So for me these days as I’m living my life it’s mainly, you know, the first couple things I read are TechMeme and TechCrunch, and AdAge. So it’s tech-information, tech-business, and the crossover with marketing and advertising. And then the other information is basically Rotoworld. I get all my fantasy sports updates and make sure all my baseball players are healthy.
After that it’s completely predicated on my twitter and social streams, because news comes to me, I’m not seeking it out necessarily.
So I’m a very unusual character when it comes to this question. I would tell you that when it comes to news consumption I’m at a shockingly low, borderline zero, place. Ninety percent of the time I spend on Twitter I spend searching my user handle to engage with my fans, more so than scanning to pick up information. I’m the kind of person that gets his biggest value through engagement with the end consumer, more than the gathering of information or reporting or opinion. So for me the data is interesting: Reports about user numbers, conversion funnels, the data – then just watching the user’s opinion around my brand or the brands I work with or sports or what have you.
I’m not the kind of person – like I don’t read books, I rarely read entire articles even, so it’s fragmented pieces of things that have anything to do with me running my current agency, or the angel investing I’m doing, or the news of the day, or politics or whatever – tons of fragmentation.
Yeah, now you’re getting to the crux of it. I’m in the minority. You know the 99-1 rule of who produces content, who engages with it, and who just reads it? I’m in the one percent that’s actually producing content, thus, I think my patterns and habits are quite different.
Correct, and to some extent the general public, because that’s the end consumer of all products right? So I may be focused on potential brands I might do business with, or people drinking wine, or people that would buy business books. But I’ve also got an eye on the world and how people are being responsive to certain things.
No. I mean, I use Facebook and many other things, Pinterest, Tumblr, but there’s nothing that comes up with remotely as much clean data to be as useful a tool as Twitter.
It’s the singular emphasis. It’s the seed. All talking is predicated on reacting to listening, layered on top of business objectives.
Yes, but, look the answer is, “whoever can potentially buy your thing.”
I know that I’m a minority in this but I’m very much a proponent of staying on the offense. Maybe keep an eighth of an eye on competitors. But the second you really start to focus on competitors is the second you are on defense and that’s a bad place to be.
Well now you are getting out of interview-mode and more into business thinking. I would tell you that the real answer is to make sure that people know what to do with the data when you are done, storytelling what to do next. I’m going to take the cynical view of: A lot of these tools are a commodity, right? And, if we are all drinking from the same social firehose, yeah, inevitably someone’s filter is going to be better. So you can say, any search engine can win, but Google won because it was better. The problem is, so much of this business is predicated on someone then doing something with it, and I think that’s where things break down.
I mean, my clients have nothing but data, right? They have data for the rest of their lives. Then what? Cool, you guys are the greatest. You pulled it off. You’re the greatest of all time and whatever my business objectives—let’s put it in the context of my wine business. You guys built such an amazing tool, that works across all the APIs of social media, you’ve put me in a position where you can show me the 17,000 people who are most likely to buy my wine, or buy my message, have watched an episode of Wine Library TV, have tweeted out wine links, they’re just ready. The real interesting thing is, then what?
You know and I come from a retail background where people walk into your store. Then what? Is your average sale going to be $16 or is it going to be $60, right? You’re solving for one thing, the problem is your tool is in the middle. And you can only be as successful as what they do with it next to create a return on investment. I kind of equate it to: you know the guys and gals that are into sports? They go out and buy the best tennis rackets and the best kneepads, and the best sneakers? But if they don’t know how to play tennis they lost 6-love.
Yes! And by the way, here’s some of the ways that’s happened through the years: They’ve gone out and recruited some of the most important tennis coaches to recommend their product. Or they’ve just done a great job storytelling their brand and inevitably the best players wanted to use their product, right. But that’s the game you guys are in.
Romantic, right. He took the romance out.
I think journalism has never been in a healthier place, because I think the whole world is going content-driven and that predicates an opportunity for journalists. Think of it differently than relationships. That’s happening, but let’s add another comma to that and say relationships and integration. Because, when you look at what’s going on in models like Buzzfeed with native advertising I think we are at the dawn of advertorial 3.0, right? So I think that there’s going to be a really interesting integration of product placement or storytelling through the written word that is going to go direct to consumer.
In the past, advertorials came across as very cheesy because they were pushing it too far to the advertising side. But, when done perfectly it can really go to the other side, and I think we are going to start seeing the rise of that kind of content, which I think will lend itself to the skills that a lot of journalists are being taught, which will then make them brand-direct people, or agency people, or platform-like-Buzzfeed people. But they are going to start telling stories in a more native tongue to the place where people are going for other information—it’s going to be integrated into it. So if you go to a news site the seventh article may literally have an agenda behind it, but it’s going to be very authentic. It’s going to take a very good, very good storyteller or journalist to find that perfect Mendoza Line to deliver a story and not make it feel too agenda filled.
Yeah, but I think that was 80-20. And then you had what newspapers did which was 60-40, it looked like an article but you could tell something was off and you looked up at the top and there was a weird color that said advertorial. Right? Now I think the look has got to go 50-50. You really create a true church and state.
It’s what I did with Wine Library TV. I reviewed wine and made wine reviewing content, and I panned 60 percent of the wines that were on that show even though I sold them, because it was more important for me to build the content relationship then it was to sell that one specific wine.
Yes, but what if his reviews were actually sponsored? And what if the brands actually had the balls to pay him to pan them? And that’s not necessarily where it’s going to go because that’s 20 years away, 50 years away, maybe never, but allowing for church and state. Or what if it was: 13 interfaces that we enjoy, brought to you by Sony, and one was a Sony product. Got it?
I do. Because they are serving the market, right? They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. I mean, we act right? It’s all analytical. People can say anything they want, but they read articles that say 13 cats, you know, sit in funny positions. Escapism and entertainment is grossly underappreciated in journalism.
Well, long-term relationships are happening too. I mean, it’s just not as interesting to pay attention to the boring thing. Malcolm Gladwell, makes money right? Lots of it. It’s the conversation right now, this micro-content, link-baiting headlines. It will always be there. Just like plenty of people make money in porn and plenty of people make money in religion, right. Servicing very different needs.