Home » Archive » Hugh’s post: Death of the premium

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Hugh MacLeod writes often about marketing and what he’s called smart conversations.

I posted the following comment to Hugh’s riff on the market’s willingness to pay premiums:

“The smarter the market, the harder it is to charge a premium.” Right. One step further, the smarter the market, the harder to charge – anything.

The premise we work from as advisers or consultants is that our markets don’t know as much as we do. They are catching up; every day we work is a day closer to our end. We’re educating our predators.

We’re educating our predators if we aren’t adapting. And I keep thinking about evolution. One of my favourite evolution stories is the one about mono-cellular organisms that want a world they can’t have without cooperation with other, different mono-cellular organisms. So two or three get together and cooperate. Soon they agree to join up permanently. Multiply by a few million – tada – people. Next: business.

Right now it seems we’re at the “hey, let’s join up and be better together” stage. Business has moved from mono-corporate business models, to outsourcing, to today.

As the markets get smarter, maybe it’s time to go inside. Start up some symbiosis. The challenge then is how to get inside: diffusion, osmosis or active transport?

We’ve got millions of bloggers milling around saying they should be recognized; that they need to be inside. Chances are some already slipped through and the business model’s already evolved. What does it look like?


In many cases, I think corporate blogs will be internally grown. With technology companies like Sun and Microsoft this is already happening on a defacto basis. I can also see where the company blog is a p.r. vehicle. Or where it’s a brand-sponsored customer evangelist-type thing. There are many variations on this theme.


I was not clear in my question. I meant more of the advisers/consultants cum blogger rather than the evangelist. People like Hugh, Dave Pollard, and Evelyn Rodriguez. These folks are on the outside and like it that way. But they want to move the heart of business in a new direction.

I’m was asking if the model’s evolved while everyone else is eloquently standing around pointing out the flaws.

“As we create participatory advertising that engages consumers rather than interrupts them, the result will be consumers who spend more time with our clients’ brands and our ideas.” -Rosemarie Ryan of J. Walter Thompson

Some may say the Madison Ave giants are paying lip service to the future. I’m not so sure. People adapt. Especially, creative people with a lot on the line.

David, I agree with you and Rosemarie. This can be done by giants. And some giants will turn the corner. I’m wondering how many will do it alone.

Evolution is often mistaken for revolution. We convince ourselves we’re looking at something entirely new when it’s most often something old that made a recent change. It’s the catalyst of that change that interests me.

It’s easy to stand by and say the globe is warming, advertising is dead, or the public no longer votes – but turning the tide or riding the wave are entirely different.

How are giants adapting? Who’s leading the dance?

I think participatory communications and “participatory” advertising will lead, evenbtually, to advertising being “sold” to individual influencers / publishers (bloggers, for example) to distribute to micro-markets where they have influence, are seen as honest and authentic … ads will be inserted into individual blog posts … and will also serve as pointers to PR (public or private “resources”), such as in internal markets inside organizations. There will be negotiated divvying-up of ad revenue based on whose publishing the ads, who’s facilitating the distribbution and who’s consuming the ads.

Hey, this is interesting Jon. Micro-prises for micro-markets.

Every economist will say the transactions will be too high. The negotiating part would kill the value if the transaction happens in the regular ways.

Fluid transactions would be key.

Is anyone doing this yet Jon? Maybe we need an E-Bay for advert/blog trade?

I and a couple of colleagues are working on it, with a wee pieceof software that we’ve developed .. that we believe can be an an engine for this .. with the blogosphere as the initial platform. yes, you’re right .. the key is fluid transactions .. it’s a *chaordic* thing, kinda like VISA (ref. dee hock). We have an advisor who is a board member of the chaordic commons, etc.

Jon, it’s a bit like me walking up and saying I have a great idea for a book.

“Oh, yeah? What’ll it have in it?” you ask.

“Pages” I say.

Now, is telling you what’s on the pages going to melt the planet?

… us corporate types eh? ;)

I understand .. ;-) and then again I suppose you could piece together some of the first comment with the subsequent comment and begin to get a sense of the chapter headings ? I’d love to tell you more, and show you more, but that probably wouldn’t be super-smart of me right at this stage .. expectations that we might not be able to follow through upon, and all that … so ‘working on it” is about as transparent as I can get right now .. sorry I mentioned it.

Oh hey. Bit of a mix up here. The last comment by me is misplaced. Its meant to follow right after my riff about precision on another post.

For posterity I’ll leave it here – but I wouldn’t have been so cavalier about Quamna (?). I agree, it’s not in your best interest to share that stuff yet.

A guy you might want to include is Nova (upon whom we’ve commented before). I don’t know him well but two things are true. He understand ghost development. And he’s no slouch on the sifting side.