Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Most recently in the Marketing Category

Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation.

Seth is on the Media Lab Advisory Council.

I streamed it to Facebook Live and posted the video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

Federated Media is doing a campaign with Wikia for HP to get people to talk about PC’s to promote the hot new HP Blackbird. The Blackbird is a high-end, water cooled mod-friendly PC designed for gamers and other high-end users. They are trying to get people to talk about PC needs and the Blackbird on the Blackbird Wikia site.

They asked me to do a video so here it is.

FWIW, I think it’s a cool idea. I wasn’t paid to do the video although I’m an investor in Wikia so obviously benefit from this.

Oh, and they are giving away free Blackbirds to some of the people who participate in the conversation on the Wiki.

Old school user generated media ads

A subway mirror with an ad. In Web20-ese that's "Advertising driven user generated media".

Last night was the launch party of CGM Marketing. It is a joint venture between Digital Garage, Asatsu DK, Dentsu and Cyber Communications (CCI). (Press release)

I co-founded Digital Garage in 1994. My little web/IT company called Eccosys made a joint venture with and later merged with the Garage group headed by Kaoru Hayashi. The Garage group was involved in advertising, marketing and content. We were their little Internet engine that could. In the early days of Eccosys, I had been talking to Yahoo about doing Yahoo Japan. After Softbank invested, it was clear that I wasn't going to get to run Yahoo Japan. I was offered 1% of Softbank Japan by Masa Son, but I turned it down. (Maybe I should have taken it. ;-P) Soon after, I was contacted from a friend at Infoseek about starting Infoseek Japan. We quickly shifted gears and started getting Infoseek Japan up. Softbank set up a joint venture with Dentsu, the #1 ad agency in Japan and called it Cyber Communications. They were tasked with figuring out how to sell ads on Yahoo Japan and interfacing with the agencies. We turned around and got Hakuhodo the #2 agency, Asatsu the #3 agency, Daiichi Kikaku, Yomiuri Kokoku and Daiko and created the Digital Advertising Consortium (DAC). In aggregate, these ad agencies approximately equalled Dentsu in size.

Infoseek had pioneered the idea of CPM ads, selling inventory based on impressions. At the time, none of the ad agencies liked the idea or thought they could sell it to their customers. They understood television GRP, but it was really a measurement of effect. The notion that you could sell ads by how many people actually viewed it, instead of the "value of the spot" was sort of a non-starter. We set up a study group/feasibilty study period for six months where we had people from all of the member agencies come together and talk and learn and eventually try to explain to sales teams in their respective groups. Infoseek launch around 6 months after Yahoo Japan, and we launched with a healthy rotation of ads.

Eventually, Internet ads were a big success and and CCI and DAC are now both public companies. Infoseek Japan now lives inside of Rakuten and is still one of the top portals in Japan, outliving the parent which was purchased and smothered inside of Disney.

In reflection, Infoseek and "home pages" didn't take off in the way I imagined. I thought we would have a lot more personal publishing. Instead, we ended up with big sites that were for all practical purposes, professional media sites. I had dreams of "the death of advertising" 10 years ago and had thought that personal publishing and targeted advertising would disinter-mediate some of the lying and stupidity. We didn't get that far.

So here we are - blogs, wikis, tags, Technorati, RSS/Atom, and the web looks a lot more like what I had envisioned 10 years ago. The online ad business is more innovative than its old media counterpart, but it has become mostly an inventory/sales business. So lets try this again. This time, we decided to hook up with Dentsu the #1 ad agency, Asatsu the #3 ad agency and CCI, the competitor to the company we set up to sell Infoseek ads.

Although I don't like the word "Consumer" in the "Consumer Generated Media Marketing" name, the idea behind this company is to try to take it the next step. (I wish we could use "user") At the first meeting yesterday, I said that I thought that advertising, PR and marketing would converge into "communications". That companies that created or improved good/great products would communicate with their users and that it was about getting involved in the conversation. It was not about spending money to force yourself in front of people who didn't want to hear about your message. It was also not about charging people to participate in "content". It was about people having conversation and about companies knowing when, how and where to say the right thing so that they contributed to the conversation and were welcome in it.

Clearly, the first step is to figure out things like ads that are smart about blogs, tags, time, context. It is also about treating the blogger and the advertiser equally where the ads reflected the desire of the person having the conversation as well as the desires of companies to participate in them.

