Tag Archives: politics

Open Letter to Madison Avenue

iphonev5800This past week the New York Times had an article about the convergence of contextual advertising and Smart phones. The potential for highly targeted advertising including the use of GPS is a trend I have been discussing in this blog for over a year.

 

The interesting angle in the NY Times piece , “Is this an invasion of privacy?”

Regardless of ones wishes, all consumers will continue to be bombarded with advertising, much of which is the Madison Avenue equivalent of carpet bombing. As with the military version, this is a technique whose time has come and gone.

For the purposes of this article I will focus on video advertising because like many consumers, I can not tell you the last Internet banner ad I paid any attention to or clicked on.

I watch most of my video entertainment on the Internet. I frequent the websites of the major networks, as well as Hulu and YouTube. All of these sites have various forms of advertisements.

Most of these (I would say 99.999%) have zero interest for me.

These are a wasted investment with no opportunity to drive a sale of anything.

Would I prefer to see ads that were actually targeted to my interests? Of course I would. I would prefer no advertisements at all, but that is not realistic.

For me this equation becomes very simple. If I want advertisements that I would care about, the advertisers must have knowledge specific to my interests through some mechanism. The advertisers can either try to derive my interests through various contextual techniques (location, click analysis, websites frequented, purchases made, etc) or they can simply ask me.

Both of these techniques run into privacy concerns. There are fear mongers claiming that “big brother” is watching us and will do some unmentioned evils with all of this data. The questions are: What is private? What should remain private? and What forms of personal information can be revealed for mutual benefit?

I believe that information that is your medical history , your financial status, your sexual orientation, your marital status, your status as a veteran and your religion should remain private unless you explicitly release it. Basic consumer desires are fair game in my opinion.

Any person in 2009, however, who has any expectation that their Internet use, whether on a PC or a Smartphone, cannot be monitored for commercial gain is living in a fantasy world. Perhaps it is for this reason that 10’s of millions of Facebook subscribers readily reveal the most intimate details about their lives. They are just not concerned about their privacy.

If you have an expectation of privacy then never use a credit card, or make a phone call, or shop in a store, or use the Internet, or send a text message, or stay at a hotel, or use an airline, or subscribe to anything. You cannot live in modern society without leaving a digital trail of breadcrumbs that can be used for commercial purposes.

Now back to my video entertainment.

sgt_starWhen I watch any of my favorite shows I am subjected to commercials on trucks, beer, video games, grape juice (as a cure for everything!), tax services, an assortment of female oriented products, German cars, U.S. Army recruitment, fast food, etc. All of this investment is wasted on me.

To make my video watching more enjoyable and to help save advertisers millions of dollars, I offer the following open letter to those who want to advertise to me in the future:

Dear Advertisers

I will never buy a truck,a German car or an SUV. I am not interested in woman’s deodorant, and the last Budweiser Beer I drank was in High School. (Yes Mom, I did drink beer in high school) I don’t smoke, so telling me to stop is a waste of your breathe. I already have a subscription to the New York Times, so ads that try to get me to subscribe are also a waste, I only need one copy of your newspaper per day.

I am past the age of recruitment for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. My kids are not interested in the military. We do support you and suggest you save the money that you use to advertise to me and use it to pay your soldiers more.

To Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys, and Dominos, we get it. You are fast, unhealthy and fattening. Please save the advertisements on me and work on your quality instead.

I have no interest in household cleaning products. I don’t know which one is for what mess.

I do like action movies, ice hockey (particularly the New York Rangers),baseball (Yankees), football (Jets), politics, and technology. I like the latest electronic gadgets, high definition television, anything made by Apple, and Japanese cars that last 15 years.

For Verizon, I would gladly consider switching my cable and Internet provider to your Fios service, if and when you get the one HD channel that I really care about. If you paid attention to this open letter you would know that it is MSG. Any advertising to me that does not have the words “We now have MSG in HD” is a waste of money.

I also find that a mob of guys in glasses and Verizon uniforms following me around to be creepy.

