Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Ed McMahon is best known for his wisdom and wit and as the complementary second voice vs. that of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, but Ed McMahon was also known for Star Search; that precursor to the plethora of reality TV talent shows we see today and who was responsible for first exposing us to today’s pop culture icons like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Usher.
Farrah Fawcett’s face was all over the 70’s as a result of her involvement in Charlie’s Angels, but she re-emerged in the last couple of years as she battled cancer and appeared off-Broadway as well as in a number of television roles.
Michael Jackson was Michael Jackson and there’s not much else that can be said. I still remember where I was when I first watched him glide across the stage at the Motown 25. His performances were epic and he entertained hundreds of millions of people around the world. Thriller is a classic and part of the cultural canon of America if not the world.
This week we pay our respects to those pop culture characters who’ve passed as we try to identify some of the companies that are hoping to become icons in their own right. This week we point out just a few places to look…
COLLECTA (http://www.collecta.com/) came on the scene just a couple of weeks ago, but it seems to be making quite an impact. Collecta presents a collection of recent, real-time search results that helps you see what’s going on right now. Type in any of the names for your favorite pop culture icons and see what’s being said about them right now! It’s “Human Nature” in action.
If you just “Can’t Stop Till You Get Enough” of what’s being talked about right now, check out TINKER (http://www.tinker.com/) from the folks over at Glam Media Labs. Tinker gives you a more graphical way to see what’s being talked about right now, but focused on Twitter. If you “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” online, you might as well know what everyone is else is up to first!
If you Twitter quite a bit and want to know how influential you really are, then check out TWINFLUENCE (http://www.twinfluence.com/) and see for yourself. It’s a good chance to check out the “Man In The Mirror” and come to terms with what people listen to when you “Say, Say, Say” what you do through Twitter!
Following the Twitterati path that we’ve started here, let’s also check out TWITALYZER (http://www.twitalyzer.com/) which is another tool for seeing how much impact and success you’re having in the micro-blogging sphere. Twitalyzer presents a “Black or White” analysis of your success online. You might not be as successful as you think, but you’re probably more successful than “Billie Jean” or “Dirty Diana”, right?
And if you’re having one of those “Bad” days where you just feeling like screaming out “Leave Me Alone”, check out BADHAP (http://www.badhap.com/). Bad Hap is like FML and it provides a little line of sight into what other horrible things are happening to people just like you. Somehow, hearing what sucks for other people seems to always make us feel better!
As for the world of iPhone Apps that are hoping to become the next “P.Y.T.”, check out VANS SK8 for a cool, branded skateboarding game and TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR, just because it’s EA and EA always creates cool games for the iPhone!
Thanks again for reading – now “Beat It”!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
If you examine the undercurrent of discussion and you pay keen attention to the trends of the digital media business you’ll notice an evolutionary change in how brands are approaching their digital media strategy.
We hear lots of talk concerning the shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, but a similar shift is taking place in the sub-component of the Web; Media Strategy. There is a very clean line being drawn that designates the shift from 1.0, to 2.0 and into the 3.0 stage of Media Strategy which revolves around the differences between placements, analysis and optimization.
Media Strategy 1.0 was quite simple; it was driven by reach and focused its dollars against large web portals and ad banners. The questions surrounding Media Strategy 1.0 were about reach and volume and whether or not you could speak to a significant audience size using online. That question has long since been answered and any person with modicum of digital intelligence knows the answer is a resounding “yes”. Size does indeed matter, but it is no longer an issue with the web. Optimization during this stage was based on click through rate because it was the best metric we had at the time.
Media Strategy 2.0 was driven by context. Brand managers became interested in understanding the environment where their ads would be running. The focus for media planners was on the rapid growth of search, which is the ultimate form of contextual relevancy, and the debate of the long tail and ad networks as being a viable means to reach a large, targeted audience. This stage of Media Strategy is not dead yet, by any means, but it is quickly becoming a standardized component of media planning. The average media planner works with 4-5 ad networks and no more. They tend to allocate dollars based on past experience, performance and personal relationships that translate to effective campaigns. Advertisers and Brand Managers are still interested in context, and as a result they are attempting to place safeguards into their efforts that ensure protection against inappropriate content. The issues with UGC media are indicative of this stage, as well. UGC offers unheard of volume, but context is driving consideration and inclusion in media plans. Optimization against contextual relevancy was still based on click through rate, but engagement started to rear its head and work its way into the discussion.
