BRANDS
IN
NETWORKS
An e-book by Antony Mayfield
from iCrossing

V 1.0 UPDATED 09.09.08

IMAGE: WEB
BY: KLIVERAP
WWW.SXC.HU/...
excerpt
                                                                                        2




  In his book on com...
The physicists and mathematicians were shocked by the models that the
   economists were using to develop their ideas.

  ...
4
                                                             CONTENTS                            4>
                    ...
“It is difficult,
                  indeed dangerous, to
              underestimate the huge
              changes this re...
INTRODUCTION


    Here is what we believe: the phenomenon of social media
    changes everything. Since mass marketing ha...
THE REVOLUTION


    “It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate
    the huge changes this revolution will bring o...
THE NATURE OF THE REVOLUTION
But the revolution isn’t about the numbers, even though the scale of the changes in
the way t...
MEANS OF PRODUCTION


    Any one of the 1.4 billion of us who is connected to the web
    can create content. From basic,...
MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION


    Just as important as the means of production is the way
    that the web has changed the means...
FROM CHANNELS TO NETWORKS


    It’s helpful to think of the pre-web media world as being one that
    was structured as c...
OPEN NETWORKS
On the web, the dominant model
for media is one of open networks.
As we have said, in these
networks, anyone...
WHAT HAS REALLY CHANGED?


    We may be living through a media revolution, but we still
    have day jobs to be getting o...
SP E E D
Information, news, fads, gossip: everything moves faster on the web than it did in the
offline world.

Online netw...
INTERACTION

On the web, interaction comes as standard. Even if a news site or brand homepage
lacks a comments section or ...
STABILITY IS REPLACED BY COMPLEXITY




                        “...to their eyes, economics
                        was a...
In his book on complexity theory and economics, The Origin of Wealth,
Eric Beinhocker tells a story about a conference to ...
“Google is not a search engine.
                                                                                          ...
UNDERSTANDING NETWORKS


    We have a new model for media then: networks.
    And what do we know about them? Not a lot, ...
“SEEING” NETWORKS LIKE GOOGLE DOES
The web is the most complex and vast thing that people have ever created, and there
is ...
Connected to them are other sites discussing the subject or those related to it, and
further out – with less reputation – ...
NOT A CLOUD

       If you’ve ever worked with someone creating an IT network or web solution, the
       chances are you’...
MAPPING NETWORKS
Let’s get some terminology out of the way. When we are talking about networks
we are talking about items,...
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN NETWORKS


    So, big-picture thinking and theory are useful for setting
    the context for mark...
HOW DO YOU BECOME (AND STAY) PROMINENT IN A NETWORK?
Prominence in networks is achieved by earning attention.

Other nodes...
THE OPPOSITE OF USEFUL IS...
It has been said that censorship is treated as damage by the web15, and the network
routes ar...
“Ask not what your
                    network can do for you,                                         27

               ...
THE THREE FUNDAMENTALS OF BRANDS IN NETWORKS


    The social media and strategy teams at iCrossing have
    come to trust...
Should we look at building a social network? Well, what we need to establish is
whether there is a genuine need for one. I...
RE-ENGINEERING BRAND MARKETING


    We are all involved in re-evaluating how marketing works in
    order that it can ada...
A lot of the language of
                                                                                    channel media...
DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY: INSPIRATIONS AND MODELS


    With no reference points, no precedents for the emerging
    models...
Most striking is the “media wall”, the vast bank of screens that hangs over the
newsroom. The largest – four times the siz...
The Telegraph, then, is
                       a media organisation
                      fighting for its place in
       ...
When we think about attention markets, we should ask; who are our competitors?
They may be different from the people we co...
Fail fast: A mantra of software development in web 2.0 firms, fail fast is the
companion phrase of “release early, release ...
Out of necessity it developed an approach to the manufacturing process that made
more of less, and that was obsessed with ...
WWGD (WHAT WOULD GOOGLE DO)?
Jeff Jarvis (yes him again), has blogged extensively, and will early next year publish
a book...
Almost chaos: A Fortune article called Chaos by Design explains how Google
works hard to avoid hierarchies, departmentalis...
CONCLUSION


    So there it is, a view of the world, or at least of the media
    and marketing corner of it, being chang...
ABOUT ICROSSING


    iCrossing, formerly known as Spannerworks in the UK, is a
    global digital marketing company that ...
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing
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Brands In Networks, An E Book From I Crossing

