No, Twitter is not dead.

Happy Birds

Yesterday, The Atlantic proclaimed the death of twitter and ran a eulogy for the «beloved social publishing platform».  In the article, Adrienne LaFrance and Robinson Meyer try to find out when exactly twitter lost its cool and supposedly stopped being the great platform it once was.

The article is a well written piece, bringing back good old memories of some of the big milestones of twitter and its early, smart and enthusiastic users. But other than that, I don’t think it adds much value to the discussion of the current state of twitter. Why? Because LaFrance and Meyer base their declaration of death on only two observations:

  1. Twitter users are less active than they once were.
  2. The authors’ «audience-obsessed, curious, newsy» cluster of friends feels less passionate about twitter.

And that’s it. Just because the early adopters stopped spending every free minute tweeting, LaFrance and Meyer think the blue bird has entered twilight-zone:

Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform’s place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel.

Now I don’t know if AIM and twitter will share their page in the history books, but I’m sure that just taking a look at a very specific sample of users and the way they and their friends feel will not do justice to the communication phenomenon that is twitter. Actually, the authors’ assessment feels a bit too self-centered to me.

Take Ezra Klein as an example. LaFrance and Meyer use his case to prove how a once very active, engaged user turned into someone who rarely replies and just tweets his own company’s stories. I’m really not sure if we can blame twitter here, because also Klein has changed: from a blogger to a busy entrepreneur, running his own very high-profile news company Vox. This definitely has an impact on how often and how engaged you use twitter. His posts however still reach a large audience, multiplied by many retweets and favourites.

So, just because their twitter (or even their personal timeline) has changed doesn’t mean twitter is dead. Actually, I think quite the opposite is true. Here’s why I think twitter is still a unique and very well alive platform:

  1. It’s one of the very few platforms that is open by design. Your posts are public by default and it’s very easy to connect to anybody you want to connect with. And even if they don’t have an account or don’t actively want to participate, people can benefit from the fast and direct content users provide on twitter. Twitter in this sense is a n open, real-time media platform.
  2. Mom and dad are not on twitter. There was this quote on twitter that still resonates with me: It’s the people you wish you went to school with that you meet here. The character of the tool, the speed, the lingo, the way you need to find your own network to fully understand its power – all of these factors tend to draw a specific, curated, yet disperse audience to twitter. And it’s pretty safe to say your mom will not retweet you.

  3. Big organizations have only started to find out how to use twitter. From CNN quoting tweets in their coverage, public transport in Zurich providing updates about their network on twitter or telco providers helping their clients with 140 characters or less: a lot of big organizations are still experimenting with twitter, but steadily invest more resources into this channel as they implement a holistic approach to online community management and content marketing. Every week I’m able to spot a new account of a big player and most of them are done in a very smart and professional way. Here we can see ‘mainstream’ connecting to the curated audience thanks to the open architecture of twitter.

To wrap it up, I really don’t think twitter has already seen its best days. I think of it more as different genres of media for different audiences. Taste changes, and not everybody will love every genre out there. And just as you don’t need to be the most used mainstream media to be successful (or alive, for that matter), twitter doesn’t need to have the most monthly active users, the steepest growth and highest revenue per user to stay an awesome place we turn to for inspiration, help and discussions.


Update – May 1, 2014: Slate’s Will Oremus also weighs in on this debate with a similar point of view and thinks that Twitter Is Not Dying, but on the cusp of getting much bigger. Oremus argues that The Atlantic is judging twitter by the wrong metrics: Twitter is not a social media platform, but a media platform.

Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections tend to be reciprocal. Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal.

In this sense, twitter is more similar to YouTube than to Facebook and it’s biggest advantage is being a real-time news platform accessible to anyone. I couldn’t agree more.

Update – May 3, 2014: Wow, that went fast! Seems that Slate’s Will Oremus was spot on with his prediction that Twitter will become more like YouTube over time. Today, Vine launched their new look which comes down to a “Six-Second-YouTube“. This surely provides a better access to their high quality content and is a smart move.

Check it out:

New Vine Design

Update – May 5, 2014: NZZ also agrees that twitter is all but doomed and adds sums up the debate : Warum Twitter nicht tot ist (german)

Image at the top by Jim Wang, released under a Creative Commons license.

