Generation X was … asked how to operate the remote/TV/Apple IIc/whatever

Generations I had lunch.  Not exactly Earth shattering, I know.  I had lunch and got in a conversation with the waiter who was 26, married, with dog, family in town for the holidays.  Difficulty dealing with Dad visiting wanting to be "a friend" but also a father.

The conversation progressed into generational differencesGeneration X and generation Y are the first generation where knowledge went backwards.  This is not my concept, it comes from the book Generations.  The concept is that kids growing up in the 50s got information from their parents.  Knowledge went from older to younger.  Trends might differ, but the overall knowledge was held by the elders and passed to the youngers.  With X, again from the book, for the FIRST time knowledge went backwards between generations.

Generation X was called from their rooms, into the living room, asked how to operate the remote/TV/Apple IIc/whatever.  We answered the questions. We were dismissed.  "Thanks" and "Please go away now."  This of course creates a transactional attitude on the part of the younger.  "You call me in to answer questions, so what is in it for me?" or "I answered your question, so can I borrow the car?".  You have to admit this is reasonable.  But I am an Xer so you might not agree, but I assure you, it IS reasonable.

Yet, reasonable or not, a Gen X, who has been conditioned, meets a brand that is all about themselves and you have a train wreck (DISCLOSURE: I hate Capital One).  The brand is talking to them like a "Boomer", talking down, and that doesn’t play.  At all.  Not transactional never mind conversational.

Too much of a topic for a single post, but Boomers, Xers, Millenials must all be communicated with on THEIR terms.  Step 1 is to acknowledge the difference.

ICANN considering single letter domain names

ICANN is considering single letter domain names.  No mention on the ICANN site yet of course.

I was doing research on this tonight to prepare for an interview.  Clearly ICANN is a topic that relates to branding, search engines and technology so I try to keep abreast of the latest.  But I found that research from Google, despite its all powerful status, was not as good for the LATEST information as Technorati.

In Google’s defense, the topic I was looking for was three (3) hours old.  Three hours.  Freshbot can’t keep up.  Technorati did get me to the correct URL for the latest information, or gossip even, on single letter domain namesThat was a cool success.  Google 0, Technorati 1.

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service

From the Entireweb Newsletter and everyone else, Google is testing click-to-call with their adwords advertising.  This makes sense as a logical next step.  But the local telcos can’t be excited about google offering free telephone connections in lieu of 1-800 toll-to-the-advertiser calls.

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service that lets people speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.

A Web surfer can click a phone icon adjacent to an ad, enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google’s service calls the advertiser’s phone number and when the Web surfer picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she hears ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected, according to a Google Click-to-Call frequently-asked-questions page..

and the competition?

In August, Microsoft said it had purchased Teleo, an Internet calling company with the potential to allow MSN to offer click-to-call capabilities.

From a public relations perspective, can we run google advertisements that generate phone calls to OTHER people?  How do you feel about x-y-z issue?  Call your congressman today. or similar?  Perhaps the prank phone call from the days of our youth is back?  Of course there is an entire generation that never had the joy of calling bowling alleys with questions about 10 pound balls …. nevermind.

Googlemanu On a more exciting note, search engine journal is reporting that Google or Yahoo may be Manchester United’s New Sponsor!  Now that would be cool and would certainly help introduce "football" to the US even more than it already is.  Google Video is apparently already a pretty big fan of Manchester.

Kodak – “keep me, protect me, share me, and I will live forever.”

KodakkeepmeBrilliant advertising by Kodak.  Great Creative.  Crappy Search Engine Optimization.  That’s why you are reading this post.  One more reason you should not confuse the work with the work product.

Let’s start with the awesome Kodak advertising creative.  Stay with me, I’ll explain why it is awesome… So I just saw a Kodak commercial that was brand-worthy, and what I recall from one viewing (no tivo yet, sorry) is:

the pictures are saying "keep me, protect me, share me, and I will live forever."


