Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Hangover

Well it is the 26th - the infamous day after Christmas and I must say that from all of the frivolity, food, presents, kids geeked off holiday treats, family visits, getting tugged in different directions, etc. I am ready to just hide out in my basement for a few hours and relax.

SAST will be back in its usual form in a couple of days. Until then I will ponder the next post - it has to do with trying to watch a movie with the wife last night on ABC. The commercials were out of control. So what is a guy in the 21st Century to do?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Oh Brian Williams....

Try as hard as you might Brian, your, what I perceived as forced, attempt at trying to understand web 2.0, it's users, bloggers, video producers, editors, writers, directors, and other talented, and not-so-talented participants is about as shallow as the puddle currently residing on the sidewalk in front of my house.

In his article in this week's TIME magazine Brian Williams of NBC News anchor fame heaps tons of praise on web 2.0 and those that make it so buttering us up before he goes into his all to familiar "watch out, it's dangerous, you better leave it to the pros" blather. Then he continues only to proceed with the infamous "if we only get what we want we may miss some really important stuff" talking point. Seriously, do all of these big media people think the general public is stupid? Wait, they do think this and prove it regularly.

Someone needs to really give Brian and his cohorts at CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX News and the rest a wake up call. Maybe if they stepped away from the make up artist for five minutes and really put forth a sincere effort to understand the millions that have tuned them out they would realize the Internet and web 2.0 are really only speeding up their demise. A demise brought on by force feeding a biased and controlled viewpoint day after day, month after month, year after year. Brian and his counterparts at the other major broadcast companies, put out news reports that have become little more than force fed agendas and Hollywood pablum trying to be passed off as "must have - need to know news."

A brief example - I went home for lunch a few months ago and turned on the noon news while I ate my salami sandwich - a local broadcast. News about Paris Hilton came before news about the Amish school slayings in the broadcast. The news broadcast, by lining up the Paris Hilton story to run first, was saying in effect that Paris Hilton and whatever the hell she did was more important than these poor families and children that were slain at this school. What else can I say? Is anything related to Paris Hilton "need to know?" And yes Brian, it was on your local NBC affiliate. I would be willing to bet that if I went online I could get more in-depth information on the Amish school story than I got from my local anchors, in addition to getting it on my schedule, without having to see anything about Paris Hilton and certainly without having to sit through twenty commercials for Geritol, denture cream, Windex and tons of other crap that I could care less about.

I quote Mr. Williams from his laughable piece in TIME, "The problem is that there is a lot of information out there that citizens in an informed democracy need to know in our complicated world..." it continues "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we fail to meet the next great challenge..."

Oh Brian, you are letting your true colors shine through. In not so many words he is saying "You amateurs, you fools, you cannot possibly be informed with the information you need without seasoned pros like me spoon feeding you. Without my colleagues and I you are destined to suffer in an ignorant world where only unimportant information can be distributed and thus ideas are left to whither on the vine." Once again traditional big media flaunts it's elitist attitude at the webosphere and us common folk.

Well, if I feel the news I need is concerning Paris Hilton flashing her ass or Nicole Richie weaving in the wrong lane of traffic, I will be sure to tune into your broadcast Brian. I am confident you will give me all of the gritty details.

**In a former life I composed, edited and delivered syndicated news that was distributed to news organizations throughout the State of Indiana and we were routinely instructed to write news copy at a sixth grade level. Not only was I personally insulted, but I felt insulted on behalf of my audience. According to the "pros" that was the level of writing the average American could digest. The same "pros" assume we are all too ignorant to produce and distribute meaningful content. I think the quantity and quality of information available on the web is emphatically proving them wrong.

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year - YOU

Well, I am not normally a fan of TIME magazine, but I will admit they FINALLY got the Person gf the Year correct. Wonder what their motivation is? Maybe they realize the best way to sell a bunch of magazines is to get the web folks talking. Look...I am.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Wal-Mart, Now Sony

I guess these companies, and consequently their ad shops, all work within a vacuum. A few short months after Wal-Mart gets called out (and their PR agency Edelman) for putting out an allegedly fake blog consisting of fake messages, Sony gets outed by potential consumers for trying the same tactics.

