Monthly Archives: April 2009

Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death?

Give me Liberty and give me Death?

Give me Liberty and give me Death?

This past Sunday, as I enjoyed a bagel with a schmear, I caught up on the news of the week. I read the New York Times and the local Newark Star Ledger. It is no secret that the newspaper industry is in a real (not virtual) death spiral due to its continual loss of advertising revenue. The fact that some of these same papers have some of the most trafficked web and mobile sites has done little to stem this river of red ink from the nations presses.

The demise of the our nation’s traditional print media is all the more ironic since much of the thoughtful, original news reporting that the Internet so eagerly scoops up is created by the same companies that the Internet and digital media are destroying.

With this as our backdrop, I want to point out a significant problem with advertising, whether it’s printed in the Sunday Newspapers or published on the Web.

The problem is proper targeting. Getting your ad to the right audience, at the right time and in the right context.

Exhibit A:

page1bBelow are photos of the front page and page two of the Newark Star Ledger for Sunday April 26, 2009. The lead story is the ever-increasing Swine Flu epidemic that originated in Mexico. The page one story continues on page two with a large picture of Mexican Nuns wearing surgical masks. The second story on page two concerns the spread of the Mexican Swine Flu to New York.

The most prominent ad on this same page is………

Liberty Travel page2to Mexico.

Clearly, someone at the Star Ledger was going for context sensitive advertising and matched the words Mexico in the feature story to Mexican vacation travel. How effective do you think a Mexican travel ad is these days? How much damage was done to the Liberty Travel Agency by having its Mexican Travel advertisement associated with perhaps the worse Flu pandemic since 1918?

Whether this was a machine driven algorithm or a soon to be fired intern who determined the ad placement, an improperly targeted ad can be more than just a waste of valuable marketing dollars, it can actually injure a company’s reputation.

Exhibit B:
Since I did not want to unfairly single out the newspaper industry, I also searched the Internet with terms such as “Mexico Flu”, “Mexico Travel: and “New York Flu”

The first set of interesting results I got were on the website “How Stuff Works?”

The snapshots I show below are very interesting groupings for included Google AdWords advertisements. In both cases, a travel ad is intermingled with ads touting the flu breakout and flu prevention. How impactful will those travel ads be? While not quite as egregious as the Liberty Travel example, it is clear that the Google Adwords targeting algorithm does not exercise the important trait of common sense.

nyflumexflu

 

Exhibit C:
My next example comes from the New York Daily News website. Here we go again!daily
There are several stories highlighting the danger of traveling, especially by air. The Swine Flu epidemic is spreading worldwide and what are the major ads on this page?

Delta Airlines and worldwide travel.

Not only is this a waste of advertising budget, it is socially irresponsible.

In all three cases negative editorial content is supported by ads for companies, which are completely out of sync with that content. Touting travel in general, and especially travel to Mexico, in the midst of several stories demonstrating the severity of an epidemic in Mexico is ludicrous.

Exhibit D:
In case you thought I would not include the paper of “All the News that is fit to Print”, I also searched the New York Times website for articles on Mexico. The result of that search is shown below:

picture-11Once again we have travel ads to Mexico. I was actually wondering if there could be legal liability for promoting travel to a destination with a public health crisis and a deadly virus?

For advertising to be effective, and have a substantial ROI , AND not be destructive to a company’s image, the ad must be precisely targeted to the target audience.

This is true regardless of advertising medium.  Print, Web, Mobile – the same rules apply.

Advertise to your precise audience with a product they are presently interested in purchasing.

This is very simple. For the three cases I mentioned above, take out the travel ads and place ads for hand sanitizers, surgical masks and health services.

The key is getting the right ad to the right person, in the right context and at the right time. You do all of this and you have an Ad that should have a nice ROI.

If you don’t target your ad correctly who is the Swine?

