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  • feedwordpress 22:11:05 on 2017/05/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Technology   

    The Internet Big Five Is Now The World’s Big Five 

    The post The Internet Big Five Is Now The World’s Big Five appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    Back in December of 2011, I wrote a piece I called “The Internet Big Five,” in which I noted what seemed a significant trend: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook were becoming the most important companies not only in the technology world, but in the world at large. At that point, Facebook had not yet gone public, but I thought it would be interesting to compare each of them by various metrics, including market cap (Facebook’s was private at the time, but widely reported). Here’s the original chart:

    I called it “Draft 1” because I had a sense there was a franchise of sorts brewing. I had no idea. I started to chart out the various strengths and relative weaknesses of the Big Five, but work on NewCo shifted my focus for a spell.

    Three years later, in 2014, I updated the chart. The growth in market cap was staggering:

    Nearly a trillion dollars in net market cap growth in less than three years! My goodness!

    But since 2014, the Big Five have rapidly accelerated their growth. Let’s look at the same chart, updated to today:

    Ummm..HOLY SHIT! Almost two trillion dollars of market cap added in less than seven years. And the “Big Five” have become, with a few limited incursions by Berkshire Hathaway, the five largest public companies in the US. This has been noted by just about everyone lately, including The Atlantic, which just employed the very talented Alexis Madrigal to pay attention to them on a regular basis. In his maiden piece, Madrigal notes that the open, utopian world of the web just ten years ago (Web 2, remember that? I certainly do…) has lost, bigly, to a world of walled-garden market cap monsters.

    I agree and disagree. Peter Thiel is fond of saying that the best companies are monopolists by nature, and his predictions seem to be coming true. But monopolies grow old, fray, and usually fail to benefit society over time. There’s a crisis of social responsibility and leadership looming for the Big Five — they’ve got all the power, now it’s time for them to face their responsibility. I’ll be writing much more about that in coming weeks and months. As I’ve said elsewhere, in a world where our politics has devolved to bomb throwing and sideshows, we must expect our businesses — in particular our most valuable ones — to lead.

    The post The Internet Big Five Is Now The World’s Big Five appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 21:26:14 on 2016/11/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Technology   

    Six Near-term Trends Influencing The Business of Marketing 

    If you’ve come here looking for the latest thinking on virtual reality, drones and autonomous driving—you’ve come to the wrong place. Marketers are an interesting bunch—we pride ourselves on “being in the know”, with some good reason… Part of our jobs are to stay one step ahead of the game so we are better prepared for the changes that inevitably effect the business of our industry. But in the pursuit of staying ahead of future trends—we often overlook massive shifts that need to be operationalized over the next five years, if not decade. In the pursuit of keeping our eye on the ball—I’ve identified six near term trends influencing the business of marketing:

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    From Media Channels To Media Ecosystem 
    Blame Digital. Just when we were getting used to shifting efforts and dollars to reflect not only print, television, radio and the internet—the internet itself has fragmented into a million tiny little pieces which blur the lines between paid, owned, earned and even social when it comes to dollar spend—and that’s not even getting into how it all get’s measured. Case in point—in the past year, MTV has seen it’s traditional television viewership of the Video Music Awards decline 34%. However if you look closely at the numbers, digital views including Facebook Live Streaming increased 70%. The problem here? MTV has yet to monetize the ever fragmented and complex digital media ecosystem and still relies on traditional TV advertisers to make money.

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    This makes the jobs of the media creators, buyers, sellers and strategists, well—complicated. Marketers are reluctant to embrace this complexity in their need to reach the largest and most targeted audiences they can. But in the near term—this complexity must be dealt with by diving deeper into digital and re-defining how, where and when dollars are spent within the complete media ecosystem vs. the easiest parts of it to put spend against.

