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Battelle: Google No Longer Knows What Its Brand Means

Google's Menu of Software Products

I’ve borrowed the above image from Battelle’s recent post at . It nicely conveys the point that:

“Google, once the ‘pencil’ of the Internet, has become a newer, more open version of Microsoft, and it has to admit as much both to itself as well as to its public, or it will start to lose credibility with all its constituents.”

Pencil, in this case, is short-hand for a company that does one thing — and only one thing — enormously well. Google = Search. Now Google makes cellphones, browsers, mobile OSes and office productivity applications. Kind of like Microsoft.

Or Apple, but I think Battelle is intentional in calling Google the new Microsoft. Because while Apple makes laptops, mobile and desktop OSes, browsers and cellphones (not to mention music players, ecommerce platforms and retail experiences), it has retained an intense, control-freaky focus on what its brand means. Asked why Google isn’t doing any brand advertising right now, like all its competitors are, Battelle answers:

“Google isn’t doing brand advertising because Google doesn’t know what its brand means…. [And] Until Google figures out what its brand means in a post search world, it won’t be doing any brand advertising. And given who its competing with — Apple, Hulu, Microsoft and Amazon, among many others — I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

The Blogs and News Aggregators That Killed News in the 1920s

Henry Luce

From the of The Publisher, Alan Brinkley’s new biography of Henry Luce, the media entrepreneur who founded Time (in 1923), Fortune, Life and Sports Illustrated.

“Luce and Hadden shared a contempt for what is now called the mainstream media, both the sensational tabloids and the serious dailies, which they regarded as dull and bloated. Brimming with precocious self-confidence, they conceived a weekly digest of news and analysis culled from other publications. The journal that was initially to be called Facts (but ¬≠morphed into Time before its debut in 1923) promised to scour close to 90 periodicals and amalgamate news from every sphere of life. Its declared mission was to serve ‘the illiterate upper classes, the busy businessman, the tired debutante, to prepare them at least once a week for a table ¬≠conversation….’ The new magazine had the qualities we associate now with blogs. It was concise and informal, with plenty of political topspin, rendered in a prose that inspired much satire.”

5 Tips to Successful DiggAds [Whitepaper]

Whitepaper listed in Digg

Digg and the Social Media Group teamed up on a whitepaper that analyzes performance data from DiggAds campaigns over the past 8 months, and offers 5 tips to improve campaign performance. From the introduction:

“In 2005, Digg launched with a mission to let readers curate content by voting (or “Digging”) stories they think others should read — an online newspaper of sorts where readers, not editors, determine the stories that appear on the front page. Members of the Digg community submit quality content they find on professional publications like CNN.com, independent publications and blogs like TechCrunch, video sites like YouTube, or even commercial websites such as Toyota.com or IBM.com. Other readers review these submissions and vote the best-of-the-best to the homepage. In other words, Digg readers care about the quality, relevance and timeliness of content, not whether the publisher is a publicly-traded media company, a Fortune 500 consumer electronics manufacturer, or an independent photographer posting pictures to her blog.

“Understanding that Digg readers are willing to engage with quality, branded content led to the development of new social ad products on Digg. These ads allow brands to promote their own content, provided they’re willing to let the community Digg them up (or bury them down), just like other content submitted to Digg. DiggAds, as they’re called, are a simple idea. Consumers today trust their peers over brands when it comes to credible content. If brands want their content to be considered more credible (and therefore be consumed), there is an emerging opportunity to let those same consumers curate their messages, too.”

Click here to download the PDF.

Or here to view it at SlideShare.

Bob Buch on Apple’s iAd Strategy

In the inaugural post at his eponymous blog, my colleague Bob Buch suggests Apple’s vertically-integrated approach to business and not-integrated-enough approach to mobile advertising may limit its initial success.

“After launching DiggAds, I’ve become convinced that the future of advertising will be to integrate ads into the user experience of the site. This doesn’t mean just sticking them in the middle of the page, it means including the functionality of the site within the ad itself — essentially, transforming ads into content. Examples of this include DiggAds, Facebook’s social ads, Twitter’s new Promoted Tweets product, and of course, Google AdWords. I was disappointed that Apple did not follow this model.”
Amen.

More thoughts on the battle between Apple and Google for mobile ads.

Pop-Up Magazine: Conversational Marketing for Live Magazine Format

Pop-Up Mag Logo

Introducing his third “issue” of Pop-Up Magazine to a sold-out audience at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Friday night, Doug McGray described the event as “an unrehearsed work-in-progress” — a table-of-contents full of personal stories, magazine essays, radio features and mini photography exhibits, all performed live. The evening’s event isn’t captured on video or assembled and printed on paper like a regular magazine. It’s a rough-draft magazine that never intends to become its own finished product.