I was saying all of this in a room full of ad agency executives. It is always sort of funny talking about the end of people's businesses. On the other hand, many of the senior members there were the same guys I was talking to 10 years ago trying to explain CPM and banner ads. I felt privileged to be allowed some suspension of disbelief as well as some trust that we'd try to figure out where the business was. (I don't think anyone REALLY thought that DAC was going to become a public company 10 years ago.)

I think the world is more complex than back in the Infoseek days, but we have a lot more experience and trust this time around. It was a really nice feeling shaking hands with people I hadn't seen for almost a decade - all of us very eager to work together again. This time we get to skip the phase where they think I'm crazy and jump right into figuring out the ad business around Technorati Japan, Six Apart Japan and hopefully soon Japanese Wikia. Technorati is the "secret sauce" and shiny new thing that Infoseek had been 10 years ago.

I am going to be on the board of this company, but will not run it. My role will be to bring new things to them, try to help them with their bearings and stir things up once in awhile.

Disclosures/disclaimer: I am an investor in Technorati, Six Apart and Wikia. I'm an advisor to Digital Garage. Digital Garage is the Japanese partner for Technorati and operates Technorati Japan. I am on the board of and GM of International for Technorati, I am the chairman of Six Apart Japan. I am on the board of Technorati Japan and and am involved heavily in its operation.


Interesting post on the blog of PR man Richard Edelman about the future of media.

Extracted highlights:

* The largest 50 Web companies are attracting 96% of the ad spending on line.

* 9.5 million homes in the US now have TiVo or another digital video recorder. 64% of DVR users skip all ads and an additional 26% skip through most ads. The number of homes with DVRs is expected to triple in the next five years.

* Every dollar coming out of print advertising revenue for newspapers is replaced by only 33 cents online.

Changes to the media landscape are dramatic. I think many in the media industry have not yet internalized these numbers.


A 30-minute business idea in globalizing the many eBay sites around the world.

While it may not work for my bathroom sink on sale now in Paris, if you found items that were cheaper in one market than another and the shipping costs were low, you could safely bid in one country's ebay to sell in another.

This is something that you could automate for certain objects.

The idea was suggested by Mahesh Murthy at the SIME conference in Stockholm last week and I cannot see anything against it.

The only hinderance is if eBay started offering such a service.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Got an early exclusive look at a fascinating survey by ACNielsen about online shopping worldwide.

The study of 21,000 web users in 38 countries, to be made public later today, found that online shopping habits vary radically by country.

The US is way behind Europe in the amount of online shopping (ranking 11 worldwide), perhaps because mall shopping is so much easier than shopping in a European city. This encourages Europeans to shop online.

What people purchase online is very different country-by-country. In South Korea one third of online shoppers purchase nutritional/cosmetic goods, while the global average is just 10 percent.

Payment for online shopping - not surprisingly - are dominated by credit card (visa) and bank transfer globally.

BUT cash on delivery is the second most popular way to pay for purchases in Europe!

I was surprised by Europe's cash on delivery preference, but affirmed it last night at a dinner in Paris. French people at the supper said they do not trust the web so prefer to see the goods before paying. They also said their lack of trust makes them very reluctant to use eBay!

Similar to cellphones, the technology of online shopping may be uniform, but the way in which people interact with it varies by country.

Anyone come across other differences of usage of an identical platforms?

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Inevitable with the narrow-casting of magazines that Germany now has a magazine about divorce.

Reminds me of the launch of a magazine in the US for gay parents. (Apologies for this being a Times Select link.)

These magazines, Rosenkrieg along with And Baby magazine, show how publishers often miss obvious socioeconomic groups due to prejudices or oversight.

Both gay parents and divorcing couples are willing to pay large sums of money for information relating to their situation and there are many advertisers keen to hit those demographics. For years, however, no magazines addressed those issues.

Be interesting to compare the categories of popular Blogsites with the available publications to see where the low barriers to entry of Blogs has discovered a demographic ripe for a glossy publication.

This once again shows the strength of interacting with consumers (readers) during conception of a project.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

My experiences in changing cities five times and continents three times in the last 18 months have given me an insight into the shallowness of certain aspects of globalization from a consumer perspective.

(My experiences are used merely as example I know well, not because I think they are of world significance. )

I first had an American Express card in Hong Kong, then in the US and now in France. When I applied for the new Amex card in the US and in France, I was assured that my membership date would go back to when I first joined.

Each time I got the card, however, (my French card just arrived) they considered me a new member. A longer term of membership can confer benefits.

When I complained to the French Amex yesterday, the customer service person explained that American Express in Hong Kong is not the same as American Express in France. Funny, because that is not what their advertising seems to imply.