The 3.0 stage of Media Strategy is being driven by targeting technology and requires actual fundamental knowledge about marketing to define the opportunity and to further define the standard measure of engagement. The media planners who’ve not been formally schooled in marketing are going to be left behind as stage 1.0 and 2.0 were (unfortunately) filled with people who “were winging it”; getting by on what the people around them were doing. As we enter into this third stage and combine the merits of technology with the concerns for contextual relevancy we are going to have be well-educated on the tools and their respective benefits and be able to convey the pros and cons of each against true, strategically sound plans using the tried and true marketing lexicon. The clients are getting smarter and the campaigns are becoming more complex and we need to speak the same language as traditional marketers so that we can be compared in an even basis.
This third stage is about the balance between targeting which reduces waste and increases campaign efficiency, and creativity which takes into account the message and the placement relevancy. Just as in traditional marketing, our goal is to reduce the waste against an untargeted audience and focus dollars on the audience that is most likely to resonate with the message. The difference is that digital media has the capability to get to a 100% targeted effort whereas traditional media does not.
This stage of Media Strategy requires data, and data is something that we have in abundance. The issue is not whether we have the data, but how we use it to be effective. There are numerous ways to slice the data, but the most important metrics are the ones that correlate to actual increases in consideration, intent and sales. Marketers spend money to make money; they do not spend money for the sake of doing so. Brand marketers especially are concerned with this concept, and for our business to continue to grow the targeting technology companies are going to have to prove their value to Brand marketers. The targeting companies are great at improving a direct response campaign, but they need to become educated in the ways of consumer packaged goods companies and the ways they measure results. Once they can speak that same language, they’ll be well positioned to succeed.
Media Strategy 3.0 appears daunting, but if our industry takes the time to take a deep breath and evaluate our preparedness for it, I think we can continue to grow and improve. As always, it comes back to training and the perception of our industry being a mature business that is rooted in fundamentals. If you are looking to the future, be sure to look internally and make sure that your team is ready to make that journey with you; otherwise you set yourself up for failure.
What are your thoughts regarding the next stage of Media Strategy? Comment on the Spin Board and let me know!
I Binged myself over the weekend to see what turned up. It sounds a little funny and maybe even a little dirty; It sounds like I hurt myself or stubbed my toe against the leg of the dining room table, but if Microsoft has its way then it’ll become as ubiquitous as the same phrase applied to that 800 pound search gorilla we call Google.
If you’re like me, you’re intrigued about Bing, the new search engine from Microsoft. I’m intrigued because I actually like PC’s and I like the most recent Microsoft campaigns, however I‘m skeptical about their efforts in search. Working in this industry as I do, I’m familiar with the stops and starts and mis-steps that have defined Microsoft’s efforts in search over the last 15 years and I’m curious about whether they can right the ship, so I decided to try it for myself.
As always I started with the same two searches that I start with on every new platform; I searched for “Pearl Jam” and my own name. The homepage of Bing is intriguing. It’s attractive because it changes and uses different pictures rather than the standard white page with search box that Google led with. I like it because it’s simple yet still elegant, but of course I was always taught to never judge a book by its cover, so I went deeper inside. Upon searching for “Pearl Jam” I was shown some sites that rarely pop up on the first page of Google and I really enjoyed the nav bar along the left that redefines the parameters of the search. Upon searching for myself I was intrigued to see Facebook profiles popping up, which is something I never see on Google. The experience so far was positive, so I dug a little deeper and came up with this brief analysis of their new platform. I like to call it the good, the bad and the indifferent…
- I love the “Explore” button; it becomes a way of launching into a surfing behavior. I may not know where I want to go, but I can certainly follow a suggested path.
- The dynamic nav bar on the left rail allows you to refine the category of search results, which is a great way of clearing the junk from the results that I’m just not interested in.
- The homepage is very cool, very picturesque, and easy to use. I like pictures and I like the inviting feel of the page.
- I like that it searches deeper web pages, like Facebook pages when you are searching for people.
- I like that it keeps my search history. This is useful when going back and trying to use search as a navigational tool for rediscovering something you found previously.
- The TV Commercials; they are relatively annoying to me, which is a big statement to make because I honestly and truly love the current Microsoft “I’m a PC” campaign, but not this aspect of their efforts.
- I am not too sure that I will remember Bing all the time, but I always remember Google. They have an uphill battle to fight, much like Sisyphus, in that they need to break a habit. They have to change people’s behavior and they have to get people like me to stop using the built in Google Toolbar. I did install the Bing Toolbar in Firefox to give it the old college try, and so far I’m happy with the experience.
