Romney's got problems...
Now that everyone realizes that you need a 2 year contract with AT&T to get the new iPhone and it will be extremely difficult for current AT&T/Cingular customers to get it, the complaints have already started. See this post from Om Malik at GigaOM called No Contract, No iPhone for You.
Simple reason you see. AT&T makes less money when an existing customer gets the phone. They don't get new revenue on the books. Sure there is a retention play, but that is hard to prove the value of it. Sounds ridiculous I know, but the quant-jocks at AT&T assume that x% will leave anyway and in order for a retention play to work, it needs to significantly lower the amount of people that would have left anyway. That my friends is called a Save Rate and it is hard to prove out significantly.
Hate to see it, but this was my prediction for the iPhone. Apple wins BIG and AT&T takes it on the chin with upset current customers, service issues, and of course that network of theirs will cause people headaches. I'll sit on the sidelines with my Verizon Treo and wait for the iPhone or a copycat version and use it on Verizon's great network.
Wow, I read this article in the WSJ called Summer Flying Turns Ugly and then I watched this video on a flight to Dallas from NY that took 10 hours and I think I should consider myself lucky for not being stranded for so long.
After reading that WSJ article it is clear to me that the airlines are going way over the top in making sure they are over booking flights that cause problems when one is canceled, making sure that every flight tries to take off so it doesn't cost them money, and squeezing every last ounce of profit by taking away our dignity on a flight (no food on the plane - come one).
Just watch this video it could happen to you. That's why whenever I can I'd rather ride the Acela to Washington DC or Boston. You take a flight to one of those cities from the NY area, and you are a LOSER! :-)
(FYI - READERS COMING OVER FROM ALL THINGS DIGITAL SHOULD SCROLL DOWN TO THE PREVIOUS POST)
The FCC and Senator Jay Rockefeller (Democrat from West Virginia) have nothing better on their mind than to continue to try and figure out how to control what gets piped into your television set. I've wrote about this quite a few times including, The FCC Thinks Your Parenting Skills Suck and Really The FCC and Senator Jay Rockefeller Think Your Parenting Skills Suck. I just don't get why the Senate continues to try and waste their time with this cooked up scheme by the FCC's Kevin Martin.
What got me fired up on my train ride back from DC was when I read this article by Amy Schatz from the WSJ called Television Violence gains Focus in Congress. Amy wrote a good article, but what surprised me the most was that it was buried on page B4 in the bottom left almost like the Journal didn't think it was very important. What kills me the most about this crappy Kevin Martin idea is what they think should be censored or not. If this Rockefeller Censorship Bill would pass it would give new Censorship Czar Kevin Martin the ability to enforce rules on airing violent programming between 6 am and 10 PM when children could be watching. It would exempt sports, news, and documentaries.
That's the problem with bills like this. The Government should not be intervening and deciding what is violent or not. They should set guidelines and ratings that inform parents about what they can expect. When the Government decides that News and Sports are exempt it is their attempt to control what you should see. Let me repeat this. NEWS IS THE MOST VIOLENT SHOW ON TV BECAUSE IT IS REAL.
As the folks over at televisionwatch.org have written 92% of parents believe they should be the ones who control the TV not the Government. There is a ton of information on their site including polls and tools for parents. Get involved. Do something other than lay on the couch and let Rockefeller and Martin control your TV. How about something simple as write your Senator? You can find the list and contact information at the NRSC.org website.
I know, I know you must be sick of these by now. I seriously have some other posts on the way (I'll stagger them over the next two days), but I couldn't resist making a follow up one after I read this post courtesy of Kara Swisher called Wenda Speaks. Kara basically got the chance to speak with Wenda; I guess (having been a) reporter for the WSJ has some privileges versus an advertiser :-) Key points of the post for me with some commentary next to it include:
A lot of people have asked me why all of the posts and if I still will advertise with Yahoo. Wenda and the rest of the sales team at Yahoo have been excellent to me over the years; and, this dates back to 1998. I had no intention of just ranting all day long against Yahoo or inserting myself into this conversation. Wenda was savvy enough a few years back to meet with me when I controlled a multi-million dollar advertising budget when most sales executives would rather wine and dine with my CXOs. Wenda always worked with me, her team delivered great results for me, and when I was out and about looking for my next career move, Wenda took the time out of her busy day to answer my emails. Will I still advertise with Yahoo? Absolutely, I just felt a sense of loyalty to someone who reached out to me a few years back.
I saw this post today from GigaOM who always does a fine job of reminding me to make a post on Vonage. Om Malik points out the Vonage has a $3.99 per month save offer for current clients as well as outlining why Vonage is nearing the end. BTW, that save offer is probably there so that when they start to go under they can keep a few customers on the books for the acquiring company.
Anyway, I checked in with the WSJ and it really looks like they are at the end with their current defense of "oh we believe the judge gave bad instructions to the jury but didn't object at the time because it wouldn't have mattered anyway". That's the same sort of line when your boss yells at you for not pointing out something to them or your wife yelling at you and you just want to crawl away and hide.
I wonder why one of the judges asked if there was some middle ground? Who cares. Seriously. If someone broke the law and then milked millions out of people who bought their worthless stock, than why shouldn't it be allowed to go under. Its about time they get what they deserve which is a little payback.