The result - Sony's new Palystation 3 getting mocked, berated and lampooned by the very prospective consumers it hoped to turn into PS3 owners. These potential purchasers of the new video game console have even started their web sites replicating and mocking the original that Sony released. Check these links to view the mocks,
Mock 1
Mock 2

I think the old saying "any publicity is good publicity" is about to become as misguided as the recommendation that was made for this marketing initiative.

In the words of my partners in digital communications, Ryan Hupfer and Mitch Maxson, would say, when going online to create relationships - go transparent or go home. In other words be who you are, don't fake it, don't put out your corporate face, don't get dolled up - figuratively speaking - and if you want to start a conversation with your audience let them talk with you, not with some phony, see-through copywriters hired to try and be them.

Oh yeah, who are Hup and Mitch? Check out their new book,
MySpace for Dummies

Online Video - a Shocking Revelation

Straight from our friends at eMarketer...

Online Video Becomes a Real Business

DECEMBER 18, 2006

Welcome to the MoneyTube.

eMarketer estimates that more than one-third of the total US population ages 3 and older viewed video on the Internet at least monthly during 2006, and in three years more than half of all Americans will be part of the online video audience.

Get the whole story HERE

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Work - Is That Really What It Is?

It's funny. We all know someone or have known someone who is totally unhappy with their job. My question is this, why do people keep themselves in a situation that in it's misery will make their short lives so desperate?

I used to be that guy. The difference is that I recognized that my life has the potential to be very short and came to the conclusion that my time here on earth should not be comprised of me counting minutes until 5 o'clock, Monday through Friday, only to go home and bitch about work. What a miserable existence. What spouse wants that for the rest of their lives, what kind of example does that promote to children?

I was listening to The 8Th Habit on disc today and this topic came up as it relates to empowerment in the workplace. It got me thinking. Can you truly be empowered if you continue to view your "job" as "work?" And if not, how can you live prosperously, not in poverty and happily if you need and have a "job." Then it dawned on me, you don't. I put in crazy hours, work my ass off, am accountable to results but do not consider what I do a job. I do not even consider it work.

I have re-positioned what makes me happy and turned that into my "job." So I guess if very few in this world are willing or able to empower us, at what point does an individual say, "to hell with it, I am in control, I am doing this my way" and take control in a positive way? Easier said than done for some. So when I hear friends or others say things like "if only I could do this...I would be soooo happy." I usually respond - what is stopping you? Who is holding the chain around your neck? Go, be free and happy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mr. Cash

The video for God's Gonna Cut You Down by Johnny Cash. My hats off to Rick Rubin for taking the national treasure and promoting him to a ready, willing and able audience.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Hybrid Home

One thing about digital media, and all of the great web 2.0 and soon to be web 3.0 stuff that is available is that it pushes innovation. I love innovation in most capacities. I thrive on it. It excites me. I love seeing new and better ways to do things.

This is a bit of a stray for me but I have to get it out there. I was reading BusinessWeek Magazine tonight and saw this ad for the second or third time - the BASF Hybrid Home. I had to learn more about this house so I went and checked out the BASF web site. I am not even someone who is that into environmental issues, but this house makes too much sense.

This house was built in New Jersey by BASF with all super efficient materials, surpassing all building codes for structure, strength, and insurance requirements and taking a very non-traditional approach to building a home. The results? A home that is faster to build, surpasses all local building codes, lower cost to insure, an 85% reduction in annual energy costs and a lower cost of materials. It also qualifies for special financing due to it's status as a near-zero energy home.

Where can I get one?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Why, why, why?????

Every now and again I see news that really gets me wondering about some of our largest corporations. Microsoft, Yahoo, Adobe, what are you thinking??

Check out the story that just broke today regarding a relationship between Google and BSkyB.

BSkyB in Google Link Up

"Google’s AdSense technology, which brings up adverts relevant to search terms of users, would be deployed alongside BSkyB’s knowledge of its customers’ profiles and interests.

'This is a really, really big deal for us,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and chief executive. 'If it works, it will become our most lucrative deal from the get-go.'"

Basically it talks about British broadband Internet service provider BSkyB and Google getting together to serve BSkyB's users behaviorally-targeted rich media(video-based ads) ads (not the text variety that broadband sluggish US consumers are used to seeing on Google. In other words users of BSkyB can get rich media ads instead of text based on their interests as exhibited by their online behavior patterns. Nothing short of genius if handled properly (as long as it adds value to the user, not just more obnoxious messaging).

