Brian Alvey, Chief Scientist of Ceros, spoke at the iStrategy Conference in Miami recently on the subject of the Brand Publishing Revolution.
In his presentation, Alvey took the crowd through three major digital revolutions: the emergence of the web, the blogging explosion and the current emergence of brand publishing on a massive level.
Alvey has not only had a front row seat for these revolutions, he has been actively involved in all three revolutions.
“Before 1995 I worked at magazines doing technical work, writing and even as an art director,” Alvey told the attendees. “But after 1995, I was a webmaster! I built the first TV Guide web site. I helped build the first BusinessWeek web site. There was no turning back.”
The second revolution happened circa 2003. It was mass blogging.
“Do you know why the blogging revolution happened?” Alvey asked. “Two big forces came together. A perfect storm. First, software got really good. You didn’t have to know your way around a Unix server or program in Perl to build and update websites anymore. You just loaded up Blogger or Typepad into your browser, you put in your email address and you started writing.”
“The second reason that blogging took off was the recession. You had all these people, kids with journalism degrees who got their first big online job and then lost it in the dot com crash. They had a ton of free time and blogging was the perfect way to keep sharp while you’re looking for a job. If you can write 5 posts a day about gadgets or cars or movies, when web companies started hiring again you’d be first in line.”
As big as blogging was getting, Alvey saw a way to make blogging even more scalable. He knew there were people who would like to blog for a living, but felt there were still barriers.
“We listed out all these crazy things that bloggers were struggling to do which weren’t that one thing they were best at,” he said. “Ad sales, technology, design, legal, running servers, doing backups, contracts, marketing, accounting. Freaking accounting. Not even accounting bloggers should be doing their own accounting.”
So Alvey and his team built a platform that took care of all of those hassles: Weblogs, Inc.
“Working with Weblogs, all our bloggers had to do was just bring their passion for a topic, come tell great stories,” he explained. “We took care of all of the headaches.”
Turn the clocks ahead to 2013 and we find ourselves in the midst of a third major digital revolution: Brand publishing. Prior to the explosion in the field of Brand Publishing, Alvey had extensive experience building platforms and content management systems for traditional publishers. Among his work, the highly trafficked sites for TMZ and The Daily — where his team worked directly with News Corp. and Apple, and Steve Jobs himself had a personal hand in the design.
As brands realized that the digital world gave them a more direct path to their target audiences, they also realized they needed to have the same level of tools that the biggest media companies and publishers use.
“We saw that the forces of mobile and social were colliding,” he continued. “Consumers, individuals, your customers, are now in control of not only who sees content, but also where they see it. The Brand Publishing Revolution was coming.”
The Ceros team analyzed the components of digital publishing and came up with four key phases: creation, production, distribution and analysis. Publishers had built complex internal structures and processes to handle all four of these functions.
Brands looking to handle all four phases had to either build their own publishing platforms or look for outside help.
“When we looked at this space, we saw that most of the solutions focused exclusively on distribute and analyze,” Alvey said. “They really didn’t care where the content came from or how it worked. Just give them a PDF or something and they’ll get you into the App Store. It was pretty sad.”
Born to fill that void, Alvey explained to the crowd, was Ceros.
“We decided to build some kickass authoring tools, solving for that production step. Because when you produce in the same system where you distribute, and the system makes sure that everything you produce will work everywhere you distribute it, that eliminates the need for a lot of testing. It eliminates a lot of pain. It makes your lives way easier.”
“So just like back in the blogging revolution, we looked at the problems that a group of creative people were struggling with and we eliminated them. Brands should be spending their time creating great marketing pieces, great brand experiences, not sinking money and time into apps, and certainly not doing QA testing on all these different browsers and every new device. Ceros handles that. You just bring your passion, just come tell great stories.”
Members of team Ceros (London) enjoyed a fantastic night on the town, attending a dinner honoring the greatest British Lions (rugby) teams of all time. The Ceros team collaborated on an evening of great food, great drink and great memories.
Among the legendary players in attendance were the captains of the captains of the four British Lions teams that came home from the tour victoriously.
John Dawes OBE 1971
– the first-ever Lions to win in New Zealand
Willie John McBride MBE 1974
– “The Invincibles” unbeaten in South Africa
Finlay Calder OBE 1989
– won the series after losing the first Test to Australia
Martin Johnson CBE 1997
– stunned South Africa by winning the first two Tests to take the series
Adam Sangster was kind enough to provide this in-depth explanation of the subtle differences between American football and rugby.
“Rugby is like American football but real men playing with no girly pads!”
Adam Sangster with Martin Johnson
If there was one word to describe the company culture at Ceros, it would be “collaborative.”
Our products are collaborative
Our meetings are collaborative
Our presentations are collaborative
Today, the NYC Office took collaboration to a whole new level: collaborative lunch ordering.