A little follow-up post for you readers because I'm still fired up about some of the articles I read on Wenda Harris Millard leaving Yahoo. Before my little rant, let me give you a quick background. I've probably spent over $50 million (could be $100 million, but I can't remember back to my AT&T days) in online advertising with Yahoo since 1998 and thats for all kinds of clients and employers, so unlike a lot of articles and posts you are reading, I actually have a ton of experience with them. What confuses me the most about this "divorce" is that Yahoo is using it to repackage their sales force to combine their search and display ads when I've seen no evidence that the sales process was separate under Wenda.
In fact, based on my experience, the display sales teams bent over backwards to sell Yahoo Search while the search guys couldn't spell banner if you spotted them the n's and the b. Seriously and whenever I had deals with both businesses it was the search team that actually isolated themselves. The last few years I've seen the display teams cross sell search and of course bring other properties to the mix. Every sales executive sold both and that goes for financial services as well as politics.
Witness a nice meeting we had today with Google. The Google Sales team talked search as well as display ads and spent the bulk of our meeting on video and banners ads (we obviously didn't need a tutorial on search). It was seamless and they didn't skip a beat when it came to display ads. However, the Google team was selling from a strength (search) into another product their display ads capabilities. Yahoo should also follow that model, but their strength is not search but their web properties powered by display ads. Sure they have the Harrisdirect search study that shows when you run both at the same time your results increase, but to think you lead from something that you clearly are in the second place seems silly, no?
Anyway, I think Wenda deserves better than what she's getting on the way out the door. She wasn't the reason their sales forces were not integrated and she certainly isn't the reason marketers don't spend more on Yahoo Search. Search for smart marketers is your first stop for ROI and if you've seen what I've experience of later for ALL CLIENTS is that Yahoo Search just doesn't convert like it did in the past and wagging the display dog with the search tail seems very risky.
So, I logged on today to make a quick post before I go down to DC for a series of big meetings, and what do I find online? Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo's now former Chief Sales Officer is leaving Yahoo for Martha Stewart Living and now I'm very concerned about Yahoo's future. However, before I give my ode to Wenda who I'm obviously a big fan of, let me explain why I'm concerned. According to this press release from Yahoo that announced her resignation, Yahoo is planning on combining their display and search advertising teams under the leadership of David Karnstedt. Why am I worried? Seems shocking that Wenda is gone because they had to combine them under someone who heads their search sales business which in AT&T terms is the tail wagging the dog at Yahoo.
Based on my experience with Yahoo search it is definitely lagging behind Google and the display advertising was what separated Yahoo from Google. Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Messenger, and heck the homepage are the crown jewels of display advertising world while search is a not even close second. To remove the person responsible for those units in favor of search seems odd. Yes, I am a HUGE fan of Google, but that doesn't mean that Yahoo should throw the display baby out with the search bath water. Besides, take a look at my recent crappy experience with Yahoo Search and you'll see why this is bizarre.
For one of my huge financial services clients I had a large deal with the Yahoo Finance team. As usual, they cross sold me into different businesses and one of them was Yahoo Search (not like I need a cross sell, but anyway). So, I do a deal with Yahoo Search's sales team that was about 5% of the entire spend on Yahoo. Yahoo! Finance gave me credit to run the advertising, but the geniuses at Yahoo Search did not. Was that Wenda's fault? No. It was the Search team. Let me rewrite that for you; I received $100Ks in credit to buy display ads on Yahoo Finance but couldn't Yahoo Search could give me a dime in credit. Then when I had trouble getting the campaigns live, which took about 3 different IOs to be signed, was that Wenda's fault? No. Once again it was Yahoo's Search team. I get how important search is and I've been running with Google and Yahoo since Day 1 for both of them, but I'm shocked that Wenda was removed for this.
You see, out of all of the sales teams and executives that I've dealt with since 1998, Wenda was the best executive out of all of them. Have you ever seen her lead a meeting or a conference? She is the perfect speaker. No I mean it. She is perfect. Every move is choreographed and every word is perfect. I don't think she could pronounce Umm if you whispered it in her ear.
I met Wenda about 5 years ago when she met with all of her key customers in Finance and every quarter I had lunch with her. When E*Trade acquired Harrisdirect, she offered me advice about my career. When HD was called into a lawsuit between Overture and a vendor of mine (there's that search problem again), she took it upon herself to help us out. Wenda Harris is the best sales officer on the internet. (that's PERIOD).
I got wind of her leaving a few days ago, but it was flatly denied by my contacts at Yahoo, and they almost put off as ridiculous. Now the reigns have been handed to someone else and I can't help but feel concerned for Yahoo. Again, it feels like the tail wagging the dog. Good luck Wenda and good luck Yahoo with your new strategy, you'll need it.
P.S. Links to other posts:
On the eve regarding AT&T's big launch, I thought I'd give you my opinion why the iPhone can't possibly live up to the hype for AT&T. However, before I do, let me give you readers a little background on my favorite subject me, so you don't think I'm some blithering idiot blogger who doesn't know anything about wireless. If you already know, feel free to skip the next paragraph.
From 1995 through 1999, I was part AT&T's Wireless Bundling Marketing team that was charged with marketing AT&T Wireless Service to AT&T's Long Distance customer base. My group was charged with running the direct marketing (yes Direct Mail and Telemarketing), working with AT&T Wireless to generate wireless offers, developing bundled offers (free phones, 30 free minutes of LD minutes per month, bundling the bills), and other marketing functions. Back in Basking Ridge NJ people among other less flattering names, used to call me Bundle Boy and my marketing plans dropped millions of millions of direct mail per year and made millions and millions of outbound telemarketing calls. It was quite an operation until AT&T Wireless built their own capabilities and we all moved on. I signed (not my real signature) almost every direct mail piece that was dropped and you can see the picture on the right from the original mailing in 1995.
