AniBlurbs (Column)

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

Your Online Identity Hosted In The Browser?

Weave Identity is a very interesting component from Mozilla Labs (of Firefox fame) and a possible disrupting one for the Facebook Connect’s, OpenID’s and OAuth’s of this world:

“Offering a single sign-in solution for the web is currently a hot topic. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace and countless other sites are all offering to host your identity for you. Many of these key players on the social web are also offering tools to allow third-party sites to let you log in using the identity you have hosted with whoever your provider is – Google through FriendConnect, Facebook through Facebook Connect and Twitter through its recently debuted OAuth-based system. But in the end, who knows how long any of those sites will last? It seems to make more sense to hand these duties off to something more permanent than the hot site of the moment.

That’s where Mozilla’s latest implementation of Weave starts to make sense. You can store your credentials anywhere, including on Mozilla’s servers or your own web server.”

Source: WIRED’s Webmonkey

If the Weave add-on is implemented as a standard feature in the next version of the 2nd largest browser in the world, it stands a reasonable chance of becoming THE default Online Identity Manager/Social Media Passport; allowing you to safely and seamlessly log in to your favourite Social Networks, blogs and communities, across multiple platforms (Windows, Mac OS) and various devices (think Mobile, Netbooks, Thin Clients).

All the while giving you complete and FULL control over your online identity (you can even store your Weave login credentials on your own server!), which positions it directly opposite of the Walled Garden approach that Facebook is fast becoming notorious for.

The ease of use, combined with the fact that your average internet user hasn’t even heard of Google-, Facebook- and Twitter’s Online Identity Management solutions make Firefox Weave a serious threat to the aforementioned parties. After all: Wouldn’t it seem more logical and feel safer for her to let the browser take care of her online identity?

“Something that often goes unsaid in the discussion about online identity is that while most websites right now require usernames and passwords, many people actually use the password manager feature in the browser-effectively turning their browser into a limited identity manager.”

Source: Mozilla Labs

MozillaWeaveWillSolveThisProblem
By offering this One-Log-In-To-Rule-Them-AllTM feature as a standard option in the browser, much like Yahoo’s- or Google’s toolbar, a lot of the hassle and security issues associated with web based ID alternatives are removed from the user’s table:

“User experience in general suffers as protocols for federation (e.g. OpenID) involve complex redirects which jump the user from page to page and leave them open to phishing attacks…”

Source: Mozilla Labs

And there’s another major USP that promises a bright future for the Weave project: Firefox is an Open Source initiative, and even though OpenSocial, OpenID & OAuth are Open Source projects as well, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google and Microsoft are commercial parties with a deep interest into becoming your single sign-in partner, so they can monitor the sites you visit and the time frame in which you did: pure data mining for marketing purposes. In a time where privacy issues are within everyone’s crosshairs, this could become Mozilla’s trump card in the battle for your Online Identity.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping Google (note that they have 300 Million accounts!) from implementing such a feature in Chrome -it’s very own browser- using Friend Connect, or Microsoft from doing the same with their Live toolbar/Live Passport and Internet Explorer. The point is that the former hasn’t yet managed to get any serious foot in the browser market. And though the latter is the current incumbent in browser market share (for now), it has failed for almost 10 years to make it’s .NET Passport/Live ID efforts a true cross-web success, even as younger initiatives from the likes of Facebook and twitter have taken off in the past year or so.

All in all, it’ll be very interesting to see how the developments around Identity Hosting continue to evolve…

[Update: Netlog now accepts Google FriendConnect, more on TechCrunch.]





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Spreading a Viral: Honda Demonstrates Content Integration on Vimeo

Honda recently did a take-over on Vimeo.com which was much talked about by marketing insiders.

Instead of posting or explaining the concept here, I’d like to suggest you’d first take a look over on the site and experience it for yourself -especially if you’re a creative/interactive professional and haven’t seen it already.

[Performance warning: close down any other browser tabs/windows or any other application that has a direct net connection right now, I know I suffered from some serious lag the first time.]

Apart from the novelty(?) factor of this kind of creative content-integration, I’m not quite sure where the real added value for Honda and its customers lies in this particular case.

