Thursday, January 28, 2010

MEDIAPOST: Opening Pandora’s Box For Internet Brands

Is it me or is Pandora suddenly everywhere?

I feel like it was just a few months ago that Pandora wasn’t doing so well. They weren’t seeing the ad revenue they’d been shooting for and rumors were swirling wildly, but now the rumors are faded and real (good) news is taking its place! Pandora was everywhere the week of CES, with a number of companies including Pioneer, Ford and of course Apple taking about Pandora as a valued partner. The Pandora iPhone app is a leader and both Pioneer and Ford are bringing Pandora into the car. It seems as though Pandora is making the jump, rather successfully, from Internet wunder-company to true cross-media brand that could signal a significant revolution in radio.

Many of you may ask if this is written because of a relationship with Pandora, but I have to be honest in saying that I know no-one over there. I have no relationship with them at all, I’m just an average, “ordinary Joe” consumer who listens to a lot of music and in the last few weeks I’ve been reacquainted with the brand because of all this latest wave of press, the various distribution deals that have surfaced and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive!

A number of years ago, when it first launched, I played with Pandora and while I thought it was great, it never had the consumer resonance with me. The fact that it was tied to my computer was the single biggest challenge I saw. Of course that was coupled with the fact that I didn’t listen to radio and I only listened to my iPod but in recent months I find myself re-expanding my horizons and finding other ways to access music through the web. All these partnerships are finding ways to insert Pandora into my daily life and very little are a result of advertising. Even my Samsung Blu-Ray player has Pandora and I love it!

The take-away of this observation is that Internet brands can succeed offline when the right partnerships are struck and the Internet is expanded beyond the keypad of your computer. The last few years have seen a “virtual” explosion as more and more devices are connected to the Internet. Back in 1998 I made a presentation to some clients about the future of the Internet and how it would power your television, your car, your refrigerator, and even the security system to your house. That future is upon us as the mobile revolution, led by the development of the mobile app store as a means of distributing focused applications, is primarily responsible. Apps were first applied to the web, then to your phone and now to all sorts of devices. TiVo was the first to open the door and Sling and Vudu cracked it wide open, but Amazon, eBay and upstart brands like Pandora are there to make sure that they get an invitation to the party. Internet brands are branching out because the Internet is no longer confined to the keyboard. And of course, in just a few short weeks, Apple will roll out it’s tablet to add fuel to the fire that Kindle and the Nook have stoked and convergence will be a thing of the past as we find fewer and fewer “holistic” devices and more fragmented access to Internet content strewn across the landscape of our day. Pandora’s box has been opened and consumers are more than willing to have multiple devices that access different applications if they add value to their daily experience.

Pandora is doing things well right now and my hat is off to them. They are strategically creating relationships that will offer an option for their users to be unbound from their computers. More Internet brands will be following suit in 2010, so keep an eye out and see what you can learn!

Who else is doing a great job of breaking away from the borders of the Internet brand space? Let us know by visiting the Spin Board and sharing it with us!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Check Out Gary's Social Media Counter

Interesting little bit of info here...

Check Out Gary's Social Media Counter

Interesting little bit of info here...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MEDIAPOST: Do You Take Your Job Personally?

Do you take your job personally?

Many people will tell you that your personal and professional lives should be kept apart and that happiness in one should not necessarily be related to the other, but in today’s world I find this impossible because the two are inevitably intertwined.

Technology blurs the line between your day job and your night life, but I also feel that a sense of responsibility and a desire to succeed in the eyes of those around you are driving factors as well, and that it’s not really a bad thing!

The people who know me well know that I have a personal philosophy to take your job both seriously and personally. Most people take their jobs seriously; ensuring focus and the feelings of responsibility that enable you to do a good job. That’s different than taking your job personally; which means making sure that you treat every personal interaction and every deliverable as a means of creating an impression and improving upon whatever relationships you may have because these are all a reflection on you as a person. As the hours grow longer and the separation blurs between your personal and professional lives you’ll find that many of the same people exist in both spheres of influence and their perception of you is based on their interaction with you in the work environment. The work that you do and the relationships you create at work are all part of who you are and the way you se the world.

Taking your job personally means a number of things, and there are some keystones to keep in mind when doing so. First of all, always put forth your best effort. A less than 100% effort typically results in a less than admirable output, and people notice. Second of all, always treat the person on the other end with respect; return emails and phone calls and give an explanation when one is requested. Try not to be curt, and try not to be disrespectful and if something is going wrong then be honest and upfront with them; explain the situation. Thirdly, manage your time properly and try not to negatively affect the schedules of other people; recognize their hard work and the effort they put into managing a schedule as well. If you’re going to be late, let them know. If you’re going to change things up on short notice, try to be understanding of the impact. For the most part try not to create problems for other people because you were unable to meet expectations. You don’t like it when these things happen to you, right?

The best overall guideline for taking your job personally is a simple one; try your best and pay it forward. If you can go that extra mile to get something completed and pay forward a little good karma, it can go a long way to making you valued, appreciated and recognized as a good person to do business with. If you are difficult to work with, people won’t want to work with you and that can carry over to your personal life as well because rarely is a person difficult at work and easy outside of the office. These are personality traits, not professional traits.

