Posts tagged ‘internet’

28 May 2012

A three-hour tour of Internet marketing

Hands up – who’s excited by the expansion of commercial television into new digital TV stations? Hmmm, as I suspected, not many hands….

I’m still struggling to understand the business model behind digital TV: It seems to be cannibalising your own audience and that of your direct competitors by broadcasting long-forgotten or obscure TV shows.

However, there is one good thing about digital TV; It’s introduced a whole new generation to the shows their parents wasted their time on when they were young.

One of my favourite shows growing up was Gilligan’s Island, the tale of a fateful group of castaways whose three-hour boat tour around Honolulu turned into a shipwrecked adventure that lasted for what seemed decades but was, in fact, three seasons.

Although the plotlines were as shallow as the island’s lagoon, when I watch the old episodes again after all these years, I can see some parallels, strangely enough, to modern-day business. For example, here are five lessons from Gilligan’s Island that can be applied to Internet marketing.

1. Be distinct, and be consistent.

Gilligan’s Island is full of archetypes – the gruff but lovable captain, his bumbling but well-meaning first mate, the unreconstructed capitalist couple, the geek, the glamourous woman and the girl next door.

You might love them or you might hate them, but you know what to expect from each of the archetypal characters in every episode. Gilligan is not going to behave like an intellectual, and Thurston Howell III is not going to become a tree-hugger; they all act in a way every week that matches their distinct character.

Online, as well as in traditional marketing, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors, by presenting your own distinct proposition to customers. And you need to consistently deliver that proposition, whether it’s your focus on customer service, your playful humour, or even the style and colour of your logo.

2. Embrace technological change

Just as the Professor improved the lives of people on the island by developing coconut telephones, a bicycle-powered radio and a hot water system, you need to be prepared to continually seek out new ways of doing things. Today, that means making sure everything you do is mobile-optimised; think of how your customers want to interact with your business out of home and develop your online offering accordingly.

Read the full story on Smarter Business Ideas

26 April 2012

A digital native title dispute

By Ray Welling

In the competition between digital natives – Gen Y, which has grown up with online technology and digital immigrants – those of us who can remember typewriters and phones with cords attached – for primacy online, it seems that the digital natives have gained the upper hand.

Think Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, and a billion dollar online empire by the time he reached his mid-20s) vs. Rupert Murdoch (MySpace, phone hacking scandals, declining dead tree media empire). Or Natalie Tran (24-year old Australian vlogger with 156,000 Twitter followers, more than 400 million YouTube views and a cozy career in the making) against say, Tony Abbott (50-something Australian politician with 56,000 Twitter followers but no YouTube channel).

If you read the media reports on what’s hot on the web, there appears to be a strong relationship between a lack of history and Internet success.

But it’s not that simple.

It can be useful to have a long-term view of the online world, which only a seasoned digital immigrant can have. If you can combine that with knowledge of traditional, pre-Internet business principles, you can look past current fads and build a business model that’s sustainable.

For example, the current obsession with whatever is the latest online application exploding in the public consciousness ignores the fragile nature of web success.

With all the current talk of community-building and developing personal relationships, you’d think the concept was invented by Facebook. Digital natives may be too young to remember, but digital immigrants will recall that when MySpace burst on the scene, it was seen as the long-term future of social media. That is, until Facebook came along.

Early digital immigrants can go back even further and remember GeoCities, an online community where people could create personal pages and create a following of fans, which was all the buzz way back in the 20th century.

And consider the power and ubiquity of the Google empire. It may be hard for digital natives to fathom a time pre-Google, but digital immigrants can remember when Yahoo! was seen as the impregnable leader in search (As an aside, it used its cash reserves to buy GeoCities back in 1999), a crown it took from the equally-invulnerable Alta Vista.

Read the full story on Smarter Business Ideas

20 September 2011

Jim Morrison and the importance of relevance

From my NETT blog:

What are the most important factors to consider when you’re communicating ideas to people? How do you get your message across successfully?

From my days as a journalist writing for newspapers and magazines through to my current work presenting digital marketing messages or lecturing to students, a few common themes have emerged in terms of what works consistently.

Actually, I exaggerate – there is really just one fundamental rule in successful communication: make your concept relevant to your target audience.

This is expressed as a couple of acronyms:

• WIFFM – what’s in it for me?
• WSIC – why should I care?

If you can understand what matters to your audience and work out how to relate your message to their concerns, you’ll get your point across.

This principle isn’t limited to written, visual or verbal communication messages: it extends to the communication of ideas, and can include the dissemination of those ideas through a variety of media.

