Browsing articles from "July, 2006"
Jul 15, 2006

‘Traditional’ Ad Agencies: is it really getting better?

The VEA (line organisation for marketing communication agencies in Holland) has done some research among 127 agencies. The results are;
– EBIT of 4,3%, which is to low (according the VEA)
– 20% of the agencies was loss making
– the amount of fulltime equivalents decreased to 2500
– wages are increasing due to shortage on the labour market
– it’s hard to withhold talent
The chairman of the VEA is nagging about pitches for free and he points the finger towards big advertisers and brands like Heineken and ABNAMRO.
I think this is great news for all of us (to use the phrase of a spokesman from Nielsen/Netratings – see my post on ‘The Next Web’). I think that small foccused agencies are doing great, also in the field of traditional advertising. The results of the VEA research is due to the big global agencies. These agencies are facing a lot of problems which they could have foreseen, but closed their eyes for. These problems are;
– not able to embrase and incorporate the interactive discipline within their agency and deliverables.
– not able to extend creativity towards business thinking, stuck within the classical communication paradigm.
– high prices which doesn’t reflect the added value.
– not able to shift from a relation based business model towards a more project and result based model.

So, stop nagging and pointing fingers – change!!

Jul 15, 2006

Part 1: The Next Web Conference – July 7th 2006

w:Michael Arrington, famous blogger, and Tariq...
Image via Wikipedia

On paper a perfect conference with contributions of Kevin Kelly (definitely one of my heroes, initiator of Wired magazine and internet philosopher (“the future is technological, but it will not be a world of grey steel”). But also Steven Pemberton (a ‘andy warhol look-alike’ but nonetheless a very intelligent person with a captivating speech about the future of web interfaces), Michael Arrington (author of Techcrunch – my favorite blog tracking web 2.0, although he doesn’t like to use the word ‘web 2.0’). But this is also the place for meeting other minds; the place to be for an independent brains.

Follow this link to see photos taken from the conference.

The first speaker was a representative of Nielsen/Netratings. Figures and statistics about the development of internet within Europe; growth, growth and more growth. “And that is great news for all of us”.

Widsets a promising european start up in the field of mobile application and service provider. Marko Anderson and his finnish partner (both bold, relaxed and with humor). They demonstrated their service realtime – and really, it looks quite simple to use the widset application on your mobile phone. Widsets offers ‘rich’ services that makes your life easier when you’re not near your computer (stay in touch with you’re communities, be notified on important events etcetera. The service is quick, easy to use and free!! Good presentation, the first time they presented together.

Michael Arrington, author of my favorite blog Techcrunch. He was scheduled to talk about promising web start ups in Europe, and actually he did (one sheet, at the end). Michael addressed the question; How to start a start up? First of all; What do you love? And then ‘where is there Friction (time or money?) and than remove that friction. Examples are, Flickr and Digg. Success of the start up is mainly determined by the use of the network effect. “Never attack a network effect company unless you remove serious friction” (see Skype). And if you do “Be wary: easy tools spawn lots of competitors” (ajax homepages, flash video sites). Friction can be removed by a better design and interface (using ajax, flash), rss (it lasted till February 2005 before he used rss), tagging, user generated content, blogging and syndication widgets. “Also, recycling 1999 ideas isn’t stupid!!” New technologies and ideas make old (failed) ideas new again (and successful)(and cheaper). Plus, paypal and adsense (and rss). This is evolution.”
Considering that he made this presentation at 3 a clock in the morning……

Esnips, a web start up based in Israel, is a community site like many others, riding the wave of social networking. But there is an aspect which is of importance for their sponsors (advertisers) – only people of twenty years or older (and being a mainstreamer and often on the creative side) are attending the community. They accidentally recognized this, and from that moment on they knew what to do – leverage. So they enhanced the site with e-commerce functionality (selling and buying products). Question: Why does an Israeli company attend the next web conference? I think there is a simple reason why. The income of Israel is for 90% dependent of their activities abroad. Every company over there who wants to grow has to go abroad …and Europe is close by. The sales representative told me that Amsterdam is an important ‘hub’ for getting feet on European ground.

A young guy, Tarik Krim, started Netvibes (“Taking the world with storm”). Netvibes is an ajax based ‘homepage’ that you can personalize. When you use different feeds, search engines and community sites, Netvibes gives you the opportunity to display or access these services and applications from one single page. Tarik told the audience how he started Netvibes and where they are heading for (new enhanced features): the netvibes ecosystem and how the network is effecting the evolution of the site. Netvibes is the most challenging competitor for Microsoft (and there are not a lot of folks out there who can say this).

Steven Pemberton gave a sort of scientific ‘discourse’ regarding ‘the future of web interfaces’. There was a lot of post modernism in his speech (I guess he’s a fan of Derrida). What to think of the ‘Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis’ (“if you haven’t got a word for it, you can’t think it” and “if you don’t perceive it as a concept, you won’t invent a word for it”). And he mentioned really humorous daily life examples. See also “The Deeper Meaning of Liff” by Douglas Adams and john Lloyd. But when you put aside this ‘post modernistic sauce’ he shared some interesting views on web applications (and the way they appear to us). The future web is a semantic web with declarative markup (in which content can easily be transferred to other applications; XML, Xforms etc.). Because there are a huge diversity of browsers on the web (when you include browsers on mobile devices) and they/we all want to use the web anytime, anywhere with anything. And there is a huge diversity of people. Put these together and add this with the notice that issues like accessibility and usability are poorly attended…..we do not use the enormous power and potential of the web (like we do not use the full potential of computer power). According to Pemberton it’s worth to address the issues of accessibility and usability, for many reasons; like cost of production. 90% of the cost of software is debugging. According to Fred Brookes, the number of bugs increases quadratically according to code size: L (1.5). In other words, a program that is 10 times longer is 32 times harder to write. Or put another way: a program that is 10 times smaller needs only 3% of the effort. Playing with figures can be an effective way to make the message clear. (Like Kevin Kelly; the web is only 4.000 days old!!).

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