The People Ready Three Way Conversation
I’m pretty sure advertisers are worried. Eyeballs are moving away from traditional media, and more and more people are using technology to avoid advertising. The advertisers don’t control the conversation anymore and are scrambling to figure out how to get that control back.
I spend much of my day avoiding advertising.
- Why is TiVo so popular? No ads.
- One reason why I love the iPod: Because I can listen to the music I like with no ads, and nobody chooses what music I should listen to. Terrestrial radio is out.
- One reason why I love renting DVDs from Netflix: No ads in the movie theaters before the movie. No twenty minutes of trailers.
- One reason why I love downloading television shows from iTunes or watching shows on DVD: No ads.
- One reason why I support Craigslist and eschew newspapers and print magazines for RSS feeds: Less ads.
- I love Gmail and WordPress: Great spam filters, blocking out all those ads.
I got into blogging partly to join the other voices that aren’t bought, sold, or in the pockets of large corporations and big media. I prefer not to read paid-for product reviews. When choosing to buy a service or product, I look at an aggregate of many blogs and traditional news sources and average those opinions. One reason why Web 2.0 sites like Yelp or Digg are compelling to me is because they contain hundreds of average Joe opinions from which one can figure out the general trend.
This sort of “advertising” is organic, and comes from the end users themselves. I feel it’s relatively more trustworthy than the opinions of a few individuals – no matter how expert they may be – because those opinions may easily be bought (or rented) by advertisers.
So marketers are scratching their heads. People are doing product research online, and many are reading blogs. So how do they get bloggers to write favorably about their stuff?
The obvious thought from any unimaginative capitalist: pay them, bribe them with free stuff, or target A-list bloggers and hope the rest of the blogosphere blindly follows them.
That doesn’t work too well.
But hey, let’s think about some alternatives.
Try making a product that’s inherently exciting, that makes bloggers want to write about it. Try putting a little more effort into the actual product or service. Make it stellar. If it’s exciting and “digg worthy,” buzz builds largely by itself past the original introduction.
Consider what makes a viral ad campaign truly viral. Things are way cooler when average people with no vested interest in the product start talking about it.
What’s the biggest advantage of doing things this way? You don’t have to pay anybody. Your ad campaign runs itself. On this blog, I write about tons of stuff on my own, with no consideration of compensation. It stems from genuine interest. I write about Apple products incessantly, for free. Why? Because they make products I actually want to buy, and I get so much pleasure from using said products that I feel moved to write about them. What’s ironic: because Apple isn’t paying me to write about this stuff, my opinion is likely more valuable to other consumers. I know that is hard for many ad people to understand, but it’s true. Not everything centers around money. Paying for an opinion may actually devalue it.
Try actually getting involved in the blogosphere on a reader level. Some examples: Marc Andreessen of Ning started a killer blog. Jason Calacanis reads blogs, comments on others, and uses Twitter. Robert Scoble is everywhere and actively responds to comments on his blog. These guys disclose their relationships to advertisers. They get it.
Back to People Ready
This whole “people ready” ad campaign doesn’t work for me. It’s Microsoft PR spin. It’s not a product, nor a service, not cool, and just lazy and uninspired. I still have no idea what it means or what it’s trying to say.
This “three way conversation” stuff I find vague and meaningless, too. To me, a conversation means someone says something, you respond, they listen. This Federated Media concept in actuality is two people conspiring on a message and then yelling at a third person (the audience) who is only marginally interested in what the other two people are talking about. The third person has no say in the message. And in my case, I’m trying to get out of a conversation with the first two clowns and they follow me, screaming at me through a megaphone, as this conversation shows up on blogs I read.
A sneaky ad campaign and this myth of a “conversation” likely came about because many bloggers won’t write about “people ready” on their own.
Scanning all the opinions on both sides of this situation, you can easily see where folks stand based on which side they identify with: the corporation / advertiser or the consumer. All the VCs, business owners, and marketers generally align with the former. Everyone who believes (perhaps naively) that the blogging voice can represent something other than corporate interests leans to the latter.
For what it’s worth, I’m firmly in the position of the consumer. Nobody paid me to take this side of this supposed three-way conversation.
Additional Reading (opinions from both sides of this issue to be somewhat fair): A Diary of a Rat, ChasNote, Brad Linder, Newsome.org, How To Split An Atom, Jackie Danicki, A VC, Scott Rosenberg, Adrants, BuzzMachine