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Yesterday the inimitable Scott Drummond came to my rescue. Scott is my musical educator, always throwing me new tunes and genres to check out, in addition to being an amazing friend and weekend brunch buddy. He hit me with a world of great stuff, but I want to talk about one artist in particular, Girl Talk.

Girl Talk is a DJ who mashes up everything he can get his hands on. It is absolutely not for everyone, but I can’t get enough and makes it Saturday night in my heart when the calendar says Tuesday morning, so for this I am grateful. Scott hit me off with a link to a live bootleg which is absolutely off the handle (and on this Friday July 4th exactly what you need to get the party started).

The model he is going with selling his latest album though is perhaps more interesting than hearing Roy Orbison laced over gangsta rap, spun into Nirvana with Salt’n’Pepa over the top (in my ears right now).

Head to his MySpace page and you’ll see the below:

Buy Girl Talk\'s new album!

So the “pay what you want” thing in music isn’t new, agreed. Click-through though and you’ll be taken to a page which displays the purchase options:

any price grants the download of the entire album as high-quality 320kbps mp3s
$5 or more adds the options of FLAC files, plus a one-file seamless mix of the album
$10 or more includes all of the above + a packaged CD (when it becomes available)

Additionally below that it says the album is released under a Creative Commons licence, the same licence under which all the images I use on this site are licensed. Attribute the creator, don’t profit directly from the work, and you’re welcome to do as you please.

Now here’s the trick: you punch in the amount you would like to pay on that page, and then the files are available on the next page with a separate link off to PayPal to make a payment. The entire system is based on goodwill and honesty, as I punched in $5 and started downloading the tracks before the payment had gone through. I’m happy to pay as I really like what he does, but I’m wondering how many people will reach that page, grab the tunes and take off?

The ironic thing though is none of it really matters. If someone wants your music for free, they will take it for free. A model of a dollar is better than a model of no money, and by putting your music out under Creative Commons people can remunerate you based on the value you provide while giving them access to your music without the shadow of illegal downloading coming into it.

This goes back to what I was saying in my Life after the dip post:

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.

Seems to me this model is right on track

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.

Barrier to entryLong-time listeners-first time callers would be aware I was included in a top 50 list of marketing blogs in Australia recently, put together by Adspace-Pioneers and Marketing Magazine (#17, thanks very much). Eschewing “It’s an honour just to be nominated” dribble, it was a great chance to check out some of the other writers and marketers that exist in this space. There’s a tremendous amount of value out there and it’s well worth everyone’s time to take a look at the other sites comprising the list.

One key aspect which had been over-looked on a lot of these sites though was the choice of technology employed. There are three main blog platforms – WordPress (which is what this site is), TypePad and Blogger, all of which have their own pros and cons, but perform the same base functions.

Contrast this with Vox, a site I hadn’t heard of before until I visited Lexy Klain’s blog (#29 on the list). Lexy does a good job of providing thought-provoking content, I actually went quite far back into her archives to get a sense of her thought process. Satisfied, I went to comment on a post, and to congratulate her on making the list, and that is when the fun stopped.

Vox requires you to register if you wish to comment, something I abhor. Having spent yesterday afternoon at the Melbourne PubCamp event being bored to tears by folk who do not yet understand for some God-forsaken reason that open beats closed, I was surprised to see a blog site pursuing this tack.

By choosing this platform, Lexy opts out of a raft of conversation provided by comments. Fred Wilson often says the comments on his site far outweigh the value created in his blog posts. This is a participatory medium, and we need to make the barriers to entry for everyone as low as possible.

Lex, five stars for the wealth of thought you’re providing, but I can get it elsewhere. And if I can’t interact or am put off by the barriers placed in front of me, I won’t return. Those who haven’t read it should brush up on Forrester’s POST methodology for more on this.

Image courtesy of moniker, with thanks to compfight.

When people talk about campaigns being exposed, what they’re seeing is the revelation of the intent behind the activity. Julian Cole talked about a Ford ad last week which summarised this perfectly. Ford had made it reasonably clear their ad was fake and they were just having some fun, prompting Julian to write.

people enjoy…content for what it is…This is a great example of why full disclosure works in the social media space.

The intent here was to entertain, not to fool. The result is engaging and hats off to Ford for having the stones to do this, and not have an intent to deceive at the core of what they were doing. The added bonus here is they get blogged about for All The Right Reasons(TM), and what could be better than that?

So, we’ll refer to it as intent, but what is at the core of the campaigns you’re building for the brands you work with?

Brainstorming ideas for a clients impending product launch, a gun account manager (as in she’s great, she doesn’t manage a client who manufactures guns) and I came up with something that was largely experiential, nailed the target market, and delivered on the promise of the brand all in one. Good idea we said. Great idea we said.

It’s not digital we said – but does it have to be?

When I was thinking about the first column to write for Marketing Magazine, I kept coming back to this notion of what digital wasn’t as opposed to what it was. I canvassed a few opinions and was bemused by Iain Tait’s cryptic reply; “Digital is not a thing anymore.”

Some time after that, indeed quite recently, I suddenly realised what he meant. It reminded me of something Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson had said to me a few months earlier: “The second you try to think outside the box, you’re disregarding a lot of really good, valid stuff.”

A good idea is a good idea, and as long as it delivers for your audience, and it doesn’t have to be anything else.

Image courtesy of NMCIL, with thanks to compfight.

