June 2011 Archives
Last week I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal for a piece about the new branded domain names that ICANN announced. Starting in 2012, companies or individuals will be able to apply for custom domain names that instead of ending with ".com" or ".uk" would end with ".brand" like dot pepsi or dot mountaindew. It'll cost $185,000. Here's my more unfiltered take:
- I'm not convinced this is a good decision. Yes, it is a more branded domain name but it causes confusion among consumers. For every brand that forks out the money for a branded domain, there will be two that don't.
- The pricing seems atrocious. I'm not sure where ICANN got the $185,000 figure from but it appears that the business community wasn't consulted. $185,000 is a lot of money and ICAAN appears to be trading on the insecurities that digital marketers may have about their brands.
- It also seems that ICANN wishes they had benefited more directly from the domain name squatting gold rush of the 1990s and are now trying to make up for it. From a industry standpoint, I don't think it makes sense. And nor does Esther Dyson, former ICANN chairwoman.
- Other domain name formats have come and gone in the past but they've failed. Remember dot biz and all those domain names that were actually meant for tiny countries? With dot com and the country domain names we have a standard. It's a vocabulary people are used to.
- ICANN is supposed to be in the business of reducing digital confusion and making findability of websites easier. They say this will unleash global imagination.This does the exact opposite. Even Google thinks so.
- ICANN seems to have confused the opportunities to have more top level domain names with the specific needs of marketers. I can maybe understand the value in having more top level domain names for generic topics like shoes but pushing brands into that space is a mistake. Read this insightful interview with a former ICAAN Chairman for more.
- I can only imagine the copyright and trademark infringement issues that will arise in January. Without clear rules around this, we could have a lot of chaos.
I think this is a mistake and most importantly, it is guaranteed to cause user confusion. It'll also cause angst among marketers like myself who feel pressure to fork out the money to purchase a domain name. Similar to the whole net neutrality debate, we as an Internet community, are running the risk of enacting laws, policies and guidelines that hurt the Internet rather than help it over the long term.
Update: @38enso said it best in a tweet reply to my post. - Content drives traffic not URL name. That matters the most.
Here's the video of my Real-Time Marketing presentation from the Conversational Marketing Summit. Enjoy.
View more videos from CM Summit: Marketing in Real Time
I work in one of the most hyper-competitive industries that keeps getting more competitive. 30 billion times more. That's roughly the number of status updates published each month on Facebook. Arguably, by the end of the year that number may have doubled or quadrupled.
Lifestyle brands compete with those 30 billion status updates for attention, relevance, interest and mindshare everyday. It's the new battleground. If the brands I work with were mentioned meaningfully in just 5.0% of those status updates, it would change my business dramatically. Brands succeed when they have cultural resonance and whether it is Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, AMP Energy, SoBe or Propel, those 30 billion status updates are the competition, more competition than another beverage company.
We live in a world where everyone and everything has become media. Brands, people, objects and technology are all media in some form competing with each other for attention and for the attention of each other. That's the world we live in. Knowing how to compete in this new world order on a global scale and in ways that benefit your brands is worth having many sleepless nights about.
This week I declared at the Conversational Marketing Summit that I was staking my whole career on Real-Time Marketing. I believe this will be at least 50% of all marketing activities in a few years. In the coming months, watch as I use this blog to go deep into describing what real-time marketing is, explain the framework that drives it (see a summary below) and track activities in the marketplace around it as well as from within the four walls of PepsiCo. One important caveat, people often associate real-time marketing with social media marketing. That's not true. Social Media Marketing fits into the world of Real-Time Marketing which also includes real-time audience buying, media distribution and addressable television. Here's some coverage of my talk. Watch for slides soon and take a look at what Facebook is doing and how other companies like Taykey who I've tested solutions with are doing. Agencies like iCrossing with its live media studio are also aggressively entering this space.
This is an exciting year for us at PepsiCo Beverages. Along with The Pepsi Refresh Project, we're the launch partner for The X-Factor. We're going to support this massive entertainment platform by pushing the boundaries of digital engagement and connecting fans to meaningful Pepsi X-Factor digital experiences. Along with our partners, today we made what might seem to be a small but is actually an important step in that direction - we jointly announced that for the first time ever, consumers will be able audition for a Reality TV show via YouTube.
For some of us in the Internet space this might not seem special. But no reality show has done this before and certainly not on such a scale. No show truly gave every American the opportunity to audition for their show. Americans weren't given equal chances to fulfill their dreams. The show producers could only visit so many cities in a given time period to conduct auditions. It was all about the logistics and the cost. Both barriers have been broken down with the X-Factor YouTube initiative. Arguably, few television shows even beyond the realm of Reality TV have leveraged the Internet has meaningfully as The X-Factor will.
In the coming months and years, the television industrial complex is going to rethink its business structure to incorporate "Internet thinking" into its core. Some networks may have missed an opportunity with the TV up-fronts which treated digital as nothing more than a step-child both from a content and an advertising standpoint. I'm hoping that the TV world won't make that mistake twice. Our YouTube announcement with The X-Factor is one small example of how much the world has changed and what kind of possibilities open up by tapping into "Internet thinking" to enhance, democratize and even redefine traditional, television entertainment and everything surrounding it from script creation to consumer participation and real-time feedback. It also shows the new roles that brands can play in this world.