I had a similar experience with HSBC. Their Hong Kong service has been excellent (great website), so I checked out the bank in the US and then here in France. Each time I was informed that although they market the bank as HSBC in these different places, each bank is fairly independent country-by-country. They said this is partly due to banking legislation that varies in each jurisdiction.

What generalizations can be drawn? Products (McDonalds burgers, Coke, etc) globalize more quickly than services?

Seth Godin
My Secret Project and the Bounty

I need your help.

I'm looking for three special people this summer to work on a secret project. No, I can't tell you what it is. Yes, I can tell you about the internships: Seth's Summer Intern Project.

Find me someone I successfully hire and you get $1,000 and the perverse satisfaction of knowing that you made a good match. Find me two and you get twice as much!

Seth is one of the smartest and most interesting people I know. If I were looking for an internship, I'd jump on this.

Seth, if anyone gets referred through me, please do not give me the money. Please donate it to the EFF, Creative Commons, the Metabrainz Foundation and OSI in equal parts.

Now for you tax wizzed out there. If this were to happen, is this a taxable event for me?

While preparing for my talk in Melbourne, I was IM'ing with my sister who I steal a lot of my material from these days. We were talking about Naruto, which I blogged about earlier in the context of the Naruto Matrix Reloaded AMV. On the site, the author says, "To clarify, it's as much of a Naruto advertisement as it is a Matrix parody" (emphasis added) We were talking about the amazing fan community around Naruto.

If you go to the site that lists the BitTorrent files of Naruto, you will see that fans have subtitled the episodes into a variety of languages like Hebrew, Portuguese, French... When new episodes of Naruto come out, the fans get together on IRC and other fora and collaborate and create subtitled versions and put them online. If you search for Naruto on, you find a page where the fans are voting for the DVD release and the notice says that they will notify the publisher of the voting. (It would be interesting to find out if the publisher or the fans initiated this.) It also appears that when a local DVD is released, the fans take down their subtitled episodes for that region. By allowing the fans to create demand, the publishers are using these file sharing networks and illegal derivative works as an extremely efficient form of marketing. Thanks to the network of Internet anime fans, Naruto is still niche, but popular globally.

This kind of publisher approved "piracy" is not a new thing. Dojinshi, are comics created by fans of Japanese comics. They are illegal derivative works. They make their own stories using famous comics as the base. They have huge conventions and it's an amazing community. The publishers of most of these comics encouraged this dojinshi culture because they realized that this increases the demand for the originals. These derivative works and sharing creates "fans" not "lost customers".

Some will argue that this is niche stuff, but I talked to a marketing guy at TV Tokyo and he said that they are now focused on niche. In the past they tried to appeal to a wide audience including young children and they tried to get a small amounts of money from a lot of people. (Like Pokemon stuffed animals.) Now, with box sets and special edition DVDs, they are finding that niche oriented adults and otaku will spend thousands of dollars on one show. They are able to collect more money from fewer people. I think this is one of the key marketing lessons that we're getting to. Before you tried to get a tiny bit of money from everyone who listened to a song or watched a show. Maybe if we focus on getting more money from fewer people, we can design business models around relationships and physical things rather than the content itself. Digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted.

My sister's been getting most of this information about fandom from her research assistant Rachel Cody.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Several months ago Dave Balter who runs BzzAgent approached Creative Commons about offering their services free of charge. BzzAgent is a word of mouth marketing company and Dave and I have a number of mutual friends who all speak very highly of him. I wasn't familiar with the details of how BzzAgent worked, but getting the help of someone who understood word of mouth sounded good to me at the time.

Last week, Creative Commons announced a partnership with BzzAgent on the blog. This caused a rather fierce reaction from a number of bloggers. Many people argued that BzzAgent was not "clean" because they were not transparent and they gave incentives to their "agents" to spread word of mouth messages. Many people argued that Creative Commons was not a product that was well suited to be marketed by a company like BzzAgents and that such a campaign would undermine the trust and the efforts of the volunteer community. People argued that if there were to be a campaign, it should be organized more like the Spread Firefox campaign and be open and organized by the Creative Commons community and not by BzzAgent. Larry posted a request for feedback on his blog. The Creative Commons team discussed the feedback and Larry and I both talked in length with Dave Balter. In the end, we decided to take this opportunity to launch a campaign ourselves with the support of the existing Creative Commons community. There is a wiki where we are soliciting ideas. Dave Balter has agreed to help us with this new campaign.

