Thought I would share it here, too.
Was written as an introduction to a book that I’ve been to lazy to make much progress on. But if the sun doesn’t come out for a month or so, perhaps I’ll keep going.
If you don’t use Medium, you should check it out, both as a reader and a content creator. It’s an elegant platform and the right content can scale quickly.
“Edward, there’s a Don Draper here to see you.”
“OK, I’ll be right out.”
Don stood in the lobby, a black portfolio case in his right hand. He stared out the window at a Heineken sign painted on the side of an exposed brick building across the lot.
“Now that’s a poster,” he said turning to face me. “Don Draper.”
It certainly was a poster. As boring and traditional as a poster could be. Green background. Big picture of the bottle. A logo.
“Sure is,” I nodded.
We walked past the receptionist, down an extra wide flight of stairs to the creative department below. I wasn’t really looking forward to this conversation.
“Are we meeting in your office?” asked the legendary CD.
“Actually I don’t have an office. None of us have offices anymore, Don. As you can see, we just have open space. Long tables. Laptops we can carry with us up to the cafe if we want a change of pace. Even the conference rooms have glass doors so everyone feels more connected.”
He seemed confused.
“I mean where would you, what happens when….”
There was a pause.
“When you want to bang your secretary?” I finished the sentence for him. “ Not a problem, Don. We don’t have secretaries anymore either. We do our own typing, correspondence, appointments.”
We passed some large walls with work in progress pinned to them. Video games, apps, charts that showed user experience journeys and a few key frames for a new mobile experience.
“We can just sit here. Have a seat.” I gestured to a couple of stools at an elevated bench in the middle of the creative department. I figured Don might feel more comfortable sitting at a bar height table.”
“At least you have a bar. That’s great.”
“Actually it’s not a bar. Just a place to stand and work. People like to work standing up these days. Better for you.”
Don looked at me with some skepticism.
Clearly the concept of doing anything in an ad agency from a vertical position was a foreign concept to my guest.
“So you want to see my book, or should we just talk about the job?”
“Let’s look at the book.”
He unzipped a Utrecht black leather portfolio case to reveal a dozen or more pristine plastic leaves, each displaying a tear sheet. All the campaigns that made Don famous were there. Kodak, Playtex, Lucky Strike. He pushed the open case toward me and I feigned interest as I flipped through the pages.
“Some memorable work, for sure.”
“So what do you think?” Don pulled out a pack of Lucky’s and pressed his pant pockets in search of either matches or a lighter.
“You can’t smoke here, Don. Sorry.”
“I thought you said this was an advertising agency?”
“We still call it that, yes. But a lot has changed. In fact we don’t really make many ads. At least not the kind you’re used to making.”
“Well what do you make?”
“I guess we make a newer form of advertising. Digital experiences, social media applications, engagement platforms, shareable content, mobile utility. A lot of technology.”
“I see. Well, technology is a glittering lure, but there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, when they have a sentimental bond with the product….”
Don launched into his well rehearsed Carousel speech.
“I love that monolog,” I interrupted. “ It’s brilliant. It’s probably got a million views on YouTube. But I only have a few more minutes.”
I flipped through the rest of Don’s portfolio then lied to Don (some things about advertising don’t change) and said I had a meeting with a client and walked him back to the lobby.
“We’ll pass your book around and I’ll get back to you.”
I wasn’t sure he believed me. But he said thank you, shook my hand and offered a good-bye. I waited with him for the elevator. He entered and pressed the lobby button.
As the doors slid closed, he stared straight at me and with a half smile added, “Good luck with your next meeting.”
Wait a minute, I thought. Wasn’t that Roger’s line?
A week ago the pundits were quick to suggest that Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr was little more than a Hail Mary. How can a company dependent on a dying model (display advertising) and an aging user base stay relevant in the age of social media?
Put that way it sounds like a sure recipe for an obituary of some kind a year or two out. So was this a mistake? Or does Yahoo know something we don’t know yet?
What Yahoo did acquire was a younger, hipper audience. Tumblr indexes at 237 for 18—24 year olds and only a notch below that for users up to 34. But despite the appeal of that demographic, Tumblr has failed to sell or deliver effective native advertising. And the other option, blasting users with uninvited display ads has to be ruled out, as it will likely make the site too uncool to hold onto the users Yahoo covets in the first place.
