Brainstorming @ Google

Yesterday was the final day of the workshop in New York. This part of the workshop was executed in the office of Google (well, part of it). Many people were excited to go to this place, including myself. Don’t know exactly why that is. Could be that Google represents the ‘new’ business model regarding the interaction company/employee, or because we use it everyday?

What I do know is that Google pays a lot of attention to the well-being of the employee, or I should I say ‘well-feeling’ since so many candy bars freely available might hinder your well-being at a certain moment. They give the employees the idea that ‘work’ and ‘play’ can be combined, no doubt hoping that the employees are more productive and/or make longer working days. The latter is no doubt the case, although I also believe that New Yorkers in general make their fair amount of hours on the workspace.

The offices are well designed, combing modern elements with the old elements of the building. There is food everywhere, varying from candies to sushi. People may eat and drink for free. There is writing on the walls and it all looks a bit campus-like. Which is intentionally, so I’ve heared.

After the meeting we had a short tour around the premises (thanks Lisa, I know you’re reading this).

For the last day Kevin Colleran, Director of Media Sales and Employee Number 8 at Facebook joined the team of Experts. Kevin had some interesting facts about Facebook (now number 1 social network in the world, having 92 million subscribers and growing with some 400,000 per day) and a jaw-dropping presentation of one of the new features (see later post). I did a short interview with Kevin, and hopefully I can put that online as soon as possible (needed to borrow somebody else’s camera. Mine broke, remember?)

After a good dinner in what was for me the most chique Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been in we spent some time absorbing cocktails in a dito club somewhere high up on a terrace overlooking the city. Well deserved for all the people involved I think.

Hello from the Big Apple!

We usually start our US New Media trip with the intention to meet some celebrities. Last year we met Ryan and the Dorkman, kind of celebrities in the new media space, this year we wanted it to upper it a notch. So I met Leonardo DiCaprio in the plane. I was thinking to do a short interview with him about new media (after all, he was using a MacBook Pro) but I was too busy preparing myself for the upcoming workshop. Sorry Leo, may be next time.

I won’t dive too much into my first impressions of this amazing city called New York (we are not a traveling blog) but let me say that I think Peter Stuyvesant did a pretty lousy job giving the city away to the English in 1664. I can see why the workshop about innovation in communication is held in this trendy place.

It’s now 11 pm and I look back to an inspirational first day. We started off by introducing ourselves to the group. The group is split into two, a group of end users (the target audience) and a group of people who know a thing or two about digital media (the experts). What followed was a mapping of the digital media the young women are using on a daily basis (yes, I did take some notes since some of it was new to me) and other available tools brought in my the experts.

Obviously I can’t go into details about the outcome of these sessions but in general I observed that some of the new tools like Twitter for example were completely unknown and not seen as very relevant, and that reading books which they buy -of all places- in a bookstore (“since you can wander around there”) is still very popular. So may be this generation is not completely lost after all? ;-).

When you look at the overview, it’s really amazing what a modern human being has to deal with on a daily basis to get all the information he or she wants. We identified 19 media touch points, and I’m sure this list is not complete. 

In the second half of the day we brainstormed about ideas based on these digital media touch points, trying to relate that to the marketing of a pharmaceutical product. These ideas were later presented to the target group who could score the ideas. Interesting to see that augmented reality was scored quite high.

Like I said, it was inspirational. It’s a special experience to be in a group and talk about digital/new/social media where everybody is on the same level. A lot of geeky talk about new iPhone apps, the newest and coolest website technologies but also about the social implications of social media on society and the never ending discussion about privacy and the internet (always interesting if someone from Google participates in the discussion).

Gave a lot, learned a lot. A fair balance of this first day. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Google offices for the final part of the workshop. Need to buy a new camera too, since I realized that the internal mechanism can not handle a 1 meter drop on a wooden floor…

Rabies, Serengeti and DigiRedo

An exciting trip to Tanzania, twelve hours of footage, hours of postproduction and a few liters of coffee later we are proud to present the first episode of the Afya Serengeti videoseries. In co-operation with TEN10 films (production) we have created this first episode where Sarah Cleaveland explains the situation in the Serengeti, the reason for her being there and introduces the team. In subsequent episodes we will follow the vaccination team in their journey deep into the park to find and vaccinate dogs against rabies, and thus helping the community.