I like good wine and hand crafted microbrews. I prefer the anti-oxidants of grapes in my Chianti, not Welchs grape juice.

If you want to sell me diamonds and gold jewerly, then only send these ads to me a month before my wife’s birthday. You’ll have to get that information from her. But then, it is in her interest to tell you, isn’t it?

Now you have it. It would have taken millions in investment dollars to build the algorithm to derive this same information about me. This is a win-win. I get ads that I would at least find entertaining and focused on my interests, and you get a chance that is greater than zero of influencing a purchase decision.

I expect that the next time I watch something on Hulu, or “The Office” on NBC.com that the ads will be focused on my interests.

Regards,

Steve Spencer

A good ad targeted to my interests

A good ad targeted to my interests

Advertisements

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Filed under advertising, Apple, Content, mobile, mobile advertising, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, subscription servcies, You Tube

Traditional Media Goes to School on New Media

The traditional content companies (NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, etc) have used the research, development and “trial and error” investments of many new media, web and mobile oriented companies to learn what networks4works in digital content, commerce and advertising.   They have transitioned from fighting the term “new media”, to adapting it, and in many cases becoming dominate players.

I was a witness to the first stages of this schooling in the early days of the dot.com explosion.

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Jay Chiat

In April of 2000, I had just joined the quintessential Silicon Alley content company, ScreamingMedia. Our well-funded company, had h the superstar and Ad icon Jay Chiat as Chairmen and a hard driving entrepreneur founder, Al Ellman.    Jay Chiat was famous for such ads as the 1984 Apple Superbowl commecial and the still-going  Energizer bunny.  

The company  hosted  its own new media content conference at the Chelsea Piers.   This was called the “Malcontent” conference.   The conference was organized to be a debate of new (web oriented) vs. old (TV, Radio, Newspaper) media.

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ScreamingMedia Founder, Al Ellman

We had luminaries from both sides of the assumed divide, including Dan Rather.   As a new executive at ScreamingMedia, I gave the case for mobile and its role in this new media landscape.   The one thing I was sure of, any media or content on a phone would have to be “new media”.

The value of ScreamingMedia was grounded in content syndication.   At the timeit  was technically and legally difficult to syndicate content on the Web.   ScreamingMedia (aka Pinnacor) was eventually acquired for about $150M.

Of course, this was pre-RSS days.  By today’s standards the media giant of syndication would certainly look old.

The debate (new vs. traditional) lasted well beyond this 3-hour event.  The crash of the dot.com industry in 2000-2001 took this off the techno blogs and webmags for a while, only to emerge again and again throughout the last 8 years.

Initially “new media” – which is loosely defined as anything related to the Internet started to make inroads against old media in digital ad spending.  Viewership, commerce and piracy flourished in Internet land.  My observation was the traditional media sources were slow and ineffectual in their digital  efforts.  

This had had the appearance of the classic innovators dilemma.  Traditional media profited from their “traditional” revenue sources.  Any admission that the model was changing threatened the status quo, or more likely the careers of those who made their fortunes in the pre-Internet era.

For the media giants, innovation was largely a content and storyline effort. Distribution was the means to theater tickets (movies), CD sales (music), and Ad dollars (TV and radio).  Innovation in distribution was in cable television, DVDs, and some simple web sites. The new media models were the domain of those who wished to destroy this traditional model.

Over the past couple of years I have met with many in the media industry on this topic.  I have to admit trad1that I have been perplexed that it took them so long to come around and really capitalize on the new distribution models.  My advice back then, and now, is that the big media companies still have the best, most wanted content.

The strategies and techniques that were pioneered by the new media innovators, such as ScreamingMedia have been adapted and extended by the general media industry.

With all due respect to a dancing baby on YouTube, a Tina Fey SNL skit on Sarah Palin will get more viewers, on the NBC website, then watched the actual Katie Couric interview.

All the TV networks have embraced online video of their shows, big time.  The online video versions of their lineups are ad supported and provide a much better experience than the pirated versions that float around the Web.  By embracing the model, they do it better than the previous amateur attempts by others.

