Tick Yes Blog

Tag - online content

When Content Bites Back

How does the content you collect reflect on you?
In the past week, two major online content scandals have hit the headlines. This is nothing new – every day there’s something, somewhere, getting someone into trouble – but it got us thinking about how massive ramifications can now come about from the content we carry around with us.
Naked ambition
The first story is a familiar one – celebrity has nude photos leaked online. Cue tut-tutting that she ‘asked for it’, that it was a publicity stunt and that she shouldn’t have taken the photos if she didn’t want them leaked…

The celebrity in question is Scarlett Johansson, and the photos are, as leaked pics go, pretty tame. There’s one of her (perfectly formed) rear end in the mirror, and another of one naked breast – not even both of them!
But no matter how racy (or not) the photos were, the issue at hand is that they were fished without her knowledge or consent from her mobile phone. The matter is now being investigated by the FBI, while thousands of eager fans scramble for the chance to see a little more of Scar-Jo online.
The riled Tenenbaum
The second story is about a university student who illegally downloaded 30 songs online. Joel Tenenbaum, who is studying for a doctorate in physics, has been fined US$675,000 (US$22,000 per song) after a case made against him by the Recording Institute of America Association, which represents labels such as Warner Brothers Records and Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

Mr Tenenbaum is appealing the verdict, which is clearly a scapegoat case aimed at discouraging others from this kind of peer-to-peer sharing. According to an article in SMH, his argument is that while it was illegal to download and share the music, the record labels are not eligible for financial compensation unless they can prove that his actions caused them a relative amount of harm, which he maintains they did not.
Both issues revolve around content getting people into hot water. But what is the answer? Should our considerations of taking nude photos of oneself be tempered by the inherent risks that a third party will leak them? Should record companies also acknowledge that their content is going to be shared online? Is this different to borrowing someone’s CD and burning it, or even further back, recording songs off the radio on your tape deck?
 
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Drop Code, Not Bombs: The Rise of Cyber Warfare

Created content in the form of open source codes is the world’s latest – and perhaps most dangerous – weapon…
Picture the most powerful soldier in the world. You’ve probably got an image of a tanned, well-muscled, crew-cut American, standing tall in his battle fatigues, with thick black lines under his eyes and a utility belt to rival Batman’s around his waist. Maybe he’s a US Navy SEAL, involved in a highly classified operation to take down a terrorist target.
Effective as this Rambo-like individual in your head may be, he’s not even close to being the most powerful soldier in the modern world. So let’s revise the image…

Instead of battle fatigues, put him in a ‘Family Guy’ T-shirt. Take away the black lines underneath his eyes and replace them with black-framed spectacles. Change his body type to skinny and replace that crew cut with a shaggy, mop-like ’do. While you’re at it, swap ‘tanned’ with ‘hasn’t seen the sun since the Star Trek Convention of 99’.
Now you’ve got a much more realistic picture of the kind of ‘soldier’ who can do the most damage – or good – in the new era of cyber warfare, because hackers – or cyber security consultants, depending on which side of the fence you’re on – are the new front line.
Iran’s nuclear facilities ‘attacked’
In 2010, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency who were reviewing surveillance footage from a Uranium Enrichment Facility in central Iran noticed an unusually high number of centrifuges being replaced by workers. According to Wired Magazine, the usual number of centrifuges replaced over a year in this kind of facility is around 800. The IAEA inspectors discovered that up to 2000 had been replaced in a few short months.
Eventually, it was revealed that the cause of the unusual activity was a complex computer worm known as Stuxnet. Thought to be the most sophisticated malware in the world, Stuxnet is a virus that infiltrates indiscriminately, but only activates when it comes into contact with Siemens Industrial software – the software used by, among others, Iran’s nuclear operations facilities.
ABC’s Hungry Beast created a fantastic video depicting the (r)evolution of the virus if you want to get up to speed:

