Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Next year (2009) and the following year (2010) are pretty much up for grabs and I wish we would stop trying to outdo one another with our doom and gloom predictions. The simple fact of the matter is that things are probably not going to be much better for awhile, but here are some other simple facts:
a. Online advertising is about accountability, which is a feather in our cap. (+)
b. The inauguration of a new President is always a positive effect. (+)
c. There are no large scale guarantees on advertising this year. (-)
d. The auto industry is screwed. (-)
e. We are already at least a year into the recession. (+)
f. Everything that has come before has no impact on what is happening now. (-)
If you want to see the economy pick up and our country get stronger then you need to be smart. We need to create jobs in alternative fuels and consumer confidence needs to increase again. Banks should become stable and Detroit should radically redo their landscape. Then, just maybe, things will start to get better. Until then, stop feeding the flames and do what you can do!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Their recent top 10 issue is a must read...
Check out the basics of the articles here
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
- Hal Borland, well known American author
First of all let me say thank you to each and every one of you that have been reading this little column every other week. It’s been a lot of fun pointing out the best and brightest of the new sites and services we uncover every month at Catalyst:SF and we appreciate your feedback and suggestions so please keep them coming!
As good old Hal says above, the end of the year is nothing but a continuance. It’s the opportunity to learn your lessons and make adjustments so that the coming year will benefit from that which you learned the year before. Try not to make the same mistakes twice and try to integrate the key knowledge from your previous successes, ensuring growth and maturity of the mind. This past year was a tumultuous ride, but 2009 has the scent of optimism to it and I for one am looking forward to it! As they say when a new day dawns, get ready for the light!
And with that, let’s put on our sunglasses and check out some of the best of the last two weeks!
Maybe 2009 will be the year you decide to get out and travel. The dollar is a little stronger and you’ve saved some money, so why not see the world? You might need to check out WAYN (http://www.wayn.com/). WAYN stands for “Where Are You Now” and is a social network and travelogue that allows you to keep track of your travels, get suggestions from other travelers and let everyone else know where you are! Lots of people do this through email and photo essays, but WAYN is an organized way to get your inner-Magellan on.
If you’re thinking of turning over a new leaf and doing the whole “new year’s resolution” thing, maybe you’ll decide this year you’ll read more? If so, check out BOOKCROSSING (http://www.bookcrossing.com/). I have always believed that the soul of a book should be shared outward into the world and these guys make it happen! Sign up and when you’re done reading your books, pass them along for others to read. BookCrossing keeps track of these books and helps them on their international journey for fulfillment! Plus you can interact with other book readers. Pretty cool!
Maybe the New Year will include a pledge to help save the environment? If so, check out PROQUO (http://www.proquo.com/). Pro Quo will help you stop the delivery of junk mail to your house. In doing so you save some paper and save the environment, at least that’s their goal. I signed up and am looking forward to less junk in my mail box. I hope they can stop that unsolicited “Soldier of Fortune Magazine” catalogue I keep getting. I only had to replace my night vision goggles once. I’m not interested anymore!
If the New Year finds you getting more involved with the Internet, then check out YOURMINIS (http://www.yourminis.com/). These guys help you find widgets and applications to put on your web pages. Widgets may be yesterday’s news, but the application space is still heating up!
Speaking of applications, check out APPALANCHE (http://www.adpinion.com/app/appalanche) and find out what iPhone apps are of interest to you! The interface is simple and easy. Almost too simple! I played with it and lost about 10 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back! Alas, at least I uncovered some more apps to use!
Speaking of iPhone Apps, here are some of my favorites this past week. SEARCHME finally launched their visual search app and it is well worth the weight. SNAPTELL launched theirs and it’s a really great way to learn more about books, dvd’s and etc. by snapping a picture of the cover. And don’t overlook the branded KODAK GALLERY app that lets you access your Kodak Gallery pages on your iPhone!
That’s it for this week and this year! Make sure to make your New Year’s resolutions for the industry! And have a happy holiday season!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
You'll thank me and the planet will thank you.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Consider the fire sales that could be taking place as these companies are running out of cash and their valuations are scaling back. All this will lead to a nice consolidation period, so keep your eyes and ears open. It should be fun to watch.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I guess this blog post is really about how much I love my wife, Gretchen. She is an amazing woman and definitely the person I waited my whole life to meet. She makes me laugh and she makes me smile and she fills my day with the pieces that were missing until I met her. Its been 2 years now and every day is better than the last. I try to let her know from time to time how much she means to me but I am positive I will never completely convey the strength of my feelings for her.
Anyways – that’s my post for today! Not too many people read this blog, but if you do then I hope you smile and I hope you have someone in your life (a wife or a child or a best friend) that makes you feel the same.
Thanks for reading – and thanks to my baby and my baby-to-be! J
Friday, December 5, 2008
I turned it off on my computer. Not interested at all. I had high hopes for it, but alas it was not to be.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I was tackling this question on a plane ride. The iPod has been a phenomenal product and dramatically changed the world accesses music. iTunes was part of that success, but nowadays everyone has an iPod and everyone uses iTunes (I believe it is the number 1 music retailer in the US now). For the last few years, the new iPods and the new iPhones were moments in the popular zeitgeist. As we sit in the doldrums of a recession it seems unlikely that a new version of either product will be snatched up by the masses. The most recent iPod release was less than exciting (the most interesting thing about the new nano’s is the ad campaign). At what point does the fad pass into the past?
It happened to the Walkman. It happened to the Hula Hoop. It even happened to those stupid day-glo undercarriages on the tricked out tuners! Everything new gets old unless its updated regulary, but how much update can the iPod have in the next 5 years? Does its popularity become its downfall or does Steve Jobs already have a team of geeky scientists hard at work on the next round of surprises?