So now what was “old” is “new”, and what was “new media”, is just another distribution channel for creative content, most of which comes from the media giants, with a secondary node to the entire world of user generated content.

We have now come full circle.  Good media companies observed what worked in the digital domain.  They capitalized on the considerable investment made in companies that originally were designed to compete with them.  In today’s market some of the most compelling digital content and applications are coming from the “traditional” media outlets.

Good Content is Good Content- From the days when the distribution model was cave drawings, to biblical stories, to the art and literature of the Renaissance, Shakespeare, Novels, Radio, TV, Movies, Internet and yes, mobile.

screamingmediavig

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Filed under advertising, CEO, Content, location based services, media, mobile, new media, syndication

The Technological Political Battlefield of 2012

 

hp-logo-washpostcom1

As I read Jose Antonio Vargas‘ report in the Washington Post   titled “Republicans Seek to Fix Short-Sightedness” on my Blackberry, I realized that this story is an excellent bookend to my previous blog about the Obama Internet machine.

In his well thought out piece he links the Republican election disaster to their lack of technological savvy.  My favorite quote in his article is:

“The Republicans are the party of talk radio, the Democrats are the party of the Internet”

A great observation was that the with the 1990’s technology of talk radio you can broadcast your message and influence the masses. With the Internet you can also influence the masses, with the significant benefit of developing mailing lists and raising money, directly.

This technological campaigning and fund raising changes in 2008 are as significant as Kennedy’s grasp of the use of Television in the 1960 campaign.

Before we once again get consumed with the 2012 Presidential election,we should ask , what will be the technological strategies and tactics of the next cycle?

Here are some of my top three predictions for the technological battlefield for 2012.

(as dangerous as it is to make predictions 4 years in advance!)

Social Networking will be big in the next election cycle
This election saw the beginnings of using social networks such as facebook®, MySpace® and Linkedin® as linkedin4organizing and fundraising tools.   Volunteer recruitment will be a social networking exercise, by 2012 these networks, and probably new ones, will be mature and even more mainstream.  The party that masters social networking will have an advantage.  A key aspect of mastering social networking will be the durability of the networks.  We already can see how the Democrats are continuing to use their social networks post election.  Starting the next election cycle with social networks measured in the 10’s of millions will be a significant asset.

Mobile equals Internet

The advances in mobile devices will largely erase the difference between Internet and mobile campaign efforts.  Direct fundraising via the mobile device will be commonplace.  The mobile will be more prominent in real time organization.  In 2004, the product of my former company (Upoc) was used by protesters in New York to direct real-time rallies during the Republican Convention.  The party that is mobile savvy will have a real-time advantage in 2012.

Management of Viral Videos matters
youtube_logoDuring this last cycle both parties were injured by popular viral videos. Examples of these videos include Obama’s Pastor – Reverend Wright, the Palin/Couric Interview and the more watched Tina Fey parodies.  The news cycle for politics is 24/7, with every moment forever archived on sites such as YouTube.  This election cycle witnessed the first “made for YouTube” videos by the Obama campaign.  The next election cycle will use YouTube as a major battleground.

Please share with me your views of important technology trends for future elections.  It will be interesting to bring this post out of the archives in 2012 and determine how well we did with the predictions.

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Filed under Election, location based services, mobile, obama, politics, social networking, wireless

Wireless, Politics, the Economy and Hockey

Sometimes if you just take a moment for deeper observation at an event you can get a sense of what pundits spend a lifetime interpreting. Last night I took my youngest daughter to a Ranger game. They lost in overtime, 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers, so I will not dwell too much on the fantastic comeback, the grit and determination and the ultimate let down.

Here are my other observations during those 4 hours:

Observation 1 – Wireless Gen
My daughter sent and received approximately 120 text messages. She communicated to classmates about the homework she would have to do when she got home, she chatted with her cousin about God knows what, She took three calls, and she cheered the loudest in are section. She does not have ADHD, she just multitasks at the rate of a cyborg!! This is the next generation.

