AniBlurbs (Column)

Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

Archive for October, 2008

Siri Challenges The Way We Interact Online, Enter Web3.1?

“Users’ online lives are becoming more complicated and getting out of control for mainstream users. What if there was an easy way for normal users (non-power users) to ask the Internet to help them.”

This, in a nutshell, is the elevator pitch from US start-up Siri on their secretive CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) project.
Together with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) they’re working on a new, revolutionary web interface, geared not towards the digerati, but the mainstream.

“The CALO project is building an automated assistant to help manage and improve your life. The technology spans all aspects of interaction–natural language processing, speech recognition, and planning and reasoning capabilities–and interfaces with all kinds of systems, such as email and contacts…”

Siri co-founder and Vice President of Engineering, Adam Cheyer. For more, see CNET.

(Credit: SRI International)

(Credit: SRI International)

If we zoom in a little further on this announcement and take in the background info, we can actually see that Cheyer is actually referring to the Semantic Web or Web 3.0; a place of “Virtual Warmth” where Intelligence at the Interface allows the internet to pro-actively make recommendations to the user, much like a personal assistant:

The interfaces we use to interact with the world’s information are getting smarter. Web portals gave us someone else’s idea of the content we should see. Then came search engines, which let us tell the system what we want, one query at a time. We are about to see the next wave -intelligence at the interface- in which the system knows about us, our information, and our physical environment. With knowledge about our context, an intelligent system can make recommendations & act on our behalf.”

(Credit: Tom Gruber)

(Credit: Tom Gruber)

Source (via CNET): Tom Gruber.

Siri itself claims to have her business model and partners in place and is committed to success, though it is common knowledge that that hasn’t stopped other revolutionary tech-driven initiatives from failing in the past: in the end consumers must be convinced and budged to re-learn their online habits AND download and purchase the software.

At this point it seems Siri is ready to release its (possibly) Disruptive Technology during the first half of 2009, and they’ve got some impressive pedigree on board allowing them to become the biggest Nightmare Competitor since Google: their payroll includes engineering and strategic wizards from internet and tech giants/godfathers such as Xerox PARC, Google, NASA, Motorola and Yahoo!.

Microsoft have already revealed some of their amazing achievements with their Surface Computer (interface, see the video above) & their Sphere, and scientists and digerati alike admit that the way we humans interact with the screen (The Office-trashcan-directory-folder Analogy) is anti-natural and the main reason non-power users such as my grandmother still don’t know how to send me an e-mail to stay in touch

[And let’s not forget the major leaps in productivity we could enjoy from innovations like these; the various office suites such as Open, Microsoft Office and Google Apps are said to be “productivity packages” but I suggest you’d take a stroll into any office anywhere in the world and witness for yourself how counterproductive most professionals are using it, even now in 2008!]

As the social divide grows between tech/web savvy people and those whom are not, I believe that ventures such as these -looming recession notwithstanding- could give a major and much needed boost to not only internet usage and web-app uptake by the mainstream, but to (new forms of) education as well: we really need a more democratic way of spreading (access to) knowledge.

Hopefully these developments shall be one of the many small steps in making the web a truly leveraging force for education, productivity and true interconnection worldwide.

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Curriculum Vitae #2 met Internet Strateeg Jim Stolze (Interview door Joris van Heukelom op BlueShots.TV) UPDATE

Internet Strateeg Jim Stolze wordt bij BlueShots.TV geïnterviewd door Ilse Media’s CEO Joris van Heukelom.

Naast Jim’s (levens)visie is vooral zijn kijk op de onbewezen effectiviteit, gebrek aan accountability en vooral ook “zend-denken” van de traditionele reclamewereld (doorspoelen naar 06:39) “spot-on”; verplichte kost by all accounts (pun intended). [ let wel: Online kan er m.u.v. Google ook wat van: zie ook deze post van een andere grote denker op dit vlak; Alexander Vanelsas ]

Zeer zeker de moeite waard om naar te luisteren en van te leren dus, vooral ook gezien het feit dat er onder druk van de marktomstandigheden nu dan eindelijk een opmars van Results- en Permission Based Marketing zal plaatsvinden.

Het concept van zijn programma is als volgt: Twee stoelen, twee mensen. In Curriculum Vitae gaat presentator Joris van Heukelom in gesprek met succesvolle professionals met een dynamische carrière. Professionals die beschikken over een interessant CV dat altijd in beweging is. De gast en diens CV zijn voor Joris het materiaal voor een indringend en open minded gesprek. Curriculum Vitae, over de mens achter het cv. Ditmaal in de “blue chair” dus de man achter Marketing Podcast.


