Archive for the ‘long tail’ Category

Social Media elevator speech

August 31, 2008

I’m back from 2 great weeks in Turkey.

In my mail, there is a request from Kosta, the organizer of the new media event in Dubai, asking the speakers to produce a 2 minutes video about social media. Usually, I give speeches between 20 minutes and 2 hours (for workshops)… but I never had to make an “elevator speech” about social media.

So, since yesterday I wonder how I could summarize my belief about social media and (new) marketing in 2 minutes?

It could be something like this:

Social media is one of the ways the (advanced) internet population chose to engage with the possibilities offered by today’s technologies. In the social media era, every contributor is a media with more or less audience. Many people try to define social media but most definitions remain too vague (and could even be applied to very old technologies like forums or chat rooms).

Social media is over and under-rated at the same time.

Social Media is overrated because reach still matters for brands and social media isn’t the best way to achieve reach; Because nobody found the magic formula of virality yet; Because social media isn’t a massive collective force but a variety of more or less small tribes. Even if there are links between all the entities of social media, they are hard to identify and to activate; Because it’s difficult to measure its return; Because collective intelligence is sometimes collective dumbness (cf starwars kid); Because the head is more consistent than the tail; Because it has a scalability problem; Because most of the social media users have no (net)working class consciousness.

Social Media is underrated because social media changes the way we expect to use (any kind of) media; Because it’s an incredible accelerator; Because you can achieve great results with low budgets; Because every study show that word of mouth is by far the biggest sales driver; Because it’s the ultimate market intelligence tool; Because it raises engagement; Because it allows viral mechanisms on top/as a part of your display campaigns; Because that’s where your target group is and because that’s where you can talk with him…

As we speak, your brand can still survive without using the power of social media. Many brands advertise and communicate like they used to do 10 years ago. Not all of them are on the verge of bankrupcy. Nevertheless, as a brand, ignoring new media prevent you to maximize your marketing efficiency.

Anyway, I still have to transform this in a nice video…


No headquarters, no hierarchy

July 10, 2007

I had the chance today to hear a brilliant presentation by Charles Leadbeater. I wrote down a few key messages:
– Give people tools, see how they us them and only then, build your business model
– If you treat users as (just) consumers, you won’t be able to make them help you to innovate
– The most innovative organisations (based on free collaboration) today have no headquarters and no hierarchy, they are much quicker in innovation than any big fixed rigid organisation
– Succes may lead to conservatism. If you have a history of succes, you may tend to repeat what led you to succes.
– If you want to see your way into the future, act as you were a new entrant with low budgets

The permanent revolution

July 3, 2007

I just created my account on slideshare. In around 30 minutes, I will present the slideshow below at the second Microsoft Belgium circle of media where we gathered journalists and key Belgian bloggers. Most of the slides aren’t self-explanatory but I trust your interpreation and imagination power 🙂

As told previously, it’s my first presentation to an audience made of experts. I’ll tell you in my next post how it went.

Wikipedia Mathematics

June 13, 2007

I wrote a post last week about the power law in the blogosphere.

Yesterday evening, I stumbled upon a report on wikipedia and I realized that the rules are the same: like links beget links in the blogosphere, edits beget edits on wikipedia. And the number edits obviously impact quality: there is a strong correlation for a wikipedia article between number of edits (and number of contributors) and probability to be featured (sign that the article is qualitative).

You won’t be surprised but it appears that the distribution of edits on wikipedia follows a long tail model. The long tail is maybe the T.O.E. after all 🙂

Based on the wikipedia correlation between quality and number of edits/contributors, I was wondering if wiki models could be succesfully used in marketing (to create an advertising or to gather business intelligence). I asked Clo what she was thinking about it and she sent me this great Kathy Sierra post.


Frankendog may be ugly, but he has some personnality

The Link Love Law

June 4, 2007


A while ago, I was in contact with Renaud, who is studying and modelizing the structures of complex networks. I was very interested by his work but couldn’t really figure out how usable this was for a better understanding of the web and the blogosphere. I called him to discuss this topic and I discovered new horizons.

I understood that the blogosphere was what we call a scale-free network: In scale-free networks, some nodes act as “highly connected hubs”, although most nodes are of low degree. The scientist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is one of the leading researchers of the complex network study. He developped an algorithm called the BA model based on two important principles:

Incremental growth: scale-free network expand continuously over time by the addition of new nodes.

Preferential attachment: new network members prefer to make a connection to the more popular existing members.

The BA model shows that scaling and power laws emerge in random networks. This model hasn’t been built for the blogosphere. The web is only one out of many scale-free networks. Examples of scale-free networks can be found in biology (protein interactions), in terrorist organisations and even in… the distribution of sexual relations.