On this week’s The Beancast, host Bob Knorpp, Mitch Joel, Brian Morrissey, Steve Wax, and I discussed a number of topics including the recent Yahoo Tumblr acquisition. We wondered if the real strategy was to leverage Tumblr’s voluminous porn. We hypothesized that Tumblr could become a YouTube of printed and visual content. We hoped that eventually the creative community would figure out how to make native advertising that’s either useful or entertaining. Just in time to save Yahoo’s investment.
(None of us really knew what we’re talking about or we’d be running Yahoo or creating Tumblrs, but this is social media so we’re all allowed to pontificate. Mitch Joel may have been the closest to right when he reminded everyone that $1.2 billion is cheap if it simply buys Yahoo some relevance with a younger market.)
But here’s how Tumblr and Yahoo will make money. They won’t be saved by ad agencies, or creatives or some form of native advertising. It will be with algorithms and data and search software. Possibly from a company called Swoop.
In a total coincidence, the night after Mr. Knorpp asked me how Yahoo would make money with it’s newest toy, I found myself on a 50-mile road ride with the CEO of Swoop, serial entrepreneur Ron Elwell.
His new startup extends advertisers’ search campaigns by leveraging the content that a search ultimately leads a consumer to. So if you were looking for cake recipes, found a page that offered one, and were skimming through the recipe, Swoop knows that a.) you were searching for that recipe and b. how to match advertising with the content on that page in a very user-friendly and unobtrusive way.
Swoop relies on what it calls “hints,” essentially asking you if, at that moment, you are interested in an ad or offer about, say, cake mix, or sugar or milk. Only if you say “yes,” do you see an ad. Better yet, that ad gets customized based on what your search terms have been, so its relevance is increased.
Yes this is one of many new programs and platforms attempting to make advertising more timely and contextual. But what makes it interesting and suggests real potential is that it actually respects the user and offers him or her a choice.
What does something like this mean for Yahoo and Tumblr? First and foremost, suddenly all content becomes more valuable. If you, as an advertiser, know that an interest in certain terms, whether searched or discovered in content that readers care about, leads to traffic and sales, you have more relevant places to offer your “hints.” And, of course, given that Yahoo is now sitting on a ton of new, fresh daily content that it already knows people seek out, it has something useful to offer advertisers.
This won’t happen overnight. Right now Swoop is still in the process of evaluating the content against which its technology works best. And much of the content on Tumblr is, of course, visual. But it is likely that the solution, or part of it, will come from new ways to create contextual advertising that accurately knows what a user or reader wants, not simply assuming that a like or a follow means she wants to be pummeled with so-called native ads in her stream.
Of course, platforms like this, assuming they are successful, will benefit any content creator or popular destination. But at least it gives Yahoo a fighting chance and a way to leverage traffic, popularity, and its young readers without fucking up what does seem to work for Tumblr users.
In fact, Yahoo might even be able to make more money off of its porn.
We invent hashtags, issue images in hopes of getting re-tweeted, ask tiresome questions of our Facebook fans and we think we’re being social.
We share clever semi-contextual ads on our Twitter stream and because we’re doing it in real time we think we’re being social.
We stick a QR code on an ad or a billboard or a retail display, assuming some poor soul will actually scan it, and we think we’re being social.
But if we’re honest, we’d have to admit that more often than not we’re simply using social media rather than exhibiting social behavior.
True there are plenty of examples of brands doing it right. But as more and more marketers incorporate social media into their efforts, there remains a tendency to fall back on old practices and ways of thinking. Control the message. Focus on reach. Strive to collect fans and followers that we’re not even sure what to do with after we’ve amassed enough to make us feel as if we’ve been successful.
But this week I was reminded what social behavior is really all about — inviting participation, creating community, generating content, and enhancing the experience that a user has with a brand in a way that yields a mutually rewarding experience. All evident in relatively small initiative from the Getty Museum.
As the only museum in the US to exhibit Vermeer’s Lady in Blue as the wonderful painting makes its way around the world, the museum found a perfectly relevant way to invite patrons to think about the painting, explore its meaning and play a part in a collective effort to imagine the opening line in the concealed letter that grips the attention of the woman reading it.
Hundreds of art lovers submitted lines, some serious, some eloquent, some amusing, some set in the 1600′s, some imagining the future.
