July 6, 2011

What kind of Web 3.0 world should we make?

Reid Hoffman
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman (photo by JD Lasica)

Reid Hoffman on pervasive data and how it will impact business in the future

Christopher S. RollysonIn addition to being the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman is a Silicon Valley insider with rich insight into technology trends, markets and building companies.

I attended his presentation at SxSW, where his main message was that the future was bearing down on us, and he prophesied that it would “arrive sooner and be stranger than we think.”

  • He painted the context for his theme, “Web 3.0 as data,” with this timeline:
    • Web 1.0 was a low bandwidth environment in which individuals searched for files online (and on demand). The concept of “cyberspace” was separate from the “real” world. It was an anonymous world in which many people participated as animes.
    • Web 2.0 was a shift in which people increasingly participated with their real identities (MySpace notwithstanding), and the online world became increasingly integrated with the offline world. Social networks mapped social graphs (again, with real people), and most people blogged as themselves. Online became firmly embedded in offline life, as a way to help manage and navigate by using reviews and other buying tools. Wikileaks and the current revolutions in the Middle East are part of this larger trend.
    • Web 3.0 is mostly to do with the massive amounts of active and passive data we are generating. An example of passive data is phone calls from mobile devices. Bandwidth is increasing, which enables video, audio and graphic sharing and data. Hoffman advocates thinking hard about it and acting to protect data. Think about what kind of future we want to create.
  • Web 3.0’s data introduces significant risks to privacy because every transaction, passive and active, is linked to our real identities. Mobile device transactions are constantly tracked, and this is relevant because they are tied to real identities.
  • Hoffman’s biggest fear is how governments could use information to control people. Governments are organizations that are closest to what he called “pure power” (because they integrate information, legal authority and military/police power). They can mine email, text and all other digital data to learn anyone’s social graph.
  • Unlike corporations, government is not incented to care for citizens; he implied it is less accountable. Continue reading
June 22, 2011

How Facebook has quietly created a gold mine for marketers

Facebook ad

Inside the huge banner opportunity created by Facebook

Christopher RollysonFacebook’s development schedule epitomizes the “white water, fast iteration” approach to serving company and customer. Although its mishaps are legendary, it succeeds in consistently fielding a mind-numbing array of features, so it is difficult to keep up and very easy to miss the significance of things.

To wit, very few people people have noticed that Facebook has quietly revolutionized banner ads through a feature that is maligned by users but gold for marketers. This feature has created two opportunities for e-commerce marketers: a new means of inexpensive market research and an easy way to improve relationships with their viewers.

Read on to do this to your competitors before they do it to you.

‘You have removed this ad’: A spark in a dry forest

I hope you have used the “remove this ad” feature that Facebook introduced, I believe, in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. When you mouse over most Facebook ads, you will see an “x” in the far right (1 — see above). When you click the “x” to remove the ad, you get the dialog box beneath, which gives you the radio buttons (2) and the all-important “other.” When you hit “Okay,” you get the gold box. Seems innocuous, right? Wrong. It has begun to change the expectations of your prospects, who will increasingly expect to give feedback on all ads.

Removing ads: Customer viewpoint

I have been using “remove this ad” since it was released, and I have noticed several things about it:

  • There’s very little talk about it online. Any dialog is dominated by users who hate “remove this ad” because they hate ads in general and they would like “removing” the ad to be permanent (i.e. bar chart brains would never reappear). Note that the gold box doesn’t promise banishing the ad. Users don’t care, though.
  • I’ll hypothesize that only a small portion of Facebook users bother to give feedback, but I’ll wager that most of those who do want to do it everywhere.
  • Yes, when you remove the ad, it isn’t banished from your land forever, but clicking the “x” and adding a peppery comment can be satisfying anyway.

Removing ads: A marketer’s viewpoint

Now, think about yourself as a buyer of millions of dollars of banner ads per year, which all CMOs do. What if, for appropriate (geeky) segments you would introduce this functionality in some of your banner ads (not necessarily on Facebook)? This would help you:

  • Conduct low-cost market research by collecting responses; on Facebook itself this is particularly interesting because Facebook knows user demographics. However, off-Facebook, wouldn’t you like to know if readers of certain sites find your ads offensive or …? (you design the responses)
The majority of ‘display’ ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • Improve your relationship with prospects when you give them the option to respond; you suggest that you are interested in their viewpoints.
  • You can take this into account when selecting your ad mix. You read it here, in 2011: The majority of “display” ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • I recommend pilots this year to get ahead of the market. Of course, many of your ads are syndicated, etc., but you can select specific situations to experiment and learn.

