Simon Julian


Thoughts, caffeine and other bits

A Great White Hope?

“Publishers Seize on iPhone as Great White Digital Hope for Print” says the headline on Advertising Age…

Okay, I’m ready to bite on that one, let’s have a read and see what we have to say on this somewhat overdone topic – I’ve read so many articles on the “Great White hope for print” (hi Kindle) now that another one can’t hurt!

“Several players, from ambitious software developers to arcane auditing bodies, are suddenly converging this spring to hasten the arrival of a long-awaited “iPod for print.” It might just be the iPhone.”

Er, iPod for Print? Seriously – what the hell does anyone need an iPod for print for? And what is it anyway? Ah okay, Apps, we’re talking apps here – I’m okay with that, there are a hell of a lot of good content-based apps out there for the iPhone – not the least of which is one that is mentioned in this article, Conde Nast’s app, which I’ve played with myself in the past and which is a great content app with some nice advertising integration.

Okay, I’m with you there, but once again as I read through this we start to fall into the same old tired business model that the big publisher’s have always fallen back on – “But many publishers would also like to turn iTunes into a virtual newsstand and subscription hub. It’s immensely popular, and people like buying things there. What better place to try to give paid circulation a foothold in digital?”

And here I reach my point.

Time and again big publishing has missed the point as far as the change in their audiences and their reading/listening/viewing habits and have missed opportunities to market products that really speak to those audiences. Conde Nast’s app works because it provides content in bite-sized chunks that fit the profile for the device and for the user-base…not because they decided to try to drop the entire magazine into a subscription model on the iPhone.

I’ve seen the Subscription model discussed time and again over the past ten years or so (a lot while I was at Lonely Planet, where there were many debates on the subject and where happily I was one of the people pushing the argument ‘against’). It has never worked and I just don’t feel that it ever will for lengthy, text-based content that sits better (surprise) in an offline context.


MSAC Institute website

Areeba has been working heavily with the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre’s Institute of Training over the past six weeks or so and we’ve created a new Brand for the Institute as well as a new website. The website is now live and we’re getting some really good response to both the new Brand and the new design.

Love it (I’m allowed to say that!)!

One number for life (which we now own by the way!)

Okay so the launch in what is now a very short time of the new  Google Voice service just another step in Google becoming the centre of your communications universe. The service allows users to keep a single number forevermore and maintain that number, diverting it to any other number that you may currently have, be that your mobile, work numbers, home phone, temporary numbers such as hotel phones and pretty much anything else you might think of.

Some of the features that have been touted here include:

  • Storing and recalling messages
  • Convert your messages to text
  • Make phone calls, conference calls etc
  • Different greetings for different address book contacts
  • Centralisation of all your contacts
  • Integrating web and phone

Which I’m sure you will agree is all pretty awesome.

That said, why do Google want to offer this type of service and what are they going to get out of it? Glad you asked. Data my friends, lots and lots of data on who you talk to, for how long, how your communications interrelate etc. For a business whose main focus is still ad revenues this all just helps to build a wonderfully detailed profile on you and allows Google to market to you that much more effectively.

None of that action for us in Australia as yet but I’m sure that it won’t be long!

If you want a bit more about it there’s an article by TechCrunch.

Industry Codes of Practice and some thoughts on that

Not long ago on mUmBRELLASimon van Wyk, MD of HotHouse (and an ex boss of mine from quite a while ago) wrote an excellent piece on the state of play of Australia’s interactive industry. The piece was thought-provoking, but the bit that provoked the most thought (and which Col and I discussed in some detail) was the idea of an Industry code of Practice. After a few conversations on this with Col and some discussions with other friends in the industry I had some other thoughts on this that I wanted to add.

Industry Code of Practice:

“I will always propose the least expensive, simplest solution to any problem”

Now while I understand this point of view I also think that our goal as consultants should be to propose options and educate our clients on the positives and negatives of each. It is VERY important to note that cheapest and simplest a lot of the time is not BEST. At Areeba we attempt to take a long-term view, something that I think is missed sometimes in the race for a solution to the problem at hand. Clients need options – they need to understand what they get and don’t get with each and they need to understand how each option is going to ensure that long-term they get the return on investment that they need

“I understand Google is the homepage and I will ensure everything I do is sensitive to this fact.”

I can only agree on this one – everything has to be built around a smart SEO strategy that takes into account the fact that many and potentially most of your users are going to find you via Google

“My job is to facilitate business. When I start talking brand dialogue it’s only because I can’t find a way to really add value.”

Okay, have to slightly disagree – our job is to facilitate value, and if discussions on Brand and Brand dialogue assist in that process then we’re happy to have them (as long as they are helping us get to where we think that we (and you) need to go. I hate to assume anything and generalist statements of this nature are assumption, not fact. Sometimes, surprise, surprise, the discussion on Brand dialogue might actually get you to where you need to be.

“My job is to help you with the interface between your company and the customer on the web. They are using the web for utility; my job is to find that utility wherever it may exist.”

I get scared when people use the word ‘utility’ without any discussion on aesthetics or design. I envision a wonderful world of Jacob Neilsen websites…

At the same time the kind of evil flash sites that you get out of ad agencies sometimes are not what I am talking about! Happy medium is what I mean and it is entirely possible to get utility, ease-of-use and aesthetics at the same time. I promise.

“We’ll be clear about the returns.”

You got that right!

“We have a chance to do things better to improve from our learnings.”

Back to my point on options and consulting – keeping a long term view and working towards that means being able to continually improve on what you provide to clients – sometimes the cheapest and simplest does not give you the ability to do that.

“The Internet has changed the world; let’s make sure we treat it with the respect it deserves.  It took us many years of TV to develop the technology to skip ads.  Let’s not clutter our communities and forums with useless messages that add no value. Consumers want to hear from companies who are relevant to their circumstance; let’s work with that.”

I can only agree :)

“Our job is not to sell our ideas to the client.  Our job is to sell the clients product to their customers.”

Col and I particularly talked about this one as I really feel that we as consultants are here to enable our clients, not to sell their products for them. They are there to sell their products, that’s what they’re good at. We’re here to arm them with whatever they need to get that done – our job is to understand their business goals and make sure that we provide the options (yep, those options again!).

All of the above said, Simon’s piece was great and is worth reading in its entirety (comments are all pretty good too!)

Original Article for you:

Guest post: Interactive agencies need to stop being advertising agencies
Simon van Wyk, MD of HotHouse, is over advertising agencies


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Simon Julian
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