Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Spread the Good Word

It’s been awhile since I had an explicitly marketing post, so I figured I’d write a little about what I talked about yesterday at the Boards Summit on a panel called “Spread the Good Word”. While the panels’ description was kind of odd (“The Big Idea? All well and good, but unless you get it out it there to consumers, it’s worthless. New media platforms, fragmented outlets and ADD consumers mean that digital strategy is taking an increasingly crucial place in agency thinking. Hear from some of the digital world’s top strategists as they discuss how to get your creative to go global.”) it ended up being a lively discussion and a good old time.

There were a few specific things that I figured I’d bring up here, since you’d probably all enjoy them (some are more interesting than others, and it’s all from memory as I couldn’t really take notes).

  • Beforehand Faris and I were joking around about how we would answer “what is a big idea?” in case it came up. The answers we came up with were: The internet, people talking to other people and moving images. Folks seem to be really into all those things at the moment. While we were kidding, it did strike me that this was a damn good answer.
  • Success requires starting out by understanding what a client wants to accomplish. Without that it’s really hard to judge your ideas. (This is something I talk about a lot at work. It’s really important to dig in and understand the context of the assignment before digging in.)
  • Justin talked quite a bit about the need for marketing to be additive, which I think it quite a nice way of describing things. This is something we talk about a lot at The Barbarian Group (and something I brought up on the panel) but basically the internet is the place we all live these days (well all of us geeks anyway). People are passionate about the internet in a way they were never passionate about television (people were passionate about television shows). If you are passionate about the web you don’t want to junk it up with a bunch of crap in the same way that you wouldn’t throw spaghetti on your floor at home (I’ve used this analogy to describe why I think people clean up Wikipedia entries as well). Anyway, thinking of how you can be additive to the web is a great way to put it.
  • On that topic, I specifically think additive is a better word than utility. Unfortunately, utility has come to mean something very specific for people (think Swiss Army Knife) despite the fact that it’s an economic term meaning the relative satisfaction from consumption of goods.
  • Faris talked (and I might be slightly butchering) about how television is all about scarcity and therefore the advertising is what allows you to receive your entertainment without paying for it. The internet, on the other hand, is digital and has an unlimited spectrum, therefore the traditional value exchange where attention is exchanged for content doesn’t apply quite as cleanly. What’s interesting to me is that while the web is infinite, any specific site is limited by what it can create (unless, of course, it is aggregating other content). The reality of the situation for the New York Times or other large media sites, is that what they’ve done online for the past 10 years is not really any different than what they’ve done offline. While the actual publishing/printing is now free, the cost of producing content is costly and scarce. That is, until they start to tap into their audience/the rest of the web. This is happening on a limited basis now with some citizen journalism sites and comments on mainstream media sites, but is interesting to consider (not that I think the current model works particularly well). (Wow, I went off track there … sorry.)
  • The internet is not a channel. The internet is a series of channels. What’s more, Facebook is not a channel. When a client asks, “should we be on Facebook?” at this point it’s a bit asking like, “should we be on the internet?” in that there are hundreds of ways to “be on Facebook” ranging from free to expensive and some may make more sense than others.

That’s what I can remember for now. I guess I mostly remember what I talked about. Maybe Faris and Hashem can fill in a bit more.

Update (10/25/08): Another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about and mentioned on the panel is the idea that the web is an awesome giant social experiment and that we need to stop worrying about whether we like things or not and start thinking about why it’s interesting. Twitter, I think, is a great example of this. Whether or not you like the service, you have to be fascinated by the behavior that comes out of it, right?

October 25, 2008