    From Text That Tells To Visuals That Show
    The entire Web is being re-built for visual and video content. Before you dismiss this as “obvious”—we must take into account that the previous and dominant version of the Internet became mainstream with the advent of Google’s search engine and search was and to some extent still is a game of text, meta tags, keywords and text based organic content popularity. Now let’s look at demographics: Boomers, and GenX grew up on traditional literacy in the written word. Millennials and GenZ are growing up on what I call “visual literacy” which is accentuated by platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube which are video and visual dominated as opposed to text driven.

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    It is this visual literacy combined with the changing face of how we not only search for but receive content which is changing before our very eyes. marketers have spent years perfecting their Keywords and then finding ways to get text based links to their written content shared on social media but increasingly it’s video that gets shared directly through a multitude of apps that is becoming the dominant social currency. Brands have yet to master modern forms of video and visual storytelling as even the rules are changing in this space. Snapchat for example favors short, compelling vertical video formats which tend to perform well. For marketers—many who built their craft on taglines or standard 30 second television commercials—these forms of video content (not ads) are foreign and still largely untapped. Marketers will need to re-think video, visual storytelling and the production of these things from the ground up in this new world if they are to remain relevant.

    From Mobile Last To Mobile First
    We take for granted that Facebook is one of the most popular apps in the world and most of us access it from our mobile devices. But in the early days of Facebook—there was a time that they found themselves on the defense when it came to mobile and believe it or not—they actually didn’t get it. In less than a year—they transformed themselves into a “mobile first” company from the top down and had some of the most talented developers in the world at their disposal to see this transformation through. Unfortunately, even the world’s biggest and most resourceful brands and agencies do not have these resources nor the imperative to re-invent their organizations to think, act, and operate within the same context as their mobile consumers, customers and employees.

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    Thanks to Google, marketers have good reason to prioritize mobile development as their way forward since Google actually dings Websites that they deem are not responsive or functional in the mobile environment. But the shift to mobile is much more than making our Websites mobile friendly. It means we need to intimately understand how our audiences want to consume, create, share and interact with our brands. It’s one of the leading reasons we’ve seen customers shift to expressing their dissatisfaction about a brand experience or service publicly—they have a megaphone in their pocket at all times. We’ve done a disservice to our industry by treating mobile as a “duh”—it requires a complete transformation in many ways due to its impact on our daily behaviors. Facebook had it right—brands and agencies should do the same.

    From Reliance On Media Companies To Being Your Own Media Company
    “Publishing Is The New Marketing”. Sounds good—easier said than done. But the reality is that thanks to social media—most marketers are already in the business of publishing whether they know it or not. Got a brand presence on Facebook or YouTube? Congratulations, you’re in the content business. The problem however is that most content isn’t very good and so marketers find themselves solving the wrong problem.

    It’s not about creating content as much as it is about cultivating targeted and high quality audiences who want to hear from you again and again.

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    In the pursuit of cultivating quality audiences who not only are willing to consume a brand’s content but want to share and potentially co-create with the brand, marketers must understand how to engage with audiences not only during their “tentpole” campaigns but daily, weekly. monthly and quarterly. This is where the dynamics of marketing and publishing mix and brands are still scrambling to figure out how to do this.

    From Ad-Hoc Influencer Engagement To Integrated Influence Marketing 
    When CBS 60 Minutes does a feature on Influencer Marketing—you know it’s not fleeting trend anymore. However this space as familiar as it seems is new territory for marketers. Unlike traditional celebrities—most of these cultural influencers such as social media stars and Youtubers are creators who have built their OWN audiences using their OWN channels. So to protect their reputations with their audience—their preference is to collaborate and co-create with brands as opposed to endorse and act as spokespeople the way traditional celebrities have always done.

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    In addition—most brands are currently treating these kinds of partnerships as one-offs or ad-hoc engagements vs. re-thinking how they interface not only with cultural influencers but ALL influencers who often play off each other when it comes to reaching mass audiences often times through our peers. It will take years for marketers to fully evolve and build the process to support this in a much more integrated and scalable fashion beyond one off campaigns and programs. This entire space is still in its infancy.

