Web 2.0: A reality check

[slideshare id=468792&doc=internetretailerfinal-1213563231913033-9&w=425]

Have you ever wanted to get grounded in some basic web 2.0 concepts but were afraid to ask? On June 10, my Avenue A | Razorfish colleague Dave Friedman provided some answers in his presentation “Web 2.0: A Reality Check” at the Internet Retailer 2008 Conference. I have posted his presentation for your benefit, and here are some highlights:

It’s not about the technology

Web 2.0 is not a technology. It’s a technology wedded to a culture of collaboration and creativity on the web. Most importantly, it’s about consumers using digital to collaborate with each other. (Dave actually cited the Wikipedia defintion of web 2.0. Although I enjoy Wikipedia, the defintion seemed verbose and vague.) Example: 84 percent of affluent consumers surveyed by the Luxury Institute use ratings and services before making a purchase.

The driving principle behind web 2.0 – collaboration among people – is not new. People have been relying on each other for information about products and services for as long as merchants have existed. But web 2.0 technologies have turbocharged that experience. (Fortunately Dave resisted the urge to say “Web 2.0 is collaboration on steroids” or else I would have heckled him.)

The web 2.0 tool that matters most to retailers

Retailers usually understand the collaboration part of web 2.0. But they are mystified by the proliferation of web 2.0 media and tools, all of which have quickly formed their own argot: blogs, wikis, widgets, and so on.

Rather than attempt an exhaustive overview of most web 2.0 tools, Dave then focused on the most powerful one for retailers to understand: ratings and reviews, which allow customers to rate products and services and share their ratings with others. Ratings and reviews are a central part of the shopping process now. According to Forrester Research, half of people who shop online first do product research on Amazon.com because of the availability of reviews posted by their peers. Implication: having a rating and review section is not optional. Your customers expect it.

Social shopping

Dave also discussed how web 2.0 has fueled the social shopping phenomenon, or people relying on others to help them shop. The web has always been an effective place to do “surgical shopping,” or using price-comparison and search tools to find the right place at the right time to find a particular product you have in mind. But the problem with surgical shopping is that it’s not fun. Although there will always be a place for surgical shopping, digital can make the process more of an engaging experience by giving consumers the ability to explore different brands and involve your peers in the decision-making process. For example, on Kaboodle.com, consumers can find other people with similar interest in a product or category and share their passion for (or disgust with) their experience.

How retailers can embrace web 2.0

Finally, Dave discussed four ways retailers can embrace web 2.0:

1. Support multi-dimensional product comparisons. Give your customers access to product reviews and ratings even if you sell them through another channel. But make it possible to compare product, features, and styles.

2. Build places to make it easy for customers to play. Make it possible for customers to connect with other people. For instance, the Behr online paint store addresses the typically collaborative process of home design. At behr.com, you can upload photos and create possible designs based on lifestyle and color palette. After you create the ideas, you can share them with friends and family.

3. Engage in the conversation. Customers do want to hear from you – but they want to have a conversation. For example, Overstock.com includes a user forum and product rating function. You can even tell Overstock.com when you find lower prices elsewhere – which gives Overstock.com valuable input from the marketplace in addition to providing a voice for consumers.

4. Give people the ability to take your content and use it in other places. Your customer does not wake up every morning with a burning desire to visit online retailing websites. So make it possible for them to share information about you with their friends via“share with a friend” features. Clothing retailer Karma Loop turns customers into representatives for its brand by making it possible for you to download and design your own widget and post on your Facebook page.

Dave’s concluding point: if you’re still not sure what to do next, use your own network of trusted colleagues to get ideas – in other words, apply a little web 2.0-style collaboration to learn. That’s how Dave wrote the presentation you see on this blog post.

Meantime, check out these reactions in the blogosphere:

Tim Parry, Multichannel Merchant

Phil Windley’s Technometria

I welcome your feedback, too.

Coors embraces Social Influence Marketing™

A May 28 article by Stuart Elliott of The New York Times and a June 8 Associated Press article mention how Coors Brewing Co. has embraced Social Influence Marketing — or employing social media and social influencers to meet the business and marketing needs of the enterprise. As discussed in this blog post, the effort has not been without controversy.