Your professional life is a significant part of your day and when its not going well it can have a significant impact on your personal life, so how can you be expected to separate the two? More people get stressed out every day because of their jobs, and I’m no different (just ask my wife). On the flip side, when things are going well you gain a sense of accomplishment and peace and your career continues to grow. When you have positive interactions with people on a personal level, they are willing to go that extra mile for you and all of this comes more easily when you take your job personally, not just seriously.

So today, or tomorrow, or whenever you feel the time is appropriate, be sure to sit back and take a look at yourself, your interactions and the way that you do business every day and ask your self the question, “Do I take my job personally”? It might just help you get a little further, be a little happier and feel a little bit more complete!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Digital Influentials Volume 2, Issue 1: Welcome to The Machine (2010)!

On behalf of all the Digital Influential’s that have a hand in this column may I wish you a warm welcome to 2010, or what I lovingly refer to as “The Year Of The Machine”.

The phrase “Welcome To The Machine” can generate many different images for people, but in my eyes it rekindles memories of the classic Pink Floyd album “Wish You Were Here”. That’s the dual theme for this week; “Welcome To The Machine” that is digital media and “We Wish You Were Here”, for those of you that are missing the boat!

2010 signals our entrance into a new decade and this decade will bring about the inevitable; that online will become the number one medium for advertisers and consumers alike. Just think what happened in the last ten years, from 2000 through 2009. We shifted quite dramatically from Y2K fears to the world evolving into one big data cloud! Smart-phones are the norm and net-books the size of a Hardy Boys novel are all the rage! It’s safe to say that once marketers understand the investment they’re making and the impact they can truly have if they do it correctly, that the chips will fall and Television will no longer be alone upon the mountaintop. The Machine is rolling along and the forward momentum can no longer be stopped.

This week’s column we focus on just a few of the companies and services we’ve uncovered recently who’re leading the charge and driving the machine. They may be small now, like “two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl”, but they’re on the right trajectory for growth!

Have you ever needed a personal assistant to let you know about a conference call and keep you on schedule, but realized you can’t afford one? If so, check out POKETY POKE ( Cody Duval called it out this week and it’s great! Register and send them your conference calls via email and 5 minutes before the call they send you an email and then call you on time with the conference call already lined up! It’s like a digital concierge for conference calls!

Is it sometimes hard to tell, “heaven from hell, blue skies from pain”? If so, I’m really sorry about that… but once you get past telling “a green field from a cold steel rain” you should check out LISTORIOUS ( Listorious pulls together all the best Twitter lists and makes it easy for you to sign up and follow them. Managing Twitter lists is a blessing and a curse because they can make it easy, but where do you start? You start at Listorious!

Are you “running over the same old ground? What have you found”? I found GOWALLA ( The location-based app space is hot right now with players like FourSquare, and here comes GoWalla into the fray, providing a way to share your location and discover things to do wherever you may be. The category is quite interesting to me and I’m excited about the potential for local advertisers, so check them out and see where they go.

Ahhh, email groups. “Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun”! Well, email groups have become a bit bland, until the arrival of GROUPLY ( Email has been a pretty stagnant area of the web for a few years now, but Grouply is trying to reinvigorate the category by making groups sexy again! Now your groups can have social features that integrate them into the rest of your day!

From the world of the iPhone apps… I can’t possibly go without mentioning the new PEARL JAM app. They put together a great one, and they regularly cover “Interstellar Overdrive” (not on the same album, but still Pink Floyd nonetheless). Also check out WINE.COM and TAXI MAGIC – you make the connection!

That’s it this week; rock on and enjoy the Machine!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Committing to Mobile Rather Than “Testing”

Do you have a mobile strategy or are you just winging it?

Participating in the mobile landscape is like any relationship; you have to know what you want going into it in order to get out of it what you want. You have to be willing to commit and you have to be willing to compromise in order to have success.

Mobile is growing in importance and the recent acquisitions by Google and Apple of mobile ad networks, as well as the recent announcement of the Google Nexus One, demonstrates that fact. The problem is that too many people come at it from the wrong perspective. Mobile is first and foremost a communications vehicle and the smart marketers are the ones that are using it in that way. Mobile is built on apps and ads, but all these do is provide an easier means of expanding the communication between a brand and the consumer.

Mobile should be used as a support and extension vehicle for other media campaigns by embracing that communications role. It is not something to be planned in a vacuum because it doesn’t perform well as a stand-alone effort. The ads in the mobile space are too small and un-engaging and the applications that some companies develop are always an extension of an application from somewhere else. Customer service apps are an extension of traditional customer service. Mobile websites are a re-purposing of existing content. No brand would begin with the mobile platform as their primary means of interacting with the consumer because the reach and the experience are too limited.