Google Attribution Event in Amsterdam #googleattribution

I have been invited to talk at Google’s Attribution Event yesterday in the new Amsterdam office. Oliver and his team did an amazing job in organizing an inspiring day and it was a very humbling experience to talk on the same stage as industry experts Ian Carrington (Performance Director North & Central Europe / Google), Gabriel Hughes (VP Web Analytics / Elsevier) and Bas Geenen (E-Commerce Manager / Sundio Group). Bas provided a very insightful look into how a group like Sundio tackles attribution in a very smart and thoughtful way and uses it to optimize marketing budgets across channels.

My talk focussed on some of the key issues that I value as important when we talk about attribution and try to be less wrong:

  • To be less wrong, we have to move away from the idea of an absolute truth in online marketing measurability. An important first step is to know the limits of the tools we use.
  • We then have to explore the world beyond the last click to learn more about how users interact with our channels
  • Mind the gravity of preconceived information: We see “absolute” numbers everywhere we look – in the AdWords interface, in Google Analytics, in MailChimp Reports, in the spreadsheets we share with our colleagues etc. Preconceived information has a very strong gravitational force and we need to constantly challenge ourselves to remember that this is not the absolute, technical truth.
  • Attribution also has an impact on your organization: To succeed with attribution means to also anticipate political risks associated with shifting the way you measure and report performance, in order to then leverage the insights of this new mindset. This holds especially true if your team’s compensation is linked to the last-click model.

Here’s my slide deck. I slightly edited it to include some of the content that I only talked about but wasn’t written on the slides.

Online Marketing Lecture 2013

Online Marketing Lecture

As in the previous year I have the pleasure to host the Online Marketing lecture at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research together with the talented Andreas Braendle.

Again, we’re fully booked and thrilled to dive into the topic of digital marketing together with 150 talented and motivated students. This year’s main focus is Inbound Marketing and we will explore how all the different channels play together – from Search Engine Marketing, to Analytics, Memes, and Social Media.

Continue reading

AdWords Unchained – My Talk at #OMK13

I had the honor to kick off the search-track at the first edition of the OMK conference in Berne this August. My talk explored new ideas to take AdWords to the next level and unlock its creative potential.

Initially, my plan was to name the talk “New Tricks for an Old Dog”. Now 13 years old, AdWords has definitely grown into a very specialized industry. Just in the US there are at least 25’000 paid search professionals according to their linkedin profiles. But it’s not only the number of people in this industry that has grown: demands on the client side and the complexity of the projects have been steadily increasing. At some point on this path, there’s a clear risk that we focus too much on direct performance goals and blind out a whole world beyond pure purchase intention keywords. What a waste of creative mojo!

This is why I think it’s time to unchain that potential and teach the good old AdWords-dog some new tricks. Will it need separate budget-buckets and will you need to convince clients from time to time? Yes. But you should also always feel free to test-run some crazy ideas under the radar and amaze your peers and clients out of the blue with cool stuff you believed in and worked on.

AdWords is an adventure, not just numbers and direct ROI. It rocks.

Feel free to go through my slides and leave your comment if you agree or disagree. Here are some of the examples I talked about:

  • The amazing Snickers-Typo-Campaign by AMV BBDO
  • Obama capitalizing on Romney’s “binders full of women”
  • Real-time marketing for upc cablecom with bad referees
  • Pizza and the need for targeting
  • Understanding your audience’s language
  • The need to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative

Thanks Olivier for organizing this great event and looking forward to 2014!

Sei smarter als der Dieb: Die mobile Herausforderung

Vor kurzem habe ich einen interessanten Artikel von Shane Atchison bei LinkedIn gelesen. Shane erklärt darin, was wir von einem Londoner Dieb des 19. Jahrhunderts lernen können: Das Geschäftsmodell von Fiddler Dick funktionierte bis im August 1844 wunderbar. Der Taschendieb nutze die Ablenkung der Passagiere in Bahnhöfen, um sie zu bestehlen und mit den abfahrbereiten Zügen schnell und unerkannt zu entkommen. Da sich Kommunikation nur so schnell wie die Eisenbahn bewegte, war er immer schneller weg als ihm jemand auf die Schliche kommen konnte. Doch in jenem August 1844 hatte sich etwas verändert: Eine disruptive Innovation zerstörte das lange erfolgreiche Modell. Ein aufmerksamer Polizist konnte das Signalement des Verdächtigen über eine neu installierte Telegrafenleitung an die nächste Station weiterleiten, wo Fiddler Dick verhaftet wurde.