Take music, for example. My favourite band of all time is the Doors, led by the late great Jim Morrison. The Doors tapped into the Zeitgeist of the 1960s with music that protested against traditional mores.

Their sometimes dark messages about love, fitting in and pushing back against parental barriers struck a chord with young Baby Boomers who were just starting to flex their muscles and question the structures of the world that they were inheriting.

Read the full story

3 March 2010

This Internet thing will never work (and other comments that come back to bite you…)

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing… a couple of blogs have picked up a copy of an article printed in Newsweek back in 1995 that dismissed the Internet as a fad. I love the title: “The Internet? Bah!” Writer Clifford Stoll dropped a number of clangers in his original article. Here are a couple of examples:

  • “Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney.”
  • “…no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
  • “…Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.”
  • “…the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don’t know what to ignore and what’s worth reading.”
  • “Computers and networks isolate us from one another. A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee. No interactive multimedia display comes close to the excitement of a live concert. And who’d prefer cybersex to the real thing?”

In one report on this article, Clifford Stoll himself commented on his article, saying, “Wrong? Yep.

“At the time, I was trying to speak against the tide of futuristic commentary on how The Internet Will Solve Our Problems.

“Gives me pause. Most of my screwups have had limited publicity: Forgetting my lines in my 4th grade play. Misidentifying a Gilbert and Sullivan song while suddenly drafted to fill in as announcer on a classical radio station. Wasting a week hunting for planets interior to Mercury’s orbit using an infrared system with a noise level so high that it couldn’t possibly detect ‘em. Heck – trying to dry my sneakers in a microwave oven (a quarter century later, there’s still a smudge on the kitchen ceiling)

“And, as I’ve laughed at others’ foibles, I think back to some of my own cringeworthy contributions. Now, whenever I think I know what’s happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff…”

At least he’s man enough to admit he got it wrong…

17 November 2008

That’d be right – blame the parents

I remember my mother bemoaning the fact that my sister took a psychology course at college and announced that all her problems were due to the dysfunctional way she was brought up. “Sure, blame everything on me, don’t take any responsiblity for your own actions,” she grizzled. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, it’s all someone else’s fault – I’ve got to check out this caper!” When I went to university I minored in psychology so I could examine this theory in more detail. Sure enough, everyone from Freud on down had been blaming adult issues on mothers. It was a great way of excusing everything from relationship breakdowns to career frustrations over the next several years. Finally, while co-writing a book with a psychologist about men’s issues, we were talking about mothers and childhood and I had this great epiphany as the psychologist turned to me and said, “Ray, your mother is who she is, and she did the best she knew how to do. At your age, you need to start taking responsbility for your own actions!”

I’d like to say I completely changed my life that day, became a perfect husband, father and son and my career blossomed as I released my mother from her role as child-thwarter. Yeah, pull the other one… let’s just say I became more self-aware and have led a life with a bit more balance since then.

Anyway, to pull this huge digression from the topic of this blog back to the business at hand, I was reminded of my early studies in psychology by a new book about the Net Generation by futurist Don Tapscott, Grown Up Digital. A sequel to Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation, Tapscott studies the generation of children who have grown up not knowing anything other than the Internet. While media reports decry the kids of today, accusing them of being unfit (well, that one is probably true) and brain dead through playing video games and Facebooking instead of dealing face to face with real people, Tapscott says that, in fact, “Net Geners” are, as he told a reporter for The Economist, the “smartest generation ever”. He says the experience of parents who grew up watching television is misleading when it comes to judging the 20,000 hours on the internet and 10,000 hours playing video games already spent by a typical 20-year-old today. “The Net Generation is in many ways the antithesis of the TV generation,” he argues. One-way broadcasting via television created passive couch potatoes, whereas the net is interactive, and, he says, stimulates and improves the brain.

The book sounds fascinating and I think I’ll buy a copy, if for no other reason than to get some insight into how my kids’ brains work. But I can’t believe how things have come around; now, any misunderstanding of my children and their contemporaries is being blamed on that generation of people who grew up frying their brains through too much television. So again, it is the parents’ fault. Wait a minute, who was it that let me watch too much “Gilligan’s Island”, “Get Smart” and “Lost in Space” when I was a lad?…

14 November 2008

Sorry to tell you, but the market doesn’t care

Like a Molotov cocktail hurled into a crowd, Publishing 2.0 blogger Scott Karp has ignited the already heated debate about the future of journalism and publishing with his most recent post, entitled “The market and the internet don’t care if you make money”.