So, just to recap: there’s a computer virus that is capable of taking down a nuclear power plant. No one knows who created it, although there are some strong leads (more on those shortly) and now Iran has invited hackers to join a cyber army and fiddle about with the open source code of the virus.
Oh, brother!
Is the US behind Stuxnet?
According to the UK Daily Telegraph, Tom Parker, a US-based security researcher who has spent months analysing the virus, believes two organisations are responsible for Stuxnet. Parker thinks a major power such as the US or UK would have to have been behind the design and development of Stuxnet due to its complexity ‘because they have both the scarce cyber expertise, and access to the tightly-regulated nuclear equipment necessary to test the virus’.
Parker also argues that the Iranian implementation actually sloppy and ‘rushed’, speculating that Israel could have been behind this ‘attack’. Indeed, a later Daily Telegraph article claims that a video celebrating the operational successes of the head of Israel’s Defence Forces at his retirement included responsibility for Stuxnet as a career highlight.
While the rumour mill may be spinning with speculation over who created Stuxnet, the more pressing issue is whether (if the US is responsible for its development) it has unwittingly (again) armed its enemy. The call from Iranian Brigadier General Gholam-reza Jalali (head of Iran’s Passive Resistance Organization) for ‘good intentioned, revolutionary’ hackers to join the cause and attack sites run by ‘Iran’s enemies’ shows just how dangerous an open-source-code virus such as Stuxnet can potentially be.
Either way, it seems the wars of the future will be fought online – through content.
 
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Crack Content

Making content addictive is the future of marketing
The latest furore over the sale of tobacco products and Big Tobacco’s $10 million ad campaign against the proposed plain-packaging legislation got us thinking about products that sell themselves.
Of course, cigarettes aren’t the best example, because they are physically addictive and therefore kind of… well… cheating. But previous government ‘attempts’ to curb smoking (first by banning advertising and then by introducing graphic images of cancerous tongues and the like to packaging) have highlighted the fact that people don’t buy cigarettes because of marketing, they buy cigarettes because of cigarettes.
This analogy works quite well when we talk about content marketing. Whatever content you’re producing, aim to create the kind that sells itself. The kind of content that attracts readers or viewers or buyers or listeners without (or in spite of) supporting marketing.
We see this kind of content-addiction happen frequently with TV shows. Breaking Bad is a case in point. This show about methamphetamine affects its viewers in much the same way as the drug affects users. While you may dabble in one or two episodes because everyone else is doing it and your friends keep telling you how amazing it is, before you know it you’re strung out on the couch, twitching and shaking and begging for even the smallest scraps of information before Season 4 finally airs in the States. Or so we’ve heard…

The rest of the marketing strategy around the show occurs as a response to the need for more discussion because of the content, not the other way around.
Seth Godin believes we should create content that adds value to a consumer’s experience. But who’s to say the content should be a means to an end, and not an end in itself? It is possible to create content that becomes more valuable in and of itself than the brand it was trying to promote.
Take the Huggies website, for example. What began as an exercise in marketing nappies has morphed into a content juggernaut all of its own. A brand community that, due to its wildly successful content, attracts business from other brands wanting to advertise products. Mums and mums-to-be flock to the website to discuss, learn and be entertained. In essence, the content has become the star attraction.
While engaging content is always a positive thing, it is addictive content – the kind that draws people back time and time again – that we should be attempting to create.
 
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Image Source: Wicked Zombies

 
 

The King is (Almost) Dead, Long Live the King

Advertising spend figures confirm that although print is on the verge of receiving the last rites, its successor – online content – is healthy and ready to rule…
You know the saying ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’? Well, there are a few nervous old-media executives desperately hoping that the recently released 2010-11 financial year advertising-spend stats are nothing but insidious lies.
According to the figures from research house SMI, as reported in ‘The Australian’, the $13 billion Australian advertising market is in decline, with newspapers (down 13.4 per cent) and magazines (down 17 per cent) being hit hardest.
Television and radio are also down (6.6 per cent and 4.9 per cent) respectively, while cinema advertising (which isn’t technically part of old media, but is an important indicator of where and how consumers are spending their entertainment dollars) has fallen by an alarming 26.7 per cent.
Online ad spends, meanwhile, have risen in the last financial year. Only by 5.2 per cent, but in the context of across-the-board falls in the other media sectors, that represents a remarkable result.
So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, for starters it seems that social media and online content is not only to blame for the decline in the quality of newspaper content, but for the demise of newspapers in printed format.
End of an era
Media analyst Roger Statton Colman has claimed that ‘the death of The SMH and The Age as profitable papers will occur this decade’, as readers and advertisers alike have been lost to online platforms over the last few years.
The question is whether such circulation and revenue declines can be reversed by transferring traditional publications to the online space. Print executives certainly believe mastheads and quality journalism has a future online. But with more and more people preferring to receive their news and information on a peer-to-peer rather than publication-to-people level, a large question mark hovers Sword of Damocles-style over that assumption.
What is unarguable is that online content is the future. It may be possible for past and present publishing models to stake a claim on that future, it may not. But every organisation in every industry needs to have a compelling online presence across a variety of platforms, including websites, social media and mobile content.

The advertisers already know that online is where the consumers are heading in their droves – that’s why they’re spending there.
It’s time for everyone else to realise that, too.
 