I guess we’ll see sometime next year or the year after that!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
When the Interactive Advertising Bureau Internet Advertising Revenue Report came in for the second quarter of 2008, I took one quick look at the figures compiled by the PriceWaterhouseCoopers accounting firm and immediately said (first to myself, and then to anyone who cared to listen), "It's a normal recession trend: Above-the-line dollars are moving below-the-line."I was surprised to discover how few people trained in interactive advertising had any idea what I was talking about.I will explain, because it's a response to the increasingly prevalent and nonsensical fear that the online display ad market is collapsing. It's not -- in fact, it's growing. But to understand how and where and why, let me provide a short course on marketing practice.
The Purchase Funnel
Marketing needs are typically defined by an image called "the purchase funnel," a diagram of consumer decision-making identified with the automotive research firm Allison-Fisher International. In this inverted triangle, consumption choices begin with awareness, and gradually narrow toconsumer familiarity, consideration, preference, purchase, and ultimately loyalty.Different marketing disciplines long have been associated with different levels of this funnel. Awareness is generated by main-media advertising -- typically big blasts on television, billboards, and in magazines. Consideration might have more of a retail angle -- newspaper or radio advertising, say, announcing a product's availability for a limited period at a local store or dealership. Purchase often is motivated by a favorable price -- a consumer promotion featured in a newspaper's free-standing insert or in a direct-mailed catalogue -- or merely the fact that the product shows up, thanks to a trade-promotion deal between a manufacturer and a retailer, on an end-aisle display in a grocery store. Loyalty depends on the user experience, naturally, but consumer-relationship marketing (frequent flier and after-market service programs, for example) can play a significant role.The upper part of the funnel, the functions associated with measured media advertising aimed at fostering brand or product awareness and consideration, are typically referred to as "above the line," while the tasks that relate more directly to selling are termed "below the line." Wikipedia attributes the terminology to Procter & Gamble's methods for accounting for its marketing expenditures beginning in the 1950s, but the phrasing almost certainly derives from the way business expenses -- notably, deductions from adjusted gross income -- are conventionally dealt with in accounting.
Moving the Metal
It's an axiom of marketing that when the economy gets rough, marketers shift budgets from above the line programs to below the line -- that is, they trade off the longer-term effects of brand-building for the shorter-term need to move products off shelves. While such swapping pains publishers, ad agencies, and marketers' own advertising teams, the economics of a business often demand it.Consider the U.S. automotive industry, now in as tortured a position as it's ever been. Automakers don't sell cars to consumers: They sell cars to dealers, who in turn sell them to consumers. Dealers, just like consumers, have to finance those purchases; unlike consumers, though, they have to finance them in volume, a system known in the auto business as "floor planning." When consumers stop purchasing cars, dealers can quickly get upside-down on their own loans. They often have little choice but to demand help from Detroit, in the form of incentives and rebates and other "trading money," to move the metal now.I can't do any better in explaining the dealers' dilemma than the description I offered in my last book, Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign. Here's what auto retailers faced during the recession of 1991:Under the floor-planning system, every day a car sat at a dealership, it cost them money -- the interest they paid on the loans they took to buy the cars at wholesale. A car with a wholesale cost of $13,000 financed at two points above the late 1991 prime of 6.5 percent cost the dealer $1,105 a year, or slightly more than $3 a day. As a rule of thumb, dealers liked to keep a two months' supply of cars on the lot, and ordered them from the manufacturers accordingly. If a dealership accustomed to selling thirty cars a month saw sales suddenly drop to ten cars a month, its floor planning expenditures could rapidly rise from $180 per day to $300 or more per day. Needless to say, dealers deemed trading money necessary for their survival.To one degree or another, the challenges faced by automotive dealers during a recession are replicated across the economy. Computers, mobile phones, overnight delivery services, air travel, hotel rooms, alcoholic beverages, even hair care products and salad dressings, become harder to sell -- which means that marketers, under pressure from their distribution chain, feel compelled to try a harder-sell, even at the expense of longer-term brand-building that might otherwise help them maintain pricing at more desirable levels.So when I saw in October that interactive advertising revenues showed a four-point spike in the second quarter for search (which looks an awful lot like a below-the-line marketing function) and a one-point decline in pure display, I recognized the classic budget shift at work. For those who haven't seen it before, I can offer this admittedly slight comfort: "Welcome to the recession."
Prices Under Pressure
This isn't to say that display advertising prices aren't under non-recessionary pressure. They are. But here, too, there are common forces at work that, for better and for worse, predate interactive media, in some cases by a few millennia.The first and oldest is the simplest: supply and demand. Taking away all possible qualifiers ("premium," "non-premium," "quality," "branded," "network," etc.) there is a theoretically limitless amount of advertising inventory available on the Internet. After all, you or I, if we want, can start a global video network, "magazine," or "newspaper" with the applications that come built into the average laptop and the free or nearly free services available on the Web. Should we get lucky and sell out our ads, we can always add a few billion more impressions quickly and cheaply -- just buy another hard drive (you can get a terabyte for $150 at retail)!And the fact is, this ain't theory: Analyst William Morrison of ThinkEquity Partners estimates that just under 1 percent of Web sites globally -- 1.2 million of 160 million sites -- sell advertising, on their own or through networks. That's a lot bigger number than the three broadcast television networks I grew up with.While supply is exploding, demand -- again, viewed in the aggregate, without qualifiers -- is pretty stable. Since the United States emerged from the recession of the late 1970s-early 1980s, annual advertising expenditures have held steady at 2.2 - 2.4 percent of GDP, give or take 10 basis points.Once you start parsing those aggregate figures, though, you find that the character of that demand has changed quite a lot over the decades. It's a commonplace in the advertising industry that the ratio of U.S. above-the-line marketing expenditures to below-the-line expenditures has inverted since the 1960s. Where main media advertising once comprised some 70 percent of marketers' spend, today, according to advertising guru and consultant Jack Myers, 70 percent of spend goes to trade promotions, consumer promotions, direct marketing, and the like.In other words, demand for classic brand advertising has been going down for many years, while the supply of advertising inventory has been going up. That, combined with the recession, is bound to put a lot of pressure on brand-advertising prices, which in the interactive world are associated with display.
