Update: four months later, content marketing is on its way to take off
“As marketers fight to engage with users [and] readers in a noisy, competitive world, marketers have all become publishers,” — Jed Hartman, group publisher of Time Inc. news and business, with oversight for Fortune via “Fortune will sell original editorial content to advertisers for up to $1 million”, AdAge
Day two after reading this and I am still confused. With the brand equity Pinterest has, they certainly could have been more creative at their first attempt to get closer to brands.
Pinterest is a goldmine for brands and advertisers.
- 80% are women, 50% have kids and likely to live in a Midwestern state (read: Walmart demo = cha-ching)
- Pinterest users who shop online follow 9.3 retailers while FB users follow 6.9% retailers and Twitter users follow 8.5%
- CTA pin sees an 80% increase in engagement
- Referrals spend 70% more money, also spend 10% more
The astounding stats go on and on…but they chose Business Pages and widgets?
I mean. Really?
From a brand perspective, what is the value proposition of having another business page to maintain? Business pages aren’t billboards on the Internet. Internet users expect more and paying Pinterest to add to workflows with sentiment, reputation and click-throughs as the ROI is backwards. And don’t get me started on widgets. What is this, 2001? Moving forward, major brands are becoming publishers, media companies, moving away from traditional ad models.
Pinterest is rich with content. If products like Pulse, the joke of the tech circle Mashable is experimenting and even brands like Coke and Nike can figure out content strategy to drive revenue, I’d assume the very smart people at Pinterest should be able to, too. Oh, well.
What a huge bummer.
(Top image screen shot of AdAge article found here)
I cannot stress enough: The Bay Area, is a very special place.
The past week I spent in SF and the Silicon Valley re-connecting with the tech community, reminded me of Paul Graham’s ‘Cities and Ambition‘. He wrote this in 2008 and still rings true.
In NY, we talk about money. How technology is changing the way we monetize. I’ve subconsciously turned into someone who combines tech with money. How can I best package x in order to meet $y?
In SF, the conversations are technology focused. How far we’ve come, where we are going. What’s the next wave of innovation?
As I am sitting on the airplane, I can’t help but to think about the differences between NY and SF, then humbled by this incredible era we are living in. How fortunate we are, to be a part of a community changing the world. Whether I am thinking of monetization strategies in NY and innovation in the Valley.
I’m still high from my week in SF. I want more. My brain won’t shut up and I am looking for someone, anyone, with the Bay Area DNA to talk to about anything and everything. Even a topic silly as socks can turn into an app or service.
Silicon Valley is a very special place.
Some may argue the Bay Area is too techie. People even joke about the over-saturated market and how startups have the same “We’re the ____ of ____.” (i.e. Fashion for Pinterest) elevator pitches.
And I’m not gonna lie, I was one of those people outside of the Valley, rolling my eyes at how everyone is an entrepreneur for the sake of being an entrepreneur. How entrepreneurs are the new struggling actors and Crunchbase is the new IMDB.
Yes, it seems like that on the outside. But if you are immersed in the environment, you just can’t get enough. At least I can’t. Perhaps spending time away, made it easier to appreciate the Silicon Valley ecosystem.
The biggest takeaway from this trip is that saturation is necessary as it drives innovation in the way it can, only in the Valley.
Look at it this way: It’s the reason Mark Zuckerberg was able to take Facebook’s social sharing to the next level (bet you didn’t know the LIKE button was built by the FriendFeed founders, who before FriendFeed, built Gmail and Google Maps respectively). It’s also the reason Steve Jobs redefined branding, user experience and consumer marketing and all the other products that change the way we think and behave.
Silicon Valley is such a special place and I can’t wait to return.
I am just privileged to be a part of it all and if you don’t feel the same, step outside of the Bay Area Bubble to appreciate your environment even more.
The other day I had dinner with an antitrust lawyer and can’t stop thinking about our conversation. The discussions were intense – in a good way. We have opposite backgrounds but similar expertise. He addressed technology representing the law. I have close to zero knowledge of patent or antitrust law but understand technology inside out. We argued about the technological divide between the public, the state and corporations. We agreed on the same conclusion: why aren’t leaders in the respective industries, working closer together to close the gap?
