Zipfluence

How Google Pivoted Old Media

Spring 2010

Just I thought I'd take yet another look at the popular idea of Brands becoming media properties and how this trend may or may not help social networks to monetize their enormous membership.

We'll begin the journey by rewinding the clock back to the old media model that was adopted as a business model by the first wave of web disrupters (i.e. the mega portals).

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This was of course the old "Browse with us, Buy from them" model that I have written about before.

Over the past 15 years this model has been disrupted by 3 new and significantly more effective advertising and marketing models.

The first was of course the direct mail equivalent of the web: email.

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The second was eBay and the eCommerce retailers who discovered that "Browse with us, Buy rom us" was a much more rewarding strategy online.

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The third was Google.

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Each in turn rendered the role of content either redundant or at least secondary to the activity of connecting buyers with sellers.

The question then remains. Is there yet an undiscovered model residing within the old media model that has yet to be exploited by savvy entrepreneurs?

For example what happens if we take the Google pivot and apply it to the other side of the old media model?

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As you can see Brands pivot out of the simplicity of Direct Response marketing model to become media properties in their own right. Within this context the model doesn't appear to be logical, almost dysfunctional, and lacks merit compared to existing alternatives. After all it significantly modifies the relationship the target has with the Brand. No longer is the focus on the building the sales pipeline. It is on turning the Brand into an entertainment.

Now let's take a look at the social networking model.

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It is self-evident that the initial challenge for the Brand is to be invited to become part of the network.

However that is not enough. The brand is actually seeking to become the topic of conversation. i.e. To pivot the conversation from Us to You. The biggest barrier to this happening is the target really just wants to talk about me. So there is an obvious disconnect here that inevitably leads to a dysfunctional relationship.

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The question then becomes how does the Brand resolve this problem. The answer is the Brand becomes Media. Social Media that can be shared across the network. By becoming a media property the brand becomes the topic of conversation.

Within the context of social media and social networking the idea of Brands as Media seems to be a revolutionary new disruptive marketing model. It also goes a long way towards explaining the initial success MySpace had as a marketing and promotional platform for musicians and performers. Almost inevitably, after the successes of Lady Gaga, Brands as Media becomes the pivotal monetization strategy for the champions of social networking.

However the emergence of the Brands as Media movement leads us back to the earlier discussion about the viability of an advertising engine based on the antithesis of Google's pivot strategy.

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At the moment Google is the engine room of marketing on the web. Google's model appears both logical and brilliant in its simplicity. In contrast the Brands as Media model appear to be both illogical and complex in comparison.

So is it the Google "Killer" the online world has been looking for? Will it provide Social Media with the revenue engine it so desperately needs? or, is it nothing more than just another one of those experimental fads currently doing the rounds in online marketing circles?

In the end the proof will come when marketers begin to measure the effectiveness of Brands as Media as yet another online engine feeding the sales pipeline. Until then expect a lot of creative angst to be expended in search of what it takes to become the ultimate topic of conversation.

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