Category: Demand chain (page 3 of 5)

VRM videos

First Retail

Here is a collection of videos about VRM and related subjects, in roughly reverse chronological order.

First, a series of well-edited excerpts from Disrupting Retail 2013, which was hosted by First Retail in New York City. Here’s an outline:

  1. What is Disrupting Retail?
  2. Amazon’s Product Recommender Systems
  3. Big Data Enabled Intention Management and the Customer Experience
  4. Moving from Personal Data to Individual Intention

The sessions were led by Gam Dias (@gammydodger) of First Retail, with Andreas Weigend (@weigend) and myself serving as sounding boards for the collection of forward-looking retailers gathered around the table. (That’s the two of us in the shot above.) Lots of excellent grist for retailers, VRooMers and everybody else who cares about the future of business (which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be business without retail). Bonus link.

Second, Phil Windley on building trillion-node networks. Within those might be your network, with your own Internet of Things in your own cloud. Bonus video: The cloud needs an operating system.

Third, from the State of the Net (#SOTN) conference in Trieste last month, four videos:

There were a number of others as well, which I’ll put up when I find them (or they find me).

Fourth, some others from the last year and more:

VRM growing in the garden of privacy concerns

With Swedes: Closet VRM activists?T.Rob gives us a typically deep VRM post, exploring new territory, or old territory in a new way. The context (and the subject of an interesting thread on the ProjectVRM list) is the news behind headline of a Simon Davies post: Sweden’s data protection Authority bans Google cloud services over privacy concerns. Sez T.Rob,

So the big problem with privacy, VRM tools and the cloud isn’t that the technology needs to be invented, but rather that the current IT culture assumes the vendor has rights rather thanprivileges to harvest and exploit your data and that you must opt out rather than opt in.  If you start with an assumed right to the data, then of course the apps that get built ignore existing privacy enhancing technology.

T.Rob raises some creative existing solutions to password problems — solutions that have thus far been outside of VRM conversations. A concern I have, within VRM conversations, is framing solutions in terms and contexts of the existing marketing system, which is getting more and more complicated by the day. For a better look at that, see this post from January, and Don Marti’s first comment there, which points to this post here.

Having spent most of the last month outside the U.S., what I gather is that privacy is just as big a deal elsewhere — just a somewhat different deal. Here privacy is seen in terms of prophylaxis — and sometimes not-very-good prophylaxis. (Do Not Track, for example, is like hanging garlic on the door of your browser to ward off vampires.) In Canada and Europe it’s seen as an essential attribute of civilized life: one that must be designed into software, services and infrastructure. Leading influences on this approach are Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, and her office’s Privacy By Design initiative.

In fact we’ve had privacy by design for a long time in the physical world. Clothing, for example, is a privacy system. We use it to cover our “privates,” among other things. But, while we’ve had civilization for thousands of years, we’ve had the Net for only a couple decades or so. We have a long way to go. But we’ll get where we’re going faster if we’re not re-inventing the same wheels.

And I think we’ll get there better if we ground what we do in a clear understanding of what privacy is, and why it needs to guide the stuff we create and improve.

Intentcasting mojo

Nice piece on Intently.co and intentcasting in 7 Days. Titled Intently.co – the new website where the firms come to you…, it’s right up the VRM alley. An excerpt:

A global site or rather ‘intention engine’ called Intently.co is making it possible for suppliers who are listening to respond to buyers’ requests in the UAE and beyond.

Neil Harris, founder of Intently.co explained to 7DAYS that he could see the potential of his site pretty clearly – even if the inspiration did come while he was looking for an optician.

“I wanted an optician’s appointment and simply didn’t have the time or energy to wade through 101 opticians’ websites, so I dreamed up the idea of “broadcasting my request” to all of them and waiting for them to reply, eager to have my business,” he said. It’s a practice which has come to be known as ‘intentcasting’ – and in theory it should save you time and money.

“I wanted to be able to submit a request – or a ‘shout’ – for potential suppliers to react to while I was busy doing other things. Then, some time later, I could go back to that request and see how it was getting on,” Harris explained. So far, he said, around 80 per cent of requests worldwide get positive responses – and usually within the hour.

Some have asked all golf clubs in their area for membership prices and selected a new club based how responsive and helpful it was during the process.

Another user sent out a successful ‘shout’ for a surprise party. Such requests, though small on their own, are part of a growing trend which has been dubbed ‘the intention economy’ – and Harris believes it will have big consequences for current marketing and advertising models.

