Thursday, July 30, 2009

Digital Influentials Volume 1, Issue 2: Greetings From Oahu, Hawaii!

It’s summertime and the time is right, for dancing in the street!

I heard that line in a song the other day and I decided that I’d go on vacation with the family, but just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I can’t still send out the Digital Influential’s column and keep everyone up to date on the newest, best and brightest of the web! It does mean, however, that I can keep the intro short and sweet so I can get back to the Hawaiian sun! Shall we…?

Let’s start this edition with JAM GLUE ( Jam Glue is for fun and for satisfying your inner-Moby. Just upload some music or pick someone else’s music to remix. Create a mix and share it with friends or the rest of the Jam Glue community. Back in the day when The Postal Service created their first album by sending tapes back and forth, this was a novelty concept but nowadays it’s as common as a Death Cab for Cutie song on The Hills. Ben Gibbard must be kicking himself right now (I just wish I could write songs as catchy as his).

Now, back to work and using a wonderful tool called SOCIAL SEEK ( Social Seek is a unique application that loads on your desktop and allows you to keep tabs on your favorite brands. You type in a brand and it trolls Twitter, blogs, online videos and images for any and all mentions of your brand, also allowing you to add filters that can provide insight into tone or related keywords. A quick test for some of my favorite brands was very enlightening!

Are you ever searching for just the right kind of wisdom? Well search no more; you can follow the smartest historical figures via Twitter with iWISE ( iWise allows you to follow your famous historical figures and read their tweets of wisdom, just as if they were alive! Of course, I immediately got confused because I started following Bob Dylan, but I’m pretty sure he’s still alive and may even be Twittering himself. I then decided to follow David Ogilvy, just to see what I was missing.

Since I started following David Ogilvy, I decided to see if there was another advertising site out there with good information, strong editorial and one that I wasn’t already reading, so I stumbled upon NEW MEDIA AGE ( It’s UK-based, but don’t let that fool you; its chock full of information that’s also relevant on this side of the pond. The heart of wisdom lies in understanding the opinions of others and formulating your own informed point of view, and reading a site like this is certainly a step in the right direction!

As for the wonderful world of the iPhone; check out a company called ZUMOBI ( They introduced themselves to me recently and are doing some very cool things on the iPhone platform. Definitely worth a peek for the stuff they’ve done for The Today Show and others.

If you just want to play (and it’s summer after all, so why not find some time to play with your brand spanking new iPhone 3G S), check out THE SIMS 3, BASEBALL SUPERSTARS or TOWER BLOXX. Fun for hours and a way to forget the stress of the day!

Now it’s back to the beach on my sunny vacation in Hawaii. I hope you get the time to sit back and relax as well – see you in a week!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mediapost: Why Ad Exchanges Miss The Boat

About 2 years ago we witnessed the birth/rebirth of ad exchanges and much of the press, myself included, touted them as the next big thing for online marketers looking to take control of their campaigns. The promise was that of a self-service platform which provided unparalleled access to management of your efforts, however its now two years later and they haven’t delivered on the promise and have become just another way to launch an ad network.

The ad exchange model really started back in 1996 with Flycast but Flycast was far too early. It promised a self-service platform for agencies to manage their own network buys and people took note. I tested it back then and it was a great solution, but it never saw the widespread adoption that one would have hoped for. This second act of the exchange model promised the same level of access and control on a broader scale but the simple fact was that exchanges are not that simple. They’re complex and they require training and they require just as much, if not more, work than the current model for online buy management. As a result, the exchanges have not taken the foothold that they’d hoped.

There is so much work upfront to understand and fully utilize all of the intricate details of the ad exchanges that most agency people have pushed them aside. They require the creation of relationships in the system, management of the relationships and leg work to make sure they are effective. They should be as easy as AdWords and AdSense, but unfortunately they aren’t. In many cases we’ve seen ad exchanges hire sales people to pitch the product and manage buys for agencies, which means they’re no different than a traditional ad network. I was told a long time ago that an idea which saves time is worth money, and in theory the ad exchanges do that, but the promise of the experience didn’t match the actual experience, and therefore we aren’t seeing the value.

One reason that ad exchanges missed the boat is because they’re not filled with premium inventory. I know this statement will generate some angry responses and some defensive stance from people reading this who work at an exchange, but the simple fact is that premium inventory does not make its way to an auction based model. The inventory is class 2 or class 3, and in many cases its being run from one network or exchange to another, getting passed around more than the donation basket at church. Too much of the time, when you buy the inventory on an exchange you lose control of where it may have originally come from; most advertisers, and especially brand advertisers, are uncomfortable with that level of intangibility and stay away from advertising on these platforms.

