Previous month:
August 2007
Next month:
October 2007

September 2007

The Apple iPhony

I don't know about you, but the wind has been sucked out of the iPhone.  It is a price of entry to allow partners or 3rd parties to develop applications for a platform.  Software companies have learned this lesson with companies like Salesforce attracting hundreds of developers.  They attracted over 7000 to their Dreamforce convention.  The iPhone hack generated the same burst of energy in the developer community, too bad Apple didn't know what to do with it. 

OMMA Conference - Trends from the Frontline

Just got back from the OMMA conference.  Always great to get out and hear the conversation of the industry.  Trends to watch are:

- 3-D search and the need to rank in SEO for text, photographs, mapping and video.
- The hyperlocal trends driven by mobile devices and the need for mobile advertising to relate to the exact place the mobile user is located (thank you David Edelman from Digitas for this insight).
- Social network management and the need to keep the conversation in "your living room" vs. someone elses.
- Open sourcing of creative content from professionals throughout the world.  Promises to radically change the agency model.

The Hyperlocal Web

The hyperlocal web is going to have a significant impact in the balance of power between local retailers, national retailers with a local presence and national eCommerce companies.  Every marketer should read the July issue of Wired magazine and the overview articles by Evan Ratliff  on Google Earth  and the future essay on life in the Hyperlocal Future  by Bruce Sterling.

If you are not watching the local revolution that is happening in "Building 45" your company is going to be blindsided by the local revolution.   The problem - if you have a virtual presence in every city, how do you compete with real world presence.  Take Mimeo  as an example.  Local print shops will be represented on Google maps.  We will not with our centralized facility and online ordering.  While John Hanke with the vision of Paul Rademacher and his team at Google Earth and the team at Microsoft Live Maps perfect their maps, we need to figure out how to intersect the virtual with the real. 

Anyone with any thoughts?

Outlook Address Book as Social Network

Great thought by Fred Wilson today.  Why do you need social networks in places like Facebook  and MySpace when your social network is in fact your Outlook address book.   Reminds me of when my palm pilot address book was intermingled with my boss due to an assistant that pushed the wrong button.  I was amazed how many mutual contacts we had.  There is definitely something here.

Welcome Retail Emails - Important Start to Customer Relationship

Great piece by Chad White on emails that are used to welcome someone to a retailer.  According to study by the Email Experience Council - Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study 72% of major retailers send out welcome emails, they have high open rates and that the first email is key to setting the tone of the relationship.

White points out that  "98% of retailers' welcome emails now containing a link to their shopping site (up from 88% last year), 33% containing store locators (up from 31%) and 14% containing links to catalog information (up from 6%)."

Key Stats from the Study:

- 61% of retailers deliver thieir welcome emails within 10 minutes of sign-up, with most of those delivering within 3 minutes.

- 32% of welcome emails include a discount, reward or incentive, down from 34% last year. That's in line with the results of our subscription study, which saw a move away from incentives during sign-up.

- 62% of welcome emails asked the subscriber to whitelist them by adding an email address to their address book, up from 49% last year.

- 79% of retailers sent out HTML welcome emails, up from 69% last. The remainder sent text-only welcome emails. That said, most of the HTML welcome emails were HTML "lite," making extensive use of HTML text.

- 53% of welcome emails included links to the retailer's privacy policy, up from 45% last year.

- 75% of the welcome emails include the retailer's brand name in their subject lines, on par with last year. Including branding here helps subscribers recognize the email as one that they requested.

Brand Content at the Advertising Club of New York Meetup

We had a great line up of speakers at last night's Advertising Club of New York Meetup .  It met my personal objective of learning a few new things from some of the leaders in the industry.  Here's a quick summary of the presentations:

Andrew Boer , VP of Development from Associated Content  presented how they are paying people to write content and then paying based on the popularity of what was submitted.  They are taking this model even further by providing brands the opportunity to use collections of their content on micro-sites that are thematically linked to the brand.

Rob Leland from PayPerPost  presented some case studies on paid blogging.  While the subject is controversial, it was impressive how they achieved high reach levels for videos associated with many of the entertainment properties they were promoting.

Bruce Neslaw from MindComet  presented a case study on how Copenhagen used an online poker room to collect user data and encourage purchase of chewing tobacco ten packs (it was fun watching the faces of a New York crowd and the shock of someone talking about chewing tobacco).  Product aside, it was an interesting use of data collection and consumer purchase incentive.  To get more chips to play poker you had to get a code from the Copenhagen 10 pack.