  1. 1. BRANDS IN NETWORKS An e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing V 1.0 UPDATED 09.09.08 IMAGE: WEB BY: KLIVERAP WWW.SXC.HU/PROFILE/KLIVERAP > icrossing.co.uk/ebooks >
  2. 2. excerpt 2 In his book on complexity theory and economics, The Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker tells a story about a conference to exchange ideas between leaders in physics, mathematics and economics. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  3. 3. The physicists and mathematicians were shocked by the models that the economists were using to develop their ideas. “...to their eyes, economics was a throwback to another era. One of the participants at the meeting later commented that looking at economics reminded him of his recent trip to Cuba. As he described it, in Cuba, you enter a place that has been almost completely shut off from the Western world for over forty years by the US trade embargo. The streets are full of Packard and DeSoto automobiles from the 1950s and relatively few cars of more recent vintage. He noted that one had to admire the ingenuity of the Cubans for keeping these cars running for so long on salvaged parts and the odd piece of Soviet tractor. For the physicists, much of what they saw in economics had been locked in its own intellectual embargo, out of touch with several decades of scientific progress, but meanwhile ingeniously bending, stretching, and updating its theories to keep them running.” Economists had been stuck in ways of thinking that glossed over the true complexity of the world. They treated everyone as a rational player, and marketplaces as complex but explainable and predictable mechanisms that could be managed. It is early days for media and communications on the web – we are only a couple of decades in, give or take. If a native digital strategy is to emerge, as opposed to imported values, models and thinking from the age of channel media, we need to embrace the complexity. That means reaching out for new analogies, for the experiences and models of people – ecologists, financial traders, lean 3 manufacturers – who have succeeded in developing models that make sense of complexity and allow them to develop successful strategies. Complexity is daunting because we are used to squeezing reality into stable, understandable models. Even with a market segmentation that breaks down “consumers” into hundreds of groups, we’re still oversimplifying the case. We usually end up making advertising and other planning decisions modelled on reaching people via single websites with high traffic. We ignore the reality that people don’t fire up their web browsers and spend their time on MSN or the Guardian accessing content and absorbing the advertising and PR messages they find there. Search engines and social media have set our attention free, allowing us to move swiftly through a network of experiences and information that add up to the media we want. Consumers and audiences aren’t appropriate terms here. They are us. And we’re all – brands, media, governments and private citizens – players in the great networks of the web. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  4. 4. 4 CONTENTS 4> INTRODUCTION 6> THE REVOLUTION 7> MEANS OF PRODUCTION 9> MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION 10 > FROM CHANNELS TO NETWORKS 11 > WHAT HAS REALLY CHANGED? 13 > UNDERSTANDING NETWORKS 19 > HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN NETWORKS 24 > THE THREE FUNDAMENTALS OF BRANDS IN NETWORK 28 > RE-ENGINEERING BRAND MARKETING 30 > DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY: INSPIRATIONS AND MODELS 32 > CONCLUSION 40 > ABOUT ICROSSING 41 > ABOUT THE AUTHOR 42 > CREATIVE COMMONS COPYRIGHT 43 > GLOSSARY 44 > RECOMMENDED READING 47 > Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  5. 5. “It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution Rupert Murdoch, will bring or the power of Speech to The developing technologies to Worshipful Company of Stationers and build and destroy Newspaper Makers, March 2006 5 – not just companies but whole countries.” Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  6. 6. INTRODUCTION Here is what we believe: the phenomenon of social media changes everything. Since mass marketing has been built around mass media, it follows that sociality changes everything about how brands can be successful. This is true right now and will be even more so in years to come. This e-book is an attempt to share my thinking and ideas, and those of my colleagues at iCrossing, as we have worked to make sense of the significance of the web revolution and what it means for brands. It considers: • How media are being changed by online networks and our growing understanding of how they work • What brands and their partners need to do in order to be successful in a media world dominated by networks • The broad strategies and models that will be important in the next decade Predicting things is a dangerous game, but even if it is asking for trouble, let’s kick off this e-book with two predictions: 6 1. EXPECT TO SEE THE FIRST With people’s attention migrating to the web from traditional, MAJOR GLOBAL BRAND channel media (what Clay Shirky calls “Gutenberg era” media) APPOINT A DIGITAL AGENCY like television, print and radio, digital marketing will become the AS ITS AGENCY OF RECORD central discipline in marketing, informing all others – just as TV IN THE NEXT YEAR advertising was the dominant discipline in marketing during the last 50 or 60 years. 2. COMPLEXITY AND The web has not arrived, it is arriving. It will take decades RAPID CHANGE WILL for the full implications of the web to play out in society, DEFINE THE CAREER OF commerce, politics and the media. We don’t know if ANYONE IN MEDIA AND Facebook or Google will be major players in ten years’ time, MARKETING TODAY. but we can be sure that complexity and change in the media landscape will be as important for us then as it is now. The arguments for – and implications of – these two predictions are deserving of an e-book all of their own; but for now let us simply leave them as predictions. What this is not is a manual for social media marketing. I don’t think that that book can be written yet - things are moving too fast and the current signs are that they’ll continue to do so for some time. Antony Mayfield iCrossing Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  7. 7. THE REVOLUTION “It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy – not just companies but whole countries.” Rupert Murdoch, Speech to The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, March 2006 LIVING THROUGH A REVOLUTION One thing that has stuck with me from my days as a history undergraduate is just how little it is that people understand the implications and eventual outcomes of the revolutions they are living through at the time. Generals talk of the “fog of war”; how difficult it is to know what is going on in the wider battle when you are at a point in the middle of it. When we are thinking about the future of the web, of media and of marketing we would do well to acknowledge that our understanding is blurred by the “fog of revolution”. We do not know what the outcomes will be. The smartest people in the media – who are furiously innovating and adapting their organisations to survive and (hopefully) to be successful now that the web is defining their fortunes – acknowledge that they do not know where all of this will end. 7 We need to stand back from the day-to-day of the web and social media hurly burly, and to try and understand the fundamentals: what it all means and what strategies are likely to work. THE NUMBERS Let’s start by taking a look at some numbers that suggest something very profound is happening: 1.4 BILLION (one-fifth of the world’s population) people online in the world today.1 400 MILLION of them are members of social networks.2 There are OVER A TRILLION web pages indexed by Google.3 THERE ARE 112.8 MILLION blogs being tracked by specialist search engine Technorati.4 10 HOURS of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.5 In 2008, for the first time, THE VOLUME OF INTERNET TRAFFIC IN THE WORLD GENERATED BY CONSUMERS WILL OVERTAKE THAT CREATED BY CORPORATIONS and other organisations.6 Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 1 IDC, Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast, June 2008 2 MySpace, Never Ending Friending, April 2007 http://creative.myspace.com/groups/_ms/nef/images/40161_nef_onlinebook.pdf 3 Google’s count of the pages it indexes. 4 Technorati’s own statistic. http://technoratimedia.com/about/ 5 Google’s statistics, June 2008 6 Cisco Systems, Global IP Traffic Forecast and Methodology 2007 - 2012 http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2008/prod_061608b.html
  8. 8. THE NATURE OF THE REVOLUTION But the revolution isn’t about the numbers, even though the scale of the changes in the way that people communicate, create and collaborate make the mind boggle. After a certain point, except for the most mathematically gifted of us, numbers cease to provide us with meaning. It comes down to two changing fundamentals: THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION THE MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT The last time that these fundamentals shifted as profoundly as they do today, was in the 15th century, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Before that, content creation and distribution was both labour–intensive, and largely in the hands of either the state or the church. The revolution was swift, certainly by medieval standards, with printing technology spreading across Europe in a matter of decades. The invention of the printing press allowed Martin Luther’s easy-to-read attack on the Catholic Church’s indulgences racket, the 95 Theses, to be picked up by a network of printers across Europe. These could be considered the bloggers of their day, and their actions helped precipitate the birth of Protestantism. 8 But print’s impact on our world went far beyond the political and religious shockwaves of the Reformation. Over the following centuries the printed word changed how we thought, and how information was shared. Here are just a few of the ways that print changed the way we think: Survival of knowledge: texts survived in the medieval world because before one calf-skin edition of a book decayed beyond repair a monk would decide that it was important enough to spend three months of his life copying it out again. How many texts weren’t worth it? Glossaries: the idea of cross-referencing to other texts was partly about marketing – consider it the humble ancestor of Amazon’s “if you liked this book” approach. Accuracy and errata: texts in the pre-print world became less accurate with each edition. Every time they were copied, even by the most diligent of monks, some errors would be added. In the print world, more eyes saw the text, more errors were spotted and the next edition would have fewer typos and mistakes – steadily becoming more accurate. Reliable maps and anatomies: for the first time, a scholar in an Italian university could correspond with a counterpart in France about a map or a diagram and know that they were both looking at the same image. Similar, parallel effects are taking place today with the web. Critics say things like: “Google is making us stupid.” They fret about attention spans and the ability to write original essays, just as the Abbot of Spondheim worried about monks losing the benefits of copying out texts7. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 7 An excellent account of the printing press’s impact on the medieval world can be found in The Printing Revoution In Early Modern Europe, by Elizabeth L Eisenstein. It’s a great read for anyone trying to understand our own media revolution.