Ihm wurde zum Verhängnis, dass er eine entscheidende Innovation übersah, die sein Geschäftsmodell grundlegend beeinflussen würde.

Und heute habe ich in der Zeitung folgendes gelesen:

Bei der Kantonspolizei Zürich sind während der Street Parade auffällig viele Handy-Diebstähle angezeigt worden. Einer der Geschädigten meldete am Samstagabend, er habe sein gestohlenes Handy auf dem Computer geortet. Hierdurch konnte die Polizei kurz nach 21 Uhr ein Fahrzeug auf der A53 bei Dürnten kontrollieren.  Über 40 Smartphones und Mobiltelefone kamen zum Vorschein, auch das des Geschädigten.

Grossartig: It’s history repeating! Durch eine Innovation in der Kommunikationskultur, die sich in der breiten Masse erfolgreich durchgesetzt hat, erfährt ein bis anhin erfolgreiches Modell eine Disruption.

Was kann man daraus lernen?

Erstens: Innovationen. Funktioniert ein Geschäft über längere Zeit erfolgreich, steigt das Risiko, dass man wichtige Neuerungen übersieht. Neugierde und konstante Innovation hingegen zahlen sich aus: Man muss nicht das Rad jede Woche neu erfinden, aber wissen, was in der eigenen Branche läuft und wo sich am Horizont etwas verändert. Dazu braucht es im Unternehmen auch geeignete Schnittstellen, die aus blossem Monitoring ein aktives Innovationsmanagement machen.

Zweitens: Mobile. Sowohl Dick Fiddler wie auch die Handy-Diebe der Streetparade wurden Opfer der sich verändernden Kommunikationstechnologie. Das Thema Mobilität ist dabei von zentraler Bedeutung und eine Herausforderung, die gerade im Online-Marketing auch 2013 noch nicht abschliessend beantwortet wurde.  Mobile ist nicht nur ein neuer Kanal für bestehende Inhalte, sondern revolutioniert gerade, wie wir das Internet nutzen und Informationen austauschen: Einfachere und günstigere Geräte führen zu mehr Nutzern, während ‘always on’ und GPS/Kamera als  Standardausrüstung neue Nutzungsmuster hervorbringen. Hier liegt noch immer ein grosses Potential und eine Kraft, die erst beginnt sich zu entfalten.

Und drittens: Security. Nur wenn ein Handy gut gesichert ist (PIN!), lassen sich Ortungsdienste nicht deaktivieren. Während die Ortung für iPhones schon lange bequem funktioniert, gilt dies neu auch für Android-Smartphones: Über den Android Device Manager lassen sie sich aus der ferne lokalisieren und notfalls löschen.

Wie sagt man so schön? Aus den Fehlern der anderen lernt der Weise. Guten Start in die Woche!

PS: Klar, das Gegenteil gibt es leider auch. Technisch sehr versierte Kriminelle, die mit hoher Innovationskraft und handwerklichem Geschick (die Maker-Kultur lässt grüssen) neue Geschäftsmodelle wie zB Skimming erfolgreich validieren und der Gesellschaft wie auch der Polizei voraus sind.

Update, 14. August 2013: Passend dazu auch der Artikel von Alex Wilhelm auf TechCrunch und warum Mobile der Tipping Point bzw. die grosse Herausforderung für bereits etwas etabliertere Firmen im Web-Umfeld ist (Yahoo, Yelp, Groupon – gilt aber auch für Google).

Update, 19. August 2013:  Auch die NZZ widmet sich der mobilen Herausforderung. Unter dem Titel «USA Inc.» macht mobil fasst sie die aktuelle Entwicklung zusammen, dass gerade viele IT-Konzerne (Microsoft, Dell, HP – und auch Apple) durch den Aufstieg mobiler Endgeräte in ihren Grundfesten erschüttert werden und dies selber erst zu realisieren beginnen.