Brilliant brand strategy.  That is worth repeating "keep me, protect me, share me, and I will live Kodakhomepage forever".  That is the brilliant branding part.  They are NOT talking about how Kodak is different – we wouldn’t buy it anyway.  Kodak was in denial for how long?  Now they are over it, and thank heaven they are promoting the category as opposed to a particular product.  That is branding.  I am hooked.  I want someone to think about pictures of my family in that context.  "keep me – protect me – share me – and I will live forever" – just awesome stuff.

To harp on the divergence concept (I always do that with the current book I am reading, sorry) they are focused on accepting the new branch of the tree and growing.  Now, if the ad agency (who is it?  will we know before next year’s Addys?) would please PLEASE post the text of the advertisement on the web site so your google search query would go there instead of here….. 

To my comment about not confusing your work with your work product, what I am referring to is the desire of creatives to write ABOUT their ads in the same tone as the advertisement itself.  This is stupid.  To describe great advertising creative with the same funny text AS the creative, which always excludes the keywords, is stupid.  The kodak advertisement I am describing never mentions digital camera.  Great creative.  Crappy Search Engine Optimization.  That is a problem if you are trying to sell cameras online.  Yes keep the creative, but also post it to your site with a realistic description in freakin’ English that lists the product and brand names.

Free tip – run this keyword density analyzer on your advertising copy.  It will help.

U2 as a multimillion-dollar, multinational media company

Great write up on U2 and their marketing operation in the NYT today.  Somehow U2 manages to be a corporation, advertise with Apple which is completely proprietary, and yet have a glow of being open, honest, young and progressive.  That is a challenging brand position to reside in, and hats are off to their management and to the band/brand itself.

Quote from the NYT article on U2.

U2cd"We always said it would be pathetic to be good at the music and bad at the business," said Paul McGuinness, the band’s manager since the beginning. And while U2 hasn’t become a Harvard Business School case study (at least not yet) it offers an object lesson in how media can connect with their customers.

Speaking on advertising on the web I frequently get questions like "that is not what Nike does" and I have to keep reminding folks that YOU ARE NOT NIKE!  So while I am in awe of U2 and what they have accomplished in music, in business, and in philanthropy, I would caution new artists to remind themselves YOU ARE NOT U2.  New bands have to be a new brand and build on the latest in advertising evolution.

Public Relations – blogging authentically with your customers

A public relations and crisis communications post worth the read at On the AOL Journals advertising mini-brouhaha.

Public relations has changed in a big way over the past two years. Sure, you still need a PR department, but the most important thing is to have your executives and product managers blogging authentically with your customers.

Here is the outline, and it is truly something out of a textbook with frankness, humility, actionable lessons.  Job well done on the post at least, although turning ads loose without warning isn’t a way to endear the public.

Here is the top level summary, and it is a well articulated PR post

  1. Huge disclaimer
  2. What happened
  3. Background
  4. What we did wrong
  5. What we did right
  6. What should we do next
  7. Reader Comments

He even has the class to discuss Mena’s success with SixApart crisis/honest communication.  As a typepad user, I appreciate that.

A9 Block by Block Photos – Maybe Storefront Advertising IS the “in thing”

A9blockbyblockviewScobelizer points out that A9 has block by block photos on their A9 mapping service.  Several large cities are already done, including Houston.  But surely the photos will be updated and this brings up an interesting cheesy marketing opportunity.  What exact DATE AND TIME are the photos taken in your city?

If you know WHEN they are going to take the photos, isn’t that the day to be sure your signs are lit up so they show up in the photo for permanent street level marketing?  Or to have a performance artists in front of your theater?  The photos I saw don’t seem to care about image.  Yes Houston is always under construction but even given that I don’t think we got a fair shake based on the construction in our downtown snapshot-in-time.

What about laser and/or infrared signs that blare in photographs but get past the city’s sign ordinances being invisible to the naked eye?  Perhaps draw an image on the road with lasers that only shows up in photos?  Tell me Red Bull wouldn’t jump on the opportunity?

As always, timing is everything.  I look forward to geospacial signage soon.

Social Software, or Web 2.0, requires changed behavior from the organization

Houstontheaterdistrictmax We recently launched a site for the Houston Theater District (awesome design Tim!).  In a meeting with them on Wednesday we talked about the reality of a content driven search engine friendly web site with distributed authors.  It not only gets a different reaction from the public, but it also requires changed behavior from the organization itself.  A brochure becomes a vehicle to provide content, to serve the public. 

