there are 17 posts from July 2004

July 29, 2004

viral armani

Speaking of cost per influence, there’s an interesting piece in this month’s W (the one with Scarlett Johansson on the cover) about the efforts of Giorgio Armani to dress the non-Hollywood A-listers in an attempt to influence the purchase behavior of their social circles.

The designer, one of the first to get his suits on the silver screen and to set up an L.A. office for celebrity dressing, has come up with a way to reach women who don’t flip through fashion magazines every month and who don’t idolize Nicole Kidman or Beyonce. The strategy? H dresses a network of smart, stylish, well-bred women who are well known in their own countries and lets them get on with their lives. …

The ladies receive a new capsule wardrobe each season, in addition to travel expenses and, in some cases, a retainer – depending on the individual. The big payoff for the house, of course, comes when their photos appear in Hello!, Point de Vue, El Pais or Vanity Fair. But often there are more subtle returns: a photograph in a small local paper, or extra attention at a social event. “You can’t imagine how many people walk up to me at parties and ask who designed my tuxedo jacket,” says [Celine] Charloux, a French polo player and one of Armani’s newest diplomats.

Nice work if you can get it.

July 29, 2004

more on attention fragmentation

Backchannelmedia, a consultancy and media buying firm for direct response television, has a new piece up on their site that collects various and sundry stats about attention fragmentation – the ongoing slide of mass media, the rise of video gaming, digital video recording, etc. They argue that…

The combination of atomized consumer markets and digitized media technologies are spreading and speeding this process. When tens of millions of consumers live individualized lifestyles, and utilize individualized media and technology (PCs, PDAs, DVRs, iPods, cell phones, etc.), we are well on the way from mass markets to mass customization - markets of one.

I’m with them…except for the point about mass customization. The argument that marketers will drive all the way to one-to-one marketing underestimates the costs of doing that on an outbound basis, especially with the increasing level of attention fragmentation and channel fragmentation. The technology and culture trends point towards more customer control, not more marketer control, so anyone who wants to play in this game is going to have to give up the ghost of one-to-one marketing and instead enable customers to do their own media mix creation. Smart brands will give customers information and services that are easily syndicated, time-shifted, remixed, reused and repurposed.

July 29, 2004

airborne toxic event


Barry Sonnenfeld has teamed with Cherry Road Films on Don DeLillo’s White Noise, which he will direct and produce, reports Variety. … Stephen Schiff adapted the script for White Noise, winner of the 1985 National Book Award. Sonnenfeld told the trade that casting would begin immediately. He also hopes the project will regain sole claim over its title, which is shared by an upcoming Michael Keaton thriller from Universal Pictures.

Oh, no. Please, God, no. Barry Sonnenfeld? The guy who hasn’t done a halfway decent movie since Get Shorty? The guy who’s responsible for Men in Black II? Not to mention Stephen “Deep End of the Ocean” Schiff?

I’m praying this gets killed in pre-production. I just don’t think I could bear a Sonnenfeld interpretation of WN.

July 28, 2004

step one, admitting you have a problem.

Found in office desk drawers and unopened moving boxes over the past week, proof of a history of gadget addiction and a profound weakness for Palm devices.

  • One US Robotics-branded Palm Pilot.
  • One Palm III
  • One Handspring Visor Edge
  • One Stowaway foldout keyboard for the Visor
  • One Palm Vx, with blue hardside case
  • One OmniSky wireless modem for the PalmV
  • One Treo 300
  • One first gen 5 gig iPod with a busted screen
  • One first gen 5 gig iPod with a completely dead battery

This doesn’t include two other random cellphones, the couple of stray zip drives, the Danger Hiptop I sold to Heather, the digital camera I sold to Judith way back when, the other digital camera I just unloaded, the Slimp3 player that I’m transitioning out of service (Airport Express to the rescue!) and the dozens of associated power cords, brick adapters, serial and USB cables.

There are groups for people like me, yes? Meetings with stale coffee where everyone is known only by their first name, where notes are taken only in those dimestore spiral bound notebooks and where people tell of their struggle to avoid Apple’s retail presence?

Because, you know, I really want an iPod mini. Preferably in silver.

July 28, 2004

leaky patterns and fragmentation

Danny O’Brien, in one of his fantastic, impressionistic posts from OSCON, notes the information inherent in AdWords pricing: “if anyone was wondering, when [Tim] O’Reilly showed that book sales almost exactly matched the relative cost of adwords in for those keywords, it was me who very loudly went ‘woah!’. Information wants to be smuggled out via leaky patterns.”

