Jeff Lebowski is ... the Dude. Vestibulum id ligula porta felis euismod semper. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor.

More >

Powered by Squarespace
  • The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy]
    The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy]
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman
  • The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
    The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston
  • The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
    The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston

The Rise of the Corporate Transmedia Storyteller

The following is also cross-posted on

According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, by the end of today the web will fill up with more information than what had existed in entirety prior to 2003. Much of this deluge is being created by ordinary netizens, rather than by corporations. The web has become a raging river filled with tweets, status updates, photos and videos.

There’s both a positive and negative side to this story. In fact it has spawned a divergent debate of ideas.

Nicholas Carr in his book “The Shallows” argues that the digital deluge is rewiring our brains for less depth. NYU professor Clay Shirky, meanwhile, says in his book Cognitive Surplusthat as more of us become content creators rather than consumers, it’s ushering in a new age of enlightenment.

Regardless of which side of the debate you buy into, one that sees superficiality rising versus another that envisions a new Renaissance, one thing remains clear. Space on the Internet is infinite. Time and attention, meanwhile, remain finite. Therefore, “Digital Relativity” will become a major challenge.

Taken in context, when you do the math it’s easy to see that it’s going to be harder than ever to reach people. On the one hand, social networking sites like Facebook consolidate audiences. (The average user spends five hours/month on the site.) On the other hand, social media is forcing us to make hard choices every day – Bieber vs brands, Forbes vs families, business vs. babies.

The new law of digital relativity (e.g. the relationship between time and space) means the end of scarcity. This was the currency that, for years, powered marketing budgets, filled media coffers and drove the information economy. Now that scarcity is gone, however, we will need to adopt a new set of skills.

Enter the Transmedia Storyteller.

Even though millions of us are now content producers in some form or another, the reality is there’s still chasm when it comes to quality. There’s art and there’s junk. Audiences want art.

To stand out today it’s critical that businesses create content. Activating your cadre of internal subject matter experts is the surest path to visibility. According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, the public is increasingly relying on subject matter experts as trusted authorities. And many businesses are beginning to do just that, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The reality is, however, that organizations need to do more than just unleash their subject matter experts en masse. They need to activate them in multiple channels at once and equip them in how to create a compelling narrative – an emerging set of skills called Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia Storytelling doesn’t need to be fancy. It can be executed with low budget tools. However, it does need to be thought through. It requires that a business’ subject matter experts know how to simultaneously tell good stories and to do so using text, video, audio and images depending on the venue.

Transmedia storytelling is the future of marketing. And those who can span across formats and share their expertise will stand out in an age of Digital Relativity. There’s a first-mover advantage here. However, it remains to be seen who will grab the ring.


Real-time + Face Time = the New Primetime

The following essay is also my column in next week's Advertising Age.

Real-time + Face Time = the New Primetime

One of the realities of the modern era and the age of continuous information streams is that consumers now expect, rather than simply demand, that their needs be addressed in real time. One of my former colleagues summed this up best by calling the phenomenon "The Baby Monitor Principle."

The basic premise is that once an infant knows a baby monitor is in a room and comprehends what it does, he/she begins to use it to their advantage. Babies somehow understand that when they cry, mom or dad will come running to save the day. So they cry some more.

In the digital space, a similar metaphor rings true. Savvy consumers now are well aware that companies are listening in to their conversations on Twitter and Facebook. And some are using it to their advantage. They know that if they're vocal enough and find a community of like minded individuals, brands will eventually have to cater to their needs. Business has evolved by establishing robust digital embassies on platforms like Twitter.

It's not just social media, however, that's encouraging companies to live a far more dynamic existence than they're accustomed to. In many ways, it's also the new mobile services, some social, that are arming consumers with essential real-time information. and changing our behaviors and expectations. 