As reported in The New York Times, the Coors Light brand, working with my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish:

  • Launched a MySpace page to strengthen its brand relevance among males aged 21-29. The MySpace page isn’t just another destination plastered with ads. The page provides downloadable widgets such as a Happy Hour Locater that you can use to find bars in your zip code that serve Coors Light, and an “Excuse-o-rator” that generates random excuses to leave work early to celebrate happy hour.
  • Created a viral video, the “Perfect Pour.” The video, posted on YouTube, is a humorous stunt — intentionally and obviously doctored — in which beer drinkers seemingly pour beer flawlessly from the new Coors Light vented wide mouthed can into a drinking glass from impossible angles and locations like behind one’s back or from the top of a roof. The video comes in two versions, one at a party, and the other at a bar.  Since their launch on April 8, the videos have been seen more than 400,000 times.

In both instances, Coors isn’t employing social networking sites and YouTube videos to embrace social media for its own sake. Rather, the company wisely employs social media and the power of viral marketing to achieve two business objectives: build brand with Gen Y males of legal drinking age and promote the vented wide mouth can.

Since The New York Times discussed the efforts, some bloggers have expressed disappointment and even shock that Coors did not disclose the fact that the “perfect pour” videos were actually the work of an agency. The implication is that Coors deceived consumers by not disclosing its role or that of Avenue A | Razorfish.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist, I disagree with the criticism, but I’m also interested in your opinion — should Coors have been more transparent in the effort or not? Here’s my take:

  • How many people seriously believed those perfect pour stunts were the work of amateurs? The opening disclaimer (“this video should not be viewed by anyone under the age of 21”) should be your first clue right off the bat that this is no amateur effort. And it’s obvious from the comments posted on YouTube that most viewers were in on the joke from the start. Some were even critical of the video for not being even more imaginative.
  • Coors is simply tapping into the engaging and social nature of the digital world by providing an entertainment experience. Experiential marketing is all about engaging consumers instead of pushing messages at them. The branding comes through in the obvious product placement of Coors Light and the conversational references to the wide mouth vented can throughout the video. I would argue that Coors revealing its role more obviously would be like a magician explaining a magic trick in the middle of a performance, thus spoiling the fun.

For another perspectives, check out this post from Launch Squad.

I’m interested in your reactions.

Coors embraces Social Influence Marketing™

A May 28 article by Stuart Elliott of The New York Times and a June 8 Associated Press article mention how Coors Brewing Co. has embraced Social Influence Marketing — or employing social media and social influencers to meet the business and marketing needs of the enterprise. As discussed in this blog post, the effort has not been without controversy.

As reported in The New York Times, the Coors Light brand, working with my employer, Avenue A | Razorfish:

  • Launched a MySpace page to strengthen its brand relevance among males aged 21-29. The MySpace page isn’t just another destination plastered with ads. The page provides downloadable widgets such as a Happy Hour Locater that you can use to find bars in your zip code that serve Coors Light, and an “Excuse-o-rator” that generates random excuses to leave work early to celebrate happy hour.
  • Created a viral video, the “Perfect Pour.” The video, posted on YouTube, is a humorous stunt — intentionally and obviously doctored — in which beer drinkers seemingly pour beer flawlessly from the new Coors Light vented wide mouthed can into a drinking glass from impossible angles and locations like behind one’s back or from the top of a roof. The video comes in two versions, one at a party, and the other at a bar.  Since their launch on April 8, the videos have been seen more than 400,000 times.

In both instances, Coors isn’t employing social networking sites and YouTube videos to embrace social media for its own sake. Rather, the company wisely employs social media and the power of viral marketing to achieve two business objectives: build brand with Gen Y males of legal drinking age and promote the vented wide mouth can.

Since The New York Times discussed the efforts, some bloggers have expressed disappointment and even shock that Coors did not disclose the fact that the “perfect pour” videos were actually the work of an agency. The implication is that Coors deceived consumers by not disclosing its role or that of Avenue A | Razorfish.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist, I disagree with the criticism, but I’m also interested in your opinion — should Coors have been more transparent in the effort or not? Here’s my take:

  • How many people seriously believed those perfect pour stunts were the work of amateurs? The opening disclaimer (“this video should not be viewed by anyone under the age of 21”) should be your first clue right off the bat that this is no amateur effort. And it’s obvious from the comments posted on YouTube that most viewers were in on the joke from the start. Some were even critical of the video for not being even more imaginative.
  • Coors is simply tapping into the engaging and social nature of the digital world by providing an entertainment experience. Experiential marketing is all about engaging consumers instead of pushing messages at them. The branding comes through in the obvious product placement of Coors Light and the conversational references to the wide mouth vented can throughout the video. I would argue that Coors revealing its role more obviously would be like a magician explaining a magic trick in the middle of a performance, thus spoiling the fun.

For another perspectives, check out this post from Launch Squad.