Bad news for publishers and agencies, right? Well, no. Because amid the advertising carnage, it turns out that interactive advertising as a whole is doing quite well -- up almost 13 percent in the second quarter of '08 from the same period a year earlier, and up 11 percent in the third quarter, according to the IAB/PWC report. This growth was taking place while the overall advertising marketplace was in decline. And that online spend was not all going to search. During the first half of this year -- the last period for which we have segment breakdowns -- display-related advertising, including but not limited to banner ads, was up 1 percentage point, thanks to a tripling of online video advertising from a year earlier.Moreover, premium content and its allied advertising inventory can be really premium. The IAB/Bain Digital Pricing Study, released over the summer, indicates that video inventory is selling out at a 90 percent-plus rate, at an average CPM of $43. Perhaps more interesting, the marketplace -- which is to say marketers and agencies, following the lead of their consumers -- appears to be putting an implicit definition around "premium video" inventory: It's advertising avails associated with content created by well-known, well-branded, video entertainment providers, such as popular television networks, Hollywood studios, and creative stars. In other words, well-branded media attract brand-aware consumers and brand-sensitive advertisers, generating exposure, engagement, and likeability.But while the growing attractiveness of the online medium to brand advertisers probably accounts for much of our industry's relative strength right now, there's a larger and more important phenomenon taking place: Marketers are recognizing that interactive can achieve most, if not all, of their objectives, quite often at the same time.In the old world of the traditional purchase funnel, there were clean lines that separated not only the functions identified with different marketing goals, but the media deployed on behalf of each function. Thus, television and periodicals were branding and consideration media; direct mail and FSI's were promotional media; and while the 'twain met on occasion (as with DM ads in the backs of magazines) the merger was too meager to be meaningful.The Internet is vastly different than the media that preceded it: It's one medium that can perform the marketing functions associated with all media. Indeed, individual advertising executions can serve multiple goals. For what is an online rich-media food ad that allows the user to reach through the tasty visuals to get a recipe, and reach through even further and obtain a coupon for the ingredients from a local supermarket? Is that a brand-awareness ad, a consideration-enhancement ad, or a consumer promotion?The answer: All of the above. It's for this reason that Neil Ashe, President of CBS Interactive and an IAB Board member, calls interactive "the yes medium." As in: Can it brand? Yes. Can it promote? Yes. Can it encourage loyalty? Yes.In recent years, advertisers, agencies, and publishers have been consumed by the complexity that combinatory effect presents in marketing strategy development, media planning, measurement, and compensation. From a media-mix allocation standpoint, how do you plan a "yes medium"? How, exactly, do you budget for it? To which agency or functional expert do you assign responsibility for campaign development and management? Who gets credit for its successes?Our industry's vigor suggests that marketers finally are beginning to see this not as a challenge, but as an enormous opportunity.
This hybridization of media also has historical antecedents. One of the most recent and surprising is the magazine industry.In the 1980s, for reasons not dissimilar to those we're experiencing now, magazine advertising rates came under pressure. Changes in production technologies and distribution channels prompted a flood of new periodicals, most of them in niche segments that promised marketers more targeted reach to consumers than the established mass magazines. With larger magazines losing scale and facing an explosion of competitive inventory, ad agencies began demanding price concessions, forcing publishers to consider breaking the fixed-rate structure that had dominated the industry for decades.Publishers tried to resist going off their rate cards by offering their customers what they euphemistically called "added values." These included in-store events, ride-and-drives, shelf-talkers, polybagged inserts, and a multitude of other gimmes. In effect, they were combining an above-the-line program -- magazine advertising -- with various below-the-line elements drawn from the disciplines of trade promotion, consumer promotion, direct marketing, and events marketing.The problem was, most publishers saw these "added values" as disguised discounts, instead of looking at them as service offerings for their best customers. So most did not build out the new strategic capabilities that the changes in the marketplace demanded; they continued to consider themselves publishers of print periodicals, not providers of marketing services. As a consequence, they did not invest in the talent, technologies, processes and relationships that would allow them to scale these services, and they didn't develop hybrid pricing models that valued the bundled services appropriately. By sticking to the fiction that they were in the brand-advertising-supported print periodicals business, many publishers relegated themselves to endless rounds of price competition for inventory their customers increasingly viewed as a commodity.
Lesson for Publishers
There's a cautionary lesson here for interactive publishers: Development of new marketing services and the hybrid compensation structures that go along with them is the key not only to survival, but prosperity.The good news is, many interactive publishers have learned that lesson and adapted.IDG Communications, the proprietor of such titles as PC World and Macworld, has been aggressively and successfully transforming itself from a print and online publisher into a provider of marketing services for its business-to-business customers, with such success that half its U.S. revenues now come from non-print sources, says its CEO Bob Carrigan, an IAB Board member (shown at left). Central to its evolution has been the integration of premium lead generation into its service offerings.“The excellent thing, and good news, for publishers is that there is life after print — in fact, a better life after print,” Patrick J. McGovern, IDG's founder and chairman, told The New York Times earlier this year.Cars.com, the 10-year-old destination site for automotive shoppers, has booked record quarters this year despite the trauma in the auto industry because it has built a virtuous circle of marketing services that link such above-the-line offerings as brand, dealer, and classified advertising to such below-the-line tools as lead generation and even customer relationship management for its clients."You have to go out and prove it to your customers," Cars.com Senior Vice President and General Manager Mitch Golub (another IAB Board member) told me a few weeks ago, referring to the various forms of value a publisher can and must provide today. "You have to report it to them, you have to show it to them."
