Hey - I didn't know that I made the newspaper again. Love getting mentioned without being interviewed!!
Final word from rasmussen on the times hatchet job.
Sorry I thought my previous post was going to be my last post for a while, but this one is too good of a rant to pass up. First a little disclaimer. I obviously liked Kate Kaye's post called Online Political Ad Spending Forecasts Lack Clarity, Consistency and if she wasn't someone who interviews me frequently I'd have even nicer things to say in a post. So this post I'm making is not a shot against her and in fact, I believe it back her up.
Generally speaking I stopped paying attention to online advertising spending forecasts years ago, especially ones that come from financial services companies who may or may not have conflicts given their client base. These forecasts are usually way too aggressive and paint such a rosy picture that you would be an idiot not to invest every free dollar you have in ones of these companies. I stopped paying any attention to them and when I saw some of these reports coming out I ignored them as usual. Sure they look good on presentations, but what wouldn't when you start from basically zero?
Do I think there will be more advertising dollars spent online in 2008 than in 2004? Hell Yes. Do I know what the number will be? Well I bet I could ball park the number for the two presidential campaigns, but then again that's playing with house money.
I wrote a few weeks back when I saw a mediaweek article regarding political spending that the right amount of money a Presidential campaign spends online will be the exact number of the winner even if it is zero.
One thing occurred to me yesterday that every eCampaign director and online consultant that is left working right now as of this writing forms a group of people where one set of them is working for the eventual next President of the USA. So when you private sector marketers and web publishers can't figure out well why aren't we spending more online, it is because decisions aren't made lightly. You can't be wrong and the closer we get to November the more perfect you have to be.
Do I wish there was more spent online? Maybe. I want John McCain to win; we are already spending and getting great results on our search campaigns so even if that was all we did and we won, then I'm ok with that. The stakes are too high and you can't make any mistakes now. So when you forecasts paint a rosy picture in online political advertising, just ignore them. You'll have an answer in 250 days and then maybe those forecasts will be a little better.
This might be my last post for about a week. We are heading off for a much deserved and needed family vacation. Between family issues and politics, I've had enough...
Anyway, I'm back today from 2 and 1/2 days meetings in DC and it was a great time. Other than the extra large woman sitting next to me on the train home which made it impossible to work, it was very interesting.
Today we had a strategic meeting at the campaign and I got some great insights into some of our strategic thinking going forward. It got my media planning juices flowing and I already have some ideas cooking. With any luck a few of these percolating ideas will see their way to action and some of them might surprise you wanna be political marketers. See you in a week.
Kate Kaye checked in with two articles at the end of last week on political online advertising. Primary Season Signals Adoption of Online Ads By Political Campaigns and Web Ads May Have Aided Obama's High January Fundraising are really two complimentary articles and as usual Kate does a real thorough job of provided data and insight into what is really going on versus guessing as to what is happening. Personally, I really can't go into much detail because she profiles our online advertising efforts for Senator McCain, but here's what I'd add to Kate's articles:
The response to the NY Times hit story on Senator McCain showcases why the campaign is a well oiled machine and has such high quality individuals running it. People say to me all the time how remarkable the turn around was from the summer and those that spoke with me back then were surprised that I kept saying the old team is back, everything will be fine, and we have plenty of time. The campaign team is so amazingly great that as someone that really watches from a far, but gets an occasional inside view, they never cease to impress with the strategy and tactics they employ.
There were tons of articles on the NY Times forgetting (personally I think they forgot long ago) their journalistic integrity, which I will list below, but my favorite is the recap from Politico which outlines the response chronologically. If you read one story and want to see the team in action, read the story entitled McCain turns tables on Times. Oh and one more just came through from Marc Ambinder which adds more commentary to the McCain response.
You readers know that I rarely make a political post unless it is marketing related, but I'm getting a bunch of emails on the NY Times slime story that they ran today on Senator McCain. I'll save you from my thoughts because, well, there are much better political bloggers already hammering the story, so if you want to read them, here are some of my favorite links so far and who knows you might find some other ways to get your news other than reading that rag of a newspaper (I haven't subscribed for years and rarely unless it is business or sports related do I read it online).
