Friday, February 26, 2010

MEDIAPOST: What Will The Media Business Look Like in 2020?

Everyone likes to think about the future, especially the Mayans. By now you all know that the world may end in 2012, but if it doesn’t what will the media business look like just a few years later? It’s a hard question to answer, especially as we live in fear of said impending apocalypse, but why not give it a shot.

If the world still exists after 2012 and into ten years from now, I think it’ll look something like this…

Google and Apple will be duking it out for world domination. Apple will be making TV sets that connect directly to the Internet and Google will be powering the interface for your cable and satellite television systems (sorry Comcast Xfinity, but you just don’t stand a chance when Google buys you).

The publishing business will be making a last gasp to stay relevant with the printed word, knowing that Amazon and Apple have paved the way for their future revenues to be driven through digital distribution. The next stage in the Robert Langdon series from Dan Brown will have ads in the hardcover, as well as integrated into the digital copy. Just before the mad taxi driver drives our fearless hero off a cliff, an ad will pop up for Virgin America promoting their new non-stop service to Miami from San Francisco. In the iPad version, you’ll be able to click and buy right now.

Facebook will own your inbox, with email clients embedded OEM–style in all new Lenovo netbooks and tablets. All email will begin to be run through Facebook as it opens the doors on its corporate email system, rivaling Gmail and Google Apps as a corporate service.

All online media will be self-service, except for the integrated, customized units that Google offers on it’s homepage. Those will take million dollar deals to execute and the creative will require a combination of video and community-oriented components that enable you to load the information directly into your Nexus 10 phone. Of course, someone will build a hack that allows you to sync the information with your iPhone 7G-S3-4D (the seventh generation, speedily “cubed”, 4 dimensional phone). The hack will be available in the Pirate App-Store.

Ad Networks will still be here and profitable, but the Ad Exchanges will be under a new name altogether (probably something like demand-side platforms). Sales reps will take your orders and spit back the CPM’s (all under $1.00), and all pages will already be tagged with the universal Google tag that marries together all tags under one container (a few companies fought out the space in 2010-2019, but Google bought them all).

Excite will be back, recreating the simple portal of the early 1990’s, and it will be a huge hit! Generation X will be in their late 40’s and early 50’s and will pine for a day when their digital lives were simpler, and easier. Excite will provide a special service called the “Cool Site Of The Day” which will be generated using social graph data targeting and a behavioral profiling engines that show what the general audience is looking at, but delivered based on your specific demographic breakdown. Of course, the site will change every time you log in, so it should really be called the “Cool Site Of The Last 30 Seconds”.

And of course, regardless of the fact that 10 years have past, it will still take a media planner 3 days to get back to a sales person and the sales person will still be unhappy with the lack of feedback that was provided.

Ahhh - some thing just never change!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Digital Influentials Volume 2, Issue 3: BIG Ideas and BIG Innovations

This past week I had the distinct honor to present a number of exciting companies at the SFBIG event in San Francisco( SFBIG is a local Bay Area networking and educational organization that brings together the best of the marketing and technology worlds and the content at this event was all about innovation.

Each company had just 70 seconds to tell their story to a room of over 400 people, and I was utterly amazed at how well they did! It’s not easy to tell a story in that short a period of time, but the fact is (to quote an old ad tagline) you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The art of the elevator pitch is a thing of beauty and in that event I saw it in action! Every company was able to present themselves concisely to an audience that understood what they had to say! It was fantastic!

So with that, I decided to have a little fun with this edition of the Digital Influentials; I decided to mention each of these companies in 7 words or less, rather than 70 seconds. It’s a challenge, but let’s see how we do shall we!

BAKESPACE ( Recipes, conversation. Good food, good times!

EXPOTV ( Real people make videos about real products!

HOMERUN ( Local offers and opportunities. Sign me up!

JIWIRE ( Mobile, wi-fi advertising. Reach on the go!

LONG BOARD MEDIA ( Vertical network targeting e-commerce. Shopper marketing online!

MAXPOINT ( Pinpoints your target locally. Direct marketers dream!

MILO ( Search online, buy locally. No wasted time!

MISO ( Social networking while watching TV. Entertaining fun.

MYTOWN ( Play local game - interact with local people!

NETWORKED INSIGHTS ( Listen to social, react with your audience.