So back to the reason for this piece. Why does Google always seem to be the first to these huge, industry shifting developments? I have to think that Microsoft could have nailed this months if not years ago. Adobe, with the capabilities and market penetration of their Flash application surely could have partnered with someone to pull this off, right? I do not know if this is a credit to Google's genius or an indictment of the rest of these slow to move bureaucratic dinosaurs. Wake up everyone but Google!! Get into the game. You wanna talk serious revenue? How about billions of ad dollars at play in a rapidly changing environment, but instead let's keep playing catch up on video game consoles and mp3 players. But wait, those might have a viable ad model sometime in the next 10 years. This is laughable. Why don't they innovate to own today's money and look to tie in other initiatives with a related ad model later (music, video games, etc.)?

You might be asking yourself - "Well, smart guy you are int he new media industry, why didn't you come up with and execute this model?" Funny if you are thinking that. Speaking of missed opportunity for those that claim to be seeking it out. I happened to write a grant about 6 months ago for a strikingly similar application to what Google and BSkyB are doing. There are a few differences - our (MediaSauce's) model leverages Flash, does not require a set top box to host ads - they would be hosted by the network who is putting out the content - their servers - the interface could live within a public browser or exist on the user's desktop if they so choose to directly deliver content. There is much more to our model, but as it relates to delivering content based on tags and user behavior, it's bascially the same concept. Oh, what happened to the grant?

Well, the grant was submitted (I will protect the names of the innocent) and it was handed to a review board consisting mostly of academic "experts" at multiple universities throughout the country. These "experts" ended up not recommending this application development for the grant. In their expert opinion this was no different than a simple media player, would scare off users and had no real market value.

Hmmmm. You think Microsoft, Yahoo and others are taking advice from these same academic experts while they watch Google clean house?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Email and Christmas

To quote Thomas Heed, when all your email says is "buy, buy, buy" you can count on your opt-in audience to say "bye, bye, bye."

I can really tell it is holiday time by all of the junk email I am getting from retailers. Hey, I opted in so it must be my fault for getting all of this junk. Well, I guess I will solve the problem by opting out.

Bye-bye Sam's Club, Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, Finish Line and a few others. I only hear from you when you want to sell me more stuff. You never really bring me any value or information - only pleads for my business. You all squandered a potentially good relationship. Looks like you all need help managing a relevant email campaign.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

I Want My Money Back, Money Back, Money Back....

Pygmy #1

Pygmy #2

I was coming home from work and I got "the sigh." You know, that sigh when asked what is on the menu for dinner.

Beth (my wife) had a long day, as did I and neither one of us wanted to cook and do dishes. After all, it was a Friday night. Let's live it up. Woohoo. Check my post Close to Thanksgiving - So Let's Talk Food to understand what I think of eating at most restaurants.

Now that we have full disclosure on to the rest of the story. Beth called ahead at a "fast casual" restaurant so that I could quickly and easily grab carry-out on the way home from work. Fine. I go to the place to pick up the food. As packed and as loud as this place was you would have thought the Stones were giving a free show there last night.

I get my food from the sulking teeny bopper and head home. I walk through the door and the pygmies practically eat of my hands as I carry in the bag of food.

I laid out the spread - the pygmies got chicken "strips" and cinnamon apples, Beth got a grilled chicken sandwich and I got a salad topped with grilled chicken. We all sat down and I opened my styrofoam box. Yikes, I got the scrapings from someone else's plate!! Not really, but the way this "salad" looked you could have fooled me. The grilled chicken on it was the same pre-packaged, re-heated crap you get any fast food place. The only difference here was that I paid more for it. I mean seriously, is food really meant to be made, served and eaten this way?

Beth's sandwich looked better, but was made from the same frankenchicken and tasted just as rank. The pygmies' chicken "strips" looked more like chicken globs. They looked to have the same beer batter that you would see on fried fish, and were in these really freaky shapes, almost like the chicken pieces were glued together by Pablo Picasso. These "strips" must have been made from some really odd looking chickens.

Lat's just say I did not feel like Dad of the year after letting my kids, er, I mean the pygmies, eat the strange chicken formations.

Once again, I have my feelings solidified about these chain restaurants. I can't stand them, their food is comparable to fast-food yet they charge more, and the service does not make up for any of it. The microwave popcorn I used to supplement the less than stellar meal provided for a better experience.

Lessen learned. Next time I will opt for doing the dishes.