It seems the general public lacks a fundamental understanding of technology (and that is ok) but what can we do to change that? Once I started paying attention, I noticed the conversations are out there.
- MG Siegler talks about misunderstandings from a content stand-point and how journalists/bloggers aren’t doing their jobs to properly inform the public.
- Michael Arrington talks about it from a start-up point’s point of view.
- The VCs and Angels are ranting about it from an economic stand-point. (the ongoing tech bubble 2.0 debate; most recent piece by a VC.)
- And the general public turn to their trusted networks for questions i.e. “You work with computers, what is this fuss about Facebook privacy I read on The Wall Street Journal?” or “Why does your face show up on top when I Google something?”
All of these problems have the same baseline issue: lack of education.
So what do we do?
Well I think it’s up to companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple to get together to figure out how to fix this. Yes they may be competitors but they have the brainpower, resources, network and reach to take the first step towards improved public education. Just like how we are informed about drugs (D.A.R.E.), disease (World AIDS Day, breast cancer awareness campaigns, etc.) and homosexuality.
After all regardless of profession, everyone is first and foremost a human. And with education, comes greater understanding…at least in my ideal world. ;)
When I first Tweeted this in January, I received a lot of backlash as Groupon -along with the other daily deal sites- are tech’s darlings. Or shall I say were, as today Groupon announced their IPO filing. When the public read Groupon’s S-1 the Silicon Valley tech crowd seemed the most astonished by -GASP- Groupon actually losing money despite their profits.
At first glance, the YOY numbers are pretty impressive:
- 1Q 2011 Revenue: $644.7 million
- 2010 revenue: $713.4 million
- 2009 revenue: $30.47 million
And I’m not going to pretend a net loss of $146.5M wasn’t a tad surprising. And even more shocking is how Groupon hasn’t turned a net profit in any of its first three years of operations, including a net loss of $389.6 million in 2010.
But still. One doesn’t have to be an economist to see right through their faulty model. If you know how the Internet works, a scientific calculator is far from necessary to know: their customer acquisition budget is sky freakin’ high. How else did Groupon gain so much traction in such a short time? Google fairies?
What’s more baffling, is, even with these near comedic metrics, Groupon is still valuated at an astronomical figure. The founders and investors are walking away super wealthy. And I still stand by what I Tweeted back in January: Groupon’s legacy will be an economic dissertation or a B-school case study.
Though the real winner? Google.
For 1. not spending $6B because Groupon turned down the acquisition offer and 2. all the $ Groupon will continue spending on AdWords.
Either which way, I’m just glad the daily deal craze will finally slow down. I’m so sick of hearing how amazing Groupon et al. are, because frankly? They are not. Daily deals are (were?) a hot trend. I’m ready for some innovation. A product with such mind-blowing technology it will stun me stupid.
It’s days like these, I wish I was an engineer.
P.S. If anyone has any inkling on how much Groupon spends a month on Adwords, do share. I tried Googling with no luck. Even Quora didn’t have an answer.
For years, photographers and amateur photographers had only one hub: Flickr. I also used to be addicted to Flickr and made many great friends on there. It’s a huge bummer they became stagnant and really hard to use. I don’t even remember the last time I logged in… And I noticed more and more of my friends using Facebook as their main outlet for photographs.
Now I didn’t understand Instagram either, until I actually created an account and started using it. And the more I use it, the more it’s clear, Instagram is the next social platform for photographers. There are already ridiculous amounts of insanely talented photographers on there. I can’t wait to see the community keep growing.
So what makes Instagram so great? Well:
- discoverability with solid filtering. The noise to signal ratio is on. point. From the popular page to following your immediate friend’s photos, to even seeing activities from your friends (what they liked, what they commented on, etc.) Reminds me of the FriendFeed friend of friend feature, but it’s filtered, so you can choose to look any time you want to and doesn’t clog your feed. (News -> Following)
- community: interaction is pretty much like Flickr, where people can talk to each other without reservations. Plus, you can use handles, which is rare for newer sites these days. Part of the reason so many Asians are on there, to protect their identities.
- shareability is seamless — such a smart implementation, perhaps the best out there.
- MOBILE — it’s in all CAPs because that’s how important mobility will become. I’m excited to see how Instragram will keep iterating its product. And when the Android app comes out? I think the adoption will snowball, trickling down to the mass.