I’ll get back to that thought in a moment though; first I’d like to point to a section on the page that caught my attention. It clearly depicts how a viral starts spreading (see the 2 images below):

Honda Insight Vimeo TakeOver

Honda Insight - Vimeo Take over Stats

The table contains the statistics of said video on a daily basis, i.e.: how many times it was watched, “liked” and how many comments were made on the page itself, all in relation to each other and non-cumulative (note that the numbers are displayed on a per day basis!).

Clearly, the usual exponential viral mechanisms are at work here, which is fascinating in of itself, yet I believe that despite these pretty impressive numbers this mini-campaign as is will not enjoy a widespread viewer base and live up to its true potential, mainly because of the following 4 reasons:

  1. The content isn’t “spreadable”;
  2. A lack of a clear call to action;
  3. The quality of the content itself and
  4. There’s no follow-up.

The content isn’t spreadable, technically speaking:
Notice how I didn’t embed the video right here as I usually would, instead referring you to Vimeo, because there was no other way you could undergo it the way it was meant to be experienced.

In other words: people will first have to go to the Vimeo page and have a true broadband internet connection(!) to experience it smoothly and in full effect; detach the video from the context of this page and it becomes just another (attempt at a) cool viral. Pure branding, zero capitalization of the ensuing conversations.

Nowadays it’s more effective to take a channel-neutral and/or federated content approach to reach out to your audience on the net, and part of that means making your content spreadable through widgets, embeddable video’s, etc.. The Vimeo video is embeddable of course, but the page -and thus the experience- is not.

There’s no call to action:
The concept itself doesn’t trigger the visitor to do anything: You just sit and watch, just like on TV…

The creative team apparently embraced the technological and creative possibilities that the internet offers in marrying video with a webpage, yet somehow failed to capitalize on the buzz that it generated and thus at the opportunity to generate leads.

Honda‘s rich media take over is no interactive advertising but more akin to an online guerrilla advert, which could have been done offline, possibly generating more buzz and brand-awareness outside the digerati niche.

Then again, it was created by Wieden & Kennedy (Amsterdam), a traditional agency with it’s roots firmly grounded in offline advertising campaigns.

The quality of the content isn’t worth spreading:
If it’s aimed at the Marketing/Tech/Creative niche: they’re already accustomed to these “Breaking-The-4th-Wall” take-over actions by now on YouTube or dedicated viral mini-sites, and this example isn’t remarkable.

If it’s not aimed at said niche, then one has to wonder why on earth it was posted on a niche social video site like Vimeo.com in the first place…

Adding all the numbers together from the stats image above, there are over a 1.750 likes, 300+ comments and 177.000 views generated in less than two weeks(!), pointing to a cult hit and/or people watching it more than once (it’s not clear whether Vimeo filters out non-unique views/cookies).

On the other hand, the numbers in the table don’t depict all mentions of the video across the Social Media space, and it was only posted a few days ago, so this is just merely the tip of the iceberg. Here’s hoping that Honda’s campaign team has access to social media monitoring tools from Radian6 or TrackUr and have activated their BackType Alerts to keep a clear overview.

All in all, in terms of buzz and people interacting with the page this is no bad example of content integration at all, it’s just a shame there’s no apparent follow-up or integration in, say, a 360˚campaign for maximum effect.

Now of course at this very moment we have no idea what Honda’s campaign objective was in the first place: It could be a proof of concept, trying it out for a small fee, with little risk, before scaling it up on YouTube allowing the numbers game to come into play, leading to massive exposure and off course more ways for the community and consumers/prospects to interact with the brand.

As I’m a firm believer in the merits of content-integration instead of plain display bannering, for me personally it will be very interesting to see how this plays out and if Honda will release an evaluation on their company blog or industry titles like Ad Age or ReadWriteWeb.





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Why the Click Is the Right Metric for Online Ads (On Adding Value and Thinking Beyond the Display Advertising Business Model)

“…many advertisers in the past gave most of the credit for a sale or conversion — which in the web world could include anything from visiting a website to printing an online coupon — to the last ad clicked on or seen by a consumer. But that means brand-focused sites such as NYTimes.com and MarthaStewart.com and even social-media sites such as Facebook and MySpace lose credit because they are often not where a consumer will see that last ad. And when they lose credit, they lose advertisers, and when they lose ad revenue, well, you’ve read that story.

“Publishers have a lot to gain,” said Steve Kerho, VP-analytics, media and marketing optimization at Organic. Mr. Kerho has been doing lots of analysis on how online-display ads affect search and conversions and found that in some cases, a display ad can increase a search ad’s click-through rate 25% to 30%. If he had simply measured the clicks from search, he would have missed the display ads’ influence.”

Source: Adage

So… If we’d translate the above model to, say, a real world situation; that’d mean that the sales guy in the local electronics store should get a piece of the provision pie, and maybe you’re neighbourhood whiz kid should be offered a small fee too, since they were the ones that influenced you before you decided to shell out on a new bleeding-edge desktop and order it directly by mail-order, no?

Of course, the conclusion presented above is preposterous to say the least. Not giving full credit to the last click shows a lack of common sense and of everyday reality:

If we’d were to apply this model to the offline advertising industry we’d might as well start charging less for TV ads during the Super Bowl or advertisements in general, since it has never been empirically proven that said ads actually sell significantly more cars, to name but an example.

(Actually I hereby challenge thee naysayers to tell me why the fledgling automotive industry in the US can’t be saved by throwing more money against Interruption Campaigns now that the going is though… Odds are it’s because it just doesn’t work that way nowadays…)

Publishers would of course love to use such a model, since suddenly those abysmally low Click Through Rates on social networks ´d become a license to print money, yet that’s not where the problem lies: it’s about engaging with the visitors of the Facebook’s of this world if and when they feel like it, adding value to the community, giving them something to talk about or a good reason to get rid of their friends. The engagement model is a far more viable one since it makes it very clear for all stakeholders what the true value of those brand interactions are for everyone.

Conjuring op schemes to charge more for a product -display banner- that, on it’s own, has failed to truly deliver on its promise up until this very moment, is not the way forward out of this recession. The research budget would be well better spent on innovation, adding value to the visitors, strategic alliances -you name it, just do not waste it on taking undercover pot-shots at “Go -Emperor CPC- Gle” et all.

There is one thing that does ring true about the statement that a conversion shouldn’t be attributed to just the Last Click alone; and that’s the reoccurring coincidence that carefully crafted, creative Crossmedia campaigns drive word-of-mouth & website traffic, allowing for a tighter control on conversion, ánd they also have the uncanny ability to tip the Attitude scale in your Brands’ favour. A little…

It’s common sense and it’s what marketing should be all about: influencing as many factors as you can to get the prospect to turn into a consumer, making her loyal, spurring her on to buy more and in the end becoming a brand-ambassador.

The communication mix as well as the quality of your product combined with the customer centricity level of your organization all contribute to that end.

As well as a million other tiny factors (does the sun shine, did THAT girl on the train give you a smile, do you have enough money to spare, etc., etc..)

Yet, if we’d follow the philosophy of Mr. Kerho to it’s conclusion, it’d mean we’d have to split the Cost-per-Click revenue and spread the wealth over all communication channels and creatives -and not just the display banner- in order to get a somewhat “fairer” representation of value/conversion for money.

[The Adage article starts with this quote: “The great paradox of the web is that it’s an interactive medium and everything can be measured. And that’s wonderful — unless you’re measuring the wrong thing.”

I’d think what they should be stating is: The single greatest asset of the web is that it’s an interactive medium, perpetuously capable of reinventing itself. And that’s wonderful — Unless you don’t keep your feet firmly on the ground and try to look at opportunities with a positive mindset!]





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Asics in Pursuit of Perfection (VIDEO)

Can you imagine the cost of putting this up as a TV-Ad during the Super Bowl or the Olympics? And would it have any effect? No, it wouldn’t, at least not in the way it can online…

My two cents are that this vid will be echoed for quite a bit in the coming days and people will want to share it and talk about it, not because it’s from Asics, but because it hit a snare:


Origami In the Pursuit of Perfection from MABONA ORIGAMI on Vimeo





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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 BlogActionDay.org, 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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