I added the link. Hope Neil and 7Days don’t mind. 🙂

Where VRM stands in the advertising debate

It’s easy to see why the behavioral advertising business feels threatened lately. Already some of the most popular browser add-ons are for blocking ads and tracking. (Here’s one list.) As of last May, according to ClarityRay, 9.26% of all ads were being blocked by browsers. For tech content, the rate was 17.79% and in one country (Austria) the rate was 22.5%. Ad blocking was highest with Mozilla (17.81%) and lowest with Explorer (3.86%).

Not surprisingly, Microsoft smelled the demand and defaulted Do Not Track in the “on” position with its next version of Explorer. Also not surprisingly, this proved controversial.

And now comes Ad Networks Beware: Firefox to Block Third-Party Cookies: New policy could squeeze online behavioral advertising, by Katy Bachman in AdWeek. She begins,

The Interactive Advertising Bureau lashed out Saturday at a new Firefox policy to block third-party cookies, effectively cutting off ad networks’ ability to track users. That could be put a crimp in the growing online behavioral advertising business, but give privacy advocates a victory in their attempts to give users more control over their online information.

Mike Zaneis (@MikeZaneis), the organization’s svp and general counsel tweeted that Mozilla’s new policy was nothing less than “a nuclear first strike against the ad industry.”

Firefox will begin blocking the cookies from third-party ad networks by default beginning with distribution of Firefox version 22 on April 5. The browser would allow cookies from first party websites that users visit, according to Jonathan Mayer, a grad student at Standford University who wrote the patch for Mozilla.

Firefox’s new cookie policy is similar to Apple Safari, but “slightly relaxed,” Mayer said in a blog post.  In practice, both Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer allow third-party cookies.

The links are mine.

For a good picture of the debate at work, read the whole thread below Mike’s tweet. In it you’ll see how hard it is to draw lines we don’t want others to cross. If we’re Mike and the IAB, we want to draw the line as far out as our self-reguatory principles for online behavioral advertising allow. That line is inclusive of (presumably) harmless forms of tracking. If you’re Chris Saghoian (@csaghoian), one of the creators of Do Not Track (and a voice in that thread), the line not to cross is the personal one that surrounds one’s private spaces. Among those is the vehicle called a browser, in which one would like to drive around the Web enjoying car-like independence.

Here in the VRM world, we are in the second camp. But we’d rather leave the fighting up to others, and instead extend an olive branch toward cooperative development of tools that shake hands and work together across both kinds of lines. That’s what I did at the last link, in September. Since then I’ve enjoyed a positive back-channel conversation that I’d like to keep moving forward.

Also in play are regulatory urgings. This was behind George Simpson‘s Suicide by Cookies, at MediaPost. He begins there by framing up a problem:

Evidon measured sites across the Internet and found the number of web-tracking tags from ad servers, analytics companies, audience-segmenting firms, social networks and sharing tools up 53% in the past year. (The ones in Mandarin were probably set by the Chinese army.) But only 45% of the tracking tools were added to sites directly by publishers. The rest were added by publishers’ partners, or THEIR partners’ partners.

Then he builds the correct forecast of regulatory squeezery, and concludes with this:

I have spent the better part of the last 15 years defending cookie-setting and tracking to help improve advertising. But it is really hard when the prosecution presents the evidence, and it has ad industry fingerprints all over it — every time. There was a time when “no PII” was an acceptable defense, but now that data is being compiled and cross-referenced from dozens, if not hundreds, of sources, you can no longer say this with a straight face. And we are way past the insanity plea.

I know there are lots of user privacy initiatives out there to discourage the bad apples and get all of the good ones on the same page. But clearly self-regulation is not working the way we promised Washington it would.

I appreciate the economics of this industry, and know that it is imperative to wring every last CPM out of every impression — but after a while, folks not in our business simply don’t care anymore, and will move to kill any kind of tracking that users don’t explicitly opt in to.

And when that happens, you can’t say, “Who knew?”

More background on all this can be found at Wharton’s Future of Advertising Program, where they asked a bunch of people “What could/should ‘advertising’ look like in 2020?” I answered here. My bottom lines:

Here is where this will lead by 2020: The ability of individuals to signal their intentions in the marketplace will far exceed the ability of corporations to guess at those intentions, or to shape them through advertising. Actual relationships between people and processes on both sides of the demand-supply relationship will out-perform today’s machine-based guesswork by advertisers, based on “big data” gained by surveillance. Advertising will continue to do what it has always done best, which is to send clear signals of the advertiser’s substance. And it won’t be confused with its distant relatives in the direct response marketing business.

The follow-up question was, “What do we need to do now for this future?” My answer to that one:

Three things.