Normaliter zou ik het betreffende filmpje uiteraard hier ter plekke embedden, echter die functionaliteit laat nog even op zich wachten, of zoals ze het bij BlueShots.TV zelf verwoorden:

“Binnenkort kun je met een embedcode per format altijd de laatste aflevering van je favoriete Blue Shots programma op je website zetten. Beschikbaar per 1 november 2008.”

Stay tuned

[Update: De BlueShots video’s zijn inmiddels “embedable” echter ze zijn helaas niet aan te passen aan de lay-out van je website: Zodra je probeert om zelf de afmetingen handmatig in de HTML code aan te passen, gaat er een ping naar de servers van BlueShots en co., en wordt het een auto-play film.
Daarnaast kun je niet meer bij de control/mediabay, dus kun je het filmpje vervolgens ook niet stopzetten. Iets wat om meerdere redenen vrij irritant is: De eerste reden is uiteraard dat de gebruiker c.q. bezoeker geen controle heeft over zijn webervaring, en de tweede reden is dat er ongevraagd dataverkeer plaats vindt zonder dat de gebruiker daar om heeft gevraagd.

Aangezien breedbandinternet daarbij nog steeds niet overal (in Nederland) vanzelfsprekend is, kan het daarnaast zijn dat het laden van de homepage van mijn Online Column ontoelaatbaar en onnodig lang gaat duren (omdat ik de laatste tijd nou eenmaal veel video’s hier heb staan, die overigens wel aan de eisen voldoen).

Om de bovenstaande redenen heb ik het betreffende videointerview voorlopig dus verwijderd, totdat er een verbeterde versie van de embedfunctionaliteit wordt aangeboden door het team bij BlueShots.]

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Thinking Big About Solutions to Worldwide Poverty (BLOG ACTION DAY 2008)

Coming up with One Big Idea to resolve the issues of Poverty, Child Starvation or any other (in)directly linked anthropocentric crisis such as Global Pollution, Global Warming or the Energy Crisis –Peak Oil– for that matter requires consensus: Is there a problem? And if so at what scale? Consensus.

Professor Hans Rosling‘s infamous presentations at TED back in 2006 and 2007 shook up our Western beliefs of developing and underdeveloped countries, if not challenge the very definition of what we should label as a developing country in the first place, based on the correct context of data. Consensus on the data upon which one can act.

Up until recently (2006) Pluto was known as a planet, nowadays its part of a different celestial class of its own, thousands of scientist worldwide went through several heated debates before consensus crystallized out of the fog of intellectual war.

Just as there had to be worldwide consensus to recognize the scale and possible implications of the root-rot in our global financial systems before tackling that challenge head-on, the same consensus and sense of urgency has to be developed towards Poverty and the other great issues of our time.

But where to start?

First of all I don’t believe that we’re ever going to have this global consensus -at least not with regards towards Poverty, for one simple reason: the very human nature of not acting unless the Danger is imminent and tangible. (The Global Financial Crisis forced our governments to act aptly and directly, because in light of the gargantuan consequences there simply was no other option.)

We shouldn’t attribute this to culture, greed or unwillingness, but to biology and more specifically our inner brain: A small genetic gift from our Prehistoric ancestors, which also seems to be the key to many addictions like drugs, smoking or drinking too much liquor. So, one might argue that we don’t have a software problem, but that ours is more akin to a hardware glitch so to speak.

Yet I do believe that in spite of all the above, we’re not excused of acting. Warren Buffet has once stated that we’ve all picked a lottery ticket at birth and so we should be happy and thankful to be born on the right side of the fence, in the right timeframe: Nothing should be taken for granted.

Whichever worldview you hold, you’re inherently part of an ecosystem and thus you profit -roughly speaking- from trade rights, education, infrastructure, communications, municipal services, place of birth, local history and the like. Not all of this stands on itself and not all of this can be accounted towards just paying taxes; If there’s anything the Financial Crisis has reaffirmed it’s that we’re part of a global village and what we’ve taken so far should be given back in some way or the other…

So in my humble attempt to join and contribute to the global poverty discussion on over 9.000 websites and blogs worldwide today, facilitated by, here’s my part of the solution:

Free Education Through Free Internet Access.