My Top Reasons Why AT&T/iPhone Can't Live Up to The Hype:
Anyway, my prediction goes like this. The iPhone is an absolute home run, heck a grand slam for Apple. They get into the market and provide a great product; so they are starting virtually from scratch and have nowhere to go but up. Demand too large, they say "oh sorry" and the hype builds more. Meanwhile, AT&T takes it on the chin for building too much demand with TV ads, internet ads, radio ads, stores, direct mail, print, heck anything else they can stick a message on. Plus, too much of the base migrates which adds pressure to their numbers or worse yet, the base gets pissed off because they can't get a phone.
In the end, Apple WINS BIG and AT&T BARELY SURVIVES until a cheaper phone shows up.
Yes, I'm about 5 days behind making this post, but other things caught my attention and I do have one full time jobs and a couple of side things that keeps me busy (BTW - that's why I don't consider myself a full-time blogger). Anyway, the NYTimes had an article called MySpace Mini-Episodes, Courtesy of Honda and I went through the entire article and test drove the TJ Hooker episode and I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea. Here's the basic idea:
Seriously, it is brilliant. I can't really see it hurting DVD sales and to be blunt it may even help. How many of you are going to run out and buy the Facts of Life in DVD? (Did anyone else have a crush on Nancy McKeon besides myself while in school?) Plus it introduces these shows to a generation that will never see them because they've probably outlived their TV syndication usefulness .
I watched the TJ Hooker episode and you could definitely get a feel for the show and the plot. That is, bad guy on the loose, James T Kirk chases him but fails at first, Heather Locklear make it look easy being sexy, and then Kirk fights the villain and wins in the end rescuing his partner. It was enjoyable, fast watching, virtually commercial free, and looked great on the little screen.
The only concerns I might have is limiting it to MySpace only for now and how Honda will judge success. The sponsorship for now is 6 figures and as the article mentions, Honda is trying to sell the Honda Fit. Also found in the NY Times article is this "Lauren Mehl, associate media director at RPA in Santa Monica, Calif., said the agency would evaluate the subsequent sponsorship opportunities based on how the commercials perform their run on MySpace."
I wonder what Honda will deem success. It fits in with their positioning of their car, but other than boosting awareness and visits to the site, I think they'll have a hard time proving car sales are being generated from these ads, but maybe they have some other measurements.
This is clearly a homerun product and besides being available on the web, you can bet the format will find a home on your cell phone in the future as well as other online properties. Hopefully, more studios will follow the lead.
Very good article over in today's Wall Street Journal called Long Race Forces Ad Ingenuity. It includes a few quotes from Becki Donatelli on John McCain's search campaign and you can guess who runs it for Becki, ME. Here are some highlights for you:
The reason I pulled those quotes was to highlight the differences between McCain's search strategy versus others and to show that we are very focused on raising donations via search. Search as I've written in the past and if you've ever met with me you know, that it should be your lowest cost ROI and politics is no different. It isn't that we don't care about traffic, but compared to other advertisers it is definitely secondary.
The other part of the article that was interesting was the focus on blog advertising instead of display advertising on news sites like Yahoo. I can see the love affair with advertising online versus the cost for similar TV spots, but I don't see why the WSJ didn't make the same comparison for more main stream news sites. Political blogs are awesome and they definitely cater to more politically attuned voters (and perhaps your primary voters), but you can appeal to a wider audience outside of the political blogosphere. Perhaps that's why Google is so successful; we are able to find the non-blog reading individual that is interested in politics at this early stage.
Well, that's about as far as I can go because any deeper I can get into some trouble. I'm happy that the WSJ picked up on our search campaign and spent the time to dig into it a little more than what the typical blog posts write about. So, the next time a blogger comments on McCain search ads running on their site you can now get an insight into why the ads appear there and you should know, that we most likely DID NOT directly target your audience.
I read this week's BusinessWeek cover story called Telecom: Back From The Dead and I couldn't help notice how they glanced over the RBOC's shrewdness to get rid of their only real competition for wireless and wireline - the former telecom providers like AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article which got me a little fired up:
If the old telecom world was dominated by bloated regional monopolies, the new world is a competitive mosh pit stocked with sinewy players. That's reflected in how much more productive the industry has become. While telecom revenues are now 19% higher than they were in 2000, that money supports just 1.1 million workers, down nearly 30% from boom-era levels. "It has gotten unrelentingly competitive in every area: broadband, land line, and wireless," says AT&T's new CEO, Randall Stephenson.
For the big carriers such as at&t, Verizon, and Qwest, the main challenge is to slow defections of traditional land-line customers while producing faster revenue growth in new markets such as wireless, Internet service, pay TV, and advertising. The carriers must overcome their reputation for being "dumb pipes" and prove they can fill their networks with innovative bundles of products and services that strike a chord with customers-
I really beg to differ with the new, new AT&T's new CEO Randall Stephenson. There is less competition for the services he's mentioned not more. His comments are ridiculous and just political spinning so they can go out and gobble out more companies whenever they can while the FCC barely pays attention to their own data. There may be competition on the data and infrastructure side which is outlined in the article, but there is no competition less than 30 minutes from the old AT&T's and now current Verizon Corporate HQ in Basking Ridge NJ.