What’s interesting is that some agencies have been using the exchanges to power their own ad networks, but the development, launch and management of these programs takes time, requires lots of legwork and may not provide a strong enough ROI to be valuable to them in the long run. Just because its built by the agency doesn’t mean the media buyers will be buying it, and if they are pushed or prodded to be buying inventory on those platforms then that becomes a conflict of interest and potentially an issue that affects their ability to be objective in evaluating overall media opportunities.

The ad network and exchange space is quite cluttered and the consolidation is definitely taking place as advertisers are focusing their efforts on key partnerships, but rarely do I hear of an exchange as a valued partner. They are interchangeable and expendable in the view of most brands, and not valuable to many others.

Maybe stage 3 of the ad exchange will be more like Google AdWords; a truly self service, easy to use platform where marketers can test out messaging and manage their buys in an effective manner. Either that or the pendulum is going to shift back to fully integrated, fully customized solutions that require the depth of relationship to manage. I predict the latter as this is still a relationship business and no matter what technology comes to the forefront, marketing is about people.

Don’t you agree?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mediapost: Why Do We Hold Social Media To A Different Set Of Expectations?

Let’s talk about expectations for a minute.

One of the great rubs against advertising and marketing within social media is that brands cannot control the environment and the messaging could potentially be placed alongside some inappropriate content. Of course many marketers are starting to realize the reward far outweighs the risks. Word of mouth and viral marketing are extremely effective and empowering consumers to evangelize your brand can drive a high return on spend, but what about that initial fear regarding location and proximity?

Let’s make an analogy to the real world, because that’s the fairest manner of evaluating this issue; after all, online shouldn’t be held to a different standard than other media formats. If I’m a marketer and I’m advertising on the side of buses and a bus gets into an accident because the driver was texting while driving the bus, does that accident have a negative impact on my brand? If I’m advertising using GoCards in a bar and a fight breaks out in the bar where a number of people get injured, does my brand suffer as a result of that environment? I don’t think the answer is yes; I think that consumers are smart enough to understand the difference between real world events and marketing.

Of course I can already anticipate the backlash for this analogy; the naysayers will say that outdoor advertising and online are two different beasts, but I would maintain they are not. All advertising should be held to the same standard and even though environment needs to be considered, it should not be THE deciding factor in whether or not a brand participates. The deciding factors should be the ability to deliver a viable target audience, forecasted performance against clear business objectives, and opportunity to impactfully convey a message. Environment is one of the components that can be considered, and for pharma and some other brands it can be a stronger factor in the consideration, but if your consumer is there and they are active then why shouldn’t you consider being involved and participating with them?

Social media is able to deliver a targeted audience and it is fast becoming a requirement in a marketing campaign. The addition of reach and pass-along that comes from social media far outweighs concerns regarding the environment, plus you have to consider that whether you like it or not your brand is already there. A quick survey of leading social and community based sites like Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, Digg, Yelp and ExpoTV yields a number of brand mentions. On all of these platforms you will find consumers talking with consumers about brands and your non-participation gives them free reign to do and say what they like. At least when you’re there you can be involved and you can interact and respond and demonstrate a desire to be engaged at that level which goes a long way to increasing your effectiveness as a brand. This increase can lead to sales.

Brands try to drive awareness, increase consideration, and drive intent that results in sales. You may be looking to drive sales from new customers or increase frequency of sales with your current customers, but in either case your customers are in social media so you cannot afford to ignore them but you have to enter this world with the right set of expectations.

Expectations are a baseline for measuring success, so you need them to be set correctly. What kinds of experiences do you have and how would you have addressed the expectations differently in advance?

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Man-To-Man Chat With Mason

Mason and i were having a good man-to-man chat last night and I thought you might want to hear all about it. Email him at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Love Reign O'er Me - Pearl Jam

Just because of the impending tour...

Interesting Read on TiVo

Check out this piece from Business Week on TiVo. I have always been a fan of theirs and i wish they would jump to success the way we know they could, but at least they are still around and doing some interesting things...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Apps Are The New Websites!

From Mediapost... the Online Spin for today.

Applications are the new websites.

Think about it; in a distributed media environment where syndicating content is the core of a user interaction strategy, applications can become as important if not more important than your actual website. This is especially true when you consider that mobile is rapidly growing in importance as it becomes standardized on three primary platforms; iPhone OS, Android and Windows Mobile.

