Archive for January, 2008

Check it out – blogs for road warriors

NY Times coverage of blogs for business travelers including a blog by Marriott chairman J. W. Marriott Jr.  Conversational marketing isn’t for new brands, people under the age of 24, or the tragically hip, it is for brands that care about their customers and want to connect with them.

(Thanks Mark!)

Facebook apps can make money

Mashable’s Adam Ostrow (disclosure – I work for Federated Media which represents Mashable) writes about the “fairly paltry” revenue figure generated by VideoEgg on Facebook applications. He writes:

The bottom line is that $1.5 million in revenue over 5 months for some of Facebook’s top applications simply does not seem like much, especially when you consider that MySpace is estimated to pull in $800 million of revenue this year.

I think the article misses the point and potential of Facebook apps as a business. There are supposedly 100 million blogs and most don’t make much money – even those with decent traction. Some however, and FM represents many of them, do very well and are seeing revenue growth that now rivals the audience growth they saw in previous years. I see a similar dynamic forming with FB applications. A handful of applications are making significant dollars through advertising, affiliate deals, etc. Others are seeing real promise. Most aren’t, and won’t, make much money ever.

Secondly, marketers are just beginning to think about how to create meaningful programs in these environments. I’ve written about one here.

Finally, myspace’s incredible audience and revenue growth came quickly, but most of the revenue came AFTER it was acquired by FIM. A great product is necessary. A great sales team with access and credibility goes a long way. Some applications are now getting these sales forces (I work for one) and revenue will come as a result.

(thanks Shankman!)

Check it out – Where Does Your Food Come From?

In Boston today.  On my way up I listened to a really interesting lecture given by Michale Pollen and available on itunesU called “Where Does Your Food Come From?”  Pollen is best known for his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and his work with NY Times Magazine.  Recommend his work in both places.

This talk connected America’s Farm bill (which he argues should be called the food bill) with America’s problems with obesity and public health.  He doesn’t stop there.  Pollen makes a compelling case that this bill has a great deal to do with national security, greenhouse gas emissions, and the long term economic health of the US.

I’m by no means an expert but I found his argument really compelling.

Better than any press release – a CEO blog

Jonathan Schwartz’s blog foreshadows the future of corporate PR.  Take a look at his post on the acquisition of a new company.  He even points to the blog of a CEO of a partner company to highlight that partnerships take on the acquisition and what it means for the partnership.

Not every CEO can/should do this but we will see more and more of this.  As a shareholder, and industry watcher, and a partner of Sun I find Schwartz’s blog a great way to stay on top of where the company is going.

Thinking out loud… AppleTV replacing my cable.

I’m spending a lot of time with ad agencies that are scrambling to re-plan major portions of their clients advertising budgets. In short, cutting their TV spend and using that money to do much richer on-line programs than they’ve done in the past. Perfect storm for broadcast and cable TV – Tivo, Dvds, Nintendo Wii, and a writer’s strike. Until yesterday, I never thought of getting rid of my cable. I love a good veg out in the evening after a long day. You won’t catch me telling people to throw out their TV. But could my home be ready for a very different way to get programming from the TV?

I always look at toys like Apple TV as something I add to my “entertainment stack.” I got to thinking about replacing my cable TV subscription with Apple TV. Here’s the math –

My house spends $79 a month on digital cable and we typically rent 2-3 movies on demand for $5 each. Then I pay my cable company $10/month for a DVR.  Say $104 a month.

Is there a better way to spend that money?

– Buy an Apple TV for $229 (Say $20 per month)

– Purchase 1 complete season of some TV series every two months – $18/mo.

– Purchase 2 movies a month – $20/mo

– Rent 3 movies per month – $15/mo

– 10 Episodes of Hannah Montana or similar for my daughter – $20/mo.

– Download video podcasts of news programs – free.

Bottom line – I can’t really figure out how I could spend and watch with Apple TV what I’m paying for cable.