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Image Source: Digital Slides
Image Source: LetsGoMobile
 

Are Online Events the Future of Live Entertainment?

Online and mobile content is taking centre stage in the social media age
We’ve talked before about how online content is about more than just words. And now two new announcements have not only proved us right, but they’re also showing how online content is rapidly shaping up as the future of live entertainment.
Exhibit A is winter music festival Splendour in the Grass. This year’s event takes place in July, with an A-list line-up that includes Kanye West, Coldplay and Jane’s Addiction. But initial excitement quickly gave way to anger as punters discovered they would have to fork out $526.65 – each! – for the music-and-camping event. Add to that the cost of $7.50 drinks and you’ve got a three-day weekend that will put a bigger dent in your wallet than a four-day package deal to Fiji.
Not that Splendour is the only high-charger. These days, the big festivals all come at a hefty cost, with this year’s Byron Bay Bluesfest (which gets underway today) costing around the same amount.
Sure, the acts are getting bigger, the festivals are getting more popular and the planning that goes into them is a year-long job. But is the price tag ruining the bohemian festival experience by fostering an environment that only young professionals can afford?
How are students, formerly the largest demographic on the festival scene, ever to manage the cost of even one per year?

Social media content to the rescue
Heavyweight American festival Coachella has turned to social media for a solution, deciding to stream this year’s festival (which took place from 15-17 April) live via YouTube, complete with a real-time tweet-stream at the bottom of the screen.
It worked.
Although there wasn’t the smell of sweat, the unique live buzz remained pretty much undiluted through the immediacy of the Internet, with users expressing their excitement via social media. The hype created moved through the virtual space faster than the rumour of a Kate Moss sighting spreads through a physical festival crowd. Plus, it created an opportunity to engage with content that would otherwise have been missed.
With the cost and distance of some of the best gigs rendering them inaccessible to many, social media has stepped up to deliver content to the eager masses, and Coachella has set a global standard that is sure to catch on.

Online content gets royal approval
Ironically, whilst festivals are considered ‘hip’, the way forward has been shown by an institution that is variously described as ‘out of touch’, ‘an anachronism’ and ‘irrelevant in the 21st century: the royal family.
Which brings us, briefly, to Exhibit B: the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. The 29 April nuptials will be streamed live on YouTube, supported by a live multimedia blog. It’s all part of ‘the couple’s wishes to make the wedding as accessible as possible for as many people as want to participate’.
So if an inherently conservative institution weighed down by 1000 years of history can embrace the marketing potential of engaging online content, the signs are positive that the world is finally ready to embrace the future.
 
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Image: The Age

Why Good Content Has Never Been More Important

Google is waging war. At least that’s the impression the media are giving of Google’s announcement that the search giant has made a ‘pretty big algorithmic change’ to the way in which it ranks pages.

The new algorithm is a means by which Google aims to reduce the rankings of sites with low-quality or copied content that is keyword-rich but essentially useless. In a blog post, Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts (Google Fellow and Principle Engineer respectively) outlined the aim behind the change:

‘This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.’

While Google hasn’t stated anywhere that it is ‘waging war against content farms’ (as is the popular sensationalism of the update), it’s clear that it will change the way a lot of companies approach SEO. The algorithmic changes are as yet only in effect in the US at the moment but are set to be rolled out in other countries in the future. This means that now, more than ever, high-quality, relevant content trumps SEO trickery every time. Of course, SEO cannot (and should not) be ignored, but SEO alone will not suffice. As a social media marketing agency, we’ve been championing a shift to more holistic marketing solutions for some time, something that this new algorithm looks set to reward.
The rules of the game might change, but if brands and marketers insist on quality, integrated solutions, they’ll consistently come out on top. With the Oscars fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s helpful to view SEO and search engine marketing like the making of an Academy Award-winning film.
From time to time, Hollywood spews out a film that’s little more than a casting call of popular celebrities, deliberately designed to build hype, but ultimately not very good. The most recent example that springs to mind is Valentine’s Day, a shallow abomination that was almost universally panned by reviewers. In SEO terms, this is a content farm – filled with keywords but ultimately not of very much benefit to anyone.
Cast your mind now to The King’s Speech. Nominated for 12 Oscars and the winner of four, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor, it was a relatively low-budget film that was not only intelligently researched and executed, but brilliantly cast with quality actors, rather than a cattle call of the latest edition of People Magazine.
Insist on quality, not the latest gimmicks. In the democracy of the Internet, loyalty and respect coupled with innovative ideas will get you a lot further than trying to rort the system.
 
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Image: Alexis Kenne