What Industry Needs
I am under no illusion that any of this is or will be easy. If a publishers' value to clients lies increasingly in the provision of marketing services as well as media advertising, that implies significant training and development needs for the industry. For this reason, IAB is launching a professional development certificate program to train sales teams and others in the solutions-oriented consultative selling that increasingly will dominate our field. (We launched this program two weeks ago with two sold-out sessions of our new "Yield Management School for Publishers.")More fundamental still will be agreement on metrics. If the value of hybridized marketing communications campaigns lies in the integration of multiple services to achieve multiple objectives, then we -- publishers, agencies, and marketers -- must agree on consistent metrics that can assess these distinct achievements appropriately and well. We have to get over the delusion that a single measurement technique, such as "clickthroughs," can apply equally to above-the-line and below-the-line goals. If exposure, time spent, and other gauges of long-term brand-building effects have meaning, then publishers should be compensated for them in addition to or separately from the shorter-term selling goals realized through promotional programs.This is not only good for publishers, it's vital for advertisers: The marketing landscape is littered with dead companies that starved their branding programs in order to feed their selling campaigns -- the surest way for consumer goods marketers to lose their audience and their pricing ability. The long-term value of branding campaigns was not lost on the playwright Arthur Miller, who had Willy Loman, the tragic title character in his epic drama Death of a Salesman, lament his own inability to keep up with his neighbors."I told you we should've bought a well-advertised machine," Willy Loman tells his wife, Linda, when their refrigerator breaks down yet again. "Charley bought a General Electric and it's twenty years old and it's still good, that son of a bitch.""Whoever," Willy bemoans, "heard of a Hastings refrigerator?"If only to prevent themselves from becoming the next Hastings -- or Ipana, Packard, or Montgomery Ward -- interactive display advertising will continue to grow steadily, quarterly recessionary plateaus and dips notwithstanding.But what will truly propel it is the increasing recognition -- already apparent among marketers and supported by publishers' growing capabilities -- that this is a medium that does more.
Read and think about it and share with your clients!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Dynamic Tower
A Public Bike System
And many many more, so read on!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
The future is here when you know that you can watch your favorite shows and your favorite old videos all in one place. Just a smattering of some of my favorites:
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thanksgiving is a time to sit back and acknowledge the great things in your illustrious life and recognize all who do what they do for you! In that theme, I want to point out that all the highlights in this edition were submitted from readers of this column on Jack Myers’ website and in our Digital Influentials Facebook group. We value your submissions and we really do check them all out, so please be sure to keep ‘em coming. Let us know what you think are some of the most interesting new innovations online by sending them to me in the Facebook group at “The Digital Influentials” or emailing me at email@example.com.
Let’s jump right into it shall we?
Have you ever wished you could cut and paste a web page to send to a friend? Then you should check out SNIPD (http://www.snipd.com/). Snipd is a tool that does exactly what it sounds like; it allows you to “grab and save pieces of pages”. Take snippets of ads you saw online or articles you read on a topic and share it with your friends. I started using it and found a bunch of bugs initially, but the site is still in beta and hopefully they’ll work out those bugs very soon. The promise of the site is very exciting and they can already count me as a fan!
Another cool tool is KALLOUT (http://www.kallout.com/). KallOut creates a search engine using your mouse. You highlight a set of words in any program like Outlook or Powerpoint, as well as in your browser, and KallOut brings recommended search results to you immediately. I love the idea of bringing search into all of your computer functions; check out the tutorial video on their site and see what I mean!
Speaking of cool tools, check out JAJAH (http://www.jajah.com). Jajah is a beautiful marriage between Skype and your home or cell phone. Using Jajah you can create an IP-based call that is funneled through your home or cell phone to another person on the other end. All incoming calls to your cell are typically free and the outgoing call can be as low as $0.01 per minute. My issue with internet telephony has always been that it tied you to a computer, but now Jajah frees you up!
If you’re calling your friends or family using Jajah, why not also share some pictures of your kids online and expand the connection! That’s where WEE WEB (http://wee-web.com/) comes in. For those of you with kids, you know that everyone wants to see the updates. It can be overwhelming, unless you use Wee Web! It’s a centralized hub for sharing with your friends and family. Simple. Easy. Brilliant! The Thanksgiving holidays are all about family and friends, so share your family!
The last service we found for this week was MYTHINGS (http://www.mythings.com/). I admit this is a strange one, but for those of you who live by the immortal words of the late George Carlin (it’s all about having “stuff”), this is a service for you! Keep track of your stuff. Find out the value of your stuff. Organize your stuff. I started playing with the site and being an organization junkie, I started to find value. Check it out – you may too!
As for our iPhone Apps update! I love the new WEBMD app for finding what ails me. I also dig the FIELDRUNNERS game for a fun and interesting way to waste time at the airport. If you’re having a baby, the EXPECTING app is a fun one to keep track of where you are in the pregnancy. Download these now and see what you think!
Have a great week and enjoy the world of digital media!
Oh – and Thanks for reading!!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Music HAS to be the number one content item available on the interwebs. There are soooo many pages dedicated.
Check them out when you have time.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
MTV Music has every video you can think of and a bunch you didn't, such as:
If you visit Mahalo, you get a bunch of cool info.
SearchMe looks like this.
Most of the rest comes up with the same info, but that's a good start and a good reason to show off Pearl Jam videos on my blog.