In doing so, the Getty actually encouraged people to think about the painting, the moment captured, Vermeer’s intentions, the story that might be contained in its 270 square inches. It gave Vermeer fans a reason to pay to attention, participate and engage. And perhaps more importantly it didn’t ask for much in return. No likes. No follows. No pleas to purchase a ticket or visit the exhibit.
It’s more than likely that the masses, the general public, even the majority of the Getty’s 400,000-plus followers on Twitter don’t really care. Or would never take the time to play along. But for those that did, it was a way to feel involved with both the museum and the painting.
And, of course, to see which opening line Anne Martens, the Getty’s resident multi-media writer, chose to start the completed letter.
And finally, some lessons to consider as you think about your next social media initiative.
Know your users and invent something with which they will want to engage
Remember this is for them not for you. Too many social campaigns have already forgotten that you have to bring something useful and entertaining to the party. It starts with seeing things from a user’s perspective. What Vermeer lover wouldn’t want some encouragement and an idea for how to think about the painting?
Stop using social media as an ad medium
The Getty could have Instagrammed and Tweeted images of the painting. Or even made clever little ads and sent those out. But is that really being social? Social implies interaction, conversation and a relationship.
Integrate all of the platforms
The Getty let users join in via its blog, Twitter and Facebook. And the museum cross posted content, along with responses and conversation on all of them. Go where your users are; give them lots of ways to interact with you.
Make this kind of engagement part of your brand behavior
If you constantly generate small initiatives like this you’ll find more ways to connect with customers and your communities in ways that serve their interests and needs. And you’ll take the pressure off of trying to hit homeruns all the time.
Re think your metrics
Finally, stop evaluating initiatives like this based on likes, followers and clicks. Instead, measure interaction, engagement, depth of conversation, word of mouth, and even the press coverage that comes out of it. If you do you’ll see more value in trying to develop a never ending stream of small ideas that keep the dialog going and give your users a reason to keep coming back.
Their fourth quarter income was way up, double over a year ago. But they’re in the midst of some bad PR for serving horse meat. (What do you think would be in a $1.29 Whopper Jr?) And they’re challenged on the value front once again.
So what do they do? They imagine they’re CP&B (Whopper Sacrifice, Subservient Chicken) and hack themselves on Twitter. Making believe that McDonald’s bought them out, tweeting some nasty, tasteless stuff, and then disappearing in hopes of winning our sympathy or, better yet, inviting harsh criticism for their inability to handle the faux crisis.
Oh if only that were really the case. But it’s not April 1. So chances are they did get hacked. And didn’t notice soon enough. And weren’t ready with a response. Come on people, you are supposed to have real time crisis plans ready to go by now.
Anyway, here’s a few snips from the web gathered for what might become a story worth referring to when you need a SoMe case or example. At this posting a lesson in what not to do. But who knows, perhaps eventually something more impressive.
If your media habits are at all like mine, you got as much if not more of your news about Sandy yesterday from social media. Not only did the hashtag #Sandy dominate Twitter, providing an endless stream of updates from both media properties and individuals, Twitter itself created a page to serve as a content hub, sharing posts from officials, government agencies and media outlets.
You could isolate content by location – New York, Delaware, Massachusetts – or by type. There were hashtags on Twitter for #SandyNY, #SandyMA and others, and on Instagram for #SandyNY, easily filtered by searching in Instagrid.me.
If phone lines were tied up you found out if friends and family were OK from their status updates on Facebook. On Twitter utilities posted outages and expected repair times. On Instagram media of all sorts crowd sourced images from neighborhoods and streets. For most of the day the front page of the New York Times featured posts and re-tweets from its Metro account.
It’s not as if social media will replace the depth and analysis of the best traditional media, but it has certainly elevated itself to a point where it is an essential tool for staying informed. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account or have one and never posted, the #Sandy page was among your best sources of content for events as significant as yesterday’s storm. It showed you a broad swath of coverage, gave you instant access to a wealth of information, and allowed you to find and consume what mattered most to you.
My guess is that Sandy will attract more users to Twitter and Instagram and encourage more active participation from those still reluctant to share and post. And while both platforms have become an integral part of how traditional media gathers and distributes news, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more users start with the platforms, allowing the posts they see there to send them to a source.
Sandy may have been devastating for millions. But it will be very good for social media.