First, make sharper distinctions between brand and direct response advertising — distinctions that make clear that the latter is a different breed, with different virtues, methods and metrics.

Second, follow and encourage the development of tools that give individuals more independence and ability to engage.

Third, do more research on the first two, so we have better tracking of trends as they develop.

Our job with ProjectVRM is the last two.

The right frame for relationship is personal, not social

The short answer to Brian Solis‘s headline question — Are Businesses Becoming the New Big Brother in Social Media? — is no, because they’re not that smart. In the body copy and graphics of his excellent post, Brian explains why. Here’s one sample:

There are several other images like that, each of which says something we — as users and customers — have known all along, but companies spying on us (even for our own good) don’t. Or do, but have rationalized spying anyway, because that’s all they know how to do. So far.

Brian:

Considering that 58% want you to engage in times of need, 42% wish to hear from you in good times, 64% only want you listening to be at their beck and call, and half of all consumers don’t want you listening at all, what are you to do?

Obviously social media, and specifically social listening, isn’t going away. But it does take tactfulness, genuine intentions and diplomacy to listen, learn, and engage (directly or indirectly) in ways that consumers feel recognized and important. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who says something negative or positive only to have it appreciated and considered by an organization will feel anything other than thankful.

Agreed. Especially if the frame is still a social one, and the interplay happens on social media (meaning Facebook and Twitter, mostly).

But relationships of human beings are personal, not just social.

The problem I have with my car or my airline is not a social one. It’s personal. Obviously, I can make it social, and that’s how Social CRM works today: I complain on Twitter or Facebook. But why should I have to go through Facebook or Twitter to get a dialog going with a human being at a company providing me a product or service?

What we need is VRM. There is lots of VRM development going on, but we’re still missing VRM tools that match up with CRM tools. It’s as simple as that. Many are in progress, but they aren’t here yet, in the sense that any one of us knows we can use them, on our phones or computers, to get through to somebody on the other side, and to deal at a machine level with the stuff that machines handle best.

CRM can’t do it alone, and it’s wrong to expect it to do what it can’t. It takes two hands to clap. The missing hand for CRM, all along, has been VRM one.

What we need, I believe, at this point, is a few CRM-facing VRM companies and developers to get together with CRM developers who are ready to build out their side of VRM+CRM relationships. D2D: Developer to Developer.

Some of the VRM developers we need are on this list. Others will need to step up. And to do it soon, because it’s becoming clear at last that both SCRM and CRM can’t get it done alone.

Wanted: a handshake across the paywall

For five years I was a loyal subscriber to the Boston Globe. When I was out of town, which was a lot, I’d read it online, because the print subscription covered that too.

This academic year I’m out of town more, so I canceled the subscription, because I didn’t want to pay $3.99 per week for a digital-only subscription. Not when I’m also in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and other places, with other papers that I also like to read — and to pay for, preferably on an à la carte basis, or something close to it, like I can when I buy a paper at a newsstand. There’s no way to do that. But I still go to the Globe often, to catch a story, such as this one, which hits a paywall:

I only get that on the browser I use most, and which I assume carries a cookie telling the Globe that I’ve visited too often without subscribing. It’s annoying, but I get around it by using other browsers and other machines.

I don’t do that to avoid paying. In fact I’d be glad to pay, because I believe information wants to be free but value wants to be paid for. That means I’m willing to pay something for all the media I use, including music for which I hold rights to play (one doesn’t really “own” music, but instead holds rights to it). But this is impossible as long as media vendors supply all the mechanisms of relationship. There’s no handshake with that system. Just the sound of one hand slapping.

The promo-covered paywall in the screen shot above tells me the Globe’s subscription system has no idea that I was a loyal subscriber for a long time, and am willing to pay more than the $0 that I’m paying when I go around their wall. It also tells me the Globe values data justifying its 99¢/week promo more than its relationship with me as a reader and a long-term subscriber. But I’m not insulted because I know I’m not dealing with human beings here; just a software routine.

Many questions come to mind when I look at a fail like this. Like, Why should a new subscriber get a better deal than a veteran one? Why not have, say, a frequent-reader program, modeled on airline frequent flyer programs?

The answer is that it’s a pain in the ass for a paper (or any business) to do something different than what it already does. In the Globe’s case the bureaucratic overhead is even higher than it looks, because the Globe is a subsidiary of the New York Times, which has the same 99¢ promo (that I wrote about almost a year ago). Even if the two papers don’t use the same content management and subscription software, the policies obviously work in tandem, meaning there is at least twice the inertia to overcome.