My favorite part, of course, was the advertising. Instead of hanging their logos on wall-mounted banners or handing out free samples in gift bags, sponsors had to climb on stage and perform their pitches live, or give permission to let the Pop-Up crew insert their messages between the editorial performances. The co-founder of a boutique wine label took to the mike to tell the audience how she and her partner quit their jobs in finance to launch a vineyard and “live the dream,” and then she invited us to try out her product in the greenroom after the show. Chef and food author Bryant Terry (pictured below, without a flash) told the story of an Oakland urban garden that spread backyard to backyard down a whole block — and then made a cocktail, sponsored by Skyy Vodka, with Meyer lemons and other ingredients from backyard(s) garden he described.

Bryant Terry with Skyy vodka drink

When it was announced that the had taped a few gift certificates behind seats in the theater, the woman behind me said “Wow!” When’s the last time you heard someone react that way to a print ad in magazine made of paper?

Twitter's Promoted Tweets Look a Bit Like Digg's DiggAds

Hey, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

From the Mashable report:

“To us, the system sounds very familiar to Digg Ads. Digg Ads appear in the homepage stream as sponsored Digg submissions. Based on the number of diggs, buries, and clicks an ad receives, that ad will either stay on the homepage for longer and decrease in price, or it will be ‘buried’ and the advertiser is charged more for submitting a bad ad.

“While clearly there are differences between Digg Ads and Promoted Tweets, the same concepts and philosophies underly both: users know the difference between a good ad and a bad one, and thus they should get a say as to which ads appear in their streams. It’s not a bad strategy on Twitter’s part: Digg Ads have been successful thus far.”

I mean, what can I say? Twitter’s approach to advertising sounds GENIUS!

iAds v. Mobile AdSense

Apple v Google

Toward the end of Ben Parr’s post at on the nascent mobile-advertising battle between Apple (who recently acquired Quattro) and Google (who recently acquired AdMob) he says “Google’s greatest advantage against Apple is that it has more relationships and experience with web-based advertising, and it already has the technology to back it up.” But, then again:

“If tomorrow Apple launched an ad platform for iPhone and Google launched a comparable one for Android, Apple would win simply because it has a larger base of iPhone and iPad users to advertise against, making it more enticing to developers and advertisers alike. That advantage cannot be understated.”

Maybe.

But it’s not just about ad-sales experience or smartphone market share. It’s also going to come down to corporate DNA, and who’s wiring is better suited to capturing the types of ad dollars being spent in mobile. If mobile advertising is driven by targeting for local advertisers and retailers offering coupons — the transactional, direct-response arena that it dominates — Google will win big. If national and global marketers put their wallets behind building brands and stimulating (rather than harvesting) demand on mobile devices, I’m putting my money on Apple.

Media Consumption Among 8-18 Year Olds

Interesting stats from the latest Kaiser Family Foundation study of media consumption among young people (via Business Insider):

Young people spend more time consuming media on their cellphones than talking into them.

Media v Talking via Cellphones

They’re watching 38 more minutes per day of TV content in 2009 versus 2004, but 25 minutes less (per day) of it is live on an actual TV.

TV content up while live TV-watching is down

Reading books is up almost 20% (21 minutes to 25 minutes per day) since 1999. But magazine and newspaper reading are down 40% and 57%, respectively, to 9 minutes and 3 minutes per day. Time spent reading anything on paper (38 minutes) is dwarfed by time spent watching TV content (4 hours 29 minutes) or time in front of a computer (1 hour 29 minutes).

Time spent reading books, magazines and newspapers

Loving This Week's Brandweek Cover

Brandweek cover

Full story here.

Kevin Rose Promoted to Digg Chairman, Acting CEO

Boy, the team at ChasNote is losing its edge. Can’t even land the scoop on breaking story out of Digg!?

Kevin Rose Steps Up to Chairman

First the good news: Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, is stepping into a new role as chairman of the board and acting CEO. On Digg’s blog he says he’s fired up about “driving Digg forward on our promise to enable social curation of the world’s content and the conversation around it. We’ve been super busy on the product side getting ready for the upcoming Digg redesign and delivering our mobile apps for the iPhone and Android.”

Now the mixed news: Jay Adelson, friend and Digg CEO for the past 5 years, is leaving Digg to answer the “entrepreneurial calling.” Jay introduced me to Digg 4 years ago, when Digg and Federated Media partnered around sponsorship sales, and more recently hired me to build out the team and product suite to help brands engage more deeply with the Digg audience. Thanks for talking me into this, Jay. I look forward to watching your next success-story unfold.