About Kfir Pravda

Posts by Kfir Pravda:

iPad and the (Bleak) Future of Publishing

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eMediaVitals, website geared toward publishers going digital, and FIPP digital content partner,  invited me to write a column about digital media, platforms and business models.
The first article describes  why Jobs is not the knight in a shining armor for publishers, and why technology is not the answer to the challenges the industry is facing.
Would love to hear your thoughts.

You can find it here.

Digital Innovation – Better Left Unsaid

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Kickstarter
Image via Wikipedia

This is a post by a dear friend Kathryn Johns, describing her Kickstart funded project. Tons of innovative elements here.

This past friday my partners and I open a revolutionary, live theatrical event. Better Left Unsaid TV is the first of its kind, interactive live streamed video/play. Staged in New York City, Better Left Unsaid will be shot with multiple cameras, mixed in real time via a NewTek Tricaster XD850 and streamed live to a global audience. We are not an established company, we are not famous or powerful or rich or connected. We are however, living in the Age of Yes.

For an independent artist, this is an unprecedented time in terms of an individuals ability to green light their own creative projects, and to have their work seen, not by the hundreds but by the hundreds of thousands.

There are two factors that have changed the scope of what an independent artist can create. The first is the ever growing accessibility of technology that allow us to shoot, edit and distribute our own work for a minimum of cost. The other is the unlimited community that we can foster to support our work. Gone are the days of postcards and prayers‚ this is the era of Twitter and Facebook.

One of social media’s greatest gifts is its ability to introduce us to people and events that we would never before have encountered. More

What Makes Quora Such an Amazing Product

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Steve Case, founder of AOL at Kinnernet in Isr...
Image via Wikipedia

The recently launched Quora grabbed my attention as soon as I started using it. I find myself spending more and more time on this question and answers site and it seems that I am not alone.

What makes it so awesome?
1. Authority – I am still amazed with the depth of the answers on the site. Let me give you an example – a question was asked about  the causes  failure of AOL Time Warner merger. While on Facebook and Twitter such a question would be answered by many, but not the most knowledgeable, on Quora, Steve Case (AOL chief at the time) himself gave his point of view on the matter. When a person asked how did Amazon decide to enter the cloud computing market, Amazon’s CTO answered him directly. What else could you ask for? In a sense, the fact that content is edited and removed if not informative enough, makes this platform so great.
2. Content discovery – Quora is all about topics and people. You can follow a topic or person over time and continuously learn more. This is just awesome. I follow the topics I am interested in, and people I value their opinion and knowledge.
3. Ease of use – first time you use it, you already know how to find relevant questions, as well as post your own.
4. Diversity – whenever I login, I find a question about SEO techniques, followed by a philosophical question about the meaning of life. As a guy who loves to read random Wikipedia articles, this site is a great way to learn about topics in the world around us that normally we don’t stop to think about. This thread is a great example.

I love Quora – it’s a key part of my online toolbox. If you didn’t try it yet – I highly recommend you do.

What Could Marketers Learn from Little Red Riding Hood

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As a digital agency (with at least one frustrated film maker on the team) we are big believers in stories.
Often we are asked by our customers why should they actually tell stories. If they have good product and strong brand who cares abut the rest. Well, I wish things were so simple. With Facebook, twitter, and consumers’ complete control on the content they consume, brands are facing a new challenge – getting the attention of their audience. This can be done by giving outrageously expensive perks in competitions and such. But that is a short term solution, that can be easily copied. Other brands can have the same, if not more money than you have and give bigger prizes. Furthermore, the value of such activities happens only when the competition is taking place. When it ends, people quickly forget the brand.
We believe that stories are the key for long term digital initiatives that capture the imagination and excitement of the people around us.
You see, good stories are infectious. Good stories are remembered for years. Stories were here before us and will stay after we are gone.
We have tons of data to support it. Simply put – look around you. How many of the people around you remember the story of red riding hood? And how many remember one of the most creative campaigns worldwide – the ARG around “Dark Knight” premiere?
So what’s your story?

Email Marketing + Social Web = Bliss

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Take a look at this diagram:

North American marketers see major improvements when integrating email marketing and social media efforts. This is another proof that the power of digital marketing lies in channel integration, and not in short term campaigns. As social web marketing requires an ongoing nurturing of branded online assets (brand’s Facebook page, Twitter account, on so on), the biggest advantages are for those who combine different channels to utilize these assets.
This information also sheds light on the expected announcement of Facebook Mail today. My friend Yaniv Golan have some interesting thoughts about this move.

In a world were marketing ROI becomes critical for brands success, the combination of strong branding tools with direct marketing tools provide major advantages to the ones who use them well.

Exploring the Future of Video Communication

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Next week, as part of IMTC’s Annual Meeting,  I am moderating a panel with the leaders of Telepresence and video communication market worldwide, including Cisco, Avaya, LifeSize Communication, Polycom, Radvision and more. Also, we will host standards organizations that lead the way in making video communication ubiquitous – IMTC (event hosts), UCIF and SIP Forum.
You can join the event via phone and video conferencing – all the details here. The event takes place on Wednesday, November 3, from 10:00 – 13:00 PST (Pacific).
If the future of video communication important for you – join us.

World wonders at Cisco Borderless Challenge

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Here at Pravda Media we love online or “Virtual” events, we produced two of those with the Israeli iPhone launch and the IMTC 2025 conference.
Virtual presence is a popular digital trend that became even more popular due to the latest financial crisis and high flight costs – It shows great ROI if done properly and it helps achving thought leadership status.

Cisco is a Major player in that regard, practicing what they preach – They do multiple virtual events productions, powered by their Telepresence systems.
On October 5th Cisco will launch new solutions in the “Borderless Network” and Data Center/Virtualization fields, in a special virtual event and a very special challenge – The Cisco 3D Borderless challenge will start with a 3D movie, and than an online challenge in which two winners can win a vacation to amazing places such as the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

Be sure to register in time in order to get the 3D Glasses, Good luck!

In a search for the NEW big idea

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The Room for Big Ideas is closed for installation.
Image by John Kannenberg via Flickr

In a time and age where I can chose whether to listen to a brand or to read my friend’s status update – how can a brand get my attention?
In my opinion it is all about big ideas

Isn’t the big idea dead already?

Mark Earls believes that big ideas are dead, over used, and that we should focus on small tests and campaigns. However I am talking about differnt kind of big ideas. I am not talking about a short lived one time gig. I am talking about deeply rooted concept at the heart of the brand, that affects its dealing wiht customers, the product they build, and  the way they treat their customers.

What is a big idea?

Big ideas are concepts that beyond a product or one’s daily life, that are more important than price or features. Big ideas are ones who change the way we look at life and society. Big ideas are ones that are powerful enough to make the man on the street listen to your message. A big idea is that one story that brings value to people – not only consumers.

In some cases brands are not openly stating their big idea. In some cases they don’t even realize their big idea until the community, their users, tell them it exists.

Let’s take Twitter for example. Twitter’s big idea is communication without boundaries. This idea fueled the Iranian uprise, which in turn personified this idea. As stated before, it was a false hope in my opinion. Still it was amazing to see the energy that this idea brought to the community.

Canon and HDSLR are  another example. Canon released their 5D Mark II DSLR camera with the ability to shoot HD videos. This quickly materialized to another big idea – everybody can be a filmaker – now in an affordable way.

What isn’t a big idea?

Well, the product itself. Features, without a wider context, are merely technical parameters. They don’t improve ones life. Price is not a big idea – again, unless it is in a wider context, such as in the case of HDSLR cameras.

Also, Fun is not a big idea. Fresh is not a big idea. these are just awesome keywords for a brief. “Like” competitions are definitely not a big idea. Hiring “buzzers” is many things, big idea is not one of them.

The Time is Now

Modern western society is in a unique situation. World War II ended with the good guys wining. Communism lost the battle. Most of the western world is democratic, and relatively liberal from an economic point of view. Governments are losing their position as setters of big ideas. Yes, Obama most used word was change. But at the end of the day, nations are creating less and less big ideas that affect lives.

But people are still looking for bigger than life concepts and experiences. They want to feel that they are a part of something, something bigger than day to day life. They want to be excited!

Someone will fill the void. Brands and companies are the best candidates for that. They have the incentive and money to do it.

So what’s your big idea?


Does Like Make Us Stupid?

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like
Image by debaird™ via Flickr

In a world of likes, what is the value of engagement?
Facebook made “like” easy. Just a click. No comments, no attachment, no real interaction. Just a click.
So why do we constantly value our campaigns and social activities by this low effort measurement?
It might be that we don’t have enough tools to really understand the value and quality of our social web marketing activities.
But it might be because it is easier to count likes and fans than get to the bottom of these new tools and platforms.
And maybe it’s because we are working too hard to be cool and “social” and “new” that we forget that social marketing is at the end of the day a part of digital marketing – which in turn suppose to provide clear business value.
Engagement doesn’t matter if it doesn’t grow the business. Likes are useless if they don’t help the company to grow by either lowering costs, increasing revenues, or increasing customer satisfaction.
Digital marketers have a huge responsibility – we are ahead of the curve for most of our clients. We should always remember that at the end of the day we need to justify our retainer and project fees, with proper increase in revenues – or achievement of a clear business goal.

So, what’s the business value of Like?

Humus Manifesto and Shakshuka Reality

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Shakshuka
Image by STML via Flickr

Michael Eisenberg, an Israeli VC, wrote two thought provoking posts about the way the government  invest properly in Israeli High Tech. From Microsoft and .Net monopoly through iPad banning, to poor distribution of CSO funds, our government neglects the important aspects of maintaining Israel’s technological leadership.
Though not a VC, I’ve worked in several industries, from mobile to internet to media, and I meet a lot of startups in different stages. And I think that though Michael is right in his claims, there is another angle to this story – the core competencies of the Israeli industry is not as important as in the past.

Origins of Israeli High Tech
Israel’s High Tech originated, broadly speaking, from 4 sources:
1. Technological army units such as 8200, Air force and Mamram
2. Universities such as Technion
3. Russian immigration
4. ECI/Comverse RAD group and other major companies, whose employees who jumped ship and opened their own startups.

The strong points of these sources were electrical engineering and telecom oriented know how.

The Best Beta Site
Israel has one of the highest mobile and broadband penetration rates. Therefore, a mobile startup could easily sign a deal with a local mobile operator and make it a beta site. The local mobile industry was at the same level as  European mobile markets, so Israeli companies could launch products in that huge market relatively easily, as it was close to what they had locally. I was a part of such process when working with Flash Networks. First we sold our product to Orange, and then to T-Mobile. We knew what was needed in order to build and deploy a product in such an environment.

Media and Internet are Winning. Pipes are losing.
However, the market changed. World wide innovation lies more and more in internet companies. Hulu is more innovative then Motorola. Google is more innovative (and profitable) then Nokia. Mobile operators are not as important in the value chain as they were before. And Apple is changing the game again and again with innovative hardware and software.

Failure in  Growing the Business
Most Israeli companies are just not big enough, or maybe not with the right culture and financial resources to win over the mobile and telecom market and create the next Nokia or even next iPhone. The last guys who tried it failed and closed shop, not to mention their founder’s financial trouble. Yes, I am talking about Else Mobile and Eli Reifman‘s troubles. So in that area we are basically, well, screwed.

No Longer a Beta Site
So let’s look at the Israeli internet industry. Unlike the mobile market, there is a huge difference between local internet industry to international or American one. While video is growing drastically in the US, and major media companies experimenting with new business models, our market is just too small, too centralized, to make companies feel their bread and butter is at risk. With 3-4 major media players (Hot, Yes, Reshet, Keshet), and two major portals (Walla, Ynet) no one has the incentive to innovate. They are making enough money as is, and digital cents are not even on their map, as no one buys content here.
We don’t have an Israeli iTunes. We don’t have an Israeli Hulu. We don’t have an Israeli Huffington Post. We don’t have an Israeli ereader market (Sorry E-vrit, not enough units sold yet). Come on, iPhone, one of the biggest media innovations, landed here less than a year ago.
Amazingly, there is a huge gap between Startup innovation and portals’ adoption of technology.
So the Israeli media and internet is like Shakshuka – some great cutting edge media technology (eggs) floating in a sea of not extremely innovative portals (tomato sauce).

Culture
With technology less of an issue and winning product is the focus in the online and media industry – culture and media consumption habits become the key for creating a winning company. And, we don’t have the visibility of neither. Cause our local market is so different.

Is This The End?
Is this the end of Israeli startup industry? No. There are several amazing content and media companies here in Israel such as Innovid, Outbrain and many more.
But we need to start think differently. It is not like 8200 will start to create cool video players so Israeli innovation won’t die. But it might be that in the future these units won’t be as important in Israeli High Tech as in the past.

Possible Solution
We need a simple plan – and do the so unIsraeli thing to do- actually follow it. We should encourage Hot, Yes and the major portals to invest in innovation. It might be through tax incentives or other ways, but we should give them a reason to do so, cause they don’t have one now.
We should create special incubators for media companies with international media veterans. I have couple of names in mind.
And we should take into consideration that the market is going to change to the worse for us. As Michael said, we are definitely not competitive in price. If the current situation will continue, we will lose our technological edge as well.

What’s Wrong with this  Post?
If you know me you know that I love well established facts. Unfortunately I don’t have the numbers to back the claims here. It is based on personal experience and being in the industry for 10 years.
Would love to hear your opinion.