Additional inertia is locked up in the heavy burden of sole responsibility for a “relationship” that barely qualifies for the noun. If I had a real relationship with the Globe, I could respond to the above with a message that says “Hi, there. You know me. Remember? I do. Here’s the evidence. Now, can we come up with something that works for both of us here?”  CRM (Customer Relationship Management systems should help, but typically don’t. “Social” CRM is built to listen for signals from prospects or customers; but neither Twitter nor Facebook are mine, nor do they represent me as fourth parties — ones that work for me.  (Twitter and Facebook may serve me, in a way; but they are paid for that work by advertisers.)

There are some VRM-friendly signs on the horizon. For example, in this Guardian interview, Tien Tzuo, the founder and CEO of Zuora, explains what he calls “Paywall 2.0.” Here’s what he says about 3:50 into the video:

Don’t think about it as just a paywall. Don’t think about it as just a tollbooth for you to make money. Think about it as an ongoing dialog with your customers, and allow your paywall to stretch, and go to where your customers really want to go.

(Disclosure: last year I gave a speech at a Zuora event in London.) I want the Globe and the Times to have 2.0-generation paywalls: ones that stretch to embrace my loyalty and my good intentions. I would also like that embrace to appreciate independent signaling from my side of the relationship, not just what it picks up from CRM radar pointed at social media. (And let’s face it: If I have to go on Twitter to get some action out of a company, there’s a failure in direct communication. Here’s one example.)

We also need the VRM tools that match up with 2.0 generation ones on the media sellers’ side. For example, let’s say I budget $2 per day toward all the media I use. (A lexical digression: I don’t “consume” media any more than I consume a hammer. That’s why I say “use” instead of “consume.”) And let’s say  I have the capacity to track what I use, in a QS (quantified self) kind of way. Then let’s say that I’m ready to divide that $2 up and parse it out, using an EmanciPay system. This would put money on the market’s table.

Then maybe, once the money is on the table, we can shake hands over it and actually do business.

Bonus link: House of news

 

 

VRM development work

I’ll be having a brown bag lunch today with a group of developers, talking about VRM and personal clouds, among other stuff that’s sure to come up. To make that easier, I’ve copied and pasted the current list from the VRM developers page of the ProjectVRM wiki. If you’d like to improve it in any way, please do — either on the wiki itself, or by letting us know what to change.

While there are entire categories that fit in the larger VRM circle — quantified self (QS) and personal health records (PHRs) are two that often come up — we’ve tried to confine this list to projects and companies that directly address the goals (as well as the principles) listed on the main page of the wiki.


Here is a partial list of VRM development efforts. (See About VRM). Some are organizations, some are commercial entities, some are standing open source code development efforts.