Continue reading

February 2, 2011

Social businesses: Glimmers of a macro trend


Social Business Design (CC image by Dachis Group)

Annual look at the best strategies, tactics, case studies & insights in the enterprise space

Christopher RollysonCompared to 2009 and 2008, the past year was a relatively calm one because the amplitude of market gyrations clearly diminished and businesses began to find a new floor on which to build stakeholder expectations. Although I watched with high interest the unfolding financial drama in Europe, I didn’t have the time to conduct the research necessary to do a rigorous interpretation, although I published a brief reflection last week. The big story of the past year was this: 2010 marked a turning point in the adoption of social technologies and in the recognition that analysis and strategy are necessary to achieve consistent results with social initiatives.

Macro trends: Moving from broadcast to relationship building

Until recently, being on Facebook was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction occurred because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening

Social has been in adolescence until recently — “being on Facebook” was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction happened because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening. People feel it when a brand is interested in using social tools to promote itself. They also feel it when a brand is interested in building relationship, which is marked by active listening and responding, along with a relative absence of self-promotion. Brands that build relationship learn that they don’t have to try so hard to promote themselves: when they are truly interested in people, people will promote them. However, this approach remains a future state for most companies. Relationships take serious work — thus, a need for a strategy.

The growing use of strategy is also a harbinger for what I call “social business” (a step beyond social media), in which leaders use social technologies to transform their businesses by collaborating openly with various outside and inside stakeholders to innovate constantly. Early movers will begin emerging this year: Only a few gutsy players will aggressively adopt social business practices in 2011. I believe they can change markets.

Continue reading

February 11, 2010

A gathering of big brains in Marin County

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse Beacon

JD LasicaSpent last weekend at an annual retreat put on by a friend and consultant. This was the biggest gathering to date, with 90 of us from around the U.S. and Europe holed up in Marshall, Calif., near Point Reyes. (I mean holed up literally, given the extreme weather and the lack of Internet and cell phone access throughout.)

This was a retreat, not a conference, so I wasn’t in note-taking mode. But here are a few dozen photos I captured, and some interesting snippets. (We played by Aspen Institute rules, so we could report on comments but not attribute them without permission):

• I helped steer the most spirited discussion of the weekend, alongside author Scott Rosenberg, about the fate of news and journalism as they decouple from daily newspapers. I was surprised by the near-unanimity of the view that the kind of investigative journalism performed by news organizations like the New York Times needs to be preserved. How we get there is a story for another day.

• Coolest allusion of the weekend: to The Tralfamadorians, the creatures in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five who could see in four dimensions, including everything about a person’s past and future.

• Attendee Tom Gruber’s new iPhone app Siri launched during the retreat and shot to the No. 1 lifestyle app in the iTunes Store. I can’t wait to use it — it’s getting great reviews (NY Times) (USA Today).

• “intellectual property regimes are the exact opposite of social capital.” (I would differ.)

• “Stone Age people had more leisure time than we do.” Continue reading

January 10, 2010

At CES: Privacy, openness & broadband’s future

Julis Genachowski
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski

Beyond the techno eye candy, digging out the substance at CES

JD LasicaAn army of tech and gadget writers descended on the just-ended Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Rather than duplicate their coverage, I’ll offer some snapshots from my three days at the conference:

FCC chairman on the need for ‘digital literacy’

The Tech Policy Summit (for whom I’ve twice moderated panels in past years) held three days of sessions at CES, highlighed by Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro’s on-stage chat with Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski, whose appointment last year won rave reviews from reform groups.

In March the FCC is due to release its plan for making Internet broadband connectivity available to all Americans. Some nuggets from Genachowski’s talk:

• “Computers are in 75 percent of people’s homes, TVs are in 98 percent. … Can TV be part of the broadband solution?”

• “The concept of literacy and teaching kids to read needs to be expanded to include digital literacy so all of our kids, as they grow up, are prepared for the new economy.” Absolutely.

• “If you don’t have access to the Internet, more and more you can’t find a job.” Many job listings can only be found online.

• New website launched on Thursday: reboot.fcc.gov, with an aim of fostering discussion of how the FCC can be reinvented to serve the public.

• “The idea that open platforms are good business is becoming conventional wisdom, and I think that’s a healthy thing.”

• He said he wants to create a “baseball culture,” where batting .300 for a lifetime gets you into the Hall of Fame — it also means you failed seven out of 10 times, and innovation flourishes only when your employees aren’t afraid to fail.

• “The fairness doctrine is dead.”

• The FCC will defend the precept of net neutrality “rigorously.”

Privacy in the age of openness

Chris KellyOn Thursday afternoon, at the Intel Upload Lounge for bloggers, Cathy Brooks moderated a fascinating hourlong discussion about privacy, identity and the culture of openness. Chris Kelly (at right), who’s on leave as Chief Privacy Office of Facebook to run for California Attorney General, was the center of attention in a conversation that also included Brian Solis, Frank Gruber and Genevieve Bell of Intel.

The panelists agreed that there’s a growing culture of prizing the authentic and the transparent — up to a point. Some highlights: Continue reading