As more and more people are becoming familiar with the various app stores from Apple and the phone carriers, more people are downloading and installing apps that provide them with access to their favorite content and services. If you peruse the Apple App Store on iTunes, you see some very familiar brands taking advantage of this new environment. Facebook , Google, Yahoo, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal; all of these big brands are establishing a regular user base with applications and the fact is that when people start using these applications they dramatically reduce their time spent with the brand’s central website.

As a focus group of one I can tell you there are a number of brands and experiences that I only view on my phone through an app and have never visited their actual site. FML is a funny site that I’ve only viewed through my phone. Twitter and Facebook are viewed evenly through my phone and through a browser, but when it comes to Twitter I tend to use TweetDeck more than the actual site. All of these are examples of companies that have embraced the syndication of their platforms and recognize that consumer behavior is changing.

What this means for marketing is clear.

Marketing in this kind of environment requires additional fragmentation and the addition of more tactics to clearly execute a strategy. In Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 it was possible for brands to focus their digital marketing efforts on 2-3 fundamental tactics. You could focus on search, display and one other component to execute effectively, but that doesn’t work as well anymore. You need to pick partners and work with them to execute across all of their platforms in order to sustain targeted reach and as a by-product you most likely achieve frequency as well. That means applications are ever more important and potentially crucial as a vehicle for interacting with a consumer.

Back in the olden days of the internet, brands did multi-year upfront deals with the major players like Yahoo, Excite and Lycos and they locked in multiple avenues to get their messages to the right target audience. In recent years those deals became fewer and far between because networks came into play and provided broad reach by aggregating many smaller publishers together. As fragmentation increases, I foresee those larger package deals coming back into vogue as marketers identify key partners and look to use those partners across multiple platforms, with the platforms including web, mobile, apps and video.

Google apparently has already gone down this route and is including mobile and in-app advertising with its AdSense product. For me as a marketer, this provides a great way to start testing other platforms, but I can see how some marketers would get upset with this if they weren’t aware it was happening. As always, a policy of full disclosure tends to take care of any issues, but where Google is headed seems very logical to me. Marketers need to be cross-platform at this point and this seems to be the wave of the future.

If you aren’t examining the application space yet, you should get started very soon. It’s heating up quick and the players with the most reach and the strongest units that can drive impact will win that race quickly!

Are you advertising in applications? Tell us about it on the Spin boards!

Digital Influentials Volume 1, Issue 1: New Name, Same Great Content

From Facebook and Jack Myers' Media Biz Bloggers...

This week I decided to try something different; rename the Round Up and embrace the influential nature of this medium by using our header name for The Digital Influentials. Other people can profess to “round up” content, and many of them do, but only this column can profess to be “influential” about new digital tools and services!

This week’s column is targeted to you; the reader in a business environment. I focused my attention on the tools and toys that might make your day just a little bit more interesting. Hopefully this article influences you to check out new site, or send a new site into me so we can review it and see if its worthy of sharing. After all, the Digital Influentials column is not about me, it’s about the whole community influencing each other!

For all you budding novelists, both business and personal alike, check out MYeBOOK ( All you need is a little bit of content, a little bit of time, and you can write your very own “work of art”. For years we’ve seen micro-publishing emerge and self publishing take off, and this service marries together the two in a tight little digital package! It’s used a lot for comics and lighter publishing, but why not use it for your very own marketing handbook!

If you’re an iPhone aficionado or a marketing maven, APPSFIRE ( can provide you with insights into both. From the consumer perspective you can find the apps best suited to your lifestyle. From a marketing perspective you can not only gain insights into your competition, but you can also gain insights into how your target uses the iPhone. Create and install your own little application recommendation engine!

Late last week I was sent an interesting site and at first I wasn’t sure of the application, but once you play with WORDLE ( you’ll find a number of uses for their word clouds. Create one around your whitepapers or your eBook from above. Use them as a quick means of conveying and highlighting the topic of your article (I should probably use it for this piece). It’s a graphical way of conveying a text-based idea, and it provides a welcome distraction for the day.

If you’re a microblogger or a social networking enthusiast, you should check out LEXY ( Lexy provides a tool called Quikcasting and you can share audio snippets with people much like you do with text on Twitter. Create them and post them on the fly, or follow the news and/or other pundits yourself. It’s an exciting complement to Twitter and Facebook and could be the wave of the mobile future (I met with them the other day and am officially drinking the Kool-Aid, so to speak).

As for the iPhone apps…if you’re stressed at work or tired of the monotony, check out the LIVE HAPPY APP ( as a way to make yourself feel better! You can also play WORLD CUP PING PONG to let off some steam or just watch TV on the TV.COM app.

Thanks again for reading and enjoy the rest of the week! And don’t forget to be Influential!!