PEERSET ( Psychographic targeting technology based on personal tastes.

PLACECAST ( Location-based mobile marketing initiatives. Cool.

THENTIC ( Connects people, producers and retailers online.

TRACK SIMPLE ( Save time on reporting, mine insights. Nice!

XLNT ADS ( Creative talent, scale and volume. Easy solution.

That was fun! Not an easy exercise, but definitely worth a shot. Try it for your own company and see what you come up with!

Talk to you next column!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

MEDIAPOST: The Debut Of The “Always On” Brand

The “Always On” Brand (AOB) is a concept that I use to describe how your brand should operate in today’s ever-connected world. The AOB is a brand that is actively broadcasting and listening at the same time, all of the time. It’s the kind of brand that knows what it wants to say, but is not afraid to listen to feedback and react accordingly. The AOB is the kind of brand that will be successful in the coming years and the kind of brand that you should aspire to be!

In many a marketing meeting I hear brands that are tepid at best when it comes to engaging with their customers publicly. These marketers are fearful of what their consumers may say about their brand and avoid the feedback loop like it’s a plague. These marketers are the ones who focus their energy, time and budget against broadcasting a message to their audience and focus on pre-launch creative testing and outdated models for projecting what will work, but are afraid to hear in real-time what their consumers are saying. They assume no news is good news and keep on moving ahead.

The marketer that avoids listening to the present and using it to shape the future should be a relic of the past. With so many outlets for consumer interaction and so many data-points available to them, how can you possibly be effective with an annualized campaign that doesn’t react in real-time. The world around you is shifting and the consumer wants their information now. Why should you be any different? This defines the Ostrich Marketing Strategy.

The Ostrich Marketing Strategy is the one where you develop your plan, you roll it out, and then you stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. What’s funny is that this can work in some cases! If you have an established brand in a static category, it can work but the truth is it won’t work for very long. You can get by for a couple of years with this strategy, but eventually something will go wrong. The product will have a problem or a competitor will enter the space and turn things over on their head. Eventually your lack of assertion will lead to your downfall and the brand will begin to perish.

The Always On Brand is the brand that’s not afraid to engage with their consumers and take what they have to say. The AOB is the kind of brand that balances broadcasting it’s message into the marketplace with creating response mechanisms that allow the consumer to engage with the brand. The AOB is not afraid of taking criticism from its customers and the AOB is not afraid to respond. The AOB doesn’t avoid using social media and they don’t avoid promoting the many ways that a consumer can provide feedback. The AON is staffed to listen 100% of the time, they don’t assign a Community Manager for 50% of the day. They don’t assign an intern to be that Community Manager; they create a role that is effective and has a direct line of site into senior management because this person becomes the conduit for the consumer to speak to the leaders of the company. The AOB understands who the vocal minority are and they respond to them quickly, knowing that if you can turn these folks around they will share this with the populace at large. The AOB is a catalyst for change in the organization. They are what drives the future of the brand and they are what you and your brand should aspire to be.

Some of you may say that the AOB is a costly effort to develop and manage, but it’s no more costly than the effect of ignoring your core customers. When you ignore their feedback, you risk the chance of creating an opportunity for the competition. If you give them that opportunity, I guarantee they’ll take it because they are spending hours and hours each day trying to find ways to gain market share away from you! If you play the Ostrich Strategy, you give them everything they need to be successful!

The AOB is not afraid to take chances and be risky from time to time because the AOB knows they have the mechanism to respond and change direction quickly. The AOB knows that a mistake played is easier to recover from than an opportunity lost.

What kind of marketer are you and what kind of brand do you aspire to be?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

MEDIAPOST: What’s In A Number?

Marketing is all about numbers. Whether you’re building a brand or driving direct sales, you spend a lot of time diving into numbers but have you ever stopped to think about what those numbers really mean?

There are two ways to look at the numbers; quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative numbers tell you a story based on volume while the qualitative numbers tell you a story that’s based on impact and effect (beyond that of sheer volume). These two vantage points can merge together to tell you the whole story and can influence what steps you take in your marketing. You can’t make decisions on just one set of data because they would only show you half the picture.