The Houston Theater District gets this, which is precisely why I am highlighting them, but I have seen many clients that do not get this fundamental shift in their way of thinking.  It is more cultural than marketing, more servant than arrogance, and certainly more demanding than static sites.

But this is a very old lesson.  In the article below on Ivy Lee, arguably the father of public relations, the author highlights that Lee sought to actually change the behavior of John D. Rockefeller.  I don’t imagine it was easy, but it was the right thing to do.

Ivylee Lee even prefigured the mutual satisfaction phase.

At a time when other cutting edge (Public Relations) practitioners were trying to explain their clients’ activities in ways that were palatable to their publics, Lee was realizing some things just couldn’t be explained in a palatable yet honest way.

When Lee went to work for the Rockefeller family, John D. Rockefeller had a long and well-deserved reputation as a robber baron because he was one. He and several other well-known tycoons had achieved success and wealth by being ruthless, profit-driven businessmen whose actions were often harsh, arrogant, and uncaring. Some of what they did could be explained away, but much of it was beyond any hope of gift-wrapping. The public would never approve of such behavior.

Faced with this realization, Lee came up with a suggestion that was totally contrary to the robber barons’ prevailing philosophy of the public be damned. He concluded that changing Rockefeller’s behavior — or at least his companies’ actions — might be the best public relations of all. Initially, Rockefeller resisted, but Lee’s persistence and persuasiveness wore him down.

Instead of limiting his role to writing press releases and public statements and arranging special appearances for Rockefeller, Lee was soon advising Rockefeller on the public relations advantages of a broad range of business decisions and management policy that included mechanisms to redress workers’ grievances, the selection of new plant sites, setting employee wages and working conditions, and negotiating contracts with suppliers and vendors. In many ways this presaged the interactive adjustment and mutual satisfaction approaches to public relations that weren’t fully articulated until 70 years later.

(emphasis added by me) .. Finish the article on Ivy Lee here.

Picture of Ivy Lee and his papers link. is NOT web 2.0 compliant, but neither is Google Maps or

Web20flickrevalHaving lived through the dot-com-dot-bomb with great consternation and angst ("should I pitch VC and sell my soul?") I have found a few of those similar feelings recently regarding the hype about web 2.0.  So finally someone answered my questions by providing a validator. 

Being the inquiring soul that I am, the first site that I just HAD to validate was flickr.  Here are the results for a web 2.0 validation of

The score for is 3 out of 18

  • Is in public beta?  No
  • Uses the prefix "meta" or "micro"?  No
  • Is Shadows-aware ?  No
  • Uses Cascading Style Sheets?  Yes!
  • Refers to mash-ups ?  No
  • Appears to be web 3.0 ?  Yes!
  • Attempts to be XHTML Strict ?  No
  • Uses Google Maps API?  No
  • Appears to use AJAX ?  No
  • Appears to be built using Ruby on Rails ?  No
  • Refers to Flickr ?  Yes!
  • Refers to VCs ?  No
  • Mentions Cool Words ?  No
  • Has prototype.js ?  No
  • Refers to web2.0validator ?  No
  • Mentions RDF and the Semantic Web?  No
  • Uses microformats ?  No
  • Actually mentions Web 2.0 ?  No

So there you have it folks (<grin>) is NOT web 2.0 compliant.  Now to test  3 out of 20 with these being the three "yes" votes.

  • Uses Cascading Style Sheets?  Yes!
  • Uses the prefix "meta" or "micro"?  Yes!
  • Appears to be web 3.0 ?  Yes! scored 1 out of 20, so clearly I need to get with the team to add a few more 2.0 references.  Hee hee.

For more angst on the difference between social software and web 2.0 please click that link.

Google brand story from google blog

xooglers Doug Edwards post on marketing at google via google blog.  Worth the read and well written.

Here’s your desk. Now start doing marketing stuff.