Jim Geraghty: “No identified sources? No on-the-record sources? All we get is ‘according to two former McCain associates,’ presumably that reference to one Senate, one campaign.” http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/post/?q=N2RmMGQ2YmJkODAzMTdhODAyNWFiZmEwNDZhNjBjZDk=
Rubin: “Remarkably, the Times’ online
suggest a high dose of skepticism about the sourcing and value of the story.” http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/category/contentions
Marc Ambinder: “ … nothing to suggest that McCain compromised his political principles.” http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/mccainlobbyist_story_in_the_ne.php
Line: “Tomorrow's story is just one more
reminder of why no sophisticated person takes the Times seriously as a news
Rich Lowry: “The Times doesn't have the goods—at least from what's in the story—and shouldn't have run it.” http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NTNiNGYwOWI0YjY1OGJkMDdjOTgyODA3NjAwYWVkMGQ=
News: “It's all there - except a clear
and firm direct allegation, let alone proof.” http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/02/21/2008-02-21_tales_tall_on_innuendo_short_on_proof-1.html?print=1&page=all
Phil Klein: “ … the NYT doesn't seem to have the goods on anything actually done wrong.” http://www.amspec.org/blogger.asp?bwd=8&byear=2008#11642
At 6:51 AM this morning, I e-mailed Jim Rutenberg– whom I know and have interacted with in the past–to invite him onto my radio program “Meet the New Press” on Saturday morning to discuss the sourcing of his New York Times hit piece on my client John McCain.
At 7:24 AM Rutenberg declined my
invitation in an e-mail and indicated—without my even asking—that no one else at
the Times was likely to come on, either.
It seems very odd to me that after
having “broken” (broken, indeed) a big story about a major national figure, a
story that is capable of impacting the 2008 presidential election, no one at the
Times has any interest in discussing the story any further, especially
considering so many have expressed such deep skepticism about its sourcing and
the value of its content.
Let this blog post stand as an open invitation to any and all reporters and editors at the Times: If anyone there has any interest in defending the paper’s integrity and answering the many questions readers have about its sourcing, I have an open microphone for two hours on Saturday morning.
You can e-mail me at: patjhynes-AT-msn.com
Andy Pettitte seems to have already been forgiven by Yankees fans like myself for taking illegal HGH for an injury. Yes as Jason Stark points out from ESPN Andy acted like a real person, apologized, and cooperated with Congress and the Mitchell Report, but seems to come up to the point of being a victim; perhaps not by design but in the end that's how he looks. Mr. Nice Guys seems to have avoided Yankees fan's wrath which can be quite nasty if you've been at Yankees Stadium during a Redsox game or in 2006 when ARod was at the plate. Why did it seem so easy for Andy? It reminds me of a story back in my early career at AT&T when my Division Manager Vinny R game me some good career advice (this was probably circa 1998).
During a marketing campaign when we were trying to launch an AT&T bundled product of long distance, wireless, and WorldNet (yes that old narrow band service), we were having trouble with getting the bundled product management team engaged properly. As I recall they were more interested in working the marketing aspect rather than coordinating the back-end provisioning, billing, and systems work which was technically their job. Repeated pleading and yelling on my part did nothing; yes I was a hot headed District Manager back in those days. (BTW - a District had about 4 - 6 people working for them). So instead of going to my Division Manager Vinny, I ended up whispering the problem to Vinny's boss who was an extremely influential and well connected Director (Division had about 15-30 people working for them and a Director was an AT&T executive).
The Director sensing my desperation, called her counter part in Product Management who then, much to my chagrin, browbeat not the person I attended to get the wrath, but another Division manager who wasn't even involved in the Program. Of course I didn't know that until Vinny called me into his office and explained to me these words (paraphrased of course because my memory is fading):
"Eric, there are two kinds of people that work at AT&T. Nice people and jerks (he didn't use that term but someday my kids will read this blog). There are plenty of jerks that have successful AT&T careers and if you want to go down that path you have to make sure you are perfect. Because if you are a jerk, you'll beat up a lot of people along the way and unless you are perfect or you have very well connected executives, these new enemies will wait for you to make an error. Once that happens, then you'll see these people come after you and you'll be finished."