For example, let’s pretend to be Heidi Montag and take a peek at the two most important recent numbers in her life; the numbers 10 and 658. The number 10 refers to the number of plastic surgery procedures she recently had in one day and the number 658 refers to the total number of albums she sold in her first week of release. If I were her and I were to add up those two numbers I’d surmise it might be time to get out of Hollywood because her personal insecurities have gotten the better of her. I have more friends on Facebook than she has album sales, which cannot be a good sign. Is there a strategy that can be developed to fix that situation?

When it comes to Facebook, how many friends or fans are enough? If you check out a site like Twitterholic you see the leading accounts on Twitter, led by celebrities and a few publishers, but only a few brands; most noticeably Whole Foods Market with more than 1.7MM followers. That’s a powerful brand, but does that number translate to sales? Is Whole Foods the number one grocery store chain in the US? What kind of messaging does it place in Twitter and does that messaging affect growth?

On Facebook you can look up your favorite brands and see how many followers they have, but are these numbers enough? Should you be happy or content with these numbers? The TGI-Friday’s page has 342,000+ fans, but the Woody The Bartender page has 927,000+ fans for the same kind of content – which is more valuable? The Most Interesting Man In The World has 88,000+ fans while the Dos Equis brand has more than 180,000+ fans, but which is more valuable? Of course if you search for Dos Equis you find 14 different results that match the brand – who has control in that environment? If I’m one of these brands I’d surmise that my fans are very active in social media and that I need to take some initiative to be the leading representation of my brand in that space, or I lose total control and I create missed opportunities to speak to my audience.

What about in paid media? Is a $1 CPM a fair price to pay to reach my audience? Is a 35% share of voice on a campaign enough to generate the reach that I need and the frequency that will drive impact? If that SOV is placed in Television does it have the same weight and impact as it would in digital media, where the audience is naturally more inclined to interact with my brand? Is it smart to spend $3MM to place an ad to reach 107MM people one time, like on the Superbowl? Many will say yes, but what if that money could be spent to generate 5MM email addresses and spur a viral outreach that could be used for ongoing CRM with my audience instead of blowing it on one TV spot? Would that be an efficient way to spend my money? Is that the right path to choose?

What about the number 4; which is used in the 4-second rule? The 4-second rule states the average amount of time that a user will wait for a page to load before they give up and click away – which could create a missed opportunity if your site isn’t up to par. What about the number 77 which is the largest number that cannot be written as the sum of distinct numbers whose reciprocals add up to 1. I know that has nothing to do with marketing, but it’s geeky and it tells you something you may not have known which is what good marketing does as well!

The fact is that numbers can be massaged to say whatever you want them to say. Numbers only tell half the story. You need strategy to make the numbers actionable, and strategy can direct the way that numbers will react. Many people ask the question whether marketing is science or art, and the answer is it’s both. You can’t have one without the other and you can’t have effective marketing without knowing what’s behind the numbers.

So next time you decide to crunch the numbers, be sure to take a step back and think of the strategy. Oh, and if you’re Heidi Montag; please don’t take yourself so seriously and please, please don’t record any more music.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

MEDIAPOST: The “Agency Of The Future” Depends On People First

What would the agency of the future be without the people that work in the agency?

Everyone writes about the agency of the future, hypothesizing about the structure and the services they will provide, but just about everyone overlooks the fact that an agency is only as strong as the people that work there and that people are what drive the relationships between clients and partners.

The agency business itself is in disarray because of three primary reasons. The first one is that agencies don’t price themselves properly for the services they offer. The second reason is that agencies don’t do right by their employees and they overwork, over-extend and over-utilize their people, resulting in poorly motivated, cynical, under-trained employees who have little to no loyalty or passion for the business they are in. The third reason for the issues with agencies is that they have focused on execution rather than strategy, but that’s a topic for an entirely different article.

The agency of the future means creating an environment that fosters creativity, breeds strategic thinking and rewards positive interactions and successful execution. In the agency of the future, everyone takes responsibility for themselves and the immediate world around them. These people are emotionally invested in the success of their clients and monetarily compensated for that success. In the agency of the future, the wealth is shared because the responsibility is shared and the needs of all are intertwined!