  9. 9. MEANS OF PRODUCTION Any one of the 1.4 billion of us who is connected to the web can create content. From basic, written-word web pages, via interactive blogs and forums with podcasts, through to videos and pictures and endless commentary from us, and from anyone else in the network. We can create content that can be viewed by any of the other web- connected people in the world. Starting a blog is about as complex as setting up a web-based email account, like Gmail. Two minutes after the idea that you would like to start a website called, say, “My Fabulous Cat”8, you can have that website live on the web using a blog publishing platform like Blogger or Wordpress – for free. 9 In fact, after the purchase of your computer and internet connection, you can do an awful lot of content creation at almost no extra cost to yourself. Contrast that with the offline equivalent. Sure you can create a word-processed, typed-up or even handwritten newsletter version of My Fabulous Cat, but then you’d have to pay about 5p (20 US cents) a page to get new copies of it produced. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 8 None exists to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing. If you run this site, I hope you don’t mind me using it as a hypothetical example
  10. 10. MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION Just as important as the means of production is the way that the web has changed the means of distribution. The proliferation and improvement of the means of distribution in the past few years has been profound. Let’s return to the hypothetical My Fabulous Cat newsletter/website comparison. The hurdles to the distribution of your lovingly-produced print newsletter are significant: you could start a subscription mailing list, leave copies at the local library or push it through the doors of people who you know like cats, maybe. But without a publishing deal or significant personal wealth to fund distribution it isn’t likely to reach many people. Have a look at all the ways in which for little or no cost you might go about distributing your latest articles, videos and photos from your My Fabulous Cat website: Email: You can send content or alerts to people’s inboxes. Email is already so embedded in our lives that it doesn’t feel like a revolutionary medium, but it is9. Search engines: People think of search engines simply as tools they use to go and find things. It’s worth thinking about that in reverse though – as they index My 10 Fabulous Cat articles, they are making them available to people who are suddenly interested in, say, you and your cat, or just content around cat healthcare, grooming or whatever else. You’re steadily becoming a useful source of information as you update the site. Search engines are arguably the most powerful method of content distribution on the web. RSS feeds: RSS feeds allow people to subscribe to websites and have new content sent to them via their inbox, a newsreader like Google Reader, or a widget sitting on their computer desktop. RSS means that none of the people who enjoy My Fabulous Cat has to remember to check your website everyday to see if there is new information: they wait for the RSS tool to bring your cat articles to them. This is the same distribution method that powers audio and video podcasts. Bookmarking and sharing: People share content they are interested in with one another, via bookmarking websites like Delicious or by posting links on their social network profile, or in the groups and forums to which they belong. If My Fabulous Cat starts to build up a fan base of cat lovers or people who simply enjoy your pithy, witty accounts of life with your cat, they will start to tell others. Aggregators: There are lots of websites that aggregate content from elsewhere using combinations of search, sharing and RSS distribution methods; sometimes around a niche topic (e.g. Techmeme, for web industry news, or Marktd, for marketing industry news) or just around the general interests of their users (e.g. Digg). Notably, distribution of online content doesn’t just rely on its creator or publisher. If third parties find it interesting or useful they will continue to distribute the content Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 9 For more on this line of thought, see Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody,
  11. 11. FROM CHANNELS TO NETWORKS It’s helpful to think of the pre-web media world as being one that was structured as channels, and the web as being all about open networks. Let us add some detail to these two models. CHANNEL MEDIA Channel media is defined as a channel created between the originator of content (newspaper, TV or radio station, for example) and audiences who receive the content passively, for the most part. To be a player in channel media you need to invest a lot, both in creating content and in distributing it. If you are a newspaper, you create content with a team of experts in writing, editing, photography and printing, amongst other things. You then need infrastructure, or access to infrastructure, to create the newspapers and take them out to newsagents and other outlets who have agreed to sell or give away your content-laden product. If you run a TV or radio station, after going through 11 the intense challenges of acquiring a licence from the government or governments with jurisdiction over the territories in which you plan to broadcast, you’ll need to invest in production and perhaps in buying third-party content for your channels. And you’ll need access to antennae, satellites or cable routes to your audiences. Once you are set up, however, you have the potential to reach millions of people with your content. This becomes an attractive proposition for brands, which will pay for access to use your channels for advertising. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  12. 12. OPEN NETWORKS On the web, the dominant model for media is one of open networks. As we have said, in these networks, anyone can create and distribute content, and millions of people do. Access to the open networks of web media is a lot simpler. Success may be infinitely more complex. Brands, websites and items of content are all set within the context of the network. Unlike broadcast networks, online networks are multi-directional. Any content in the network can be linked back to; conversation is the default mode. It isn’t just the dynamics of creating and distributing content that have changed: the way that people use content is also defined by the network. It’s what we at iCrossing think of as a “network of experiences”. 12 Think about a time you used the web recently with a purpose in mind, whether that was looking for a deal on a new car, wanting to catch up on the latest news or just to find something entertaining. It’s rare that you go to one website and click on a few items, isn’t it? The chances are you will look at a search engine; either Google, Yahoo!, or a specialist engine. You may follow a few links, have a few tabs open on your browser and flick through them. You pull together what you want from the networks, and move through the networks to find what you want. It’s a long way from the take-what-you’re-given media environment of sitting in front of a TV with a handful of channels, or of perhaps flicking through a newspaper or a magazine for something interesting, or even of making a trip to a library to track down the specialist information from a few books on the subject you’re interested in. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  13. 13. WHAT HAS REALLY CHANGED? We may be living through a media revolution, but we still have day jobs to be getting on with while the universe reorganises itself. So what, on a practical level, is going on in the media? What are the things that are different in the communications landscape, and that we need to bear in mind when developing strategies and pulling together our plans for brands online? SC AL E An individual going online today has, for all intents and purposes, an unlimited choice of things to look at, read, and become involved in. Whatever their interests, it’s likely that the web can show them something interesting. Twenty years ago when I was a teenager, I had the choice of a handful of national newspapers, a few lifestyle magazines that might be interesting, ten or so legal radio stations, some erratically available illegal ones and some fanzines (photocopied homemade magazines, distributed through record shops or at college). Or I could 13 go to the library or bookshop and acquire one of the texts they had in stock (limited to the mere tens of thousands). If you wanted to get an advert in front of me it would have been incredibly easy – you just put it in one of these few channels. A few spots on a music programme on Channel 4, a Sunday morning “yoof”10 magazine show, or something on Kiss FM would most likely have done it. Think of the contrast in choice that the equivalent youth has today: virtually limitless access to music, videos and ad hoc groups in online communities and social networks. It’s no wonder that this demographic is barely watching TV anymore. Why would you? From the perspective of the brand or media owner wanting to understand their media environment, the scale has increased exponentially. A few years ago a head of communications for a global company might have had to ensure they were able to monitor and influence perhaps 10,000 media outlets worldwide. Now they potentially need to take account of millions of blogs, forums, social networks and other social spaces online: a near-impossible task, were the old models of media management to be adhered to. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 10 Mocking UK media slang for patronising attempts to create programming aimed at a youth audience.