Consider Red Laser, a popular iPhone application that is owned by eBay (an Edelman client). Red Laser gives consumers the ability to scan bar codes to find cheaper prices. There are countless other apps available for all platforms. As tools like Red Laser become more popular, it's conceivable that retailers will have to empower their personnel at the point of sale to be more nimble in approving just-in-time pricing.

Not sitting on their laurels, retailers are already wisely responding to such empowered consumers by dangling equally attractive alternatives. Macy's, Sports Authority and Best Buy (also an Edelman client), for example, all are aggressively promoting ShopKick. This new platform rewards customers with savings and rewards for using their phones when they are physically in a store or shopping mall.

However, the war doesn't end there. This may end up a game of whack-a-mole as new real-time services continually emerge.

One such technology is LucyPhone, a web site that lets you bypass one of the joys of life - waiting on hold for customer service. Simply dial a consumer 1-800 hotline via LucyPhone, then disconnect the call once you're placed into the holding carousel and they will dial you back once a real human joins the call.

Lastly there's Google Instant - a controversial new offering from the search giant that alters your results in real-time with every letter you type. This immediate feedback mechanism is sure to alter search behaviors over time, forcing marketers to constantly look at how they pivot their content and ads.

Queen Rania of Jordan once said that "real time is the new primetime." And she's right. Business must aspire to operate in real-time, or come as close to it as they possibly can. However, this is just the beginning. Enter face time.

Despite all of the wonders of the modern age that we live in, technology has not diminished the need for human interaction. We still like to see who we're talking to and how they physically react to our questions and concerns.

The coming years will usher in a gaggle of new devices that bring face-to-face communication to our pockets and bring back in vogue. Apple's FaceTime, for example, is a new video communication standard that the company is looking to make available across a number of devices.

The moral of the story here is that every business today must try to catch up to consumers by becoming one that loves living in real time. At the same time, organizations also need to being to stay one step ahead of their customers by leveraging emerging face-to-face technologies before others do.

This two-fisted combo - real-time plus face-time - is the new primetime.

Photo credit: Chris Lamphear via


New Twitter Shifts the Car from Neutral into Drive


“Today, we’re introducing a new, re-engineered that provides an easier, faster, and richer experience.”

This is a smart move. It helps them on two fronts: bringing in more brand marketers and newbies.

Twitter had been stuck. They are growing significantly for sure – but all of it is coming off a small base of active users.

The redesign gives marketers more flexibility in design and newbies a reason to stay longer. This – over time – will turn them from passive users into more active ones that tweet.

It’s what they had to do get out of neutral gear.


Google Instant Makes SEO Irrelevant

Google today launched an ambitious effort to speed up searching. But what they really did is kill SEO.

Google says:

"Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type."

The most important consideration for marketers or anyone who creates content, however, is in the bullets...

"Smarter Predictions: Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, predictions help guide your search. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing as soon as you see what you need."

Here's what this means: no two people will see the same web. Once a single search would do the trick - and everyone saw the same results. That's what made search engine optimization work. Now, with this, everyone is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time. The reason this is a game changer is feedback. When you get feedback, you change your behaviors. 

Think about it. When you push a door and it doesn't open quickly, you push harder. When you try to drive a car up a hill and it doesn't go as fast as you would like, you step on the gas. Feedback changes your behavior. 

Google Instant means no one will see the same web anymore, making optimizing it virtually impossible. Real-time feedback will change and personalize people's search behaviors.

::LATER: Google is saying expect traffic fluctuations around organic keywords.


September 18 is National Offlining Day

Eric Yaverbaum and Marc DiMassimo (two savvy marketers) have launched a campaign to turn September 18 a national day of offlining - a digital sabbath:

"Try making an Offlining Resolution. Have an Offline Father’s Day. Consider committing to a weekly Offline Sabbath. We think you’ll be glad you did, and we’re pretty sure you’ll find others who are glad too."

They put together some clever viral graphics as well. September 18, notably, is Yom Kippur. There's a pledge too. Count me out.