Basically, this is the scientific background of the long tail model and Chris Anderson figured that out long before me. We experienced this power law recently with Bring the love back. We noticed that many links on blog that were posting the video were mentioning David Armano (David is a “hub” in the blog scale-free network) as source of the information adding a lot of extra links to David Armano’s blog. David became the biggest traffic broker of This is of course due to his very important readership but also to the preferential attachment law: Bloggers who discovered the bring the love back-movie through a smaller node (a blog with a lower authority ranking) pointing to David Armano have much more probability to link directly to David Armano’s post and bypass the primary source of information which eventually was benefitial for the bring the love back success.

The fact that the long tail is not only a volume distribution law but also a power law is very new to me. This adds a predictability element. It doesn’t only describes the internet landscape but also allows to predict what the growth pattern will be (at least gives probabilities of growth knowing that critical events can change the evolution pattern of the network).

This discovery (it might sound trivial for most of you but it’s new to me) makes me think about Maximilian Cohen is the wonderful movie ‘Pi‘: “11.15: Restate my assumptions: One, Mathematics is the language of nature. Two, Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature. Evidence: The cycling of disease epidemics;the wax and wane of caribou populations; sun spot cycles; the rise and fall of the Nile. So, what about the stock market? The universe of numbers that represents the global economy. Millions of hands at work, billions of minds. A vast network, screaming with life. An organism. A natural organism. My hypothesis: Within the stock market, there is a pattern as well… Right in front of me… hiding behind the numbers. Always has been

Thanks for answering

April 28, 2007

Here’s a recap of my answers to the 8 questions of the Digital Marketing FAQ. 

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?

You can also find excellent answers to those questions on Transmission Marketing and Minor issues. Besides Mark and Steven, I need to thank a lot of people who contributed to the answers and the diffusion of the questions: Joe Jaffe, Kris Hoet, Ann Handley, CK, Michel Vuijlsteke, Marc Collier, Marc Bresseel and (in advance) Matt Dickman.

I will come back soon with a wrap up and a powerpoint summarizing all the great contributions of those top marketeers.

The day of the long tail

April 23, 2007

“The companies that will prosper will be those that switch out of lowest-common-denominator mode and figure out how to adress niches”… dixit Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired.

This quote is the ideal introduction to the seventh question of the FAQ: “Does the long tail change anything to the way I should communicate with my target group? “. The answer is, of course, Yes.

CK already gave her 2 cents in the comments of Kris’ blog:

The long tail…and the shift to micro-niches…may change your target group. It may change into its own little eco-system of multiple target groups. So the way you communicate, dialogue and message with them may become more specific. And, with two-way communications (Web 2.0) you can also invite more involvement (what Huba & McConnell refer to as “The Participatory Economy”) from your target audiences and you can become closer to their exact preferences, wants and needs (as marketing is about serving these).

Also you can start creating more markets, instead of just serving them because there is so much room for innovation due to so many choices (the long tail is about more choice and more niches, no longer about audiences grouped by, say, age range). All told, communications become more dynamic and rich since we’re really homing in on preferences (so it’s now “psychographics” instead of “demographics”).

I also believe that online fragmented audience is an opportunity to adapt the tone of a campaign to the various sensibilities even if you have a very mainstream product. Humor for instance is very different from country to country and from age group to age group (and even between social groups). The example of the kitkat second life advertising is an example of an ad with a quiet limited niche (but for a mainstream product). It’s clear that such a campaign will create a bigger affinity with the target group than any wide scale TV campaign.

How can you cope with that in media planning? Should you fragment your advertising budgets? In traditional campaigns, the planning happens depending on a socio-demographic target and reach is the key performance indicator. Most online campaigns will use the same KPI. Niche communication will very much depend on the objectives of the campaign and on the creation.

Honestly, I don’t think the media world today is equiped to attack the niche markets (except the online creative agencies). It’s not (yet) in the advertisers and the media planners minds and I don’t feel this will change massively on short term…. in Europe

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.

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.

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)

TV shake up

March 19, 2007

I just received an invitation mail to preview joost and I installed the client on my computer. Bad luck, the servers couldn’t retrieve the first 3 clips I requested. It’s maybe due to the office firewall. Anyway, the interface is nice, simple and user friendly and all the content of Joost is on demand.

The content offering is still very limited but the recent announcement of a deal with Viacom could change that dramatically.


With decent content and hopefully local deals (and a little help from the growing penetration of TVs with HDMI entries), Joost (and also babelgum) could hurt the local IDTV players who tend to provide old fashioned broadcasting “enriched” with pathetic on demand catalogs.

The future is PC-centric.

My dirty little secret

March 16, 2007


After the born again christians, here come the porn again christians (sorry for this bad joke, I couldn’t resist) 

Jesus loves porn stars. This is the motto of a controversial action initiated by an American pastor to help the Christians struggling with porn addiction. I don’t care, I’m atheist but I really like their t-shirts