Reflections on class, 7-21-08

Mike Culver’s presentation about Amazon’s foray into web and Mechanical Turk services was an interesting look at Amazon’s diversification strategy. Neither is an obvious logical extension of Amazon’s core business, and both are good examples of lateral thinking on how to leverage brand assets. As Mike explained, web services arose from asking the question, “What have we learned from having to deploy all these servers, bandwidth and XML apps?” In that respect, Amazon is leveraging their intellectual capital. It’s more challenging to connect the dots from Amazon’s core business to Mechanical Turk. Was the question, “What’s another way we take advantage of all this traffic?” Or was it an inspiration that appeared from completely outside the box?

Mechanical Turk: the definitive Long Tail employment agency.
I registered to provide labor on Mechanical Turk today but haven’t been inspired to take advantage of any of the, um, opportunities, such as:

Provide links to RV park information for $0.01
Extract meeting data Information from websites for $0.08
Write a review of a car you’ve driven for $0.20

I did a rough calculation of the time it would take me to test drive enough cars to review at $0.20 each in order to earn what I would earn from one hour of writing a car commercial . If I drove and reviewed 3 cars per day (I’d have to do this part-time, of course), it would take me nearly six months. My inner net-economist says that this would not be a good career move. Extracting meeting data from websites for $0.08 may be the way to go.

Bless you, Malcolm Gladwell.
I do some consulting through another consultant who helps companies and non-profits sort out their branding and positioning. He conducts workshops with the client’s staff to identify key values, positioning statements, product benefits, customer propositions, prospective visual themes, brand identity colors, etc. He then tests these online through Survey Monkey with several hundred respondents who represent a demographic roughly approximating that of the client company’s target market. If, say, one visual theme scores a narrow victory over the visual theme #2, it is declared the winner and the one that should be deployed in creative executions, which is my department. Convincing him that a creative execution using theme #2 would be more effective for a particular application is always a struggle because “the research says that the audience responds better to #1.” I will now tie him to a chair and make him watch Gladwell on the wisdom of “perfect sauces” – plural. Thank you, Kathy.

Information should be free.
No it shouldn’t. Information should be reasonably priced, and reward the creator well enough to enable and encourage her to create more, and long enough after her death to get her kids through college and provide for her pets to be cared for in a Leona Helmsley Pet Hotel. But I had my say in class, so I’ll turn this one over to the student blogosphere.

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2 Responses to Reflections on class, 7-21-08

  1. kegill says:

    LOL! Love the closing.

    I’d not thought of Gladwell’s pitch in that context. But you’re right — there is rarely a “perfect” one thing, given the diversity of human wants/needs/desires.

    MTurk and the flattening of the world due to digital technologies really Really makes we think that the average US standard of living will continue to fall … and that cultural wars (creatives v labor) are going to be real and ugly. :-/

  2. Terry Short says:

    Agree – the threat of digital outsourcing is daunting and scratching at my gate — there are plenty of cookie-cut-and-paste ‘make you own ads’ site cropping up, but, of course, the end product is dreadful, and can’t possibly work as well as an ad dreamed up a team of ad agency prima donnas…..can it?

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