Regular Joes and Janes are changing the way we advertise.

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It’s late Sunday night at the time of this writing and I just came across a press release announcing The Future of Influence Summit by futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson.  If I set my alarm clock for sunrise, I can probably get to the airport in time to grab a flight up to San Francisco for the event, which sounds like an interesting one. According to the press release a new trend of “influencers” comprised of self-made influentials like bloggers, social media gurus and individuals are taking the power away from more traditional influencers like advertising agencies, newspapers and corporations. The shift away from “group influencers” to “individual influencers” is really giving advertising and marketing agencies heartburn as they scramble to figure out how to understand this new trend. In the pre-Internets era, people got their information about brands from traditional advertising like print, outdoor billboards and television commercials. The more a television commercial or print ad ran in the days of old, the more likely a person was to buy the product or service from that brand. Fast-forward to the Internets of the present. The media landscape has been fragmented into a million digital outlets, which is causing traditional advertising to lose its heavy-weight status. Media planners at advertising agencies now have to look at social media, PPC, banner, online video, rich media, email marketing, viral marketing, SEO, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and on and on and on. Couple that with the fact that now anyone with an authentic voice can build up a community of “fans” and influence if you buy a product or service and you’ve got some huge learnins to do if you’re a media planner in a traditional ad agency. Many times these “influencers” get huge audiences  because they carry with them the reputation of being an authentic, reliable voice. Take a recent blog entry where I wrote about Dave Carrol an irate United Airlines passenger who allegedly had his precious guitar broken by the airline. Instead of relying on customer service or filing a complaint with United,  Mr. Carrol took matters into his own hands by expressing himself in his own way; he wrote a song about the experience and released it on YouTube. The result was over 5 million viewers of his music video. Advertising agencies are still salivating trying to dissect and replicate the success. The point is that one individual can have a huge impact on a brand if the voice is deemed authentic. Long gone are the days that we take a corporations word for it when they tell us how great their products or services are. The individual is now the centerpiece of the show and advertisers better take notice. For more information on the program for Monday, check out The Future of Influence Summit Agenda

Moving pictures speak louder than words.

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I was chatting with a friend who’s an SEO expert and we were discussing the value of video content versus the written word. We both agreed they both have their merits. But let’s face it, video gets the point across in a more condensed way and it infuses a tone that you just can’t get with the written word. The speaker’s mannerisms, way of talking and clarity all effect how you absorb the content. To me, that’s a good thing. But the written word also has benefits. For example, if you’re a fast reader you can easily scan the text to see it’s worthwhile enough for you to read the whole thing… doing that with video means waiting for the vid to download and hoping you can move the slider around with little technical difficulty. My friend and I discussed the power of each format and wondered if the moving picture was more powerful than ink. If you look at the newspaper business versus the news telecast business which one do you think more people prefer? As a test, I thought it would be interesting to wordify / transcribe a video and compare it to the video and see what you get out of each format. The article I have chosen is from SEOmozBlog Whiteboard Friday. Keep in mind that I did not transcribe the video word for word; I left out the conversational bits and wrote it so that you could get the context. Here is a direct link to the video or click on the embed below. When you’re done, scroll down for the text version. Happy reading/watching.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Generating Unique Content from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

Text

SEOmox.org. The Web’s Best SEO Resources.
Whiteboard friday: generating unique content
by Scott Willoughby  Featuring Rand Fishkin/CEO SEOmoz 8:18 sec

Rand Fishkin looked at both the start-up world and large established companies for this video.
He asked the following questions.
What makes content unique.
Why do I have to engage in it
And why do i have to do it.

Why do search engines want unique content?
Search engines want unique unique content because it helps their users.

Users who find repeated results get very frustrated. You see this a lot in the travel world. If you do a search for Kayaks you see the same thing on Expedia and Hotels.com…it’s weak because you get reviews that are coming from the same place. Not a good experience for the user.

Mr. Fishkin mentions a site like Oyster.com , which contains very independent, lengthy reviews of hotels and travel related content.  The search engines want these unique kinds of results and they are very very good at identifying them.

if you think you’re going to pull the wool over the eyes of the search engines, think again. Search engines are very good at looking at a page’s structure, identifying elements that are in common navigationally and picking out the completely unique pieces of content inside the page and then being able to determine what percent of content inside the page is unique then deciding if that makes this a worth while page.

Some pages can have tons of content, and just a little bit of unique content and it gets picked up as being very important. Again, search engines are very good at picking out those sorts of things.