The article lays out the RBOC's strategy for the past 10 years as shown on that second paragraph above. (My words first) Get rid of the real competition so that it is easier to slow defections of traditional land-line customers
while producing faster revenue growth in new markets such as wireless,
Internet service, pay TV, and advertising.
Back in my earlier career at AT&T, we were taught the 5 P's of marketing: Product, price, place, promotion, and POLITICS. There was plenty of marketing back in those days - do you remember them? The phone calls, the offers, the price wars, and etc. Those are gone? Why? Because the Baby Bells were better than the old AT&T, MCI, and others in working the political angle and the RBOCs were able to enter the LD/Internet market while making it nearly impossible and costly for the LD competitors to get into their market. Now a few years later, they don't market unless it is a new service and certainly don't spend any time on wireline programs. That world is silent.
Is the country better off? I don't know. Again, back in the day, there were grumblings that people didn't want to deal with switching providers and it was all just a game. Well a few years later, the game is over and the RBOCs face no battles over their turf. This allows them to expand and spend on new areas, while it totally turns wireline into the cash cow that they always thought it should be. They get to set prices at whatever they want, cut back on headcount, lower marketing all while spending in growth areas. That's what brought them back from the dead.
Don't believe me? Well ask a veteran of the telecom wars from the 90s. Need something recent? Check out this interview with AT&T new CEO Randall Stephenson where he slips up (yeah right) and says IPTV will be our next multibillion-dollar revenue stream. We're working hard to have the largest video platform in the U.S. [AT&T later clarified to say that statement applies only to the states it serves.]. They only need to focus on their own area which is a huge competitive advantage and that's courtesy of the FCC.
Just got this from AdAge that Terry Semel resigned from Yahoo and that Jerry Yang has been announced as his replacement. This is clearly a move to appease investors that were pressuring him to leave. I can't say I saw this coming, but I do personally believe he was taking too much heat for watching Google grow. You could have said that ABOUT THE ENTIRE INTERNET COMMUNITY except for Google.
Yahoo does have some serious properties like Yahoo! Finance, Sports, Yahoo! Answers and of course Yahoo News, but PPC search is falling behind (my opinion based on actual campaigns in market) and not sure where they appear on the social networking radar. Yahoo does try and push everything in as holistic manner as possible and their sales team is one of the best out there, so all is not doom and gloom.
I met with Terry a few times and I'll never forget his reassurances to me when we were launching Harrisdirect's Elsie Lee campaign. He basically said "don't worry, Yahoo has your back". Unfortunately for Terry, nobody had his back. The internet world is changing and the way people get their news and information is changing too. Perhaps it takes one of Yahoo's founders to come back and reinvent Yahoo all over again. BTW: Here's the letter exchange between Terry Semel and Yahoo's Board.
This is a true story, I don't exaggerate at all. On Tuesday I had a two hour meeting in Norfolk Virginia, so instead of taking the train from Edison NJ to DC and hitching a ride with a co-worker, I thought it would be faster and cheaper to fly round trip. Little did I know that Norfolk has a pact with Continental Airlines to cause people to stay over night there. So here's my tale of woe....
My meeting in Norfolk ended early and I was dropped after at the airport. I put myself on the 5:30 flight instead of my original 7PM flight and by the time I got through security and walked to the gate, they canceled BOTH flights. Good old Continental couldn't have warned me before I rebooked myself? <sigh>.
So I turned around and walked back to the ticket counter and stood in line with a bunch of angry New Jerseyans and angry people trying to get to Seattle. I couldn't go the eTicket route and of course good old Continental only HAD 2 PEOPLE working the counter. So, after standing in line for 25 minutes behind a bunch of sweaty angry Jersey guys, I was able to rebook my flight to 1PM on Wednesday. You see, I couldn't fly anywhere else BECAUSE CONTINENTAL ONLY FLIES TO CLEVELAND, NEWARK, AND HOUSTON FROM NORFOLK (reason #1 to never do this again).
I then got a room in the Norfolk Airport Hilton for $169+taxes but to my surprise, the restaurant in this Hilton was an upscale version of Ruby Tuesdays (yuck). I also was without any clothes or toiletries and unfortunately I can't walk anywhere around the hotel because there are NO sidewalks (reason #2 to never stay here again). So, I grabbed a $20 cab ride to Virginia Beach for a great meal on the bay at a place called Lynnhaven Fish House. I had their she-crab soup, baked scallops with crab and some cheese, salad, dessert and of course a few cocktails. My waitress also was from a town close to Long Valley NJ so the company was welcoming. I then hopped back in a $20 cab ride but this time to stop at the ONLY clothing store in the area, Walmart (reason #3 to never do this again).
I ran into Walmart and bought a $10 pair of brown leather sandals, a $10 black Spider-Man tshirt, a pair of boxer shorts, and what I thought was a $14 pair of size 36 denim wrangler shorts. When I got back to my hotel room and tried everything on, the shorts were so big that I pulled them up to my neck. Always useless Walmart had a pair of size 48s on a size 36 hangar. Sigh, I had to wear the same pair of black dress pants with my brown sandals and Spider-Man tshirt for a second day in a row (YUCK and boy did I look special).
