Get your web marketing education, you Old Media guy..

Jeremiah Owyang, from Podtech, has this beautiful summary of the various web marketing forms and tactics. I think of this post as the beginnings of the definitive guide that will enter all major marketing textbooks over the next couple of years. Get a headstart on everyone else NOW. If your company’s marketing director is pondering whether web marketing is restricted to mailing lists, newsletters or think that buying banner ads is really advanced, get ready for a re-education.

My favourite part is Section 5 “Community and Social Media Marketing”. I believe widgets will rule this year and get really mainstream, after Vista launches.


Naked! A Generation on the Web

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.

halloweensf.jpgHave we not heard this from many of those old fogeys who dun really GET IT? Those who thinks blogs, social networking sites like Myspace, Facebook, Friendster are just disasters waiting to happen because they read about online paedophiles, spammers, stalkers, phishers who steal your account info, from the newspapers? How many of your friends are real camwhores?? =) FYI, i am not one but just to prove a point to you on the pic to my left: a complete stranger at SF Halloween Parade 2005.. (yea, its an old pic, check me out on facebook for newer ones) Well, its true they dun get it, they think the web is a fad and that the young today simply have no sense of decency nor understand what privacy is…

They could be dead wrong, but the young generation’s new web habits of exposing our public lives is certainly no different from the “Rock and Roll” culture that swept mainstream society decades ago. Titled “The Biggest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll”, New York Magazine has this fantastically well-written article on what we know and identify with while the rest simply are clueless…

Thanks to Lightspeed Ventures for this..

Regulation of social media?

UK seeks to ban and criminalize companies that engage in creation of fake marketing materials like flogs, splogs or other websites and claiming them to be users/ customers’ creations. Under charges of misrepresentation, social reviews will now be regulated to ensure higher authenticity. From TimesOnline:

Online consumer reviews are playing an ever greater role in shaping shopping habits, with websites such as TripAdvisor for the travel industry being seen as increasingly influential.

However, a string of businessman in the UK and the US have been caught posing as supposedly independent customers in an attempt to boost sales.

A recent investigation found that poorly rated travel establishments could lift their reputations from one to four stars in hours by posting fictional positive reviews.

Could this be the kneejerk response following Edelman PR agency’s unsuccessful forays into blogging for their clients, particularly “WalmartGate”? And more recently Pay Per Post’s brush with the FTC guys as covered here, here and here?

What next? Is this the beginning of an avalanche of legislation by govts around the world? Will Big Brother be stepping more to regulate the blogosphere?

Going Gaga over Citizen Advertising

Church of the Customer blog has the lowdown on user-generated advertisements making it to the Super Bowl this year. But first, see this CBS News article for a view from mainstream media.

This is not good news. The shift from professionally produced to user-generated advertising makes us poorer in both economic and cultural terms. The arrival of user-created commercials at Super Bowl XLI represents the American Idolization of traditional entertainment — the degeneration of professional content into a “talent show” for amateurs.

In complement, CBS was really mournful in the rest of the reporting, with phrases like “the professional creator is being “disintermediated.”, the “tsumani” of downward pressure on wages created by new technology” because amateur productions cost a minscule fraction of professional ones.

Amid all the hoopla of traditional advertising agencies dying or making a renaissance with this new channel of ad-making, I found this excerpt from Church of the Customer insightful:

Madison Avenue is not in the business of creating fans — it’s in the business of widespread message distribution. But Mad Ave’s influence and energy are fading not just because technology-assisted creativity is commoditizing their business, but because citizen-created content doesn’t care about New York’s infatuation with status and positioning debates. The power centers of influence are shifting to Google’s server farms and thousands of online communities. The fans have co-opted Madison Avenue’s work. Super Bowl ads are a circus freak show, and that’s how about much influence they carry because the minutiae of product, brand and company discussions are being shaped in online forums, which Google follows like a studious court reporter. The points made in those forums are often carried forward to offline discussions, where they’re added to the mixing bowl discussions of personal experiences of people and ultimately, their purchase decisions. There’s your advertising.

Change is good if its for the better. The dynamic range of quality for amateur productions is undoubtedly way higher than professional counterparts. But feeling apologetic for slow-moving dinosaurs in the advertising world who do not understand the new realities of social media today is wrong.

Who feels sorry for retailers with great products who cannot afford the huge fees of ad agencies? Who feels sorry for the customers who pay inflated prices? Why feel sorry for traditional advertising when you can use web forums, blogs, podcasts to reach out and interact with your consumers directly and more personally?