"As a nice guy, it might take you a little longer to get ahead but at least you'll have people helping you along the way and when you make a mistake, and you will, they'll help you instead of coming after you. You need to make the decision of who you'll want to be, the nice guy or the jerk."
As some of you know, I don't make a lot of mistakes, but thanks to Vinny I went the nice guy route. In fact, unless you really knew me before that conversation, you'd be surprised to hear that I had a mean streak. In fact my old bosses at the Bank of Montreal (Susan P. and Brenda T) couldn't believe I was a hot head. Sure occasionally I lose it, but they don't last long, I don't hold a grudge, and pretty much if I was off base I apologize. I don't go behind people's back and if I'm upset about someone, a result, or a process I'll take it head on, but I'm definitely not the same person who Vinny spoke with that day.
I went the nice guy route thanks to Vinny and people help me rather than gun for me when I make a mistake (as rare as that is!). Pettitte used the nice guy route to have an easier landing with his HGH mistake proving that Vinny was right many years ago that it is better to be the nice guy (Pettitte) than the jerk (Clemens, Bonds). Thanks Vinny for helping me out a few years ago.
Yes, it has been quite a while since I made a boob post but I can't help myself tonight. Yesterday I was searching through political campaign contributions online (yes they are public record) and I saw this new all-time low flash ad from perennial skin peddler True.com. Sure the ad was professionally done in Flash. It includes some nice faux chatting functionality, and the use of streaming video/photography within the k-size limits is impressive; seriously the ad was designed and creatively implemented in a highly professional manner.
However, the ad included scantily clad women, two of them in fact with the caption that reads "2.1 million gay singles" which for an ad network buy seems a little too trusting. Obviously you can do a lot these days with ad network buys including demographic targeting, age targeting, gender, and of course behavioral targeting (hold on I can hear your laugh in your head). However, I'm fairly easy to track to the internet, definitely haven't exhibited female traits (yes funny), happily married for almost 14 or so years, and definitely have not visited websites that would flag me to see an ad like that (not that there is anything wrong with that). However, the dating ad appeared on a campaign finance report which ummm probably wouldn't lend itself to a dating ad especially one that appears to require a higher level of targeting than currently available.
Look I can appreciate using attractive women to sell products, but the True.com ad assumes a level of targeting that isn't available today, especially on a network ad buy. Sure, ads like this can be served on specific sites and they can be beautifully contextually targeted, but cheap network buys sometimes don't pay off no matter how low the rate is. BTW - to quiet down your snickering, I am paid to sell products online so I do pay attention to display ads more so than the average internet surfer. Anyway, enjoy the ad.
I'm really flabbergasted at some of these publishers that shut off Google Advertising for certain clients or advertisers. Claiming that they'd like to go direct with us or the client themselves, all they do is drive a wedge further and further between themselves and the end client which is a ridiculous way to run a sales business. Look it isn't my problem that you hired sales people and now need to figure out something to do with them. Here's a typical exchange which highlights my frustration with these tunnel vision sales execs.
ME: ShortTermThinking Website, out of curiosity did you realize that you turned off our long running ad campaign on your site.
SHORTTERM: Yes and I want you to know that the decision didn't come from me it came from my CEO. He thinks we should go direct with you.
ME: OK, well the calculated CPM rates I've been paying Google is (made up number) $1 which is 1/10 of your direct price and oh by the way, you've been getting $X thousands of dollars every month from me up until recently.
SHORTTERM: Well as you know that is non-guaranteed inventory and often below the fold. I can get you guaranteed inventory that is also premier.
ME: Well at those prices your premier inventory doesn't perform at the same CPA as the Google inventory, so I'm not sure why we would want to pay more for something that doesn't perform. Remember about 6 months back we went direct with you and it was unacceptable.
SHORTTERM: Well when we ran that test with you our inventory wasn't as good and we didn't have as much traffic. Now, I'm sure you'll see better results.
ME: Hmmm, but I know the Google placements perform and you've been getting a decent amount of money. Plus, I can turn the campaigns off and one, change demographic and geographic targeting at a moments notice, and have new ads live within a few minutes of loading them up.
