Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MEDIAPOST: What’s Worth a Billion Dollars?

What’s worth a billion dollars?

A billion dollars is a lot of money. Last week Twitter raised more than just some eyebrows by raising money based on a $1 billion valuation; they also raised expectations for digital businesses and they raised the hopes of thousands of entrepreneurs everywhere who are looking to make a splash. The news was somewhat expected as the rumors had been flying for a couple of weeks now, but the news was still shocking. I for one thought those days of high valuations were gone, or at least on hold for a bit, so I feel I need to be the person to ask the simple question of what could possibly be worth a billion dollars? What could one do with a billion dollars and how does that compare to the eventual worth of a company like Twitter?

I understand that Twitter is an important company and that they are effectively changing the landscape of the internet as a result of the impact they’ve made on communication, conversational media and real time search, but I have trouble with that valuation. For $1billion you could buy 37million copies of the book “How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo and Google” in paperback on Amazon. With a billion dollars you could teach 37million people how to make money, but Twitter still doesn’t have a revenue model.

For $1billion dollars you could also buy…

· Approximately 5 million iPhones. These devices allow you to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world, and they are not limited to 140 characters. Plus, as a bonus, you can actually use Twitter on them, so that could increase the user volume quickly!

· You could rent office space in downtown San Francisco to house about 30 people for about 14,000 months. That is far longer than the life expectancy of any company that I can think of, regardless of what area of technology they’re in. I wonder if Twitter will be in business that long?

· I could build a site and sign up for an affiliate program, most likely turn that billion dollars into something more positive, possibly with as much as a 30% positive ROI. As the saying goes, “It takes money to make money” and with a billion dollars I think I could make a lot of money! Maybe Twitter should just sign up for a bunch of affiliate programs and start promoting the ads in 140 character ad units throughout the platform!

· You could give 33 million people a foot massage. That would translate to a lot of very relaxed, really happy people. I don’t know if you can truly put a dollar value on that, but I think it would surpass giving $1billion to Twitter. At least all of those people would be happy and maybe that would translate to them doing better jobs at work!

All in all, I hope this valuation proves to be worth it for a number of reasons. If the valuation holds up, then we could continue to see value in technology that may even drive the economy further out of the depths of recession. Also, for more selfish reasons, if Twitter becomes as valuable as they would like then more people will need to know how to use the platform as a marketing tool, which means I get to keep working!

So, a toast to Twitter and may your future be as bright as the dollar signs on those checks!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Digital Influentials Volume 1, Issue 6: Stolen From the Headlines – Start-Ups Keeping It Simple

I always love a good quote. A quote can be a simple synopsis of a complex idea that can make it easier to convey to a new audience. It can also keep a good idea top of mind by acting as a mnemonic to assist in your memory’s recall. Either way, it’s a great way to start a day, as well as a column!

“Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.”

- Winston Churchill

Churchill was a complex man, and a wise man. From what I hear, he was also a somewhat arrogant man. The key to success in my eyes has always been to balance hubris with humility. His statement above is quite applicable to our everyday business and the age old idea of K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) and if you balance this idea with the strength of conviction you can be a leader and an innovator. The companies and services in this week’s column are poised to become leaders and innovators because they have followed the path to simplicity in their solutions.

This week’s list of up and comers comes to us from a few of the recent conferences like TechCrunch 50, where a certain amount of humble hubris can be required to present and defend your ideas, as well as the more established stalwarts like OMMA Global and iMedia where smart, innovative companies walk the floor to hear good ideas and mix with intelligent people! If you scour the list of companies and attendees you can find some real keepers, such as the following!

We start with ANYCLIP ( which promises to be a tool for movie aficionados of all kinds. It’s in private beta right now and I am one of the throngs, who’ve been waitlisted, but I’ve seen it in action and it allows you to search for any clip from any movie instantly. Remember the famously obscure line, “awww, but I was going down to toshi station to pick up some power converters”? I do, and now you can watch it too! Or check it out here in the interim (

CROWD FUSION ( provides a new and improved set of tools for custom publishing online, making it even easier to create a dynamic, updated website. It takes the best of blogging, wiki’s, tagging and other sources to patch together and create something better than the sum of its parts. They’re backed by some impressive names and you can see the CMS in action by checking out OBSESSABLE (

PERPETUALLY ( is a new tool that allows you to keep an archived record of your competitors, your employees or just about any website you can find. You create an account and set it to start recording specific sites; pretty easy! It’s sort of like your own personal WayBack Machine (

INSTTANT ( uses the Twitter stream to create an aggregate of real time news data. Of course, they are really in private beta and don’t even have a product yet, but sign up and stay tuned because the mock-ups they have look great!