I hope that all of this leads to BzzAgent getting constructive feedback and Creative Commons getting support to do a successful SpreadCC campaign. I believe that the discussion became overly emotional and I commend Dave for his apology for his hostile response to criticism. I spoke to Dave a number of times over the last week and I sincerely believe that he is trying to do the right thing and am pained to see people continuing to smear the BzzAgent name. I realize his response to Suw's post was an overreaction, but he has apologized and has taken the lumps. It was Creative Commons that made the mistake, not BzzAgent. I hope this lynch-mobby behavior subsides soon. Dave has been actively trying to take the criticism constructively and in his last post he promises to work on the reward system and had changed his Code to reflect the criticism about transparency. Now BzzAgents are required to disclose that they are BzzAgents when promoting a product. He has also been friendly and has agreed to pull the campaign and help us in any way that he can even though he had already invested the money and launched the campaign. I don't disagree with our decision to change the partnership with BzzAgent to a community driven one, but I think that there is a lot about word of mouth, especially in offline word of mouth, that we can learn from Dave and BzzAgent. Now that this is OUR project and BzzAgent is a peer, I urge people to continue to provide feedback to BzzAgent, but to also try to see how they can help. They are not "creeps". They are good people and they're here to help.

One of the things that I notice more and more these days is the Madison Avenue/Silicon Valley divide. All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin (I blogged about this earlier) is sort of Cluetrain Manifesto written in Madison Avenue-ese. They use completely different language but are beginning to talk about very similar things. If we're going to reach those people who aren't in our current self-selected community, we're going to have to reach out to the offline and main stream media world. CC has been surprisingly successful considering our lack of expertise in this area, but I think we could do a lot more. I think it's time to bridge this divide between the main stream media types and bloggers and one of the things we are going to have to do is cut each other some slack and try to learn instead of fight.

Getting beyond the language (consumer vs user/customer, buzz vs conversation, etc.) I think that trying to understand how conversations work and at what point something becomes "creepy" is a really important discussion. Is it creepy when I blog about a restaurant which gave me extra soup because I said I would blog about them? Is it creepy that the link to Seth's book above is a Amazon link that has an affiliate code to a non-profit that I'm associated with? Is it creepy that someone is is wearing a Creative Commons T-shirt to be "cool" even though he doesn't understand the licenses? My feeling is that if you have transparency and if things like Amazon links are providing value to the conversation rather than detracting from it, it's NOT creepy. And using that test, I don't think BzzAgents is creepy and I think with some tweaking, BzzAgents can be made uncreepy for some of the more sensitive people as well. I think that at the end of this road lies the future of PR and advertising and trying to understand how companies and products can participate in conversations in un-creepy ways is an important question for companies and customers alike.

The American Family Association recently pressured P&G to drop ads on pro-gay shows and web sites through boycotts. I'm glad we don't have them "protecting" us in Japan.

More info on Adam's blog.

Seth Godin sent me a a copy of his new book, All Marketers Are Liars. It's excellent. As usual, it's very provocative and typical Seth Godin. In a way, it's like Cluetrain Manifesto written by someone who speak Madison Avenuese. He writes about how people buy products because of stories and how these stories fit into their worldview. The products and people behind the stories have to be authentic, but people pay for these stories. These stories sell the products, not facts about the products. Most of these stories are not completely true. It reminds me of my Moleskine notebook which has a story that I know isn't really true, but I love the story. My Macintosh is also the same. I know Apple is suing a blogger and has DRM all over iTunes, but for some reason, I still believe the story that they're on my side. (For now.) He also writes about the end of the advertising "message" and that you can't control the story. You don't know where your customer will touch your product/company and get their first impression. Every part of your company has to be authentic and resonate with the story.

The book reminds me of Don't Think of an Elephants by George Lakoff which is about how the Republican Party is successful at telling their story because it fits the frame / worldview of their voters.

Interestingly, Seth is telling a pretty strong story that I believe doesn't fit the worldview of many of the marketers he is talking to. I hope they believe his story. ;-)

He has a blog about the book called Liar's Blog for the book.

Announcing the world's first Contagious Media Showdown. Do you have what it takes to corral enough traffic to win the cash prizes? Can you make the next Dancing Baby, All Your Base, or Star Wars Kid and ride into the sunset with the bounty? This is your chance to prove you are the best in the West.
Organized by the Contagious Media Group at Eyebeam R&D with some sponsorship from Alexa, Creative Commons, Technorati and Datagram. Eyebeam know for their super-cool often-viral art should be sending shivers down Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies' spines.

