I met the folks at Pandemic Labs a few weeks ago at a MITX event. Great small team–a technology-leveraged agency specializing in viral and social marketing. Their new site launched over the weekend and the viral dictionary caught my attention–I guess the science of viral distribution requires a new vocabulary.
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Cool to see another outfit explicitly specialising in viral. Most of the established new media agencies offer viral services, but their strengths are mostly in creative and production, less in seeding and tracking. Some of their trumpeted ‘success stories’ are about impressively sexy content, but they look the other way when asked about analytic seeding models and propagation metrics.
Let’s hope Pandemic (I like the word Labs in the name) are different. I hate to be unduly critical, but their ‘all new’ web site doesn’t help a more positive review.
First of all, it is in terrible low contrast (pun unintended). Written black-on-black (well, grey on black), reading it longer than 10 seconds is a torture on the eyes (and I have one of the best screens in the industry). Someone has misled them to believe that black is very ‘chic’ and very ‘new media’ (used to be a dot-com era uniform). It can be very stylish and elegant, indeed, but graphic design is about ergonomics, as well as fashion (I would say more about functionality than elegance).
Having struggled with the site readability, I failed to find anything of substance about the company, their methodologies, or even less – about any technology (their own or 3rd party) they use.
The ‘About us’ section says nothing… about.. the company or its team, filled instead with press coverage and links to the ‘Services’ section. The ‘Media Room’ section doesn’t replicate that press coverage but focuses on their own blogs, nicely decorated in DIY 1994-graphic-style and PDF-ed like valuable content for download…
Even the deep drill down to some Metrics stuff (slightly more serious than the rest) would fail to impress anyone who remotely considers himself a ‘scientist’. Where is ‘The Science of Viral’? From a company with ‘Labs’ in the name this looks too much like the communication from traditional marketing agencies, who speak about ‘big science’ but cloak it in mystery because there is little to show. I’m not saying this is the case with Pandemic – just the impression they create.
I tested their Viral Crack effort on my younger son (a very social-media-aware and ‘viral’ person of the right demographic they – wrongly – seem to target). He dismissed it as ‘lame’ and ‘un-funny’, and would not embarass himself among his ‘plugged-in’ peers by even mentioning such stuff. But this proves nothing – the Pareto effect works everywhere and I am sure there are enough subscribers who admire B-town and rant ecstatically about the links they receive.
While the very existence of Pandemic Labs is a notable and laudable fact, the (new?) web site does too little to convey their thought leadership and innovative capabilities.
Matthew – anyone – PROVE ME WRONG, please !
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