  14. 14. SP E E D Information, news, fads, gossip: everything moves faster on the web than it did in the offline world. Online networks are not constrained by news cycles, commissioning or feature planning. Similarly, they don’t wait for media buying, campaign planning or press release approvals. This speed even applies to platforms. In mid-2007, talking to audiences of digital marketers I was able to ask “How many of you are on Facebook?” and be confident of a good show of hands: Facebook was the runaway social media success story of the year. “How many of you had Facebook in your media plans for this year?” would be met with significantly fewer hands, if any. In late 2006, in the UK at least, Facebook was barely on the radar. LONGEVITY Although things move much faster on the web than they did in channel media, they hang around for a lot longer. In the UK we have the saying: “Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish’n’chip paper”, originating from a time – not so long ago – when takeaways used newspapers to keep your supper warm while you carted it home. The sentiment was that what was said in today’s paper could well be forgotten tomorrow, as the press pack moved on to a new story, taking their readers’ attention with them. 14 This view encouraged many a crisis-management expert to advise his client to hunker down and wait for the journalists to shift their attention elsewhere. The flip-side is that success in channel media has often been built around an integrated “burst” of marketing activity, to grab the attention of audiences and stand out from the crowd. But online, people won’t pay attention simply because you are shouting loudest. In networks, your target audience may not even hear you – until they are ready. And if the campaign has been and gone at the moment a customer puts your brand or product into a search engine box they may just arrive at a microsite that has effectively been abandoned. So from a brand marketer’s point of view, the consideration is that “one and done”, campaign-focused marketing approaches may not be as effective in open networks as they were in the channel world. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  15. 15. INTERACTION On the web, interaction comes as standard. Even if a news site or brand homepage lacks a comments section or forum where people can discuss what has been said, they can find or create somewhere else to do it. Many columnists have recounted how their job has changed in recent years. Previously, as a newspaper-sponsored fount of opinion, they were able to throw together a few hundred words once a week and lob it out to the readers. No longer. Within moments of being published online, people will begin to cross-examine their point of view, pointing out factual errors. It changes how the professionals think about what they write; it makes them think twice before they begin. Speaking after The Guardian’s Comment is Free website had been launched, the newspaper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, noted that on average the paper used to receive 300 to 400 letters each day. It typically printed 15 or so on the letters page. Within three months of the Comment is Free launch, it had received 72,000 comments from readers.11 Information, news, fads, gossip: everything moves faster on the web than it did in the offline world. 15 Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 11 Alan Rusbridger, Lubbock Lecture at the Said Business School in Oxford, June 8 2006 http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/news/archives/Media/ Is+it+all+over+for+bloggers.htm
  16. 16. STABILITY IS REPLACED BY COMPLEXITY “...to their eyes, economics was a throwback to another era. One of the participants at the meeting later commented that looking at economics reminded him of his recent trip to Cuba. As he described it, in Cuba, you enter a place that has been almost completely shut off from the Western world for over forty years by the US trade embargo. The streets are full of Packard and DeSoto automobiles from the 1950s and relatively few cars of more recent vintage. He noted that one had to admire the ingenuity of the Cubans for keeping these cars running for so long on salvaged parts and the odd piece of Soviet Eric Beinhocker, tractor. For the physicists, 16 much of what they saw in The Origin of Wealth economics had been locked in its own intellectual embargo, out of touch with several decades of scientific progress, but meanwhile ingeniously bending, stretching, and updating its theories to keep them running.” For media and marketing alike, the defining feature of the shift from channels to networks is that relative stability is being replaced by complexity. Not only is the number of sources of information and opinion growing exponentially, the landscape remains in flux: blogs and groups might spring up overnight and disappear the next day. Today’s über-blogger might be tomorrow’s interested bystander, if he or she suddenly needs to put all their effort into a new project and their posts dry up. So what does that mean for marketing; its models, tactics and thinking having evolved largely in the world of mass audiences reachable via channel media? Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  17. 17. In his book on complexity theory and economics, The Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker tells a story about a conference to exchange ideas between leaders in physics, mathematics and economics. The physicists and mathematicians were shocked by the models that the economists were using to develop their ideas. Economists had been stuck in ways of thinking that glossed over the true complexity of the world. They treated everyone as a rational player, and marketplaces as complex but explainable and predictable mechanisms that could be managed. It is early days for media and communications on the web – we are only a couple of decades in, give or take. If a native digital strategy is to emerge, as opposed to imported values, models and thinking from the age of channel media, we need to embrace the complexity. That means reaching out for new analogies, for the experiences and models of people – ecologists, financial traders, lean manufacturers – who have succeeded in developing models that make sense of complexity and allow them to develop successful strategies. Complexity is daunting because we are used to squeezing reality into stable, understandable models. Even with a market segmentation that breaks down “consumers” into hundreds of groups, we’re still oversimplifying the case. We usually end up making advertising and other planning decisions modelled on reaching people via single websites with high traffic. We ignore the reality that people don’t fire up their web browsers and spend their time on MSN or the Guardian accessing content and 17 absorbing the advertising and PR messages they find there. Search engines and social media have set our attention free, allowing us to move swiftly through a network of experiences and information that add up to the media we want. Consumers and audiences aren’t appropriate terms here. They are us. And we’re are – brands, media, governments and private citizens – players in the great networks of the web. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  18. 18. “Google is not a search engine. 18 Google is a reptuation- Clive Thompson, management system.” WIRED magazine Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  19. 19. UNDERSTANDING NETWORKS We have a new model for media then: networks. And what do we know about them? Not a lot, it turns out. Instinctively we understand social networks. It is, as humans, something we do very well indeed: connecting with people, sharing information, keeping in touch, collaborating, knowing just the right person to ask about this, that or the other; who is a friend, who is a foe, who is a friend-of–a-friend or a friend-of-a-foe; if I tell him this, he’ll let her know about it in a heartbeat, and so-on. Our finely-honed social senses are tuned for smaller numbers than we are dealing with on the web, though. Research12 suggests that we are able to handle, in our heads, a friends list of no more than 150. So our social network hard-wiring – our brains that have evolved for living in groups – is good for understanding niche networks, but not the larger ones. Thankfully, though, we have computers, and 19 ways of making sense of the bigger networks. And a lot of the principles we evolved in smaller social groups should hold true on the larger scale – it is, after all, humans that have built the web and who continue to grow it. And as for the kind of massively complex, rapidly growing and changing networks we see on the web, well these fall within the realm of complexity theory, previously known more popularly as chaos theory (butterflies, hurricanes, and so on). This e-book doesn’t aim to explain how networks work, however. If you’re interested, take a look at the reading list, or pick up Linked by Albert-Laszlo Barabarsi or Six Degrees by Duncan J Watts for two good starting points. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 12 British anthropologist Robin Dunbar published research in 2007 claiming this is the maximum number of friends a human being can manage. Similar claims are made by Malcolm Gladwell in ‘The Tipping Point’.
  20. 20. “SEEING” NETWORKS LIKE GOOGLE DOES The web is the most complex and vast thing that people have ever created, and there is no designer. Just an idea, some rules, and more than a billion and counting people who are creating content and affecting the shape of the network by their interactions with it. Imagine if you were a search engine. What would you imagine yourself seeing as you approached the web? What you saw at first might be like a shining cloud, like one of the more spectacular images from the Hubble telescope. A boiling, chaotic mass of web pages and the connections between them. Now, imagine you are looking for something. Your view of the web would change. Your perception would begin to shift so that only the pages – represented by bright, star- like nodes of light that were relevant to that subject – were there. You would zoom in looking more closely at this network of websites – university pages, corporate sites, blogs and discussion 20 forums – that mention the search term you’re focusing on. Though most of the trillion- plus pages of the wider web have disappeared from view there would still be literally millions. Which to choose? Which to rate as your top ten, pages on that subject: the front page of your search results? In an instant, you know. The network shifts and at the centre, several great, planet-like hubs become apparent. They are large because they have the highest reputation for the subject you are examining – that is, they have the most links from other websites that say that they are relevant to this subject. In your top ten you have hubs representing an entry from Wikipedia on the subject, a company that specialises in services related to the topic, some recent news articles about it and even a couple of pages that have videos from YouTube with experts speaking about the subject. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  21. 21. Connected to them are other sites discussing the subject or those related to it, and further out – with less reputation – catalogues, listings, marketing materials and then a sea of spam. The spam consists of sites that are all connected to one another in the hope of looking like they have a strong reputation on the subject, but, as the search engine, you’re wise to the tactic: they’re relegated to the periphery, to closed ghettos of content. If you looked at one it wouldn’t be that interesting or useful: these pages aren’t there for people, they are there to fool machines, mainly Google’s machines, into thinking they have a strong reputation. As Clive Thompson so brilliantly put it in an article for WIRED magazine13: “Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system” People get too distracted with the idea of search engines as machines, and lose sight of what they are desperately trying to do: make sense, from a human point of view, of the vast, mind-boggling complexity of the web. The other point to bear in mind is that search engines are constantly getting better at assessing the reputation of web pages, websites and content. This is not just a simple arms race with spammers and unethical search engine optimisers, it is part of the search engines’ ongoing mission to be useful; to find the useful and to be able to second-guess what our own decisions and choices would be if we were able to see and make sense of the web. 21 Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 13 Wired, March 2007
  22. 22. NOT A CLOUD If you’ve ever worked with someone creating an IT network or web solution, the chances are you’ve caught sight of a diagram that looks something like this. Person connected to a terminal, connected to a box, connected to servers, connected to a picture of a cloud. The cloud has become part of our common visual language for representing the web or the internet. Why this is so is completely understandable: the web is so vast, complex and ever-growing, ever-changing that we can’t begin to represent it concisely with any detail. But we don’t just represent the web as a cloud on technical diagrams, we also think of it and our place in it in that way. If we manage a website then the world beyond our server is opaque; unknown. We know that people show up on our website – if we’re lucky – from our analytics. These can also tell us the sorts of websites that link to us, and the words that visitors have typed into search engines in order to receive a link to us. But beyond that we’re often a bit lost. Combined Sitemap v001 The web is, however, a place. JPMI L/P We have a neighbourhood Corporate Employee around our website that is Individual site H/P H/P every bit as tangible as the H/P neighbourhood outside the Corporate SSMT front door L/P our house or of C1 Who we C2 What we C3 Contact C4 JPMi in Education What we do pages L/P Who we are Your account are do Us the News L/P (INVEST) H/P C2.3 office. There are neighboursTo Advice To C2.1 Educate C2.2 Plan Education Corporate SSMT WWD linking to us and people Implement (Investing (Investing Knowledge) Time) (Investing Wisely) modules pages T&C 22 linking to them in turn. C2.1.2 What SSMT For years now, people C2.1.1 How Advice ISA SIPP we Teach C2.3.1 ISA 1-6 we Educate (subjects) – ourselves pages Employee intranet at iCrossing included – have been finding C2.3.1SIPP Offline Advice Online Advice Generic Header/Footer pages Invest Online C2.3.3 Contact ways to visualise the web T & Cs Help Retirement Investment Income Services like Google and other search options C2.3.4 Privacy engines Glossary it, to catch Accessibility see Supporting Offline Investors Corporate site glimpses, draw maps of what SSS CSS the online world actually looks Sitemap like. One of the pioneers in the field of networks, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, described exploring the web as an almost magical thing, allowing people to see networks and connections that were all around them for the very first time. He described a combination of “cartography and anthropology” being required to map the landscape of a web around any given subject. We’re used to being served the top ten or top 100 websites on a given subject by the search engine of our choice, but the reality of the topic we’re looking at, and the network around it – the community of interest – are far more fascinating. Anyone – brand, media owner or individual – looking to thrive online would do well to understand how networks work, where their own are and how they fit into them. For networks are how the online world works and they are the essence of the revolution that we are living through. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  23. 23. MAPPING NETWORKS Let’s get some terminology out of the way. When we are talking about networks we are talking about items, things, people, brands, web pages, that are connected to one another. The things are called “nodes” and the lines between them are connections. At iCrossing – as at several other research firms, technology outfits and university departments – we have developed software for mapping networks to help our analysts “see” networks of websites, and how they connect to others around a theme – for example ‘online gaming’ or a particular conversation. The maps also help us to illustrate the networks around topics to our colleagues and clients, reinforcing the idea – the truth – that our websites, our brand presences online, exist in real places and are connected to competitors We sometimes call this the “networks neighbourhood14” of a brand. In fact, even the busiest of the maps is a simplified representation of what Google “sees”. A 23 major brand’s website will have hundreds of thousands of links just from social media websites. We have to filter the view down by a topic, or by the most relevant nodes in the immediate network so that we can make sense of it. You can take a look at some of your own personal and brand networks simply enough. If you have a Facebook profile and more than a couple of friends there, try out the Touchgraph application. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 14 With apologies to Windows 95.
  24. 24. HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN NETWORKS So, big-picture thinking and theory are useful for setting the context for marketing strategy in this age of networks. But when it comes to developing a practical strategy, what does it all mean? Where should a team looking after a brand online start when it comes to putting together a plan? It helps to ask some simple questions about networks. WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE? SUCCESS IN NETWORKS IS ABOUT BEING PROMINENT, NOT DOMINATING OR OWNING IN THE A NETWORK. GUNG-HO LANGUAGE OF MARKETING IN CHANNELS, SUCCESS OFTEN LOOKED LIKE 24 DOMINATION; HEGEMONY; OWNERSHIP. IN ALMOST EVERY CASE, THIS WOULD BE A VAIN FANTASY FOR A BRAND. THERE ARE NO MONOPOLIES ON THE WEB. SUCCESS IN NETWORKS LOOKS DIFFERENT. IN NETWORKS, PROMINENCE IS SUCCESS. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  25. 25. HOW DO YOU BECOME (AND STAY) PROMINENT IN A NETWORK? Prominence in networks is achieved by earning attention. Other nodes earn their prominence in the network, the community of interest around a given story, by being useful. They take the information to a broader audience, giving it a summary of the story, or perhaps adding some analysis of their own, and linking to the original source and the video on YouTube. For example, sites like the BBC, Digg and Engadget are prominent in the broader network around technology-related stories. A Google search for “technology blogs” or “technology news” will show you who it sees as most prominent in those networks at the moment. In search engine marketing, people will talk about “search equity”: the relative scores each website has in Google’s analysis of the network. The better the Google algorithm – the maths that makes it work – the closer this search equity equates to reputation, or brand equity, on the web. If one of those news sites were to cut down on the number of stories it runs, begin to run me-too stories, or post news a day after everyone else, it would start to fall down the search display rankings. HOW DO YOU EARN ATTENTION? Attention is earned in networks by being useful in the networks. In the channel media world, getting attention for a brand was straightforward. Expensive, perhaps, but straightforward. You employed an advertising agency and 25 the combination of their relative creativity and your spending power bought you space in the channel: pages, portions of pages, back covers, seconds of airtime, multiple mentions by a DJ. If your target audience was consuming its media of choice, it would be hard for the people you were targeting to avoid hearing what you wanted to tell them. They paid for their content, in part, with their attention to your brand messages. In networks, however, attention cannot be bought. At least, it is a bad strategy to think that it can or to act accordingly. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  26. 26. THE OPPOSITE OF USEFUL IS... It has been said that censorship is treated as damage by the web15, and the network routes around it. The network is not making a value judgment on the censorship, it simply views it as a blockage to usefulness; a nuisance. I recall attending a briefing for global brand managers at a major company a couple of years ago. Waiting my turn to speak, the presenter before me was addressing the room on the subject of pop-ups and “roll-over” adverts. He explained that while these types of ad got a bad press they were still a valid approach. I raised an eyebrow at that: I’d never heard anyone do anything but complain about the irritation of pop-up ads getting in the way of the page you were trying to read. The executive explained that if pop-up ads were creative enough and properly targeted people welcomed them. He had an example of recent work for a client he wanted to show us. Changing the image on the 50ft screen behind him from his PowerPoint presentation to his browser, he went to a test page to demonstrate. The page loaded fine, except there was no ad. He tried again: nothing. Checking the settings, he seemed to blush suddenly and announced – I still can’t believe he actually said it – “Ah. I’ll just turn the pop-up blocker off.” The pop-up ads that were definitely fine for his target audience were not fine for him. He didn’t want them getting in his way when he was online. These days, many web browsers come with pop-up blockers enabled as standard. You turn them off if you want to allow a website to open a new window on your 26 machine. Now people are beginning to use ad-blocking software that whites-out the banner adverts on a web page. There is even a new plug-in for the popular Firefox browser called Add Art, which replaces the ads on a web page with works of art. Media owners have begun to attack this as a form of stealing - which it may be, but users will make their own choices ultimately about whether they allow adverts onto their screens. When it comes to launching a viral video or creating a microsite with a game or product promotion on it, the choice of whether to view or participate is a straight one for any web user: Is visiting this site going to be more rewarding than playing a game on another site, watching any of the 150,000 videos uploaded to YouTube in the last 24 hours, or reading a consumer or expert’s review of the brand or product being promoted? Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 15 John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is credited with being the originator of this phrase.