SHORTTERM: Well we have a great account team and we'll give you great service.
ME: Maybe you didn't understand me, I can do these things at any time of day on the weekends, on a holiday, and look we have to spread our dollars around on many sites and this really is the best way for us right now. How do you not see this as a win win for both of us?
And that's where the exchange ends until the next time the sales person fires off an email to check in with me or lobs a horrible rate card proposal ignoring the history and the results we've had in the past.
Look maybe you didn't understand me. If I'm able to buy at a rate that is 1/10 below your proposed premier guaranteed plan, why would you shut it off for a particular advertiser? Isn't that the market price? Also, aren't you more efficient because it requires little intervention on your part?
There are quite a few smart sales execs/publishers that recognized this and offer rates that are very close to what we can buy via an ad network and for them, when we need to we'll go direct and get better inventory. These smarter sales executives see the advertisers on the site, see where they are coming from, and know the rate they are receiving. Their sales pitch is better - look you can keep going through the network, but what if I gave you rates that were only slightly higher, but I guaranteed the inventory and made it premier; not our best stuff but better than what you are getting today. Plus you can have a 24 hour out clause and you can 3rd party ad serve, plus we can move the targeting around within a few hours notice during the day. That's where the smart sales teams are going. Better rates, better terms, and in the end better service and more dollars. And they are definitely trying to build bridges to the advertisers.
Sorry about the rant, but this has been happening a lot lately and I don't get it. Yes we go direct very often especially when it warrants it and the publisher is big enough, but to cut off advertisers who were gladly spending money on you for deals that are substantially worse by going direct makes NO SENSE. Finally, thanks to Jackie H who got me going on this subject today.
Yesterday I received a call from my mother telling me that one of my favorite stores to buy Mary gifts from was having a sale just in time for Valentine's Day. You see, I made a hit during this year's holiday season by buying Mary a pair of designer silver earrings and a fur scarf so my mother shops there now. So without the option of going the box of Thomas Sweet's Chocolate route for Valentine's Day I figured a quick trip down there for a gift would work out fine.
Of course the ladies remembered me and I quickly grabbed a pair of matching earmuffs for the scarf. While gift wrapping it (any time I can have that done is a plus) I asked the ladies if they had a website because I didn't know about the sale and they said "funny you should ask, we were just discussing whether we need a website or not." It seems their biggest issue was managing constantly changing inventory and the expense. So after a little bit of a layoff....
OLD SCHOOL FACELIFT #6 - OBJECTS OF DESIRE IN CHESTER NJ
That's it. See you around the internet and town especially holiday seasons.
So this weekend I decided to replace my old Sony Cybershot 5.0 Mega Pixel camera. It was a total impulse buy otherwise I would have shopped online. What caused this impulse? I was upset that during the McCain Hamilton NJ event I just didn't get enough good pictures out of my camera and the delay between shots with the flash on was taking an eternity. The kids were at a birthday party so Mary and I ran a few errands and one of our first stops was Circuit City in Ledgewood NJ.
The camera sales person was very helpful and steered me away from the latest Sony cameras over to the Canons. Based on my needs he recommended the Canon Titanium 12 MP version but sadly after "closing the sale" he had no inventory. He also "sold me" on the 8 MP version too, but gave the nod to the casing on the Titanium version. Not wanting to give up, he checked all of the Circuit Citys (note: Do you spell that Cities or Citys since City is a proper name? I too comfy in front of my fireplace to go look that up). Guess what none of them had any inventory either and didn't have any inventory on the 8 MP versions either. So, we walked out without a camera.
After we picked up the munchkins we headed down to my Father's house and stopped off at Best Buy in Bridgewater. The camera sales man there was not as helpful and when I walked in asking for the Titanium he said they didn't carry them because it was too expensive. And guess what? He didn't carry the 8 MP version either because it was too expensive. So, we left Best Buy without a camera.
So like a good internet junkie I researched the cameras on CNET and found that not only don't I want the Canon Titanium, the Sony camera still had the annoying slow delay, and some of the newer Sonys had touch screens which were not recommended. So even though CNET recommended one of the non-touch screen Sony cameras I was going for the Canon Power Shot 8 MP.