On Wednesday, I checked my flight which was on time for the moment and worked in the hotel all morning. By the time I got to the airport at 11:15, I was told that Continental had canceled both earlier flights and both later flights so that there was only 2 out of the original 6 flights running. Why is that? Well a nice Continental employee told me that Continental picks on Norfolk because it is a) small and b) it is in the flight path coming from the south into Newark so that if other flights got priority they CANCEL THE FLIGHTS FROM NORFOLK (reason #4 to never do this again). To save my fingers, here's the rest of my story in bullet form:
Reasons #5 to #12 to never do this again
I got home at 5PM with what was supposed to be an hour and 15 minutes in the air. It was terrible. Oh and if you think I was the only one, check out the line at Continental's customer service counter when I walked by. Morale of this story is to:
NEVER FLY CONTINENTAL AIRLINES INTO NORFOLK VIRGINIA FROM NEWARK, EVER.
A saw this article today over at Time called The Politics of Search and then a blog post by the author Bill Tancer from Hitwise called Election 2008 and I was surprised at the following written conclusion from Bill regarding pay per click advertising:
It appears that at this early stage in the campaign candidates are relying solely on organic search results — in other words, they aren't buying any significant search-term advertising to boost their traffic from search engines. Watching the latest round of political debates, I've become a little skeptical of both side's commitment to their political platform. If candidates feel so strongly about the top issues of the day, then perhaps they should purchase keywords on those issues to stake out their positions. If a candidate wants to broadcast a position on abortion, why not purchase the term "abortion," "pro-life" or "pro-choice?"
The bolded statements surprised me a bit because they are really inaccurate and I'm a little surprised that a MSM company like Time didn't fact check it properly. Case in point and NOT using my personal blog posts yet to prove these are inaccurate:
I think political campaigns are very committed to search marketing. I personally see ALL of the ads multiple times per day. I've written before that PPC advertising is a very dynamic marketplace. There are many reasons why a candidate buys or does not buy words and even when they are buying a certain word, there are valid reasons why their ad may not appear the exact moment when someone decides to write an article. Come on Bill, you just need to spend more time searching for political ads.
I'm really tired of people not fact checking PPC advertising and just making assumptions when they search a few times and don't see anything. Remember even when a campaign is buying a word, they may have hit their daily spend and that's why the ads doesn't show. Simple answer. There were plenty of clues (as shown above) that the 2008 candidates are committed to search advertising; some more than others but enough data is out there.
I saw this latest Rasmussen Report on Bloomberg's impact on the Presidential Race in NJ and I couldn't help but be a little quizzical about these early polling data. Now before I continue, let me set the ground rules for this post: 1) I'm currently running John McCain's online advertising but I don't see behind the scenes polling data; I see reports like the above just like an average American. 2) I have never spent a lot of time with polling data 3) I love quantitative research and back to my earlier career at AT&T spent in a group that was part of Bell Labs for a while, so I do have a better than average (being modest here for once) understanding of quantitative research for a marketer. However, that was pure product research not political surveys.
When I saw the numbers and the writeup I couldn't help myself but think, what is the value of this early polling data? Sure in Northern NJ Bloomberg has a ton of name recognition, but hasn't entered the race. We don't know what he would spend or what his stand on issues are. All Northern NJ folks know is that he is Mayor of NY, rich, and (my opinion) seems to be doing a good job with The City (umm - NY is the center of the universe) that is when he isn't talking about a commuter tax or increasing the cost to drive a car in Manhattan. Since we know nothing about a Presidential Candidate Bloomberg, isn't this survey just about name recognition? Here's are some excerpts from the report that got me thinking:
So, I'm not writing anything about a Bloomberg campaign, just that I have questions about surveys this early on in the Political cycle for someone that hasn't entered a race, has huge name recognition, and where we have no idea what he stands on issues. Besides that, how was the survey weighted? What's the impact of telling someone in advance as you conduct the survey of how much the survey company thinks a candidate will spend and what they think a candidate's stands are on issues. I don't know, but this makes me think about the value of early polling data or am I off base here? Feel free to correct me....I'd like to know.
Did you ever want to know where Google ran your text ads when you opted into Content? Were you unwilling to pay for a bid manager or tracking device that could provide it for you? Well, have no fear search true believers, Google has answered your prayers for more visibility. If you've been reading this blog or have known me for a long time, you know that I urge you to tread carefully when it comes to content.
Quick lesson: when you run a search campaign with Google you have three options; Google only, search results from websites in Google's network, and content targeting where Google serves your ads based on keyword targeting. Oh coincidentally, content is currently the only place within Google where you can run image and video ads. Ok, back to our show.
Back a few years ago, I almost always turned content off. However, these days I'm becoming more at ease with content, especially now with Google's content placement report. As the press release and Inside AdWords blog writes, you can now see where you ads ran (by domain and URL level) as well as impressions, clicks, CTR, conversions, and CPA performance metrics. This gives you almost complete visibility into your content media buys. Why is this so important?
So besides having the report available, I'd like to see Google make improvements to their targeting engine and give you the ability to opt out of sites based on a minimum monthly impression level. Once you run it, you'll see the Long Tail of search marketing at its best and realize that if you only want your brand on a few sites, you'll end up just opting out of 100s of smaller ones. Anyway, I love the fact that Google provides this visibility and once you have it activated you should run the report ASAP. Now, if only Yahoo will figure out this report too, than we might have a better picture of content.
No, despite my rant from last night after getting screwed in the ending (yes I fall on that side of the debate), I did not drop HBO because of the Sopranos ending. I've been planning on dropping it for months now, but refused because of the Sopranos. Why?
