Design? Typography? Behavioural Economics? Sociology? All of the above?

To me, old fashioned integrated Marketing and Public Relations & Communications just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

Google Squared – Definitely Not for Nerds

Google has released a fantastic new search option called Google Squared – it structures unstructured data, puts it in a table, and makes compiling lists and information MUCH easier.

This a great evolution of search engines, making it simple to find relevant info at a glance. Instead of search engines providing a list links where the content might eventually be – they will evolve into a place where they curate and collect multiple reliable structured data sources and give us the ANSWER. We may well look back on the pages and pages of unstructured lists that make up search engines today and think – “how uncivilised”. Google Squared acts to structure this content, and provide some commonalities between the types of content.

How it is prioritiseed will be an interesting question – will Google prioritise based on typical search engine optimisation rankings of popularity of quality data, or will it now begin to prioritise based on the spread of quality data – for example a coffee shop that lists not only the description, address, business hours and cuisine – but also payment methods, disabled access, coffee bean menu, and other, more imaginative things like whether it has a YouTube identity by which it provides video barista classes? Alternatively, will Google provide sorting options – based on user criteria?

Whatever the case, it’s a stronger incentive for organisations of all types to ensure they build a quality, structured, informative presence across all content platforms.