May 2, 2011

Wikileaks Founder: Facebook is the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented

Matt Brian:

Despite awaiting extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is still the subject of much media interest.

Russia Today (RT) interviewed Assange, getting his viewpoint on political unrest in Egypt and Libya, particularly probing what the Wikileaks founder makes of social media's roles in the recent revolutions in both countries. In his interview, Assange focuses particularly on Facebook calling it the "most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented".

Posted by jez at 8:35 PM

April 18, 2011

Al Jazeera's Social Media Experiment "The Stream" Launches Online Today

Gregory Ferenstein:

Al Jazeera's aggressive expansion into cyberspace hopes to empower a new generation of newsmakers, impact the American news market, and capture the attention of young cable cutters.

Fresh off the wild success of Internet-fueled Middle-East revolution stories, Al Jazeera English today is launching the online component to its forthcoming social media-centered news program, The Stream. It's the most aggressive integration of social media into a live news program to date. And Al Jazeera says it wants to capture a new generation of cable "cord cutters," push the limits of so-called "citizen journalism," and inch into American media territory.

A social storytelling service powers the editorially curated content, which is complimented by community commenting before, during, and after the anchored news show. It's scheduled to start airing May 2nd.

Posted by jez at 8:07 PM

April 10, 2011

Facing Default, Publisher Lee Enterprises Sells 'Junk' to Foil Distressed Investors

Matt Wirz:

Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc. is on the verge of saving itself from bankruptcy--and many of its debt holders are livid.

Lee, weighed down by about $1 billion of debt, has long been high on the list of potential bankruptcies. But thanks to the roaring market for debt of risky companies, Lee is preparing to sell junk bonds that would enable it to pay off its obligations and give it a new shot at survival.

But what is good news for the company has thwarted the plans of a flock of "vulture" investors--Monarch Alternative Capital, Alden Global Capital, Marblegate Asset Management and a unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.--which have been buying Lee's loans. The group had been betting the company would default, and that they could turn their holdings into an ownership stake, giving them access to the company's assets, which include St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Arizona Daily Star newspapers.


Lee incurred much of its debt in 2005 when it paid top-dollar to buy Pulitzer Inc., a chain of 14 newspapers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The combined company would have been a particularly valued prize because, unlike many of the other publishers that went bankrupt in recent years, the company generates over $100 million of free cash flow despite its debt load. The publisher's focus--running small and midsize papers and keeping a rein on costs--has insulated it from the worst of the decline in subscriptions and advertising affecting newspapers in metropolitan markets.

Lee owns half of Capital Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Posted by jez at 9:14 PM

March 30, 2011

Social Media Marketing: The Fickle Value of Friendship

Tim Bradshaw

In a glass box in the middle of a PepsiCo marketing department, five people are staring at a huge bank of screens showing a constantly updated river of tweets, "likes", praise and damnation from consumers of Gatorade, the company's sports drink.

"Doing it in a glass room means every single person in the marketing organisation is seeing the insights brought to life in real time. It reminds them how important it is to know the heartbeat of the consumer," says Bonin Bough, global director of digital and social media at PepsiCo. "I really feel like it is the future of marketing."

A similar scenario is playing out in marketing departments around the world. A survey of members of the World Federation of Advertisers, a grouping of multinational brands, by Millward Brown found that 96 per cent were spending more of their budgets managing Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media, racing to accrue fans, retweets and that elusive but ubiquitous quality: engagement.

However, the research also found that few knew why they were doing it - half were "unsure" of the returns they were getting from their efforts, while more than a quarter found the payback was "just average or poor".

Posted by jez at 4:06 PM

December 1, 2010

Why the iPad should rival the web

John Gapper

Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch are entrepreneurs with an admirable record of ignoring conventional wisdom, so it is worth watching when they do the same thing at once.

In this case, they are launching iPad-only publications. Sir Richard bowled into New York on Tuesday to unveil a £1.79 or $2.99 monthly magazine called Project, while Mr Murdoch is about to launch a "newspaper" called The Daily, for which he hopes 800,000 people will pay $1 a week. Both will charge readers in an era when most internet publications are free.

The fact that Mr Murdoch will separate his new daily publication from "the open web" by publishing on the iPad has provoked scepticism and hostility in digital media circles. "Murdoch keeps fighting the internet and the internet keeps on winning," wrote Mathew Ingram, of the GigaOm technology blog.

This fits into a bigger debate about whether companies are balkanising the web to gain economic leverage. Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist who invented the World Wide Web, complained in Scientific American about Facebook's private accumulation of data, and of print publishers' "disturbing" wish to create closed worlds.

Posted by jez at 10:21 PM

November 23, 2010

Rupert Murdoch Does Another Daily

Some of us count sheep, but Rupert Murdoch spends his sleepless nights dreaming up media properties.

It was late May, around 2 a.m., and Murdoch was in his New York penthouse on Fifth Avenue having a tough time falling asleep when a vision came to him: publishing a daily news report that would be exclusively made for the iPad and other tablet devices. There would be no print product.

Murdoch had done his homework, so he already knew that readers spend more time fully immersed with the iPad than they do with the Web. He believes that within a few years, tablet devices will be like cell phones or laptops -- consumers will go into Wal-Mart and buy the things at reasonably cheap prices (far more diminished than the $499 for an iPad now). In his mind, in the not-too-distant future, every member of the family will have one.

Makes perfect sense. Horace Dediu has more.

Posted by jez at 10:03 AM

November 17, 2010

Is OpenTable Worth It?


We've often been asked why Incanto is not listed on For those of you not familiar with the service, OpenTable is the most successful online restaurant reservation portal on Earth; a place on the Web where diners can search for and make reservations at leading restaurants, via a browser or smartphone. Restaurants like Incanto that chose not to offer their seats through OpenTable find themselves in a shrinking minority.

Let me start by stating the obvious: the convenience and immediacy of booking a table online anytime day or night is beneficial to both diners and to restaurants. This was my belief nine years ago, when we first approached OpenTable to inquire about becoming one of its early customers. It's also why we have found a way to offer Web-based reservations, through our own website, since we opened and why we've kept current and revisited OpenTable's offerings each year, to re-visit our decision.

It's possible, however, for convenience to come at too dear a price. I don't mean that only as it relates to the short-term economic price, but also in the sense that sometimes, what may at first seem like a straightforward benefit can in fact require the sacrifice of something much more precious over the long run. That judgment has always been at the core of our concerns about OpenTable, which has to its credit done such a masterful job building its business that it now holds the dominant position here in the U.S. among providers of online reservation services, with a market share estimated at greater than 90%. Whether or not your restaurant is an OpenTable customer, it's impossible not to feel its impact.

Posted by jez at 9:18 AM

November 6, 2010

The Interesting Marketing Phenomena of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Manifested by a Billboard on Regent Street

The resurgence of interest in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is somewhat astonishing. Left for dead in the 1980's, Pabst has been resurrected with clever marketing, as illustrated by this billboard on Madison's Regent Street. It appears to be an "impressionistic" approach to their identity. Much more on Pabst here (Blekko). Note that I have no idea if the beer is actually any good......

Finally, while attending a few recent events, I noticed that "tall 16oz" cans of beer are making a comeback. As always everything old is new again.

Posted by jez at 11:38 AM

August 31, 2010

A Conversation with Jay Rosen on "The Problem With News Media in America Today"

The Economist
What is the biggest problem with the news media in America today?

Mr Rosen: The cost of changing settled routines seems too high, but the cost of not changing is, in the long term, even higher. A good example is the predicament of the newspaper press: the print edition provides most of the revenues, but it cannot provide a future. I know of no evidence to show that young people are picking up the print habit. So if the cost of abandoning print is too high, the cost of sticking with it may be even higher, though slower to reveal itself. That's a problem.

Another example is the decline of trust. In the mid-1970s over 70% of Americans told Gallup they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the press. Today: 47%. Clearly, something isn't working. But revisions to the code of conduct that has led to this decline would be seen by most journalists as increasing the risk of mistrust. I've tried to argue that the View from Nowhere—also called objectivity—should be replaced by "here's where we're coming from." That strikes most people in the American press as dangerous and unworkable. But the current course is unsustainable: trust continues to decline, with a big acceleration after 2003. When I mention this to journalists, they say: "Trust in all big institutions has declined, Jay." Which is true (except for the military). But is that really an answer? You're supposed to be the watchdogs over dubious actors. Why aren't you an exception?

I could go on, but I think you see the pattern. Change is too expensive; the status quo is unsustainable.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:08 AM

August 23, 2010

Changing Times, From this.....

to this....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 PM

June 19, 2010

Holland Tunnel

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:22 PM

October 4, 2009

An Interview with Ted Turner on the Changing Role of the Media

Chrystia Freeland - video.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:19 PM

September 9, 2009


Which brings up an interesting, and not trivial question: why is the U.S. , home of no anti-trust enforcement during the last eight years, home of raw capitalism, supposed home of competition, about to be without a single decent source of unbiased news? And why is Britain, socialist leader among English-speaking peoples, suddenly the Keeper of the Realm when it comes to objective news reporting? Who wouldn’t take the BBC over the U.S.’ National Public Radio? Who wouldn’t take the Financial Times over the WSJ? Or the Guardian over the NYT?

The British have not lost the ability to be “fair and balanced,” the self-mocking theme of Fox TV, although Rupert has certainly taken out a lot of the competition.

Why is it, for instance, that the best programs on U.S. politics, the Kennedy assassination, global warming, and even Israel – South African nuclear cooperation, have all come out of Britain? Why can they tell our news stories better than we can? Mostly, I think, they are just neutral. There is something strong in the British psyche that still believes in telling the truth, that still sees the news as news, and not as advertising conveyor belt. The U.S. has totally lost this view, with the exceptions noted above, and in some small papers, although many of those have gone their own sad, ad-driven route.