    From Brand Value Proposition To Brand Values
    Lock yourself in a room with the most seasoned and senior marketing executives and they will nod their heads when presented with research that reflects the purchase habits of millennials, especially one key shift—millennials are often influenced not only by the products, services and “value proposition” of the brands they buy from—they are also curious and care about how the brand acts, how it participates and what it “stands for” in a societal context. If they feel like the brand is aligned with some or all of their own personal values—these influence behaviors from purchase through to loyalty. My Employer (Edelman) produced research that most consumers are “involved” with brands but are open to “commitment”. And in many cases, being committed goes beyond traditional value proposition attributes such as quality, convenience and price.

    Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 3.22.16 PMThe premise seems deceptively simple. Many brands understand this and in response have gone out of their way to show how they are “going green” or “doing good”—often through corporate channels that are responsible for these kinds of messages. But this shift goes beyond messages and block and tackle corporate communications. Marketers have mastered the art and science of building brands in the hearts and minds of consumers by balancing their emotional and rational needs. Products had to show they would actually work but the most successful brands went further and endeared themselves to consumers through appealing to their emotions (Think Nike—Just Do It)

    Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 3.23.24 PM

    Thanks largely to millennials—this is no longer enough. Marketers need to re-examine their value proposition and ask themselves if their brand’s “values” are clearly articulated and if their actions, marketing and every touchpoint with a consumer and customer backs this up. It goes beyond satisfying rational and emotional needs but adding the third dimension of “societal” but above all else—all three dimensions need to be true to the brand and supported by proof points. This becomes not only the job of the chief communications officer and CEO but the CEO, CMO and CEO working in tandem. Few brands have been able to successfully “stand for something” because it takes a village to pull this off right and in line with the brand values. But whether it’s #Optoutside or #LikeAGirl—when done authentically, it resonates.

    If you’ve gotten this far, than you’re probably thinking that none of the above is new to you. And that’s the point—it isn’t. But the marketing industry has yet to fully make the needed shifts in most or nearly all of the above trends based on my observations and in working directly with clients. These trends each bring with them great opportunities but require companies whether brands or agencies to evolve priorities, re-evaluate staff and agency mix and place bets in areas that are still developing or require extra effort to measure. They may not be as sexy as virtual reality or cars which drive themselves—but in the next five or so years, it is how well we operationalize against these trends that may benefit marketers most in the near future.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:13:39 on 2016/11/10 Permalink
    Tags: , Technology   

    Election 2016: When “Data” In Isolation Steers Us Wrong 

    Insight_venn
    Instincts vs. Insights
    Like many of you, I was wrong about who I thought would win the US election. But it wasn’t always that way — I had changed my opinion based on the “data” I was seeing and that’s where many of us are scratching our heads. My first gut instinct was formed around the time of both party conventions. Having followed both, sensing the momentum and enthusiasm of the unconventional GOP convention, I remember thinking to myself, Trump really has a chance — he’s going to tap millions of people displaced by a global economy. He’s speaking directly to the working class disenfranchised — people holding down multiple jobs in some cases and feeling like they can never get ahead. He’s giving a voice to those who feel like they have been ignored or are underrepresented. And above it all, I was picking up something in the air that felt like a change agent was wanted, even if that agent was more rough around the edges than many would have preferred…

    I grew up in working class Long Island. I intuitively grasped how he could win and I was hesitant to rush to judgement over how or why millions of Americans were supporting him. Over the course of weeks and months, being the news addict that I am, I began to change my outlook on Trump’s chances.

    Why? Because the polling data and news media sentiment.

    The Limitations of Polling & Media Influence
    Day after day, I would pour over polls and read headlines that would point to trends making the case that while both candidates were unpopular, Hillary seemed to always come out on top. The media painted a picture of a Trump campaign in disarray and the tone of the majority of the coverage I could see from multiple media outlets was largely negative. Polls while far from perfect are data points. Media sentiment is also a set of data points. When you pour over this information, it begins to inform your opinions. And that’s what happened to me. My informed view shifted from Trump has a chance to Hillary is a definite win.

