Friday, 15 August 2008

I want to be famous

Being a b2b Tech PR bod through and through I have just recently been asked by my consumer colleagues to help out on a “little” b2c campaign for IFA Berlin.

The product we are pitching is being endorsed by a famous American record producer, rapper, and record executive. The media loves him and the product he gave his name for. Radio, glossy men’s magazines and the crème de la crème of the consumer electronics press – are all mad about the gadget we are pitching.

So, I was thinking… can’t I have a celebrity for all my b2b campaigns as well? It would make live so much easier. Would it? Not really. I guess I can’t really have Paris Hilton endorse ethernet services and ask Brad Pitt to support a product launch for a new multifactor authentication product.

But that’s fine because b2b has its own celebrities. It think the Microsoft’s, the Googles, the SAPs and the Nokia’s of this world are “b2b celebrities”. If I am approaching a journalist and mention that I am calling on behalf of “b2b celebrity company X” or that my client has just partnered with “b2b celebrity company Y” things usually start off much easier... or if not easier I am at least assured that people know who I am talking about.

Fire Eagle - for better or for worse?

This week Yahoo! launched Fire Eagle, its location tool that lets users update and manage information about where they are, so that third-party services can connect and use that information to tailor their service. Already, more than 50 service providers have lined up to use Fire Eagle technology. Described by Yahoo! as being a "switchboard that anyone can build on top of", more are destined to follow.
So far, so good. Yahoo! is definitely onto a winner.
Or is it? Despite boasting an opt-in facility, privacy advocates are already warning about the dangers of rushing headlong into using location based services. Fire Eagle users are sent reminders every 45 days to confirm they still want to share their location, and Yahoo! says it'll delete all historical data immediately if they opt out.
But the same can't be said for the services using the data. Yahoo! can't dictate what its partners do with the information they collect, because privacy policies vary from website to website, and they can be changed without warning.
In theory, Yahoo! has come up with a tool that brings us closer to a future where location is going to become increasingly important for Web services. Progress. But until everyone adheres to digital privacy laws, we'll still be in the dark ages.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Olympics are the Digital Games

The Olympic opening ceremony is less than 24 hours away and everyone is forecasting medal counts (and predicting doping scandals).

The Games also will be a test of how much the media industry has changed in the last four years. The lines between the Web and traditional media like television have blurred even more radically since Athens. Digital media landmarks of the Beijing Games include the first games where every sport is filmed in HD; and YouTube will be used to broadcast events.

So, digital will be tested alongside the human competitors. The ambition of the media companies is exceptionally high and they're taking some real risks in the level of investment and the expectations that they are setting.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

E-Petitions Slipped into the Commons

The last day before the UK Houses of Parliament goes into very long recess over the summer is often when the UK Government slips out news it wants to bury and avoid full parliamentary scrutiny. One exception might be an announcement that British members of parliament should be petitioned over the Internet. UK MPs have a (unfair) reputation for being notoriously low tech and Parliament's processes are regulated by tradition not technology. The Government may want to share the pain of e-petitions given the experience of the prime minister's office Number Ten which ran several e-petitions that famously got out of control. Our sister agency GBC Public Affairs reports on this and much more in its rolling blog of political news. Always worth a look.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Amazon Eats up Abe

The biggest forces on the Web get very different press.
Google is no longer the media darling. It's under attack for its privacy policy hypocrisy and the Google Street project. And much of last week's excitement about Cuil comes from a primal urge for a Google beater.

Contrast this with Amazon which just keeps on getting bigger and bigger. Revenues are growing, its ebook Kindle is actually selling well and now it's bought up Abebooks, the online used bookseller network. But, the media reaction is benign with little to no venom. You get the sense that the media like Amazon.


It could be the profile of Bezos is much softer than the Google boys who've been very flash with their money (Think Bezos and my first association is his desk made from a $10 door; think the Google founders and it's their party plane).

Another reason is the privacy issue. With Amazon we're happier to share data about what we spend and browse. Google is much more closely woven into how we live our lives digitally that every miss-step they make on privacy issues has a rising resonance with us. It's not turning people away from Google (in fact where can we go?) but its souring their profile bit by bit because they themselves set such high expectations.