“It may seem silly, but this actually saves time,” said CEO Simon Berg. “Usually, when you pass a sheet of paper around for orders, everyone starts asking ‘what are you ordering?’ and it takes bloody forever.”
Take a look below:
We are pleased to announce two new additions to the Ceros team! With the arrival of April, the New York City office welcomed Jon Gelberg and Renee Osgood.
Gelberg joins us in the position of Chief Content Strategist and will be looking after all aspects of communications, content creation and public relations. This also marks the first official hire in the Marketing department.
Jon has been working in the digital space since the late 90s, when he was the EVP at LuxuryFinder.com, the web’s first luxury retailer. Most recently, he was the Chief Content Officer at Blue Fountain Media.
Gelberg’s eclectic resume also includes stints as a lawyer, sportswriter, digital entrepreneur and publisher.
Osgood joins the Ceros team as a New Business Researcher, responsible for responding to all inbound leads, analyzing those leads and ascertaining which companies could be a fit. She will also take on an outbound prospecting role before moving into the role of account manager at the beginning of Q3.
Renee also arrives via Blue Fountain Media, where she worked as a Digital Strategist on premier accounts including Bloomberg, Intermedia Outdoors, and Procter & Gamble. In addition to crafting strategies for clients, she led the charge in growing the Strategy department from 2 members to 7 in less than two years.
Beyond her most recent experience, Renee’s professional experience also includes being a custom furniture and lighting designer and researcher for an executive level recruitment consultancy within the design space.
Osgood brings a diverse and valuable skills set to Ceros, as she is an advocate on how design, user experience, and content can be leveraged to drive commerce.
News Corp announced earlier today in a press release that they would be shutting down their premiere iPad news app, The Daily. What’s interesting about this move is that a substantial part of the current Ceros team worked closely on The Daily. Many of the things we learned while working on this publication have informed how we’ve built Ceros 5 as a platform to empower brand publishers to deliver consistent, narrative rich content experiences across multiple devices and browsers.
Christopher Mims from Quartz interviewed our Chief Scientist, Brian Alvey, about our experiences with The Daily and praised Ceros 5, saying “I can attest that the system is quite impressive, since Alvey gave me a demonstration of an early beta of it last year.”
The article also notes how Ceros retained the rights to the underlying code and intellectual property for everything we built while working with The Daily, allowing us to offer a more advanced tool in Ceros 5 than what we provided The Daily: “Whereas designers on The Daily had to specify page layouts, for example, by entering numbers into forms, the latest system is more like the what-you-see-is-what-you-get desktop-publishing software that magazine layout editors are used to. The difference is that there isn’t any software to install: it’s all carried out in a web browser.”
Make sure you read the entire article at Quartz and follow more of the conversation at both Techmeme (a great daily leaderboard of the top tech news) and Mediagazer (another great daily leader board of all the top media news).
Content marketing is essentially non-interruptive marketing. Interesting, relevant content (in pretty much any guise) forms the basis for engagement, with the brand message laced within or around it. It isn’t a new concept by any means, but perhaps the earliest and purest example of modern content marketing was pioneered by a lawyer-turned-musician named Oswald Nelson.
Oswald (Ozzie) Nelson conceived, wrote and performed in ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett,’ an American sitcom featuring the real-life Nelson family.
The show (and here’s the content marketing bit) didn’t just broadcast an initial sponsorship message as many such programs did, it laced the message throughout, making it an integral part of the show.
You might think this would be annoying, perhaps even the opposite of non-interruptive marketing. You might think the show wouldn’t stand a chance.
But, having first launched as a radio show in 1944, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett moved to TV with ABC in 1952 (with Ozzie having negotiated a 10 year deal whether the show continued or not – unprecedented at the time) and continued thereafter until 1966, 4 years more than the contracted period!
To this day the show is the longest running live-action sitcom in TV history. Is Ozzie Nelson the Father of modern content marketing? I reckon he’s surely a contender. Take a look at this fantastic Christmas episode from 1956. Can you spot the ‘subtle’ product message?
Article written by Dominic Duffy
Amid the furore over the bungled EU Cookie law there seems a real hysteria over ‘Online Privacy,’ with some effectively suggesting the term constitutes an oxymoron (a bit like ‘English summer’).
Take a few minutes to watch the below TED video featuring Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla…(article continues below the video)
Ostensibly, Kovacs’ points are alarming. But before we get all outraged about it, isn’t this what the Web was meant to be all about? Wasn’t it all about providing content relevant to the individual rather than generically to the entire online population? Without some form of identification associated to the individual, how is any Web mechanic supposed to provide relevance? You can’t have your online privacy cake and eat it.
I think the problem here is actually one of definition. Privacy is black-and-white. A lack of privacy implies an invasion, therefore a Bad Thing. However, if instead we talk about (and provide) transparency, then things change fundamentally.
If the language around this emotive issue was based upon providingtransparency as opposed to removing privacy, then I believe attitudes would change entirely
Article written by Dominic Duffy