Friday, December 26, 2008

ESPN Launches New IPTV Functionality

I have preached about this for the last several years and some of the networks are working towards a complete interactive television model ever so steadily. Here is the latest on ESPN's interactive television offerings...

Straight from ClickZ late last week...
Sports cable channel ESPN is readying a new slew of interactive and on-demand features for cable customers of Insight Communications with the help of interactive television middleware maker Liberate Technologies .

The new offerings include a package called "ESPN Today Plus VOD," which features interactive sports information and advertisements. Viewers will be able to click through data feeds during sports broadcasts and link to commerce and advertising pitches.

Still no mention of the advertising opportunities. I am pretty certain thought that they are working through the initial model first, and then will test and roll out potential ad models at a later date.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Detroit Free Press Kicks the Snowball Off the Mountaintop

The Detroit Free Press and sister paper the Detroit News announced this week that they are significantly scaling back their print product and vamping up their online properties. The only real news here is that a newspaper is actually looking at their audience shift and adjusting operations accordingly - they are not only admitting the audience shift is happening they are taking MEANINGFUL steps to adjust to take advantage of this opportunity. My hats off to the Detroit Free Press, finally a newspaper that sees the present and is taking steps to secure their future. Now if they could just get that pesky online ad revenue thing figured out...stay tuned.

Some links to the story...
Detroit Free Press announcement through the eyes of ClickZ

From the Detroit Free Press

Merry Christmas - a Present for You

Three successful guys sitting around on American Express's dime talking about a bunch of web 2.0 type topics as they relate to brands, marketing etc.

Seth Godin, Jimmy Wales and Sean Parker shooting the breeze. Lots of video clips. Enjoy. Use THIS LINK.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tribune, NBC, and more - Big Day in Media News

Some interesting tidbits of news trickling in today regarding some behemoths restructuring and even pondering bankruptcy.

Check out the news below...

Tough Times at Tribune
From the WSJ with link to full story...
Tribune Co. is preparing for a possible filing for bankruptcy-court protection as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in a sign of worsening trouble for the newspaper industry.

In recent days, as Chicago-based Tribune continued talks with lenders to restructure its debt, the newspaper-and-television concern hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. as its financial adviser and law firm Sidley Austin to advise the company on a possible trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter say.

NBC Sends Execs Packing

Link to full Variety story here...
NBC has become -- to paraphrase one of the network’s recent flops -- its own worst enemy.

The Peacock has been in a perpetual state of crisis for several years now -- blowing up its executive teams and repositioning its programming strategy, all while struggling to pull out of fourth place.

The latest chapter of this NBC saga was a doozy: The conglom ousted both Universal Media Studios topper Katherine Pope and NBC Entertainment exec VP Teri Weinberg on Friday in a pre-weekend Peacock bloodbath. Alternative topper Craig Plestis, who’s been negotiating his exit for weeks, will also be out by the end of the year.

Media Tightening Its Belt for Multiple Reasons...
Execs Blame Recession as They Wield the Ax, but This Is About Reinvention, too
Link to full story...

Citing the effects of a recession that's prompting marketers to trim budgets and the number of media outlets they work with, media companies are shedding jobs at a furious rate. But the deep cuts they're making are as much about these conglomerates shedding their old media models as they are about the economy.

Viacom and NBC Universal swung the ax last week, eliminating 850 and 500 jobs, or 7% and 3% of their work forces, respectively. Add that to 600 job cuts at Time Inc., 1,500 at Yahoo, 1,800 at Gannett, hundreds at CBS's radio and local TV divisions, and incremental cuts just about everywhere else, and big media is getting a whole lot smaller.

How small? The media industries have shed more than 30,000 jobs in 2008, according to an Ad Age analysis of Department of Labor employment statistics and news reports. That's about 3.5% of the total media work force of 858,000. Since the bubble-inflated high-water mark in 2000, media has lost more than 200,000 jobs.