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Filed under advertising, Content, Flu, Google, Mexico, mobile, mobile advertising, New York, Newspapers, Swine Flu, Travel

Piracy of the High C’s (Carriers)

pirates-of-the-caribbean-at-worlds-end-4-1024The news is filled daring raids by pirates from the Gulf of Aden to a new breed of Pirates of the Caribbean.  While the World’s Naval powers grapple with a response, the blundering, ransoming and mayhem continues.  For the businesses in the digital content and application world, piracy is a constant companion.  Without the benefit of Nuclear Carriers, executives from the Music and Video industries have tried many different techniques to make digital pirates walk the plank, And to date, with equal success to the world’s efforts vs. Somalian  pirates. The Pirates are now setting their sites on mobile services.

I view digital piracy as a form of guerilla warfare.   If we examine it in these terms, perhaps some useful analogies can be drawn and some lessons derived. 

Real-World asymmetric guerilla warfare examples are the Vietcong and the U.S., the Mujahideen in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union, Iraqi “insurgents” fighting the U.S. and most recently Hamas and Israel.  In each of these cases the smaller _45149875_4b11a8af-1979-4b9e-ae59-69dfe08f8a18force used unconventional warfare to fight a technologically and numerical superior power.  The superior force could prevail in any one engagement, but could only achieve at best a status quo stalemate (or worse) in a prolonged conflict.  Also, in each of these cases the so-called weaker party had a major (symmetric) support system.

Support Systems: For the Vietcong it was the Soviet Union and China, the Majatin had the U.S., Iraqi Insurgent and Hamas have Iran.   The supporter of the asymmetric force has a political motivation to destabilize or defeat the more power nation.

Back to the worlds of digital piracy:  The individual downloader’s are the guerilla fighters.  Each download of an mp3, ringtone, or video is a small razor slice to the content revenue streams of the IP owners. The support systems are the peer-to-peer networks, the pirate websites and to a lesser degree the ISP networks.  The question is what is the motivation of those providing the support to the download guerillas?  The answer has to be profit.  I am a firm believer in the strategy of “ follow the money”.

What sustains the supporters of Piracy?  The companies that provide Peer-to-Peer networks must have some profit motivation.  They want to either sell you authorized version of the content, charge you for downloading a copy (vs. streaming) or provide advertising.

The music industry (the analogous superpower) has been fighting a losing battle with piracy for years.  For a time their strategy was to legally intimidate and prosecute individual downloader’s.  This is equivalent to fighting insurgency with a few “public hangings” as a message to the others.  The cost of presecution far outweighed the damage actually created by any one downloading pirate.   Suing your customers does not seem like a great business model.

 Like in actual warfare, if you attack each grass hut with a $20M cruise missile, you will blow up a lot of huts at a great cost, and you find that huts are replaced faster than you can blow them up!  If the Music Industry had studied warfare they would not have made the same mistake.

To end an insurgency you have to satisfy and end the core motivation of the guerilla force to fight.  Intimidation threats, “blowing up huts” are as useful as mowing a lawn.  It might look good for a while, but the grass will continue to grow and you will need to mow it again in a week.

The television industry has taken a lesson from what has not worked in Music.  Instead of relaying solely on legal measures, each network has provided a full portfolio of free- ad supported- programming on the web.  The successful HULU portal provides greater viewer program discoverability by aggregating network content.

imagesThe ease of finding high quality, high definition, and high-bandwidth video entertainment through legitimate means has reduced the desire, and the need, to be a video programming pirate.  Why search through pirate Chinese websites when you can just go to NBC.com to watch “The Office?”    Why download a version of your favorite program if it is available online with a few short commercials?

It would surprise me if the Movie industry did not follow the TV industry example and provided branded portals with ad-supported movies.  These movies would have to timed to be after the lucrative HBO and DVD distribution windows,

In both video cases, the legitimate channels of distribution can have a profound impact on the traffic of the P-P networks and pirate websites. 

The next question is what does all this mean for the emerging threat of Mobile Piracy?  This will have to wait for my next article.

 

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Filed under Content, content stealing, facebook, mobile, piratcy, pirates, smart phone, Smartphone