Gad Romann, the CEO The Romann Group  as expected, broke new ground with his discussion on how brands are getting lost in the sea of internet tactics and promotions.  He made the case that brand content needs to live at the intersection of the consumer narrative and the brand narrative.  Gad reviewed some brilliant work he proposed to General Motors on how to do this on how to bridge the gap between the car imitators and originators.  Gad coined the phrase brand content so it was only fitting that he introduced a new phrase to represent the narrative concept -- search engine narrative.  If General Motors were smart, they would jump on the idea Gad proposed tomorrow and maybe, just maybe they can get more people to buy Pontiacs.  If you are a Gad fan check out

Judy Shapiro from Emergent Media introduced the concept of using public relations to not only create your own keywords, but how to associate meaning and search activity with those words.  She demonstrated through Google Trends how Comodo is beating Verisign in search activity by using a content push strategy that has companies posting articles and content at least 2x per week.

The last presenter was Herb Yost from the Direct Group  .  He described the ReadSmart technique which is a computer program that analyzes the way copy is laid out in order to improve comprehension.  It's based on research by a professor out of MIT on how we learn and comprehend.  While not a literal approach to brand content, it sure was different.

If you want to read more check out the block post on by Adam Broitman on his blog Media Circus.

The next Meetup is 11/17.  Thanks to Mimeo  and Yahoo for sponsoring a great event.

Squidoo and Squidwho

Fred Wilson has a great post today on Squidoo  and Squidwho .  Squidoo is in the top 500 of all websites for traffic.  It is similar to Wikipedia where individuals can create web pages on their area of expertise.  Squidwhoo builds on the Squidoo platform as a directory of individuals listed on Squidoo and throughout the internet.  It's an intersting example on the power of platforms and the ability to have others build web apps on top of them.  Now it's time for me to skadoo.

Britney Spears as Metaphor for MTV

As I was reading the Associated Press article by Nekesa Mumbi Moody on the poor Britney Spears performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, I couldn't help but think in terms of the larger context of the music industry.

For those just catching up to the news, Britney bombed by all measures with an inspired performance that was more bad imitation of her past than reinvention of her future.  It was lethargic and did not meet the pre-show hype generated by the public relations machine at MTV.  Is Britney a metaphor for MTV?

While some performances were inspired the overall effort by MTV shows that they are locked in an old paradigm.   Instead of shifting the planets in the music industry they are still walking on the moon.  It used to be that the MTV brand was bigger than the artists it showcased.  Now the brand is subservient to the spectacle it features around specific artists.  The decision to watch is not - I want to see what is on MTV, but, boy I want to see what Britney is up to.

Per my blog entry on Rick Rubin, the music industry is ripe for reinvention with MTV following the pack.  How is it possible that American Idol and the Disney Channel are better vehicles for launching new talent?  How is it possible that a technology company is leading the charge in music distribution (Apple) vs. a music company?  The good news is that the music industry is ripe for a change.  In change there is opportunity.  Will MTV be the one to step into the vacuum.  I hope they are ready to step up in this leaderless category.

You can see Britney Spears 2007 MTV Video Music Awards performance here. .


Listen to the Music Man

For anyone that missed it, the New York Times Sunday magazine profile on  Rick Rubin  d provided interesting insight into the mind of a music master and the music industry.

For Rubin content is everything and the path to content is the path to success.  Rubin's only ability is good taste in music and a great ability to lean into the wind and hear what fans would want.

He describes his new position at Columbia and his desire to build his latest artist, Paul Potts, via word of mouth. For those that haven't seen it, I've included the clip below of when Paul was discovered.   Rick describes his desire to use Word of Mouth marketing to spread the word on the artist.   

While not exactly word of mouth when someone is launched by a major television program, I couldn't agree more with the desire to use content and content themes to assign meaning (and interest) to brands. 

Rick wants to make great music and reinvent the music industry business model.  There has been no better time in history to use disruptive technologies to distribute music.   My only advice to Rick is that he remember that every type of music (or brand) has a core audience.  The brand emanates from the core.  Give them what they want and you always win.

Contrast this to the recent fumbles from Steve Jobs.  Taking the IPhone price down shortly after launch was  a major fumble that disenfranchised the Apple loyal in one masterstroke.  The new IPOD Wifi device can't synch with home networks, only with iTunes.  Music from iTunes was promised to be DRM free, yet restrictions are still on the songs.  Mr. Jobs is managing for the masses instead of the Apple core.  Businesses without a core fail since those of the periphery have no one to turn to.

The bottom line.  Rick, go and make great music.  Make it widely available.  Promote it via content creation and meaning creation strategies.  Make music that appeals to the real fans of each artist.  Offer unlimited music without restriction via a subscription model.  Allow the listener to co-create the music by offering the tracks for remixing.  Eliminate the barriers and make it DRM free.

I'll be the first subscriber to music that carries the Rubin seal.

Here is Paul's amazing performance: