How The Economy Back During The Depression of 2009 Changed The World Part 8: Marketing

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Apple, consumer marketing, Mashable, RSS feed, Science Fiction, Second Life, Social Network, tv ad | Tags: , , , , , , , |

In my continuing series on the Depression of ’09, or Bush’s Collapse, as historians have come to call it, I will focus on how marketing and advertising was effected. In 2038 it’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago quotes such as “no one every got fired for doing television” and ideas like Mass Marketing weren’t ridiculed. One needs to remember that back then Social Media was used to differentiate a particular form of “online engagement”. Of course people still used the term Internet to qualify where they absorbed a particular piece of information. Most Gen A kids today are still confused by the fact that during the Gen X/Y days we received information from multiple devices with screens: one you could interact with, and one you just stared at. I won’t mention “radio” for fear of veering too off topic.

Leading up to Dep II folks used the Internet to gather data, purchase goods, and be entertained by music, vids and games. In most cases a company I’d individual would “post” media to a “web site” where users could read, click, watch, or download it. Users had very little choice on what they got, generally being given only a few options. Something was about to change all that though.

Just prior to the election of President Obama, the first of his 3 terms, several print publications (see references below for definitions) named the consumer as the Person of the Year and Marketer of the Year. The average citizen was beginning to take control of how goods and services were presented to them. Up to this point most manufacturers and service providers would build a generic product then hire marketers to create advertising campaigns to promote their product. The advertisements would, almost without exception, be focused on a wide demographic. Men: 18-45, teens: 12-22, were typical designations. Of course no one today would waste time on such a broad and incongruous grouping. Even now, at 79, I can remember being a teen, nine of us were very similar. There were jocks, studes, vocies, rich, poor, popular, geeks, etc. It still amazed me that anyone sold anything in such a broad way. It’s important to remember that back in the 20th Century and into the singles of the 21st Century, most people just accepted that they belonged to a demographic and accepted products and services as they were: Corporate America was in charge. Of course that is no longer the case: we get goods and services tailored personally to us, we brag about the cool advertising generated by our profile. Lime most of history, it is easy, in hindsight, to see the tipping point: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chinese Colonization of Mars, Secretary Michelle Obama’s Global Union Initiative, etc. Bush’s Collapse changed the relationship between consumers and corporations forever.

It is unfair that the Collapse be completely blamed on George Bush, it is so named primarily because the Iraqi Folly put such a financial burden on the country, at a point when a brief financial meltdown was imminent. It took several decades of corporate greed, governmental missteps, and an economy based on speculation and Wall Street, to cause the Collapse. The “Silly President” just happened to push it over the edge.

The hardship had many unexpected consequences including the collapse of the television, radio (much different than what we consider it today), music and oil industries. The collapse of the oil industry and it’s evolution into an international conservatorship has been widely discussed and irrelevant to this story. The Big Media collapse has direct bearing though.

Citizens attention was divided in their entertainment, communications and informational options then: between a television, telephone and radio or a computer. With meager incomes most had to choose between the two. History shows they chose computers. These bulky, desktop machines were far less elegant than our current solution, yet they offered information, communication, entertainment and productivity in one package. This primitive machine had been used to market to consumers in a 19th Century manner, with 20th Century technology. A few technology advances offered the ability for social networks to begin to crop up, all separate and distinct. Very quickly more niche networks emerged, focused on specific subjects, forms of communication, and psychographics. CGTalk, Twitter, and Ning are examples of each that I was immersed in. Very quickly the populace found they had replaced one fractured interface with another, as their attention was now divided between multiple separate “sites”.

Yet the seeds of control had been sewn. Many of these sites, oddly called “networks”, offered personalization features as well as the ability to be viewed on mobile devices. Soon a demand was met: the ability to bring all of their desired content together under a universal, personalized ID, that they could interact with on any device. Early mobile and computer companies began building customized devices receiving customized information. Soon behavioral targeting was giving users information they wanted before they asked for it. Advertisers couldn’t bridge the gap. Most companies were still selling generic products using mass marketing tactics. The people demanded better. They had the power to make demands. It was easier fir a mom & pop operation to deliver customized goods, promoting them with customized messaging, easier than large companies. Product and Services industries as well as their advertisers couldn’t compete on such a micro-level. This signaled the end of marketing as it had been for decades.

Early social media proponents recognized early on that talking to one was better than shouting at a million. Advertisers and companies, in their desperation finally began to listen. An entire generation of marketers and advertisers was displaced. Their seats were filled by social media evangelists managing hundreds of non-employee brand evangelists. These weren’t just mouthpieces, they weren’t even paid! They were brand fans. It was the pyramid management system. One SoMe evangelist would invite brand loyalists, even competitive brand loyalist to try products and report on them. These loyalists in turn were followed by thousands, who, in turn, influenced millions of others.