Mobile is also not a primary medium, but rather one that is well used for continuing a conversation that was started somewhere else. I get calls day in and day out from mobile providers that want us to spend money on their platform, but they are typically pitching first and listening second, which does a disservice to the mobile category because it is not building on the strength of the medium. Mobile is a means of extending the conversation and going beyond the browser, the printed page or the television commercial. By integrating a mobile component for follow-up you can provide a measurement element for other campaigns. Text messaging can be used for additional information. Mobile search can be used to get information on the fly. Location based services can provide similar efforts. Even mobile ads that refer to a holistic campaign launched in another medium can re-enforce messaging and convert consumers into consideration (especially when factored in with mobile offers that reach the consumer closer to the point of purchase). All of these elements provide for follow-up that may not have existed before.

To do mobile right you need to be proactive and plan out the goals for your campaign, and you need to integrate it into your entire effort. Don’t plan mobile as a “test” buy in your media plan because it will be just like “testing” a relationship. If you don’t commit to a relationship, it can’t work. You can build a beautiful application but if you don’t promote it and integrate it into your overall effort, it will fail.

If you’re going to commit to a mobile integration in your efforts, be willing to compromise. You have to work within the parameters of where the industry is now, not plan for where it will be in a year. The reason for this willing to compromise is that your audience may not be at the forefront of technology yet and you have to respect them where they are (plus the industry changes so rapidly that you may not be correct on your bets). They may not be ready for apps as advanced as you want to make them and you need to go where they are now. Come to them, get them interested and then take them where you want to go.

And for the people selling mobile these days, please set your expectations properly. Yours is not a quick sell because you need to sell into existing campaigns. Your ideas cannot be planned in a vacuum or you will not succeed. Be sure to do your homework and have a strategy from your side as well.

Strategic planning at the beginning of both sides will lead to easier successes down the line. Don’t you agree?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MEDIAPOST: Creativity Feeds The Data Beast (And Digital Killed The TV Star)

I started last year by talking about the balance between Art and Science in digital marketing and I feel the need to revisit the topic slightly from a different vantage point; that of Data and Creativity.

2009 saw the explosion of data as the primary driver behind the growth of our business, or at least the defense of dollars that we witnessed in the face of the great recession. Creativity seemed to take a second position to data because data is something that can be proven whereas creativity is far too subjective. 2010 is headed directly into the arms of data once again with more and more companies focusing on ways to harvest and utilize behavioral data, whether it is social graph or real-time and-recency driven. I don’t argue with the rationale for this direction; data is our strongest weapon as we battle the non-believers (whoever they actually may be) that feel TV is still a better medium for advertisers. What I request is that we not bypass creativity completely because creativity is what actually provides us with better access to data and can help us assume the top position for marketing dollars.

The majority of creativity being applied to digital marketing is being applied to the innovation behind the data systems. I ask that we start to applaud and praise the creativity that can be applied to the front-end, which the users actually see, guaranteeing they truly engage with the message. All the data in the world can tell me what I already know; that users are flocking to social media. The data also tells me that interaction rates are low but that digital media can indeed influence awareness and drive consideration and intent. What I want to see is more innovative and creative ways being applied to the actual interface of the media we provide and the marketing that we interject. I want to see more refined, polished, yet engaging executions that grab the attention of the consumer and get them to react in some way.

The issue I see at hand is two-fold. First off, in 2011 there is a serious issue facing our business that the government may indeed legislate the way that companies can place and use cookies. If that happens, then the data-driven revolution is dead in its tracks. The second thing is that our budgets will continue to grow only if we can prove that we drive a higher impact on awareness and consideration than TV and that is still a hard battle to fight.

Creativity gets attention, and getting attention is what drives marketing. Attention creates interaction and interaction is what creates data. Data is what is driving our business, so the simple fact is that we need more creativity in order to feed the data beast and continue to see growth in our business.

My hope for 2010 is that creativity can at least regain an equal footing to the world of data. I have to admit that I am part of the issue here in that for many years I told clients, “Just get us a bunch of ad units so we can optimize. They don’t all have to be killer, just get us volume to work with”. That does a disservice to creativity and I apologize. We need to respect the audience a bit more and try to show them good work. We need to value each interaction and show them that we want to provide them with good information. We need to put our best foot forward and give them something of value so they respond and we can prove the value of the medium for marketers.

Simply put; no more “punch the monkey” or “dancing aliens”. No more “X10 cameras” or “mortgage rates are lower” ads. We need more intelligent thought applied to the work we put forth and we need to be sure that we support that work so it is exposed to the largest, targeted audience it can. It doesn’t have to be an ad that skims along the page and intrudes upon my experience, but it can be successive story-lines or integrated into content. It can be creative without being annoying.

So for 2010, let’s put on our thinking hats and spit out some creative work that will prove once and for all that digital marketing is a worthy combatant for TV. The “sight, sound, and motion” argument doesn’t work anymore for me, what about you?

The Music Battle Trudges On (O' Woe Is Me)

The music industry just launched Vevo. Nice site; all about music videos. I guess they didn't think that MTV Music did a very good job of already playing videos?

Simply put, the labels are flailing and trying to find SOME way to regain control, but their cause is a lost one and they should really start looking past the last 3 years and start looking into the future. Mobile, syndicated video through social media, digital distribution. That is where they need to focus their attention.

If not, their next launch will be a web-based store for digital downloads. Watch.

Monday, January 4, 2010

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