Hopefully, the Instagram team is working on an archiving system with option to store photos at higher resolutions. But I still stand by my statement from a few weeks back: “Finally get Instagram. It’s like Flickr (community and discovery), Myspace-Livejournal (hot girls posting self portraits) but way better.”
If you’d like to connect on Instagram, my user ID is ‘monagram’
Bonus: Check out these two photos from me and Christine. We were at the same place, sitting next to the other, drinking the same thing but the photo, well, take a look. It was so neat when it popped up in our feeds — we both said WOW at the same time.
I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by so many brilliant people — even more so now than ever before. New York is in an interesting place, where there are tons of companies building products catering to the critical mass. The intersection of business minded teaming up with the technically savvy are more prevalent here, than in the Silicon Valley, and the problems they are solving aren’t ones created by the SV tech circle.
Which is a problem on its own.
A lot of successful companies solved a problem they created. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, even Amazon are almost all products and / or services we could’ve lived without, but now inevitables. Frankly, I am torn, as innovation comes from the technically brilliant, offering things we never knew we wanted, needed and now cannot live without, but where is the limit? How do we get over the Silicon Valley myopia?
The other day, I met with a company working on a product that blew me away (I’ll eventually share who and what) and we discussed in depth consumer behaviors, needs and desires. We talked about flash mob buying and agreed how we don’t see them having sustainable business models. I’ve repeated how Groupon, Living Social, et al.’s legacies are going to be economic dissertations or a Wharton case study.
We moved on to the topic of location based services and how we believe if done right -whatever right may be- mass adoption is highly likely.
But the question still remains: is there a way to elegantly introduce the habit of checking in? Or even initiating action via QR codes?
I’m excited to see who will solve that problem and how.
Just some quick thoughts on a rainy April Tuesday afternoon.
Bonus: Morgan Stanley’s Mobile Internet Report (summary) — pretty neat deck.
- In 2008, McDonalds’ net profit was 4.3 billion dollars and their advertising budget was $823 billion
- Foursquare Day took place on April 16th. Six months ago. McDonalds and Foursquare are still getting press
- Of the 45 brands/businesses that participated, McDonalds is the only company still being mentioned in press
Looking at the above, I wonder what McDonalds’ goals for participating were and if 33% more check-ins or 33% increase in foot traffic really matters to McDonalds.
Just throwing it out there.
Then, Fred Wilson’s taste makers post and Gmail’s smarter inbox announcement motivated me to finish this draft for this is super exciting technology.
The gist of the serendipity algorithm is digital intelligence. It is not perfect (yet) but through our repeated behaviors and our friends’ actions, sites and services know what we are looking for. Recommendations and things that are relevant to us is accessible as soon as we log-on or even refresh the page. Nowadays, we should be offended if we have to dig through enormous amounts of noise to find things that interest us.
Look around you, we see it on a daily basis on sites we least expect.
- Amazon pulls up recommendations based on past item purchases and browsing behaviors
- Facebook pulls up content relevant to you by the actions of your friends. If enough people in your graph LIKE or comment on an item, that item floats into your newsfeed, even if you are not friends with the original poster
- Yelp rises the users you have fanned to ensure you don’t miss what your favorite reviewer said about a particular establishment
- Twitter pushes Tweets -specifically @replies- into your streams from people who have been RTd
Almost every site and service performs these actions.
So how does this apply to our role as marketers?
We are seeing the medium change every single day. It is our chance to use this shifting paradigm to our advantages, to have a voice heard, a methodology outside of the norm seen… which is the reason social media, the Internet and all these products and services are so exciting.
Every brand, business and even individuals are on an even playing field. It’s about who can best strategize the message, to use social media as an execution tool.
As a marketer and someone who loves this industry, the Internet and my role, it is a bummer to see peers use this medium as a billboard.
That said, I will leave you with words from one of the greatest marketers of our time: the all mighty Steve Jobs.
To me, marketing is about values.
This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world.
And we’re not gonna get a chance to get people to remember much about us.
No company is.
And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.
Thus, marked the launch of the ‘Think Different’ campaign. (see the keynote here.) Funny how those words are still relevant a decade later.
So how are you going to think differently?
*added: Kevin Elliff chimed in with a much clearer post than mine. Read his thoughts here.