Many companies during this time abandoned the strategy when they received negative feedback. The smart ones began to see this as positive input. It wasn’t long before companies were creating custom products for their loyalists. It was expensive. This zoo drove the desire from all consumers to have personalized products. Advertisers soon got in the act, creating customized messaging. Consumers had long given up the idea of privacy or anonymity online. Their tracked behavior, purchase history, financial background, resume, even family info now fed shared databases from which technology evolved to serve advertising unique to every recipient.

It seems odd, in this day and age, that a single add would be the basis of an entire product campaign. Teens in college, sports fans in bars, even the few that still work in offices, share their commercials as a bag of identity, as unique as a fingerprint. Just today my grand kids and I were laughing over our implant OS updates from Apple. I’m still on 10.4.2!

Who knows how personalization will effect us in the future. If I have to spend 4 hours on an airship to visit my grandkids on the West Coast, I’d like a seat that knows I have a bad back!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Successful Update of my iPhone Firmware and Playing Super Monkey Ball

Posted on July 11, 2008. Filed under: blog, Boston, Michael Durwin, Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I could go back months, where the history of the update began. That would be the announcement of Apps and games. But let’s just stick to the technical stuff shall we?

The story of the successful update of my Gen 1 iPhone began Thursday afternoon around 2pm. I was on Twitter as usual and someone (I believe Kevin Rose, but I could be wrong, my bad) mentioned that Apps were available on iTunes. I did a bit of digging and this was confirmed on MacRumors.com. By searching for a specific App (I used MacRumors suggestion of searching for AIM Application) I was able to access a sub menu and back out to the main Apps directory. I spent gleeful minutes perusing the selection; from the much-anticipated Super Monkey Ball (simply called Monkey Ballz around the office) to the eReader and iPhone Lightsaber. Many ranged in price from $.99 to $39.99 and many more were free. So, I thought, what happens when I try to download one?

iTunes would not allow a download without first updating the software to iTunes 7.7. I tried to update the software through it’s own software update menu to no avail. A little bit of research led me to a link for the download of iTunes 7.7. Once that had been downloaded to my office iMac, unpacked and installed, I was able to doenload any number of free Apps.

Unfortunately my iPhone is synched to my home machine (an ancient, 3-year old G5 dual). The first thing I did when I got home (actually second after I took the pooch out to piddle and poop) was to download iTunes 7.7. I followed the same procedure as in the office and downloaded all of the free Apps that piqued my interest. I also purchased (aaaaaaahhhhhhhh) Super Monkey Ball. I did encounter a few problems here. I couldn’t use my iTunes gift certificate so I opted for a credit card. After several trials and failures I found that it wouldn’t recognize my zip code as being in Brighton, MA where I live but worked fine for Boston. While technically Brighton, Brookline, and Allston (all within a 3 block radius of each other: yuppies, rockers and richies) are all part of greater Boston and my mail to my zip code using Boston still gets through, it is not the address my credit card company has on file. I anticipated this to throw another glitch, butto my releif it did not.

This takes us to about 8pm last night. I wrapped it up and joined my wife to watch So You Think You Can Dance (Joshua blew me away again).

(you can follow this next part as it happened on my Twitter, starting here)

First thing this morning, for me about 7:53 am, I blindly stumbled into my office and plugged in my iPhone. From then to about 10 after 8 I tried to upgrade the firmware, to no avail. Acting on a hunch, and the fact that MacRumors claimed the software was in fact live, I unplugged my soon-to-be happy device, closed iTunes and downloaded v7.7 AGAIN.

This time it took. With 7.7 installed it automatically found the new firmware update and proceeded to update my iPhone. 1 hour later to the minute it was done. At 8:12am I started the update, ran to the shower, got my lunch together, got dressed (for those visualizing, I actually dressed before getting my lunch together. I’m sure me nude fighting with Tupperware is not that attractive to many), and came back. To sit. And wait. For an hour.

I will admit that I have quite a few movies and songs on my iPhone. I’m a motion graphics artist among other things so I keep most of my better work on my phone, making it a handy, mobile portfolio. 23 movies and 390 songs later. 15 free and 1 paid App later. 121 images later. My iPhone update was complete. “Mark the time nurse, 09:12 am.”

While I was a little late for work (which I’m sure I’ll be staying to make up), the process was only mildly frustrating. I think back to getting the iPhone. I left work at noon, arrived at the mall at 1 and 5 hours and 15 minute later I had my iPhone. 10 minutes later, back home, I spent about 10 minutes setting it up for use and was out the door. While this process took less time, but more than it should, I feel bad for those waiting in line for hours with crashed systems and being told to go home. Where, by the way, new members of the iPhone Army STILL can’t set up their phones. Even some with Gen 1 iPhones have bricked Gen 1 phones and non-functioning new phones!