Friday, November 7, 2008
"A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. These avatars are usually depicted as textual, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional graphical representations, although other forms are possible (auditory and touch sensations for example)."
By that definition, is RockBand a virtual world? Technically I think it is and if that's the case then it might be the world's biggest virtual world!
I feel an article coming on...
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Mobile Marketing Watch
The Mobile Marketing Forum
Fierce Mobile Content
This is of course in addition to the Mobile Marketing Insider from Mediapost!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
And Walmart is selling the G-1 phone at a discount.
It's funny - these are supposed to be the two phones that will change the way we operate in a mobile world and one is high tech and the other is not. One is responsible for the next generation of interfaces and touch-screen technology being adopted by the masses. One is synced with all things Google. One is a phenomenon that creates lines and the other is dropping price two weeks after launch.
Of course, being distributed in Walmart means that everyone will have access to the phone and at a lower price point, more people likely will, but will the G1 ever have the impact that the iPhone does?
Probably not, but it's fun to watch regardless!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
-- Elizabeth Lawrence
Change is in the air, or maybe that’s just the faintly earthy, comforting scent of a wood burning stove mixed with the coolest hint of a chill in the autumn air slowly settling upon us. As the colors fade from the trees and the leaves are raked to make way for the coming winter snows, we’re afforded the chance to look back fondly upon the year that was.
This time of year presents a chance to make a prediction for what is and what will be (and over the coming weeks we’ll see a lot of them), but let us not look past the immediacy of now and the changes and innovations that are already upon us. Let us uncover some of the innovations that afford us, both as consumers as well as marketers, the opportunity to gain a moment in our day and as the quote says, take a moment to watch the leaves turn.
Or, we can skip past all that hyperbole and check out some of the cool companies we’ve discovered over the last two weeks…
Original online video production is a hot category and no company is hotter than MEVIO (http://www.mevio.com/). Formerly Podshow, the company has emerged as a leader in the development of online video content by focusing on the personalities who are presenting the content. They follow a TV model by creating continuity in the hosts, a lesson embedded in the company DNA (check out the founding team).
Speaking of video and VJ’s– have you seen MTV MUSIC (http://www.mtvmusic.com)? Get this – videos and more videos, all the time! No horrible reality shows! I love it! And no – they are not paying me to say that! I really love it!!
If you’re not watching TV on the Internet, maybe you’re getting together with friends and colleagues? One of my favorite companies has always been MEETUP (http://www.meetup.com/). It appears that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, plus the business mode works, hence QLUBB (http://www.qlubb.com/). Both companies help you organize your real world gatherings, which is a great way to learn what others are all about.
Sometimes when you get together with other people, it requires some travel time. Traveling requires flying, and waiting for a flight to land can be a precarious way to spend your time, until you use FLIGHT STATS (http://www.flightstats.com/). The site gives you email and phone updates regarding your desired flight, saving you time from sitting aimlessly at the airport.
Though it’s not really a new service or a new site, we wanted to showcase a design that we uncovered while on one of our expeditions for coolness, from THE COOLHUNTER (http://www.thecoolhunter.net/architecture/HOUSE---The-Best-Of-The-Best/). A house that leaves you breathless!
And as we leave the Round-Up this week, let us leave you with another quote, one from Chuang Tzu, an early interpreter of Taoism from approximately 380 BC:
“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depends on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.”
Have a great week and remember to be open to others point of view for that is truly where education lies.
Friday, October 31, 2008
From what I hear, the folks at Fox and NBC didn't know it either.
The rumor I heard was that the site is far more of a success than they had hoped and so much of a success that they are losing page views to it and more people are watching their programs on Hulu than on the individual sites. Of course, that's not bad at all. It's actually a good thing! That means more impressions on a higher CPM site than planned, which means more revenue.
The funny thing is that Hulu and other online on-demand platforms are becoming more of a game-changer than anyone would have thought. It used to be that I planned on my DVR catching all the shows I wanted to watch and when I had Tivo, it did. Now I have the Comcast DVR and that thing sucks. It is the worst DVR I have ever seen. It erases shows that I said to keep and it won't let me pick the station that it records for a program and it always defaults to the non-HD version, which also sucks. My Tivo was awesome, and this one is a sad imitation. All that being said, the point is that my DVR is supposed to catch the programs I would want to watch, but when it doesn't I don't fret, I know that I can go online and watch it! I can go the website, like Hulu, or I can go to iTunes and buy it (which seems a little sad since it's free on Hulu). I'm not the only one thinking this way. I've had multiple conversations with people that are acting the same way. The fact of the matter is that the DVR is no longer the end-all. The Internet is!
When technology changes your behaviors and habits, you know you've hit a nerve!
Congrats to NBC and Fox for getting it right. I hope ABC and CBS get theirs up soon. Lost is coming back in the spring and I need my back-up options!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
It's also a bit depressing, I warn you..
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The credit crisis is having a very obvious impact on the global economy as anyone can see from a day-to-day observation of the stock market, but there are some less obvious points of impact that may affect our business, as well. Simply put – clients and agencies need to stop delaying payment on their bills – it is unprofessional and fast becoming an even greater problem than it used to be.
One of the biggest problems in the advertising business has always been late payment. Clients pay late, agencies pay late and publishers are left holding the bag in many cases. When publishers don’t get paid, their sales people don’t get paid. Agencies hold onto money and play the “float” game, accruing interest and using this interest as revenue and in these cases the agencies are to blame. Too many times the client is at fault as they will sit on invoices and hold payment for cash flow issues or for budgeting issues, trying not to spend money in one month and have it held until the following month. Regardless of who is at fault, it’s a problem which we will all be forced into dealing with in the coming months.