Indeed, in a time when owners are pointing to a lack of ads to support their product, I think they are missing the whole point: they are losing subscribers, and the ads are following.

Today, I read the FT religiously, the NYT increasingly, and the WSJ almost not at all. I’m not alone; several friends have recently canceled their WSJ subscriptions, so fed up are they with Murdoch’s machinations. I don’t see how the WSJ can survive, being a Murdoch bauble, even if he sees it as the crown jewel. What he thinks doeesn’t matter, or worse, matteres and is morally wrong, as advertisers on Fox have proven lately by dropping the Beck show like a stone.
The Financial Times is an excellent read (their iPhone app is better than either the Wall Street Journal's or the NY Times). I think the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have interesting articles from time to time. Kudos to the Financial Times for sticking to their knitting, as it were.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:15 AM

July 12, 2009

A New News Media Emerges for Our New World

Fabius Maximums:
Summary: One indicator of the massive changes sweeping America is the destruction of longtime solid business models. This post discussed colleges; today we look at the news media. Tons of ink have been spilled on this, but IMO ignoring some likely outcomes.

The major news media are on a treadmill. Loss of credibility shrinks their audience, hence less revenue, hence reduced funding. Which reduces the quality of their product, hence even less audience. Worse is the loss of advertisers to new media (e.g., Craigslist and Google), which means less revenue, less funding for news collection, and smaller audiences.

This posts speculates about the future, what new models might emerge from this turmoil. Here are some guesses.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:00 PM

July 2, 2009

Washington Post Sells Access to Lobbyists

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff."

The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.

And it's a turn of the times that a lobbyist is scolding The Washington Post for its ethical practices.

"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders …

“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. …

Read more:
Related: Helen Thomas.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:16 AM

February 26, 2009

Obama Speech TV Audience Lags Clinton (1993) and Bush (2001)

Andrew Malcolm:
For his maiden congressional address, Obama cleaned President Bush's clock in terms of TV viewers willing to watch him speak to a bunch of stuffed congressional suits in the House chamber. Which isn't saying much. But it is something for a new president to cling to, especially when you're otherwise up against the sleuths of "NCIS."

Obama got 52.4 million viewers last night (rounded off for those visiting the bathroom) in 37.2 million homes for a 49 share and 32.5 rating. In his last joint address in 2008 GWB got 37.5 million in 27.7 million homes for a 38 share and 24.7 rating. Bush did top Obama in 2003 with 62 million and a 56 share and we didn't even have the Iraq reality show going then. (But it was coming.)

Bush's first joint session appearance drew nearly 39.8 million and a 42 share.

However, Obama still lags the audience-drawing power of one President Bill Clinton. Sixteen years ago this week, when there were millions fewer Americans, Big Bill drew nearly 15 million more viewers -- 66.9 million for his first congressional speech in 44.2 million homes for a 44.3 rating.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 AM

December 26, 2008

Milwaukee's Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design

Current exhibits include: "Ads from the past: Coca Cola". This fascinating museum is a gem in Milwaukee's Third Ward, and at $5.00 a bargain as well.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 PM

November 5, 2008

Mainstream Media: The Morning After

Listening to NPR this morning, I was somewhat amazed to hear this assertion during the top of the hour news: "stock futures opened lower today, not due to the election, but rather the weak economy". How in the world do they have any idea? Personally, it must be the warmer than usual November Midwest weather :)

The market was up on election day.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:42 AM

September 3, 2008

Television will be the first traditional media medium to fall

Duncan Riley:

The move away from traditional, or mainstream media is currently accelerating as more and more people switch to the internet for their information and entertainment. Sales of newspapers are declining, radio advertising is down, and television viewers are switching off in record numbers.

It's popular in the blogopshere to argue that newspapers will eventually fall, and radio is hardly popular. However, given the current marketplace, television will be the first traditional media medium to completely fail, where as radio has some life left in it yet. Newspapers will survive, but the newspaper of tomorrow will be markedly different.

The great Television switch off

The television switch off is real. In the United States, 2.5 million viewers switched off in the spring on 2008 compared to the same time in 2006. Statistically this is only a small percentage of the overall viewing audience, but among those still watching television, the amount of television they watch each day is declining.

The decline in television viewing is stronger among younger statistical groups. In Europe, a 2005 study from the European Interactive Advertising Association found almost half of 15- to 24-year-olds are watching less TV in favor of browsing the web. A study reported in The Guardian in 2007 headlined with "Young networkers turn off TV and log on to the web." The television switch off in the United States among younger people has seen the average age of a TV viewer increase to 50.

Posted by jez at 8:27 PM

August 24, 2008

Five Ways Newspapers Botched the Web


Here's our theory: Daily deadlines did in the newspaper industry. The pressure of getting to press, the long-practiced art of doom-and-gloom headline writing, the flinchiness of easily spooked editors all made it impossible for ink-stained wretches to look farther into the future than the next edition. Speaking of doom and gloom: Online ad revenues at several major newspaper chains actually dropped last quarter. The surprise there is that they ever managed to rise. The newspaper industry has a devastating history of letting the future of media slip from its grasp. Where to start? Perhaps 1995, when several newspaper chains put $9 million into a consortium called New Century Network. "The granddaddy of _______," as one suitably crotchety industry veteran tells us, folded in 1998. Or you can go further back, to '80s adventures in videotext. But each tale ends the same way: A promising start, shuttered amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Posted by jez at 1:58 PM

June 17, 2008

May 29, 2008

Propaganda Is Now Officially Hip

Virginia Postrel:

"An interesting Metafilter discussion on Obama campaign graphics." (Via Design Observer.)

I'll note, however, that propaganda has been hip for at least 40 years. All you have to do is check out a book like War Posters: Weapons of Mass Communications and you'll fine that through WWII, most of the graphic propaganda is put out by governments and their supporters and is mostly patriotic and pro-military (whichever country or military that might be).

Posted by jez at 8:10 AM

March 25, 2008

The death and life of the American newspaper

Eric Alterman:

The American newspaper has been around for approximately three hundred years. Benjamin Harris’s spirited Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick managed just one issue, in 1690, before the Massachusetts authorities closed it down. Harris had suggested a politically incorrect hard line on Indian removal and shocked local sensibilities by reporting that the King of France had been taking liberties with the Prince’s wife.

It really was not until 1721, when the printer James Franklin launched the New England Courant, that any of Britain’s North American colonies saw what we might recognize today as a real newspaper. Franklin, Benjamin’s older brother, refused to adhere to customary licensing arrangements and constantly attacked the ruling powers of New England, thereby achieving both editorial independence and commercial success. He filled his paper with crusades (on everything from pirates to the power of Cotton and Increase Mather), literary essays by Addison and Steele, character sketches, and assorted philosophical ruminations.

Posted by jez at 12:55 PM

February 28, 2008

Has the Pyramid Inverted?

Jay Deragon:

The term media has many different definitions. Published media is any media made available to the public. Mass media refers to all means of mass communication. Broadcast media refers to communications delivered over mass electronic communication networks.

News media refers to mass media focused on communicating news. Media meshing refers to the act of combining multiple independent pieces of communication media to enrich an information consumer’s experience. New media refers to media that can only be created or used with the aid of modern computer processing power.

The history of “media” has been designed, developed and pushed from a few at the top to the masses at the bottom. This model has been used to influence public opinion about anything, everything and everywhere. The old model was an important factor in driving historical economies.

Posted by jez at 10:32 AM

January 3, 2008

What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC.

John Hockenberry:

The most memorable reporting I've encountered on the conflict in Iraq was delivered in the form of confetti exploding out of a cardboard tube. I had just begun working at the MIT Media Lab in March 2006 when Alyssa Wright, a lab student, got me to participate in a project called "Cherry Blossoms." I strapped on a backpack with a pair of vertical tubes sticking out of the top; they were connected to a detonation device linked to a Global Positioning System receiver. A microprocessor in the backpack contained a program that mapped the coördinates of the city of Baghdad onto those for the city of Cambridge; it also held a database of the locations of all the civilian deaths of 2005. If I went into a part of Cambridge that corresponded to a place in Iraq where civilians had died in a bombing, the detonator was triggered.

When the backpack exploded on a clear, crisp afternoon at the Media Lab, handfuls of confetti shot out of the cardboard tubes into the air, then fell slowly to earth. On each streamer of paper was written the name of an Iraqi civilian casualty. I had reported on the war (although not from Baghdad) since 2003 and was aware of persistent controversy over the numbers of Iraqi civilian dead as reported by the U.S. government and by other sources. But it wasn't until the moment of this fake explosion that the scale and horrible suddenness of the slaughter in Baghdad became vivid and tangible to me. Alyssa described her project as an upgrade to traditional journalism. "The upgrade is empathy," she said, with the severe humility that comes when you suspect you are on to something but are still uncertain you aren't being ridiculous in some way.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:08 PM

October 15, 2007

Pre-Movie Theatre Ads Now $450M Business

Henry Blodget:

In-theater ads hit $456 million in 2006, up 15% from 2005, says the Post, citing a report by the Cinema Advertising Council. For perspective, this is about the size of Viacom's "digital" revenue. The head of the council, Cliff Marks, who also happens to be head of sales for the public play in the sector, National Cine-Media (NCMI, see below), says that the introduction of digital projectors is helping spur adoption, as advertisers no longer have to burn ads onto film.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:44 AM

September 21, 2007

Top 10 Car Ads


It's a collection of some of the best, funniest and cheesiest UK car adverts out there. However, it is by no means a definitive list - and this is where you come in. We want to hear about your favourite and we'll update the list below accordingly.

