Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Chapter 17: Show Off Your Assets

Executive Summary:

Why is Google in such a hurry to digitize the world?

The more stuff Google digitizes, the more stuff you’ll be able to Google. And the more stuff you’re able to Google, the more ads Google can sell. For marketers, the more ads Google sells, the more marketing costs increase due to bid competition. And, the more costs increase, the more important it becomes to distribute your digital assets in places that don’t require paying for placement but can still drive revenue.

Google is busy digitizing books to “preserve them” for future generations. Marketers take heed. Digitize all your assets, even the less tangible or obvious ones like your brand iconography.

Microsoft is running a project called MyLifeBits in which it’s developing a memex – memory extender – by digitizing one person’s entire life from email to phone calls to photos to media consumed. Imagine the highly-targeted marketing opportunities within a memex.

The key is to think about what utility you can provide with your assets, not what objects you can create.

Sprint developed a plug-in on FoodNetwork.com for people to send recipe ingredients to their cell phones.

Intel sponsored “Centrino boots” in World of Warcraft to give gamers an edge.

McDonald’s has digitized its “mascot,” Ronald, and created a safe website for kids to play and learn.

Time Warner digitized its entire LIFE magazine photo archive and made it available after the print title was shuttered.

Northern Illinois University has students create YouTube videos to promote the interactive marketing program.

Take stock of your asset inventory and look for opportunities to extend them far beyond your website and/or retail location.

Select Quotes:

“Google lucked into the best business model in the history of business models.”

– Michael Lazerow, CEO, Buddy Media, @Lazerow

“Information now lives everywhere.”

– Gord Hotchkiss, President, Enquiro Search Solutions, @OutOfMyGord

Final Thought:

When it comes to leveraging your assets, shake what your momma gave you.

Updates:

May 20, 2011: Per the Boston Phoenix, Google has abandoned its “master-plan to archive the world’s newspapers.” Looks like publishers are on their own when it comes to digitizing their assets. Let’s hope that “All the news that’s fit to print” is also still fit to archive!

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  • Scott K

    So, the discussion of “memexes” was pretty intriguing…

    The idea that basically the digital ether could conceivably monitor all of your conversations – e-mail, Facebook, cell phone, face to face – and deliver relevant content and marketing in a “push” rather than “pull” manner seems extremely cool, and extremely useful to marketers. At least on some level, this is the future (hell, the PRESENT) of marketing.

    But it's also disturbing on a couple of levels, and I'm going to pull two widely disparate literary references – and anyone who knows either of them has a new friend. :)

    My favorite writer, the late David Foster Wallace, wrote an essay on the futility of TV criticism. He started out with an anecdote of hordes of people photographing an especially picturesque barn in New England. This barn is supposedly the most photographed barn in the world: quaint, in a beautiful setting… it had become a tourist attraction unto itself. But the observer made the point that no one actually SEES the barn! That take pictures of the barn not because they find it beautiful, but because they're SUPPOSED to photograph it.

    Wallace calls this “meta-watching”: we watch ourselves watch.

    The same applies to our choices in television viewing. We are conscious about what our choices say about us, so we don't actually watch what we enjoy – we choose what to watch based on what our social network tells us we should watch, and we manicure not just our TV viewing experience but our entire consumer experience based upon the resonant image (or self-image) it creates. We are conscious of ourselves as consumers – we are watching ourselves consume.

    Well, once we become aware of how the ether is going to serve us what we supposedly want, this is another level on which we will cease to have non-self-aware, honest dialogue – we will (consciously or subconsciously) begin to tailor the conversations that are being logged by memexes. It has happened on all other levels of the consumer experience, so it will surely happen here. And then we won't be talking to each other – we'll be talking to the “eye in the sky”. And slowly but surely, marketing will become as futile as TV criticism. Marketers won't be able to “see the barn”.

    But here is something that is potentially more troubling…

    There is a sci-fi serial (long out of print) by Evan Innes called “America 2040″. It was written in the '80s when the Cold War was still raging. In the story, with the world on the brink of war, the US, Russia and Brazil (?) each built “arks” to send a seed crop of their own people to new planets to start fresh.

    Anyway, the planet on which the Americans arrive is already populated in some areas by two different intelligent species – the very human Eepera, and the insect-like Whorsk.

    Anyway, the Eeperans live in technologically advanced enclaves, but the Americans can't figure out how they came up with any of this technology, as the Eepera are totally hedonistic and seem downright helpless to do almost anything for themselves. You see, their forefathers were SO advanced that they engineered an infrastructure that totally maintained itself, so the people that came to live there, within a couple of generations, lost the skills to do anything more complicated than flipping a light switch. A muscle you don't use will always atrophy.

    Well, what will happen to us as consumers when we no longer have to think about how to get what we want because it is simply served up to us on a plate?

    There are certain things we have chosen not to automate. The technology exists for cars to virtually drive themselves – and it would, in fact, be safer to have a computer controlling traffic. But we LIKE to drive. Similarly, we have chosen to allow TV to make its way onto our computers… but we do NOT want our computers encroaching on our TV's.

    I believe there is a level on which the human brain actually wants to do some things for itself, and there is a level at which people will actually reject virtually having our minds read. There's a place where we don't want other people – even Sergey Brin. :)

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