Stanford graduate student Gary Lerhaupt has created Prodigem Marketplace. It's basically a Bittorrent non-DRM'ed media marketplace.

Prodigem Marketplace
The Prodigem Marketplace allows Prodigem users to sell their independent media (videos, music, etc) while not concerning themselves with traditional bandwidth costs associated with repeated large data transfers. Content providers (YOU!) simply upload their work, set a price, and Prodigem does the rest. Once customers pay for access to the bit torrent peer-to-peer session for your content, Prodigem grants them access so they can begin their download (no DRM). Prodigem collects this revenue, removes 10% + transaction costs (PayPal) and then sends you a monthly check. Ever considered making a living as a Long Tailor? Check out this example for-pay torrent to see what it looks like.


Mechanics Of Becoming An "Ecommonist"

The process of becoming a media retailer couldn't be any easier. To accomodate this new method of transfer, we have added a Copyright Plus Prodigem license to the available licensing options. This simple license allows you to retain copyright over your work while making a specific grant of rights to Prodigem and its users. In effect you are saying that it is fine to share your work so long as it's only through the torrent you created, and since access to the torrent is only granted when payment is received, you get exactly what you are looking for.

You are also free to instead license your work under the Creative Commons. Though with a CC license you are technically granting everyone redistribution rights regardless of venue. This is fine by us if it's okay with you, but does mean that people are free to share without payment. Realizing this conundrum, we are busy mulling over something akin to a "Delayed" Creative Commons license, where Prodigem users will be able to stipulate their work as covered under Copyright Plus Prodigem license, and then on some fixed date of their choosing (eg. 1 year, 5 years) it automatically switches over to a CC license of their choosing. It's like peanut butter and chocolate.

via Howard @ Smartmobs

I'm very interested in the economics of the end of the long tail. My theory is that people will pay, even if they are not forced. I think price, the experience and the lack of DRM should have an impact. There is some data from the unencumbered shareware software world, but it will be interesting to see how this fares for media content. I would also be interested to see how artists using Creative Commons fare against artists using the more restricted Copyright Plus Prodigem license. If this is successful, this will be yet another good example of non-infringing use of P2P to highlight the idiocy Hollywood's position on the Grokster case. (Note that NASA has also started using Bittorrent.)

Blogads has done another survey of blog readers. This year the sample size is 30,079.

via Loic

I'm posting this in full because it's important.

Cory @ Boing Boing Blog
Does "the Long Tail" mean we need longer copyrights?

Chris Anderson's brilliant Wired article, The Long Tail, talks about how indie, obscure and midlist/backlist material is more valuable, in aggregate, than all the glitzy, mainstream top-forty stuff is.

However, when Lawrence Lessig argues for shorter copyright terms, he bases his stuff, in part, on the fact that old stuff is all out of print and can't be brought back into print because of the cost of clearing the copyright to the work.

Are Lessig and the Long Tail irreconcilable? Anderson says no:

Many of those extracting new value from old content are not the original creators or rights-holders. Some of them are repurposing older material, and others are aggregators who have found ways to find new markets for material that's fallen beneath the commercial radar. Either way, they typically aren't the original record label, film studio, publishing house, TV production company or any of the other names that might be on the copyright declaration. They are someone else, probably someone entirely unexpected. This is, after all, the dawn of Remix Culture.

What's changed is the presumption that the primary rights-holder is the best at extracting the commercial potential of creative material. Instead, anyone can do it: the advertising company that remixes an old movie to sell a car; the Linux t-shirt done Warhol-style, or just plain old DJ magic. What you need to encourage this multiplicity of commercialization potential is tiered alternatives to one-size-fits-all copyright, from allowing derivative works (good marketing!) to shorter terms for the sake of the remix-culture social good. I can't think of a better example of that than Lessig's own Creative Commons, which has already become the license of choice for the right side of the Tail, where the commercial imperative is less all-consuming.


(via Copyfight)

Another way to look at this is to look at the marketing cost of promoting some piece of content. It is nearly impossible for someone to sustain a marketing campaign for most content for the lifetime of the copyright. In the past, it is likely that old content would get lost in the archives or disappear all together. With digital technology and remix culture, new creators can discover old music and bring it back. This is what Disney has done with many of their stories. When Disney takes an ancient myth or story and spends money to animate it, it's building on the past, but involved a great deal of creativity. In the same way, many of the people who dig into the tail and discover lost songs and books and are tuning them or putting them in context often add a great deal of creativity in the process. The notion that there is an "origin" of an idea or work and that the creativity stops there is silly. Most creative work is a process of people passing ideas and inspirations from the past into the future and adding their own creativity along the way.

