Friday, September 3, 2010

Gone Googley...

I started this blog back in August of 2008 because, as I noted at the time, "I found myself without a forum to comment on general trends in digital marketing and media." Sure, I had some 15-ish active blogs but they were all specific to some niche in the industry or some quirk of my personality.

Today, I'm fortunate to have found a forum and following through my book, Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google, and the Googley Lessons blog. Going forward, I'll be putting Digital Sea Change on hold indefinitely and consolidating all my digital marketing blogging on my book website.

I'll leave this blog intact so that you can peruse my posts over the past couple years -- including those I pointed to directly in the book -- but I will not be adding any new content. If this is the first time you're visiting my blog and just want the highlights, please see my "Favorite Posts of All-Time" on the right rail.

I hope you'll join me at as I continue the blue ocean pursuit. After all, it's only getting Googlier!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting My Groove on with Groupon

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In this week's Search Insider, I continue my "sexy search" theme. Here's the blurb...

50% Off Top-20 List About Groupon and Search

In my ongoing campaign to bring sexy back to search, I thought I'd take one of the hottest companies on the interweb and relate it to search marketing. Groupon is everywhere. From your inbox to the "Today Show," you can't escape the appeal of collective buying power. Here are 50% of the top 20 ways search marketing is sexy like Groupon. Note: if 100 people give this column a thumbs-up, I'll share the other 50% in my next column.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm Not Too Sexy (yet)

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In this week's Search Insider column, I riff on a Justin Timberlake tune to illustrate my point about making Search sexy again. Hopefully, my POV will resonate and I'll have to switch over to Right Said Fred's mantra in the near future.

Here's the blurb...

Bringing Sexy Back to Search

Search has become a bit boring. It doesn't get the headlines. It doesn't pack the halls at conferences. It doesn't trend on Twitter. But still: From social to mobile to video to display, key attributes of SEM are being incorporated into emerging online ad platforms and content development best practices. And it won't be long before the convergence of the online and offline world -- see Google TV -- brings the search mojo to traditional channels. Here are 10 reasons why SEM professionals are positioned well to rule the marketing roost:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google eBook

Here's a Google eBook I created with McGraw-Hill to showcase each of the 20 Googley Lessons from my book. Hopefully this will give you a good feel for my content and tone.

Note: the actual book contains much more depth on Google's approach to marketing along with mini case-studies of other companies demonstrating these principles and exercises for readers to apply these lessons to their businesses, so don't think you can just read this eBook and be done with it!!

Google Rap Video

Here's the video trailer for my new Google book. If you like the last 50 seconds, be sure to check out the outtakes at and keep an eye out for the Googley Lessons Blog Tour Aug. 30 - Sept. 10th which will have me "appearing" at some 30-odd blogs -- many in video format complete with customized raps.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Googley Haiku

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I've often compared writing search ad copy to conjuring Haiku. Those darn specs can be infuriating! Every time I pen one of these columns I'm reminded how valuable good search copywriters are.

So Few Characters.
Want To Add More Nouns And Verbs.
And Here Is The Blurb...

The New Haiku -- 2010 Edition

Anytime I find myself in a pinch for column fodder, I know I can always fall back on a little Search Haiku. It's not as exciting as covering the search news blotter, but hopefully it will still be as entertaining for you. So here is a fresh new installment of rhymes adding to my collection from '06 and '09.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tomorrow's Buzzword: Media Design

Faithful followers know I have a soft spot for buzzwords. While some people loathe them for their overuse and inability to really say anything, I heart them for their ability to give us a common language and describe (even if generically) emerging concepts.

One phrase that hasn't gotten much attention to date is "Media Design." Why? Well, quite simply it hasn't been really introduced. One man is out to change that, though.

Saneel Radia (not pictured above), formerly of Improv Olympic Chicago fame, is the recently appointed Director of Media Innovation at BBH Labs. His role there? Essentially, bringing the idea of "Media Design" to fruition after incubating it for the past few years at Denuo.

So what is Media Design? I have to admit, it took me a while to grasp the concept. Not because it's invalid or unimportant, but because it's a true paradigm-shifter. Yikes, there I go with the buzzwords again!

