The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

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My Top 10 for 2011

  1. A break through year for LIVE online video
  2. Royal Wedding with 2 billion people watching, lifting the British national mood and putting on an amazing display of pageantry for the world
  3. Appreciating Steve Jobs. While there will never be another like him, he is already inspiring the current generation of entrepreneurs. His legacy and products will continue to inspire future generations. Thanks Steve. 
  4. The Harvest Wine Festival and NYC Winter Wine Festival selling out, showing the draw of grass roots events and popularity of wine tastings (see video)
  5. Weekend in Rio, staying in Ipanema on the beach and shooting video of Samba musicians on the Corcovado tram.
  6. Federal Judge Jed Rakoff refusing to accept the $285 million proposed settlement between the SEC and Citigroup over the sale of toxic mortgage securities. (Too low!)
  7. Parallels Desktop 7 and Mac
  8. The continued growth of the online video business
  9. Occupy Wall Street — a grass roots movement, w/ video providing access worldwide   
  10. Having the best wife and kids
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Online Video

Video Icon2

Image via Wikipedia

I have been spending a lot of time working with online video advertising of late and wanted to share some facts.  It is an important space, and as most media and marketing people know,  a fast growing one.  The world of television (content producers and viewers) continues to move rapidly online.  And many people are also creating and distributing original video content online (i.e. not from traditional content producers).  Annoying Orange anyone?  Gary Vaynerchuk and  Wine Library TV?  The streaming ads are following at a brisk clip.

Here are some interesting facts that came out in an Ad Age report earlier this week:

  • currently there 178MM online video viewers in U.S. (eMarketer)
  • online video advertising reached $1.5b in 2010 (up 48% from 2009) (eMarketer)
  • in 2011 nearly 1/3 all online ad dollars will go to video (eMarketer)

Outside North America the shift to video online is accelerating as well, especially in South America, Europe and Asia.  TwitCam is a top 100 site in Brazil (!).

In the video space there are a lot of key players.  The significant ones are:

  • Hulu…leading the way in terms of high quality content and ad revenue
  • YouTube…most viewers
  • Livestream … best in breed for live video events online and growing
  • Brightroll & AdSense …at the head of the class re: U.S. ad networks
  • Vizu …doing really interesting things with audience research

Here’s where it gets interesting:  2010 was the first year — ever — that cable subscriptions in the U.S. declined.  That’s right – they went down.  Competition is coming to a TV, computer, tablet or smart phone near you.  Cable and the MSO’s are on the run for the first time.  Stay tuned…or should I say “stay logged in”?

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Highlights from 3 Conferences

I have been to three industry conferences in the last 2 weeks:

  1. FutureVision (Sept. 16, Chicago)
  2. The NY Times Small Business Summit (Sept. 23, New York)
  3. Advertising Week (Sept. 27-30, New York, tag line: “Get Out of Your Head“)

All three provided a lot of information and — at various moments — insights.  In these challenging economic times,  there is one silver lining:  people are talking more, exchanging ideas actively and trying to figure how to manage “The New Normal”.

FutureVision was by invite-only and produced by Lyris,  the technology company I use for email marketing and analytics.  The one day session was jam packed with information and insights.  Some of the best moments included:

  • David Daniels of The Relevancy Group revealing some surprising stats, such as 52% of email marketers still do not target their messaging geographically and instead subscribe to the “spray and pray” strategy.
  • James Meers of the The British Museum Shop describing how his site’s Welcome Program pop-up has grown email registrations by 20%+ in just one year.  Excellent presentation and v-e-r-y Brit-ish.

The NY Times Small Business Summit featured some outstanding speakers, the best of which was Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.  He regaled the crowd of 800 with the story of how he and Ben Cohen started the company after taking a $5.oo mail-in correspondence course on ice cream making and then somehow got bank financing and rented a former gas station as their first store.  The only question afterward was whether such serendipity and luck can occur in today’s business climate.  Hmmm.  Another high point was a panel that included Paul Downs, founder & CEO of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers.  Paul writes a blog for The NY Times about the struggles of a small business trying to survive in a tough economy. It is called Staying Alive.  See his posts. He is engaging as a speaker,  and his message of survival is topical.

Advertising Week — tag line “Get Out of Your Head” — was a smorgasbord of sessions, speakers, panels and locations.  60,000 advertising professionals from all over the world.  Agencies, brands, technology providers — everyone connected with the industry.  I didn’t run into a single executive from a traditional media property though.  (I find that surprising and little troubling.)  The locus of the event was The Times Center,  which is where all the sessions I attended took place.