Spammers used to take content, run it through an English to French translation, then a French to Arabic translation and then an Arabic to English translation and then claim it as completely unique.

These days you’ll see spammers getting much more advanced by using things like Amazon’s mechanicalturk.com where they pay writers to rewrite content sentence by sentence a penny at a time. But be wary of this method because the search engines are working on how to identify that sort of thing.

Mr. Fishkin suggest that human beings are pattern oriented creatures  and they have patterns that they build and if search engines can reverse that method they can try to figure out who is trying to spam.

In terms of the user experience you create with unique content..it is a serious upgrade. Finding something that is interesting and unique is valuable for your visitors and the search engines look at this as a good thing.

There’s an unfair advantage that some outlets get just by their presence and size. For example, if you wrote an article that then later got picked up by CNN, guess who would get the credit for it? It’s on your blog, it’s on CNN, guess who will get more links? CNN will because they most likely will have a much larger audience. The engines want to find who is the original source and they also want to make sure the duplication doesn’t create a “citation worthiness” where only the rich get richer and no one who is unique and interesting and small is getting value out of that. They also want to find a lot of diversity in those results. You can take a search results page and listing one through four are all the same…it’s miserable. Nobody wants to see exactly the same thing. They want to see those unique takes.

Finally, Mr. Fishkin covers some strategies in order to take advantage of the unique content demands that the search engines require and figure out how you can scale that and create content for your business. These kinds of content fall under three categories.

1. The first is Editorial. What is editorial? It’s Mr. Fishkin making this video. It’s a blog. It’s coming up with content yourself or hiring out journalists or copywriters to write content for you. Outsourcing it to South East Asia or Eastern parts of Europe where you can find affordable writers to write content for you. Or using sites like oDesk or those types of services. You can have lots of unique content written by humans and it is considered editorially built content. That brings us to the second kind of content.

2. The second kind of content is machine-built content. This kind of content is usually data-driven. Results you would see Inside an Expedia or Farecast (which is now Bing travel). Folks like payscale.com and salary.com do this in the job world. Simplyhired does this around searches for a particular job and how well the market is rising. They take data sources and produce automated kinds of content. You have to be careful with this.  It’s a good strategy because it is scalable, it’s useful and not too expensive. Keep in mind engines can have issues with the uniqueness of the content.  Sites like (one of Mr. Fishkin’s clients) zillow.com create data which becomes content. Users find the data useful.

3. The third kind of content is user-generated content. UGC is some of the best kind of content that you can generate, but it’s tough. You have to build a community, incentivize the content creation and you have to get them to do it for free. You have to get people to contribute. Some examples of this kind of content is Wikipedia, digg, readitt and Youtube. UGC is very powerful, and very scalable but difficult to get to get growing in a large network scale manner.

Rand recommends that you sit down and strategize which kind of content is appropriate to your business. For small sites, editorial makes sense. If you are trying to go big and dominate a niche or industry, you will need machine-built and UGC or maybe all three forms of content depending on your strategy.

It pays to have that strategy in mind before you set out to create content instead of while you’re doing it or even after. Strategize and pick the solution that’s best for you.

OK, as you can see, it’s a lot of text considering that I left out a lot of the conversational words. I first viewed the video and then went back and transcribed as best as I could. I have to admit, watching the video was a more pleasant experience. I was also surprised the video was a little over 8 minutes long. It seemed much less. Maybe that’s because the experience was so effortless, whereas reading (or writing) took some effort. Who likes to read when you can sit back and absorb? What do you think?

Inglorious ways to market movies.

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When I was a wee bit younger, the only way to get show times for a movie was to pick up the yellow pages, thumb through listings of local theaters, rotary dial the numbers one at a time and ask each human being on the other end what time Star Wars was showing. By the time I was done, Luke was finding out that Darth was really his father. Fast forward to today and you won’t see me touching a yellow pages book except when used as a booster seat. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use digital technology to find movies, read reviews, watch trailers or get peer feedback on the hottest summer films. According to a recent entertainment article in the Chicago Tribune, the box office success of Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” may have been due to the help of social media sites like Twitter. Let’s face facts; digital technology facilitates finding information on movies. Yet, you still see movie chains taking out ads in newspapers when everyone knows that you go to the internet or your iPhone App to get customizable information on the movies you seek. According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette print-based listings may have seen their last days.  According to the article, “the top two U.S. chains, Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc., have begun to reduce or eliminate the small-type listings showing the start times for movies at individual theaters.” For those who still use the newspaper to get movie information, this could be another reason to abandon their subscription; as if they needed more. But come on people, let’s move out of the Stone Age and embrace the convenience and wonder that is the Internet. I really do enjoy watching trailers in HD right on my Mactop before making a decision to spend my hard-earned dollars on a movie. For me, pretty pixels work way harder than ink when selling a “talkie”. It makes me wonder why media companies still take out full-page ads promoting their films in newspapers. I find them a nuisance and wouldn’t put up a fight if they went the way of the Edsel.