    And I think there’s an important lesson in all of this. Was the data bad? I don’t think it’s that simple. Like some analysts have stated, it’s likely that the polling data was incomplete. Which means this data cannot be fully trusted. If a significant portion of voters didn’t feel comfortable polling but instead voiced their opinions with their votes, then the data is meaningless.

    Sampling is an art that becomes harder and harder to deliver well against. All research methodologies for polling have inherent biases and it becomes clear that relying on a sample of people willing to speak to an interviewer or take a survey online is becoming more difficult to pull off accurately. Political polling is disrupted and old models don’t work. But they are still very valuable if cross analyzed through other intelligence methodologies that focus on “harder data”.

    The lesson reminds me of similar learnings I’ve seen in marketing focus groups. People aren’t always honest or clearly articulate their beliefs and/or needs.

    Reading Between The Lines
    You have to read between the lines. This is something that ethnographers often do. They immerse themselves in the lives of the people they seek to derive insights from. They go deep in place of skimming vast quantities of data points both quantitative and qualitative. They go heavy on empathy but also possess the right amount of analytical rigor to translate observations into insights.

    And what about the media sentiment? Did I misread it? No, I read it accurately but like many others, I underestimated the impact that media sentiment would have on potential Trump supporters. In retrospect the negative media sentiment for Trump likely mobilized his base and even some who were on the fence. Edelman (my employer) has been producing data for years which shows that trust in media is on the decline and urging us to pay close attention to social signals when forming opinions and strategies.

    Search & Social Signals Provide Additional Clues
    And let’s not forget about search. As far as data goes — Google may have presented a more accurate representation of how voters were inclined to act. Trump related searches showed dominance over Hillary inquiries in the final days of the election and higher volume in states such as Pennsylvania where polls projected Clinton to win. The search volume from Google presented signals that were largely missed by both pundits and the media — yet they aligned with voter behavior.
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    Insights, Instinct AND Data — But Never In Isolation

    This political season more than ever demonstrated the shortcomings of looking at data and information sources in isolation, such as polling. A lesson that I’ll take away is to not only have more faith in my instincts but also to be a better student of the impact the media has on public sentiment and how that sentiment is reflected online in the forms of social and search data. For those of us who work in marketing and communications, we’re going to need a better appreciation for the balance between instinct and insights, gut and analysis, and how deep we need to go to accurately interpret signals and multiple data points so we can better inform our thoughts and actions.

     
     
  • feedwordpress 22:51:28 on 2015/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: Crowd Company, Edelman, , , , , Technology   

    It’s Not The Size of SXSW, It’s How You Use It 

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    Before SXSW Interactive had even gotten a chance to take its first breath, media outlets like Mashable were already asking if it had jumped the Shark? The sentiment is understandable. After all these years, SXSW is still kind of enigma. Some call it a conference and others say its more of a festival. Some say this year's SXSW felt "somber" while others asserted that fresh break through technology such as MeerKat, reasserted its relevance as a place where new startups can get their footing and enchant early adopters in the process. Other's still question its value for marketers and agencies (tell that to senior ad execs like Tony Weisman and Bob Greenberg who mingled amongst the geeks).

    The truth is, SXSW is what you make of it. If you want to go there and party all day and all night, you can do that. If you want to spend your time going from session to session to find golden nuggets of insights, you can do that too. If you want to network and explore business opportunities—you can also do that. It's not the size of SXSW that matters, it's how you make it work for you. In that vein, here are some of the ways I made SXSW work for me this year. 

    Finding Opportunities To Collaborate
    SXSW has no shortage of tech companies, platforms or niche players that can make for interesting collaborators. This year I had great meetings with Hootsuite and Spredfast and MeerKat to plant seeds in some cases and in others explore specific opportunities. The face time you can get at SXSW is high quality and the casual setting makes relationship building easy. 