Poverty has many, many causes, but if there’s one thing we can have consensus on, it’s that there’s a significant correlation between low education and poverty: I’m cutting some very rough, sharp corners here, but arguably one could state that education leads to knowledge, leads to opportunity. Not to say that access to education in and of itself is the full solution, but we should at least enable the poor regions in the world to gain access to the levering power of the web, now more than ever.

Just as the economy of the free web has proven to us that you can gain more by giving and sharing unconditionally, the same democratizing effect could apply to underdeveloped regions.

What can we do?

Google has partnered with HSBC to to deliver free internet access to the unconnected world by way of satellite already and they’re running their Project 10^100 contest, so if you happen to have an actionable idea waiting to get funded for a jumpstart, that would be a great start.

The BlogActionDay website has (links to) many more ideas aching to be implemented. Some are free, others are awaiting a micro-contribution; some idea’s are larger than life, whilst others take a more smaller approach. And while we’re at it: Let’s not forget to address poverty in the West too; we mustn’t assume that everyone living in the Developed World is living at acceptable standards and so here too there’s a lot to be done, starting with efforts to create worldwide consensus on Hidden Poverty as well.

Let’s create a Wiki of sorts where thought leaders from around the world can contribute and facilitate ideas to tackle poverty. And since all major social issues require an holistic approach to achieve sustainable results: Let’s give the underdeveloped those much needed 100 Dollar Laptops with free unlimited Wireless Internet access so they can learn, grow and contribute to the solutions themselves and then let’s use that community platform to tackle the Energy Crisis and Global Warming, together!

[This column is dedicated to the cause of Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty on the 15th of October 2008.]

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Interactive Marketing In Times Of Crisis (Thinking Anti-Cyclic)

Cutting deep in your Marketing budget (and thereby seeing it on default as a cost instead of an investment) is a short term tactic that isn’t going to help your company weather these uncertain times ahead of all of us. Instead it would be more sustainable to take a long term approach; a more critical look at what channels your spending this budget on and whether the story you’re telling is in line with the quality of your services or products.

And though your Marketing Department may stop talking about your company, products or service, the consumers are not: Au contraire; their conversations (in the Social Media space) are increasing exponentially!

Furthermore don’t forget to also take into account that most of your competitors are probably not as comfortable with such a progressive world view and will focus instead on the short term outcome. This means that by keeping your budget stable, but spending it more wisely, you could seriously gain competitive advantage.

“So, then since online has the reputation for being measurable, we’ll just cut back in our offline efforts.”

Contrary to popular belief among some of my peers, right now is NOT the time to cut in offline Ad spending: If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far, it’s that in times of Crisis there is a peak in the amount of readers, visitors, viewers and listeners to (in this particular case financial) news papers & websites, TV and radio. People are looking for guidance and a steady rock to cling on to. This means that if you have a relevant story to tell there’s never been a better time to reach out to your customers and core audiences than right now!

The core thing to keep in mind here is of course that the Old Media are by their very nature geared towards Branding, and thus, -though it’s not really scientifically-rock solid-proven-effective in generating revenue- it is a perfect instrument to instill customer thrust in your brand, if handled the right way and in conjunction with Social Media Marketing and other forms of Online Marketing.

The key challenge would be timing, as you wouldn’t want to have a multi-million dollar tagline –Here Today, Where Tomorrow?– proven meaningless overnight…

One way to manage your Marketing budget would be to higher or lower it every Financial Quarter, in a wave as it were, analyzing the results and reacting accordingly. Moreover reallocate the money spent on different channels based on campaign directive. So, depending on the field or sector your operating in, decrease the amount of money spend on Branding through offline channels and shift the resulting saved money towards Online Results Based Marketing, such as SEA and in optimizing the Task Completion Rate by Primary Purpose on your website…

Yep, I’m not advising you to plainly look at Conversion Rates, I’m suggesting to take a more holistic approach ;) Back in 2006 Google’s visionairy Web Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik already foresaw that the Focus (should be) Shifting from Conversion to Task Completion Rate by Primary Purpose.

Upcoming Interactive Channels that haven´t quite fully lived up to their potential yet like Social Media and Mobile are likely to be confronted with closed wallets and plummeting ad spending, not just because of advertisers cutting back in costs and investments, but also because the consumers themselves are being hesitant to spend money on luxury products and services including Mobile Internet and Mobile Wireless Internet Devices.