So, now I was Google’s online brand manager. What exactly did that mean? I didn’t have a clue, and evidently no one else did either. It was as if some corporate biological alarm clock had gone off: "You know, we’re at that point where we need to have somebody to do all that stuff that’s not engineering. Let’s get us some of them marketing folks. And since the world is divided between online and offline, we’ll get one of each."

Example excerpt (below) that provides insight into Google HR policies – smart humans are like stem cells that can adjust to new requirements and are less prone to keeping old functions going when they are no longer needed.

Stanfordstemcells To understand Google’s hiring policies and organizational structure, it helps to think of employees as cells within the corporate corpus. It’s useful to have cells that serve specific functions when the need arises, but it’s inefficient to have those cells hanging around sucking energy from the rest of the organism if their singular function is no longer required. Better to have cells that can adapt themselves to any situation, solve the problem and then move on to the next issue. Yeah, we’re talking about stem cells.

(Image from

and the close is brilliant

In a company of 60 people with millions of customers and a growth curve like, well, like Google, there wasn’t room for specialists or walls around a person’s role. Your job was whatever the day demanded and if you needed to learn HTML or Swahili to do it, that was your job, too.

It is one post that covers two topics of interest to me, the first being marketing and branding, and the second being Google and their brand story.  In fact probably what is so compelling about the post is the story nature of it.  We ALL love a good story.  Please write a book.

Writely and Numsum, web based word processor and spreadsheet

This is Thanksgiving in the US.  I had family over.  And I have some great clients and some of my family asked if "we had an Apple Pie like the one we had last year".  The answer is no.  Technically I replied with a story, and the story goes like this. 

A client of ours used Excel to create a spreadsheet to manage their holiday gift lists.  You know the type, who gets a card, who gets a pie, who gets coal and who is on the short list to turn over to the ninja hit squad.  I am honestly not sure where we were on the list last year, but we received a wonderful applie pie. 

We did NOT receive a pie this year, and based on a conversation last spring I think I know why.  They created a spreadsheet of who gets the pies.  Hid the rows for everyone who does NOT get a pie and emailed a spreadsheet from Excel that showed 50 or so names.  The company that received it uses an old PC with Microsoft Words.  MS Works does not apparently support hidden rows so they sent pies to 300 odd people, basically EVERYONE on the list.

In the spirit of "prevent that problem from happening" I recommend two more must check out products for social collaboration.

1) Writely – web based word processing using just a browser with collaboration functionality.

2) Numsum – web based spreadsheet application.

Check them out.  Both writely and numsum are potentially significant threats to Microsoft even with the new release of Office coming out.

Visualization of Search – Sphere Explorer

SphereVisualization ideas Via this post on Sphere on digg about Sphere software for visualization of search.  While this is a different problem from visualization of social software or public relations campaigns, it is tangential and may help.

Visit the Sphere Explorer site here and be sure to check out the 3-d Screen shots of search results.

Still definitely not as cool as vizster visualization for social software, but on a different axis this is very interesting.

And on an unrelated but related note, be sure to check out the web20workgroup site for the latest hype on Web 2.0.  There just might be some truth in there.

Analytics Biz Challenged by Google

Bad Challenging news in the web analytics industry.  Happy Thanksgiving guys!

Web Stats Analysis companies like WebSideStory, Omniture, WebTends and Coremetrics Inc. charge customers thousands of dollars for their analysis tools that tell Web marketers how well visitors like their site design, products, promotions and advertisements.

But the future is not so bright for these Web site traffic analytics companies with the entry of Google. They may soon find themselves under pressure to slash their fees if they can’t demonstrate that they offer premium tracking services that are far superior to what Google offers.

Speaking of visualization of web analytics – Visitorville 3D

Vv3dinsidepartysmallFrom an email link from Lauren to I visited VisitorVille web statistics for the first time.  Brilliant.  Not sure how it would scale, but what a cool refreshing new look at understanding social patterns.

What it appears to do well is show you the progression over time of traffic.  What is still missing apparently is an easy method of drawing conclusions about motives based on large amounts of aggregate data without walking through every site path.  That problem I will leave to the Web Analytics Association (disclosure: WAA is a Tendenci client of ours so I am biased.)