SOFTWARE and SERVICES
Intentcasting
AskForIt † – individual demand aggregation and advocacy
Body Shop Bids † – intentcasting for auto body work bids based on uploaded photos
Have to Have † – “A single destination to store and share everything you want online”
Intently † – Intentcasting “shouts” for services, in the U.K.
Innotribe Funding the Digital Asset Grid prototype, for secure and accountable Intentcasting infrastructure
OffersByMe † – intentcasting for local offers
Prizzm †- social CRM platform rewarding customers for telling businesses what they want, what they like, and what they have problems with
RedBeacon † – intentcasting locally for home services
Thumbtack † – service for finding trustworthy local service providers
Trovi intentcasting; matching searchers and vendors in Portland, OR and Chandler, AZ†
Übokia intentcasting†
Zaarly † intentcasting to community – local so far in SF and NYC
Browser Extensions
Abine † DNT+, deleteme, PrivacyWatch: privacy-protecting browser extentions
Collusion Firefox add-on for viewing third parties tracking your movements
Disconnect.me † browser extentions to stop unwanted tracking, control data sharing
Ghostery † browser extension for tracking the trackers
PrivacyScore † browser extensions and services to users and site builders for keeping track of trackers
Databases
InfoGrid – graph database for personal networking applications
ProjectDanube – open source software for identity and personal data services
Messaging Services and Brokers
Gliph †- private, secure identity management and messaging for smartphones
Insidr † – customer service Q&A site connecting to people who have worked in big companies and are willing to help when the company can’t or won’t
PingUp (was Getabl) †- chat utility for customers to engage with merchants the instant customers are looking for something
TrustFabric † – service for managing relationships with sellers
Personal Data and Relationship Management
Azigo.com † – personal data, personal agent
ComplainApp † – An iOS/Android app to “submit complaints to businesses instantly – and find people with similar complaints”
Connect.Me † – peer-to-peer reputation, personal agent
Geddup.com † – personal data and relationship management
Higgins – open source, personal data
The Locker Project – open source, personal data
Mydex †- personal data stores and other services
OneCub †- Le compte unique pour vos inscriptions en ligne (single account for online registration)
Paoga † – personal data, personal agent
Personal.com † – personal data storage, personal agent
Personal Clouds – personal cloud wiki
Privowny † – privacy company for protecting personal identities and for tracking use and abuse of those identities, building relationships
QIY † – independent infrastructure for managing personal data and relationships
Singly † – personal data storage and platform for development, with an API
Transaction Management
Dashlane † – simplified login and checkout
Trust-Based or -Providing Systems and Services
id3 – trust frameworks
Respect Network † – VRM personal cloud network based on OAuth, XDI, KRL, unhosted, and other open standards, open source, and open data initiatives. Respect Network is the parent of Connect.Me.
Trust.cc Personal social graph based fraud prevention, affiliated with Social Islands
SERVICE PROVIDERS OR PROJECTS BUILT ON VRM PRINCIPLES
First Retail Inc. † commodity infrastructure for bi-directional marketplaces to enable the Personal RFP
dotui.com † intelligent media solutions for retail and hospitality customers
Edentiti Customer driven verification of idenity
Real Estate Cafe † money-saving services for DIY homebuyers & FSBOs
Hover.com Customer-driven domain management†
Hypothes.is – open source, peer review
MyInfo.cl (Transitioning from VRM.cl) †
Neustar “Cooperation through trusted connections” †
NewGov.us – GRM
[1] † – Service for controlling one’s reputation online
Spotflux † malware, tracking, unwanted ad filtration through an encrypted tunnel
SwitchBook † – personal search
Tangled Web † – mobile, P2P & PDS
The Banyan Project– community news co-ops owned by reader/members
TiddlyWiki – a reusable non-linear personal Web notebook
Ting † – customer-driven mobile virtual network operator (MVNO – a cell phone company)
Tucows †
VirtualZero – Open food platform, supply chain transparency
INFRASTRUCTURE
Concepts
EmanciPay – dev project for customer-driven payment choices
GRM: Government Relationship Management – subcategory of VRM
ListenLog – personal data logging
Personal RFP – crowdsourcing, standards
R-button – UI elements for relationship members
Hardware
Freedom Box – personal server on free software and hardware
Precipitat, WebBox – new architecture for decentralizing the Web, little server
Standards, Frameworks, Code bases and Protocols
Datownia † – builds APIs from Excel spreadsheets held in Dropbox
Evented APIs – new standard for live web interactivity
KRL (Kinetic Rules Language) – personal event networks, personal rulesets, programming Live Web interactions
Kynetx † – personal event networks, personal rulesets
https://github.com/CSEMike/OneSwarm Oneswarm] – privacy protecting peer-to-peer data sharing
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/persona/ Mozila Persona] – a privacy-protecting one-click email-based way to do single sign on at websites
TAS3.eu — Trusted Architecture for Securely Shared Services – R&D toward a trusted architecture and set of adaptive security services for individuals
Telehash – standards, personal data protocols
Tent – open decentralized protocol for personal autonomy and social networking
The Mine! Project – personal data, personal agent
UMA – standards
webfinger – personal Web discovery, finger over HTTP
XDI – OASIS semantic data interchange standard
PEOPLE
Analysts and Consultants
Ctrl-SHIFT † – analysts
Synergetics † – VRM for job markets
VRM Labs – Research
HealthURL – Medical
Consortia, Workgroups
Fing.org – VRM fostering organization
Information Sharing Workgroup at Kantara – legal agreements, trust frameworks
Pegasus – eID smart cards
Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium (PDEC) – industry collaborative
Meetups, Conferences, and Events
IIW: Internet Identity Workshop – yearly unconference in Mountain View
VRM Hub – meeting in LondonNOTES:
† Indicates companies. Others are organizations, development projects or both. Some development projects are affiliated with companies. (e.g. Telehash and The Locker Project with Singly, and KRL with Kynetx.)
A – creating standard
B – Using other standards
1 – EventedAPI

When consumers become media for themselves

I was talking recently with Edi Immonen of Glome about the idea behind it: turning users into publishers. He used the word “media,” but I’m going with “publishers” for now, because that’s the word used in this graphic (one of many like it — all amazing and excellent) from LUMA partners:

That’s the marketer’s view. But how about yours, as the consumer over there on the right. In fact it’s actually more like this:

Because all you do is consume. You have no direct influence on all that intermediary stuff; so it just presses down on you.