Here are the highlights.

  1. Best presentation: Designing An Agency for the Digital Age – Nick Law Chief  Creative Officer and Barry Wacksman , Executive Vice President Chief Growth Officer R/GA.  Brilliant and visionary.
  2. Best spontaneous Broadway song during a presentation: Carolyn Everson, Corporate Vice President, Global Sales and Strategy, Microsoft Advertising, who during ‘Pushing Entertainment in the Digital Age’,  brought out several Broadway performers who burst into song with an amusing ditty — piano accompaniment, dance steps, harmony and all.  She even had a cameo in the can-can line.
  3. Most insightful discussion on the future of agencies:  Stop Talking and Start Listening – Tapping Into The Collective Intelligence.  This panel featured Brian Collins, Chairman & CCO, COLLINS:, Michael Lebowitz, Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship, Ty Montague, Creative Director, Co. All had valuable  perspectives on how the big agency model is being broken down and left behind.
  4. Best quote:  “The future is a team sport.”  – Ty Montague,  regarding crowd-sourcing and the new agency model.
  5. Best (and simplest) Social Media insight: “think about what OBJECTS or PROMOTIONS marketers can deliver to FaceBook that deliver value to the social system and its people…” – David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect
  6. Key mobile media insights:  (i) by end of 2011 there will be more smart phones that regular mobile phones  (ii)  by end of 2013 more web access will occur via mobile than via computers
  7. Most interesting factoid: Android will eclipse iPhone by 2012.
  8. Best summation of the advertising industry today:   “We are at the beginning of an era where marketing will be more and more DATA DRIVEN and intelligent vs. MASS MEDIA and “scatter shot”.  Geico’s marketing is scatter-shot.  Amazon’s is targeted and data driven.  The question is: how will the distribution mechanisms change.” – Greg Rogers, CEO & Co-Founder, Pictela
  9. Most interesting question posed to an agency panel:  “What place does a 50 year old creative director have in today’s agency model?” During Stop Talking and Start Listening.
  10. 2nd best quote: “”The purpose of advertising is to help consumers decide”. – Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer, MediaBrandsSimple,  but true.

In my next post I will report on SMX – Search Marketing East conference.

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The Flight To Quality — and Value

The Flight To Quality” is an investment term for when investors move their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. In The New Normal I write about, I believe we are seeing a flight to quality across a broad spectrum of business: media & marketing, retail, entertainment, sports and more. And I believe it takes the form of a a “Flight To Quality…and VALUE“.

Sometimes it is truly about quality and less about price…Take for example the recent case where a package of bed linens bargain-priced for $35.00 at Kmart sold significantly LESS than a quite similar package at Pottery Barn that was priced at $129.00. Was this because upper middle class shoppers at Pottery Barn are spending more freely in the recession than lower middle class shoppers at Kmart? Maybe — but actually I believe it was because the Pottery Barn product was higher quality, longer lasting and therefore ultimate a better value.

Similarly, look at what has happened to the live entertainment industry in 2010. (See WSJ article.) A shockingly large number of high profile, major tour dates were canceled by some of the world’s best selling music artists: The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, The Dixie Chicks and others. The reason? Low ticket sales. The reasons cited were (i) the artists were touring too much (over-saturating their market) and (ii) they weren’t releasing any new music (no new albums). So the public said: “These tickets are expensive, really. I saw this artist last year, and he/she doesn’t have a new record.  It’s not worth it.”

“It’s not worth it.” The attitude and outlook of the New Normal is defined by the question: “Is it worth it?”

  • In Sports: “Is it worth it to re-up and continue being a season ticket subscriber in the face of my team’s lousy management and escalating ticket prices?” see NY Times piece on personal seat licenses
  • In Media and Marketing: “Is it worth it to re-up and spend lavishly on traditional (read: expensive) media buys like radio, TV and print? Or should I shift my focus even more to measurable media online and in the mobile space, where I can calculate my ROI?” WSJ 9/23/2010

The margin for error has gotten smaller. And whether you’re buying sheets, tickets or advertising, these days you are going to buy:

  1. what works
  2. what lasts
  3. what provides the most VALUE

Sometimes it is about lower price, sometimes it’s not. But making sure you get what you want and need has never been more relevant.

Sir Richard Branson. “Our businesses need to be innovative, maintain a certain quality, be value for money and have a sense of fun.