Back in the day, you had to own HBO if you wanted to see any decent movies. Now? There are so many things that vie for your attention that you can pass on it. The movies are useless unless you need to see the same movie over and over again and none of the shows except the ones mentioned above grabbed my attention and that includes Deadwood and 6 Feet Under.
The Sopranos besides being compelling TV year after year, was HBO's one holdover from an era when it was must-pay-for-subscription TV. It was the link to its glory days as a channel and sadly broadband, NetFlix, DVD sales, World of Warcraft, and the multitudes of viewing options has reduced this once proud channel to a monthly service charge on your cable bill that reminds me of AT&T's Carrier Cost Recovery Fee.
Oh, one final thought to everyone that thinks this was so brilliant of a move by HBO and Chase regarding the surprise ending. Will it stop HBO disconnects or increase subscriptions? I doubt it because what does the show ending have to do with selling the HBO franchise. It may help with DVD sales but that's at least 6 months away (my guess) where the cache of the non-ending will have worn off. All of that buzz and traffic? It may help David Chase and immortalize (if it wasn't already) The Sopranos, but HBO? Other than DVD sales, it won't provide help. Heck, A&E which plays the reruns will get more out of it.
But that ending was terrible. Leave it up to the viewer to decide? Come on. That was lame. I paused the show about 53 minutes into it and said to my wife, nothing can happen because he doesn't have enough time. 10 or so minutes of a setup for nothing...what a waste.
I have a much more detailed thought to describe what this ending was like but I can't go into it because some day my kids will read this blog. However, let's just say it involves something ending WAY before you planned it to while in the bedroom...
Look David Chase, we didn't need you to leave it up to us to figure out our own ending. That's not what we pay you for (yes via HBO). We want to be entertained by a professional. Probably the only thing good about this is The Sopranos can now live forever in user generated content and video. BA DA BING.
Sure some people will say it is brilliant and say he got what he wanted, people talking about it. (BTW - you can read Sepinwall's column and at 12AM 17 out of the top 20 Hottest Trends on Google were for The Sopranos) And, they'll also tell you, that's what David Chase does. Perhaps now that Chase and Company have left it up to the viewer, it can spawn all sorts of endings from Sopranos fans. Good luck HBO you were a good thing, but now we're........(see PS Below)
BTW: I dropped HBO this morning via DirecTV. It was fast and painless and completely automated. I wonder how many other people dropped it today?
PS: More updates from the Sopranos message board over at NJO.com. Besides angry people like myself, there seems to be three schools of thought on the end scene:
Anyway, still upset with anything but #2 above. I don't go with #1 because there seems to be WAY TOO MANY enemies in the NJ restaurant to coordinate that hit and Tony made peace with NY. Sure Phil's relatives would be upset, but who are they working for? Finally, this from a post from NJFan26:
This morning I heard an interview with Frank Vincent, the guy who plays Phil. He said that the last scene was meant to symbolize that Tony would have to live the rest of his life being paranoid about who is walking in the door whether it is the FBI, a hit, or just anyone coming to take him away our take him out. That is his ultimate punishment. He can never relax without having to look over his shoulder.
Is David Chase brilliant and was the show over all these seasons brilliant? Yes and Yes. I still don't like the ending unless it was #2. Oh well.
Some more final thoughts for you folks that subscribe to #1. I replayed the ending on TiVo:
My blog friend Bill Tancer from Hitwise provides a great snapshot of the use of Google products both before and after the new Google Universal Search changes. You can read Bill's post on the big winners and losers, but what I find completely fascinating is the dominance of just a few of Google's products plus how that product usage has a changed over the last year. On May 22, 2006, I wrote the following post called Behind Google's Numbers which talked about Google's product extension and that the top 4 Google products at the time made up almost 97% of its traffic (search: 80%, image: 10%, gmail: 5.5%, news: 1.5%).
Now, a little over a year later according to Bill showed that the top 4 now composed only 93% of the traffic (search: 69%, YouTube 11.5%, image 7.5%, gmail: 5%) and if you wanted to get to the same 97% level you now need to add it video 1.4%, maps 1.4%, news 1%, blogger 0.5%. The mix is a little different with the YouTube acquisition and even with the new Universal Search process you can see that one of their plans is to spread out a user's product usage. That's your classic bundling strategy.
Now what Google's "competitors" had as an advantage over them was trying to monopolize a user's time by keeping them in their family of websites for as long as possible. Google in the beginning had a simple search page and they tried very hard to avoid making it cluttered with a bunch of links (and still do). So, while Google's product team continues its product line extension it also knows that they need to gather a larger share of a user's internet activity. Google probably thinks that while having a ton of search activity does wonderful things for your income statement in the short term, they need to continue to be relevant in the long term by increasing usage beyond search.
The new Universal Search strategy goes a long way to putting more Google products right at your fingertips. Now, relevant results whether it is news, video, books, etc can be found in the search results and if you want to drill down in a certain area (ex - blogs) you can hit a link at the top of the results. Besides improving search, it has the added benefit of putting more of Google's products easily within reach.
Take this search results link on John McCain over at Yahoo. Do you see the Yahoo Answers Senator McCain had a few months back? No. No link at the top or within the search results. Not even by the Also Try link. Yahoo could also cross sell you (delicately) into the special elections page they set up for all of the 2008 candidates, but they don't. Is this altering your results? Yes, but as I pointed out above, they already have a spot for Also Try so what's the harm?
How about over at MSN? Well, let's just say they have a lot of work to do starting with traffic.