The credit crisis is basically eliminating situations where businesses can borrow money and in our business there is a constant flow of credit because publishers run media based on signed insertion orders and agencies buy media based on signed contracts, but rarely if ever do clients pay that money upfront, prior to the launch of their media. Publishers almost never request money be paid in advance of media placements. Guess what; that is going to change!
It is very possible that publishers and agencies are going to start requiring partial payments upfront. If I were a publisher, I probably would. I did an informal poll of agencies and publishers this past week by asking 20 or so representatives about these very issues and across the board everyone agreed that late payment is one of their top five problems. On the average agencies and publishers were seeing accounts receivable between 60 and 90 days and much in excess of 120 days. In many cases this portion of their accounts receivable (above 120 days) was as high as 25% of the total outstanding. This is simply unacceptable!
When clients default on paying for media, they are acting unprofessionally. I could name names of clients and brands that I know are not paying their bills to a number of agencies, but as a matter of principle and integrity I won’t. However in reading this article many of you know who you are and you need to know the ramifications of these decisions. By not paying your partners you are clearly saying that their business does not matter to you. By not paying you demonstrate the low value you place on your partnerships and your partners should see this and act accordingly. If you don’t value your partners, why should they value your brand? Why should they allow you to run media or pay for services when you obviously don’t care?
A few years back the IAB worked with agencies and publishers to create a standard form insertion order in our industry and in that document are terms referred to as Sequential Liability. Sequential Liability refers to the precedent that agencies is acting as an agent on behalf of their clients and in cases where agencies have not been paid the media costs for a placement, and therefore are unable to pay the publisher, the publishers are legally able to hold the client responsible for that money. Unfortunately not every publisher abides by those rules. I can understand why they wouldn’t, but the result of this fact is that some agencies are being forced to take the brunt of the irresponsible finances of their clients and that means some agencies will go out of business as a result. It would not be the first time.
Of course if the agency is at fault and is not paying their bills in a timely fashion because they have the money but are sitting on the cash flow in order to accrue interest, then those agencies should be held accountable and they should not muddy the waters around their clients’ brands. Publishers should hold media from those agencies until their accounts are up to date. This situation isn’t getting any better and is likely to get worse if not addressed.
It is a difficult issue to deal with because there are so many cases and situations where either party is being irresponsible, but the economic environment we are in is going to force some companies to deal with this issue in a timely fashion. If I were you, I would start paying your bills on time because the repercussions are strong and will have an impact on the potential growth of your business.
What do you think?
They got covered in a few places, like Mashable, last week. They are an example of crowdsourcing applied to advertising and media. It's a great concept and one that I have been writing and talking about since back in 2005. That being said, they have done a much better of demonstrating it than I ever did.
Check them out and drop them a note and say hi.
And yes - I did say they are a client of mine, in full disclosure.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Surfing the web can be a chore, let’s admit it. With so many choices and so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to just sit down and let your “fingers do the walking”. Our goal this week is to give you somewhere to start that doesn’t involve finances or politics, both of which are taking up entirely too much time these days! It seems you can’t get anywhere without running head long into some user generated video skewering politics and the politicians involved. So with that opening we give you the Round-Up for this week…
Are you stressed at work? Are you looking for a presentation to rip off – err, use for inspiration? If you’re a fan of SLIDESHARE (http://www.slideshare.net) you can also check out DOCSTOC (http://www.docstoc.com/). Both sites are great resources to research presentations and insights from other academics and experts. I don’t know anyone who’s ever posted a presentation here, but it sure seems like a lot of other people love to share their powerpoint thoughts!
Now that you’ve ripped off someone else’s presentation, I mean gotten some inspiration, why not pretend to actually be someone else by watching the world through their eyes? That’s effectively what you do with QIK (http://qik.com/). Qikkers (as I affectionately refer to them) post videos live from their mobile phones. A friend of mine was live-posting while in a car recently and someone else started commenting in real time – it was a little strange but intriguing at the same time. Share your world with others and engage in a social network based on video, that’s what Qik offers.
Do you feel bad about ripping off someone else’s presentation or watching their videos? Maybe you need to do some self-exploration! Check out INPOWR (http://www.inpowr.com/). With InPowr you rate your well being, set your personal goals and share them with others who can support you in your personal growth. It’s the 2008 way of exploring personal therapy but without all those nagging “doctor-patient confidentially” issues! Personal growth for the world to see!
If you’ve gotten in touch with your inner-being and a rush of creativity has been let lose, why not explore XTRANORMAL (http://www.xtranormal.com/). They were reviewed last week on TechCrunch and I fell in love with it immediately. You can create, share and watch movies that you or your friends have created using their new, proprietary text-to-movie platform. Ever wanted to recreate your favorite scenes from The Godfather using Lego characters? Check this out! Some of the content is a little amateurish but give it time. It’s your-own-personally-directed Machinima platform. Fun for everyone!
As for our iPhone Apps feature this week…
Have you ever wished that the iPhone would let you type in sideways mode when creating your emails, check out the new TOUCHTYPE app feature. It works now and your chubby little fingers won’t get in the way (at least that’s my excuse for mis-spellings).
And if you really want to have hours and hours of fun, check out the CAMERABAG. It lets you play with your pictures and create new looks and feels! The choices are limited, but it’s a great place to get started.
That’s it this week – short and sweet!
See you in two!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This new wave of opportunity lies in finding ways to get paid for what you know will work, such as build community and drive brand engagement. these are not items that fit nicely into an excel chart nor can you create them with an insertion order. That is why agencies are messed up.
The fall-out in the economy poses an opportunity for agencies to be re-invented. As ad dollars get squashed or become focused on accountability, agencies can re-allocate their dollars and save money for their clients if they put those dollars into creation of content and consumer interaction points rather than paid media. These are all typically referred to as non-paid media outlets and though there is a cost associated with them, it is still a dramatic savings from that of paid media placements.