In the world of the iPhone… G PUSH lets you get notifications about when emails come in without having to open your mail app on the phone. YAHOO FANTASY lets you keep tabs and make changes to your fantasy football team, even when they‘re in last place like mine. And the GUINNESS PUB FINDER lets you… well… you can pretty much guess what that does.

That’s it for this week – talk to you in two!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

LOST content?

Has anyone else noticed this little easter egg of LOST content to satiate us until January?

Fun Stat About Apple

Did you know...

Apple and iTunes account for about 90% of the digital song downloads in the US and 75% of digital music players sold in the US? This is pulled from a Business Week article in the September 28, 200 issue.

Wow. That's all i can say about that.

MEDAPOST: The Real Future of the Newspaper is…

The newspaper, as it is defined today, offers two distinct services. It offers local information and it offers news. The newspaper, as it is defined today, has no future to speak of, but the newspaper of tomorrow does if we examine these two divergent paths and follow them to a possible conclusion.

The newspaper of tomorrow is going to break down into two distinct paths and only one of them includes paper of any form. Local information is always of value and this is the form that printed versions will likely take. In New York City we already see this happening with the Metro and other papers that are handed out to subway riders at no cost. These papers portray themselves as news, but they are not as robust or as well editorialized in their news coverage as the longer running and more established papers of the area. They do, however, offer wide reach, strong circulation and an outlet for local businesses to advertise to a specific audience. In the future that I see, I would imagine these papers focusing their content and advertising 100% on localized business and the immediate vicinity of the reader. Locally targeted advertising is big business and local readers will read a paper when they see value. Though mobile services like WHERE and Yelp offer local information, there is and always be something said for the tactile experience of holding a paper and ripping out local content of value. I don’t see the printed form becoming extinct anytime soon, but I do see it evolving in this way.

The second path that newspapers will follow is that of a trusted, credible source for the news and related editorial that can be distributed through digital methods and syndicated wherever the reader might be. One of the great things about news is hearing the different sides and different takes so that you can form your opinion and this is one of the best services that newspapers offer. From The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal down to The San Francisco Chronicle and The Times Union in Albany, newspapers offer an outlet for opinion as well as the news. Try as they might and profess as they do, very rarely do these papers offer a 100% objective point of view. They typically offer a slightly left or right leaning insight when they report the news and I think this is ok. You read these papers as much for the news as for their opinion and regardless of what bloggers say and media pundits think, these news sources are very credible. We trust what we read from these people because we know that, opinions aside, they are reported by journalists and not just by bloggers with a high school degree and a chip on their shoulder. Blogs may very well get the scoops, but newspapers get the professionals and there will always something said for professional journalists and their ability to truly uncover the in’s and out’s of a story. It’s a matter of trust and I trust these folks!

The future of newspapers may also overlap with those of the blogosphere. The best bloggers may be journalists in their own right and they may do stories for one another, or create partnerships which are mutually beneficial. If I were The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal I would start creating a network of approved bloggers that we reciprocate content with because that kind of relationship would bring instant credibility to the blogger and access to scoops and editorial that those old stalwarts of publishing could use! If you can distribute your stories through a network such as this, then you can generate eyeballs and that is where the revenue still comes from in newspapers.

For every article about the future of newspapers you’ll find another that predicts the death of the newspaper, but if I’ve learned anything as I get older it’s that nothing ever really dies in media and that idealistic stances are rarely right in the long run. Evolution is the name of the game and though it is quite clear that newspapers have a ways to go to become profitable once again, there is a path (actually two) and it takes a strong leader with a bold vision to make it happen.

Here’s to hoping they get it right!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MEDIAPOST: Is Fantasy Football The Best Marketing Program Ever? Yes!

This past week witnessed the opening weekend of the NFL season and it reminded me of the simple brilliance that is Fantasy Football. Without a doubt, Fantasy Football is the most perfect example of integrated marketing in existence today. It marries the best of online marketing and social media with real world events and that most basic of human traits; pure, unbridled competitiveness.

If you really get down to the brass tacks, fantasy football is indicative of the future of online marketing as well. First and foremost, fantasy football is an integrated marketing platform. It takes an offline event, one that is still considered appointment viewing in television and is less likely to be DVR’d and time shifted, and marries it with online tools that allow you to keep track of the games no matter where you are and what time it is. It generates enormous page views for the sites and services that people use to stay in contact with the game and it is also one of the fastest growing online video plays, with people logging in to watch their favorite games and highlights online.