But what if you become the publisher — a form of producer, and not just of consumer? Then the system, simplified, would look like this:

This is in alignment with what Tim Berners-Lee designed the Web to look like in the first place, but in in a commercial setting. (Remember that Sir Tim was then working in high energy physics at CERN, looking for ways to share and edit documents across the Internet as it existed at the turn of the ’90s.) It is also what blogging, as originally conceived, also did. If this blog were commercial (which it is not, on purpose), that would be me (or us) on the right.

Now, if we, as publishers, look at our data, or of our personal space — our state as a medium — as a platform for selling and buying stuff, including services, a whole new horizon opens up.

What Edi and his colleagues at Glome envision is a way for you, as a medium, to sell your space (however you chose to define that word) to:

  1. brands with which you already have a relationship;
  2. brands in which you have an interest; or
  3. brands in which you might have an interest.

From the traditional marketing perspective, #3 makes you “qualified lead,” for which the brand should be willing to pay. But that’s a far too reduced view of what you really are, or might be, to that brand.

Think of this marketplace frame from a CRM+VRM perspective. Between those two rectangles, inside the black two-pointed arrow, are cycles of buying and owning, of use and re-use, of live interactions and of long periods of idle time where neither is paying much attention to the other. Lots of stuff can go on within the boundaries of that two-way arrow.

What Glome proposes here is not zero-basing the marketplace, but instead to re-start our thinking, and our work, atop three well-understood existing roles: brand, publisher (or medium) and marketplace. The main re-characterization is of the individual, who is now a publisher or a medium, and not just a consumer.

Obviously much can get disintermediated here, including all the stuff between the marketer and the publisher in the graphic up top.

But much new intermediation is now possible, especially if the individual has a personal cloud through which one (or one’s fourth party) can program interactions, for the individual, among API-based services (in the manner of IFTTT, or using KRL) and the “Internet of things”. (For developers, I believe Singly fits in here too.)

So we are looking here at a whole new market for information and relationships, within the larger marketplace of everything else. This isn’t complicated, really. It’s actually what markets looked like in the first place:

This is the context we meant by “Markets are conversations” in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

LUMAscapes (such as the top one above) brilliantly depict the ecosystems of marketing as they have evolved so far, down different branches of discipline. The tree from which they branch, however, is the old advertising and direct marketing one, now operating inside the Internet . (“Big data” and analytics in marketing are hardly new. They were what direct mail was all about long before it evolved into direct marketing and then spread into online advertising.)

So this is a shout-to —

— as well as all the VRM developers in the world (and it seems there are more every day).

The last graphic above is our new frame. It helps that it’s also the oldest frame.

I also look forward to the day when Terence Kawaja and his colleagues at LUMA partners draw up VRM+CRM and other new ecosystems that are bound to evolve, once enough of us get our heads out of the old marketing frame and into the oldest marketplace one. So this is a shout-out to them too. 🙂

VRM in 2013

Two positive pats on the VRM back greeted the new year and got me thinking.

The first is Jim Harris’ Small Data and VRM — his prediction for 2013 in the @DataRoundtable blog. He writes,

One of the reasons that vendors are getting geeky over Big Data is because they claim that they want to use it to become more customer-centric and better understand customer behavior when, in reality, what vendors really want is to become more customer-captive and better control customer behavior.

However, the alternative to each individual vendor using Big Data to collect and manage HoardaBytesof information about multiple customers is to invert the one-vendor-to-many-customers paradigm by embracing a one-customer-to-many-vendors paradigm. Individual customers would own and manage the Small Data needed to accurately describe themselves, protect the privacy of their data and decide for themselves how their data – and how much of their data – is shared with vendors.

My lament over vendors historically not allowing us to own our own data, which I have been referring to as the Fundamental Flaw of Customer MDM since 2010, is a topic I return to on a regular basis, including my recent blog series about social MDM that received some thought-provoking commentary, among which was an excellent book recommendation made by Jean-Michel Franco.

… and then quotes The Intention Economy for several paragraphs before concluding,

The status quo will always fight the future, but change is the only universal constant. I hope 2013 will see the beginning of the changes – almost none of which are technological in nature – needed to bring about this long overdue paradigm shift in data and customer relationship management.

Keith Teare in Techcrunch sees the same changes coming, and visits them at length in Unnatural Acts and the Rise of Mobile. Here’s a compressed version of his post:

There is a new law emerging in cyberspace. As desktop traffic growth declines, and mobile adoption explodes, predatory marketers need to monetize mobile traffic or die trying.

As this law takes hold, bad behavior is replacing smart long-term product thinking. The result is an explosion of unnatural acts of engagement. Facebook allows users to escape its filters (designed to give a good experience) by paying to force their Facebook posts in front of their friends — $7 a time and you’re golden. Twitter sends constant reminders about “what you missed” on its service. Google Plus has notification defaults set to a level that results in constant stream of inane emails.

