May 4, 2012

You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 4, 2012.

The Intention Economy came out on Tuesday, and coverage has been spreading. Meanwhile, while I’ve been busy at IIW, where VRM mojo has been major. Notes from the many VRM sessions at #IIW14 will appear on this page soon. Meanwhile here are some excerpts pieces that ran this week.

From Selling You: Not Just on Facebook, by Haydn Shaughnessy in Forbes —

The reality is we need a different way of thinking about data, and in an age marked by innovation we shouldn’t find a reframe too difficult. We shouldn’t but we do. Generations of marketers have been brought up on an adversarial view of the customer, the target, the win…

In all the discussions we’ve had here in Forbes about social business we have yet to stray into the use and purpose of social data, as if we too largely accept that the adversarial view is the only one.

A couple of days back I tried to reflect an alternative view in for, example, how we might use LinkedIn data – it’s not only my view of course and I don’t want to claim any originality in it. For five years or more, maybe as far back as The ClueTrain Manifesto, people like Doc Searls have been arguing that the web makes a better commerce engine if we recognize all the power symmetries it brings. And there is an increasing number of projects that are taking up that logic.

CRM type data is old school – Tesco in the UK had signed up more than 15 million people to its ClubCard by 2009, that is over a third of the adult population of the country. It’s what companies did before the web. But it seems to be continuing even now that we have new possibilities.

There is no need to collect inference data on people and their possible choices. There is no adversary called customer. We have scaled up human interaction online where we can get closer to asking people, suggesting to them, and interacting with them.

So the future actually belongs to companies that take a symmetrical view of power…

From Another Bubble; Not Housing, by Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Blog in Business Insider:

Guys, we ARE in a bubble. I don’t care what you say. As an outsider, I can see it…

Like Facebook, Pinterest and Instgram have valuations that are guesses about the future of advertising.Will they be the next great places to advertise as we shift to mobile?

Pinterest may be worth more “nothing” than Instgram, however, because as Scoble pointed out, women have buying power, which is why brands cozy up to mommy bloggers. But they haven’t bought BlogHer, the platform on which those women express opinions, have they? Lisa, Jory and Elisa were pioneers in bringing women’s voices to the marketplace, and no one has offered them a billion. That’s because BlogHer is not a tool. But it should expose also the fact that simply being favored by women doesn’t confer $7b in value on a company.

More worrisome is the supposition that these apps will someday be good carriers of mobile advertising, even though as yet the advertising industry hasn’t solved the online ad effectiveness problem and even Facebook reported diminished revenues this quarter.

The advertising industry is in upheaval, over the value of online advertising per se, before it even tackles mobile. Publishers are going under right and left because customers don’t want to see ads online, and truly hate them on mobile . Here, especially, the user will control the conversation.

So the valuations of Pinterest and Instgram/FB are merely expensive guesses about the future of advertising, about whether the ad tech industry will figure out mobile in a non-invasive way. Yes, the open graph will be part of it, and the advertising will be targeted. But I am guessing that Doc Searls will be quoted here gain and again: markets are conversations, and customers will control them.

In Doc Searls Wants You to Join Him in The Intention Economy, Scott Merrill writes in Techcrunch,

The book is easy to read, written in Searls’ first-person voice. He explains in the opening that he’s used to writing online and furnishing lots of links. While he can’t directly link from the content of the book, each chapter contains numerous footnotes with additional information and URLs to further reading. Searls uses plenty of personal anecdotes and examples, and quotes an astonishing number of conversations he’s had with people through the years.

I’m not an economist, so I was marginally worried that the book would be heavy on economic theory. There is some, as well as historical analysis of the evolution of markets and their effects, but all of this is done in a very accessible way. Searls does a great job presenting complex (and often crushingly boring) economic theory in ways that make sense to casual readers.

I purposefully read the book slowly, to allow the concepts to penetrate my thoughts. It didn’t take long for me to start looking much more critically at all the business transactions in which I participate every day and wonder how VRM and the intention economy might change them.