Don't worry, I am not going to rant about the implications this bad food has on their brand. By the looks of things, they are not hurting for business (for the life of me I do not understand why).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everyday There is New Research

You can read my last two posts on User Controlled Media and tell me I am full of hot air, however you cannot deny the research that is released just about everyday.

Check it out.
No Coffee and Newspaper in the Morning For Working Mothers
Working mothers, according to The Media Audit, are spending less and less time with television and newspapers but, radio, the Internet and direct mail still command their attention.

According to Bob Jordan, president of International Demographics, producer of The Media Audit. "There are approximately 20 million working mothers in the 87 metropolitan markets we survey, and they have a newspaper index of 60 which is 40 points below the market average of 100. Television has an index of 81."
Get the rest of the story HERE

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

User-Controlled Media - Part Two

The same digital media industry that is crippling the traditional media industry will be it's savior? That is where we left off last time. Jacob Leffler's Short Attention Span Theatre: User-controlled Media Part One

It is pretty simple really. Follow the money and you will see where the traditionals are going. Print publishers are growing online ad revenue while their print ad revenue shrinks, broadcast television is seeing their ad dollars shrink, while exploring how to make it up online. Radio, well their whole world is turning upside down and since the FM side of the dial is tied directly into the recording industry, it is tougher to predict. They have challengers ranging from satellite to hundreds of thousands of podcasters to online radio stations. Yikes.

Like addicts traditional media companies, and their ilk (ad agencies), are trying to ween themselves off traditional ad revenue because the ratings that drive those dollars are splitting up, going in different directions, and in some cases just going away. It is tough however slowly but surely these folks are realizing that if they learn how to become relevant to their audiences (again) they can re-gain the ad revenue lost, online. It takes an entirely different mindset, a re-positioning of the content, a new attitude as it relates to the audience, a new attitude on how to find and grow the audience and an entirely new ad model that does not alienate, but gets the audience to participate.

We will save that for part three. See you then.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Lot to Be Learned

Edelman Urged To Overhaul Wal-Mart Flogs
PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY EDELMAN WILL likely need to completely overhaul its online blogging strategy for its large retail client Wal-Mart if it hopes to maintain its membership in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.
Click Here to get the rest of the story.

The world's largest privately owned pr firm cannot even get it right. The worst part is, there has been no sincere action taken by the firm. Richard Edelman, up to this point, from all reports that I have read, hasn't really done much about it. Coming from a guy who is supposed to be a pr whiz, that is rather unfortunate.

This is why we focus on the user. This stuff is user-controlled and those that refuse to acknowledge, respect and happily work within that parameter will suffer from the same fate as Wal-Mart and Richard Edelman.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Can't Move

Here is something I am sure you have heard 1,000 times already - I ate too much.

Seriously, it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I think I am going to fast today. Lots of good times had over the last couple of days, but soon enough we will be back getting you the news and discussion we are here to provide.

If you just can't wait go to the links and check out some award-winning web sites ar the atomic big wheel demo site. Both are sure to entertain.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Close to Thanksgiving - So Let's Talk Food

The day before Thanksgiving and I really have started to think about food. This is strange to me because I am not a food guy. I eat because I have to. I enjoy very simple foods, thus do not consider eating a big deal.

Some people can talk about food for hours. Not me, there are other things I care about more - like my wife, my kids, rock n'roll, The Sopranos, etc. However, there is one thing that I cannot figure out - the abundance of restaurants and the abundance of people who love to go out to eat at these establishments. A lot of these places are not good, but still get a lot of business.

Is this the result of people just really not wanting to cook? I go and eat at a restaurant and then the next night I will cook, and invariably I will like what I make better, it is healthier and less costly. I am starting to think I am alone here. Maybe it is because the landscape in suburbiaville is littered with chains and they are not good? Maybe I am just weird.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

User-controlled Media

What does this mean and why should you care?

It all started back with the remote control. That is the first time we as Americans did not have to get off our duff to change the channel. The result? Commercial comes on and we hit a button to see what's on elsewhere. Fast forward to cable television and now our audiences are segmenting with targeted programming. Channels solely dedicated to music, history, etc. Fast forward to the Internet 1.0 and we now can get any information we want at our fingertips. Fast forward to broadband - the audience is now tired of, and beyond that, fed up with the bombardment and quantity of ad messaging thrown their way, tired of watching programming that is of marginal quality and delivered according to someone else's schedule, and is rapidly migrating from traditional stalwarts like the evening news, primetime programming and traditional retail to non-traditional alternatives like the ever expanding Internet, services like iTunes and social communities and a variety of personal devices like the iPod.