Also, I'm not against businesses making money. I just believe that the cost of marketing is going to increase and the cost of delivery is going to decrease as the Net gets stronger and mass media gets weaker. In a world where discovery is more important than delivery, it's the people who find, remix and direct attention to old stuff that should be rewarded, not the people who deliver it or sit on it waiting for someone to show up.

I've gotten weird email asking me to pimp stuff for them on my blog in the past, but here's someone being asked to pimp American Express by someone saying they are a student studying advertising. He did a traceroute that showed that it might have come from Ogilvy & Mather. Ha! It's like whispering a secret to someone in a stadium wearing a hot microphone.

If it is O&M, it sounds like Bullshit Marketing. Be careful!

The term Bullshit Marketing summarizes methods where customers are not treated as empowered, smart and connected individuals, but as a dumb mass of idiots.

Via Nico

The New York Times says that VW is upset about the fake ad showing a suicide bomber and a Polo. I'm sure everyone has seen a reference to this in their local papers. (In a Japanese newspaper, they had a hand-drawn story-board of the ad.)

For your reference, Wizbang has links to the video.

And just for old time's sake, here are the pages for the Ford SportKa and the Nokia fake ads. (They have links to the videos.)

People used a lot of flash and video during the elections to express their views online. With more bandwidth and easier and easier video editing, video as a form of expression will continue to grow. It's interesting how the TV ad as a form is perfect for twisted humor because it is designed to be short and strong and people are used to the format.

Jeff Jarvis has blogged his thoughts on this.

Silicon Valley 100 is a project by Auren Hoffman. I was lucky enough to make it on the list. The idea is to make a list of "connectors" and send them new gadgets and products to test. Newsweek just did a story about this. I think it is almost like an opt-in focus group. The obvious criticism would be these companies are trying to buy "buzz". The difference between this and some buzz creation companies is 1) it's not stealth 2) they don't tell you what to say. I checked with Auren and he says that we can write whatever we want about the products. When I get a product from Silicon Valley 100, I will state this clearly in any blog post that refers to it and will say what I think. I realize that the fact that we probably get to keep most of the products makes it a bit like bribery, but if it's crap, I'm sure most people will throw it away. I would be most interested in products that are still not on the market where our feedback could be incorporated in the product design. Then our feedback could be more constructive...

Anyway, I'd be curious on people's thoughts.

The first product is a brondell high-tech toilet seat. I told Auren, that this is one product that Japan is a world leader in. I blogged this before, but we have over 50% household penetration. The one in my house and in my office even has anti-stinky gas-gate like air filtration.

UPDATE: Just uploaded a 5 min 4.3 MB conversation with Auren Hoffman, the founder of the Silicon Valley 100.

UPDATE 2: Uploaded it to too. Maybe I should put my media files there instead since archive org does the file conversions for me too...

There is song called Dragostea Din Tei on the Disco-Zone CD by O-Zone. O-Zone was a little known Euro-dance act from Romania... until someone in Japan syched some flash to it. Then someone else. Here is the original music video. Then someone made a video. Suddenly, this CD is a hit and many of my friends are ordering it from Amazon. I bet they don't know what hit them.

This reminds me of the badger badger/potter potter meme and the Yatta meme. There is some peculiar element of certain songs that gets people's creative juices going. I think they have to be 1) silly, 2) in a foreign language, 3) have that "can't get it out of my head" element. It's the tip of the long tail wagging. Maybe artists should make synching rights available to encourage more of this creative behavior in a mainstream way... or maybe not. ;-P

UPDATE: Seth was just infected by email...

UPDATE 2: More on O-Zone from Stefan. "The funny-looking name Numanuma is actually a repetition of two Romanian words, 'nu ma' (or, to be correct, 'nu mă') that are part of the lyrics of O-Zone's smash hit 'Dragostea din tei' ('Love in the lime-tree'). More precisely, they're part of 'nu mă iei', which translates into 'you don't take me [away with you]'... Think of all the paraphernalia you can, from ubiquitous (and annoying) ringtones onwards... The raw matter (that is, the original O-Zone music) is renown for its supremely dimwitted lyrics..." I want the ringtone... ;-P

I'm off to Hawaii to the Sony Open Forum. It's a very small gathering of Sony executives, academics and business people who meet during the Sony Open in Hawaii, a PGA tournament. This is the third year I've been invited to go. I really suck a golf. I think I'm the only participant who isn't going to participate in the pro-am tournament. The first year, I promised I would learn to golf by the next year. Last year I made the same promise. I'm returning again, not a single step closer to being good enough to participate.