Dad, stop tweeting! You’re embarrassing me.

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I read an interesting Twitter article in the New York Times written by Claire Cain Miller regarding the rise of the social media site that everyone is talking about, including me. The piece suggests that older folks, not younger ones, are responsible for the popularity of Twitter. In fact, the article goes on to say, “just 11 percent of users are between the ages of 12 and 17” and, “Twitter”™s success represents a new model for Internet success. The notion that children are essential to a new technology”™s success has proved to be largely a myth.” Perhaps. But considering that Twitter is largely used on-the-go and entries are often made whilst hacking away on a smart phone, you can kind of understand how the Miley Cyrus set may not consider embracing the technology. When I tweet (oh God, did I just write that, I”™m dating myself) I tend to be doing it from either an iPhone app or from my ultra-portable Mactop computer whilst nibbling on blueberry scone and sucklint on a Pikes Place coffee. O.K., having a portable computer is not out of the question for teens. But slightly contrary to the article, I believe kids find Twitter “lame” not because it isn”™t cool, but because most 7-17 year olds get their cell phones from their parents and their parents pay for their cell plans”“which usually means the cheapest, lamest plan possible. Even if you had a “cool-kid” cell phone plan with smart phone capabilities you need the latest and greatest “cool-kid” hardware to go with it. No kid would be caught dead using an early model clamshell, the kind most parents feel comfortable supplying to their kids. To use Youtube and Facebook all you need is a desktop computer, hence, more younger people use services like those. I”™m not surprised that the tween and teen set find Twitter unfriendly to their world of pay as you go cell phone plans. In my opinion Twitter means you have to have the latest greatest hardware to really take advantage of the power it affords. Even better, it doesn”™t hurt to own a company and use Twitter as a marketing tool by broadcasting deals throughout the day. Not too many teens I know run their own companies. The ones I know rely on an income provided by a summer job at Hot Dog on a stick. It”™s no wonder older farts are responsible for the rise of Twitter”“they”™re the only ones who can afford it.

Yahoo! Mail upgrade designed to make you want to live in your mailbox.

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Yesterday Yahoo! announced New Yahoo! Mail that includes a bunch of new bells and whistles that allow you to connect more and to do more. It’s about time! I recently added a Gmail account to my mail capabilities because I needed features that Yahoo! just couldn’t handle for me. For one, Yahoo! limited emails to 10MB. With the new Yahoo! Mail, you now can email up to 25MB. Yahoo! No more scrunching down videos. No more having to go to Gmail to send large files. It’s about time. Here are some other new cool things that you get when you upgrade to Yahoo! Mail:

“¢ Download multiple downloads simultaneously

“¢Â Auto check for messages

“¢Â Drafts are auto-saved as you write

“¢Â Manage your calendar without leaving your email

“¢Â Chatting and texting capabilities built built right into your inbox

“¢ Drag and drop capabilities in email interface

“¢Â Tabs to facilitate multitasking

“¢ More powerful search capabilities

“¢ Built-in Evite capabilities (coming soon)

“¢Â Unlimited storage capacity

There’s more. To check out the play by play of the live Yahoo Mail demo, read Search Engine Land’s live blog roll.

Video marketing. Not so different than article marketing.

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Article marketing involves writing informative articles that engage and inform your target audience, then distributing them out to the world over multiple media outlets including both print and online publishing. Online publishing alone offers a whole slew of article directories. Some of the top article directories are ezinearticles, Buzzle, and The Phantom Writers, but there are literally hundreds more. Getting your articles out to as many media outlets as possible means the chances of your articles being read are more likely and the chances of track backs to your site are also more likely.

So what do you do when you want to distribute a video? Well, there’s YouTube of course. But to get the most bang for your buck, you have lots of other options at your disposal. If you want to enhance Search Engine Optimization for your site or blog, consider more than just Youtube. Below is a list of video to use the next time you want to distribute your next videos online.