One of my designers took time off this morning to get his very first cell phone, an iPhone. We expected him back by noon. We’ve had some good laughs at the idea of Steve, in line for hours, being told that the system is down. Worse yet, finding that the store is sold out, as I heard from Twitter buddy Matt in San Francisco. It’s 2:54 here in Boston and Steve is not back. We’ve been discussing the possibilities:

A) He’s 5 people from the store, swearing non-stop, waiting for the machines to come back online

B) He was sent home to finish activation where he is
1) Swearing non-stop because he had to go home and is on his way into work anticipating the crap we’re going to give him.
2) Swearing non-stop because iTunes STILL won’t activate his new iPhone

C) Swearing non-stop because he’s been arrested for assaulting an Apple Store employee upon finding out that
1) The iPhone is sold out
2) iTunes won’t allow activation and he’s holding a $300 non-functioning piece of metal, plastic, and glass.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

The Internet is DOA

Posted on October 29, 2007. Filed under: blog, Social Network, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Not dead on arrival of course. If the Earth isn’t covered with ice or dust, a hundred years or more from now our society will look back at our current state of the Internet as a technology in it’s infancy. Web2.0, social networks, ecommerce, user generated content, MMORPGs, virtual worlds, micro-blogs, iPhones, Google Earth… all the Internet has become is, as Carl Sagan would say, the first second of the first minute of the first hour of the first day of the first month of existence. We are living through one of the most important evolutions in the earliest history of this communication platform. Like the telegraph, telephone and television, the Internet began as an electronic experiment and very quickly became the channel through which large, multinational corporations spoke down to use, sold things to us, told us how they could make our lives better, just put in your login, password and credit card number. Recently social desire and technology have converged. A team of programmers are no longer required to build a web site. A camera and lighting crew is no longer needed to broadcast a video.

The Internet revolution is being led by DOA – Distributors, Originators and Audience. With both Google and del.icio.us celebrating birthdays this week it’s important to look at what those companies really do. Google offers a magnificent search tool and an online advertising program. But what are they really doing? They don’t sell the products or make the banners that the ads are for. They don’t create the web sites, videos, pictures or information that people search for. In simple terms they distribute the ads that sell the merchandise and distribute links to the web sites, videos and images. Their adopted child YouTube is a more niche distributor. They distribute videos. Users make them and upload them or users search and watch them. del.icio.us offers social bookmarking. It is basically a place to post links and bookmarks submitted by users. In simple terms, they aggregate then distribute user content.

Scrolling through the who’s who of towering Internet brands you’ll find they mostly belong to the same leg of the tripod, distributors:
Google
MySpace
LinkedIn
Facebook
YouTube
Digg
Second Life
Worlds of Warcraft
Flickr

Of course there are still plenty of traditional companies doing business online such. What is interesting is how many of them are benefitting from this revolution. I’d dare say Apple wouldn’t have sold a million iPhones in 74 days had it not been for the thousands of fake iPhone pictures, blogs, and videos created by eager fans.

The roles of Distributor, Originator and Audience are not set in stone. A Distributor doesn’t have to be a high tech company, nor do the Audience and Originator need to be consumers. In the case of the iPhone, Apple is the originator, it’s fans were the Distributor, at least in a marketing sense, and all of you who have yet to purchase one are the Audience! The “geek” public was largely responsible for distributing news of the iPhone. The ads and TV commercials were merely for those who didn’t surf the web it seems. The rest of us learned all we needed to know and were inspired by blogs, reviews, Flickr images. I imagine there is more than one marketing research firm who would put themselves in the category of audience when tracking the trends of online behavior.

For awhile now television networks, music companies and Hollywood studios have been fighting to control the distribution of their artists. They are scrambling to figure out to be the Originator and the Distributor. I think they feel that this way they can control the Audience. Unfortunately it is very easy for the Audience to become the Distributor, especially if they don’t like the way they are distributed to. Of course for the most part, excluding some pop princess and some hip hop gangsters, the record companies are not the originator, the artist themselves are. What they’ve always needed are the record companies to distribute for them and market. Not so now. The technology is cheap enough that my former bands have been able to put out CDs with production quality to match the major labels. With the current trends we’ll begin to see a surge of artists who become HUGE, with no help from labels, simply by virtue of their talent and leveraging companies like YouTube and MySpace.

This has already happened for the film industry. We saw more buzz for the Blair Witch Project than almost any film before or since. Special effects, editing, film are all within reach of consumers, now so is distribution though many online video sites. Statistics already show that younger generations don’t hover in front of the TV or at record stores like the 30+ year olds have always done. This new Audience is becoming their own Originators and Distributors. They don’t believe commercials. They believe their friends, even if those friends are only known through their screen name.

Few can guess what will happen to business and advertising in the coming years as audiences become more and more niche and consumers close ranks amongst themselves. Will businesses and marketers be savvy enough to stay part of the equation or will we end up selling and marketing products and services to each other like a Madison Avenue commune?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...