This just illustrates again that Google continues to outmaneuver their competitors. It reminds me of a quote from my friend Jim W when we were in college at Rutgers. Back then the Men's basketball team had two transfers named Duncan and Hughes and when I asked Jim what they were like in practice, Jim replied "Men, playing with boys Eric. Just like men playing basketball against boys."
Yesterday morning I got this very thought provoking (at least in my mind) question from AdAge which I reprinted below:
A beer that hailed from Germany once had a certain cachet -- as did chocolate from Belgium or an electronic device from Japan. But recent research from Anderson Analytics has found that when it comes to college-age consumers, a brand's country of origin is unimportant. In a world where the internet is a great leveler, geographic boundaries -- and heritage -- are a lot less relevant, at least among campus-age consumers. And in fact, many of those surveyed incorrectly identified where certain brands came from. All of which begs the question whether the days of jingoism and flag-waving are numbered -- and whether marketing tactics such as the "Heartbeat of America" are flat-lining. Is the time for evoking a brand's country of origin in its marketing over?
Now before I jump into the question, I Googled the survey mentioned in the question and after I read the results, I had a different spin on it. You can find the link to the summary of the survey from Anderson Analytics here and you can actually download their results from this link. The conclusion in the summary is this: For the most part, this next generation of educated American consumers either have no clue where the brands they use come from or simply assume everything comes from the United States, Japan, or Germany said Tom H. C. Anderson, Managing Partner, Anderson Analytics,
While I have no doubt that conclusion is true, what I didn't see in the report was how clueless these college students really were versus the general population. Now that would have been interesting to see if college students really don't care or are they just as clueless as the rest of us. To test your knowledge, take the three question poll below. Anyway, back to the AdAge poll.
While I do agree that the internet is breaking down time and distance boundaries, however country of origin still should matter. Fine wine from Napa, CA or video games from Japan do help a brand with instilling certain values into the product. Are you more likely to buy a wine made in NJ or from a certain region in France? I sometimes drink a Texas hand made vodka called Tito's and it tastes great, but people turn their nose up when they hear it is from Texas instead of France or Russia.
If college students can't identify a product's country of origin maybe it is up to the marketer to figure out a better way of reaching out to them rather than using the same old marketing techniques that don't work any more. Maybe the reason people are so confused is that the battle for our attention is so complex these days that they can't figure out a way to break through. The marketer needs to maximize every opportunity to push their key product attributes and for certain products that means country of origin. Sure the internet is awesome for making the world a lot smaller, but that doesn't mean the world at large wants the same boring homogenized products. (take the poll below and see post continuation for answers to see how you did)
Well Google announced that they are rolling out Google Audio to advertisers this month and a few of my Google accounts had it turned on. When I played around with the interface, I almost ran a campaign for my own personal Google account but then I realized it might cost me a few $100 dollars for a test. Here's what I liked about what I saw:
Unlike print advertising which I think is an absolute waste of marketing dollars unless you are advertising at the local level, I think radio has a little bit of branding opportunity because the audience especially drive time is a captive one. The trick as anything with advertising is to make sure you can measure your ROI, but if Google can make it easier for the small marketer to enter into the radio market, than more power to them. Also, know what you are getting which is an auction based simpler process to getting into radio - you are not getting the measurement and results that you've come to expect from AdWords.
Well, that's why I'm bullish on Google Audio and you should be too if you ever wanted to test out Radio advertising. The only other warning I could give you is to make sure you don't step too hard on your offline advertising co-woker's or agency's toes. Using Google Audio to replace them may be hazardous to your career opportunities :-)
Yes, I know I'm very late on this post, but so what? As far as I can tell, nothing new is happening. On May 31st President Bush stopped by in NJ and raised $675,000 for NJ Republicans in their uphill battle to win NJ political offices. Towards the end of the article, The Star Ledger lists out the money situation: Democratic candidates in this year's legislative elections had raised $19.3 million compared with $8 million raised by Republican candidates. The Democrats had $8.1 million in their campaign accounts as of May 25, while Republicans had $3.4 million. Pretty grim, right?
So, while I spent time on NJO.com looking for this article and trying to find out who won in Morris County's Primary, did I see ANY political ads? No. Nothing. I saw plenty of network run banner ads like Lowermybills.com and Verizon but no political ads. PoliticsNJ.com has no political ads either. Searching on Google around NJ politics, NJ voting results, John Corzine, heck even Jim McGreevey shows no ads. Instead of using the $675K for same old marketing techniques that aren't working, perhaps NJ Republicans should take to the internet.
How about search ads attacking Governor Corzine? How about running display ads on NJO.com? Targeting campaigns on Yahoo and AOL to NJ residents? You can build commercials or video ads pretty cheaply, host them on YouTube or your own site and direct traffic into it. Sure Corzine has a ton of cash and as outlined above, NJ Democrats have some money, but online advertising can level the playing field. When I was at Harrisdirect, we were regularly being outspent overall by Schwab, E*Trade, TD Waterhouse, and Ameritrade, but online we were a big player and ranked 17th largest in the US.
If you know what you are doing, you can out market your opponents on the internet where targeting, media planning, as well as creative all converge. Plus, knowing in real time what works and doesn't work and then making changes can keep you ahead of any competition. Sure, money still counts, but the internet has a way of minimizing big money when you take intro account audience duplications. Plus, given that I found ZERO political ads means that the Democrats also have no clue on online advertising techniques, so NJ Republicans might as well get ahead of them in one critical area. TAKE THE $675k THAT THE PRESIDENT RAISED FOR YOU AND SPEND A GOOD CHUNK OF IT ONLINE.