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Media & Marketing 3.0

Over the past several years I have reflected frequently on where we are in the evolution of media and marketing — with one (1) goal in mind:  what is the best way to market and promote a product or service RIGHT NOW.  What is the How/What/Where/Who?  To answer this question effectively it is helpful to review where we have been over the past 90 years.  There have been three main phases:
  1. Media & Marketing 1.0:  1920-1955 (Pre-Television Era)
  2. Media & Marketing 2.0:  1955-2009 (Post-Television Era)
  3. Media & Marketing 3.0:  2009 onward (Post-Digital Era)

In today’s world — the Post Digital Era — traditional mass media are in decline.  Just look at the numbers for newspaper, television and radio advertising.  New media (web, email, social and mobile) are of course on the rise.  Look no further than what major brand marketers and consumers are doing:

  • In 1999 mainstream media (TV, Print, Radio) captured 98% of all Ford Motor Co’s advertising dollars in North America.  Today it captures less than 70%. (source: Ad Age 2009)
  • Today internet advertising is greater than all broadcast radio ad spending (6% for Radio, 8% Internet) (source: NAB & IAB)
  • In 1985 there were 2 out-of-home audio choices (terrestrial radio, the Walkman).  Today there are at least 5 choices (satellite radio, mp3 players, Internet radio, terrestrial radio,  iPhones).

Bottom line: consumers are consuming media in many more ways than they were 10-15 years ago — thanks to the Internet.  And within digital media there are dozens of choices for advertisers to make when they decide on how to push out their message.  Below are just a few…12 to be exact:

web banners
email
paid search
behavioral targeting
widgets
social media
SEO (organic)
video
mobile media
iPhone apps
iPad apps
Internet radio

This list is not all encompassing either.  There are more areas within digital.  The point ultimately is not to get overwhelmed by the plethora of choices but to embrace them…and to find the sweet spot that is Marketing 3.0.  The diagram up top is a rough illustration of this.  Somewhere between Traditional Media, Internet and Mobile/Guerilla, is the right mix for any marketing campaign.  It is a more complicated world now; so the degree to which marketers become skilled “media mixologists” is more important than ever.

Embrace the choices,  embrace the mosaic of ways to get the message out.  You will be surprised and delighted when your mix hits just the right note.

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Wall Street Responds…And I Rebut

A good friend who works on the Street responded to my last post:
Just came across this email again.. My position doesn’t change. Wall Street was certainly a part of the equation but Barney Frank and his merry band of pranksters coupled with a willing and extraordinary irresponsible material driven populace are also complicit in the meltdown. Its easy to blame the “Banker” but let us not forget the power hungry “Politician” and the short sighted and often time fraudulent “Borrower” for they are equally at fault. Where’s the outrage about the massive pensions and gold plated health care that so many municipal workers have landed over the past 20yrs? Where’s the outrage about the tax payer funded loans the auto industry took and has yet to pay back. The same auto industry that for 20yrs was warned about fiscal discipline to no avail and negotiated with unions “job banks” to protect their workers while loosing money all the while? Where’s the rational discussion about the Feds role in strong arming the banks into funding low income (some might call sub-prime?) loans in order to increase home ownership to the highest levels in this country’s history. Where is the outrage beyond the “Banker”??

My counterpoint:
By the way, I am not vilifying successful Americans. I am an entrepreneur after all. I actually believe there ARE good bankers out there. And I am certainly not saying we should nationalize the banks or dismantle the free market system. Those aren’t good ideas. And neither is raising taxes. But a famous management guru once wrote: “People do what they are paid to do.” (i.e. “All economic activity boils down to incentives.”) WS folks got rewarded when they did things that weren’t always good for their firms in the long run, weren’t always good for Borrowers & Clients, and strayed over the line in terms of risk. Today they are still rewarded when they take risks with other people’s money (client’s, Main Street’s, government’s). As William Cohan wrote in the NY Times: “…the fact remains that the Dodd-Frank Act does nothing to change the terribly warped incentive system that continues to reward Wall Street bankers and traders for the revenues they produce by taking risks with other people’s money. It does nothing to hold bankers and traders responsible for their actions where it really matters — in their pocketbooks.”

My point is that bankers and traders should be held responsible for what they do. Just as Borrowers should be…and Auto makers…and Unions. We all should be. And of course at the end of the day we absolutely need the financial system, but can’t we ask for the same accountability from it that we expect from other sectors? I was interested in Bernanke’s comment in Congress this week. He said Americans were justifiably angry that bankers “who drove their companies into a ditch walked off with lots of money.” A simplification of the events, but perhaps a simple truth nonetheless.

As for credit being available…I don’t see it. Banks are not freely lending — at least not yet. Neither to small businesses nor consumers.

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