He’s pinched the title from Seth Godin, the marketing pundit who is peddling his latest book Tribes, but Karp takes the idea and runs with it in a long screed about how the Internet has broken the newspaper industry’s business model, a topic about which plenty of people including myself have written about ad nauseum. But Karp offers a detailed and particularly articulate discussion of this issue, writing that “Nobody has the right to a business model – Ask not what the market can do for you, but what you can do for the market.”

As usual with this sort of thing, the comments are as entertaining and thought-provoking as the blog post, and as a former journalist I can relate to the responses from people in the traditional media. The words of Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, still echo in my ears as one of the main reasons I got into the media business: “Given a choice between a government without newspapers and newspapers without government, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” The media have an important role in informing society and keeping governments honest. But while Jefferson specifically mentioned newspapers, if he was here today I think he would understand and approve of the Internet and blogging. It is the same principle he was talking about back in the 18th century – free speech. Whether it’s Rupert Murdoch or Ariana Huffington or Joe Bloggs exercising that right doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day, say what we will, the market doesn’t care about ‘quality’ journalism and comprehensive local news coverage. We collectively need to find a model that works in this new and changing environment. I agree with Karp that a future business model lies in the power of networks, not the power of monopolies.

[Reproduced from Zazoo blog]

22 October 2008

Business time for content providers

Here’s an excerpt from a blog I posted on Zazoo this week:

“There has been a lot of debate in journalistic circles of late about the state of denial most journalists and media academics are in regarding new media.

“A recent blog on Poynter.org recounted an exchange between digital media entrepreneur Elizabeth Overholser and journalism students at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. Osder refuted one student’s lament that online news business models aren’t working. Then she advised the students that to figure out which online business models can work, ”Start with the impact you want to have. Figure out what audience you need to assemble to have that impact. And what kind of content is needed to do that. Then price it out: How much money do you need to do it?”

“According to Overholser, a J-student groaned in reply, “If I wanted to do that, I’d have gone to Marshall (USC’s business school).”

“Osder countered that while that response was understandable, thinking through the business side of journalism “forces you to be relevant and useful versus arrogant and entitled.”

“I say: hear, hear!….”

Go here for the rest of the entry.

25 September 2008

Health online soaring

According to researchers comScore, the health information site category has grown 21% during the past year – more than four times the growth rate of the total U.S. Internet population. There were 69 million unique visitors in July alone – more than 17 million of them to top-ranked site WebMD.

Improved site functionality, increased content personalization, and overall consumer acceptance of the Internet as a source for health information have helped to breathe new life into the health information category,” said John Mangano, senior director, comScore Pharmaceutical Marketing Solutions. “Most sites have become vibrant online communities rooted in sharing experiences and advice, rather than simply being one-way information resources for the consumer. As Google and Microsoft ramp up efforts with their respective health sites, Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, it will be interesting to see how the category continues to evolve.”

Does anyone know of comparable research for Australia? Would love to see it.

21 September 2008

Porn loses its lustre online

From the Zazoo blog:

I have found a new favourite technology writer – Robert X Cringely at Infoworld. His recent article “Is Sarah Palin more popular than porn? Search me“, is a hoot. He cites a new book by Hitwise general manager Bill Tancer, which shows that searching for social media is now more popular than searching for porn online. As Cringely (yes, that’s his real name, not a pseudonym) writes, “‘As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased,’ said Tancer, [who] indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

“I’m guessing Tancer has not visited many social networks, or that all his Facebook friends are old farts. Because when you’re age 18 to 24, social networks ARE pornography. In fact, they’re better. Have you seen some of those profiles? Two words: humena humena.”

I never knew how ‘humena humena’ was spelled before – you learn something new every day!

He goes on to write about something (or someone) else who has gone on to become more popular than porn on the Internet: Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“Hitwise also measures the most popular searches for political terms. You can guess which lipstick-wearing pitbull of a hockey mom tops the charts there. Per the Washington Post: ‘… in her first two days in the national spotlight, US Internet searches on all things Palin outnumbered any other politician in the past three years…. In many cases, her name was searched alongside the word ‘hot.’ I’m guessing that also includes searches for Palin’s head photo-shopped onto various nude or bikini clad models. 

“Does that qualify as porn? If so, I think Tancer needs to revisit his conclusions about social nets.”

A geek with a sharp sense of humour – got to love it.

18 September 2008

Look no further for Internet content

We now pause again for an advertisement. I have started up an Internet content business with HotHouse Interactive MD Simon van Wyk, called Zazoo. The website has just gone live at www.zazoo.com.au. My blog postings here at Welling Digital may become less frequent as I will be posting content-specific items there, though I will still be writing about health care technology and Internet marketing here. Zazoo offers a network of content experts that will help companies fill all their online content needs, on a small, medium or large scale. Let me know if you’d like more information.

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