OK, now I'm back to the local Circuit City in Eatontown where they not only didn't have the Titanium or the 8MP they also didn't have the Sony. Mind you they were showing all of these cameras but didn't have any inventory. The inexperienced sales man tried to sell me a 7 MP Canon that was on sale, but I just walked out totally frustrated and confused by Circuit City. Besides the sales process which can be hit or miss, they had no inventory yet continued to try to sell me cameras. Seriously, what's the purpose of a retail store in 2008 if you can't make an impulse purchase?
All was not lost and I walked into the 6th Avenue Electronics who had inventory and the smart sales person closed an easy sale (me). They sold me camera case and a 2GB memory stick and I was out of there in 15 minutes with the camera that the original Circuit City person introduced me to - the Canon 8 MP camera that I'm playing with right now.
I was perplexed about Circuit City's sales process and obvious inventory problem until I read this article in today's WSJ called Can Circuit City Survive Boss's Cure? The entire article talked about cost cutting, layoffs, and closing stores. Based on my experience this weekend, I give an enthusiastic answer of NO to the article's question. At least now I have the answer. Circuit City with its beaten down employees and cost cutting have cut too much inventory, too much experience, and ruined what is the only reason to shop at big retailers in today's internet world - an impulse shopping experience.
I read this article this weekend in Business Week called Will Yahoo! Feel the Love? and I found it very interesting. The article basically focused on two important aspects of any merger - people and product. Here are a couple of very relevant points from the article:
Those 5 bullet points outlined the challenges Microsoft has and that's assuming that Yahoo agrees to the deal which is looking less likely at this point based on this other article found on Business Week. Yahoo has been losing key staffers and management now for almost a year, but there are some very talented people still left like my good friend Richard K. I wonder how they would feel if they were kept on by Microsoft. Sure there will be a lot of duplication in staff positions but based on my experience the acquiring company has the leg up on key positions; plus as mentioned in the article the cultures are really different.
Yahoo! well is still that company with the purple chairs, fun loving people and Microsoft is very business like. Microsoft's attorneys are slow and methodical as is their sales staff. Speaking of sales staff Microsoft's has always been multi-layered and I could never tell what the chain of command was; for me it was my account person (ex - Dave M whom I like a lot) and then their head of media Joanne Bradford. Seriously, I can't tell you how many different layers of upper management I've had over the years with Microsoft. Every few months the new Account VP would want to meet their clients (always a good practice) but I grew tired of the meets and greets because the people would get changed out. Personally, I can't see how the employees will merge together.
The article referenced Yahoo's data team and I've always been fond of them. The problem with them going forward is how many of the data folks stick around with MSN's more conservative privacy policies? Remember I grew up in a data and analytics group in the old Bell Laboratories at AT&T and at the end of the day the data was only as good as the people that managed it and the people who analyzed it. An old boss of mine in BOA named Rich L once said "information is what smart people do with the data" and keeping those smart Yahoo data geeks around will be a problem for Microsoft.
Finally Microsoft's Najim is 100% accurate when he says that adCenter is better than Panama. I've had my problems with Panama from day 1. Panama increased my costs and I saw my conversions drop. Microsoft I've always been a fan of when it comes to ROI and conversions but sadly there isn't enough volume on Microsoft. Other than MSNBC there really isn't much traffic and that of course goes for search.
I do think Microsoft has to make this move to compete with Google. However, they have huge challenges ahead if they are counting on key people remaining through the merger. When E*Trade acquired Harrisdirect one person told me that historically 90% of acquired employees don't last a year. I don't know the source and it could only be anecdotal but based on my experience I certainly believe that number. Sure you can pay people with retention bonuses but they only last as long as that contract.
So, this weekend we were staying over my father's house and went out to dinner in Oceanport NJ. We had reservations for dinner, my father, my wife, and the two munchkins at 7:30 and were seated in 5 minutes with a larger group of other reservations. As a walk in you had no chance.