I've been asked to make some remarks to kick off the session on "Re-examining Threats and Opportunities of the Broadband Age". Here is a summary of what I think I'm going to talk about.

The proliferation of broadband into the home has dramatically changed the way people communicate and consume content. Hollywood and many copyright owners have focused on the illegal file sharing risk of broadband. They have focused on digital rights management technology and laws prohibiting file sharing and the creation of technology which enables file sharing. My view is that the success of the iPod and iTunes has been due to a focus on user experience and marketing INTO this new behavior. Content consumption has become an integral part of communications and community yet most content distribution systems are still isolated. Amateurs are also playing an increasing role in the creation, distribution and promotion of content. This new mode of creation, promotion and distribution of content is increasing diversity and there is evidence that it is increasing the overall market, albeit probably content in the "tail". Sony and others should shift their attention to the "tail" of the market, focusing on enabling new user behavior and increasing overall usability. The key is better services at lower prices, not copyright protection. In other words - great and cheap can compete with lousy and free.

I will also talk about Creative Commons and the idea that Sony should enable all of their devices with open systems to allow the creation, tagging and sharing of free content and that in the long run, the "sharing economy" may exceed the size of the commercial content industry.

Last year I talked about something similar, which you can imagine sparked a lively debate. I'm sure it will be interesting again this year.

I'm sitting in the Italian Parliament (I think.) The panel I was on was dealing with the impact of digital/Internet on content creation and distribution. It started yesterday and continued today. I think it lasted about seven hours or so in total. I found myself in violent disagreement at the beginning because they kept talking about piracy. The interesting thing about this panel (probably more common in other cultures, but new for me) was that we had to come to a written consensus by the end of the session and present it in the Parliament building. It would then be distributed to politicians across Europe as a recommendation.

I found myself negotiating like some UN diplomat.

In the end, here is where we ended up on a few of my "hot buttons".

Organized, for-profit, commercial piracy was different from P2P file sharing by individuals. We could not agree on the impact of P2P file sharing, but we agreed that punishing file sharing was not the only/best way to deal with the issue. I pushed for a stronger stance, my position being that as Chris Anderson says in The Long Tail, it's a matter of price and convenience. People will pay if the experience is better. That was not included in the statement, but "education" was used instead. Blah. I just made a statement that I disagree with this and that there is not enough evidence that P2P filesharing of music is really bad for the music industry.

It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.

This part turned out quite well in the statement. They said that CC was a tool, not to steal from artists, but to give them the choice to share and lower the parasitic costs (legal) of choosing a license. They concluded that CC was NOT a threat as they had originally envisioned, but a complimentary and a good thing. The tone was very pro-artist and less tolerant of distributors, the idea of giving more control to artists seemed to be quite attractive.

I'm about to have a chance to object to some of the issues I see in the statement and give an address about my thoughts. I'm going to talk about the value of the Long Tail and Creative Commons.

Fantastic article in Wired by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail. You MUST read it. Physical distribution limits the number of titles of books, music, DVDs that can be stocked. He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. He calls this "The Long Tail". We can essentially double the market for most content by figuring out ways to help people find the stuff they are looking for in the long tail and deliver it online.

He also makes another important point about pricing. The iTunes 99 cents is too expensive. It's based on a calculation to protect CD distribution. He suggests that the price should be based on how much your time is worth. In other words, at what price is it not worth your time to find, download and tag a track from a file sharing network. He thinks that maybe this number is around 20 cents for a college student.

I absolutely agree with his analysis and it's great that he's got so many figures and facts to support the argument.

In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people...
written by Momus in 1991 is very relevant to this discussion. Thanks Boris.

When Jim gave me my first Moleskine notebook, I didn't realize that I would become part of the Moleskine mania. Since then, I see these notebooks everywhere. I have recently been added to the fan blog, moleskinerie. Antoin has some interesting thoughts on the narrative and branding by Mondo e Mondo, the Italian firm making these things.

As someone who was heavily involved in introducing the theory of CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) to Japanese ad agencies, I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking about what comes next after Google AdSense. Ross tried CPI (Cost Per Influence), trying to come up with an index that included the influence of the blogger or site where the ad was placed. This reminded me of the "branding value" or cluster value argument. Also, the idea would be that an influential blog would trigger a word of mouth diffusion. Anyway, inspired by Ross, John Batelle came up with a really cool idea. He writes about sell side ads where bloggers could copy ads that they saw into their blogs if they liked them. The ads would have information about what sorts of sites they could be posted on and other instructions. They would "phone home" to the advertiser who would pay the blogger for the impressions or clickthrus or whatever. The idea is that it would be viral and publisher driven, rather than advertiser driven. It would be set up so that the advertiser could track which site a blogger copied the ad from so that that they could track the diffusion pattern as well.