Fantasy football is also a social networking opportunity, with more and more people engaging in competitive leagues each year for money and bragging rights alike. There are numerous platforms for creating and managing a league and there are loads of services you can use, either free or paid, to give you the edge against your fellow managers. Within each of these platforms are tools for talking smack, managing and executing trades and general communications with the rest of your league. Active fantasy team managers don’t just wait till Sunday to log in to their teams. They are interacting daily; checking injury reports and waiver wires, reading local news on their star players and researching other team’s players to see where they could make trades to improve the quality of their teams. In some cases you see fantasy team managers logging in and spending as much as 30 minutes or more per session just doing research (much of which is likely done at work).

What’s most recently developing is the idea that Fantasy Football is also an open, distributed platform, much like Twitter and Facebook Connect. Fantasy Football apps are all the rage this time of the year in the iTunes App Store and there are many examples of paid services that will give you that extra leg up and that extra insight. If you manage your fantasy team on Yahoo or CBS Sportsline you can most likely download either a licensed or a third party app that will allow you access to your league and your team because these sites have an open API that allows you to pull the data into other locations. It would appear there are just as many people accessing their teams through mobile devices as there are the web and the standard PC interface. This is purely qualitatively stated research, but walk into a sports bar on Sunday and take note of how many people are looking down at their phones as compared to looking up at the TV screens. I think you’ll be pretty surprised!

And of course, Fantasy Football is the ultimate social lubricant. Just the other day I was in the elevator talking with my wife about our fantasy teams (and yes, she has a better team than I do) and the guy next to us jumped into the conversation. Fantasy sports, especially Fantasy Football, is a unifying factor in the U.S. for just about all casual sports fans because it forces you to watch and root for multiple teams beyond just your hometown. You root for individual achievement, not just the San Francisco Forty-Niners or The New York Football Giants and you share your insights with complete and utter strangers just because they care. What other sport creates that sense of camaraderie? European football creates mobs between its fans and American Baseball can do the same if you live in Boston and New York! No; Fantasy Football is a unique beast and the effect is that the NFL has skyrocketed in popularity as a result.

If I were a sports marketer I would examine the NFL and the ways they’ve embraced this pastime because it can provide valuable insight into how to engage with my consumer. Even CPG marketers can see that marrying together social and standard online media with an offline event can help tap into the innate passions of a product and help drive consumer engagement.
I tip my hat to whoever started this whole crazy train (apparently his name was Bill Winkenbach and he worked for the Raiders); though I’d be willing to bet money the poor guy didn’t make a dollar off the idea because he forgot to file a patent.

Cheers to Bill and good luck this season!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Digital Influentials Volume 1, Issue 4: “E” Is For Efficiency and Entrepreneurial Thinking

“The efficient man is the man who thinks for himself”

- Charles W. Eliot

I guess when that statement was made, he was referring to an entrepreneur, so the theme for this week’s edition of the Digital Influentials newsletter is efficiency and entrepreneurialism. In my eyes, efficiency is an important, essential component of innovation and innovation is what drives an entrepreneur. When you get stuck in the doldrums of doing business in the same old way you’ve been doing it for years, you can become lackadaisical and that can lead to a loss of market share as your competitors pass you by. If you can find new ways to work, operate and save time, then your business can evolve and maintain success. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit!

The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who routinely turn over their desks and start from scratch. They evaluate their current systems and they find new ways to perform everyday tasks in a way that can save time, save money or improve the quality of the product. As the third quarter of the year kicks into high gear and we get ready for Q4, all of these concerns are imperative for everyone and the following companies are finding new ways to create efficiency through innovation, so check them out when you have a chance!

Creative development online is always a time-consuming process, that is until you start using TUMRI ( Tumri has developed a platform that creates dynamic ad units based on the contextual relevancy of the page where they are delivered. They provide a low cost solution for scaling your campaigns, which in the world of direct response is a very necessary thing.

Speaking of low-cost, or what I refer to as “efficient”, prices you should check out ALIBABA.COM ( offers an interface for sourcing and manufacturing just about any kind of product, from t-shirts to robots to hardware and fashion accessories. When you get started with your online business selling personalized lunch boxes, you’ve got to start somewhere, so start at

The music business is rarely efficient, but as the artists start to take over, this could get better with platforms like the REPUBLIC PROJECT ( In full disclosure and the interest of integrity, I do have to state that Republic Project is a company we incubated at my company and I have personal involvement, but take a peek and see what you think. It’s a pre-order platform for independent artists to release and sell their own music online and remotely through a distributed application interface.

