Friday, December 26, 2008

Mobile Is Taking Off

I know I'm right when people who are waaaay smarter than me are writing the same opinions as I am. Once again, The Economist agrees with me!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Track Santa!

If you're reading my blog today, shame on you.

if you are, go track Santa Claus!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Fact Is...

The fact is that we have no idea what to prepare for. People are all over the place in regards to their forecasts for online advertising. That is pretty much the gist of this article from The Economist.

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

It's Hard To Be A Gangsta (VC)

More doom and gloom for venture capital. Ugh.

Friday, December 19, 2008

10 Things...

At Mediapost they write very well. And i say that not only because I write for them, but because its true. They have the strongest journalistic content covering our industry (props to Joe Mandese).

Their recent top 10 issue is a must read...

Check out the basics of the articles here

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tweet Your Way To The Bank

I love this - a bunch of great ideas on how to monetize twitter and i think almost all of them are spot on.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Accountability on the iPhone!

Omniture is tracking iphone apps - thats potentially big news as it brings accountability to the iphone space. Check it out here at Techcrunch

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wolverine Trailer

I know, I know. It's not online advertising but it is cool.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Round-Up Volume 1, Issue 16: The Year End Issue of the Round Up

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”
- 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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

U2 Friday

I decided that today's post would be in honor of U2. No special reason other than the fact i am busy writing the Digital Influentials Round-Up for Monday and the Mediapost Online Spin for Wednesday and I have run out of other smart things to talk about...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No More JunkMail (thank you)

I hate getting junk mail but i love stopping it! One way to do it is to check Pro Quo. They provide a free service to stop your junk mail. It requires some work, so if you're lazy or strapped for time and don't mind paying $20 or thereabouts, check out or

You'll thank me and the planet will thank you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sell, Sell, Sell in a Recession

My wife was reading Business Week and discovered an article I found interesting, but couldn't locate to link to. The synopsis is that in a recession such as this, tech companies like Oracle and Microsoft can snap up the interesting start-ups for a fraction of what they could cost in an up market.

Good point.

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

iPhone at Walmart!

Would Apple sell a scaled down phone at Walmart? Maybe, maybe not. You decide...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Meaty Tagline

Gotta love the tagline i saw for world famous Smith and Wollensky steakhouse:

"If steaks were a religion then this would be a cathedral."

How cool is that!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

We're Having a Baby!

Have I mentioned yet that I’m having a baby? Well, actually it’s my wife that’s having the baby but I had something to do with it. I think my proclaiming this on my blog I am now entering officially into the world of personal introspection online. One of the criticisms against me was always that I stayed at arms length from the people I worked with, but that’s history now. Now I am gonna have a child and I have never been more excited about anything in my whole life! I’ve heard that having a baby is the best thing you will ever do; the greatest day of your life. I imagine it will be because the build-up is pretty amazing!

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

The (Not) Genius Bar Rant

I hate the Genius Bar. I have to think that lots of people agree with me because the buzz died real quick on that one. The bar takes forever to load and it has crashed my iTunes on more than one occasion, so why keep it open? It is because it makes me unearth loads of music that I don’t have? No. Not enough of a reason. I am on a budget right now, so that is not something I want in front of me.

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

Fads Fade, Right?

When does a phenomenon become mundane?

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

Reprint of The Line On Internet Advertising

I NEVER do this, I promise, but this article was forwarded to me and I felt you, whoever you are, needed to read it. I reprinted it here - I did not write it - and it's worth your time. The original author is Randall Rothenberg of the IAB. Read on!

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.

Branding Breakthroughs

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.

Adding Value

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, 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," 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.

Mixed Holiday Numbers

Data is mixed on holiday sales, as shown in this report from Techcrunch.

Don't Cut Spending

According to this piece, you should always continuing spending during a recession. There are lots and lots of sources that tell you that it takes less money to garner higher share of voice in a recession and a higher share of voice translates to a stronger brand image.

Read and think about it and share with your clients!