We encourage everyone to share the videos so that as many people as possible learn about this important initiative. We will make sure that videos will come available on YouTube and the iTunes Store.

Can social networking sites make money?

Remember Rocketboom on The Business of Social Networks in November last year?

It’s clear, social networking is the fastest growing activity on the web. We all know about MySpace and Facebook as the two giants in this field with 72 million and 34 million unique visitors a month (January 2008). But also the smaller players see a lot of people: Bebo (what’s small: 22 million unique visitors a month), Club Penguin (5 million), LinkedIn (nearly 5 million) and Ning (3 million). And all are growing.

When realizing that venture capitalists invest huge sums of money (remember Microsoft, who paid US$240 million for a 1.6% share in Facebook) you might think these sites generate a lot of income through advertising. Well, that’s not really the case: this year MySpace will earn US$100 million less than predicted and Facebook will even face a loss of US$150 million. The fact that many of the smaller players do not reveal any of their revenues doesn’t sound promising either. Is there another bubble-burst at hand?

Bryant Urstadt asked the same question and looked closer at this issue in his Technology Review article ‘The Business of Social Networks‘. He notices the low (and declining) CPM rates for ads on Social Networking sites (MySpace US$2, Facebook US$0.15) compared to for instance Mashable (varying between US$7-33) and TechnologyReview (US$70). But even these low rates do not persuade advertisers…

The problem with advertising in social networks is around three main issues: attention, privacy and content, according to Urstadt. Looking at the traditional advertising model, targeting is the key. And that reveals the difficulty; it is not so easy to target a specific group in a social network as it is for, lets say, Google. There people are specifically looking for clearly defined information, which makes targeting relatively easy. Not in social networks, where people are more busy with conversation with friends and can’t be bothered with commercial messages. Even stronger, many of them dislike it.

Getting in between users of social networks is very complicated and tricky, as you do not want to violate their privacy. Facebook tried with their Beacon program but failed (partially) and MySpace has developed its HyperTargeting system. Advertisers are moderately interested. Even stronger, looking at the US ad spending on social-networking sites relative to total US online ad spending, the odds are against social network-monetization.

Still, with all those millions of consumers at hand, their must be a way for advertisers to reach them (and to keep the social networks alive!). Although there is this fear of history repeating (Bubble 2.0), I do not really believe this, not more than a natural selection, a survival of the fittest (say Darwinism 2.0).

Two things to consider. One is that advertisers should reconsider their approach, their traditional targeting model. Maybe there is a more successful approach in cooperative marketing, co-creation and interactivity in relation to social networks. It’s the classical marketing paradigm: talk with them, not at them. Two, new technological solutions will be developed shortly that give way to another approach between consumers and advertisers. How that will look like, I have no idea (yet) but I agree with Bryant that the key is in the balance between openness and control. These new solutions prevent social networks to remain walled gardens, but where we can communicate across the borders of these communities, which opens a whole new ball game for both users and advertisers.

With that in mind, consider Google’s Open Social and the activities of Plaxo: take a look at the interview with Joseph Smarr, chief platform architect at Plaxo.

And then I haven’t mentioned the virtual worlds…but let’s talk about that another time

Again National Marketing Day

As mentioned earlier, the recently National Marketing Day in The Netherlands was a great success and there will be a next version in 2009. Based on what we have seen definitely worth a recommendation.

Here a short impression on some of our (and others’) experiences…

Relationships are changing

It’s a bit of an oldy, but I think it perfectly tells the story of the changing relationship between the advertiser and the consumer. This couple, he the advertiser and she the consumer, doesn’t seem to understand each other very well anymore. Both went their own way, apparently.

To save the relationship, like in the real world, start conversating.

Sandflies caught on tape

Meet Bob. Professor Bob.