The Air France 747 is about to touch down on 28L while United is holding short of 28RI was in a meeting this afternoon with a client, talking about driving customers from a website in store. We had some interesting metrics around that sort of conversion, one thing that stood out for me though was what people saw and experienced when they first walked in. Making sure people are catered for and have the experience they expect when they walk into the store is exactly the same as them landing on your web site; when they click a link or punch in a URL they have an expectation which must be met if you want them to remain.

I suppose I found it ironic how much time we spend talking about new media when we’re able to draw so much on history. I don’t think you can underestimate the value of being digitally-savvy, but inspiration and insight comes from the strangest places.

Some people have a love-hate relationship with their own fallibility. Not me. I revel in it.  I was talking earlier today about widening the range of ideas you let in to your head so as to stimulate your own thinking from a different perspective.

I was thinking about this a bit more today after posting over at the Marketing Magazine forums on the subject of being wrong in a digital space. We should be embracing the rapid pace at which everything is changing; every error, every out and out mistake is a lesson learned and a rule formed in a space where so few exist.

I wrote at the beginning of the year I was spending more time thinking about what was least wrong as opposed to most right. Semantics sure, but the point is we don’t know right now, and nor should we. If everyone could for just one day check their egos at the door and revel in the fact we’re still figuring this out, we’d get a lot more done.

Image from Paul Arden’s It’s not how good you are… – found via Andrew Cafourek’s Tumblog.

This morning I drove one of my best friends to the airport. He was jumping on a plane back to Germany, he was heading home.
The Definitive Guide to Explore  by Timothy K Hamilton

I’ve been lucky to have an extraordinary bunch of friends here in Melbourne from all over the world. Canada, Wales, Germany, England, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Singapore – even the odd Australian from time to time. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I’ve really responded to the variety of culture and influence around me, not to mention the fact that they’re all incredibly passionate, intelligent and entertaining folk.

This got me thinking about the places we draw our influences from, the points we call on to stimulate thought processes and new ideas. Purely a coincidence, but my set of Method Cards from Ideo just arrived which I’m quite excited about. I’m not even sure what I will use them for, but if even a single insight is there to be garnered from them then it is worth the investment. If nothing else, it is a series of thought exercises from a completely different point of view to my own.

I’m a big fan of unconventional ports of call to find ideas that change the game. Speaking of games, when I was in the video game industry in the midst of ord of the Rings knock-offs, I was pitching ideas based on Shakespear – funnily enough none of those games got off the ground (yet).

The point is the games industry subsists on mediocre sequels and plenty of “me too” titles. So much so that when something like The Sims or Nintendo’s Wii comes along, it completely flips the industry on its head and changes everything we held to be true.

The same can be said for consumer products and marketing. Which is why Microsoft buy their way into the game each generation instead of being the innovator, and why the necessary changes to mass media won’t be brought about by News Corp or Viacom or the BBC. Corporations are more human than we give them credit for, they’re the sum of their parts and history just like us; thus they’re looking at what they already know in order to innovate.

We’re drawn to the familiar, to what’s comfortable. We’re naturally averse to change. But if we want to change the game for our clients, products, services and even ourselves, we’ve got to constantly find stimulation from a place we don’t natively have inside. The people I’m lucky enough to have in my life have made me a much better human being and a hell of a lot smarter.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people make a great living out of keeping the wheels turning. But if you want a whole new way of getting around, you’re going to have to re-think a few things…

Photo credit: Timothy K Hamilton, with thanks to Flickr Storm.

I was having a chat this morning with Simon Chen, and those readers who’ve been with me a while know I can’t say enough good things about the man – even if he doesn’t get Twitter yet. One thing we were talking about was having a large email database vs. a smaller database that was actively engaged by your offering.

I was reminded of this while reading Doc Searl’s blog just now, him talking about a piece Chris Anderson (editor at Wired) wrote on recognising a real if untraceable cost that stems from subscription cards placed in magazines:

They fall out of magazines when you pick them up, forcing you to bend over to retrieve them and find a trash can in which to throw them away. This is a real negative cost that hurts our relationship with our readers, but because we can’t measure it directly, it’s an externality and thus mispriced at zero in the economics of the magazine industry.

I find it particularly ironic blogging about this given I’ve just started writing for a magazine which, like most other publications on the planet employs just such a method for adding subscribers. The example Chris gives above is admittedly minor, but flows on to a brilliant presentation from David Armano on micro-interactions.

In his presentation David argues brands have moved from dictating perception to being the sum of their interactions. In other words, you can no longer tell people how to perceive your work, you will be judged on actions and not words.

So what’s the follow on from subscription cards being removed from magazines? Do publishers and editors really think their offering is valid enough to drag people to a news stand once a month? Do they feel the caliber of their contributors (and I’m one of them) is great enough to make that happen?

For a lesson in micro-interactions outside of a marketing space, read this article from Fast Company on the future of TV shows and the branding around them. If there’s anyone who understands micro-interactions, its these guys.

In case you haven’t heard, Coldplay’s new single is available for free download from their website as of right now (actually as of about an hour ago). I’d share my thoughts, but the email they’re *apparently* sending doesn’t seem to be coming through…

ANYWAY, the song is called Violet Hill. A 7″ version will be available with this week’s NME, but rumour has it there are no plans to release it as a paid-for single. This comes on the back of recent efforts by Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails to innovate in the distribution of (and subsequent financial compensation for)
their music.

Look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts – as well as my own if the email ever arrives…=]