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This is a bit of an admin post (1, 2, 3 – “Boooooooring!!!”). Marketing Magazine have added RSS feeds to their site for particular bloggers (including me). So, if you’d like to subscribe to my posts on Marketing Magazine you can now do so.

Additionally if you don’t subscribe to this site currently but would like to, please go right ahead! It is free, easy and guaranteed to do many ill-defined and vague things.

Marketing Magazine has just broken a story on Net-X’s Melbourne office being closed. The company, whose headquarters are in Sydney, was bought last year by CHE (part of BBDO) was acquired as part of a move by Clemenger in Sydney to quickly add a digital offering to their services. Unfortunately for the Melbourne office, Clemenger here already had a digital arm, Blue, and thus Net-X Melbourne was left to languish with no clear directive.

It looks to be another example of a worrying condition now known globally as IGW, or Integration Gone Wrong. The formula’s pretty simple:

  1. Large agency realises it needs digital on its rate card.
  2. Large agency is confounded by the amazing culture at independent digital agency – all these people appear to care about what they do, and even enjoy their work. Strange.
  3. Large agency buys independent digital agency and promises not to change the culture.
  4. Large agency then imposes elephantine corporate structure and converts full service digital agency into soul-crushing banner ad sweat shop.
  5. The culture that made the independent digital agency so attractive is smothered like a cashed-up pensioner with a pillow, talent at the agency leave, and the agency eventually dies.

This process seems to be the model for integration adopted by many large agencies, but clearly it’s poisonous.

In other words…
Clusterfuck accomplished

Image courtesy of We The People, with thanks to compfight.

A blue freeway...get it?A couple weeks ago Bluefreeway stock resumed trading. Actually that’s a bit misleading, as “trade” implies both selling and buying in fairly equal measure, and with 6 million shares hitting the market at once thanks to Macquarie bailing out, nobody was going to scoop up that much stock.

Last week Simon Chen caught up with Rick Webb, one of the founders of Bluefreeway. The chat was completely off the record, though Simon is of the opinion now that the other side of the story needs to be told.

As of Friday the share price sat just above 7 cents, which makes it worth less than a third of its former value when the stock was initially suspended from trading so auditors could figure out how deep the rabbit hole went. There are new management initiatives being put in place to try and save the company, but when they include companies buying back their own equity at the original sell price, you have to wonder how long this flight of fancy will continue to run.

Image courtesy of kathycsus, with thanks to compfight.

Ok I made that up. This blog though was actually ranked #17 in a top 50 list of Australian marketing blogs.

Compiled by Julian Cole of Adspace Pioneers fame, he has posted the list on his blog as well as having it featured in the August edition of Marketing Magazine (which I also contribute to). Thanks to Julian for the hat tip, I’ll do my best to live up to it.

