Tag Archives: Rangers

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.


Steve Spencer

A good ad targeted to my interests

A good ad targeted to my interests

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

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!


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


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!


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

Good Hockey, Good Wireless

It always strikes me as somewhat amazing how much SMS and MMS services have seamlessly integrated themselves with mainstream activities.  As an example, (and no surprise to those who really know me!) I will use this afternoon’s Ranger/Bruin hockey game.  Before you send me lots of comments and email pointing out that what I really wanted to write this blog installment about was the thrilling game – I plead 100% guilty.  I will try to at least give some lip service to mobile internet services while I carry on about the thriller in the “World’s most famous arena”.

The Rangers and Bruins started the day separated by just one point in the standings , with the Broadway Blues holding the advantage.  The Eastern Conference is very tight this year with only 6 points separating the top 7 teams! 

The teams traded excellent scoring chances in the first period with the Rangers testing the Boston goalposts, back boards and protective netting, as much as they challenged the Bruin goaltender. But with no pucks finding the twine of either goal, the period ended scoreless. 

The second period was similar to first with the intensity turned up several notches.  Jaromir Jagr powered by the Bruin defense on three occasions for close in tries, denied on each by Jay Auld, the Bruin net minder.  The Bruins finally did get some sustained pressure on the Rangers, with Henrik up to the challenge.  The second intermission came with no goals.

A special shout out at this point must go a Blue Shirt faithful in the “Blue Section”.  With exactly 1 minute and 5 seconds left in the period he yelled out “ Hey , how much time is left in the period?”.  The announcer of course then followed with “One minute left in the period.  The fan responded with a loud “Thank You!”.  19 thousand people laughed.  At least the tension of the game was broken for a bit.

The third period was frenetic.   Both goalies made acrobatic saves that seemed to defy the laws of physics.  At one point Sean Avery made a great power move to the net and flicked the puck off the left post – “groan!”.  Both teams tried the old tried and true method of pushing the defensemen and the goalie, along with the puck into the net.  In both cases the Referees were close at hand to restore order.

 With about 7 minutes left in the game, Scott Gomez completely undressed a Bruin Defensemen, stealing the puck in the offensive slot area.  Gomez came in on Auld totally uncontested…..and missed.

Both teams traded some good scoring chances in the 5 minute overtime, but it was obvious that this one would be settled “Mano a Mano” with a shootout.  After regular and OT play both goalies. had turned away a combined  64 shots.  That is a whole season of shots for a Soccer team!

(If you have gotten this far in the blog, I promise to have something about mobile services at the end!)

(Also if you have gotten this far there is a good chance we share some DNA!)

The shootout – a best of three – was as nerve racking as it gets in a big game.  Both teams missed their first shots.  Nigel Dawes, a Ranger rookie, took the second shot and ringed it off the left post and into the back of the net! After nearly 3 hours a puck finally entered the net!!  The Bruins missed their final two shots and as Henrik stooped David Krejci, bedlam broke out at the Garden. 

Playoff atmosphere hockey in Mid March.  Very Nice!

If you want to see video highlights of the game – follow this link:


So here is the wireless angle on this joyous day.

 At that start of the game I updated my “Up2” microblog with my whereabouts and the status of the game.  During the game there were three wireless polls taken of the audience.  I send an MMS picture of my daughter to be displayed on the arena’s jumbo-tron.  At one point my daughter got lost in the arena (actually she knew where she was,  I didn’t).  She texted me her location, which was back at our seats. ( I can put this in here because my wife does not read this blog!)  And lastly, this entire blog was written on my blackberry on the train ride home.  A very full day indeed!

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Filed under hockey, mobile