I’m interested in your reactions.

Two lessons from the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit

On May 14-15, I helped my employer Avenue A | Razorfish organize its 8th annual Client Summit in New York. Each year at this event, company executives, guest speakers, and clients discuss the state of the art in digital marketing. The theme of the 2008 event was “Rock the Digital World” (an homage to guest keynote speaker Sir George Martin, the fifth Beatle, who gave the audience an inside glimpse at the making of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). At this year’s Client Summit, Avenue A | Razorfish wanted to challenge the audience of digital marketing executives to think of their roles differently — more as leaders, not just developers of successful digital marketing programs. Here are two take-aways for me now that I’ve had a moment to reflect on those hectic two days:

1. Social media hits the mainstream. More than once, our guests noticed the number of times our agenda speakers discussed social media. I was asked whether Avenue A | Razorfish was trying to make a statement about its importance. Well, yes and no. On the surface, there certainly was an impressive line-up from the social media realm: Charlene Li of Forrester Research drew upon her book The Groundswell to deliver an insightful keynote about the ways social media are changing the conversation between the consumer and marketer. My colleague Shiv Singh hosted a panel on applying social media as part of Social Influence Marketing. Megan O’Connor of Levi’s demonstrated how the Levi’s 501 Design Challenge used a social community to build brand with female consumers. Ted Cannis and Olivier Pierini of Ford Motor Company showed how Ford embraces social media inside and outside the company through efforts like the Ford blikinet and the Ford Global Auto Shows blog. And Andy England, CMO of Coors, touched upon social media several times (e.g., the Coors Light MySpace page) as he described the ways that Coors has embraced digital in its marketing. But here’s the thing: we did not deliberately set out to pack the agenda with social media. All we wanted to do was find some cutting-edge content to make marketers think of new ways of embracing the digital world, and the social media examples like Levi’s and Ford bubbled to the surface organically. This story just goes to show how social media is becoming a natural part of our lives, regardless of our intentions.

2. The importance of marketing as an experience. Avenue A | Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich discussed how the future of marketing is creating experiences that engage the consumer, not plastering marketing messages across the digital world. (Example: the Post Cereals Postopia website doesn’t push messages about Post Cereal; it’s an immersive world, hosted by Post Cereals, that families can enjoy.) Two Client Summit speakers showed what Clark meant. John McVay, the Avenue A | Razorfish client partner for AT&T, performed a live demonstration of how Microsoft Surface table technology can make the purchase of mobile devices fun through a touch-screen experience. (By the way, to pull off the demo, our production team needed to mount a camera in the ceiling of the ballroom of the Sheraton New York.) Then Terri Walter, Avenue A | Razorfish vice president of Emerging Media, and David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab performed an audience participation game that’s best described through this blog post by my colleague Iain McDonald of our Sydney office (which operates locally under the name Amnesia). Basically Terri and David made us think about how an an advertiser can create a branded game experience for any large gathering people — say a theater full movie goers waiting for a movie to start. Why sit around watching cheesy ads in a theater when we can interact with the movie screen and each other through a game that employs a webcam? I would happily do that if an advertiser will participate.

So, to summarize both ideas from the 2008 Client Summit in one sentence: the future of marketing is tapping into the social and immersive nature of the digital world to create engaging experiences, not to push messages.

By the way, many thanks to Deidre Everdij and the team at Highlight Event Design for producing our most demanding Client Summit ever. Deidre and her team saved our butts many times throughout the show. Talk about rocking the digital world! You can read more about the Client Summit here and here.

Two lessons from the Avenue A | Razorfish Client Summit

On May 14-15, I helped my employer Avenue A | Razorfish organize its 8th annual Client Summit in New York. Each year at this event, company executives, guest speakers, and clients discuss the state of the art in digital marketing. The theme of the 2008 event was “Rock the Digital World” (an homage to guest keynote speaker Sir George Martin, the fifth Beatle, who gave the audience an inside glimpse at the making of the seminal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). At this year’s Client Summit, Avenue A | Razorfish wanted to challenge the audience of digital marketing executives to think of their roles differently — more as leaders, not just developers of successful digital marketing programs. Here are two take-aways for me now that I’ve had a moment to reflect on those hectic two days:

1. Social media hits the mainstream. More than once, our guests noticed the number of times our agenda speakers discussed social media. I was asked whether Avenue A | Razorfish was trying to make a statement about its importance. Well, yes and no. On the surface, there certainly was an impressive line-up from the social media realm: Charlene Li of Forrester Research drew upon her book The Groundswell to deliver an insightful keynote about the ways social media are changing the conversation between the consumer and marketer. My colleague Shiv Singh hosted a panel on applying social media as part of Social Influence Marketing. Megan O’Connor of Levi’s demonstrated how the Levi’s 501 Design Challenge used a social community to build brand with female consumers. Ted Cannis and Olivier Pierini of Ford Motor Company showed how Ford embraces social media inside and outside the company through efforts like the Ford blikinet and the Ford Global Auto Shows blog. And Andy England, CMO of Coors, touched upon social media several times (e.g., the Coors Light MySpace page) as he described the ways that Coors has embraced digital in its marketing. But here’s the thing: we did not deliberately set out to pack the agenda with social media. All we wanted to do was find some cutting-edge content to make marketers think of new ways of embracing the digital world, and the social media examples like Levi’s and Ford bubbled to the surface organically. This story just goes to show how social media is becoming a natural part of our lives, regardless of our intentions.

2. The importance of marketing as an experience. Avenue A | Razorfish CEO Clark Kokich discussed how the future of marketing is creating experiences that engage the consumer, not plastering marketing messages across the digital world. (Example: the Post Cereals Postopia website doesn’t push messages about Post Cereal; it’s an immersive world, hosted by Post Cereals, that families can enjoy.) Two Client Summit speakers showed what Clark meant. John McVay, the Avenue A | Razorfish client partner for AT&T, performed a live demonstration of how Microsoft Surface table technology can make the purchase of mobile devices fun through a touch-screen experience. (By the way, to pull off the demo, our production team needed to mount a camera in the ceiling of the ballroom of the Sheraton New York.) Then Terri Walter, Avenue A | Razorfish vice president of Emerging Media, and David Polinchock of the Brand Experience Lab performed an audience participation game that’s best described through this blog post by my colleague Iain McDonald of our Sydney office (which operates locally under the name Amnesia). Basically Terri and David made us think about how an an advertiser can create a branded game experience for any large gathering people — say a theater full movie goers waiting for a movie to start. Why sit around watching cheesy ads in a theater when we can interact with the movie screen and each other through a game that employs a webcam? I would happily do that if an advertiser will participate.

So, to summarize both ideas from the 2008 Client Summit in one sentence: the future of marketing is tapping into the social and immersive nature of the digital world to create engaging experiences, not to push messages.

By the way, many thanks to Deidre Everdij and the team at Highlight Event Design for producing our most demanding Client Summit ever. Deidre and her team saved our butts many times throughout the show. Talk about rocking the digital world! You can read more about the Client Summit here and here.

Don’t miss Pangea Day May 10

Indiana Jones isn’t the only movie blockbuster this summer. On May 10, get ready for Pangea Day: a first-of-its kind global film festival broadcast live in more than 100 countries to promote tolerance and understanding of other cultures. You might have heard about Pangea Day in the blogosphere. Here’s a quick overview of what it is, how you can participate, and why it matters.

What is Pangea Day?

The purpose of Pangea Day is to use the power of film to foster tolerance and understanding of other cultures. From 2:00-6:00 p.m. Eastern Time May 10, Pangea Day will broadcast 24 short films, music, and presentations to a global audience through public screenings, television, the internet, and mobile devices. The films were chosen from an international competition based on their ability to inspire us to see the world through other people’s eyes. You can view details on the Pangea Day films here. On the Pangea Day website, you’ll learn about efforts from personalities like Sumit Roy, an independent filmmaker from India who contributed Dancing Queen, a brief movie about the joys of dance (shot on a mobile phone).

Continue reading

Don’t miss Pangea Day May 10

Indiana Jones isn’t the only movie blockbuster this summer. On May 10, get ready for Pangea Day: a first-of-its kind global film festival broadcast live in more than 100 countries to promote tolerance and understanding of other cultures. You might have heard about Pangea Day in the blogosphere. Here’s a quick overview of what it is, how you can participate, and why it matters.

What is Pangea Day?

The purpose of Pangea Day is to use the power of film to foster tolerance and understanding of other cultures. From 2:00-6:00 p.m. Eastern Time May 10, Pangea Day will broadcast 24 short films, music, and presentations to a global audience through public screenings, television, the internet, and mobile devices. The films were chosen from an international competition based on their ability to inspire us to see the world through other people’s eyes. You can view details on the Pangea Day films here. On the Pangea Day website, you’ll learn about efforts from personalities like Sumit Roy, an independent filmmaker from India who contributed Dancing Queen, a brief movie about the joys of dance (shot on a mobile phone).

Continue reading