Okay, I know it’s not that new, but the term is evolving from something that was used to refer to hybrid web applications into something that now refers to more theoretical combinations, i.e. how we perceive, think about and use communication channels and technology in new ways. In case you’re unfamiliar with the original definition, here it is, courtesy of wikipedia:

“A mashup is a website or Web 2.0 application that uses content from more than one source to create a completely new service.”

Tamera Kremer had an excellent post Friday about… how AOL missed the mash-up boat when a new Weird Al Yankovic video was leaked* to YouTube.

Basically, instead of strategically leveraging all the social networking hype that surrounded the leak, according to Al, AOL cancelled the world premiere of the video, putting it up with little or no fanfare a short time later.

Tamera said, “a good strategy would have been (and still could be) to mash it up. Engage the community. Give them something exclusive. Ask them to create something themselves. Initiate and take it in stride.”

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. The traditional “no longer exclusive = no longer valuable” stance taken by AOL is very out-of-touch indeed. They clearly understand neither the social networking environment nor Weird Al’s fans (and they are a different breed, for sure**). The cycle is now all about the long tail, where properties morph and take on lives of their own, thanks to the constant distribution, the “mash up”, wherein users take control of the content and make it into something new, and the proliferation of forums like blogs and social neworking sites, which have created a conversation space that often bests the major media channels in both reach and speed.

As Tamera said, what AOL needed was a good old mash up – they needed to know about the new channels, get past their fear, THINK about how they could use them, and dive right in. Instead? A giant missed opportunity to engage and a perception that they are living in the land that time forgot. Ouchy.

Anyway, didn’t get a chance to meet Tamera at the AIMS Canada event last week, but I would have liked to! I learned of her after listening to the podcast of the “Geek Dinner” at A Shel of my Former Self, and will be a regular reader of her fine blog, 3i. I suggest you do the same.

*Though I must say the post about this on Weird Al’s MySpace page seems a bit disingenious – and he raises a good point, how the hell did the video get leaked by “accident”? Publicity stunt? Maybe.

**Full disclosure: in 1996, I worked developing promotions for MuchMusic’s marketing department. I came up with a concept for a contest that we ran in support of Al’s Bad Hair Day album. The “cost” of entry was a photograph of you and your bad hair. We broadcast and posted the most ridiculous pix, with hilarious results (no pun intended). In contesting, any time you ask people to actually do more than write their name and address down, you dramatically cut down on your number of entries. We decided to take the chance with this one, knowing how rabid Weird Al’s fans were. In the end, we got hundreds of entries, all including photos, and it both taught us a lesson about committed fan bases and provided quite a bit of good programming – for free. (I’ve been at this engagement game a long, long time…)

1 Comment

  1. Hi Maggie,

    Thanks for the compliment on my post and I agree, I’m really starting to love the mash up term 🙂

    Not sure if I agree it was a publicity stunt, although I wouldn’t put it past them, just from the perspective of AOL refusing to post it at all and the negative press/ wom that’s generating for them. I think the leak could have been a stunt, but the rest just makes no sense to me outside of a panicked response by execs who aren’t used to the changing marketplace.

    Wish I had the chance to meet you at AIMS as well, I’m enjoying your blog! – hope to meet you the next time you’re in Toronto.


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