An example of a user-gen ad here

(This) Revolution will not be televised: Obama, Politics, Web and Social Media

The title of Joe Trippi’s book was one that really reaffirmed my faith in social media on the web. Joe Trippi was the campaign manager of Howard Dean, the unsuccessful 2004 Democratic presidential nominee for 2004, who was credited to be the first presidential and perhaps first political, candidate to use the Internet to raise his profile and funds significantly, with the Web.


Now, add the the 2008 presidential race. Today, Barack Obama launches his presidential campaign. His website is immensely integrated with social media. If you don’t know who Obama is, you might easily have mistaken his website to be another new Web 2.0 startup, complete with a blog that updates his events, speeches and appearances. There is a webcast earlier today of his announcement in the home state of Illinois where he’s a senator. His website encourages visitors to


There are highly identifiable badges, buttons and links to popular social media sites such as social networking site Facebook, photo sharing site Flickr, No1 video site Youtube and he even asks pple to create their own “parties” (more for rallying supporters than drinking). Trust me, he has been doing this for quite a while. I am a “friend” of Obama based on our Facebook profile linkups. 😀

His campaign team obviously understands the power of the internet in reaching out effectively to the electorate, especially the young voters who might just be the swing voters this time as Obama inspires the politically disenfranchised and disillusioned voters who are sick of the mudslinging divisiveness of the “You’re either with us or against us” Bush era. Obama brings an invigorating and uplifting message. Even if he might not wind, his message is more important than the man himself – to let the people take back politics from the politicians. Using social media, get your friends, family involved in the process again of grassroots activism.

Its not just Barack Obama. The 2008 Democratic presidential nomination has seen Hilary Clinton announce her candidacy (click to see videos) on her website and video too in addition to network TV. Also John Edwards announced his candidacy with video, later uploaded on Youtube, amidst a backdrop of debris in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.

There is no better way for the Internet to demonstrate its democratized ways than through Democratic politics. The web revolution conquers the political realm and goodbye and good night, television.

Valuation of Social Networking Sites: A Reality Check

Knowledge@Wharton, in an October 4th article, talks about the irrational exuberance in valuations of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. They compared it to the more stable business models of search engine companies like Google and Yahoo; ecommerce sites like Amazon and eBay. One example of such exuberance is the $900M offer for Facebook in 4th Quarter 2006.

“Last January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, now 22, reportedly turned down a $750 million offer from Viacom, holding out for $2 billion, according to news accounts. This fall he is said to be mulling over a $900 million offer from Yahoo. Those are big numbers considering that the business, started early in 2004, has a modest nine million users and is believed to have annual revenue of around $50 million, though some experts expect that to double soon. If Facebook were valued at 55 times earnings, it would need a $16 million profit to justify a $900 million price.

I particularly like this point on the different types of advertising pricing models that makes argument for valuations based on the oft-quoted metrics of unique visitors and page views, irrelevant.

The problem, as Wharton accounting professor Robert W. Holthausen sees it, is a dearth of information to plug into the standard valuation models. “You have little data on what kind of revenues they can generate and what their cost structure is.”

Valuing advertising-driven sites is particularly hard because the same numbers — such as the number of users or page views — can mean different things depending on how the advertisers are billed, Holthausen adds. “How often do they get paid for that advertising? Is it just when the advertisement appears? Or does there have to be a click through?” Similarly, not every user has the same value. That depends on how much the typical user is likely to spend and what he or she is likely to buy. Finally, Holthausen notes, a site will be more valuable if it uses a proprietary technology than if it simply offers services competitors can easily duplicate.

The full article can be read here.

Friendster Hitches Up with Google

My earlier post on Friendster has a new significant update. Bambi Francisco of Marketwatch informs us of the outcome of an interview with Kent Lindstrom, CEO of Friendster.

The skinny of this interview is that Friendster will now partner Google in making the latter its default search provider, in addition to an advertising deal akin to the Google-Myspace where ads are provided by Google.

Looks like Google gets them all, popular sites like MySpace, legacy ones like Friendster, to boost its online reach and its revenue, without the wholesale purchase of entire communities, an approach favored by Yahoo. This is a smart move by Google to increase its advertising inventory since its current web real estate are not really the destination sites on the web. It needs to literally get on as many online webpages as possible, considering that its hardly the No. 1 in content being served over the web, ceding that title to Yahoo, MSN AOL and MySpace. At the same time, it focuses on doing what it does best, the technical innovation of its web products without dabbling into its weak areas like content development or social networking site management.