Does P&G need another community portal or a platform?

Procter & Gamble has launched a portal for pet lovers - According to NY Times:

...Web portal that looks something like a Yahoo or AOL for pet owners, with a bit of Facebook and MySpace thrown in.The site,, offers a full menu of information about dogs and cats, from the serious (how to diagnose your pet’s illnesses) to the silly (funny animal videos). There are links to shopping sites (like and articles about topics like what to do if visitors are allergic to your pet (hint: vacuum). Visitors are encouraged to set up social networking profiles in order to meet other pet owners.

While it's a great idea, it raises some questions in my mind. Frankly, I don't have all the answers but it can set a context for a discussion, I think:

  1. Can such portals aggregate "interested" customers and create sustained interest ?  Am not sure. There is a lot of content on the web for pet owners. I think marketers need to add context around the content rather than just content. I personally don't think there is a need for one more portal and consumers are not waiting for one, I presume.
  2. Is it still old world thinking? The TV era was about creating content and it helped aggregate audience. During the later years,there was proliferation of channels but it was still limited. The internet has opened-up a flurry of 'content creators' with micro audiences. So, it may just  be impossible to lead with content alone. The clutter in  new media is  lot more higher than traditional media. If TV soaps had a 13 or a 26 week interest, such content might have 13 days or 26 days interest?!! How do marketers keep the momentum going?
  3. How can P&G create a platform? Thinking laterally, Google creates APIs that can be plugged-in with other sites and hence it is a sort of glue where ever users go on the web. It's in the context of the user rather than the marketer. So, do marketers like P&G have to create CPIs, where  C stands for customers. If I was a pet owner, P&G builds a set of CPIs that can help pet owners get content the way they want.It pulls content from different creators. It's an equivalent of a  "TV remote" in the offline world. If I don't like the content, I switch it off and move to another. P&G's site needs have a lot such CPIs which consumers can use. It may be mobile reminders, email alerts, or a plug-in into my igoogle  which is an independent channel for pet owners, beauty, grooming etc. P&G has to create an open marketing platform for content developers to use its CPIs.

What do you think? To me this makes a lot of sense and seems far more relevant than creating one portal after another.


Accountable Mass Media

Well, don't these words - Accountable & Mass media present an irony of sorts to you? 

Yes, surely this has been the way things have been happening for last 3-4 decades. Mass marketing has never been accountable. It's never been addressable 'one household at a time' too. Either, it was not possible or it was too expensive to do it. Technology is surely breaking down these myths and introducing possibilities like never before. Take a look at how this happening or expected to unfold in the near future:

"Since May, Google has been selling ads on the 125 national satellite channels distributed by EchoStar Communications DISH Network. Cable networks routinely provide distributors with a few minutes each hour for local commercials; Google is responsible for a portion of EchoStar’s local time and creates an online auction market for it.

Google then analyzes the data from set-top boxes to determine exactly which ads were watched or skipped, with a second-by-second breakdown. With Nielsen’s help, Google will begin to take that information and overlay sampling-based ratings, adding a rich demographic layer to the raw numbers that EchoStar provides."

The reports from Google can pinpoint the moment when viewers most commonly changed the channel, potentially helping marketers shape the creative work on their commercials. For instance, if viewers are turning the channel after seven seconds, the agency might revisit the opening of the ad.

“We see a future in which, when you sit down in front of your television set, you will see ads that are more relevant for you,” said Mr. Steib of Google. “When we make advertisements more relevant to viewers, inventory becomes more valuable and the return on investment is much higher for advertisers.”

Marketing is content - Part II

Continuing with my thinking on this topic, NY Times has interesting article that further reinforces this thought:

Behind the shift is a fundamental change in Nike’s view of the role of advertising. No longer are ads primarily meant to grab a person’s attention while they’re trying to do something else — like reading an article. Nike executives say that much of the company’s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online communities and local sports competitions.

“We want to find a way to enhance the experience and services, rather than looking for a way to interrupt people from getting to where they want to go,” said Stefan Olander, global director for brand connections at Nike. “How can we provide a service that the consumer goes, ‘Wow, you really made this easier for me’?”

Traditionally, the “service” provided by advertising was cheaper media content for consumers. But the services of the future may be virtual workout coaches, map applications for cellphones, health advice and matchmaking services.

I think this kind of content fused with enriched data( on what customers use as a service, which will arise out this content) will drive the future of marketing.