Yet again here it would be wise to be wary of and avoid the FUD; for example here in the Netherlands the mobile version of the largest news website (translated: is also the largest mobile news site. It is known that CTR’s in mobile enhanced sites are up to 7% or even higher, putting Display efforts on the desktop internet to shame; so though it’s understandable to make a Pavlov Reaction and eschew Mobile altogether, the contrary might be a better move. Whether your campaign is geared towards gaining a high CTR in the first place is of course a different thing altogether (I’d beg to differ, basing a campaign on CTR alone isn’t the most cost-effective way of spending your Marketing Euro).

As for Social Media, as I’ve pointed out at the beginning of this post: Your target audience, consumers and people in general aren’t going to be less critical, or dependent of peer advice and ratings and they’ll definitely be looking for bargain deals on price comparison communities, so keep joining that conversation!

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Wat vertel jij je vrienden?

Opvallend, lekker actueel, grappig, authentiek, direct, ik zou erop klikken.

(PS het gaat om de banner hierboven) Bonus: De kwinkslag naar “Wat vertel jij je vrienden?” als campagne insteek is een schot in de roos, want zeer herkenbaar.

Volgens een onderzoek gedaan door Metrix Lab in opdracht van Microsoft Advertising dien je voor een optimale online brand awareness tussen de 3 en 7 contactmomenten te hebben.

Het staat mij nog helder voor de geest dat ik een aantal weken geleden in een korte periode echt doodgegooid werd met AMC banners van, ik meen, Rabobank Connect.

Dit kwam overigens niet door het ontbreken van een frequency cap, maar gewoon doordat er in het mediaplan goede overlap was met het inzetten van de creative. Zelf ben ik overigens net als het overgrote deel van de internetpopulatie bannerblind, al moet ik toegeven dat ik -door beroepsdeformatie- nog wel eens een banner de volle aandacht geef, zoals dus in dit geval.

I had no choice: Het maakte werkelijk waar totaal niet uit op welke Nederlandse ICT/Online Marketing gerelateerde vaksite of blog ik keek, ik ontkwam gewoon niet aan de banner, vraag me alleen niet wat de precieze strekking was. Uiteraard speelt voor het resultaat van een degelijke display advertising campagne niet alleen het aantal contactmomenten zelf een rol, maar vooral ook de creative zelf en of deze in lijn is met je corporate communicatie en het umfelt.

Destijds was de betreffende rectangle echter niet zo sterk als deze, maar wel onvermijdelijk, dus als men weer een beetje kien heeft ingekocht op alle relevante online kanalen, dan zou dit wel eens een zeer effectieve AMC display-campagne kunnen worden. Of toch niet?

Want wat dan weer wel jammer is, is dat er niet direct een Adwords-campagne bij opgestart is,  zodat de displayadvertising- en de CPC-campagnes, tezamen met een goed gesegmenteerde e-mailing en RSS-vertising, elkaar ondersteunen in het genereren van kwalitatief bezoek naar de werkenbij website, temeer daar de praktijk uitwijst dat het gecombineerd inzetten van diverse uitingen in de communicatiemix conversie verhogend werkt en de (Employer)Brand Awareness kan versterken (Tip: in de organische resultaten bij word geen juiste content omschrijving weergegeven, maar de gebruikte webanalyse tool: “ Web Analytics”).

Dit gaat al helemaal op voor de ICT-doelgroep die de Rabobank hiermee wenst te bereiken, want die gebruiken over het algemeen Firefox als internetbrowser, hebben -net als ik- grotendeels Adblock Plus en No Script aanstaan en zien dus los van bannerblindheid zelfs een prachtige banner als deze helaas sowieso niet staan…

Begin dit jaar ben ik via ACA/JES Communicatie (zijdelings) betrokken geweest bij online AMC projecten/advies voor de Rabobank Nederland, ik ben enige tijd geleden vertrokken bij ACA/JES en momenteel heb ik geen betrokkenheid bij deze of andere projecten van de Rabobank Groep of haar (in)directe concurrenten. Los daarvan: zoals aangegeven in de disclaimer rechtsonder in de Navigation BayTM: deze Online Column is volledig onafhankelijk; de hier door mij weergegeven persoonlijke visie, opinie of snelle gedachtespinsels zijn derhalve niet die van de genoemde organisaties en/of aan hen gelieerde partijen en dus ook niet noodzakelijkerwijs vooraf door hen ingezien, dan wel beïnvloed. Amen. Verdorie, mooie banner ;)]

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