If you talk to any agency person with less than 10 years of experience they will tell you, almost 100% of the time, that the only way they will be valued for what they are worth is to change jobs and change companies. If you talk to those same people you’ll most likely hear that even when they change jobs, it’ll be the same old issues. What does that say about the business? It’s a well-known fact that agencies tend to pay more for outside talent than internal people. Of course, the agency business is first and foremost a business, so that’s how they deal with things, but that’s part of what feeds the problem. Agencies need to take care of their most valuable asset first, their people.

The most difficult challenge that faces the agency of the future is retaining talent. If you invest time and energy into your employees, you want to know they’ll be around to apply that knowledge to your business. To do so you need to uncover their motivations and create an environment that provides them with satisfaction. Creative people are motivated differently than media people and account people are motivated even more differently. You need to identify what drives them and work with them to create that sense of loyalty to your brand, so they stick around for the long haul. Of course, paying them what they’re worth is an important part of the equation, but I believe that people should get upside when the business they work on does well, so compensation should be tied to performance. If you create an environment that fosters success, then who wouldn’t want to participate in that success!

Of course the employee has some responsibility in this relationship as well. The employee of the future has to be passionate for their business. They have to be willing to learn. They have to be willing to multi-task. They have to create boundaries and strive for some balance in their lives, or they’ll burn out and fade away. It’s true that many agencies work their people to death, but in just as many cases there are examples of employees that are not willing to work with the people around them and function as a team. Teamwork is the core of the agency of the future. Your colleagues need to know they can depend on you and vice versa to get the job done right.

To some, the agency of the future may be our “white whale”, but I don’t think so. I think the agency of the future is far more attainable than most of you are led to believe. The agency of the future is made up of the right kinds of people and the structure that will make them a success.

What kind of agency are you?

Digital Influentials Volume 2, Issue 1: iPad Or Not iPad, THAT Is Just A Question!

By now you’ve seen the videos and you’ve read the news (unless you live under an rock) about the iPad; Apple’s newest creation to revolutionize the world of digital media. Some people are burning with gadget envy while others are lukewarm and even a few are just plan old disappointed. I personally am fulfilled because I feel I knew what to expect. I only had visions of a larger iPod Touch with a focus on books and movies and that’s what they delivered.

The innovation of the iPad will truly come from the app developers as they find new and interesting ways to explore the device and in the coming weeks and months I’m sure we’ll find some of those innovative services and application to feature in the Digital Influentials column. More tools for checking in on your social network or tracking your money or just pure entertainment!

In the meantime, as we wait to shell out our cash for the iPad and the meager service that AT&T will likely provide, lets dive right into this week’s round up of the most interesting companies and services we’ve uncovered!

Fresh from the pages of a recent Time Magazine article, and from the mind of Phil Kaplan, comes BLIPPY ( Blippy is a social sharing site for people looking to share updates on the things they buy! You can broadcast to your network items from your credit card, Amazon, Woot, iTunes and more. It’s a “bling-bling”-cast model and new users are signing up every day, so register and see what your friends are buying!

While we’re on the topic of blogging, let’s check out a micro-blogging platform for enterprise called SOCIALCAST ( Consider it Facebook for your work place, allowing you to engage in a news feed and real time, collaborative updates from the people that surround you all day. It’s a great tool for increasing the flow of communication in the office(s).

If we shift our focus from blogging and back to shopping, you should check out MILO ( Milo is a real-time shopping search engine that finds you what you want close to where you are. Just type in what you’re looking for and your address and it checks the current local store inventory systems to see what your local stores have in stock. From gym bags to LED TV’s you can find where to buy locally!

And for those of you interested in web analytics, check out CLICK TALE ( From search to shopping, everyone wants to know how users interact with your site. Click Tale provides a service that allows you to track user interaction with your site, creating heat maps of mouse movements that can be used to refine your site design!

From the wonderful world of the App Store, check out DRAGON DICTATION as a means of creating text messages and emails with your voice rather than typing. For those of you concerned about your health, be sure to drink water and log it in with EIGHT GLASSES A DAY; a helpful way to remind yourself about your water intake. And if you just need a break, check out iPAUSE as a means of creating a meditation to interrupt and rest from the stress of your regular day.

Have a great week everyone, and send us your most interesting new companies by visiting the Facebook group for Digital Influentials! And don’t forget; if you live in San Francisco, to attend the first SF-BIG ( event of the year where I will be featuring 13 new and interesting start-ups live for everyone to see!