June 2009

MetaBusinesses and the Aggregation of Anything

The Internet and technology makes it so easy to do anything.

  • Want to be a musician? Grab a mic, plug it into your computer, hit record.
  • Want to make a movie? Grab a camera, edit on your computer.
  • Want to be a journalist? Create a blog, start writing.
  • Want to learn a new language? Download language software.
  • Want to be an artist? Draw a picture and make it available online.
  • Want to invent something? Sketch an idea and outsource production?
  • Want to be in finance? Use the latest in market analysis software.

Point is, as technology makes our lives easier it also becomes easier for anyone anywhere, to create something of value for the rest of us to use or consume. It really is incredible.

As a result, we’ve seen this mass explosion of user generated [fill in the blank] because the barriers of entry to do anything are being reduced every single day. This creates an overwhelming amount of information, ideas, music, movies, businesses, services or whatever else you can think of. There are so many options and so many choices. How are you supposed to know what’s best or most relevant to you? How are we supposed to know what’s right or wrong, good or bad, true or false? I mean, people actually thought actor Jeff Goldblum died because they read it on Twitter (video below).

With all of this noise creation comes an opportunity to create filters or smart methods of aggregation. A sort of Meta-Business if you will. This concept isn’t new, but the methods that will be used will be.

Some quick examples:

  • Brazen Careerist – Aggregates “top Gen Y thought leaders” thereby filtering the noise of all the other junk of us millennial
  • StockTwits – Aggregating all of the stock market conversation using Twitter, and more recently have begun aggregating a network of top financiers
  • Properat – Intelligent filters for email or “Assistance for enterprise users to manage the growing volume of e-mail and to seamlessly embrace new messaging media” (In the finals of Cisco’s 09′ Global Business Competition)
  • The Hype Machine – Collection of music from all over the world both user generated and by well known artists
  • Lotame – A collection of consumer insights and web properties, that allow advertisers and marketers to pick the most relevant consumer segments for their marketing needs (Disclosure: My current employer)
  • Digg – Filtering the most popular stories online

Their are plenty of people and companies doing this aggregation and filtering thing already, in very smart ways, and it’s only the beginning.

(Video – Colbert: “According to multiple tweets..actor Jeff Goldblum passed away on Thursday in New Zealand“)

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jeff Goldblum Will Be Missed
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Jeff Goldblum
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A Collection of Quotes – Volume 1

I typically use this blog for somewhat coherent thoughts. When I see things I like and don’t have time to write about them, they either make it to my tumblr account, or to my twitter & Facebook update.

Here are some of those quotes from the past few months:

“creativity, which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value, more often than not, comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things”
“You cannot plan innovation. You cannot plan invention. All you can do is try very hard to be at the right place and be ready”
“Trust matters in a networked world. Trust is your most important currency”
“Real competition comes from the sport of business.”
— Mark Cuban – The Sport of Business
“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but to be better than your previous self.”
— An old Hindu proverb
“You see things and say ‘Why?’ I dream things and say ‘Why not?’”
— George Bernard Shaw
“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”
— Nicollo Machiavelli
“Ranting is how you get the sludge out of the way so the genius can slide out on greased skids.”
— Joel D Canfield
Any of these worth anything to you?
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Missing the Mark on Social Media

(This post can also be found on the Lotame Learnings Blog)

A recent study came out by Knowledge Networks titled: “Internet users turn to social media to seek one another, not brands or products.” Without even looking at the numbers, I think it’s safe to bet that it is in fact true that “Internet users turn to social media to seek one another, not brands or products.” There are two parts to every statistical experiment: 1) The design and 2) the analysis. In the case of this study, it is a bit troubling to see how biased the experiment is without even reading past the title. What do you think the results would be if I put out a report titled: “Music lovers turn to radio to seek music, not brands or products”, or “Movie lovers turn to movie theaters to seek great new movies, not brands or products.”

The reason marketers are so concerned with “Social Media” is because they realize that this is where users spend most of their time. This is where they “seek one another” to connect, engage, and share (in many cases about brands and products). According to a report from The Nielsen company, which, was distributed at San Francisco Ad tech:

“The Internet remains a place of continuing innovation, with users finding new ways to integrate online usage into their daily lives,” said Charles Buchwalter, SVP, Research and Analytics, Nielsen Online. “In recent years the Internet has changed dramatically as people seek more personalized relationships online. In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically. Advertisers are starting to positively re-assess the value of the online experience and create more meaningful relationships with consumers.

And this data cannot be ignored.

Some major highlights from the Global Online Media Landscape report (pdf) regarding online video and social networks:

  • The number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003. The unique audience for online video surpassed that of email in November 2007.

  • Time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period.
  • In the past year, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27% and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
  • There are 87% more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883% more time devoted to those sites.
  • In the past year, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73%.
  • In February 2009, social network usage exceeded web-based e-mail usage for the first time:

It is a marketer’s job to penetrate the most popular mediums, and make their brands or products visible in the most efficient fashion. In today’s world, Social Media is the most popular medium and it is stillgrowing. So indeed, while users go to Social Media to “seek more personalized relationships“, it will still be a marketer’s job to try and penetrate this medium in efficient and meaningful ways. If a marketer can be successful in creating brand affinities with products in social media (which Lotame has had much success in doing – one example), then everyone wins as the consumer is able to find relevancy and the marketers are able to reach their target audience.

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