Users are the net losers in this festival of lowering the bar when it comes to how badly behaved a marketer is permitted to be in order to drive use…

The possibility exists in 2013 that the absolute revenues of the major players will decline as desktop revenues suffer and mobile revenues fail to make up the difference, even as they grow dramatically. This nightmare scenario is key to understanding what is driving bad behavior by marketers and product leaders. Bradley Horowitz recently made some pretty good jokes about Facebook’s bad behavior, but Google is not immune from this disease…

The need to monetize mobile traffic will dominate Google, Facebook, Twitter and others in 2013. And the pressure is to do it quickly due to the collapse in the growth of desktop-based traffic. Successful CMOs will avoid the pitfalls of driving unnatural acts of engagement and focus on user-benefits derived from monetization strategies…

I have lost count of how many ads offering me products that I have already purchased have flown past me on various sites and devices recently. Even the ad stream is becoming polluted. Targeting efforts are at the bottom of this trend. But from a user point of view targeting is poor and therefore irritating. The recent attempt by Facebook to alter the Instagram terms and conditions, and privacy policy, was a mistake, and acknowledged, but nonetheless it was driven by these desperate efforts…

currently all roads point to several varied attempts to re-portalize; that is to say, to own your own traffic and seek to monetize it. This is the old Yahoo view of the world and it clearly represents a limited mindset that will not scale to the huge mobile opportunity. For Twitter in particular, which has a large global opportunity as a platform, this trend represents a shrinking of its real opportunity…

Advertising is so far disappointing both in terms of its scale and its growth trajectory, as well as the value of a CPM. This disappointment forces mobile marketers to either innovate in the meaning of advertising on mobile or to systematically force feed both a large volume of ads, as well as attempt to target those ads in such a way that higher CPMs can be achieved. Everybody becoming an advertiser and paying for one’s attention is one way we see this. Limiting the distribution of a post, and then incenting payment for the post to be seen, is the ultimate in bad behavior. It won’t work out well…

Intimacy and long-term relationships are a forgotten goal.

The essence of good behavior is to start by helping the user achieve a goal. The essence of a mobile device is that it is intimate… The short-term revenue win from displaying an ad is offset by the long-term relationship damage done between the user and the publisher showing the ad. The sense of being a “target” rather than a person is a growing experience, as our sensibilities are increasingly offended…

The net impact of desperation-driven bad behavior is that users become cynical of publishers they formerly embraced. Privacy invasions, behavior changes by apps, and other experiences lead to the assumption that we, the users, are nothing more than ad fodder. The sad thing here is that users want their favorite publishers to make money, so that they can fund the app or service in question. But the crude methods of monetization are leading to alienation, not love…

The real nightmare for the industry here is that advertisers also become cynical. Upsetting users is not high on the list of advertisers’ goals. As users react, advertisers will run in the opposite direction. The already slow growth of mobile advertising will slow even further and the already large gap between the hours spent on mobile and the advertising dollars focused on it will grow further. Nobody wants this, but everybody is fuelling it. It is time to take a deep breath and collectively think about how to have the opposite impact…

New apps and services can grow quickly by offering intimacy and control to users.

Intimacy is the currency on mobile. Intimacy is a great thing, of course. Users love the ability to engage with those they like, love, and admire, and even those they hate and detest, in a personal mobile space. Apps that feed or empower this intimacy have prospered. Apps that trample over it have suffered… Mobile is 100 percent intimate, and bad behavior – and I include targeting here – will fail to produce scalable revenues. Doc Searls, in his Vendor Realtionship Management thoughts, has captured much of this thinking. His book “The Intention Economy, When Customers Take Charge” is a must-read book for the class of 2013 CMOs…

I definitely long for an unpolluted stream that is 100 percent capable of telling me things I want to be told. I also would love a way to tell the advertisers which brands I love, whether it be my favorite airline, movie theater, restaurant, camera vendor or whatever. I would love a way to regulate or control how my favorite vendors interact with me. Throttling them when they send too much or the wrong stuff, killing their ability to reach me when they behave badly, embracing them when they serve me well. Mobile, as an intimate device, is a great area to place the controls needed to realize much of this. And it scales too. Every human being on the planet has intimate tastes and relationships they love. This is true for their relationships to people, brands, products, organizations, and other entities. Two billion smartphones by the end of 2013 and every entity on the planet makes for a very large opportunity to allow users to become the boss, and for brands to enter into adult relationships with the customers who love them. Mobile is the perfect platform for the dream of one-to-one marketing to finally exist.

