Sep 162014
 
mojang-and-the-x-box-one

Yesterday Microsoft confirmed the rumours that it would buy Minecraft developer Mojang for 2.5 billion dollars.

Following the announcement, Mojang founder Markus Persson — aka Notch — wrote a touching blog post on his leaving the company he founded.

The business had become too big and the demands of Minecraft’s legion of fans were taking their toll; it was time for Persson to move on to keep his sanity.

“If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”

For all the hubris we hear from technology company founders and CEOs, it’s those like Persson who probably will end up making the most difference to the world.

 

Sep 112014
 
what do we share on social media sites

“LinkedIn is the world’s biggest publishing platform,” states Olivier Legrand.

Legrand, LinkedIn’s Head of Marketing Solutions for Asia Pacific & Japan, was speaking at the company’s Connectin Sydney conference where the service was demonstrating its credentials as a marketing and advertising service to Australia’s largest corporations.

The view that LinkedIn is a publishing platform is problematic for content creators — it creates a conflict for those using the service to distribute or publicise their work and again it shows social media services are not your friends.

It’s understandable LinkedIn wants to get corporate advertisers on board seeing the business’ stock currently trades at eighty-four times revenue, however a focus on becoming an advertising driven media company at a time when advertising driven media companies are heading the way of the wooly mammoth seems to be a risky strategy.

Another risk for LinkedIn as a publishing platform is that user generated services can, and will be, gamed resulting in a dramatic decline in quality and value in the site.

Every social media service now sees itself as a media company and it may turn out they are correct, however that future of publishing will be very different from last century’s newspaper and broadcast models they are trying to emulate.

Even if the dreams of social media services do come true, the advertising driven media industry, an the publishing world, will be very different to the world they hope to be part of.

Sep 082014
 
old-typewriters

This post is the final of a series of four sponsored stories brought to you by Nuffnang.

Boring is the comment often used about business websites, however smart companies are using blogs to spice up their sites and boost marketing, customer retention and employee engagement.

A blog can make a company’s website more dynamic and a destination for visitors, it’s an opportunity for an organisation to demonstrate its depth of expertise and the qualification of its staff.

Best at this are the big global companies like GE, Cisco and IBM that have large pools of experts who can contribute to the company blog. These enterprise blogs are sprawling sites that cover multiple markets and industries which the companies operate across.

More than a marketing tool

For smaller tech companies, particularly Silicon Valley startups, their blogs have become vital marketing platforms where they often describe the company’s journey and new features being added.

Some companies, like Uber and Nest, use the company blog as their press channels with entries acting as media releases. This is particularly useful for smaller businesses without a PR agency or in house communications people.

At a more tactical level, blogs can be used as a weapon in a fight for marketshare. One of the toughest battles on the internet at the moment is going on between accounting software companies MYOB and Xero and their blogs are at the forefront of this fight.

In this battle MYOB are the incumbent with over a million users in the Australian business accounting market and a small army of Certified Consultants to help clients with using the software while Xero is the well funded cloud computing service that grew its Australian customer base by nearly 50% to 147,000 so far this year.

Small business thought leadership

So the battle is intense with both companies using their blogs to show their thought leadership in the small business space. Both of the blogs illustrate each company’s strengths and weaknesses.

MYOB’s blog is the longest standing and is more of a generalist overview of small business and accounting issues while Xero’s focuses on the new features being added to the product, both have fiercely passionate followers which shows in the comments fields of their blogs.

Blogs though need not be about pure marketing or advertising functions, in fact the best small business ones are those that just tell their customers what’s on. These are particularly good for the hospitality and retail industries.

One plus with business blogs is they help employees understand their business better, particularly when staff are invited to contribute.

Blogging isn’t just about lonely geeks or bored mums sitting in their spare rooms. A well thought out business blog can be a great tool for engaging existing customers, motivating staff and building new markets.

Jul 302013
 
google_maps_coordinate

What would you do if your entire suburb, town or district vanished off the map? That’s the problem the villagers on the Scottish isle of Jura have had to face after Google wiped them off the map

The good humour of the locals about their predicament shines through the story, although the British and Scottish governments are less than impressed.

Particularly noteworthy is how the island’s distillery dealt with vanishing off the map – Jura’s whisky is quite distinctive for those who’ve tried it – came up with a great idea for a Twitter campaign to promote their brand.

Kira’s residents show just how important initiative and resilience is for business people, it’s a lesson we should all keep in mind the next time you hear an executive or interest group whingeing that the government needs to do something.