Update, 6. September 2013: Das Buch Content Strategy for Mobile von Karen McGrane widmet sich ebenfalls diesem Thema und ist eine Lektüre, die sich lohnt.

Update, 12. September 2013: Auch für Werbetreibende ist das Thema Mobile eine grosse Herausforderung. Responsive ads können eine Antwort sein.

Update, 13. September 2013: Interessanter Post von Antonio Garcia über den Stellenwert der MoPub-Akquisition durch Twitter, die die beiden wichtigsten Trends der Werbebranche adressiert: consumer shift toward mobile usage, and the industry shift to programmatic buying.

Connected to MozCon Wifi

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Non-Working WiFi

MozCon hit Seattle this July. The leading online marketing conference was a blast, 3 days packed with inspiring talks about the future of digital marketing and great discussions with peers. Not only did I bring back two notebooks full of insights & thoughts, but also two main take aways:

  1. As the online marketing industry is getting more and more complex, the need for a strong brand and holistic view on (online) marketing is gaining in importance, big time.
  2. Not having a working WiFi at a conference is a blessing.

Topic #1 is something the whole industry will need to take care of – many meetings will be held, many clients need to be convinced, many blog posts will be written. So let’s focus on #2 for a minute.

As you took your seat in the conference hall and began to get ready for the first session, one thing immediately became obvious: There is a WiFi, but there is no bandwidth. Which means: You’re offline. Being a big issue for quite a few people in the audience, there’s no surprise it quickly became quite a meme. I, too, was at the very frontline those people complaining about the absence of a working WiFi on day one of MozCon (sorry Jen, Keri and Erica of the MozTeam…!☺). Because of course, you travel far and invest time and money to attend this converence, so you want to weigh in on twitter, share the highlights with your folks at home, get your 15secs of retweet-fame for being the fastest to tweet that smart quote of Avinash, live-blog the sessions, fave great comments by other attendees, check your work-email…

Wait – you want to do what?

Things easily get out of control when you put 1200 internet addicts in a room and force-feed them with fantastic content. This Vine shows what my twitter-timeline for #mozcon looked like:

See what I see? What once was a useful tool that added a meta-layer of comments to events turned into a nasty beast, spitting out new tweets by the second, including a competition about who’s the fastest live-tweeter of speaker-statements. Tracking conversations, spotting wise thoughts? Really difficult if not impossible.

I only realized this on day two when I re-gained access to the internet and happily immersed myself into it. And I didn’t really like it. I was a better listener on day 1, selectively taking notes in my own words instead of being wired to TweetDeck and faving my way through the session.

So, maybe it’s the age: Gone are my days of multitasking :) But it’s way more probable that being forced to offline-mode made me re-discover my love of analog thinking. Analog thinking? I made that up, but maybe in the future there’s a Wikipedia article that defines it as following:

  1. Be an active listener: It’s not only about sponging up as much as possible, but actively listening also to the more subtle tones of the presentation, hidden facts on slides (eg i love checking out other people’s bookmark bars on screenshots) and spotting when somebody is really committed on stage. Be sure not to miss that part!
  2. Be a selective note-taker: Don’t just grab those tweet-sized statements, but summarize ideas that stuck with you in your own words.
  3. Put into context: What does it mean for you? How will you put that wisdom into action, who will you need to talk to, what will you want to change in the following weeks? Why do you think you’re better of with the way you tackle the issue? Write down all these implications as well, as you might have a hard time figuring out why exactly you jot down that idea some weeks later.

Those steps might sound simple, but in a world where more and more platforms and gadgets compete for our attention, I found them to be quite powerful.

Thank you Moz for putting up such a strong conference and thanks Team Washington State Convention Center for the poor WiFi – you helped focusing on sessions worth listening.

Hello again, world.

The internet and me, we have quite a story: From publishing music-reviews on GeoCities, building (and selling) websites for local communities using FrontPage in early 2001 and then my first blog in 2003. I welcomed the early days of MovableType: Not having to hard-code a website but using something like a CMS was more than exciting. This is how old I am. Napster-old.

Over the past years I was quite busy and exclusively used twitter to let the world (or at least some parts of it) know what I’m up to. But some ideas need more space.

So, welcome to my new blog, friend. It runs in Very-MVP mode, but it’s a good place to share some thoughts from time to time.

To learn more about me, check out this page. Happy exploring!

Digital Conference

Digital Conference How-To

If it’s because you’re new to the industry or are looking for new inspiration, maybe you want benchmark your skills, meet old and new friends, or (hopefully) you’re aiming at learning new things and sharing your own insights and expertise: There are a lot of good reasons to attend one of our industry’s many events.

Here’s a little guide I wrote about how to get the most out of it:

How to attend an Online-Marketing Conference

AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

Enhanced Campaigns in AdWords

One campaign to rule them all: The roll out of the new enhanced campaigns for Google AdWords means Big G is serious about mobile. Mobile campaigns are no longer treated as a separate channels, but seen as an integral part of the core of AdWords campaigns.

So what is new? Not too much, actually. Most things have been possible before, but the new setting will make optimizing those campaigns easier in the future. And while some in our industry heavily complain about the “loss of transparency and control” and already glorify the old days of AdWords, I don’t share this pessimistic view. A lot of kids get angry if you take away some of their favourite toys – but good kids grow up, get better toys and don’t look back.

As I see it, Google’s move helps to future-proof the AdWords ecosystem and will hopefully finally convince marketers around the world to bring their mobile website up to speed. There is only one internet and the quality of how you access it’s content shouldn’t be defined by the device you use.

Rolling out Enhanced Campaigns certainly is a bold move, but one in the right direction.

Read the full post over at the Webrepublic Blog (in German).

Die beiden Kanäle Desktop und Mobile zu vereinen und gesamthaft zu betrachten, macht absolut Sinn. Es gibt ein Internet und alle Geräte greifen darauf zu. Die getrennte Steuerung ist eine Art Übergangserscheinung in einer Zeit, da noch nicht alle Inhalte auf allen Geräten optimal aufrufbar sind. Hier ein Zeichen zu setzen und die Konvergenz als Realität zu betrachten, wird einen Impuls senden, der sich für User und auch für Werbekunden hauptsächlich positiv auswirken wird. Steigende Klickpreise sind dabei keine unüberwindbare Hürde, sondern eine Herausforderung von vielen, die mit einer geschickten Kampagnen-Strategie und einem tiefen Verständnis der User und ihres Verhaltens in erfolgreiche AdWords-Kampagnen übersetzt werden müssen.

More about Enhanced Campaigns over at Think With Google.

NZZ Performance Marketing

NZZ-Article: «Vorteile und Grenzen des Performance-Marketings»

I was invited by the newspaper NZZ to contribute an article about the advantages and limits of performance marketing.

While the promise of “everything  is measurable” helped performance marketing channels such as Google AdWords to quickly earn their seat at the marketing budget table, we also have to understand that many things are still immeasurable.

In the text, I argue that despite being powered by intelligent algorithms, successful performance marketing strategies still need human brains to interpret and analyze  data. Understanding the limits of measurability will improve the way you look at performance marketing and lead to better results.

Excerpt from the article (in German):

Ziel des Performance-Marketings ist ein möglichst effizienter und effektiver Einsatz der Werbegelder. Richtig eingesetzt, führt es zu mehr Transparenz und höherer Messbarkeit der Werbeausgaben und zeigt, welche Werbeausgaben zu welchen Einnahmen führen. (…)

Auf den ersten Blick klingt das sehr einleuchtend und vielversprechend. Und tatsächlich zeichnet sich dank dem Erfolg des Performance-Marketings nicht zuletzt ein Paradigmenwechsel in der klassischen Werbung ab: Der Druck steigt, vermehrt auch in anderen Werbekanälen die Effektivität der eingesetzten Werbebudgets zu belegen.

Doch in der Praxis wird vermehrt festgestellt, dass eine die Kausalitäten zu sehr betonende Performance-Messung Zusammenhänge in der Werbewirkung verkürzen kann. Während eine solche Messung ein zentraler Aspekt in der Umsetzung und Optimierung von Kampagnen sein muss, gilt es zugleich technische Einschränkungen zu berücksichtigen.

Read the full article for free over at (german):
Der Traum vom hocheffizienten Werbefranken


A fresh take on Digital Marketing