A Different Word for Everything

Today’s NYT story on P.R. in Silicon Valley caused a bit of a stir in the blogosphere, most notably with TechCrunch and Scoble. Both make good points, and while PR has changed with social media, it remains as predictably stratified as any other business based on relationships, access, and attention. Not much news there.

The kerfuffle surrounding this, however, isn’t really about P.R. It’s about segmentation. When discussing the rollout strategy for Wordnik, one of his portfolio companies, Roger McNamee is quoted as characterizing TechCunch et al. as cynical. Perhaps it was a poor choice of words (are you really going to coach Roger on diction?), but in the context of Wordnik, it is an interesting choice of words.

Wordnik is a big idea, but it’s not without nuance. It’s a real-time dictionary and concordance and if it’s successful, it will have some interesting and potentially sweeping implications- from how we acknowledge, learn, teach and use language, to the currency of language itself. It’s a social experiment, enabled by technology, but driven by an erudite notion- a notion that a lot of people, including the readers of the blogs referenced, may not find that compelling (and may find trivial, hence the suggestion of cynicism).

Segmentation and targeting pose a dilemma for both sides- we all tire of promotional spam and yet being overtly excluded from outreach sends a pronounced message of omission. Would that this commotion were so simple.

Saying you DON’T care about a handful of influential blogs that can have an impact on your business, and saying it on the front page of the business section of the New York Times, can yield only one outcome- coverage by the disparaged. There’s a word for that.

Much ado about…

Over the past few days the discussion around who "invented" video overlay ads has reached a new level of, well, intensity Videoegg greeted YouTube’s announcement with a gutsy positioning "welcoming YouTube" to the format, which provoked a response from Jeremy and the discussion devolved into this (you can see my comments here).

While Videoegg’s response to YouTube may have seemed a bit silly, it helped create a debate (admittedly with the help of someone looking to start a debate) in which Videoegg is mentioned in the same breath as YouTube and Brightcove.

The interesting thing here is not the debate over the overlay ad, but, given that there are an infinite number of potential formats for ad units in digital video, why anyone would focus on the format itself. The challenge for Internet video is to make new saleable ad units, and that requires participation from major stakeholders- consumers, agencies, and advertisers. The divide between the what is technically possible with Internet video and what is being bought by advertisers is vast- and the energy around something as seemingly simple as an overlay ad only highlights this gap.

Happy 4th

In the last few days, the poets have surfaced in an unexpected way in the blogosphere. Fred Wilson quotes Whitman, and Fake Steve (FSJ) riffs on Shelley.

If you live in the US, have a happy holiday.

If you don’t live in the US, imagine everyone you know in the US with a beer bottle in one (or both) hand(s) in reasonable proximity to a smoking grill. It might be a good time to send them an email assuming that if you don’t receive a reply within a few hours, you’ll conclude something that enriches you at their expense.