As Saneel puts it, Media Design represents "the missing skills within the advertising agency creative departments." In fact, that's the subtitle of Saneel's thesis completed in July of '09 for his MBA in Creative Leadership at the Berlin School.

The 70+ page paper -- which Saneel was kind enough to share with me -- makes the case (successfully, I might add) for the importance of Media Design as a discipline and the Media Designer as a critical role within creative shops.

With Saneel's permission, I'm posting the excerpts from his thesis that most resonated with me. As you read these, you can see how Saneel's thoughtfulness and ability to produce punchy soundbytes may have been shaped by his mentor and Denuo founder, Rishad Tobaccowala.


On the connectedness of today's consumers:

"When the world was dominated by a traditional media model, advertisers had two major advantages when engaging consumers. First, the vast majority of media consumption occurred from a single source: the content creator. In other words, as television networks broadcasted content, most people who consumed this content were receiving the broadcast, rather than receiving it from a third party. Thus, brand messages needed only to be placed within content moving linearly from a single origin to engage the vast majority of users. In fact, the relationship between the content itself and the ad message placed within it was a secondary or tertiary consideration, with the primary concern being what demographic audience was consuming the content. Of course, a relationship has always existed; audiences tend to follow loose patterns (e.g., sports content is consumed primarily by male viewers), but the content itself rarely prevented brand message insertion."

On the social media model:

"First, it means brands are actually competing for attention with the very consumers they are attempting to engage. Second, in a new media model, consumers are clearly in control. They create the content, decide who and what they connect with, and generally outline the rules of those engagements."

"If a brand’s message or experience isn’t easily portable, doesn’t provide any natural reason for consumers to share it amongst themselves, or doesn’t live organically within the new social media model, the brand is drastically handicapping its messaging potential."

On the need for non-standard creative ideation:

"The experience can simply not be standardized as it was in traditional media. Thus, it does not exist in most ad agencies because they are built to deliver creative ideas in standardized environments."

On the need for new media creative ideas to evolve:

"When crafting creative ideas limited to traditional environments, agencies rarely had to think about the experience as anything other than a message; it was up to the client to provide service and responses, in many cases, not even the same individual responsible for marketing."

On the misprioritization of technology:

"The issue though is that technologies are downstream in the creative process and primarily impact how an idea manifests or how users experience it; they rarely determine if the creative idea itself is an effective platform to engage a brand’s target consumers."

Quoting Hashem Bawja, former New Media Director at Goodby Silverstein:

"Regardless of how the engagement has changed, the best creative ideas are still the ones built from a true and compelling insight into people's lives."

On why creative agencies employ antiquated models:

"The answer can of course be found by following the profits. As traditional creative departments have become less profitable over the last fifteen years, they’ve relied more and more heavily on marking up production to drive profits. As the FTE model has continued to yield lower blended hourly retainer rates while agency compensation for employees has increased, the profit margin has eroded significantly. In other words, clients are spending a smaller percentage of budgets on retaining Creatives in relation to their investment in media and digital production. As stated above, digital creative departments integrate production into their process; this has allowed agencies to establish profit by producing executions in house."

"Any client that listens to an agency attempt to sell a creative idea that requires in-house production at the agency should immediately consider the validity of the recommendation. Is the agency truly attempting to help drive the brand’s business forward, or is it attempting to drive its own?"

On the shift from branded micro-sites to social media:

"The reason is clear: consumers are spending more time in these environments and they tend to be in exploratory mindsets as they surf profiles and updates. It’s much easier to engage a consumer looking for something to do than one in the middle of an objective that must be lured to a micro-site via a banner ad."

On understanding the Media Design concept:

"First, a new frame of reference is needed about the output of creative departments, specifically differentiating ideas vs. their executions. Next, the lines around what constitutes advertising must be redrawn and blurred to some degree as the traditional lines between product, advertising and experience are simply not clear within most new media."

On the role of creative agencies:

"Creative departments are in the ideas business."

"Today’s creative ideas must be broader, more flexible, more modular, utilitarian, and more diverse."