Posted by James Zellmer at 4:48 PM

September 5, 2007

The Flop Heard Round the World

Peter Carlson:

Fifty years ago today, Don Mazzella skipped out of school to see the hot new car that everybody was talking about, the hot new car that almost nobody had actually seen.

Ford Motor Co. had proclaimed it "E-Day," and Mazzella and two buddies sneaked out of East Side High School in Newark, N.J., and hiked 13 blocks to Foley Ford so they could cast their gaze upon the much-ballyhooed new car that had been kept secret from the American public until its release that day.

It was called the Edsel.

"The line was around the block," recalls Mazzella, now 66 and an executive in a New Jersey consulting firm. "People were coming from all over to see this car. You couldn't see it from the street. The only way you could see it was to walk into the showroom and look behind a curtain."

Mazzella and his truant friends waited their turn, thrilled to be there. "Back then for teenagers, cars were the be-all and end-all," he explains. They'd read countless articles about the Edsel and seen countless ads that touted it as the car of the future. But they hadn't seen the car. Ford kept it secret, building excitement by coyly withholding it from sight, like a strip-tease dancer.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:05 AM

July 17, 2007

Young Adults are Given Newspapers Scant Attention

newst.jpg Tom Patterson: 230K PDF
Based on a national survey of 1800 randomly sampled teens, young adults, and older adults, this report examines the amount of daily news consumed by young people. The evidence shows that young Americans are estranged from the daily newspaper and rely more heavily on television than on the Internet for their news.

A few decades ago, there were not large differences in the news habits and daily information levels of younger and older Americans. Today, unlike most older Americans, many young people find a bit of news here and there and do not make it a routine part of their day.

Justin Jones:
The results were especially grim for newspapers. Only 16 percent of the young adults surveyed aged 18 to 30 said that they read a newspaper every day and 9 percent of teenagers said that they did. That compared with 35 percent of adults over 30. Furthermore, despite the popular belief that young people are flocking to the Internet, the survey found that teenagers and young adults were twice as likely to get daily news from television than from the Web.
Barry Ritholtz's related post offers some useful comments, including several whose only print subscription is the excellent Economist (I, too read the Economist).

Terry Heaton:

At the LATimes, second quarter revenue was down 10% and cash flow down 27%. In his call for front page ads, Publisher David Hiller noted it was one of the worst “ever experienced” by the paper.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:20 AM

June 13, 2007

Cleaning Up Firms' Online Reputation

Andrew Lavallee:

The companies cite success stories of customers who have buried snippy blog comments, embarrassing photos or critical mentions of their names. But, as Ms. Parascandola found out, the services can't wipe everything off the Internet, and their efforts can backfire. ReputationDefender sent a letter to political blog Positive Liberty asking it to remove Ms. Parascandola's name from a critical entry on the grounds the post was "outdated and invasive." Blogger Jason Kuznicki refused, and posted a new entry mocking the request. He says he "had a good laugh over it."

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:21 PM

April 26, 2007

Madison 2007

The scene: 6:00a.m., Dane County Regional Airport. Bleary eyed traveller is amazed that Madison now has a fashionable Range Rover SUV on display (floor advertising via Fields Auto) at the airport. We've crossed some sort of threshold, not sure what to call it.... It seems a long way from the Mayor's trolleys, however.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:41 PM

March 11, 2007

Project Red Stripe

The Economist's Project Red Stripe:
We're a small team set up by The Economist Group, the parent company of the eponymous newspaper. Our mission is to develop truly innovative services online. We already have some ideas, of course. But as champions of free markets, we abhor the concept of a closed system. This is why we would like you to submit your idea (or ideas). Just think big - and we'll do the rest.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:58 PM

March 10, 2007

Not Linking to the Sources?

Jon Udell:
When the inspector general of the US Department of Justice issues a special report, it tends to make news. The latest report, a dissection of the FBI’s use of “national security letters” under the Patriot Act, is no exception. References to this report are everywhere in the news today. But links to the report are less plentiful.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:28 PM

March 8, 2007


Katy Sai moves to the net.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:16 PM

Big Profits in Small Newspapers

Frank Ahrens:
If there's any good news about the businesses of newspapering these days, it can be found at the industry's littlest papers, which are doing well even as their bigger brothers founder.

Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, for example, owns 56 daily papers and more than 300 small weeklies and other publications. Three of its papers have a circulation of more than 100,000 -- including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- but the rest of its dailies are much smaller, averaging about 26,000 each.

Over the past five years, the circulation gains at Lee papers have outpaced the industry average; some of the gains came from acquisitions, but much came from the growth of the group's existing papers. Over the past two decades, the company's stock price has likewise gone in the opposite direction of large-newspaper stock, climbing steadily from less than $10 a share in 1988 to more than $30 a share today.

"We're largely in markets . . . that have pretty good local economies, a strong sense of place and strong newspaper readership," said Mary E. Junck, Lee's chairman and chief executive. Another advantage: "Many of our markets are pretty homogenous and tightknit," she said, making it easier to pin down and target readership.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:46 PM

February 19, 2007

Anderson on "We Media"

Chris Anderson correctly analyzes the "we media" bubble. Change is certainly underway in the media world, but it will not, clearly be linear:
First, let's agree that "media" is anything that people want to read, watch or listen to, amateur or professional. The difference between the "old" media and the "new" is that old media packages content and new media atomizes it. Old media is all about building businesses around content. New media is about the content, period. Old media is about platforms. New media is about individual people. (Note: "old" does not mean bad and "new" good--I do, after all, run a very nicely growing magazine/old media business.)

The problem with most of the companies Skrenta lists is that they were/are trying to be a "news aggregators". Just as one size of news doesn't fit all, one size of news aggregator doesn't either.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:08 AM

February 17, 2007

Declining Demand for Luxury Sports Suites?

Russell Adams:
It was like watching an era of sports history being erased. In early December, construction workers sawed through the multiple layers of drywall and metal studs separating a row of skyboxes at the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field. They tore up the suites' beech-hardwood floors and carted away their oriental rugs and leather furniture. By the end of the week, the eight skyboxes were gone.

In a reversal that strikes at a cornerstone of pro-sports finances -- and of the way corporate America entertains -- teams around the country are ripping out luxury suites. These perches have been used to justify billions of dollars in stadium construction over the past two decades. But in many cities, they are losing luster with surprising speed, partly the result of factors that couldn't have predicted five or 10 years ago, from changes in tax laws to scandal-driven reforms on corporate entertaining.

"At GM, you can't even buy them a cup of coffee anymore," says Lin Cummins, the marketing chief at automotive supplier Arvin Meritor in Troy, Mich, which has let the leases expire for its suites in four different sports.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:37 AM

February 12, 2007

Toyota Memogate?

Frank Williams:
These issues pale in comparison to one problem that could make or break Toyota’s North American operations: their relationship with their hourly workers. In a confidential memo that accidentally ended up in workers’ hands, Seiichi Sudo, president of Engineering and Manufacturing in North America, discussed the cost of American labor and the steps they need to take to control those costs.

The memo, which was inadvertently stored on a shared computer drive, states the US auto industry pays some of the highest manufacturing wages in the world. It compares American wages to those in France and Japan (50 percent higher) and Mexico (500 percent higher). They project their American labor costs will increase by $900m over the next four years.
Ed Wallace on the upcoming truck wars.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:03 PM

January 20, 2007

"Use the Web, Luke" - Presidential Candidates Embrace the Web

Peter Gosselin:
In choosing the Internet to announce she intends to run for the presidency in 2008, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton bowed to the burgeoning political power of the medium and offered a preview of how she hopes to harness it to her purposes.

In declaring "I'm in" the White House race in a video clip on her new campaign website,, the New York Democrat did considerably more than simply appear before the cameras; she invited supporters to join an almost Oprah Winfrey-like session of give and take.

"Let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine.... " she told viewers."With a little help from modern technology, I'll be holding live online video chats ... starting Monday."

By doing this, Clinton signaled her intention of using the Internet to shore up one of her chief political weak points, what independent analyst Charlie Cook called the caricature of her as "this shrill, raving, partisan, liberal lunatic."
Hilary's video is here. Take a look through the window - I wonder when it was shot? Sam Brownback announced on the web as well.

Charles Franklin looks at the polls.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:33 PM

January 8, 2007

The Death of General Interest Magazines?

David Carr:
Of course, there are those who would argue that in a society that seems to have no general interest (other than, say, Paris Hilton and the Super Bowl) there is no room or need for a general interest magazine. But Mr. Stengel said he will not be imprisoned by the tyranny of big numbers in making changes at Time.

“I think it is a false choice to say that something that is mass has to be dumbed-down.” he said. “We want to be accessible, but we want our readers to know that we understand they are smart.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:06 PM

January 3, 2007

TSA's Latest: Sponsored X-Ray Bins

John Croft:
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is launching a one-year pilot programme to allow companies to place advertisements in bins at passenger screening checkpoints at “select” US airports in return for equipment donations.

The effort follows a 3-month test programme at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) security checkpoints that started in July.

