John Battelle — Federated Media
John talks about his keynote at PubCon New Orleans, which occurred right before his book was coming out and before he was launching Federated Media.
The Internet Economy: The Third Wave of Tech & Culture
1970′s and early 80′s — Digitize the Back Office
Early 80′s to the 90′s — Digitize the Front Office
John’s PowerPoint died at this point and he said it’s because “this is an Intel Mac and it’s completely bi-polar,” which got a lot of laughs.
Late 90′s on — Digitize Customers (Web 2.0, etc)
He truly believes that search is the next phase to computing. Remember DOS? C:\_ After DOS, it became Desktops, etc. Search as an Interface = Search 1.0′s Results. We aren’t using some arcane computer language like DOS — we are now using natural language to find the things we want. Natural language as a way of navigating computing is a huge leap. Search as a Steering Wheel through all possible answers, to your destination. John spent a day at Daimler Chrysler so they could understand search.
One scenario: New Bottles, Old Wine — the difference between search, mobile and an insatiable index. When you are at Whole Foods, you know you are going to get ripped off at the wine island. John pictures being at Whole Foods and being able to scan the barcode and get the information right back with all the price information on that bottle of wine, where it’s available in your area, reviews, delivery, etc. That is search — that’s beyond natural language — it’s contextual. This is close. At least 15 people have sent him business plans where they are doing bits and pieces of this.
Search rules. and is the driver of Web 2.0 businesses. It’s our culture’s point of inquiry, the spade which turns the web’s soil. Before search, content served as a proxy for audience (content as packaged good). After search:
- Audience declares intent, then content finds audience.
- Intent drives content…and content disaggregates (content as conversation).
- As intent becomes a proxy for audience…
- …approaches to effective marketing are evolving.
Intent before content is what search did.
So what does this mean to market in a world driven by intent?
- Search drives audience toward social media sites…
- …where consumers expect all participants to understand the mores of those environments
- And they expect businesses to know what they want
How Biz Evolves: Attention Over Distribution
- Traditional media is ruled by distribution
- NOW — attention is controlled by the customer through search
- The new centers of attention are search and social media platforms
- Content is once again king and the landing page is queen
Conversation Over Dictation
The consumer is in control. Turn your business over to your customers — this breaks every rule of brand marketing (Google changes their logo 50 times per year).
Marketing Evolves: The Architecture of Participation
Employ your customers in creating new products.
Case Study: Lenovo (the company who bought the ThinkPad)
John met with them. People were worried that this company would wreck the ThinkPad and this company was worried. John told them to ask their customers what they want. They ran a campaign across their sites where people could vote on the color — it’s a start.
Case Study: Microsoft
Office ads ran across the FM network with a dinosaur picture — which struck people as offensive. That was the only creative they had. The bloggers on the FM network were sick of these ads. MS didn’t want to change it and the bloggers then gave them the ideas that were site specific. They took these ideas and the author copy ran 60% better.
Case Study: Symantec
They bought media to drive traffic to their blog. About the same time an author on the blog said that Macs get basically zero viruses — it got dugg and took off.
Case Study: Cisco
They came to FM and said, “We want this def of the Human Network to be big, and we want it to go up on Wikipedia and we want all the FM authors to write about it.” The wiki part worried FM. They had them meet with wikia, then they started the blog network writing. Then the Wikipedia entry happened on its own.
Case Study: Dice
The IT jobs board had an innovative invitation to “rant” inside the banner. Whatever you write shows up locally and possibly nationally. The average interaction time was 7 minutes and 41 seconds. This is longer than anyone stays at any IT site anywhere in the world. Those who interacted 3+times: 18 mins and 4 seconds.
There are 2 ways to work with FM’s site:
- Self service platform
- Sales force
John walked us through the FM Platform and how to sign up, etc. I will do a follow-up on this in a later post with screenshots, etc.
John describes FM as “kind of like AdSense for banners with demographics.”
- FM has bundled an ecology of quality sites together — 10-30 per category
- Their mission is to support independent community driven websites and connect them to readers and advertisers.
- They differentiate themselves through their selective approach to selecting sites.
- All authors hold their core set of values and mores in common.
- They now have close to 100 sites in their network. They have a sales force of 15 (growing to 25), with nearly 1500 advertisers on a self-service platform. They have a lot of people to support the authors and help them to make their sites better/lives easier.
Question: Can you talk about the separation of church and state?
John: Blogging allows transparency and trust. If you’re an author and you give the disclosure and don’t “sell” your words, this allows for a robust conversation that includes the marketer.
Question: The folks at Google are now — to what extent is search about auctioning space and what is it about your CPM model that might be a better proposition?
John: I think they are both important. You have to have a conversation to understand where you are with the advertiser and audience. You can’t put those into algorithms. FM is in the cream business but the milk business is a really good business. When we don’t have ads, we fail over to AdSense.
Question: What’s the most unique thing you have ever seen a blogger do to increase his readership?
John: Hmmmm… Lists do really well. Phillipp Lenssen’s list of top blog posts and why. I don’t think there is any replacement for a high quality, on-topic discussion with the audience. Be driven by whatever you are passionate about.
Question: I see that there is a need for a dramatic change in our business (hosting company) — how would I funnel that down?
John: I would guess that everyone in this room would have their own opinions about hosting. I would open a site or forum where your customers can tell you what they actually want. It might hurt your margins a bit but it will pay off.
Question: What about sites like Digg having sales forces?
John: Sales/accounting/collections/etc are expensive. Jason Calacanis in his famous post points that once you get to 1 million page views, you should hire your own sales force — he’s wrong.