  27. 27. “Ask not what your network can do for you, 27 but what you can do for your network” Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  28. 28. THE THREE FUNDAMENTALS OF BRANDS IN NETWORKS The social media and strategy teams at iCrossing have come to trust in using three fundamentals as their starting points for developing a strategy for brands in networks. UNDERSTAND YOUR NETWORKS Where are my networks? Who is in them? How do they work? We need to be clear about where our networks are. Not just who connects to our brand or to our competitors, but where people are talking. It’s not just a case of understanding where things are, either. Once we see the communities that are relevant to us we need to understand how they work, to understand what people do there and what the rules are. For instance, we might see that Wikipedia has an entry on our brand, and on other issues that are important to us. We can also see that anyone can edit an entry there, so why not add some of our own information and links? While we’re at it, why not delete that blatantly biased criticism of our latest takeover attempt? If we had taken the time to understand the community however, we would understand that the community has its own written and unwritten rules of behaviour. Editing your own entry would be frowned upon, and the editing of things in which we 28 have a commercial interest would be perceived as biased and unhelpful. Understanding your networks should be undertaken with care, consideration and diligence. BE USEFUL IN YOUR NETWORKS What do people find useful? What would my content, engagement, sponsorship or promotion add to the network? We have talked already about the concept of being useful to your networks. Sometimes we express this by saying: “Ask not what your networks can do for you, ask what you can do for your networks” Crucially, to succeed in networks we sometimes need to move away from thinking about promotion or selling as the key activity. A selling message pushed uninvited into a social space is rarely useful, and rarely welcome. Brands that do this are ignored if they are lucky, and may find themselves on the sharp end of criticism from blogs and forums if they aren’t. Once we have understood our networks we need to ask: “What is a valid role for us here?” and: “How can we add value?” Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  29. 29. Should we look at building a social network? Well, what we need to establish is whether there is a genuine need for one. If we have seen people in our networks using Facebook groups or a forum dedicated to our sector, what would creating a new social space add? Some ways we might think about being useful in our networks include: Active listening: Gatecrashing forum discussions or blog comments sections might not be appropriate behaviour, but listening to what people are saying about our products or services, and taking ideas and criticism on board and acting on them are useful things to do. Courting critics: Dell, Lego and Starbucks have all introduced the social media equivalent of the suggestions box: public websites where people can submit and discuss ideas about new products and improvements to their service. Sponsorship: If there are enthusiast sites you might consider offering to fund them openly. Co-creation: Better than slapping your logo across the top of a few social spaces, or footnoting with “brought to you by”, working on projects with community hosts or communities themselves can be an effective way of engaging with your network. Ted Rheingold, who runs the successful Catster and Dogster social networks, says he prefers to work with brands to create new features or content for the community rather than just take their money for an ad. Content: It could well be that you are already producing a great deal of content that 29 would be useful to your networks, if only people could find it or access it easily. Re- working content so that it is findable, portable and easily distributed can work wonders. Blogging: Blogging is worthy of an e-book of its own. There have been many poor examples of corporate blogging, but there are now also many strong ones. Starting a blog can be a powerful way of joining in the networks around your brand, and a great way to remain live (see below) and to learn from your networks. There are almost certainly many more ways to be genuinely useful – but like I said, this isn’t a text book, nor am I even attempting to be exhaustive on this subject. BE LIVE IN YOUR NETWORKS How will I listen to my networks? Will I be able to respond and adapt when opportunities arise? Networks move and change at an incredible pace. Bloggers often talk about memes – Richard Dawkins’ term16 – travelling through the networks. Where people are, what they are talking about and what kinds of content are popular all shift and change so quickly that if you are not listening, not present, not live on the scene, your understanding of what’s happening will soon be out of date. If you are engaged with your networks and being useful in them then you’re live in your networks. But make sure you are live and aware across all of the networks that are important to your brand. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 16 Wikipedia (at the time of writing) describes a meme as: “any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a “culture” in a manner similar to the behaviour of a virus. As a unit of cultural evolution, a meme in some ways resembles a gene.
  30. 30. RE-ENGINEERING BRAND MARKETING We are all involved in re-evaluating how marketing works in order that it can adapt to the realities of the age of networks. As I’ve already said, it’s best not to fool ourselves that a new marketing textbook can now be written. Living through this media revolution, we need to focus on the core principles but keep learning, and keep adapting our approach. We sometimes like to think that in digital marketing we have developed a new discipline, but coming to this sector from the outside two years ago it looked to me like an awful lot of agencies had taken ad agency models and simply transplanted them to the web. Many laugh at the “brochure-ware” websites of the late 90s – where people had literally taken the marketing literature formats of the print age and put them online – but in many ways we have only progressed a small distance in terms of understanding the way the web works. The fundamentals are so completely different from those which preceded them. We must acknowledge that, as this change (that Rupert Murdoch credited with the power to destroy countries) unfolds, we will need new ways of understanding what is happening. 30 It is my contention that marketing needs to be rethought in almost every aspect. Even if there are things worth keeping, nothing should be exempt from the challenge: “Is this still relevant in networks?” So many accepted truths, models and ideas in marketing come from a still-recent time of mass media that saw its peak in the industrial age. This chapter holds some of them up for examination. CHALLENGING “CHANNEL THINKING” Our language gives us away. Think of the way we talk about the people we are marketing to, and what we want to do in a channel media context. People, individuals, are masked and herded into demographics that gloss over the complexity of the situation. We talk about consumers, audiences; passive terms. We talk about message penetration, or buying eyeballs. When you start to think about things from the perspective of networks, this language jars. People don’t consume content: they read it or watch it, and then often do things with it such as remixing, forwarding, or linking to it. These aren’t audiences or eyeballs. These are individuals. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 16 cont. Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene recounts how and why he coined the term meme to describe how one might extend Darwinian principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing-fashions, and the technology of building arches.”
  31. 31. A lot of the language of channel media marketing sounds militaristic. We monitor (from on high) consumer behaviours. We penetrate markets. We dominate mindshare. We execute campaigns. These aren’t social words. They come from the mass; the industrial level – whereas in the networks we must operate (as we do in our personal lives) at a human level. Demien Entrekin said that networks don’t have people, people have networks. It’s a mantra we should repeat to ourselves so that we don’t start thinking of the web, of our networks, like we’re looking at a machine. We’re not: we’re looking at a collection of human relationships and interactions. Channel thinking or “channelthink” is the term we use to challenge ourselves in the team at iCrossing, when we sense we’re 31 making assumptions based on our offline experiences or habits. There’s no need to be embarrassed when this cultural bias reveals itself in our language, but by pulling ourselves up short on it we encourage thinking that acknowledges the shift that is happening right now... THE STRATEGIC GAP A question an organisation can ask itself that can reveal how deeply channel-thinking is ingrained within it is: “Who owns social media?” Obviously it is public relations, you might volunteer, depending on your attitude to both social media and PR. And that seems to make sense. But what about customer service? When there are people discussing problems with your brand in forums, is it PR’s job to go in and respond? Maybe that’s fine when there are a handful of these instances a month – but what happens when the numbers grow? A full time PR on it? Surely there would be a case for customer service to get involved? But not so fast. What about ecommerce? What about marketing? The social web demands a response from all of these disciplines, and probably a few more besides. Falling back on a fantasy of integration is not enough, either. An advertising or PR-led approach, for instance, would be likely to be overly biased towards channelthink – creative-led approaches, media relations and so-on. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  32. 32. DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY: INSPIRATIONS AND MODELS With no reference points, no precedents for the emerging models of media production and distribution on the web, we should look outside of marketing for ways in which people have dealt with complexity. By way of an introduction, here are two areas we think about a lot at iCrossing. ATTENTION MARKETS I’m certainly not the first person to note that, with content available in vast quantities and at the whim of anyone who wants it, there isn’t necessarily a market for it any longer. At least, what market there is is saturated. However, you could say that as a consequence there is an interesting, vibrant market in people’s attention. On the web and in networks, players vie for the attention of users. As I have outlined, this attention can be seen in a number of ways. We are mainly interested in links and traffic as evidence of, or clues to, the places that are winning attention. Brands, like media organisations and individual bloggers, compete in networks for the same attention. They may complement each other, they may enhance the user experience overall, but there is only so much attention to go round. 32 The image below is for me a powerful illustration of the shift to attention markets. Unless you are familiar with the place, you might think that this is a trading floor in some City financial firm. In a way, of course, you would be right: this is the former trading floor for Saloman brothers, once the largest in London. However, just over a year ago it got new owners: Telegraph Media Group. It’s now the Telegraph newsroom17. I have seen many, and worked in a few, newsrooms over the past decade or so. This one looks very different indeed. Note the open-plan design and the way that everything radiates out from the news conference table at the centre of the room. In the past, this would have typically been hidden away to one side. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 17 I first read about the Telegraph newsroom on Jeff Jarvis’s Buzzmachine blog. Take a look at the original post for a journalism professor’s view of the place.
  33. 33. Most striking is the “media wall”, the vast bank of screens that hangs over the newsroom. The largest – four times the size of the others – is simply a live image of the front page of the website. It serves as a kind of massive reminder to the journalists that the game that they are in has changed: they write “web first” now. Whereas just a couple of years ago news stories would appear on the website as the print edition hit the streets, now stories go online first. The reason for this is a recognition that the Telegraph no longer only competes for attention with other papers at the newsagents: it competes globally, online, 24 hours a day. Next to the main screen is a smaller one that scrolls through data about the popularity of articles on the Telegraph website. It lists the top articles for news, business, travel and sport, alternating them with a summary of which ones are ‘winning’ this hour, this week, this month or even this year. The use of live attention data is highly innovative in a media organisation like the Telegraph. It is utterly appropriate, reminding journalists that they compete for the attention of readers even within the pages of their own website. In the global attention markets, the Telegraph, like several of its UK news counterparts, is winning big – aided no doubt by being in the English language, but also by its high editorial standards. Some UK newspaper sites get up to 70% of their traffic from overseas, the majority at present from the United States. 33 New traffic is delivered mainly by search engines and a handful of influential social media sites, such as the infamous Drudge Report (which according to some studies18 delivers traffic equal to Google’s). If you open up the Top Stories section on Google News, the search engine’s news aggregator, you can see just how stiff the competition is - some hot stories are covered by a couple of thousand sources, ranging from UK news sites to China’s Xinhua English-language news service. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 18 Paid content strategies for news websites, Thurman 2007
  34. 34. The Telegraph, then, is a media organisation fighting for its place in the age of networks. 34 What can marketers take from its experience? We should ask ourselves; how good is our data about our content – our press releases, our promotions pages, our branded content? If we are getting information in real time, are the creative teams aware of it? Are they responding suitably? Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  35. 35. When we think about attention markets, we should ask; who are our competitors? They may be different from the people we compete with in our primary commercial marketplaces – they may include media, social media, or other brands. Taking full account of the market means properly understanding our brands’ networks, how they operate as markets, and how we can be effective in them. That means not just having a handful of insights and a great one-at-a-time creative idea. It means being able to listen closely and respond. It means having several competing strategies and waiting for one to stand out, then having the resource to back it up quickly. LEARNING FROM NETWORK SUCCESS STORIES If looking at how media organisations are adapting from the world of channels to one of networks shows us how marketing must also adapt, then looking at players that are already successful in online networks can give us further inspiration. Community-driven sites, social media and social networks are media formats that have emerged strongly in recent years. My favourite example of a success story is a website called Dogster, a social network for dogs (well, for their owners), which has the sister site Catster. Dogster is stable, having been established in 2004, it’s profitable and together with Catster it has 750,000 members. It is a website that has found a niche and successfully occupied it. 35 Most importantly for our purposes, its founder Ted Rheingold – still very hands-on – has been very open about his experiences of building the website and how he has made it a success. I caught Ted speaking at a conference in 2007 – here’s a summary of some of the lessons he shared from half a decade of building a successful social network. Stay close to your community: You have to listen closely to everything that your community says. If you are paying attention, or ask the right questions, they will tell you what they want. Customer service is everything: A community is nothing without its users, and Ted was devoted to them all from the first. He took this to the extent of publishing his phone number prominently on the website so users who were having issues could contact him in person – very unusual for any website. Every community is different: You might reasonably expect that launching Dogster’s sister site, Catster, would be simple: it employs a similar format, and surely people on the new site would like most of what was on the older one? Not at all, as it turned out. The truisms about cat people and dog people held in a social network setting: they want different things. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  36. 36. Fail fast: A mantra of software development in web 2.0 firms, fail fast is the companion phrase of “release early, release often”, the spirit of perpetual beta. In a community context it means getting content, tools and services out there quickly and letting users tell you or show you if it is going to work. If it is clear that it is not going to work, no matter how good the idea seems, drop it fast. One failure Ted mentioned was when they launched a sort of “Hot or Not” for dogs, where people could vote on how good-looking they thought each other’s animals were. It sounded like a great idea, it may even have come from somewhere in the community, but when it went live people were offended and made their feelings known (“How dare anyone tell me my dog is a mere 8!”). The site pulled the feature. Impact horizons: When Ted started Dogster he was developing new content and features with project times – from spotting a need to getting something out there – of about a month. As revenue began to come in from premium subscriptions and sponsorship deals he began to invest in more ambitious projects with longer lead times. Suddenly, it seemed, the failure rate for projects began to increase. When a review of projects that were failing was conducted, a common factor was quickly spotted: almost all of the failing projects had taken six months or more from idea to public release. They were failing because the community had moved on; was interested in other things. Their needs had shifted. Ted calls this effect: the impact horizon. Ever since, he has been working on bringing 36 down the development time for new features to as close to a month as possible. LEAN MARKETING: LEARNING FROM MANUFACTURING Applying manufacturing models to online marketing and media sounds like a contradiction of the exact case I’ve been outlining: aren’t we talking about moving away from mass media models, away from easily-drawn parallels to mass production and the industrial age? BEAR WITH ME: IT’S AN INTERESTING STORY. Informed by Beinhocker’s tale of the economists who discovered that the world had moved on since they had first appropriated models from mathematics and physics a hundred years before, we would be foolish to think of modern manufacturing as based on a Ford-ist model. The king of the manufacturing world is – and has been for so long – automotive. Almost nothing is more complex to produce, and yet produced on such a large scale, as cars. They have thousands of components, intricate designs and engineering that constantly evolves, and all the while the people who buy them expect to have their precise choice available to them, and for it to be utterly reliable for many years. Ford-ism, and for that matter Ford itself, is no longer pre-eminent in the auto sector. Last year, a few years ahead of its own targets and projections, Toyota became the largest car-maker in the world. This Japanese corporation entered its domestic car market in the post-war years with small models. It intentionally steered clear of direct competition with what, at the time, seemed like unassailable American colossi: Ford and General Motors. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  37. 