I can't give away all of my thinking on this because that is my business, but suffice it to say that i have recently built a model that I think addresses these needs. I've put that model into action on a few businesses and it works. It's called a Behavioral Planning model and it integrates much from my past learning in advertising with my hypothesis as to how things work going forward. I am happy to share with anyone who asks, assuming they ask nicely!
Friday, October 17, 2008
The leaked presentation from Sequoia was posted all over the web and does a great job of summing up what has happened to date and what will happen going forward. It's planning and anticipation and has quickly become a guide for all start-ups and business people alike.
Ad Agencies could and should use this opportunity to reinvent themselves. The structures they are based on are fading from value and they need to find news ways to be compensated for thoughts rather than action.
I am not too sure where I am going with this post. I know that things are not looking so good right now, but I am sure that I will figure it out in the coming weeks.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Eight Predictions for the Future of Music - This is from an essay originally published for the Club of Amsterdam...
Music Like Water: Music is no longer a product but a service. Music became a product with the advent of recording (records, tapes, CDs) and the formation of an industry that quickly figured out that selling the bottle can make a lot more money than only selling the wine. For the future, think of a “record labe”l as a “music utility company.”
A Bigger Pie, But Cheaper Slices: Today's music pricing schemes will be completely eroded by digital music services (legal, and, mostly, otherwise) and by stiff competition from other entertainment products. A “liquid” pricing system will emerge, involving subscriptions, bundles of various content types, multi-channel/multi-access changes, and countless added-value services. CD prices will end up around €5-7 per unit. But most important, the overall music consumption and use will steadily increase, and – if the industry can manage the transition to a service-based model – can eventually bring in €50-90 per person per year, with 75% of the population in the leading markets as active consumers - the pie will be three times as large.
Diverse and Ubiquitous: A wide range of music will be everywhere, and music will be part of everything that used to be “images only”: from rich media advertising to interactive slide-shows to car software to MMS and digital cameras, to advertising in magazines (!), the audiovisual use of music will soar, and the licensing revenues will explode along with it.
Access to Music Will Replace Ownership: Soon, consumers will have access to “their” music anytime, anywhere, and the physical possession of it will in fact be more of a handicap or a knack of collectors. Music will feel (and act) like water. Multi-Point Access to Music Will be the Default Environment, allowing consumers to fill up their music devices at air ports, trains stations, and in coffee shops and bars, using all kinds of wireless connections as well as other on-demand and ad-hoc networking technologies.
Go Direct: Major artists will increasingly rely on their own “brandability” and – via their managers – go direct to the consumers, using their own in-house marketing, branding, and promotion teams.
The Software Pro: The (performing) rights organizations (PROs) as we know them will likely fade away. Compare technology solutions comprised of watermarking and fingerprinting, so called DRM and (better) CRM components, monitoring, admin/accounting, and instant payment solutions will do the job quicker, cheaper, and, of course, with complete transparency.
Mobile Mania: Cell phones and other wireless devices will eventually utilize and suck up more “content” than any Internet Service or P2O client ever has. Real-music ringtone offerings, Multi-Media SMS (MMS), Java-based games, wireless streaming audio and video, i-Mode type applications, and other cell-phone based offerings will proliferate very quickly, at first in Europe and Asia, followed by the U.S.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I think this is a very simple and precise way to appear successful.
Thansk for writing that Paul!
Or read it below...
A few years back, I had the opportunity to focus my attention and efforts on the mobile category. I hesitated, because I felt mobile was a bit too far off from becoming a mature medium. The running joke for the last five to seven years has been that mobile was always “three years away from becoming a viable stand-alone medium.”. That was the case up until recently. I think mobile just had its growth spurt!
Mobile as a medium has not evolved completely into what it will become, but it has advanced dramatically in just the last year. The mobile marketing model has grown far beyond the limited components of WAP because the smartphone has evolved into a true computing platform, moving beyond the standard format of a “phone with benefits.”
For those of you who are looking at mobile as a medium, let’s review the landscape of the opportunities that are afforded to you as content developers as well as marketers:
a. WAP vs. HTML: Most standard phones can view WAP pages (WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol). WAP sites are text-heavy and viewing them is clunky from a consumer perspective. HTML is the standard for Web site development, and many of the new smart phones such as the iPhone and the Samsung Instinct view Web pages as HTML so the standard ad units on those pages are served, albeit not in Flash. This translates to the fact that many standard ad units can now be seen on these next-gen phones. What’s still confusing to me and many marketers is how this impacts page views and ads served in a standard reporting environment, but that’s getting worked out even as we speak.
b. On-Deck vs. Off-Deck: The term “on-deck” was always used to refer to OEM-placed applications that came with your phone when you bought it. It was hard to get “on-deck” and it usually came at a significant price. The launch of the App Store changed that paradigm and now anyone can place an application on the deck of the iPhone, assuming that application has been approved by Apple and distributed through the App Store. The upcoming Google Android phone has an App Store of its own and most major carriers are working on their own versions as well. Even the BlackBerry has a couple of competing application stores coming into the marketplace.
Once you understand these two basic landscapes, you can examine the advertising opportunities that are available as well. Standard mobile campaigns used to consist of WAP ads and SMS or click-to-call interactions. SMS specifically was used in many situations as an extender tool to provide interactive capabilities to print, TV and radio. I still like SMS, especially when packaged together with SMS search, because almost all phones in the marketplace currently can make use of them. Companies like 4INFO do some very interesting things with SMS as a connection tool and are worth checking out.