Jun 092013
 
Fairfax give The Age away to boost circulation figures

Yesterday I had lunch with a group of retirees who aren’t particularly connected to technology. It was a contrast to the previous three days spent with startup and media companies talking about social media and the internet.

One thing that really seemed to disturb them was the idea that printed daily newspapers may not be around in a few years time.

Which makes Elizabeth Knight’s Media Rivals Facing a Brave New World this weekend a timely read in the contrasting strategies of News Limited and Fairfax.

From Knight’s report it’s hard not think News Corp CEO Robert Thomson is deluded;

”Print is still a particularly powerful medium … 43 per cent of Wall Street Journal readers are millionaires.”

Old millionaires. Like the people I had lunch with yesterday.

The problem Thomson has if this is indeed the strategy of the New News Corporation then he’s locked into a dying, declining market.

A bright spot for both News and Fairfax are the digital properties that evolved out of their old classified and display newspaper advertising, specifically the real estate sites Domain and realestate.com.au.

These sites don’t involve substantive news reporting or journalism beyond regurgitated realtor media releases, although if you take the attitude that newspapers were really only advertising channels with some news to attract an audience then this is a natural development.

For journalists, and those who want to be informed about the world around them, that view is a problem as it doesn’t answer the question of how do you pay for news.

With earnings expected to be 30% lower this year compared to 2012, this is something concentrating the minds of Fairfax’s management given they don’t have the profitable Pay-TV revenues of News.

The problem for the legacy news operations is that the focus is on cost cutting while denying the reality that expensive printed newspapers are dying in both readership and advertising revenue.

Desperately hanging onto the daily printed newspaper model threatens to consume resources needed make both Fairfax and News successful online.

Which makes the venues of the investor events that Knight describes a interesting counterpoint to the ruthless cost cutting going on at both News and Fairfax.

Sydney’s Mint and the Four Seasons Hotel are lovely venues and no doubt the executives and analysts enjoyed some nice canapes and drinks after their briefings.

But genuinely cost conscious management would have put their status to one side and held the meeting at their own premises and, if the analysts were nice, offered them a cup of tea and a biscuit, just like shareholders get.

At time when fast, responsive and small management is needed to make fast decisions in rapidly changing markets it seems the companies most threatened by change are those with the most inflexible, and entitled, managements.

It may well be that Fairfax or News discover the magic formula that makes digital media profitable, but it’s not going to happen while they deny the realities of today’s market places and a radically changing economy.

Not that this will worry the older executives of over-managed businesses who will spend their sunny days of retirement enjoying nice lunches and wondering what happened to the days of the printed newspaper.

Jun 012013
 
comcast-cable-tv-channel

Twenty years ago, Bruce Springsteen sang about TV having 57 channels and nothing on.

While little has changed on TV, today the web has 57 million websites* offering little beyond click bait and a quick rewrite of someone else’s work.

At the moment that model works for the kings and queens of the digital manor who pocket a few pennies for each of the ten stories their overworked interns pump out in a day but it’s hard to see how that form of publishing adds value to the audience.

The 1990s television stations and cable networks got away with no adding value – and still do today – because they are in industries that are tough for new entrants to enter.

But on the web there are far fewer barriers to new entrants which means offering 57 channels with nothing on, or 57 million websites with no real content, isn’t a long term path to success.

*a wild guess

May 312013
 
classifieds

It’s been a big week of reports with three major sets of findings being published; Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, IBM’s Retail Therapy and, the biggest one of all, Mary Meeker’s annual State Of The Internet.

With a PowerPoint overview weighing in a 117 slides, this year’s state of the internet is a meaty tome with some fascinating observations that compliment Cisco and IBM’s findings which hopefully I’ll have time to write about on the weekend.

On slide five of the State Of The Internet is what hasn’t changed Meeker describes the $20 billion internet opportunity being missed.

Basically online advertising is not keeping up with the audience, the time spent on media versus advertising spend is lagging.

mobile-market-opportunity-mary-meeker

What’s notable is that this is the third year that Meeker has flagged this disconnect, yet advertisers still aren’t moving onto the web in the way audiences are.

The print media industry though seems to be dodging a bullet with a disproportionate amount of advertising continuing to spent on traditional advertising – 23% for only a 6% share of consumers’ time which implies there’s still a lot of pain ahead for newspapers and magazines.

For the online media, it shows there’s a great opportunity for those who can get the model right.

What that one graph shows is that the disruption to the mass media publishing model is a long way from being over.