Newspaper industry reads writing on the wall – develops concern for google base

I mentioned google base and google trying to enter their own Chili while still being the judge of the chili contest (excuse the metaphor).  The NYT and Gawker are both commenting as well that while brands may be built on PR, the media empires still have some teeth and won’t like seeing their ad revenue dissappear.

The scariest development for the newspaper industry was the announcement (on that same Wednesday) that Google, the search engine company that wants to be the wallpaper of the future, was going live with Google Base, a user-generated database in which people can upload any old thing they feel like. Could be a poem about their cat, or their aunt’s recipe for cod fritters with corn relish.

Or, more ominously for the newspaper industry, people could start uploading advertisements to sell their ‘97 Toyota Corolla. Craigslist kicked off the trend, giving readers a free alternative to the local classified section. If Google Base accelerates the process, the journalism-school debates over anonymous sourcing and declining audience may end up seeming quaint.

(Several links added by me.)

I found the link through Gawker.  So, it now qualifies as juicy gossip although not quite as good as Kate Moss.

What it does mean is that google and blogs are literally going to put traditional newspapers out of business.  Not sort of, kind of, maybe, but literally the revenue stream for printed newspapers will be removed, already is being removed, and when that happens they are hosed.  Speaking as someone in Houston where the Chronicle with few exceptions is a reprint of AP Wire Services, I don’t know that I will miss it.

Google wants ALL of your data, not just the recent stuff

… when Google tries to host my content, how much you want to bet they’ll also change what I say by adding links to things they like (for example ads) and removing unnecssary (sic) links (for example, the ones I put there). … Or, perhaps my site won’t be included at all, by some mysterious algorithm (like Google News) not deemed worthy of inclusion.

(link added by me) and

Haven’t sites been publishing RSS feeds for years? Yes, but those feeds only included recent items. Google wants ALL of our data.

Google will probably come to their senses, but if ever anyone believed trust wasn’t a big part of branding, google may, or may not, be proving a point in the next year.

Gillmor’s Attention and “Color Coding of Interesting Actions in Social Software”

On my to-do list is to get Steve Gillmor’s attention and explain that we already have a complete method of numbering and color coding meta data for social software.  And that we want to help and share it if others will.  Call it a social contract, but there IS value in there that can be used for good.

At last year’s eTech 2005 I presented a birds of a feather (BOF) session called “Color Coding of Interesting Actions in Social Software“.  I think I had at least four, maybe five people in attendance.  Basically I felt like a geek among geeks which is somewhat frustrating.

Interesting Actions Analytics
Interesting Actions Analytics by Ed Schipul

By visualization of interesting actions in social software, please note that we are NOT trying to reinvent Vizster, rather we are looking for patterns of actions and attention that relate to society.  Step 1 is TRUST which is what AttentionTrust is working towards.  I like anyone who is willing to write the word ethics or integrity in a sentence.  From there, with some stated ethics we can probably help.  The net result should be something that looks like a GIS graphic but that indicates what people are paying attention to.

It is interesting to note that at eTech I had a brief exchange with some influential folks and I was trying to explain the concept of standardized methods of recording things like article adds, and the response was “but why would anyone share that data?”  And then Steve Gillmor comes along, caustic, rough around the edges to say the least, and he might actually get a level of cooperation on sharing the data.  Maybe this was a message that needed a hammer to initially get attention.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 7.13.08 PM

Fotolia – Social Software Concepts utilized for Digital Photography Pricing and Sales

Social Software as a Stock Photography Sales Gimmick?

Fotoliaartistprofile Fotolia: social marketplace for royalty free stock images.
Posted Nov 11, 2005, 10:43 AM ET by Andrew Barrow

Fotolia was launched yesterday as the first Social Marketplace for Digital Images.

Already the numbers look impressive

135238 Images
10754 Members
1057 Free images
1754  Photos in queue
1 credit  £0.57

From viewing the site however the "social marketplace" reference refers to: 

Collaborative features of the website include, photographer and designer forums, image feedback from peers, the ability to add descriptive tags to every image, and a photography and design news web blog.