Markets are dance floors. If marketers want to dance one-to-one with customers, they need to let customers take the lead at least half the time. Here’s what I say about that in a chapter of The Intention Economy titled “The Dance”:

Right now, most retail market categories are dance floors where every customer hears dozens, hundreds, or thousands of companies, each with a megaphone, calling out dance moves. What those companies need to do instead is put down the megaphone, and—in the manner of Trader Joe’s and Zappos—shop along with customers. Dance. Sure, lead sometimes, but follow, too.

Not easy. Throughout the industrial age, business on the whole has always taken the lead—or thought it had to. But for customers to take charge—which they will, at least half the time—they have to take the lead, too.

It helps that vendors and customers both bring qualities to the dance floor that the other does not, and that both need each other for the economy to work and for civilization to thrive. They don’t always need to love each other or even to know each other. But they do need to respect, understand, and learn from each other. They can’t do that to full effect if one side tries constantly to dominate the other.

One thing companies are free to do is please and delight customers with products and services that are truly worthwhile. The chances of doing that only go up if customers are both heard and engaged as equals, and not as slaves or suckling calves.

So if you, Mr. or Ms. CMO, want to dance with customers, start by taking a look at the VRM developments that are already underway, because they’re supplying the dance shoes customers are starting to wear. (In some cases, such as browser extensions for blocking ads and tracking, the shoes have cleats, and customers are putting them on to run away from you.)

If you, big data masters, want to truly understand customers, do two things: 1) Look in the mirror. There you’ll find a human being who will never be fully described by data of any size — least of all by data gained by unwelcome surveillance; and 2) Give people, especially customers, the data you have about them. Remember what happened to computing with PCs and communications with the Net: individuals could do far more with both than could any big companies — least of all ones that thought they could do it all with big centralized systems.

If you, investors (and investment-focused media such as Techcrunch), want to ride a true sea change rather than surf the next buzz wave, consider this: VRM is about equipping the entire buy side of the market with its own tools of engagement — tools that can signal true intention, good will and countless other forms of economic signaling. This was a promise from the start of personal computing, of the Net, and of mobile devices. Rather than looking at those things as ways to target, capture, drive, trap, own or lock in customers, look at them as ways for customers to reach out and engage you, in their own ways and on their own terms. Remember that customers are where the money that matters comes from. They’re also the ones in the best position to keep it mattering, by exercising genuine loyalty, rather than the kind coerced or enticed with gimmicks like loyalty cards, rewards and discounts.

And happy new year.

 

What if qualified leads were free?

In terms of economic signaling, think about which is worth more:

  1. A ready-to-sell-something message from an advertiser
  2. A ready-to-buy-something message from a customer

Of course it depends. A company can use an ad to signal many people at once, and to signal far more than a readiness to sell something. And now, with advanced analytics and Big Data, an ad can be personalized to a high degree: timed and targeted to reach a customer at exactly the right place and time. (Or that’s the idea, anyway.) Customers are also separate individuals. They may only be worth something to a company in aggregate. So we’re talking about lots of variables here.

But let’s look at a single vendor and a single customer for a moment, and say you’re the vendor. What would a ready-to-buy signal from a customer be worth to you? The answer today is called the qualified leads business. Search for that and you’ll get lots of results, most of which pitch you on paying for those leads.

But what if the leads were free, or close to that price? They are with intentcasting. (In Hunter becomes the prey, Scott Adams calls this “broadcast shopping.”) With intentcasting, customers advertise their wants and needs. For vendors, listening to the signals is free.

From the list of VRM development efforts on the ProjectVRM wiki, here’s the current list of intentcasting efforts:

AskForIt † – individual demand aggregation and advocacy
Body Shop Bids † – intentcasting for auto body work bids based on uploaded photos
Have to Have † – “A single destination to store and share everything you want online”
Intently † – Intentcasting “shouts” for services, in the U.K.
Innotribe Funding the Digital Asset Grid prototype, for secure and accountable Intentcasting infrastructure
OffersByMe † – intentcasting for local offers
Prizzm †- social CRM platform rewarding customers for telling businesses what they want, what they like, and what they have problems with
RedBeacon † – intentcasting locally for home services
Thumbtack † – service for finding trustworthy local service providers
Trovi intentcasting; matching searchers and vendors in Portland, OR and Chandler, AZ†
Übokia intentcasting†
Zaarly † intentcasting to community – local so far in SF and NYC

I’m sure it’s far from complete or up-to-date, but you can see some of what’s already going on. I guarantee that a lot more will be happening here in 2013 and beyond.

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