Bob knows an awful lot about sandflies and a devastating disease these little mosquito-like creatures may carry: leishmaniasis. The disease is caused by a little parasite and the dog plays a significant role in the reproduction process of this parasite.

We went to see Bob in the south of France, to make a video-series about all things biting your dog.

In two days we shot 10 videos about several subjects related to parasites on your dog (hence the title of the concept will be ‘What’s biting my dog?’). Bob explained in clear and understandable terms the technical aspects of parasitology, a rather complicated subject. Bob did this in such an engaging way that we are confident that this series will be a hit.

Also for Bob this was new. “Finally, after so many years I have the ability to talk directly to dog owners”, Bob says. “We, the scientific community, is often accused of not being able to communicate clearly what we are doing. It all remains high level. With new technologies we can reach many people with so little effort”.

We had a great time in France, also thanks to the hospitality of Bob and his wife. The main production is done, up to the post production.



The production team with the host (left to right): Erik, Remco, Bob, René


Inspiring National Marketing Day in Holland

Yesterday, June 25, the first (Dutch) National Marketing Day (NL) was organized in Nieuwegein, which is in the center of Holland. Quite comfortable for me, as I live in Utrecht, just a few kilometers away from the Business Center where this event took place. The entire event was free of charge(!), which is special on one hand, but not so surprising on the other as we currently live in a world where we give away a lot in exchange for contact, conversation and knowledge. Main sponsors for this event were Marketing Tribune (NL), Marketing Facts (NL), MEC (NL) and Emerce (NL), so, to all three, a great big thank you from DigiRedo in making this event possible.

Not only free, an exiting event as well I must say. A lot of interesting and inspiring speakers, among which Richard van Hooijdonk from Marketing Monday (NL). Richard is one of the most important consultants in Holland on Marketing 2.0. We had a short interview with him.

There was more: Joris van Heukelom (NL), the new CEO of Ilse Media (NL), the largest internet publisher in The Netherlands, told us that the internet is still in its infancy, more and more changes are to be expected within a short period of our time. Those of you who think that we’ve just passed the biggest wave of change are wrong. Says van Heukelom.

That significant changes are to be expected shortly was demonstrated by Menno van Doorn (NL) of VINT, a research institute in new technology. Together with VINT colleagues, Menno wrote the book, Me the Media, about the history and future of the third media revolution. An interesting book (which we immediately have ordered, a review will follow).
But that was not the most astonishing of the presentation, the demonstration of augmented reality was. Soon, it will be possible to pull up graphics out of your tv, computer or mobile phone that will become an integrated part of you environment. (See also How stuff works). In the demo a virtual car appeared on he table. And if that wasn’t enough, someone in the audience was asked to park the car in a parking lot, that was drwn o a piece of paper. Talking about experience…

We’re curious where marketing is by the time of the second National Marketing Day…

Second appearance in Life Science Reporter

A special edition. Well, well.

Check out here for our video interviews with:

Ian Talmage, Senior Vice President – Global Strategic Marketing
Bayer Schering Pharma, Germany

Keith Allan, Head of Global Advocacy
Novartis, Switzerland

Nazmul Hassan, CEO
Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Bangladesh

Second Life and Pharma – An Undiscovered Possibility?

We all know Second Life (SL) as the virtual world where you can meet likewise and not-likewise people online in a 1995-ish 3D environment. The concept itself is quite intriguing: anonymously one can ‘talk’ to people, share thoughts, explore the world, buy stuff and even have sex. SL is quite popular, resulting in some ‘Second Life millionairs’.

Many marketers know the existence of SL, and yet only few understand it and exploit the opportunities. Already tough for consumer marketing, let alone for Pharma marketers.

No reason for Craig DeLarge, Associate Director at NovoNordisk to explore these opportunities and risks and share these findings with us in his recent article in the Medical Marketing & Media. We know Craig is a frontrunner as far as the use of New Media in pharma is concerned and in many aspects we agree with his ideas. As we do, he evangelizes the use of new communication tools in the marketing mix, or at least start experimenting with them.

Check out his article here.

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