The immediate growth of the application space has created an environment for more Web-standard-type ads being integrated into the mobile environment. There are text ads, such as Google AdSense, baked into games and services (see AdMob in the Sports Tap application in iTunes) and there are full-screen static images (see the full-page units in the 21Pro Blackjack app also available in iTunes). There are also branded applications themselves (see the Audi A4 app or the MobileZodiac brought to you by the Chicago Tribune). These apps have ads baked in through differing formats, but as a consumer I’m not annoyed by them. They may indeed be intrusive in some cases, but not in a way that is too detrimental to the brand. (The most annoying of the ad formats that I came across would be the full-screen ad for “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” which comes before the Lightsaber app, and even that’s not too bad). One additional note on this format: the integration of GPS in these applications immediately increases their performance, because you get information tied to where you are right now. I’ve seen a couple of examples of location-based mobile ads and they’ve resonated strongly with me.
Mobile video is still the missing link. Many carriers are offering mobile video (Verizon VCAST being the apparent leader) and in some cases there is advertising baked in (mostly 5-10 second commercials or pre-rolls). This component of the medium still has room to grow, as the platform itself continues to evolve and becomes a better, faster, more reliable platform for accessing video content — and consumer behavior changes to accept and expect this format to be available to them.
Lots of changes are afoot; it remains to be seen what effect the recession will have on the mobile category, but as prices for these next-gen phones continue to come down and users are thrifty with their time and their spending, I don’t see them straying away from these tools. I see them adopting them even more.
Do you agree?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Why can’t our ad dollars be used to facilitate content rather than interrupt it? And when we do interrupt the message, we must be responsible and pay attention to the quality of the message that we are sending. It needs to be relevant, well thought and creative. By combining these two ideas we can create effective and meaningful marketing. Then we succeed.
Loyalty and favorability drive sales and true marketing can create these ideals.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I bet David Ogilvy never had to be dragged into a good idea.
Why aren’t agencies providing the kind of innovation and leadership that we know they are capable of providing? If you have the answer, please let me know. I know a few brand marketers who would love to hear it as well.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The difference between the two is whether the response you are measuring is direct or indirect. If you can track a response in a short period of time, or in an immediate period of time, then you fit in the DR bucket. If you require time and some additional inputs to measure a delayed or latent action, then you fit into the branding category.
I started calling in Brand Response back in 1998 and people latched onto the term. I like it still and it still satisfies a need.
Try to evaluate your campaigns against all of the metrics listed above and see what you come up with.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I feel as though we’ve been singing the same old song for 14 years now. Our industry is still lacking in standards when applied to advertising and these lack of standards are providing opportunities for error in the marketplace. If I had to wager a guess I would say that at least 75% of all online campaigns have errors in either implementation or optimization and these errors could be addressed with standards.
Some of these standards include:
· Acceptable margin for error between third-part ad serving and site side reporting.
· Finalized standards for ad units (IAB standards are good, but too many people still stray from them).
· Agreed upon standards for trafficking requirements including period of time between receipt and post of ads.
· Agreed to standards for delivery and under-delivery opportunities.
Maybe “standards” is not the right term. Maybe it should be acceptance. What are the accepted margins for these situations mentioned above?
The media planners and buyers and the sales people are given too much latitude and this slows the process down substantially. In addition our business still lacks efficient processes for trafficking creative and reading performance. I wish we had this all sorted out so that we could focus attention on strategy and trying to increase performance rather than verify what happened in the past.
Friday, October 3, 2008
- Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was an optimist. At least that’s how I read that famous quote from “A Tale of Two Cities”. I wonder what Mr. Dickens would be thinking were he around today, witnessing the chaos at play within all aspects of the economy as a result of the decisions made by an influential group of greedy people over the last 3-5 years. I think Charles would understand that with collapse comes opportunity and with opportunity comes innovation. Innovation is a natural human tendency, the tendency to tackle challenges and embrace change. It’s evolution in its finest hour! Though the coming 6-12 months may indeed be difficult, entrepreneurialism thrives in these periods and some innovative and aggressive companies will use this environment to their advantage if they can identify a strategic path and stick to it. Maybe some of these following companies which we’ve uncovered over the last 2 weeks will be among those that succeed! You be the judge!!
For those of you having a hard time dealing with the stress these days, you need to turn to those who can give you support. Two such sites are FIRST 30 DAYS (http://www.first30days.com/) and PERSONAL LIFE MEDIA (http://personallifemedia.com/). One is a site that focuses on life changes and one is a site that focuses on how to get the most out of all aspects of your life. Both sites are focused on you “the person” rather than you “the employee” or you “the parent”. When stress is high and life is trying, the best way to gain the advantage is to first take of yourself and work outwards from there. These two sites will help you do that!
Once you’ve figured out how to take of yourself it’s time to take care of your business and one way to get that organized is to use ZOHO (http://www.zoho.com/). Zoho creates tools for increasing productivity and collaboration. Consider it a virtual office. All the tools you need to be productive are there and the interface is easy and fast. It’s substantially better than a number of other web-based office solutions.
Another way to be more productive while you’re at work is to make sure all your files are stored and synced in one location, which is where DROPBOX (http://www.getdropbox.com/) comes in. DropBox is a file saving and sharing system which is web-based and really easy to use. I’ve checked it out at home and it’s pretty much perfect!
I know it’s a little off topic, but I also uncovered a very cool company that allows you to do usability testing for your website. They’re called CRAZY EGG (http://crazyegg.com/) and it’s pretty inexpensive, which is a must during a trying economic time such as these!
As far as iPhone Apps go this week, check out the intellectual nuggets to be found in such useful applications as CHUCKISMS and IQUOTES LITE. If that doesn’t settle you down and bring you to a peaceful place, then download iFISH and visit Ireland for a little peace and quiet.
That’s it this week! Thanks for reading!!