The user is controlling their experience with media like never before and it is turning industries upside down. Sounds exaggerated doesn't it? Well, how do we account for the number of music downloads skyrocketing daily while record stores close, or network news ratings plummeting while blog, news site and news-related forums grow their audiences by the thousands daily, or how about the most telling sign - ad revenue at all traditional media outlets stagnating or even dropping (with the exception of niche magazine pubs), while online ad spending is growing in excess of 25% year after year. So why would the Short Attention Span Theatre make the bold statement that the same digital industry that is crippling the traditional media industry will be it's savior? Stay tuned to find out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Clear Channel Sold

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Clear Channel Radio's days of trying to get Wall Street's respect are over. The radio giant announced yesterday its sale to a group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners, in a deal worth approximately $26.7 billion, which includes the company's $8 billion of net debt repayments.
Catch the entire story here - http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=113246

What the critics are saying...

"I may have been off the air now for quite some time, but I am ahead of the curve when it comes to new media thanks to the Short Attention Span Theatre!"

"When I am not bowling, I am locked into the Short Attention Span theatre!! It's where I stay plugged into the latest in digital communication. I have learned a lot."

" I am a frequent front row ticket holder to the Short Attention Span Theatre!! I give my dad, err, I mean Jacob, 5 stars!!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another big traditional on the block

"Clear Channel Communications Inc. has agreed to be bought by a group of investors for nearly $19 billion. The buyers, led by Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC, both headquartered in Boston, will also assume about $8 billion in debt (whoa!). It is the biggest leveraged buyout in the media industry. San Antonio-based Clear Channel said in a statement that the agreement allows it to continue soliciting competing bids through Dec. 7."--Indianapolis Business Journal

Couple that with the pursuit of the Tribune Cos. by Gannett and there is a whole lotta shakin' going on with some of our largest traditional media companies.

Clear Channel owns a handful of Indianapolis radio stations,a group of stations that I briefly worked for. In the one year I was there those stations were bought and sold on 3 separate occasions.

Internet Video Advertising On Fast Growth Track to $3 Billion in 2010

I received this nugget of information this morning via email. Check the full research brief here http://www.centerformediaresearch.com/cfmr_brief.cfm?fnl=061116

Considering that Steve Ballmer predicted to a room full of ad executives a few years ago that all advertising would be delivered over IP networks by 2010, this becomes even more noteworthy. Now, when Mr. Ballmer made that bold prediction did he really think that a full 100% of advertising would be delivered over IP networks -probably not. But he knew a few things that a statement like that would help the crowd realize:
1. Microsoft, and others, were already developing hardware and software to help make this a reality - in the US household - Have you seen what the new XBox 360 is capable of? I mean outside of just great looking games? Content downloads, it's own network, it's own currency system etc. - pretty amazing stuff
2. Even if was 30, 40 or even 50% of ad messaging delivered over IP networks that would be a huge opportunity for a whole bunch of new breed products, services and personnel in the communications industry (you can 86 the old school ad guy now)
3. 100%!!?? Probably not - but re-read #2

Factor in that Comcast claims that they will have the hardware and pipes to increase connectivity speed for broadband customers by 1600 times (http://gigaom.com/2005/12/20/need-for-speed/) in the next year and a half and what that will do for content delivery - not just how fast you can get it, but what you can produce and deliver, and you start to see the vision unfold.

Now the $64 million question - how will you leverage this to better communicate to your audience?

Inaugural Post - welcome

This is the inaugural post to the Short Attention Span Theatre. First let me say welcome and thanks for coming by. As the days, weeks and months progress I will spend some time shooting out some thoughts on the media industry, and more specifically - the future of the media industry.

If you are not in the middle of the swirling winds of change that occupy this industry (and many aren't contrary to industry email newsletters and popular opinion pushed out everyday by such notable outfits as the IAB, MediaPost, ClickZ and the like) this can be a place where you get it in relatively plain speak. A place that will look to demystify and take the techy jargon out of digital communication, how broadband is helping spread this opportunity to anyone willing to leverage it and what it means to you (how you can benefit).

Let's get to it.