TSA is looking for commercial advertising companies who will team with an airport to provide divestiture bins (the plastic bins used to transport passenger carry-on items through the X-ray machine); divestiture and composure tables; and bin return carts free-of-charge to the TSA. In return, the companies will be allowed to place airport-approved ads “on the bottom of the inside of the bins,” says a TSA spokeswoman. Airports partnered with ad companies will ultimately be required to screen the materials for “offensive, obtrusive, political or controversial” content, she adds.
Not a bad idea, actually. How about a free bottle of water with the ad?
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:51 PM

December 30, 2006

The Creation of American Girl's 2007 Girl of the Year - Nikki

Christina Binkley visits Middleton's American Girl (a unit of Mattel):
A little more than a year ago, executives at the dollmaker American Girl sat down to undertake a high-stakes marketing mission: cramming everything the company deems uplifting and authentic about American girls into a single plastic and cloth figure. The goal: to create a character so compelling that parents will pay $86 for an 18-inch doll and a paperback book.

Working with a trove of customer feedback culled from its magazine, Web and book-publishing empire, the company determined that the typical girl these days is dependable, athletic and loves animals. She is also completely overscheduled and stressed out. She skis like a demon, rides horses, trains guide dogs, plans school parties, washes the dishes, battles popularity crises and helps her little brother with his math homework.

The improbable result is Nicki Fleming, the company's 2007 Girl of the Year -- an annual event in which the Mattel Inc. unit releases, on Jan. 1, a new doll meant to capture the current state of girlhood. Nicki's dog Sprocket, together with training treats, a collar and leash, sells for $24. Her horse Jackson with Western saddle costs $62; his tack box, curry brush and carrots are $34.
Mattel's (Jill Barrad was CEO at the time) acquisition of Pleasant Rowland's American Girl for some $700M lead the way to the creation of Madison's Overture Center. Former Oscar Meyer CEO Bob Eckert currently runs Mattel.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:23 AM

December 13, 2006

20 Business Ideas & The VC's with Cash

Michael Copeland & Susanna Hamner:
The result is this list of 20 tantalizing business ideas, ranging from a host of new websites and applications to next-generation power sources and a luxury housing development. This isn't small-time thinking, either: These investors -which include some of Silicon Valley's most successful VCs as well as serial entrepreneurs like Steve Case and Howard Schultz are backing their ideas with a collective $100 million in funding to the entrepreneurs who can get them off the ground.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:49 AM

December 9, 2006

Wal-Mart Culture/Marketing Clash

Two interesting articles on the identity conflict underway (perhaps being resolved?) at Wal-Mart:
  • Michael Barbaro & Stuart Elliott:
    Yesterday, in a surprising rebuke, Wal-Mart overturned Ms. Roehm’s choice to replace the company’s longtime advertising agencies — a decision that puts $580 million worth of marketing up for grabs again, two months after the original search process ended.

    Her departure has roiled Madison Avenue and sent several major agencies scrambling to dust off their marketing plans for the nation’s largest retailer.

    At the heart of the controversy, everyone agreed, is a culture clash. Ms. Roehm, a 35-year-old rising star who won acclaim in advertising circles for her work in the automobile industry, was never at home within the painstakingly modest by-the-books culture of Wal-Mart.
  • Michael Barbaro & Stuart Elliott:
    t was the kind of bold advertising campaign that Wal-Mart executives agreed was needed to attract style-hungry consumers: a series of commercials featuring two sisters — one a regular Wal-Mart shopper, the other not — trying to redecorate their homes.

    In commercials set to run throughout this holiday season, the sisters were to discover that Wal-Mart offers a lot more than low prices.

    But in July, as gasoline prices spiked, senior executives abruptly scrapped plans for the so-called sisters campaign, sending a marketing team led by Julie Roehm scrambling to create a replacement, according to people involved in the process. The reason was that the ads did not focus enough on low prices.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:18 PM

November 19, 2006

Yahoo's Peanut Butter Manifesto

Henry Blodget:
It will be interesting to see how Terry Semel reacts to Brad Garlinghouse's "peanut butter manifesto," which was essentially open letter accusing Terry of incompetence. Garlinghouse took pains to note that Yahoo's problems come "straight from the top." He also obviously either leaked the memo himself or knew that it would be leaked (little difference). Regardless of what happens, Yahoo shareholders should thank him.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:19 PM

November 3, 2006

A Closer Look at Plunging Circulation

Via a friend; Rick Edmonds:
As was widely reported, the six-month circulation numbers for U.S. newspapers released earlier this week carried plenty of bad news: an industry-wide tumble year-to-year of 2.8% daily and 3.4% on Sunday. There were much deeper losses in big metro markets like Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.

As grim as those numbers are, a deeper look into the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reports and into some online data released by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), makes the overall economic picture even a little bleaker.

True to their word, most companies and individual papers continue to burn so-called “junk” circulation, such as the category called “other paid” as well as third-party or bulk sales, all of it of little value to advertisers. That would support the idea that the business is pruning numbers, but improving the quality of its circulation.


Take the six largest papers of Lee Enterprises (Lee owns half of Capitol Newspapers), the best circulation performer among public companies. Together they achieved a highly respectable daily loss of just 0.3%. However those same papers lost 25,000 circulation among those paying 50 percent or greater of the full price of the paper, a drop of 4.1%. At the same time, it added 13,500 in the 25 to 50 percent category, a 43.9% increase. That means the papers had significant losses among subscribers paying a higher percentage of the full price while adding readers who paid more steeply discounted rate
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:24 PM

October 12, 2006

Markets in Everything: 7:11

Tyler Cowen:
the Chicago White Sox] have just announced that for the next three seasons, their evening home games will begin at 7:11 p.m. instead of the customary 7:05 p.m. or 7:35 p.m. Why? Because 7-Eleven, the convenience store chain, is paying them $500,000 to do so.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:47 PM

October 5, 2006

The Daily Show is as Substantive as the "real" news

Eric Bangeman:
The Daily Show is much funnier than traditional newscasts, but a new study from Indiana University says it has the same amount of meat on its bones when it comes to coverage of the news. The brand of news coverage Jon Stewart and the rest of The Daily Show's staff brings to the airwaves is just as substantive as traditional news programs like World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, according to the study conducted by IU assistant professor of telecommunications Julia R. Fox and a couple of graduate students.

The researchers looked at coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican national conventions and the first presidential debate of the fall campaign, all of which were covered by the mainstream broadcast news outlets and The Daily Show. Individual broadcasts of the nightly news and corresponding episodes of The Daily Show were analyzed by the researchers, who found that the "average amounts of video and audio substance in the broadcast network news stories" were no different from The Daily Show. Perhaps more telling, The Daily Show delivered longer stories on the topic.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:59 AM

September 24, 2006

"Emergence of Citizen's Media"

Interesting. A forum addressing "citizens' media" populated with no one actually practicing it.

Sort of like the big steel mill folks ruminating over the mini mills that over time dominated the industry.
A mini-mill is traditionally a secondary steel producer; however, Nucor (one of the world's largest steel producers) uses mini-mills exclusively. Usually it obtains most of its iron from scrap steel, recycled from used automobiles and equipment or byproducts of manufacturing. Direct reduced iron (DRI) is sometimes used with scrap, to help maintain desired chemistry of the steel, though usually DRI is too expensive to use as the primary raw steelmaking material. A typical mini-mill will have an electric arc furnace for scrap melting, a ladle furnace or vacuum furnace for precision control of chemistry, a strip or billet continuous caster for converting molten steel to solid form, a reheat furnace and a rolling mill.

Originally the mini-mill concept was adapted to production of bar products only, such as concrete reinforcing bar, flats, angles, channels, pipe, and light rails. Since the late 1980s, successful introduction of the direct strip casting process has made mini-mill production of strip feasible. Often a mini-mill will be constructed in an area with no other steel production, to take advantage of local resources and lower-cost labour. Mini-mill plants may specialize, for example, making coils of rod for wire-drawing use, or pipe, or in special sections for transportation and agriculture.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:09 PM

September 12, 2006

Shephard on the Wisconsin State Journal's Ellen Foley

Jason Shephard has written an excellent piece on Madison's largest daily newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal:
Ellen Foley missed the afternoon news meeting where her deputy editors debated story selection for the next day’s front page. But later, the Wisconsin State Journal editor saw the planned lead story and blurted out, “Who cares?”

The story, which ran earlier this summer, reported that several Madison high schools failed to meet new federal standards. Foley feared her paper’s readers -- starved for time and wanting relevant and engaging writing -- wouldn’t be pulled into the piece. So she directed an assistant editor to repackage it.

“I’m sure he was thinking, ‘Oh boy, the last thing I need tonight is the editor giving me tips on how to do my job,’” recalls Foley, who advised him anyway. She hammered home the importance of “creating context” in the story’s first six paragraphs. She also wanted breakout boxes to list the failing schools and explain the standards.
Jason dug up some interesting data on daily newspaper readership:
One is to shift emphasis from circulation data to readership stats.

“We know people are reading our paper,” says Phil Stoddard, Capital Newspapers’ circulation director. “They’re just not buying it.”

The State Journal points to studies that suggest its readership is at sky-high levels. “The numbers for Capital Newspapers are absolutely stellar,” boasts an internal memo from the company’s marketing director, Jon Friesch. “In Dane County, 83% of adults read the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal, and 79% read the daily or Saturday edition of The Capital Times or Wisconsin State Journal.”

But while these numbers come from an independent company, Scarborough Research, they may be misleading, since they include even casual readers. The 83% number, clarifies Friesch, measures respondents who have read the Sunday paper “in the last month”; the 79% number is respondents who have read either of the two dailies “in the past five days.” bold added

From 1985 to 2005, the State Journal’s daily circulation saw a 20% increase, from 76,903 to 92,081. Sunday circulation also rose, from 138,086 in 1985 to 150,616 last year. But over the last decade, the number has trended downward, from a 1994 high of 166,205. Single-copy Sunday sales have taken the biggest hit, says Stoddard, who calls the Sunday paper the company’s “bread and butter.”