1 Banner Blog 6 6 8 6 8 9 43
2 Servant of Chaos 9 5 8 6 6 5 39
3 Duncans Tv Adland 6 5 7 6 8 5 37
4 Corporate Engagement 8 5 5 4 5 8 35
5 Better Communication Results 8 3 6 5 6 6 34
6 Young PR 7 5 6 5 5 6 34
7 Small Business Branding 7 3 0 8 7 8 33
8 Get Shouty 8 5 7 5 4 4 33
9 Personlize Media 8 5 4 4 4 5 30
10 Brand DNA 6 4 6 5 5 4 30
11 PR Disasters 7 5 4 4 4 5 29
12 6 5 5 4 4 3 27
13 1+1=3 5 3 5 4 5 5 27
14 Business of Marketing & Branding 6 5 6 4 4 1 26
15 Media Hunter 7 2 6 4 3 3 25
16 Australian SEO Blog 4 4 5 4 6 1 24
17 Wide Open Spaces 8 5 4 3 3 1 24
18 The Marketer 7 3 6 4 3 0 23
19 Three Billion 6 4 0 4 4 5 23
20 Innovation Feeder 6 5 3 3 3 2 22
21 Campaign Brief Blog 6 4 0 3 5 3 21
22 Eicolab 7 5 2 3 3 0 20
23 Adspace-Pioneers 7 3 3 3 2 2 20
24 Publicity Queen 8 4 1 1 2 3 19
25 Filtered 6 4 0 2 3 3 18
26 Marketing Easy 6 3 0 3 5 1 18
27 Hothouse 6 4 1 2 4 1 18
28 Mark Neely’s Blog – 3rd Horizon 7 3 2 2 3 0 17
29 Lexy Klain 7 3 1 3 2 1 17
30 Peter Sheahan Live 6 4 0 1 4 2 17
31 In my atmosphere 6 4 0 3 2 1 16
32 Elbow Grease 4 4 0 3 2 3 16
33 Falkayn 5 4 2 0 2 1 14
34 Pigs Don’t Fly 6 4 1 1 2 0 14
35 Diffusion 7 4 0 1 1 1 14
36 Australian Small Business 6 3 0 0 4 0 13
37 The Jason Recliner 4 4 1 2 1 1 13
38 The Wayfarer 7 3 0 1 1 1 13
39 Adnotes 6 3 1 1 2 0 13
40 Ryan’s View 6 4 0 2 1 0 13
41 B&T 7 4 0 1 1 0 13
42 Zero Budget Marketing Ideas 6 3 1 1 1 0 12
43 Blackwatch 5 3 0 0 0 3 11
44 Fresh Chat 5 2 1 1 1 1 11
45 Latin Ocean 5 2 1 1 1 1 11
46 Arrow Internet SEO 7 2 0 0 1 1 11
47 The Sticky Report 7 0 1 2 0 0 10
48 Naked Communications-The Flasher 8 0 0 1 0 1 10
49 Pixel Paddock 5 1 0 1 0 1 8
50 Send up a larger room 7 0 0 1 0 0 8

Hunter S. ThompsonOne of the joys of now being a columnist is having the editor of the magazine call up and berate you for over-due pieces. Picture any actor who has played a journalist (I’m thinking Clooney personally) called by his very attractive but somewhat neurotic editor who has told he has until the end of the day to get his story in or he is fired. Note how cool he plays it, how he has arranged to discuss his column over dinner with her (and probably breakfast too). Got that image in your head?

Right. My life is nothing like that.

Still, I was called today because my latest piece was over-due. I said I had nothing to say, she said not to worry, that I could write about butter and it would be interesting.

So that’s what I did. Spurred on by the recent hoopla surrounding their blocking Google’s Friend Connect, I explain why butter is a crock, why Facebook is butter, and why, for me, it starts to spell the end of this media darling.

…trying to control what people do with (their own information) is the digital equivalent of telling rain which way to fall in a thunderstorm. Facebook eschewed a bunch of good stuff to get to where it is, using ingredients that were good for a whole lot of other, better, products and services. Now they’re desperately trying to maintain hold on user data, under the daft assumption it was somehow theirs to play with in the first place.

It’s already been suggested I’m wrong on this, I’m not so sure…

Image courtesy of bezmyaso, with thanks to Flickr Storm.

I am guilty of opening far more tabs in Firefox than is perhaps advised, I just got to one opened earlier this week. The page loaded is a post from Laurel Papworth taking to task a piece penned by Douglas A. McIntyre titled “Web 2.0 is a bust“. By that, he means his ill-informed view of how it should operate.

Laurel makes a few good points in her piece, it is definitely worth checking out. It also echoes my own thoughts from back in February, where I said the following:

Ever see teenagers at a shopping centre, hanging out and not buying anything? Look for this behaviour to continue (funnily enough). Marketers looking to capture that intention are going about it in the wrong capacity. Yes, a person is a fan of the TV show Lost. Yes, you have that on DVD and you can sell it to them. No, they do not want to buy that now. They want to buy it when they want to watch it, so you had better make sure you know enough about your audience to be in the right place at the right time.

No sooner am I cracking jokes about not following Scoble than I clock an interesting breakdown of rumours swirling regarding Microsoft taking search off of Yahoo!’s hands and buying Facebook at the same time for somewhere between $15 & $20 billion. Robert is running around saying the sky will fall if this happens, I say you’ll see first an uproar and then an exodus from Facebook, the kind of thing that will make the hassles with the news feed and Beacon look like the good ol’ days.

