Thanks, America Online!

Don't get too excited because this isn't a snarky piece of commentary on the many brand and organizational makeovers AOL has undergone over the past 18 years.  That's been covered.  I just want to throw a quick nostalgic shout to the 56.6 kbps magic that started it all -- this Social Media business of ours.  

Do you remember when AOL OWNED the internet and chat room romance (A/S/L)?  I do!

I remember the world seeming to expand each time I heard that nasty fax dial-up sound clip the mini speakers of my family's Compaq Presario desktop computer. I remember the rush I felt when entering a chat room as the 23rd and final member.   I remember scanning endless lists of public chat room titles and then making up names of private chatrooms where I could huddle with a select few individuals.  Strangers, most of the time!  17/M/CT's!!  I remember this: y0 DuDe, waSsuPperZ?


Particularly special to me was America Online's gift of new music discovery through social connection.  I was one of those punks that used every text field of my profile to list bands.  My digital identity needed to scream "I care only about music."  Using the profile "search" function, I would enter two diverse artists, click return, and then scour the results of other members' profiles who shared similar taste.  I would scan their lists, and from them,  discover some of my favorite bands to this day -- At The Drive-In & Sunny Day Real Estate to name a few.  It was the OG recommendation engine.

There was magic in that proactive hunt for personalized experiences.  It was charged by a hunger for connection, discovery, and identification.

Recommendations, personalization, and customization are now part of every smart digital product.   The smarter the product, the more human it feels and behaves.  The industry, and the creativity flowing through it, seem to precede a 100% consumer run ecosystem in which useful digital products and people connecting to them will reign supreme.  

As a buzz term, SMO came and went.  However, there was something fundamentally compelling in its system.  Obvious, but still compelling.  Content should be ranked based on its relevance to collective social and cultural behavior.  That was the key engineering principle of the first iteration of Google's search engine -- interlinking pages.  

Soon, agile teams run by big thinkers will create such a breadth of delicious digital utility (all-screen compatible), that all the paid media in the world won't be able to grab true "share of voice."  Banners, text ads, and purchased YouTube spends will never win!  They will bow to a democratic evening out process in which functional and innovative services dominate every vertical.  

However, we know that companies will be busy for years to come investing in Content Ad buys (that's the new thing now -- just putting your shit on someone else's shit), MORE SEO, and banners.  All strains of the same trickery and deception.

In this gradual, sometimes painfully tedious, yet always surprising revolution, Mike and I knew we had to form our own agile team to service brands in a meaningful way.  We had to fight the right fight.

As nothing is the same about the way consumers consume and nothing is the same about the places and points at which they do their consuming, then doesn't it follow that nothing can be the same about how we (as brands and agency partners) service these audiences across said channels and platforms?   That's what KIMBA is about.  Come join us on the road to true value for consumers.  L8!