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    Hosting An Intimate Business Function
    Because SXSW can be so overwhelming—it's a great opportunity to create an intimate business environment where professionals can share thoughts and ideas in a salon like setting. This year, we teamed up with Jeremiah Owyang and Crowd Companies and hosted a combination of his council members and some of our clients for an insightful panel featuring executives from Whole Foods, Hallmark and Verizon. Business can be done at SXSW—you just have to plan for it. 

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    Connecting With Colleagues, Clients & Friends

    I'm cognizant that we have all three groups present at SXSW and I make it a point to distribute my time wisely during my few days. Several of our Edelman clients had activations this year and it was great to see how they were doing in real time, while building new client relationships in some cases and reinforcing existing ones. Likewise, many of our colleagues go, and it's a great way to bond with them outside of a formal session. And lastly, there are industry friends I get to see their once a year—a great way to catch up and compare notes. 

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    Attending Panels
    For me personally, it's difficult to squeeze in panels with everything else but I usually manage to get a couple in. This year's highlight for me was Google's offsite "Fire Starters" panel which featured several speakers from the UX, creative and planning sides of the house. I finally got to see Russell Davies speak which was a treat, and in a setting where "new ideas" are prized, his take on "no new ideas" was a good reminder that brands need to work harder at getting the basics right. 

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    Blowing Off Some Steam

    I'm not going to lie—there are some great parties and activities at SXSW. This year I found myself on a dance floor listening to NAZ and in a stadium watching the Flaming Lips do what they do. I also went Spinning with a friend (first time I've ever done that). But the reality is that SXSW is not the only show in town when it comes to parties and entertainment—it goes with the territory and can be fun if you don't overdo it. 

     
  • feedwordpress 15:22:02 on 2015/03/06 Permalink
    Tags: MeerKat, Technology   

    MeerKat Is The Next Big Thing. But For How Long? 

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    Live video streaming is nothing new. Many have tried it—and it's always sort of taken off, but never really went "mainstream". MeerKat might just change all of that. But how will we know? For starters, it's got a really good shot at stealing the show at SXSW next week—a venue that's been known to uncover the next big shiny object in social. It was after all, SXSW that put Twitter on the map, then subsequently Foursquare and more recently though with less impact, Vine. 

    But what exactly is MeerKat?

    Part Snapchat, part Twitter, and part video streaming app—MeerKat lets you effortlessly stream video from your mobile phone using your Twitter connections as a starting point. It's incredibly easy to get up and running—once you download the app, you are streaming within seconds. You can stream on demand or you can schedule a stream in advance. You can subscribe to other streams, like them or comment as they stream—the comments show up as tweets which creates an odd but interesting synergy with Twitter. When you are done with a live stream, you can save it as a video on your phone which then gives you the opportunity to edit and post at a later time.  

    The problem with live video streaming has always been that people's lives are not always that interesting—so you have to question who would tune into a live stream of you teaching a dog a new trick? But, that could be said for all of social media—it's everyday people doing everyday things. 

    Unless you're a YouTube, Vine, Instagram Celebrity or perhaps in the near future—a "MeerKat star". And this is what could very well happen to MeerKat. On Vine a whole new breed of performers built new audiences who mastered the six second medium. Then they took that over to Snapchat and build audiences there. MeerKat could follow the same pattern and it's turning into big business as Twitter recently acquired Niche, a platform that specializes in connecting brands with influencers in emerging channels (everything but YouTube). 

    Which brings us to Twitter. Why hasn't Twitter launched their own version of live streaming, native to the Twitter platform or as a sister app such as Vine? That could be coming next. Or they could offer to gobble up MeerKat. In the meantime as thousands of tech influencers descend upon SXSW next week—you can expect to see a barrage of MeerKat live video streams in your social feeds. First the tech influencers, then come the brands, and then comes the talent who build large audiences on the platform. This is the pattern you might just see unfold in the next few months.

    Brands—get your teams experimenting with MeerKat now, and keep an eye out for the influencers you want to start working with. Even if Twitter comes up with their own solution—you'll be better prepared. 

     
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