Market realities reflected in the price of keyword advertising; makes sense. Attention is attention is attention, whether it’s the cost of an ad in a primetime slot on a major television network, or the cost of a text ad alongside search results for a widely-used programming language. The difference between the Google network and the television network is the direct connection on Google between the ad and its context (the search result). Thus, the correlation between ad prices and book sales for O’Reilly. Almost by definition, out of context ads can’t signal much to the market: it’s impossible to correlate the sales of automobiles to the price of the ad slots they’re purchasing on The Apprentice.

Stating the obvious here, but in a world of ever increasing attention fragmentation[1], more and more advertising / marketing / attention-based commerce will necessarily be conducted “in context.” Search marketing, keyword ads alongside gmail messages and product placement in television shows are just the beginning. Transparency in market pricing will follow. (Thought experiment: how would market transparency for attention pricing work in a deep product placement / promotional vehicle like The Beast (aka the A.I. Web Game)?)

[1] I’m determined to avoid the phrase “media fragmentation” since the Media Business is anything but fragmented. The Clear Channels, Viacoms, News Corps and AOL/Time Warners of the world ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Plus, the central point isn’t about the media business fragmenting, it’s about the fragmentation of an individual’s attention – expanding from the tube to include games, the web, IM, email, DVDs, blogs, etc.

July 19, 2004

duke's pre-loaded ipods

When I wrote this piece last July, I had visions of Apple pre-loading iPods with demographically targeted music selections. But I love this story: Duke University will be giving away iPods to incoming freshmen preloaded with Duke-related content and couple it with a Duke-specific version of the music store. The folks at Apple are definitely getting creative, leveraging their existing ties to the educational market to push the iPod line.

July 16, 2004

lookout, microsoft

This actually did surprise me – Microsoft bought Lookout, the search plugin that made Outlook usable for email addicts. I thought Microsoft would insist on doing this themselves….

July 14, 2004

firefox, gmail and unexpected tab behavior

How very very blog-rigeur of me, posting something about both Firefox and Gmail. But here’s the thing. I’ve got Firefox 0.9, running on Windows XP. I’ve got the Single Window extension installed, the intended behavior of which is to capture all link activity and open it in a new tab, rather than in a new windoww. However, clicking on links inside Gmail messages do something odd – a new window’s opening up with the target URL, and the target URL is showing up in the existing window (where Gmail’s living) in a new tab. I’m probably not describing this well. But if you’ve experienced and fixed such behavior, drop me a line: msippey at g mail dot com.

July 14, 2004

feedburner, flickr and feed splicing

If you subscribe to my feed, you may have noticed the today’s appearance of a few photos. These are the result of a very interesting partnership between Flickr and Feedburner. Feedburner now supports Flickr photo feed splicing: all I had to do was give Feedburner my Flickr username, and since Flickr outputs my public photos in Atom and several flavors of RSS, Feedburner grabs it, and merges it into my blog feed based on pubdate. Chocolate, meet peanut butter.

As FeedBurner CEO Dick Costolo points out in his post on the Burn This blog, the new feature points the way towards a much richer future for XML content delivery; one where the notions of syndication and aggregation begin to blur…

This new capability begins to expose part of the real vision for FeedBurner. There are many publishing/media/communication channels that make up an organization or individual’s digital personality. Currently, when we want to communicate our images, thoughts, bookmarks, favorite music, etc., we must find the appropriate publishing mechanism, and then separately find an appropriate sharing and communication mechanism.

This is why the content syndication space is so interesting. As I ranted about in a post on the Supernova conference blog, if you’re out to use RSS to replace email, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. But if you can use it to start to change the way that “publishers” and “subscribers” produce, distribute and consume information, then you’re on to something. Flickr and Feedburner are on to something.

(And for the three or four people who don’t know this already, and care about things like transparency and full disclosure, I’m an advisor to Feedburner, and a friend of Flickr.)

July 13, 2004

google + picasa

Had to see this one coming: Google Acquires Picasa.

Picasa was founded in October 2001. In May 2004, Picasa announced a technology partnership with Google’s Blogger service to make publishing digital photos with Blogger faster and easier. Further product integration plans have not been announced. Picasa users will not experience any interruption in service.

July 08, 2004

wonkette does boston

So Wonkette’s Ana Marie Cox will be covering the Democratic National Convention for MTV News. Does Denton get a cut of whatever they’re paying her?

July 08, 2004

this is busted

Somebody call Mark Hurst. I mistyped a query in Yahoo Weather this morning, feeding it “philadelphia, a” instead of “philadelphia, pa” and this is the result that was returned. The weather search feature didn’t fail gracefully and make suggestions or assume that I was trying to see just how hot it is right now in the City of Brotherly Love; instead it told me there was no match found. But the sponsor matches worked just fine – correctly figuring out that I was looking for Philly and offering up hotel deals and home listings.

Look, it’s obvious why the search functionality for ad placement is more advanced than that for weather forecasts – there’s more money in it, and it’s reusable across multiple applications. But from a user’s perspective this is just plain dumb. One part of the page figured out I was searching for Philadelphia, PA – but the other one couldn’t? (Posted from flickr.)

July 08, 2004

cost per influence and meme arbitrage

Ross Mayfield is on to something with his post Connections are Options.

Now I’m not suggesting that the model to replace CPM is a combination of Black Scholes and Reed’s Law. Too complex, and they are models, not measures. What’s different with new media is simply that its not the number of impressions you make, but who you impress. In other words, instead of subscription counts, its the number of subscribers my subscribers have, discounted by the probability of my memes getting through. Cost Per Influence.

At some point a smart media buyer is going to wake up to this fact: that it’s not about how wide an individual meme maker can spread the seed, but how deep he can plant it into his/her first degree network, and those folks into theirs, and those folks into theirs, etc. (Cue that damn shampoo commercial.) Somewhere, someone is building a mechanism to describe this behavior and play not only the supplier side of the market, but the demand side as well. Case in point: Anil Dash wins the DarkBlue “nigritude ultramarine” search engine optimization contest. Who’s to say that you couldn’t replicate that behavior on the content network end, and corner the market on related keywords on the other? It’s inside-out SEO; meme arbitrage.

NB. Getting back to the “Cost Per Influence” concept. In 1999/2000 “forward to a friend” functionality was hot in the email space. Having read just a bit too much Seth Godin (but not really taken his viral lessons to heart) marketers were attempting to capture and measure that pass-along activity. The thing is, in the email client there’s the “forward” function, so in order to actually incent in-message, trackable behavior (“click here to forward to a friend”) instead of the bulit in client functionality that users know and love, marketers were forced to game the system with promos, sweepstakes and the like. Which drove recipients to juice the system, forwarding mail on to bogus email addresses in order to take part in the madness. (Note that CAN SPAM has almost put an end to this practice, due to the deliberately unclear definition of “sender” in the legislation, and the technical hurdle of real-time opt-out suppression and the related contingency design challenge.)

July 07, 2004

clip clip clip

As a quick reminder, a good definition of walled garden from

On the Internet, a walled garden is an environment that controls the user’s access to Web content and services. In effect, the walled garden directs the user’s navigation within particular areas, to allow access to a selection of material, or prevent access to other material. … Although the walled garden does not actually prevent users from navigating outside the walls, it makes it more difficult than staying within the environment.

Don’t be fooled, people. It’s all about the interop.

July 06, 2004

delicious visualization

This is a visualization of my delicious tagset, courtesy of (via Matt Jones). Note 1: interesting things start to happen when all sorts of data’s available in an XML format. Note 2: Cal Henderson has a plugin for Movable Type 3.0 to create delicious style tagging on posts, for on the fly post categorization. More like this, please. (Posted from flickr.)

July 02, 2004

office as rich client

I keep harping on this, but Office is becoming a very interesting rich client. They have a ways to go to make services like the Amazon Research Pane easy to install and use, but they’re sitting on a very interesting opportunity to put more content in context. (I’d love to see something like Blinkx migrated into the pane…) Rememberance agent, here we come!

July 01, 2004

daily zeitgeist

The Flickr folks are just knocking the cover off the ball lately. Their newest invention: the daily zeitgeist. Seen here on the right (but most likely not available via RSS, so if you’re reading this in your aggregator be sure to clickthrough to see the full effect), it’s a badge that displays an animated tile of community photos, your photos, your contacts’ photos or yours and your contacts’ photos. The one at the right are photos from my contacts.