37. Out of necessity it developed an approach to the manufacturing process that made more of less, and that was obsessed with driving out waste and delivering flawless quality. Based on a philosophy called kaizen – continuous improvement – Toyota’s “lean manufacturing” approach has been admired and appropriated by other companies for years. There is plenty for marketers to admire in Toyota’s example. To reiterate: when we look at the challenge for brands in networks, we are looking at learning to manage massive complexity. Toyota’s lean manufacturing process does precisely this – in fact its ability to do so is key to its epic success. Toyota sits between the complexity of a supply chain and the complexity of the market and manages both with a minimum of waste, delivering a high-quality product based on pull; demand from the customer. This is how we can think of lean marketing and media, then: with brand and media owners in networks aware of their end users’ needs, and adapting to them as they change. These are the two main things I think lean manufacturing can teach media and marketing: Being big, but agile: The company is so responsive to local – indeed individual – customer demand that at any time it will have a dozen different versions of the same 37 model on sale around the world, each optimised to the demands of the local market. Its production lines are so lithe and adaptable that it can produce four or five different models on the same track in the same day, each destined for a specific customer – a customer whose order at a showroom hundreds of miles away prompted that specific unit’s production. The miracle of lean manufacturing means that all of this is possible while maintaining only a few minutes’ inventory at the factory: that is, with no costly onsite warehouse full of car parts. The supply chain – the manufacturers who make the parts that make Toyota’s cars – are so aligned, so embedded in the system that the whole network acts as a single organism to deliver the finished product. Principles-led: In one of Peter Day’s brilliant BBC podcasts last year, the CEO of Toyota explained that the company has always been open with its methods. People from competitors and business schools regularly tour its plants, and some Ford-ist competitors have tried, and failed, to copy them. The reason, he says, is that they try to copy the process but don’t live the principles. He explains that you have to be truly committed to driving out the waste everywhere in the organisation, and to working with suppliers to make their systems better so that they can succeed and in turn make you more successful. * Disclosure: At the time of writing, iCrossing works with Toyota in the US and UK. This analogy, this line of thinking, was developed and discussed publicly before this relationship began. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  38. 38. WWGD (WHAT WOULD GOOGLE DO)? Jeff Jarvis (yes him again), has blogged extensively, and will early next year publish a book called WWGD - what would Google do? The conceit – to ask how Google would tackle this problem or radically disrupt that industry – is an excellent one. I don’t think I will be stealing very much of Jeff’s thunder (he blogs regularly on the topic on his Buzzmachine blog) if I were to expand a little on some of the ways we think about Google from the point of view of re-engineering brands and marketing for the age of networks19. We’ve already talked about seeing the web’s networks from the perspective of a search engine. But for our last source of inspiration, let’s talk about Google itself – not Google the search engine, but the whole company that has grown up and out from that first game-changing breakthrough, the PageRank-driven search engine. It’s all about the user: From a brand marketer’s perspective, Google is the anti- brand. It was not designed or concocted, it was iterated: it emerged from a focus on the end user. It tells marketers two things: the importance of listening, and the value of incorporating feedback into the business to be marketed, particularly that gained from the product development and customer service areas. Innovation by the numbers: The complexity of the web and the speed with which it evolves is mirrored in the way that Google works. Innovating, and innovating at a furious rate, is the only sane strategy for a company that wants to stay at the top of as competitive a game as Google’s. Stand still for a moment and the edge moves 38 away from you. Google doesn’t just talk innovation in the way that some businesses do, it understands what innovation takes. Huge numbers of ideas are soliticited, recorded and ruthlessly whittled down. The ‘kill rate’ of ideas is massive, with very few making it to the execution stage. Of course, the commitment to allowing employees one day a week to pursue their own projects is key to making sure that people aren’t developing silos around their own business area or technical specialism, but instead are connecting with others, trying to find ways to make their new ideas live. Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08 19 Umair Haque uses Google’s example in talking about new strategic thinking for business.
  39. 39. Almost chaos: A Fortune article called Chaos by Design explains how Google works hard to avoid hierarchies, departmentalisation and all the things that diverge people’s attention and energies away from seeking out new ways to serve the user or customer. In 2003, the company hired Shona Brown, author of a book on business strategy and chaos as its vice president of operations. She was tasked with bringing some management structure – but not too much – to the fast-growing company. Brown describes her sense of nervousness as her measure of whether there’s too much structure and process in place for the company to stay close to the chaotic state that gives it its verve. “If I ever come into the office and I feel comfortable, if I don’t feel a little nervous about some crazy stuff going on, then we’ve taken it too far,” she told the magazine. Speed above all else: Innovation is mostly about execution; doing it. Google knows that its strength – even more so than its collective brains – is the strength of its will to execute combined with its awesomely powerful technology infrastructure. That’s why it’s happy to release services in beta, preferring to refine and develop a live product with its early adopters, rather than hone a release candidate with an internal testing team. Measure everything: If Google can’t measure something, it won’t do it. In digital marketing there’s no excuse for not adhering to this rule. There is so much data available on people’s use of websites you own, and what they think and do elsewhere, that measurement should be part of every campaign from the outset. 39 At iCrossing we talk about “designed-in measurement” for creative and content. Thinking about measurement begins at the discovery phase, and it should be implemented and remain live throughout a given project. Measurement gives us insight and evidence for refining every aspect of a programme – from search terms to page design – almost from day one. This is a departure from the ‘build it and leave it’ approach that online marketers often take to building beautiful microsites, and then tacking on some weak analytics measurement at the end. Learning from failure: We touched on the importance of being prepared to fail in the earlier section on Dogster, but I make no apologies for revisiting it here. So immune are we, especially in the UK, to truly embracing the opportunities presented to us by failure that it’s best best said twice. Google celebrates failure as a learning opportunity, and as a necessary by-product of its dynamism. In an article in The Washington Post, Richard Holden, a Google product management director, was quoted as saying: “If you’re not failing enough, you’re not trying hard enough. The stigma [for failure] is less because we staff projects leanly and encourage them to just move, move, move. If it doesn’t work, move on.” Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  40. 40. CONCLUSION So there it is, a view of the world, or at least of the media and marketing corner of it, being changed utterly by networks; some challenges defined, and some ideas on how we might think about re-engineering, redesigning and rethinking the way we do things. One of the joys of publishing an e-book – free to download, re-usable by anyone under a Creative Commons license – is that you don’t have to be right first time. It’s not a definitive work and it doesn’t pretend to be. In a few weeks’ time I can add in some more references, experiences, or a whole new chapter, and publish the result as version 1.1, 2.0 or whatever. That is a helpful, liberating fact. As any blogger will tell you, things are moving too fast, the outcomes are too uncertain for anyone to wait to have all the answers, to have a whole picture before they act or share their thoughts. This time next year, I’m sure that thirteen whole months of the iPhone App Store will have helped accelerate the use of social media and the wider web on the move. I expect the unexpected on that front: new ideas and uses of the web that haven’t even occurred to us. 40 Web use will have grown even among the edgiest of innovators and earliest of early adopters, while more and more people will be growing in the confidence and extent of their use of broadband internet at home. What will not have changed are the fundamentals of the revolution discussed herein: the web is changing (in reverse importance) marketing, the media, commerce and society. We are living through a revolution, and the best way to make the most of it is to hold hands and have some fun as we feel our way through the fog. I hope this e-book has been useful to you in some way: even if it just set off some trains of thought that lead you somewhere interesting. If so, please do let us know – we’d be keen to hear where you end up. Antony Mayfield Monday 1st of September, 2008 Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08
  41. 41. ABOUT ICROSSING iCrossing, formerly known as Spannerworks in the UK, is a global digital marketing company that combines talent and technology to help world-class brands find and connect with their customers. The company blends best-in-class marketing services - including paid and natural search marketing, social media, content and media, display advertising, user experience, web development and analytics and insight - to create integrated digital marketing programs that engage consumers and drive ROI. iCrossing clients include world-class brands such as The Coca Cola company, HBOS, TUI and Virgin. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, the company has 620 employees in 15 offices in the US and Europe, including 120 employees in the UK. Find out more at www.icrossing.co.uk or contact us on +44 (0)1273 828100 or results@icrossing.co.uk 41 Brands in Networks: an e-book by Antony Mayfield from iCrossing updated 08.09.08

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