Observation 2- Politics

obama buttonThroughout the game the roving camera guys put crazed fans on the big jumbotron. Twice last night, the fan was wearing a big Obama button on their Ranger jersey. When they saw themselves on the arena scoreboard instead of pointing to their Ranger emblem, they pointed to the Obama button! If seems the hockey Mom and Dad demographic in New York went for Obama.
Observation 3- More Wireless
The Rangers have several interactive mobile promotions during the game. The simplest is a text to screen application where your message is displayed on the scoreboard. What is “interesting” is that you text to one shortcode, get a thank you message from another shortcode and then are instructed to text a third shortcode for a free wallpaper. Also, the thank you shortcode responds with “Thank you for voting!” Opps? Did I vote? Time to check that campaign provisioning!

NOTE TO NEW YORK RANGERS MOBILE DEPARTMENT:

I herby offer – pro-bono (maybe you can pay me with an autographed stick) to fix your mobile applications to make them coherent and effective; to have them run on one shortcode, with proper messaging before, during and after the user interaction.

Observation 4- The Economy

rangersuites

I made a quick count on the number of empty luxury suites last night. I stopped counting after 23. Madison Square Garden has about 60 suites for the well-heeled New York corporate crowd. While I have seen empty suites in the past, the number of dark boxes is very large. As a proxy for the recession/depression on Wall Street, just counting the number of flipped light switched on luxury boxes is a leading indicator of the economy.

Observation 5- The Economy – Oh Canada! (Or is it just the Oil(ers))

Since the Rangers were playing a Canadian based team, the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S. are sung before the game. I like the Canadian Anthem, and can sing it with the best of them. I have to admit I was never quite sure who Canadians are “on Guard” from?

Anyway, I observed a very large number of Edmonton Oiler fans, from Canada. This is unusual. Usually the out of town fans come from New Jersey, Long Island and Philly. This got me thinking. Is there some other geopolitical trend that has caused these fans to be in New York?

I came to three possibilities – either they paid for a tour before the dollar increased in value, or they all work for oil companies in Edmonton and have more money than they know what to do with, or they are Canadian “snow birds” who escape the harsh Canadian winter to bask in the less harsh New York winter. You decide.

Amazing what you can observe if you just take a minute to look!

iamaranger800

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Filed under economy, hockey, media, mobile, New York, obama, politics, Rangers, wireless

Would you have invested in this start-up? Its made over $500M!

The World’s most successful E-Commerce Start-Up is planning a successful exit after just 24 months.

Imagine you are an Investor listening to this company’s pitch.

The date is early 2007. Decide if you would invest.

The business plan shows projections of almost $500M in revenue by 3Q2008.   They estimate in excess of 40M registered users with average revenue per user “purchase” event of over $80.  There will be a significant amount of return uses.   Users will gladly opt-in to your marketing messages and receive upwards of 7 promotional emails per week.   The opt-out rate will be quite low.

The company will use social networking and viral marketing to a degree not yet seen in their product category

Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, Flickr, Youtube, BlackPlannet , Asian Avenue, Faithbase, EONS, Digg, Eventful, Mybatanga, and probably more will all promote the product

Many of the subscribers of this service will also gladly donate their time to this company to help promote its leadership and mission.

The product will be promoted via a combination of online advertising, mobile shortcodes, television, radio, print ads. Most importantly,there will be personal appearances by the company’s charismatic leader.  He will draw crowds in excess of 50,000 to hear him speak.

Included in the investor pitch deck is a plan for a 30 minute infomercial in prime time on 5 national networks.

Oh, and the product that people are getting for all this money?

Hope and Change.

This company plans a successful exit on Tuesday.

Regardless of your politics, you have to admire the unprecedented E-commerce effort of the Obama team.

If Kennedy was the first President to really understand and utilize TV, future historians will name Obama as the first candidate (perhaps President?) that fully capitalized on the Internet as a powerful fund raising (E-Commerce) vehicle. Continue reading

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Filed under E-Commerce, Election, mobile, obama, politics