One strategy employed by newspapers is to hike so-called soft circulation. For instance, residents of more than a dozen Madison apartment complexes are eligible for free and discounted subscriptions, with billing included in their monthly rent. Sunday shoppers at Sentry Hilldale are given a free State Journal. Oil-change customers at Valvoline can read a complimentary Cap Times or State Journal while their car is serviced. (Elsewhere in the country, advertisers have filed class-action lawsuits alleging that circulation numbers have been improperly inflated.)
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:00 PM

August 24, 2006

Who Killed The Newspaper?

The Economist:
“A GOOD newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself,” mused Arthur Miller in 1961. A decade later, two reporters from the Washington Post wrote a series of articles that brought down President Nixon and the status of print journalism soared. At their best, newspapers hold governments and companies to account. They usually set the news agenda for the rest of the media. But in the rich world newspapers are now an endangered species. The business of selling words to readers and selling readers to advertisers, which has sustained their role in society, is falling apart (see article). Of all the “old” media, newspapers have the most to lose from the internet. Circulation has been falling in America, western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades (elsewhere, sales are rising). But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline. In his book “The Vanishing Newspaper”, Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition. That sort of extrapolation would have produced a harrumph from a Beaverbrook or a Hearst, but even the most cynical news baron could not dismiss the way that ever more young people are getting their news online. Britons aged between 15 and 24 say they spend almost 30% less time reading national newspapers once they start using the web.
Related: Warren Buffet: "Newspapers are a business in permanent decline." I think the roots of the problem can be found in this post by Brenda Konkel. Daily newspapers, despite generating tremendous margins and cash flow, have in my view, shied away - in general from the more challenging issues. A friend refers to this as "not wanting to offend anyone". At some point, this desire will be fatal to their business models.

Finally, like any organization, with the founders long gone and the remnants simply part of larger corporations it's unlikely that most dailies will do what's necessary in a new media age.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:22 PM

August 20, 2006

Target's "Popup" LA Store

Virginia Postrel:
Target is, of course, well known for persuading designers to turn their skills--and publicity-generating ability--to its mass market. The latest twist, as explained in this report is to open full-blown, but temporary, boutiques like this "pop up" Paul & Joe store on Melrose Place in L.A. My niece Rachel and I hit it on July 29, the day Moore's story ran, and it was packed with women eager to buy discount-priced clothes in a non-discount environment.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:36 PM

August 10, 2006

The Decline of the Newspapers

Thomas C. Reeves:
Circulation for the nation’s daily newspapers has been declining steadily since 1990. In 2004 and 2005, daily circulation dropped 3.5% and the Sunday circulation declined by 4.6%. In the six months period ending in March, 2006, daily circulation fell 2.5% and the Sunday editions fell 3.1%. Readership declined in almost every demographic group and among people with all levels of education, even those with postgraduate degrees. One study found that baby boomers read newspapers a third less than their parents, and generation Xers read them a third less than the boomers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:07 PM

August 9, 2006

"The Penalty of Leadership"

Peter DeLorenzo noted that Cadillac is resurrecting a classic ad campaign: "The Penalty of Leadership":
Speaking of Liz's Boyz, prominently displayed in their new "Life. Liberty. And the pursuit." ad campaign for Cadillac is the famous, "The Penalty of Leadership" ad written by Theodore MacManus, which was done for Cadillac back in 1915. Gee, we wonder where they got the idea to use that?
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 PM

August 8, 2006

McKinsey on the Continuing Decline in TV selling Power

Abbey Klaassen:
A study is about to give Madison Avenue a fresh pummeling: McKinsey & Co. is telling a host of major marketers that by 2010, traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective as it was in 1990.

That shocking statistic, delivered to the company's Fortune 100 clients in a report on media proliferation, assumes a 15% decrease in buying power driving by cost-per-thousand rate increases; a 23% decline in ads viewed due to switching off; a 9% loss of attention to ads due to increased multitasking and a 37% decrease in message impact due to saturation.

"You've also got pronounced changes in consumer behavior while they're consuming media," said Tom French, director at McKinsey. "And ad spending is decreasingly reflecting consumer behavior."
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:46 AM

Interesting Discussion of Traditional Magazine Advertising & Web Publications

Frank Williams:
Car and Driver, Road & Track, Automobile, Motor Trend and the rest of the magazines further down the car mag food chain are all supported by advertising. Unless a magazine is subsidized by a non-profit organization (e.g. Consumer Reports) or charges an exorbitant price per issue, it can’t survive without advertising. Few readers have problems with ads per se; they consider them literally wallpaper. But when the ads outweigh the content, questions begin to arise about who’s calling the editorial shots. Put a one or two-page ad for a new car in the middle of a glowing review of the same and those suspicions can easily turn to full-scale paranoia. Sneak in a multi-page "special advertising section" formatted to look and read like the rest of the magazine and credibility stretches to breaking point.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:17 AM

August 6, 2006

Latest Mainstream Media Statistics:

Chris Anderson:
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:41 AM

July 27, 2006

Imagining the Day When the WSJ Print Edition Folds

Scott Donaton:
Wow, they're going to do it. Or at least they're going to think about doing it. That's the first thing that came into my mind on a recent Friday morning when The New York Times reported that the parent company of The Wall Street Journal had created a committee "to reassess the ways it delivers news across all its print and online properties."
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:22 AM

July 19, 2006

Air Sickness Bag Advertising

John Moore:
But US Airways must be kidding when a company spokesperson says, "The airsick bag is not used like it was in the past -- primarily with turbo-prop aircraft and cabins that weren't pressurized -- so the negative connotation of the sick sack has gone away." Now that line makes this marketer wanna reach for a barf bag.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:21 PM

July 17, 2006

Exploding TV

Jeff Jarvis notes an interesting paradox:
At the same time that Nielsen announces that the TV networks had their lowest ratings in recorded history — averaging 20 million viewers at a time — YouTube announces that it’s serving 100 million videos a day. Insert apocalyptic punchline here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 PM

June 20, 2006

Cities Shop for Free WiFi Services

Bobby White:
Under the agreement, Sacramento residents would pay monthly subscription fees of about $20 to use MobilePro's wireless service, local businesses would pay $90 to $250, and Sacramento's city agencies would be able to use the service free. The agreement resembled that of many other municipal wireless deals across the country. For MobilePro, based in Bethesda, Md., a full year of service would bring in $2 million to $4 million in revenue, analysts estimate.

But earlier this month, the deal fell apart. The reason: Sacramento city officials had noticed new municipal wireless deals inked in San Francisco and Portland, Ore. The Portland rollout, sponsored by Silicon Valley startup MetroFi Inc., and the San Francisco deployment from Google Inc. and Earthlink Inc., both offered wireless service to those cities with expanded free access for some businesses and residents. Instead of relying on user subscription fees, MetroFi, Google and Earthlink planned to make money off local advertising that would be embedded in their wireless service.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:44 AM

June 14, 2006

Fascinating Look at Friedman's War of Words Regarding GM & Toyota

Ed Wallace:
It was a blast across GM’s bow that was unparalleled in its ferocity and malicious intent. For here was Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times decreeing that, for the benefit of our nation and society, General Motors should fold. Friedman argues that GM is almost solely responsible for our country’s extreme gasoline demand, which in turn is why our troops are in the Middle East fighting the War on Terrorism.

Then again, few realize that only 40% of the oil America uses today goes into producing gasoline for the 200 plus million automobiles we drive. What Friedman did not rail against was our airline industry, which accounts for 7% of our petroleum use, or the 24% used by business and industry. I’m surprised he didn’t call out New Englanders, because of their inconsiderate use of heating oil in winter, the reason our troops are in Iraq securing crude supplies.
GM's Brian Akre has much more:
I’ve spent much of the past week trying to get a letter to the editor published in The New York Times in response to the recent Tom Friedman rant (subscription required) against GM (see “Hyperbole and Defamation at The New York Times,” June 1).

I failed. This is my story.

For those of you who haven’t read it already, Mr. Friedman spent 800 words on the Times op/ed page to accuse GM of supporting terrorists, buying votes in Congress and being a corporate “crack dealer” that posed a serious threat to America’s future. He suggested the nation would be better off if Japan’s Toyota took over GM.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:15 PM

June 11, 2006

Advertising: Liberty Mutual Adds a bit of HEM to their new Commercial

Liberty Mutual - a firm I'd never heard of before, briefly caught my attention this evening via a new TV Ad. This ad features a rather obscure group - HEM. I first learned of this band via Bob Boylan's All Songs Considered several years ago.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:16 PM

June 10, 2006

An Answer in Search of A Question

John Moore:
That’s a picture of the latest brilliant marketing idea – showing television commercials to people pumping gas. Gas Station TV has been testing this marketing idea in Dallas and is expanding the test to more markets with eye towards having 1,000 gas stations in 21 states by next year. Airing on GSTV will be 15-second commercials as well as news/entertainment content from the ABC television network.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:10 PM

May 19, 2006

Study: Only One in Four Teens Can Name Broadcast Networks

Abbey Klaassen:
For the week of the broadcast network upfront presentations, Bolt Media hopes this stat delivers a bullet to TV: Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

The finding comes via an online poll conducted by Bolt Media, a 10-year-old Web site that six weeks ago relaunched itself as a place for users to upload videos and photos. About 400 members responded to the questions, including one that asked how respondents spent their free time.
There certainly are some questions about this, given the source of the poll, however, the media fragmentation trend cannot be denied.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:25 PM

May 18, 2006

105.5 MMM Payola ?

Rich Albertoni follows the money at Entercomm's local station, 105.5 (NY AG Spitzer filed suit against Entercomm recently). I rarely listen to it - how often must we hear the Police or Sting for that matter?