I’ll be leading the charge.

*Update* David J Hinson hit me up on Twitter suggesting I may be over-reacting a touch. Me? Noooooo…*ahem* I seriously value the ability of the web to keep moving towards a completely open future, and my instinct says a deal between MS and Facebook would not take is closer. I have nothing against Microsoft (hi to Tom and Adam at Redmond, we miss you guys), but as Andy Grove once said, only the paranoid survive.

Bluefreeway requested and received a voluntary suspension from trading today. Their shares had been on hold since last Friday after a request for a temporary trading halt was approved Monday. The halt was due to expire this morning, the shares have now been suspended with no date attached to it.

In a letter to the ASX this morning, Bluefreeway said it needed to undertake further investigations due to restructuring efforts in order to make an announcement on its expected revenue for the financial year ending June 30, 2008. Stating it would take up to two weeks to conclude investigations, the company expects the subsequent announcement to end the suspension.

What all this means is anyone’s guess, though after the spate of resignations they’ve experienced this year and Mitchells stepping away from buy-out talks, how deep the rabbit hole goes is anyone’s guess.

I recently resigned from my role as Digital Manager at Hippo Jobs, an Australian start-up focussed on the online job space. I’ve learnt so much in my time there it isn’t possible to distill it into one or even multiple blog posts, I can say though it did hammer home a simple truth I went in with, and that’s in a start-up, everyone needs to be 100% on board.

One of the first things that struck me about Hippo was its development was outsourced. Call me old-school in this regard, but while I’m a big fan of outsourcing, your ability to innovate on your core offering should never be in the hands of another company. One of my prime objectives from day dot was to get a team established in house that could lead the next phase of development for the company, and thankfully we’ve begun that process, taking Hippo to a place where its ongoing development is sustainable. When you place your ability to be exceptional in the hands of someone who values that less than you do, you set yourself up for a world of hurt.

Something I completely underestimated was how hard it would be to bring traditional media types around to thinking about digital media in a manner that went beyond headline grabbers like Myspace and Facebook. Talking to friends at larger organisations, it seems more generational than anything else, and only makes me wonder what people will be doing 15 or 20 years from now that I just will not understand. I hope I’ll have the presence of mind to recognise it when it happens and embrace the change that will be so very necessary, but a bunch of smart people who should know better don’t seem to be able to, and that gives me pause for thought. Thankfully in DMG Hippo now has a partner with a breadth of knowledge about traditional media, and some incredibly savvy digital people to boot.

I’m pretty close to signing a deal for my next move, one that unfortunately doesn’t give me the five-album deal I’d like, but never the less ensures I stay surrounded by exceptionally smart folk who will hopefully inform my thinking on ways I can simply play music and not have to worry about the major labels.

For the rest of this month though, I’m committed to helping Hippo shore up its position as the leading job site for Generation Y – of which I call myself a proud member. It remains as good an idea as the day I joined, and with or without my presence can’t help but go from strength to strength. Thanks to the people who have informed the conversation around this space in months past, I will continue to watch as Hippo implements the ideas brought forth over the past year, and with a little luck leaves everyone else in its wake.

Beleaguered digital group Bluefreeway today requested a trading halt, its shares having sat at 24 cents since the ASX closed last Friday. The ASX then suspended shares and issued an announcement saying they would remain on halt until Wednesday morning or until the company issued an announcement on its expected earnings for the financial year ending June 30th, 2008, whichever came sooner.

Last month Mitchell Media confirmed speculation it had been looking to buy the group of companies but pulled out after “preliminary” conversations. Bluefreeway had previously told the Australian Stock Exchange it had entered due diligence with a single entity This came on the back of CEO Richard Webb finally stepping away from the group of companies he helped found the month prior.

It has been an extraordinarily unfortunate year for the group, one that shows no signs of improving. The company had already warned markets on the costs of funding the redundancies currently being served to select employees, but we’ll know in the next 36 hours where the company actually stands.

For those needing a primer on the Bluefreeway so far this year