What would I miss? A few news programs, Sports programs – especially the Tour de France in July, and a few programs I can’t get (yet) from itunes.

What would I get? Commercial free video. Remove the possibility of me wasting 60 minutes of my life watching a really crappy TV program where I find myself saying “you’re not getting that hour back”

If I’m like even 10% of the American public, advertisers should be rethinking their spend more rapidly than ever before. And the writers should hold out for much better terms for Internet video rights….

When will projector companies make a product that works on the first try

Just got back from a meeting which was supposed to have a presentation projecting on the board room screen.  Didn’t work.

I’d like to know how much meeting time a day is spent trying to get the projector to work.  I almost always get it to work eventually but can’t think of a time where it worked on the first try.

The joys of working for a small company –

Federated Media (where I work) has officially outgrown our current New York offices. I love it. We are moving shortly to a new location but in the meantime, this is the view from my desk in my new office which used to be the storage closet.

Waiting to move to new offices

Here are some other perks of working for an (almost) start-up:

– Everyone choses to work here. No punching the time clocks. This wasn’t the “easy” choice for any of us.

– No e-mail file size limit. Seriously, this is a huge benefit. I once was traveling internationally with no access to a computer for quite some time when my blackberry (and lifeline) told me my corporate mail database exceeded the size limit and I’d receive no more mails until I took care of the issue. Yet, I still had over 1GB from my free gmail account!

– What the business needs is what you focus on. Minimal corporate history means minimal encounters with traditions that conflict with future plans. Of course we have business plans but we are much more able to view opportunities and challenges for what they are without filtering it through the lens of tradition.

– Like being a parent of a young child, you are witnessing all sorts of firsts. You have firsts throughout your life but the frequency gets reduced as you grow older.

– Having your office in a closet is a positive thing rather than a scene from Office Space.

Many more but I’m working for a small company and need to get cracking.

Seth Godin on curiousity

Not crazy about the text additions but this video is still worth 5 minutes of your time.

Perhaps I prove Seth’s point about the brightest minds abandoning their TVs but I still love TV (although less now than I did when there were new episodes of 30 Rock and The Office.) I do firmly believe that marketing is more than a jingle and have found my enjoyment of TV increased the day I bought a DVR.

Scott Karp – To understand web publishing you must use the tools

I’m a big fan of Scott Karp. Scott does a great job of tracking the shifts in the media business. This post charts the disconnect between traditional publishing and “new media” publishing. In short, journalist using antiquated CMS tools that were built to adhere to established print publishing (or TV) workflows don’t receive any of the advantages that a guy like me with a free wordpress account would.

To borrow a well know marketing tag line – “Just do it.”

While this is extremely important for web journalists, I would say that marketers, salespeople, etc. should give it a go as well.

Why do so many big media companies seem to ignore these tools while smaller, more nimble independent authors sitting on publicly available blog platforms steal their audience and advertising dollars? Because so many of the people that sought out the tools left their organization and the need for different tools mandates a different organizational structure. Finally, if you spent millions customizing a CMS system would want to be the person that explains how 2 guys and a ~$2000 Movable Type or WordPress support contract is doing a better job at attracting an audience and the search engines that deliver that audience?

Ad Agencies become content shops – help clients become more active in conversations

Interesting Ad Age piece about how one of the best creative shops in the country, Goodby and Silverstein, is becoming more of a content creator than a creator of ad creatives.

The thing that jumped out at me –

Mr. Robson also analyzed the shop’s workload and its employees and saw a shift in the agency from a traditional shop to one where most of the work is interactive. As of last September, Goodby’s output officially became digitally driven, with 52% web/interactive output, up from 50% the previous September.

“Last year, we were trying to figure out how to get our clients to pay for all of this,” Mr. Goodby says. “Now, if there’s no TV, clients say, ‘That’s interesting,’ and don’t have a coronary.”

Spent some time last week at another creative shop with a similar reputation and stature in a similar position. Agencies are becoming publishers and publishers are becoming agencies. More to come on this…