We're fortunate to have WORT and WSUM along with our public radio stations. Those interested in the nuts and bolts of the music business would likely find the Lefsetz Letter useful "First in Music Analysis".

I also very much enjoy listening to KCRW [LA], WFUV [NYC] and WXPN [PHL] online.

Kristian Knutsen has more.

I wonder if any other local media outlets will pick this up?
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:35 PM

May 14, 2006

Follow the Money: How Advertising Dollars Encourage Nuisance and Harmful Adware and What Can be Done to Reverse the Trend

The Center for Democracy & Technology [pdf]:
Unwanted advertising software or "adware" has evolved from an annoyance into a serious threat to the future of Internet communication. Every day, thousands of Internet users are duped into downloading adware programs they neither want nor need. Once installed, the programs bog down computers’ normal functions, deluging users with pop-up advertisements, creating privacy and security risks, and generally diminishing the quality of the online experience. Some users simply give up on the Internet altogether after their computers are rendered useless by the installation of dozens of unwanted programs.

One of the most troubling aspects of this phenomenon is that the companies fueling it are some of the largest, best-known companies in the world. In the following pages, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) details how advertising dollars from major, legitimate companies are fueling the spread of nuisance and harmful adware1 and how those companies can help to combat the online scourge by adopting and enforcing good advertising placement policies.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

April 24, 2006

What if Media 2.0 is Less Profitable than Media 1.0?

Scott Karp:
But what if there’s a fatal flaw in this assumption? What if the transfer of marketing and advertising dollars online is not 1-to-1? What if the Internet has fundamentally lowered the marketing and advertising costs for big companies as it has for small companies? What if large companies can achieve the same sales objectives for a fraction of the cost of traditional mass media advertising?

All marketers know intuitively that mass media advertising is wildly inefficient — there’s the obsessively repeated Wanamaker quote about knowing that half of all advertising is wasted but not knowing which half. But the Internet may be doing more than make advertising more efficient and measureable, i.e. reducing wasted dollars — it may be fundamentally lowering its unit costs.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 AM

February 23, 2006

Popup Stores

Much has been written about pop-up stores and they are usually placed in the context of being something of a fad or fashion in retail. However, even if it is hidden, there is a powerful idea behind most of these initiatives and that's to provide "brand refreshment" and "brand excitement".

The temporary and unique nature of these stores gives people a reason to visit and take note. Influx believes the idea inherent in the pop-up is one of temporary surprise (great in an A.D.D. world) and that can be very impactful as a communication tool, especially as it's a three-dimensional experience.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:20 PM

February 22, 2006

An Interview with Errol Morris

Megan Cunningham interviews UW Grad and noted film and advertising impresario Errol Morris [pdf]:
Within the entertainment industry, Errol Morris holds a chameleon position. To the commercial production world, he’s established as a highly successful director, both innovative and intelligent. (He’s one of the only, if not the only, director of TV commercials who has written an opinion-page article published in The New York Times.) Within talent and advertising agencies, he is known for his exceptional off-kilter vision, and honored in ways usually reserved for noncommercial artists. (In November 1999, his work received a full retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2002, the organizers of the Academy Awards asked him to direct the short film that introduced the annual Oscars ceremony; it featured a series of real-life characters—some well-known, some everyday citizens—describing their passion for movies.) In a 2004 Adweek article honoring Morris’s contributions as someone who “rises above the fray to create work that resonates and inspires,”
Errol Morris
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:51 AM

February 18, 2006

BMW Audio Books
Put on your seatbelt and prepare for highs, lows and plenty of twists and turns. BMW, in conjunction with Random House, brings you BMW Audio Books, a unique series of specially-commissioned short stories showcasing the work of some of the finest contemporary writing talent. Each gripping tale is yours to download for free and a new book will be available to download every two weeks. Listen to them on your MP3 player, your laptop or ideally, in the car. So sit back, hit play and enjoy the ride.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:02 PM

February 15, 2006

Ford Selling the Fusion via Mockumentary

Jean Halliday:
To promote its new Fusion sedan, Ford is airing a "mockumentary" online film series about a band of Norwegian performance artists who would give the Maytag repairman fits. The rock group Hurra Torpedo cranks out cacophonous tunes by smashing clothes dryers, kitchen ranges and what looks like an outboard motor.

By linking with the group, Ford hopes to attract consumers between the ages of 25 and 35 to the Fusion. Ford is sponsoring the three-man band's U.S. tour. The promotion includes an online sweepstakes that will give away the red Fusion SEL the band is driving on the road.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:28 PM

January 31, 2006

Podcasts, blogs and Dave Barry

C.W. Nevius:
"Newspapers," he said right off the bat, "are dead."

Uh, to be honest, I was hoping for something a little funnier. But, the more he talked about it, the clearer it became that it is a worthwhile topic for discussion. And Barry may even be right.

Everyone has heard about cutbacks in the newspaper business, from the big names on the East Coast to the papers in your driveway. And if there is anyone who typifies the rapid pace of change in the business and its effect on how you get your news, it is Barry.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:22 PM

January 27, 2006

IBM on the Future of Television

IBM Consulting:
Our analysis indicates that market evolution hinges on two key market drivers: openness of access channels and levels of consumer involvement with media. For the next 5-7 years, there will be change on both fronts — but not uniformly. The industry instead will be stamped by consumer bimodality, a coexistence of two types of users with disparate channel requirements. While one consumer segment remains passive in the living room, the other will force radical change in business models in a search for anytime, anywhere content through multiple channels.
Via Terry Heaton.

Interesting that IBM is chatting about this game. Large changes are underway....
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:07 PM

Reshaping Broadcast TV Revenue

Diane Mermigas:
JPMorgan Chase analyst Spencer Wang says the earliest signs of this fundamental value shift is the sharp contrast between the languishing stock price of traditional media companies (representing an estimated loss of $31 billion in collective market capitalization) and the meteoric rise of so-called new-media stocks (reflecting an aggregate $69 billion gain in market cap).

More directly, evolving new business models are gradually redefining the value of content in the digital age: what distributors and consumers are willing to pay, what it costs to produce and how much revenue and profit is generated as compared to traditional ways of doing business.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:05 PM

Requiem for Core Weekly

Core Weekly, whose "only reason for existing was to make money" according to Bill Lueders, is gone. Local discussion roundup:
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:48 AM

January 24, 2006

Convert Customers into Evangelists

Michael Krauss:
Marketing is not a do-it-to-the-customer, one-way process. The highest aim of marketing is to create products and stories about them that empower customers to sell for you. Don’t simply create loyal customers. Create customers who are enraptured with your product and sell for you. Turn customers on so they will turn others into customers.

Think of eBay conclaves where loyal users tell eBay CEO Meg Whitman how to run the company and what acquisitions to make. Hark back to 1984 and the launch of Apple’s Macintosh computer. Think of all those Mac users who tried to convert you to their form of technology.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:13 PM

January 17, 2006

Roof Ads

Boing Boing:
Some commercial outfits are painting giant ads on their roofs for the benefit of the aerial/satellite photos used by services like Google Earth/Google Maps.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:10 AM

January 11, 2006

Makers Mark Marketing

Ben McConnell:
For our latest podcast, we spent some time with Maker's Mark CEO Bill Samuels Jr., who described how one rather influential person helped launched the bourbon manufacturer into the stratosphere of recognition.

He also discusses the rationale and practice of "marketing without fingerprints" and the rapid growth of its ambassador community.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:37 PM

January 8, 2006

Kinsley on the Future of Newspapers: Black and White and Dead All Over

Michael Kinsley:
And so, at last, there are two piles of paper: a short one of stuff to read, and a tall one of stuff to throw away. Unfortunately, many people are taking the logic of this process one step further. Instead of buying a paper in order to throw most of it away, they are not buying it in the first place.

No one knows how all this will play out. But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn't mean newspapers are toast. After all, they've got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the "Post-Intelligencer" more than something called "Yahoo" or "Google," don't you? No, seriously, don't you? Okay, how old did you say you are?
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:22 PM

January 3, 2006

Advertising Strategies Challenged in the High-Tech Age

2006 is expected to be a challenging year for the advertising industry. Dollars continue to flow out of television budgets and into Internet ads. And viewers have more ways to skip commercials. With TiVos and iPods giving consumers more power, what's an ad guy to do?
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:33 PM

December 28, 2005

Weighty Marketing Matters

Ben McConnell:

During the past month, I received 14 pounds of catalogs in the mail. That's roughly a half-pound per day.

I didn't ask to receive any of them, either, a claim my postal carrier could hardly be blamed to question.

Yet companies well-known, and some of them not, sent me at least one, sometimes two, three or more catalogs between Nov. 21 and Dec. 22, 2005.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:05 PM

December 23, 2005

Advertising & News

Kristian Knutsen nicely rounds up commentary on the recent WIBA/Amcore newsroom sponsorship deal:
his is the third part of an extended look at the deal between Clear Channel Madison and AMCORE Bank to sponsor the WIBA-AM (1310) newsroom. The first part examined the deal and the possibility that similar sponsorships of other Clear Channel newsrooms are in the offing, while part two looked at how the deal could affect WIBA's reputation.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:51 PM

December 17, 2005

Selling the News: Advertising, WIBA and Local Newspapers

WIBA is receiving some grief from the Capital Times (part of the $120M advertising enterprise that is Capital Newspapers) over the sale of naming rights to its newsroom to Amcore Bank.

Steven Levingston:
The agreements reflect the proliferation of corporate sponsorships in recent years -- think FedEx Field and MCI Center -- and the pressure many newsrooms feel to boost revenue. Close alliances between companies and news enterprises, however, raise a special set of issues related to journalistic integrity, ethicists say.

