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When honour is at stake, this vow I will make November 29, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, business strategy.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about The Three Musketeers – my framework for business models which places them (perhaps overly simply, but simply none the less) into two baskets: All-For-One (self-serving pursuit of value) or One-For-All (pursuit of value for an ecosystem). The former is business as usual up until the advent of Google, at which point things seem to turn, and we see more and more businesses cropping up and being successful by creating value

I had, for the longest time, felt uneasy about Facebook. My sense was that it was founded with All-For-One principles, and I have a hard time viewing it as a business that seeks to create value for an eco-system; it is, to my mind, the second coming of Microsoft rather than the second coming of Google.

I say that, but I also now can’t help but acknowledge the market they have developed for small and local businesses to target customers, and the platform they have provided for brands to interact on a more personal level with fans. In some ways, it lessens the role of the ad industry, which to my mind has a hard time justifying itself as even remotely One-For-All, and so can only be viewed as a good thing.

Your friend and mine Umair Haque takes aim at Facebook in a recent Harvard Business blog: over the Farmville debacle

Once, banks held debt till maturity. The great unnovation was being able to sell it to the next guy, who sold it to the next guy, and on and on and on. What was once a simple, short value chain lengthened to the point of absurdity. Exactly the same value chain pattern is surfacing in media. Ads used to be bought and sold through a short value chain. Facebook ended up serving toxic ads because they were sold through lengthening chains of intermediaries — each of whom shifts the buck to the next guy.

The argument does and doesn’t hold water in places – to my mind it swerves dangerously close in places to the kind of opinion that states ISPs are responsible for their customer’s illegally downloading music. The overall point stands however, which is sacrificing the end-user for the man with money is a short-sighted strategy.

We need to spend more time creating things that user wants in the first place.

That is what One-For-All is all about.

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Digital Strangelove – or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Internet October 19, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, best of, business strategy, digital strategy, social media, social networks, storytelling, strategy, technology.
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I mentioned last week I had been staying in on weekends and up at night trying to get everything I was thinking about out of my head. The space I feel was created in my head is amazing, leaving room to think about a bunch of other projects I have on the go but have also played second fiddle to this.

I’m not presenting the below presentation as gospel, if I may be so bold as to quote myself, I am not looking for right, just for least wrong, as one of the premises I state in the presentation is that so much of this space will continue to change for a long time to come.

The deck covers a lot of ground, mainly from the point of view of where we are right now in the evolution of the Internet and culture, and where I think we’re going. I welcome feedback of all kinds, from bursts of agreement to arguments against each and every slide.

If I have moved the conversation along in even the slightest way, I have succeeded. As always, thanks for reading, I really appreciate your time.

Let’s call the whole thing off July 31, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, digital strategy, marketing, technology, web 2.0.
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Whats wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

Australian music manager Glen Wheatley’s latest project Stripe is set to launch. It is a digital radio service which will have 40 stations up by Christmas playing over the 3G network to any 3G enabled phone, and 100 by the end of 2009. Those wanting to have ad-free radio on their phones will apparently part with a little less than $10 a month for the privilege.

This would be funny if it wasn’t so painfully short-sighted. All together now: the epic, epic lulz.

It betrays just how deeply bereft of real strategic insight media is – and how sorely the media industry needs fresh DNA, instead of old dudes with the same old lame ideas.

Thanks Umair. Mind you he didn’t write that about Stripe, he wrote that about a misguided Wired article where old media guy #1 was berating new media guy #2 for spending time in Second Life as it wouldn’t help him sell more Coke. The point remains though.

Let’s do the why’s together so we all take something away:

  1. Why would I pay $10 a month for radio on my phone?
  2. Particularly me who does not listen to radio at all?
  3. Why in an age of increased personalisation will I believe you can satisfy me with someone else’s taste-making?
  4. Why create a service that relies on early-adopter up-take when the early-adopters do not listen to radio or value music in pure ones-and-zeroes terms?

Now, I imagine much of the VC money has already been sunk, unfortunate for those involved. If you guys with the money could just begin to understand that broadcasting in a one-to-many model is dying and being replaced with niche-casting and many-to-many, you might have a hope of creating something with lasting value.

This last quote from Programming Director Jarrod Graetz is killer:

“A great advantage of our service is that you don’t need a new device or gadget to hear us. If you’ve got 3G coverage, you can access your favourite music and programs from your (3G) mobile phone, and of course on broadband internet. No ad breaks, less interruptions, more music. We position ourselves as “What you want on radio” because we believe Stripe delivers what Australia wants.”

The bolding is mine (the lack of vision entirely their’s). I may not need a device to hear you, but I have a device anyway, it is called an iPod. It comes with NO interruptions and ONLY my favourite music and programs. See, it doesn’t actually matter if you do serve up what I want on radio, because I don’t want radio.


Image courtesy of Dave Goodman, with thanks to compfight.

Tried in vain to breathe the fire we were born in July 16, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, digital strategy, marketing, web 2.0.
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I can’t seem to breathe this week for all the meetings I’ve been in, every day lunch somewhere else followed by lock-ups at gun point and hour after hour of discussions and planning and talking into the early evening, and sometimes not-so-early evening

I was in one such meeting a few days ago dealing with the Head of Interactive for a company I do some work with. He was proposing an idea whereby a community site get setup and funded by a company and then quietly monitor it making sure nothing bad get said. In that one instance, the good will I had rushed out of the room, it was tanatmount to him standing up and saying “I do not understand my chosen medium so I am going to employ some old school rules to get me by.”

Now, this scares me, but more than that, it makes me angry. The people on the digital side of the fence are supposed to get this stuff, and get it intrinsically. As it turns out the barbarians are not only at the gate, they are walking among us. How many companies out there are sinking millions into advice that is patently and historically flawed?

People, help me out here:

  1. Nobody, but nobody can control the market.
  2. The market is conversation.
  3. The conversation doesn’t care if you join it or if you remain silent, it exists without you (and always has).
  4. The conversation will sometimes be about things you do not like, that do not paint your brand, product or service in a favourable light.
  5. If you try to stop that conversation, it will move to a place where you cannot touch it, and you will not be invited to join.

Just in case any bright spark out there thinks they know better and can game the system, take a look at this list of brands that tried and failed big time. If you think you are smarter and better funded than Johnson & Johnson, Marvel, Target and Louis Vuitton, by all means, be my guest.

What’s that Umair? Oh yes, I forgot.

The epic, epic lulz.

Image courtesy of Photograham, with thanks to compfight.

Life after the dip -or- What happens when you lose everything? July 1, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, marketing, music, Video Games, work/life.
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Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s thoughts.

Also note: not The Dip.

Capitol Records buildingIn the music industry’s case, they’ve spent the last decade attempting to bend consumer behaviour to their will. All the time and effort put into better encryption, DRM etc. only for it all to be futile, forcing people into a dead model. Think about that. Ten years of lawsuits, of bad ideas, of attempts to stall the forward march of consumer technology. Each writ issued was an extra nail in the coffin of a decrepit business model established to confuse value and price point and foist it upon the unwitting consumer. As one of my favourite writers likes to say, the epic, epic lulz. As a complete aside, anyone know how many lawyers the RIAA has? I’m just curious…

In the games industry’s case, budgets and teams are swelling, but this is not where industry growth is coming from. The really booming sectors are taking things back to small teams and games that take hours not days to play. Respecting people’s time and attention spans, you can spend five minutes doing something else entirely and then get back to what you are doing. It is a business model that is fluid, moving with the trends of its audience who are not the pimply teenagers with plenty of time on their hands anymore, they are developers themselves, they are in advertising, they’re lawyers and doctors and parents whose free time has not grown with their disposable income.

Exposing what people want to engage with and burying the stuff they’re not interested in is key, and it is only an issue if your business model rests on the viability of the things people don’t like. Digital Rights Management for starters if a zero-sum strategy where nobody wins. I’m a big believer artists should be compensated for the work they do (indeed one day I hope to do nothing but), but in the interim we need new models that are malleable. In the words of Seth Godin:

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

If your goal is delivering value, then everything will be fine. If your goal is to keep the game unchanged, then we have a problem on our hands.

Image courtesy of maubrowncow, with thanks to compfight.