Tuesday, March 24

The credit crunch made simple

Wednesday, March 18

Motorcycle Diaries: Police Shades

I got stopped by a friendly Saigon 'bobby' (policeman) this week. Entirely my fault, as I passed the red light he pointed his baton at me and waved me over. When I pulled up, and as any self-respecting rider here would, I expected to be greeted with a substantial fine or worse lose my bike to the pound.

Instead, he said, in English, "I like your bike" :)
I babbled at him in London-speak which clearly baffled him.
Then he said, "I like your shirt".
And finally, "Your shades are nice".

At that point, I realised that my fine might not be financial. I didn't fancy walking to my meeting, less still wearing no clothes and no shades. So I quickly wished him a good day, shook his hand and fired up the bike.

Perhaps an omen... my new shades are made by Police.

Wednesday, March 11

The future is here. Can you keep up?

Tuesday, March 10

Paul Graham's two words to describe an Entrepreneur

A smart investor here just told me of Paul Graham's blog article where he sum's up the traits of a good entrepreneur in two words:
"If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I'd tape to the mirror. "Make something people want" is the destination, but "Be relentlessly resourceful" is how you get there."
Getting the essence of a product or business into a few simple words is the goal of so much advertising, investor pitches, hollywood movie pitches. If you can make it simple enough then the idea will probably travel and spread. Which gives you a cheaper way more effective way to market. But it's an incredibly hard thing to do. "If it absolutely has to be there on time", "the low-cost airline", "Honda: The power of dreams".

For Buzz we started with "It's only hot when you make it Buzz", now we're evolving that to "Save the cool web"... as we get closer and clearer to the value proposition and reason for our product.

Paul's business is investing in start-ups, and he's coined this simple phrase, which makes it easy to share his expertise with others. Anyone that works with him will check the next team behind the business plan that lands on their desk against these two words "relentlessly resourceful" - pass / fail.

Unfortunately, as a entrepreneur we can be so "relentless and resourceful" most of the time we can't look at ourselves and see what we need to be. So if you already have those traits, you're probably doing the right things.

Friday, March 6

WANTED: Digital Advertising Sector. How to fix the digital ad market in Vietnam

The digital ad market in Vietnam is in desperate need of fixing.

A growing digital content sector has an abundance of eyeballs everyday. There's good content (and bad), there's web 2.0, there's online gaming, there are communities, there's a little, little e-commerce...

But, I am afraid to say, the ad sector is still broken. And the longer it's broken, the longer everyone must wait for the digital $$s to come.

Here's some ideas on what WE (all of us) need to do to fix it.

1.) Adopt some standards. International IAB digital ad formats would be good. But failing that, Vietnamese own standards for ad sizes, file sizes, technologies. Anything really. Just some standard sizes.

Imagine trying to rescale a Pepsi ad across for 20 sites, each with different sizes, shapes and formats.

2.) Adopt a currency. UUs, PIs, CTRs, CPA, CPC... this may not make sense right now, but it is the currency of the web. So let's not fight it. Adopt it. Because it works, worldwide.

3.) Educate. Clients don't get it. Even the big global brands here really don't understand it. Because it's not their core competence. It's not their game, it's just another media. So WE must help them. Let's teach them its' (our) value. Let's give them some simple standards and a currency to judge us by. Then they'll say "hey, you mean I can reach more people than TV, with 20% of the budget? and do some fun creative stuff with it".

4.) Provide statistics. Who are our users, how many, what do they like. Advertisers cannot make decisions without this. Clients cannot understand your site without this. They simply don't have time to care about it. Make it easy.

5.) Stop fighting. As an industry we really better start working together. Ad networks, marketers, publishers - how can we speed up the education process (clients and agencies). I can't do it on my own. Nor can VCcorp, IDG, Tho Dia, Skydoor or anyone else with a single vested interest. We need a common voice, a common story. Because there are thousands outside of our geekytechnodigital world who really don't understand what we're telling them

6.) Accept. We need to accept that we don't have to reinvent the wheel. The digital ad industry here is truly behind other parts of the world, so lets catch up, and do it fast. I placed more ad dollars last year in the UK market for one client than the entire value of the Vietnam industry. That's not boasting, it's just saying...we need to develop more value out of the +20m people online here!

7.) Be positive. The money isn't there now. But it will be. Where eyeballs go, ad dollars follow, eventually. So let's be positive and drive it forwards. Chris Tran and the guy's at New Media (ad network - now part of AdMax) pushed very hard to make it happen. They did lots of great groundwork. Now it's our turn too.

Thanks for listening. I'd love to hear your views on how to fix this thing. If you feel strongly about it, please feel free to contact me, lets work on this together.

Tuesday, March 3

Motorcycle Diaries: Figure of 8

Recreating a little of Top Gear Vietnam I successfully passed the Vietnamese driving test a few days ago. Comedy! I had to ride a battered 70cc Super-cub in a figure of 8, then around some traffic cones. I decided to aim for speed to make it a little harder (perhaps my Essex roots showing there). Fortunately I passed, perhaps they were impressed with the Carl Fogarty lean into the bends, which is a relief given my Vespa/Honda collection.

Now to make the test more realistic and the roads safer I have a few suggestions:

- Have some school boys on bicycles riding head on at you
- A taxi reversing across the test centre whilst the drivers' chatting on his mobile
- And a wobbly courier with a fridge-freezer strapped to his Dream just in front of you

On the way back I pulled up at the traffic lights. An old man slowly rolled past me, through the red light, across a busy crossroad, whilst reading a copy of Tuoi Tre (newspaper). He didn't look up once. I bet he could do the test and recite the days headlines at the same time.
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination"
Albert Einstein