With journalism still under a cloud from some high-profile scandals, newsrooms must go to the greatest lengths to convince the public of their independence and credibility, said Kelly McBride, a journalism ethics expert at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism training center.

"This undermines all the efforts we're making to protect our credibility," she said. "It creates the perception that the newsroom is for sale to the highest bidder."
An informed society must understand that advertising, sponsorship or underwriting will always include influence. The real solution, from my perspective, is the ongoing disaggregation of media, with many, many more choices and a number of aggregators.

I wonder how sponsorship of a newsroom is any different than wrapping the daily newspaper in a sponsor's first thing visible full page ad? See a local example here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:46 AM

October 30, 2005

Tea Leaves: Google & Madison Ave: Quid Pro Quo on Advertising?

Click to view a larger version of each image.

Saul Hansell:
Not content to just suck advertising dollars from Web search, Google is using its windfall to pay for an eclectic range of ambitious projects that have the potential to radically disrupt other industries. Among other things, it is offering to build a free wireless Internet network in San Francisco, plans to scan nearly every book published and is testing a free classified advertising system it calls Google Base.

More quietly, Google is also preparing to disrupt the advertising business itself, by replacing creative salesmanship with cold number-crunching. Its premise so far is that advertising is most effective when seen only by people who are interested in what's for sale, based on what they are searching for or reading about on the Web. Because Google's ad-buying clients pay for ads only when users click on them, they can precisely measure their effectiveness - and are willing to pay more for ads that really sell their products.

Interestingly, Google placed a full page color ad, seeking advertising sales people, in today's NY Times Business section. From what I can tell (I subscribe to the fishwrap version of the Times), this is rather rare. John Batelle raises some useful points as well.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:56 PM

August 30, 2005

Interesting Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Fund Raiser

9 Million Miles for the Ultimate Drive, an interesting annual BMW test drive promotion that supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. This initiative, which raises at least $1M annually, passed through Madison today.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:00 PM

August 13, 2005

Marketers Wrestle with Hard-to-Control Web Content

Kris Oser describes (Subscription - Ad Age) the influence between advertising and media content:
Is it safe to advertise in places on the Internet that are essentially run by consumers and cannot be controlled? How can they protect themselves and their good names when blog and chat-room users are liable to say and post anything? It’s not just pornography or off-color language that worries them. What if consumers got angry about something involving a marketer’s brand, and their remarks got linked to across the Internet? Maybe advertising in such open spaces is not worth the risk.
emphasis added Dave Winer and Doc Searls offer useful comments.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:12 PM

August 10, 2005

Wal-Mart Advertising Apes Target

Mya Frazier:
The rollback man is gone, as are the do-gooder anecdotes and smiling associates in frumpy blue smocks. There is no tooting of the corporate-image horn and not a single word on price. But what is found in Wal-Mart’s first major.

Take the geometrical print ad, from GSD&M, Austin, popping up in August titles such as Real Simple, that looks as if it’s pulled from the home-furnishings aisle at Target. A series of back-to-school TV spots tout brands and merchandise first, make actual jokes (a rarity in Wal-Mart ads) and don’t include any in-store shots (long a Wal-Mart staple).
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:47 PM

July 17, 2005

Madison's Advertising Climate

Sandy Cullen takes an interesting look at local government, and perhaps public education's willingness to support advertising. Advertising is everywhere and will be more so in the future. One of the reasons for this is the ongoing fragmentation of media. The internet provides many, many options for local, regional, national and international news, weather, sports and arts information.

Advertising is simply following eyeballs.

I have some other candidates for advertising:
  • Kenton Peters' Blue Federal Courthouse and the WARF building - advertising can only help these eyesores
  • Camp Randall and the Kohl Center's exteriors. I think we have enough grey, certainly during our winter months
  • The City/County Building, East Berlin architecture, circa 1960's at its best.
Cullen interviewed a number of local advertising firms, but not the largest - her own publisher, Capital Newspapers. Capital (SEC 10-Q) reported six months revenue (through March 31, 2005) of $60,225K and operating income of 14,081K (23%!)
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:25 PM

July 15, 2005

Green Bay Press Gazette (Gannett) Wants Teen Bloggers

In an effort to connect with teenagers, The Gannett owned Green Bay Press Gazette is looking for teen bloggers. I can see the Press-Gazette's benefits (advertising), but what's in it for the teens? Blogging software and domains are extremely cheap, if not free these days. Mark Deuze's paper on Participatory Journalism is surely related. I'm not sure that the cathedral of newpapers is where it will happen, however.
We are using more media than ever before in history, yet this intensive engagement with media does not translate into more attention paid to the stories told by the two archetypical media professions: journalism and advertising"
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:13 AM

July 7, 2005

A Thursday Morning Look at Local Media

(Click the photo for a larger version)

I walked to the bottom of my driveway early this morning to grab the NY Times (I still get the fishwrap version) and saw that another paper was dropped off (the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal periodically drop promotional copies around the neighborhood).

The 2nd paper was rather interesting: the first two pages were advertising "Brought to you by Middleton Ford". Perhaps this advertiser bought x number of copies that were dropped around the area? Most interestingly, the advertiser pages completely covered the Wisconsin State Journal. From the advertiser perspective, it is certainly in your face for those who take the paper out of the bag (why not direct mail?). From the State Journal's perspective, however, it is a big dilution of the brand. Promo copies (try us) are one thing, but a promo copy completely wrapped in an ad is another.

This approach is identical to traditional advertiser only publications. Perhaps that's where the daily papers will end up: free to all readers, but with a much larger and more invasive ad presence.

Meanwhile, Joseph T. Hallinan covers McClatchy's circulation woes at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Finally, I took a look at local coverage/links to today's very unfortunate London events around 7:00a.m. at two popular local news sites, Capital Newspapers' site and Morgan Murphy Media's At 6:48a.m., channel3000 had a photo of British PM Tony Blair's press conference along with a story and links. did not mention this breaking story (they later posted a link to an AP story on the London bombing). (click to view a screen shot of the two sites at 6:48a.m. today). The internet's news cycle is clearly different than the traditional paper's 24 hour process.

Having said all that, I think the local sites are much better off 99% focused on local issues. There was and is no shortage of coverage on the London events around the net.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:09 AM

June 23, 2005

Greasing the Wheels: Advertising Oshkosh Trucks

Wisconsin based Oshkosh truck build's "Severe Duty" trucks. These include ambulances, fire trucks and military vehicles, among others. Driving around Washington, DC recently with the local NPR station (WETA 90.9/89.1FM) on the radio, I smiled as I heard that this portion of the program was sponsored by Oshkosh Truck Corporation. Someone, somewhere evidently felt that placing their name on the DC NPR station would generate good will and perhaps a few orders.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:59 AM

May 12, 2005

The Capital Times Holds a Town Meeting

Click to view a larger version of this photo
The Capital Times held a Town meeting at Ancora Coffee on Monroe St. this evening. While the crowd was thin (total of 25 or so people, a number from the paper) this event is a useful idea.

The way we all obtain information has changed so dramatically, and continues to do so, it's difficult for me to see the daily newspaper surviving, given the current economics. Weekly and Sunday publications have a better shot, I think - maybe. The trick for the Cap Times is to figure out how to migrate their local coverage into the internet era AND change the way they publish. I'm not sure that their current approach to the internet makes any sense - simply repurposing newspaper content online.
Having said all that, there will always be a market for excellent reporting. My youngest attended the town meeting and wrote up an article, for publication here :)
A Meeting at Ancora

On Thursday, May 12th at Ancora, a meeting about the Capital Times was held. The meeting was held so that the Capital Times could hear what the people had to say. With a cookie and my shuffle, I was content. But, little did I know that I could be content without my cookie or my shuffle.

One of the first issues of the evening was that people wanted more national and international coverage (I don't think that will help the Cap Times - ed).

In the meeting, there were put-ups and put-downs. A topic that I was interested in was talk about micro chips (RFID). People are thinking in ten years, that we will start putting little micro chips in everything, like books. Putting them in books is a great idea. Like, if the books get lost, you can find them, but then I heard that people micro chips in children's clothes.

Sure, the parents will know where the kids are, but anyone can get to this information and then.... I don't want to talk about it.

People have their opinions and their opinions aren't mine, but if you want to know what I like? I like the Capital Times.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 PM

May 3, 2005

Media Change: Rosen Connects the dots

Jay Rosen does quite a job connecting the advertising, authority/credibility and newspaper circulation dots between LA, Northern Virginia, Milwaukee and Dallas. Hugh Hewitt's speech on circulation and advertising is well worth reading. Check it out.

Here's a copy of the actual complaint (32K PDF)

Somewhat related, the Wisconsin State Journal (AP & WSJ Staff), while covering the Milwaukee Journal circulation lawsuit, mentions that "March 31, 2004, indicates that "other paid sales" accounted for 4.3 percent of the papers' combined daily circulation and 1.5 percent of Sunday circulation."

We live in interesting times.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:23 AM

April 27, 2005

This is a tipping point

Shorewest sues Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel over circulation inflation.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:18 AM

April 23, 2005

Unread & Unsubscribing

George Will:
The circulation of daily U.S. newspapers is 55.2 million, down from 62.3 million in 1990. The percentages of adults who say they read a paper "yesterday" are ominous:
  • 65 and older -- 60 percent.
  • 50-64 -- 52 percent.
  • 30-49 -- 39 percent.
  • 18-29 -- 23 percent
Americans ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes a day with media of all sorts but just 43 minutes with print media.