1. Blip.tv
In a recent blog post I discuss how blip.tv offers distribution across multiple channels, including TiVo. You’ll find a lot of indie-type entertainment and videos on this site and they like videos that come in a series bundle. So if you have a one-off, this may not be the best route to go.

2. Flikr
Everyone knows Flickr is a great way to share your photos with the people that matter to you. But did you know that you can do the same with videos? For more on Flckr, take the Flickr tour .

3. Hulu

I have posted about Hulu before. Hulu is well-known for professionally filmed content or content that already has a following. However, Hulu also caters to the little guy by offering widgets and player embeds. For more on  different Hulu distribution options, click here.

4. Photobucket
Photobucket is similar to Flickr. You can share both videos and photos here. What I like about Photobucket is you can search videos by most popular, newest, most viewed and most commented. The “Most popular right now” functionality keeps me coming back for more.

5. Trueveo
Truveo is one of the largest video search distribution networks, reaching roughly over 40 million unique visitors a month. If your video is already on the Internet, you can submit it via an RSS feed. If your video isn’t already on the Internet, you can upload it via AOL Video. Either way, Trueveo is one monster of a video portal.
6. Viddler
Viddler is both for the novice and for the savvy video marketer. Viddler offers powerful integration if you want to brand your video with your company voice. For example, you can add your logo to their player, change the player’s color to fit your company’s color scheme, and even have the player link back to your website when it’s embedded somewhere else on the web. You can also “time tag”    your videos with comments from other viewers.

7. Yahoo! Video
Y! Video offers both professional entertainment alongside user-created content. The cool thing about this is you get to share the stage with Television shows, movie clips, news segments and more. Pretty cool.

Remember, distribution is key if you plan on implementing a Brandcasting campaign. More than one video outlet is a good idea if you really want to get the word out on your video.

Blip.tv offers up video content you won’t find on the networks.

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I came across an interesting video post on Business Insider discussing the subject of how traditional media and new media are after different things and how that effects relationships with independent content creators.  The gist of it is that independent content creators may shy away from networks because they want to retain the control of what they produce. This way, they own their own creation, and don’t have to give up intellectual property rights up to a big conglomerate and they can spread their content over multiple access points instead of  just one access point (e.g., a network television station). Why wouldn’t you want your opus to be found in multiple formats like embedded clips, on YouTube, on blip.tv on your own branded website, etc. While the Interweb continues to be an open format that encourages content distribution via multiple platforms, old media continues to find innovative ways to control it’s content and how and where its audience views aforementioned content, thus, in my opinion, missing out on opportunities to showcase fresh new content from people not willing to give up their intellectual property rights. On the other end of the spectrum are companies like Blip.tv which encourages the sharing of content AND offers distribution via multiple platforms. What’s ridunculously cool is that if you have a high-quality vid, blip.tv even allows you to distribute across the TiVo platform, which I find extremely cool. For more on Blip.tv and how independent content creators are taking the Internet by storm, click on  the video below for an interview with Dina Kaplan, Co-Founder of blip.tv

GAP gets face-to-Facebook with fashion.

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GAP used to be the king of cool on television commercials with lively music tracks and slick choreography against clean white backgrounds. In a recent effort to convince folks that GAP is cool again, The GAP has released a new ad campaign titled “Born to fit” . But long gone are the dancing hipsters on white backgrounds. Print, theater and outdoor ads all drive consumers to a Born To Fit Facebook page. Facebook likes this because it may get folks who aren’t Facebook members to sign up. Gap likes this because they can trace how effective their ad campaign is by who is interacting with the site. I went ahead and clicked through their Facebook page and clicked on a tiny box that played a video of what I presumed was a GAP fashion designer who was sitting on a stool facing the camera. After sitting through the piece I discovered that the designer, Patrick Robinson, is “interested in things” and was “born to explore” .  OK, I get that testimonials are good way to sell products, but what I didn’t understand was what the (insert expletive here) does that have to do with dungarees? I felt un-entertained. That is, until I scrolled down to read some of the comments posted by visitors to the branded Facebook page. They read as follows:

1. Gap Sucks.

2. Gap love you!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Gay.

4. Very empowering.

5. I thought this was Todd Bridges.

I chuckled at number 5, so at least it wasn’t a complete waste of time. But maybe I’m not the target market for the brand. Perhaps they are targeting younger, willing-to-sit-through serious YouTube-like vids of people who want to wax on about life, or a person who likes to wear GAP jeans. It all seems so cerebral. I just want a pair of jeans that look good. Damn, I miss the dancing people on the white backgrounds throwing each other up in the air.