It is BYOB so we had our own bottle of wine and they served water and soda very promptly in addition to their delicious crunchy bread with olive oil, garlic, cheese dip. The hostess took our order in a reasonable amount of time. I ordered their calamari bianca which is a special not on the menu, Jacob ordered two pieces of broiled tilapia, Kaela ordered tortellini soup as did my father, and Mary ordered Caesar's salad; the three adults ordered three entrees right off the regular menu. I didn't ask her to put the kid's meals in with our appetizer's but they corrected it.
Our first course probably arrived about 15-20 minutes after ordering it and it wasn't that long of a wait. It probably came out around 8:15/8:30 but that was the last piece of food the adults saw. At around 8:45 we still hadn't received the salad course and neither did anyone else that was seated with us including the party of 12. The kids were getting restless so we ordered them each a piece of dessert - Kaela got the carrot cake which she didn't care for (just the icing) and Jacob ordered the chocolate cake which he devoured. The adults were getting restless and told the hostess not to bring our salads and asked her to bring out our entrees. That was as close as we got to our main meals.
Then at 9:20 we gave up and told her we would just pay for what we ate and after we did that we left. That was at 9:30 almost 2 hours after we were seated. YES 2 HOURS AFTER WE WERE SEATED WE STILL DIDN'T HAVE OUR MAIN MEALS. That's ridiculous. We couldn't wait any longer especially after the munchkins ate full meals, including dessert. Sure they liked their meals (Jacob wanted to order seconds on the tilapia) but 2 hours to wait for our main meals is fantastically horrendous. BTW when we left we didn't see anyone else's meals coming out either.
Mia Italian Restaurant in Ocean Port NJ has good food if you can waste 3 hours waiting for your meal. I did make up for it the next day by getting two Windmill Hot Dogs. Perhaps I should have just stuck with the simpler Jersey food!
P.S. I wrote this post over 3 years ago. I hope Mia is now a great restaurant without the problems mentioned above. I'd give them another chance if I lived in the area and I wish them the best of luck. I really, really do.
You can tell when I'm so busy that I make next to no posts. I was up very late Tuesday night waiting for the Missouri and California results that it pretty much knocked me out until today.
Obviously John McCain took NJ, but what got me more excited was to see the Morris County results where we made a ton of calls and put up our fair share of road signs. Hopefully by sharing these numbers with you, you can see how important get out the vote activities are in your local area.
What these numbers show is that yes you can make a difference. I didn't tally up the calls we made out of Long Valley, but I'd guess it to be around 2K calls to ask people to vote. Plus, we probably put up about 200 signs and I couldn't even guess how many people saw these signs. The calling was very easy and seriously we didn't receive more than a handful of rude answers or hang ups. Plus putting up the signs and making calls with other supporters is actually fun.
Please join up with a campaign, especially if it is John McCain's campaign. Don't sit back and assume people will vote for the right person. With Mitt Romney dropping out today you can bet a lot of his supporters are thinking what else could they have done. Put up signs, make donations, tell your friends, and join up with other volunteers to participate in GOTV calls. You won't regret it.
Wow - that was two awesome days for me. First, watching the Giants beat the Patriots for my third Super Bowl win as a Giants fan and then to Hamilton NJ with my son Jacob to watch history being made with John McCain in Hamilton, NJ. So let's take my weekend in order
It doesn't get much better than this in the Frenchman household.
Sorry for the quick post on this huge subject which I first learned about in the online version of the WSJ in the article called Microsoft Unveils $44.6 Billion for Web Ad, Search Rival Yahoo. I have so much work to do today for Super Tuesday including motivating volunteers, but I'll give you my quick thoughts.
I don't see MSN letting go so easily and wondering what Google will do next. Any product changes or personnel changes that Yahoo had in the works will be derailed. Yes I know they will tell you that they will keep their eye on the ball, etc but remember I lived through AT&T acquisitions and consolidations and then the eventual buyout of Harrisdirect. People care about their jobs and their lives and they are not robots. Guaranteed that any product timelines that were undoubtedly pushed to their limits will slip because well people will care about their personal lives and may not be charged to deliver a product that won't be needed.
MSN pounces when they needed to to compete with Google. Yahoo to me looks finished, but perhaps a resurrected Overture could compete on the search side with Google.
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