- The user experience is not dramatically different than that of Google or other engines. The differences are subtle and subtlety is sometimes lost on the public at large. The biggest hurdle will be in convincing the average user that these results are substantially better because as most people know and many pundits have said, most people don’t know that search is broken.
My summary; I like it and I think it’s worth a shot, but if the results aren’t good then it’s back to Google I go! And just for a laugh, check out what comes up when you search “Bing” on Google. A mix of news articles, energy drinks and Bing Crosby pop up, leading you to be unclear as to whether the name will ever stick.
Here’s to seeing what happens over the coming months, because I love capitalism and competition can only be a good thing because it makes everyone better. I look forward to watching the rise of Bing and the response from Google as well as the swarm of other challengers in this highly utilized and highly combative category!
Here’s to all of you!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Over the last few weeks it’s become apparent that things are about to change once again. Have you felt it; have you sensed it in the air? That wave of optimism and the initial rush of excitement that precedes revolutionary change in the internet age?
I think it started at AdTech and after spending some time at JavaOne I’m starting to connect the dots. New ideas are percolating to the forefront as technology is continuing to evolve. Apple announced the new iPhone updates at the WWDC and they focused on speed while Microsoft announced its new search engine which catalogues new areas of the web and provides for a new way to start your web experience with the Explore button. No-one is taking anything for granted, not even the foundation of search that powers the web. The clouds are gathering (in more ways than one, which you would understand if you were also at JavaOne).
Change is a good thing as it keeps people on their toes and if there’s one thing about a recessionary economy, it’s that it is a significant harbinger of change. When things are down, people come to realize that a turnaround requires new ideas. For things to get better things need to evolve and entrepreneurs smell that sense of opportunity and come running.
That’s what I took away from the last two weeks and that’s what I see when I look at some of the new companies like these ones below, in this week’s edition of the Digital Influentials newsletter…
Let’s begin with RUN MY ERRAND (http://runmyerrand.com/); a very unique service that unfortunately only exists in Boston right now, but harkens back to the days of Kozmo (still one of my favorite services ever). You can pay people to do your errands for you; pick up the dry cleaning, do the grocery shopping, whatever works. The service was submitted by Brian Shepherd, one of our readers! Thanks Brian!!
With all that free time you’ve got because someone else is running your errands, why not try to make some life changing decisions by using LET SIMON DECIDE (http://www.letsimondecide.com/). It’s a decision making engine for people who just can’t make up their own mind. Of course, letting someone else make your decisions for you is borderline scary, but anything seems to work on the web!
If you’ve made all the decisions you need to make and all your errands are done, maybe it’s time to catch up on your reading? That can be a daunting task, unless you use DAILY PERFECT (http://www.dailyperfect.com). Daily Perfect attempts to read your personal information and hypothesis the articles and content you’d most like to read. It’s a little spooky because it appears to read your web history, bookmarks and social media profiles to determine what you might like, but once you get past the big brother-ness, it’s actually sort of cool.
If you are catching up on your reading and you come across a word you don’t understand, visit WORDNIK (http://www.wordnik.com/). This site is obviously the next best thing to the national spelling bee; it provides definitions, synonyms and etymology of the word you’re looking up. For those of you who love to expand your vocabulary to include words like “prestidigitation”, bookmark and use often!
And if you’ve finally come to the end of another illustrious day, maybe it’s time to get your rock on and check out some live music? If so, visit SONGKICK (http://www.songkick.com/). SongKick is a database and tracker for all things concert-related. Keep track of your own personal concert history or just find out where your favorite artists are headed. For a music junkie such as myself, it’s a place to start and end your day.
As for the world of the iPhone Apps… I have to recommend PAPER TOSS as a way to waste (pun intended) your time. Check out the FANDANGO app to buy movie tickets. And if you have free time to spare (which probably happens whenever your AT&T service drops 1 out of every 5 calls), check out 6500+ COOL FACTS; its chock full of ways to win at Trivial Pursuit.
That’s it for now – grab hold and hang on – things are only going to get better from here on out!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Of course, in New York, which is where i travel to, that won't translate to many cheaper rates.
It was 60% last year and 63% the year before.
Monday, June 8, 2009
They sound interesting and they sound as though they may be the missing link between the web and your TV and apparently many of the TV-centric sites don't like that very much.
Check out the article in Fortune.