The combined viewership of the network evening newscasts is 28.8 million, down from 52.1 million in 1980. The median age of viewers is 60. Hence the sponsorship of news programming by Metamucil and Fixodent. Perhaps we are entering what David T.Z. Mindich, formerly of CNN, calls "a post-journalism age."
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:39 PM

March 30, 2005

Profit Margins Growing Faster Than Sales.... Newspapers

Or - "Harvesting a market position":
Jay Rosen: Laying The Newspaper Gently Down to Die:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism, in its invaluable report on the state of the news media today, puts it this way: "If older media sectors focus on profit-taking and stock price, they may do so at the expense of building the new technologies that are vital to the future. There are signs that that may be occurring."

Newspapers in 2004, for instance, increased their profits at double the rate (8%) that their revenues grew (less than 4%), according to the Newspaper Association of America, a distinct sign of profit-taking. The industry remains highly profitable. Margins averaged 22.9% in 2004, according to the analyst Lauren Fine, and are expected to rise in 2005. The investment in online publications, though, where the size of the profits is still fairly modest, remains by most evidence cautious.
Perhaps this local example is related?
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:50 AM

March 27, 2005

Deader Trees: RIP for Newspapers?

Michael Malone:
In any other industry, a product that lost 1 percent of market share for two decades — only to then double or triple that rate of decline — would be declared dead. The manufacturer would discontinue it and rush out a replacement product more in line with the desires of the marketplace. So, let's finally come out and say: Newspapers are dead. They will never come back. By the end of this decade, the newspaper industry will suffer the same death rate — 90-plus percent — that every other industry experiences when run over by a technology revolution.
The transition will surely be interesting....
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:00 PM

March 24, 2005

Local Media: State Journal Selling Access?

Bill Novak:
Community activists upset with the Wisconsin State Journal for including a seat on an advisory panel with a $25,000 sponsorship package for a new business journal took their protest to the newspaper offices this morning.

State Journal Publisher Jim Hopson and Editor Ellen Foley met with a half-dozen activists from nonprofit organizations. Both emphatically denied that access to the State Journal is for sale.

"We do not sell access to the State Journal," Hopson said. "We give it away freely."
Interesting to see this surface in the State Journal's sister publication, the Capital Times. Both own and operate Capital Newspapers, a joint operating company where its monopoly is protected by the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. Background on the 1970 Act: Clusty. Somewhat related, Jay Rosen is calling for the de-certification of the press. The Economist (paid link) also jumps in:
Behind all this lies a shift in the balance of power in the news business. Power is moving away from old-fashioned networks and newspapers; it is swinging towards, on the one hand, smaller news providers (in the case of blogs, towards individuals) and, on the other, to the institutions of government, which have got into the business of providing news more or less directly. Eventually, perhaps, the new world of blogs will provide as much public scrutiny as newspapers and broadcasters once did. But for the moment the shifting balance of power is helping the government behemoth.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 AM

March 22, 2005

Viral Marketing

Daniel Terdiman:
Every company we've spoken to already has somebody working on this," said Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, or WOMMA. "It's called different things -- viral, buzz, customer satisfaction. But in the four months since we started, we've got 60 corporate members, and 3,000 people on our mailing list."

Call it what you like, marketers of all kinds have been increasingly looking for ways to take advantage of the speed at which information moves today and the power that can come from people passing on their impressions, recommendations or referrals of products or services.
This is not something that can be manufactured - though many will try. Rather, it's only successful when spontaneous and genuine....
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:54 AM

March 19, 2005

Microsoft's New Internet Ad Product: Selling Your Information

Dan Fost:
The new tool will allow advertisers to buy not just keywords but also the demographics of the person searching on those keywords.

MSN can do that most effectively when the search is conducted by a registered user who has already provided some personal details to the site. MSN attracts more than 380 million unique users worldwide per month.
This means that MSN, Hotmail and other Microsoft property users search & click data is aggregated, then sold to advertisers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:57 AM

March 13, 2005

Tim Draper on Skype, Telco's and the VC Business

Draper is acknowledged as the inspiration behind the term "viral marketing" via his hotmail investment. Interesting interview.
We often list all the problems in society, and the politicians would make you believe that they're going to solve all those problems.

Generally, I'd say it goes the other way. Businesses solve a lot of the world's problems. The next big energy breakthrough will happen through a business.

The next big environmental breakthrough similarly could happen through a business. Medicine has been advanced through business. It turns out that it's the businesspeople that tend to be the ones who solve all this stuff.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:56 AM

March 11, 2005

More on the changing advertising landscape

Several recent articles on the changing advertising landscape (struggling to keep up with our changing habits):
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:51 AM

February 20, 2005

Daily Newspapers face a Kodak Moment?

Frank Ahrens takes a look at the plight of daily newspapers in the internet era (Here's a great chart on the changes):
Frank A. Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times, said his industry has some breathing room left. But not much.

"The baby boomers are going to continue to drive print [sales] for some time," he said. "The problem we have are the . . . 18- to 35-year-olds. They're not replacing the baby boomers."

Others are more blunt, if hyperbolic.

"Print is dead," Sports Illustrated President John Squires told a room full of newspaper and magazine circulation executives at a conference in Toronto in November. His advice? "Get over it," meaning publishers should stop trying to save their ink-on-paper product and focus on electronic delivery of their journalism.

I believe the changes in the newspaper industry mirror Kodak's plight: the sharp, ongoing drop in formerly very high margin film sales. People are still taking pictures, in fact, more than ever. Kodak is just not capturing the kind of dollars they did in the past.

Newspapers face a similar issue. Their high margin, very high overhead business model will likely not survive (this will take some time), BUT citizens still want information, in fact, due to the internet, we're foraging for information at much higher rates than before.

I also think newspapers have not adjusted to their reader's changing expectations regarding news accessibility, depth and content in the internet era. The traditional text article, designed for print no longer cuts it. Thus the rise of the blogs....

Watch the conversation (technorati).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:45 AM

February 14, 2005

Amazon Prime

Jeremy Zawodny discusses Amazon's Prime Program (essentially an affinity model for $79/year) (I'm not a fan of Amazon generally - due to their one-click patent silliness)
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:20 AM

February 10, 2005

Nokia: Local Advertising on Your Cell Phone :(

Point Server by Nokia (via Geekzone):
Nokia is introducing the Nokia Local Marketing Solution, a mobile solution that brings services to customers' smartphones via short-range radio technologies, such as Bluetooth. With the Nokia Local Marketing Solution, operators and service providers can easily advertise their own and partner services in relevant places, at relevant times, thereby providing added value service to their customers. The Nokia solution supports multiple languages, and it can be customized according to the service provider's brand preferences.

The solution is based on the concept of point server, which distributes information to users on a reduced area or environment.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:48 PM

February 6, 2005

GM Auto Marketing: Find Your Style (Wife, Girlfriend, Mistress)

Driving back to SFO recently, I noticed this GM (General Motors) billboard. In essence, the message to Northern California drivers bound either for SFO or their jobs on the Peninsula or in Silicon Valley was: Advertising is often a useful way to peer into the soul of a company, or in other words, think about their dna and how the firm views its interaction with the outside world.

This campaign smells desperate to me. I'm reminded of Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy's spot on statement regarding software: "The quality of a company's software has an inverse relationship to the amount spent on marketing."

I must admit that this ad campaign doesn't click at all for me, from any angle. The whole pitch, including the website, seems like a lot of fluff. I visited the site and it promptly crashed my computer (PC, in this case). I tried again and it worked, although it later crashed just my browser.

Perhaps this all makes sense for some car buyers.....

I think GM would be much better off seeding cars to bloggers and schools for long term reviews (with the agreement that they write about their year or two with a sedan, minivan, SUV or sports car). This will take some doing, but I think it would be money well spent. Essentially, they need to route around the legacy media (see Bob Lutz's notes on this).
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:45 PM

December 21, 2004

Advertising: Magazines vs. TV?

Adrants has an interesting look at magazine publishers attempts to organize and offer a better value for advertisers than the former king of the universe - TV.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

December 6, 2004

iPods and personal mixes cut into radio time

iPods, personal mixes and to a lesser degree satellite radio are evidently cutting into traditional radio listeners time tuned in. I actually think that most radio stations have become ad vehicles rather than creative outlets. For example, I used to listen to 105.5 (triple m in Madison) rather frequently. However, the past two years, I listen to our fine student station 91.7, WSUM and my iPod. 105.5 has no shortage of commercials and a reasonably predictable playlist (they do offer up new music periodically).

The best station, hands down is Fordhams WFUV, available via mp3 stream.

Michael Booth says that Denver stations are trying to change.....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 5, 2004

Advertising: Things are changing

Lots of data around to show that all organizations must consider where and how they spend their marketing and advertising dollars:

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:07 AM

December 4, 2004

Godaddy - Alternatives to one 2.4M Super Bowl Ad

The folks at brand autopsy take a useful look at the many alternatives available to vs. a one time, expensive superbowl ad. Interesting reading.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 23, 2004

The Persuaders

Frontline (watch it online):

Americans are swimming in a sea of messages.

Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguistsmost of whom work for one of six giant companiesspend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

This is an interesting example: I recently posted a few comments on Pepsi Spice It looks to me like Pepsi's ad agencies are attempting to run a viral marketing campaign using search engines. I could be wrong but find it hard to believe that customers are flocking to search engines looking for Pepsi Spice information....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

The New Age of Advertising

Tom Moon (audio):

To announce its latest release How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, U2 has partnered with Apple Computer for a series of now-ubiquitous television advertisements.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

The New Age of Advertising

Tom Moon (audio):

To announce its latest release How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, U2 has partnered with Apple Computer for a series of now-ubiquitous television advertisements.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM