Archive for March, 2007

You can never go far enough

March 31, 2007

The first question of my FAQ was “How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What moderation level is acceptable?”

I don’t start with the easiest one :). I sent a mail to Joseph Jaffe to ask his opinion about this. He was very kind to reply and told me that “you (brands) can never go far enough”. In that matter, AOL showed the way with the famous “Is internet a good or a bad thing” campaign (UK) followed by an open discussion on their website (Unfortunately, I don’t think this was archived).

Of course, there are famous cases that went a little out of hand (Vichy France, Chevy Tahoe or the first version of the Coke zero blog) but in those 3 cases, there was a lack of awareness of what the new web was all about.

The womma set some rules that comes down to the Honesty ROI:

  • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
  • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
  • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity

I tried hard and in vain to find examples that respected the womma code and that ended as a fiasco. On the other hand, except the AOL case, I don’t know any brand that dared to bring a controversial debate on its own website.

Should they? Isn’t the risk bigger than the potential benefit?

Let’s take extreme examples here: Should an SUV manufacturer or an energy company open a forum on global warming? Should Nike talk with its customers about children labour? Should a fast food giant open a debate on obesity related health issues?

What I usually answer on that question is that this conversation is happening anyway. The choice is not between let the conversation happen or not, it’s between participate or not.

But, IMHO, that matter becomes a little more complex when you represent a local branch of a multinational company (often with limited power to influence the value proposition).

Anyway, I try to present a set of rules:

– Think first 🙂 and understand how an open dialogue will serve your company objectives

– Respect the womma code

– Don’t bring controversy about your brand where there wasn’t (even if I can imagine exceptions to this rule)

– Be transparent on the moderation rules (if any) and know the difference between critic and trolls

– Be transparent about your sphere of influence (especially for local branches of multinational companies): Are you just an advocate of your employer or can you transform the feedback into a new value proposition?

– Do not enter that kind of action if you don’t have a clue of what the new internet is all about

The “you can never go far enough” of Joseph Jaffe could be one of the taglines of the book he will publish in october. I’m confident that Jaffe’s analysis and rules will be much more relevant than mine…

Reminder for myself: include the book in my letter to Santa along with a better english.


Busted! Shame on me!

March 30, 2007


I posted last tuesday an entry on retro-futurology. I wanted to play the smartass by adding a picture of a 1954 prototype of the 2004 home computer. Thanks to Matt, I know I published an hoax.

Matt is the owner of a fun, smart and very well documented blog called Paleo-future that you should discover urgently. Among tons of fascinating posts, it’s fun to watch Bill Gates talking about the future of internet… in 1996

Second life porn tycoon

March 30, 2007


Pervert-at-large, erotic facilitator, pornographic mogul… that’s how Kevin Alderman describes his second life avatar: Stroker Serpentine (cool nickname), developer of avatar genitals, sex animations, fancy beds,  and other erotic accessories sold through the Strokerz Toyz boutique.

After the sales of a Stroker Serpentine’s Amsterdam sim on eBay for 50.000 bucks, Alderman was interviewed by wired. A nice insight of sexual exploration in virtual worlds.

Marketing and web 2.0: where is the money?

March 29, 2007

Forrester Research conducted a survey on 170 interactive marketers.

The powerpoint summarizing the study gives some interesting information:

– The emerging channels for marketing and advertising are RSS, podcasts, interactive banners, ads in online videos, blogs and social networks

– Mobile, in game ads and virtual worlds will struggle to convince the marketers

– e-Mail and Search engine marketing remain top of mind

– Proof of use is the main driver in the choice of a channel

– Digital marketeers do not regard online communication as a way to increase brand awareness (with an exception for online videos)

I really like the title of the conclusion slide: The wait is over, it’s time to get involved!

Thanks for asking!

March 28, 2007


I spend about 50% of my time at work preparing and giving training sessions in Belgian branches of big corporations. The topics of the trainings I’m giving for the moment are “deep dive in cyberculture” and “Best practices in digital marketing”. I really enjoy doing those presentations especially for the Q&A following my lectures.

Here is what I see as the FAQs of the advertisers today. I believe this apply beyond Belgium.

How far should I go in the dialogue with the users? Can I accept controversy on my website? What moderation level is acceptable?

Is online advertising making sense without a decent website?

Are there examples of 2.0 initiatives made by traditional brands that went totally out of hand?

How can impressions be compared to television GRPs?

How intrusive should I be? (expandable formats, videos with sound on by default)

What does interaction rate (only available for rich media formats) tell me about the impact of my campaign?

– Does the long tail change anything to the way I should communicate with my target group? 

Why on earth do people use sites like second life?

Of course, I also get a lot of questions about ROI and measurements. I have (my) answers to those questions based on some hard facts, experience and a little common sense. I’ll post about that in the coming days but if you feel that you have a relevant contribution to make, please shoot.

March blogness – Cast your vote

March 28, 2007

Joseph Jaffe is organizing the election of the MVB (Most Valuable Blog). Your vote is expected and if you have graphical skills, you can also propose a logo.

The march blogness is of course inspired by the NCAA march madness and the goal is to reach a sweet sixteen, an elite eight, a final four and ultimatly a winner. It’s also the opportunity to discover excellent marketing blogs.

The pollution of Second life

March 27, 2007

Avatar are real since they pollute. About that, I wanted to make a little update on this calculation made in december by Nick Carr.

We know that second life will upgrade its server farm up to 10.000 units and that, in the first week of march, second life had an average simultaneous users number of about 36.000.

I keep Nick’s assumptions: 120 watts per PC, 200 watts per server + 50 watts per server for air conditioning.

(10,000 x 250 x 24) + (36,000 x 120 x 24) = 163,000 kilowatt-hour (and 4,53 kWh per capita per day). With current figures a second life avatar consumes 1.653 kWh (just like the per capita chinese consumption)

Bad avatars!

Retro futurology

March 27, 2007


(the image shows how the 2004 home computer was seen in the fifties. EDIT: I know today that this an hoax)

10 years ago, friends offered me a book about the future, written by a french advertising guru called Jacques Séguéla, very iconic figure of the french eighties. 10 years after, the book (“le futur a de l’avenir”) is pretty funny to read.

The book compiles projections of real futurologists, personal wild predictions and apocalyptic visions about the internet. Among those the firm belief of the author that speech to fax technology, the e-book, the encyclopedies on CR-ROM were some of the technologies of the future.

But my point is not to make fun of a wanabe-futurologist (some predictions even became true). The book is just 10 years old and it’s a nice testimony of the myths and the fears towards a deregulated media without structure, central intelligence and boundaries. Among the fears, Séguéla was affraid of the lack of centralized intelligence of the information and didn’t believed in a future of the web without international laws and an internet police chasing the “info-delinquents”. Among the myths, the fact that every computer would soon be equiped with a chipcard reader to avoid anonymity.

I almost forgot how naive I was in 1997 regarding the web. In my office, there was a room with a computer connected to the internet (with a pstn connection, of course). Internet wasn’t free, was looking like this, Yahoo was proposing a very innovating website, and we were still talking about information highways and online advertising was just starting. We felt that something was going on but it was still very vague. And sometimes I feel that some advertisers are still at that stage. Can we take the wayback machine and bring them back to the present?

Second life (as a pervert)

March 26, 2007

Incest, child prositution, rapes, sadism,…

It’s not the plot of the last Takeshi Miike. It’s the dark(est) side of second life and it’s all explained on second life herald.

Some places on second life allow adults to have virtual sex with virtual children (adults who pretend to be children). We will all agree to say this is sick, but… Can virtual pedophilia be regarded as real pedophilia? Should it be banned or prosecuted like in Italy? Or is it just a weird roleplay between consenting adults?  Is it fiction or what happens in second life is somehow real?

I must admit that I don’t really know what to think about that. Any opinions?

The web 2.0 lurning curve

March 26, 2007

Which percentage of web 2.0 users are contributors? Which percentage are just viewers? What’s the penetration of social bookmarking? What’s the level of education of the web 2.0 users?

A survey conducted by David White and completed by 1369 respondents (41% in the EU – mainly UK – and 59% outside EU) gives us interesting data about web 2.0 usage.

2 links to discover the results:

PDF summary (with charts and pies)

– The online summary (with the percentages)

The surprise comes from the high ratio of contributors. I wonder it the panel of respondents is realy representative and properly weighted.

The unwritten chapter

March 25, 2007

I mentionned earlier this week what Joel de Rosnay wrote about the ProNetariat. The approach of de Rosnay is very politic, confrontational and idealist. On the american side, Don Tapscott proposes a pragmatic and business-centric view of the same phonomenon.

Following the publication of his best seller book wikinomics in September 2006, Tapscott invites the public to write the last chapter of the book. This is still work in progress, so, if you feel you have a contribution to make, it’s here.

If you want a nice summary of the book, you can see and download a 82 minutes video of a presentation by Don Tapscott at the Cambrian House.

Second life: give me a break!

March 24, 2007

Tanguy commented my post on second life’s brand strategies with a link to the video below. Thanks, Tanguy 🙂

I don’t know if this spot was made for TV but anyway, this shows that second life is one of the few websites that are now part of popular culture (at least for the kit kat target group)

The very end of the long tail

March 24, 2007


While majors keep claiming that internet is slowly killing their business, things happen in the music business at the other end of the long tail: Creel Pone proposes a surprising and interesting CD-R catalogue of (very) rare early electronic and avant-garde music. No streaming or download here. The website is the most basic website you can imagine which adds charm to this initiative.

If you want to listen (long) samples, pay a visit at Weirdo Records.

(picture: John Cage – concert for piano and orchestra)

Synchronicity again

March 23, 2007


Denis posted 2 days ago about video mashups… and 2 days ago, Parkridge47, the first video mashup superstar came out on his blog.

His “vote different” video posted 18 days ago already reaches 7 digit figures. 

My friends have psychic abilities!

Second Life Synchronicity

March 23, 2007

On March 19th, Kris posted an article entitled New media? Yes. New Marketing? Nah! The day after, the Brand Science Institute issued a press release to reveal a very low customer satisfaction towards the way brands are communicating on second life.  

Only 7% of the second life users consider that the activities of the brands in second life as positive for the brand image and purchase intent, while 72% expressed their disappointment about brand activities.

Marketing 2.0 has still to be invented.

The dark side of the long tail

March 23, 2007

Today’s match up:  serial killers fan clubs versus ugly dogs galleries

Cast your vote.

(Net)working class heroes

March 22, 2007


“By placing intelligence at the edges rather than control in the middle of the network, the Internet has created a platform for innovation.”Vinton Cerf, chief internet evangelist, Google.

The concept of class struggle developed by Karl Marx between proletariat (working class) and bourgeoisie (capitalists). Owners of the means of production.  

Marx believed that this antagonism would lead to a revolution leading through communism after a transition phase called “dictatorship of the proletariat”

The French futurist, Joel de Rosnay describes a new form of class struggles between infocapitalists and the ProNetariat. Infocapitalists (aka Mass Medias) organize scarcity of the information and try to force the use of their channels. They now have to face the ProNetariat (made of blog, vlogs, wiki users) who organizes a massive and collaborative production of information.  Consolidation after consolidation of the media groups, consumer lost face in their information broker. Infocapitalists face a confidence crisis (49% of Americans regard their traditional medias as highly professional versus 72% in 1985. This is mainly due to concentrations and suspected collusions between the media and the political elite) combined with the emergence of interactive information, narrowcasting and social networking websites, broadband and web technologies growth, folksonomy and coregulation. Besides a pure technological reality, a collective consciousness raised in parallel.

This analysis is not new. Far from it, even… but I really like the analogy with Marxist utopia. But, without the painful transition period. So far, the offensive of the infocapitalists couldn’t stop the movement of history. The collective intelligence of the internet users overpowers the centralized intelligence of the media elite. But the ProNetariat won a battle, not the war.

The war for net neutrality continues.

Credit: I found this video thanks to David’s blog

Wallace, Grommit and the Jigsaw killer

March 22, 2007

Yesterday, Denis wrote a post on video mashups. I looked up on youtube and found a few. My favourite is this one:

Web 2.0? There’s no such thing!

March 21, 2007


I attended a few months ago a presentation on web 2.0. by the excellent Irish blogger Tom Raftery. First, I must say that the lecture was widely appreciated by my colleagues. Personally, I was disappointed by one thing: Tom started his presentation by telling the audience web 2.0 could hardly be defined. I must admit he’s right and the definition given by wikipedia is far from satisfying. 

If web 2.0 is pretty hard to define it’s maybe because it doesn’t really exist. I mean most “definitions” of web 2.0 could apply to amazon user reviews, ebay,, all the dating sites, some porn sites, msn or yahoo groups.  I remember an old article (couldn’t retrieve the article but this one is as relevant) where Tim Berners-Lee expressed his doubts about the reality of web 2.0.  Of course, the pace of innovation has never been bigger and adaptation is key.

In my presentations, I try to explain there’s no revolution but a fast evolution based on 3 elements: broadband growth, web technologies, non-web technologies (like digital photography or HDMI connections on televisions). Those elements lead to more consumer empowerment and impact again the demand for new technologies and more bandwidth that will lead to more empowerment, and so on… 

To conceptualize what today’s internet is all about, I also found a little help in the study of philosophy. The French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari published in 1980 a book called “a thousand plateaus” (mille plateaux). A Thousand Plateaus is organized around the distinction between ‘arborescent’ and ‘rhizomatic’ 

(quoted from )

“Rhizomatic thought is non-linear, anarchic, and nomadic. Rhizomes create smooth space, and cut across boundaries imposed by vertical lines of hierarchicies and order. Rhizomatic thought is multiplicitous, moving in many directions and connected to many other lines of thinking, acting, and being. Rhizomatic thinking deterrorializes arbolic striated spaces and ways of being. Rhizomes are networks. Rhizomes cut across borders. Rhizomes build links between pre-existing gaps between nodes that are separated by categories and order of segmented thinking”

The rhizome has multiple entranceways, connects any point to any point and is non hierarchical. And today’s web looks more and more like this philosopher vision. 

Nevertheless, I will continue to use the term web 2.0. It’s so convenient to use 5 signs to express a very complex reality. I guess some day, students in digital marketing may be forced to study chaos theory, nonlinear and dynamical systems to understand the web properly J

What the fuck is the internet?

March 21, 2007

Holden: If the buzz is any indicator, that movie’s gonna make some huge bank.
Jay: What buzz?
Holden: The Internet buzz.
Jay: What the fuck is the Internet?
Holden: The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.

Taken from Jay and Silent Bob strike back