Do you tend to spend time trying to find something to watch on TV? If so, then try out LOCATETV ( Locate TV helps you find what’s on your TV at home, what’s online and what’s on DVD and where you can look to find it. Navigating the ever-expanding world of TV is no small feat, so they should be very helpful to a lot of people!

In the wonderful world of the new updated iPhone software there’s all sorts of things to download that will make you more efficient. I use my iPhone all the time get places, but now, finally, it will talk to me with the GOKIVO GPS NAVIGATOR – it’s just like my wife’s car and it gets me places safer and efficiently. For those of you who need your projects organized, check out OMNIFOCUS that allows you to keep track of tasks right beneath your fingertips.

And for those times when efficiency is just not an issue and you have time to waste, check out COMIXOLOGY and start pulling comic books to read!

Now back to work – no time to waste!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where are you going to travel?

I am not planning on heading anywhere on vacation anytime soon, but if i were i would check out Where's Cool and decide where to go (though I'd probably skip the Russian bride ads on the site).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MEDIAPOST: The Nine Most Overlooked Elements Of Digital Marketing

More from Mediapost!

Today is sponsored by the number “nine”, just like back when I was a kid and glued to Sesame Street in the morning! It’s September 9th, 2009; 9.9.09. If you’re feeling lucky or your favorite number is nine, then this is definitely your day! If you’re a digital marketer, this could also be your lucky day because in celebration of the number nine I wanted to bring up the nine most overlooked elements of digital marketing.

It can be difficult to stay on top of everything if you’re a digital marketer; there’s arguably no medium with as many moving parts as this. With all the moving parts, you can tend to overlook some of the most important elements, but here they are for your viewing pleasure!

The 9 most overlooked elements of digital marketing are (in no particular order):

Mobile Search

Mobile search is fast becoming one of the most important components of mobile marketing. Search is becoming integrated into every mobile device, whether it be through applications, built into the phone itself or through voice, and more and more users are tapping into it daily. Local search is even more important as people want to know what’s around them and find information on the go. Not many marketers are actively looking at mobile search, but in many cases companies like Google are packaging it together with other ad buys so you may be using it already and not even know it. I’d check it out if I were you.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is still one of the most scalable, most efficient means of building your business online. Whether you’re looking to drive traffic, acquire customer information or generate sales, a strong affiliate strategy can do wonders but it gets overlooked a lot because it’s not sexy. Affiliate marketing used to be sexy; back in the days of Amazon and CDNow ruling the web. The Netscape Now button started it all off with a bang, and someone is going to revolutionize the business very soon, but in the meantime I wouldn’t continue to overlook this behemoth of performance.

Banners (really!)

I know, I know. “Banners are dead” and all that. I never said it, some other folks did. Banners are not dead and they still make up the lion’s share of the online marketing budgets. They drive awareness, they drive interaction and they drive loads of business every day. Banners will have a place in your marketing efforts as long as your keyboard does!

Commerce and eTail Sites

Many people forget about the benefits of advertising on etail sites like Amazon and These sites offer huge reach, targeted placements to actual shoppers and access to lots and lots of behavioral information. They may not do heavy integration or it might cost you a lot to consider, but standard ads on these sites can move product!


I tried to remind everyone of this a few weeks back and many of you read it and got the message, but it is worth repeating. Our business is driven by relationships so never overlook the people you talk to on a daily basis as they can be your best source of ideas and information!

Digital Outdoor

Digital outdoor is overlooked because too many people are confused as to who is responsible for implementing it. In some cases the digital agency handles it and in some cases the outdoor shop is in control, but in either case it can offer a highly targeted, regionalized opportunity that is scalable and highly impactful.


Research is the basis for everything we do and there are lots of great companies and great tools that offer valuable insights into the behaviors of the digital audience. They are all in the same boat; looking to bring business into the category. They work with you and they are willing to go deep to prove a point, so use them!


When was the last time you spent a session discussing your email and eCRM strategy? Those of us who spend all day online are quite cynical about out inbox as a marketing tool, but every day brands sell products and make money by email and your competition is probably doing it very well, so maybe you should be too!


The rule of the day is this; not everything is cheap. I am one of the biggest culprits when it comes to pushing on pricing, but I also recognize when something is of more value. I know when a special opportunity may command a premium and that is just being fair, so be sure you are evaluating all options from the same point.

So that’s the lesson for today – don’t forget them and don’t forget to play some roulette this evening and put it all on nine!


Pricing (not everything is cheap)