On the role of the Media Designer:

"Philosophically, Media Designers do not approach media as containers for the placement of uniform executions of ideas, as was highly efficient in a traditional media model. Instead, Media Designers view media as a canvas upon which are ideas are placed. More accurately, media is a collection of unique canvases, each of which has a dramatic and distinct impact on the creative manifestation itself."

"The Media Designer's primary tool is 'media' itself, of all types and formats... 'Media' is defined as any environment, virtual or physical, in which consumers may engage brands."

"Media Designers understand channel impact on content."

"Media Designers leverage media as a consumer lens... One key skill set of the Media Designer is the ability to use media as an input as adeptly as he or she uses it as an output."

"Media Designers craft media-scalable ideas. One clear distinction when approaching media as a canvas vs. as a container is understanding the striations of users across a medium and engaging them differently to maximize a creative idea’s potential. For example, YouTube receives about 89 million unique users a month [as of May 2009]. A 'container' philosophy sees this as the total possible universe reachable via advertising on YouTube. However, the audience itself can be cut an infinite number of ways, many of which will yield different outcomes based on variations on the same creative idea."

On Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice Facebook App:

"The creative idea's relationship with its medium was circular."

On why Media Design is such a foreign concept to creative shops:

"The issue currently though is that not enough relevant skills exist in most creative departments to ensure relevant conception, primarily because of the void resulting from an absence in media sensibility."

On why the industry is ripe for Media Design:

"The model is appropriate for agencies now that brand engagement has been so dramatically impacted by the new media revolution. It weaves media into the fabric of the original idea, the key reason most work is rejected by consumers today."

On managing expectations:

"Media Design is not intended as a panacea for any agency, but it certainly provides a tangible and achievable set of expertise that must be secured, then deployed as appropriate in the environment of that particular agency. In order to be successful, most agencies will require some form of reinvention. Media Design is proposed as a key step in that reinvention process for the majority of agencies around the globe."


Can you imagine Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce employing Media Designers? Me neither. That's one of the many reasons why SCDP would not be flourishing in today's ad world. (I'd imagine health care and HR costs would be among the others).

Media Design is both revolutionary and evolutionary. It's an approach built to manage the complexities of today's digital world while paying homage to the tried and true principles of successful advertising that have proven to work over the years across shifts in media, technology, and culture.

It will be very interesting to see how long it takes for the Media Design concept to catch on in creative agencies. I do believe it's a matter of "when" not "if" though. And, "if" it doesn't happen at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, look for Radia Goldman coming soon to a mad ave near you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Google Me: Why Ask Why?

In today's Search Insider column, I pick up where I left off 2 weeks ago and dissect Google's social media ambitions.

So why is Google so keen on building a large-scale social network? The answer's not as rhetorical as you might think.

Here's the blurb...

Why Google Me

The world may not need another social network. But Google does. Google needs a place where people can easily congregate and communicate. A place that's as easy to understand and use as A place that people "like." Why?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are you a "User?"

UsersImage Source

Pet Peeve:

I hate when people are referred to as "users" in a marketing context.

"We protect the privacy of Web users!"

"We design our products with users in mind!"

Whenever I hear that term, I think of the guy in this picture.

Have I seen Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream too many times? Maybe. But I'm sure I'm not alone here.

When you're speaking/writing/blogging about marketing, I'm sure this is the last image you want people conjuring up. Unless the audience segment you're referring to are actual drug users.

Website visitors are not users. Your customers are not users. Media consumers are not users. Your target audience is not users (unless you sell syringes). They are all PEOPLE.

So let's start calling a spade a spade.

"We protect the privacy of people on the Web!"

"We design our products with people in mind!"

Sounds better, right?

Let's not forget we're in the people business, not the marketing business.

Rant over.

Got Those Marketing Blues?

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Are you suffering from the marketing blues? Do you live in Chicago?

Well, you're in luck. One of companies I consult for is singing your tune.

Resolution Media, a leading digital marketing agency under the Omnicom (and also my happy home for nearly 5 years) is hosting a great event at the House of Blues on 7/22 for local area marketers, director level and up.

For more details and RSVP info, visit the Resolution Media website. Hope to see you there!
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