The Intention Economy represents the fruition of several years of lively discussion on this subject. The book is far from definitive, though: the groundwork for the intention economy is only just now being laid, and it’ll be a long time before it becomes an everyday reality.

He also says this about my response (in an email interview) to a question about “…bad actors (on either side of a transaction), and about the likelihood of malicious fourth parties: someone sneakily providing some kind of personal data store only to misuse the data collected”:

On the whole, I’m actually very excited about the possibilities implied by the intention economy, but this reply really worries me. Yes, we didn’t worry about spam or malware when the core Internet protocols were forming. But we’ve learned an awful lot since then, and it seems to me a glaring omission that reasonable safeguards not be considered at the beginnings of any new Internet construction project.

I should have put that question to the fourth party developers on the ProjectVRM list. In fact I’m sure safeguards are being considered, and it was an error on my part not to make at least that much clear.

Fast Company ran two pieces: one from the book, and one about the book. Give Up The Gimmicks: How Groupons And Coupons Can Damage Your Brand is an excerpt from Chapter 25 of the book, titled  ”The Dance”. One pull-quote:

An old saying goes, “Cocaine makes you feel like a man. Problem is, the man wants more cocaine.” Coupons are cocaine for business.

To get off the discounting drug, it helps to know that businesses can survive–and thrive–without Groupons, or coupons, or any gimmick at all.

Doc Searls On Becoming Part Of The Intention Economy is an interview by Drake Baer. An excerpt:

…we need to start loving through the marketplace. Start loving where your customers are autonomous, sovereign, individual free agents who bring far more to you than money and loyalty. They have signals, they have intelligence, they have all kinds of things they can bring that you’re ignoring right now because you’re running closed systems in which you know almost nothing about them.

In the long run, individual autonomy is going to be a persistent state, and getting along with customers and being true cooperators with customers is going to be what helps retail, aviation, you name it, to adapt fully to what the Internet has been implying from the beginning.

In Will Facebook Drive the New Intention Economy? Ryan MacRay Jones of m-cause writes,

Doc Searls, in his excellent new book The Intention Economy, discusses how shoppers online will eventually move beyond action buttons (e.g. “Like”) and exercise their consumer power by broadcasting their intent via a sort of online RFP (Request for Proposal).  In the Intention Economy, the buyer will notify the market of his/her intent to buy and then sellers will compete for the buyer’s purchase.

While RFPs are not yet happening within Facebook, the giant social network is making a move to learn more about our intent as shoppers online.

Part of Doc Searls vision of the intention economy involves “fourth parties” that protect a consumer/shopper and act on his/her behalf within the intention economy.  Personal.com is an early form of this type of company.   Fourth parties collect our intent, but instead of broadcasting it broadly and selling it to advertisers, they look out for the consumer and their interests on the web.  If, as Mark Zuckerberg states in his SEC filing letter, Facebook is trying to be a force for good and social change, won’t they be looking to help consumers transparently understand how and when their data is being used to drive ad sales?  Could Facebook actually pivot and evolve into a real trusted 4th party over time?

Quick answer: Not unless their consumers become customers.

In What if We Tossed Out the Advertising Model, Rawn Shah of Forbes writes,

There are number of secondary effects of this model as well: it shifts the business of customer data collection and business analytics in a different direction; it elevates the level of security of information; it creates new feature needs in online retailing and commerce systems; and if Doc is right, it may even transform the banking industry by creating a whole new business opportunity line for them.

This approach creates the multi-way dialogue with customers, their networks, and people of like interest that we need to see happen in the world of marketing, transforming the model towards greater efficiency. In doing so, IT directly becomes a stronger part of the business function of marketing, as well as impacting how we manage inventory and distribute goods and services. It contributes to the integrated, cross-functional future as we move away from the Value chain model of the enterprise, and into a social business world.

Rawn will run his interview with me in a future post.

Two other audio interviews are also up. HBR’s Winning in the Intention Economy (note: HBR is the book‘s publisher) and Big Data: How Personal Clouds and ‘VRM’ will revolutionise Customer Relationships, from Telco 2.0 Research.