Anyway, awesome idea. Lets build it!

I get this feeling that the diffusion of new services and technologies such as blogs and social network services are not normal. Normal diffusion patterns are sort of bell curves that track mass media attention and other factors including effort on the supply side. With social network systems, there seem to be regional explosions of users. Orkut now has more Brazilians than Americans and I have yet to hear a good explanation of why. There are very uneven proportion of bloggers in different regions. The last I looked, Poland and Iran seem to have an unnaturally high number of blogs. Does the digital word of mouth nature of social software make it's diffusion faster (viral) and non-linear? Is the diffusion of other technologies in these markets and segments that are networked also change?

Is there anyone doing good work in this area? I'm sure marketers have their theories on this. I can imagine anthropologists and sociologists also studying this. What is the right way to study this?

Loic blogs about his experience with his customers and the French blogging community. This reminds me of when I got my bumps from the Japanese diary community about two years ago for trying to push blogging in Japan. We now have a very good relationship with the Japanese Net community, but it took a lot of work on the part of my team and the delivery on a lot of promises.


Are Blogs Ready for Prime-Time?

June 16, 2004

...A partial profile of blog readers reveals:

* 54% of their news consumption is online
* 21% are bloggers themselves
* 46% describe themselves as opinion makers

...As Henry Copeland, author of the report and CEO of Blogads, summed up: "86% say that blogs are either useful or extremely useful as sources of news or opinion. 80% say they read blogs for news they can't find elsewhere. 78% read because the perspective is better. 66% value the faster news. 61% say that blogs are more honest. Divided on so much else, blog readers appear united in their dissatisfaction with conventional media and their rabid love of blogs."

Interesting statistics derived from a survey of of over 10,000 blog readers. Also asserts that blog readers are older, smarter and spend more money that most people think.

via Smart Mobs

Nigritude Ultramarine. Here you go Anil.

The CNN "Transcript: Ashcroft, Mueller news conference" story has travel ads from Overture. "Targeted" advertising at its best.

via redheadatwork

UPDATE: Hmm... Seems the travel ads are gone now. ;-)


If you tilt a sealed, new Pepsi bottle at 25 degrees and squint at the underside of the cap, you can tell whether it's a winning free-iTunes-track bottle or a try-again bottle. Link (via Futurismic)
I guess this means the bloggers will be getting the music. ;-)

Eeewwww... What ARE YOU THINKING Apple Computer?

I just ordered it anyway, but this is crazy. Microsoft Office is the last thing in the world I'd want to compare iLife with.

via Zeitgeist

Goffman wrote this in 1959. Is this true today?

American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness. These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know; they conceal proficiency in mathematics from their less able consorts; they lose ping-pong games just before the ending.
Mirra Komarovsky
One of the nicest techniques is to spell long words incorrectly once in a while. My boy friend seems to get a great kick out of it and writes back, 'Honey, you certainly don't know how to spell.'
According to the marketing talk on bowling alleys that I heard the other day, there is a funny behavior that is quite common. The guys try very hard to impress girls at the bowling alley and they start out OK, usually doing better than the girls at the beginning. These guys start to get tense and begin to perform more poorly towards the end. The girls, on the other hand, start to get the hang of it, remain relaxed (which is important for bowling) and usually win at the end, leaving the guy grumpy. Many bowling alleys have ping-pong tables which allow the guy to try to regain their pride and allow the girls to give it back.

A Meta Note: reading a book while thinking about what to blog is a slow, but interesting way to read a book. I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings...

I was listening to a marketing presentation the other day and learned an interesting fact. As most of you know, Japanese homes are very small so even married couples often go to "love hotels" to make love. Churn was high and customer retention was traditionally very low because most couples like to experiment with all of the interesting features in the variety of hotels. Recently some love hotels started providing rental lockers, which at first sounds a bit counter-intuitive. Married couples found it convenient to store adult toys and other things that they didn't want their children to find in these lockers. These lockers created a relationship between the customer and the hotel and dramatically increased customer retention. Now these lockers are used to store all sorts of "Not Safe For Home" things.

Apparently, lockers in almost any industry are a great way to lower churn.

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