Yes, by now you know that The Sopranos is wrapping up this coming Sunday, but one of the unsung heroes associated with the show has been The Star Ledger's Alan Sepinwall Monday morning column called Sopranos Rewind. Well up until recently it was printed in the paper edition of the Ledger every Monday, but now if you need need your Sepinwall fix on Monday you had to go online to his column. More on that in a second, first let me sing Sepinwall's praises.
The wrap up was essential reading for any real fan of the show. He gave honest reviews that told it like it was, unlike other reviewers that shilled for the show. Sepinwall broke down the plot, filled in blanks on the show, unraveled some of the show's quirks (ex, when a character gets killed they almost always wear white shoes, except for Paulie who always wears white), pointed out where characters have been or the last time you saw them, and most importantly tied recent events with shows from years past. Truly a must read every Monday morning.
That was until a few weeks ago. It seems Sepinwall was missing the deadlines when he wrote his review forcing diehard readers like myself to go to the website to get the scoop from the previous day's show. And, like most news stories it is better online. Besides the excellent summary, you got great feedback from the fans in the comment section; not the message boards which are unfiltered and as typical message boards go, filled mostly with arguments and the occasional curse. Comments like this can be found at the end of Sepinwall's story which adds a tremendous amount to the fanbase:
You get the idea. This is a pure example of social marketing at its best with the Sopranos community adding to the discussion. However, The Star Ledger could have "forced" readers earlier to the website instead of waiting until close to the end of the show. I'm sure they were trying to balance out paper sales with online sales, only demonstrating that local newspapers still have a ways to go in figuring out how to monetize their online traffic. Its time for the Ledger to push more and more content to the web only - they might as well start now because once someone figures out how to put a newspaper in a large, but light handheld that's convenient to read in the Men's room, their paper sales will be toast.
My final words on the show (who can resist) which I've been saying since the second episode of this season. Tony Soprano rides off into the sunset. He doesn't die and doesn't turn to the feds to protection. The last scene will be Tony and his family sitting at Bobby's lake house somewhere in upstate NY looking at Canada.
Alan Sepinwall's column will be the second most missed part of the long running HBO show. Thanks Alan for making your NJ reader's Monday morning extra special by making the show last just a little longer for all of us.
Well, I made my one big post for the day, but if you were following my link posts you saw a whole bunch of comments that said for a future post. Since I can't possibly make a post on every one of them (I blog but don't consider myself a full-time blogger), here's a marketing rapid fire. BTW - I've been doing these for a while, but I use the Del.icio.us tagging functions because it is so easy. I'm not sure if you guys read those comments, but without further ado...
- 17% of all US Households have a DVR
- 58% of DVR households watch primetime live and 95% of all primetime viewing occurs within 3 days
- 90% of all 18-49 (age) households watch primetime live
So, our baby sitter Brittany Holloway clued me into FunnyorDie.com a few days ago. She was pretty proud of showing me something that I had not seen yet. The site is only 7 weeks old and it includes professionally made video shorts from Will Ferrell and others as well as consumer generated comedy shorts. You can read a nice synopsis from the New York Times called Comedy Business Turns to the Web. The immortal landlord video that's posted on Funny or Die has like 3.2 million views which should make anyone jealous, plus there are a ton of other videos with serious amounts of views (see screen shot). When I looked for them over at YouTube all I found were grainy versions with a mere fraction of the views.
Hmmm, this got me thinking. If a big time comedian like Will Ferrell can quickly pump out videos that produce millions of views in a short amount of time than what does it say about the future of YouTube or any other video aggregator site for that matter? According to the NY Times article, Ferrell started with a $5K budget and then Sequoia Capital increased its investment to several million dollars. So, it is really peanuts for other professionals to follow his lead, right? Add in say, Sports announcers for their own Sports shows (think Yankeeography) and other genres and then what happens to YouTube? What happens if all of these professionals want to only post it on their website like Comedy Central?
Some folks will tell you, well they will be missing out on the YouTube community. Me, I'll tell you that people won't care. No matter how great the community aspect is in YouTube they will follow the content. See what made YouTube cool was the ability to have your videos hosted for free where you can engage the community for free. People get that now because the model is so simple.
Take for example the current group of Presidential candidates. It makes sense for them to be on YouTube because they can have their own channel there and that makes it easy for people to engage with the campaigns. Sure the RNC or DNC could make their own channel, but then it would have to pull the audience over with political messages. This is a lot harder than going where the people are. Comedy shorts is another issue altogether.
Now back to my title. I was tipped off by a 19 year old college student. Britt is well connected and has a large following on Facebook and MySpace so she is exactly the Web 2.0 social user. Did she care (or her friends) that she wasn't on YouTube but on FunnyorDie.com? Heck no. Why should she? She can leave comments, vote, and interact with other users and whether that is on YouTube or elsewhere it doesn't matter.
My take? If I was Yahoo, AOL, MSN, or Google I'd take a good look at what is happening at FunnyorDie and start thinking about channels rather than community. The community is a tool that makes video viewing on the internet 2-way, not the driving force behind why there is traffic there; that's what the content is for. If they wait too long to build channels behind the content, they'll get outfoxed by Joost where the community aspect is just a tool and the content, organized like TV channels, is king.
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