Friday, December 5, 2008

NBC's Brian Williams Once Again Exposes Small Mind/Big Ego

Well well, the face of the NBC nightly news is popping off again about digital media. In a room full of old-school, old-media stalwarts he is a riot. Sometimes laughing is all you can do to temporarily forget the pain. After all, didn't Nero fiddle while Rome burned?

This is not the first time I have commented on Brian's obvious disdain for the digital side of the media business. Check out this closet classic to see how Brian made his contempt for the digital world/Web 2.0 known in TIME magazine.

Here is the clip of Brian, feel free to watch it, then check out my commentary. Hit the link Below to watch the funny guy.

Brian Williams Video HERE

Before I get into this, I must be fair and say that I was not privy to the rest of his speech, therefore I am only commenting on what I saw and what was touted by Ad Age.

The first point and seemingly the only point Brian makes in this clip is that a lot of the "hype" surrounding digital advancements in media are just that, and nothing more. In fact, much of this advancement is based largely in "techie" exuberance, which in turn exposes a child like ignorance, or even short sightedness about "legitimate media sources" such as libraries and radio. I believe the only one showing ignorance and a head-in-the-sand mentality here is Brian Williams.

Brian makes his point initially about a producer at NBC, who I am sure is very happy about getting made to look the fool by Brian and his supreme wit and intelligence, that is telling Brian about some new service that is described as "the Netflix for books." Brian seems very proud of himself at his rapid response equating this new model to already existing libraries. Laughter ensues. Well, the ones laughing right now are the folks at Apple, Amazon, Netflix and some others getting rich while the traditional publishers lay people off, record stores close, and Blockbuster scrambles to keep up. We have record stores, so why do we need iTunes?? We have book stores so why do we need Amazon or the countless other web-based sellers and distributors of print material. We have libraries so why do we need "the Netflix of books?"

You have got to be kidding me. This is a 1997 conversation. Either Brian does not understand the value that a service like iTunes, Amazon or even the "Netflix of books" offers, or he refuses to accept it. Considering he reads a teleprompter for a living, take your pick. For those reading this I understand you probably don't need this quick and obvious explanation, for those who think Brian's comments are really hilarious, you might, so I will provide it in simple terms.

The advantages and value for the digital transaction, whether it is books, music, housewares or any other small ticket item, and some large ticket items - convenience, quick and effortless research, availability of what you seek, on your time, on your terms, easily shared with family and friends and for all you environmentalists at NBC/GE, without having to get into your car, burn gas and schlep yourself to the nearest branch only to be let down when they don't have the book you want in for another three weeks.

So smart guy, yeah we have libraries, but as we, as a society, have progressed, and the audience has an ever increasing level of control to get what we want, when we want and share quickly with whomever we want without interruption, that is THE value proposition. Maybe that is what gets Brian's goat, he and his handlers are losing control, thus losing more of their share of the revenue. Correction - have lost control.

Point two. Brian cracks on a value proposition of "eBooks." Turning pages with the click of a button. On this he is spot on. I agree and his comments are extremely valid. The marketing genius who decided to market digital books with the "ease of a button" page turn should be canned. That being said, if you really wanted to attract a market for digital books, maybe you could have said something like - eBooks, saving millions of trees daily, while you enjoy as many books as you can read in a lifetime. And eBooks if you use that I will expect a check from you in the near future. Isn't GE, the owner of NBC big on the environment?? If so, I wonder if they think Brian is hilarious as he rips on a concept that could be much friendlier to the environment than the large, gas guzzling sedan that certainly ushered him to that event.

Last point. Brian rips on a guy that makes a comment to him in the elevator about his new iPod touch. Yeah, it is annoying when a stranger says something like, "Too bad you bought that widget, it will be replaced in a week." I agree, kind of annoying because that type of comment doesn't offer any value and is not helpful. However, Brian's barb does not address the stranger's seeming enjoyment with Brian's perceived unfortunate predicament having purchased something that, by some, may be considered obsolete. He decides to crack on the technology as being the same thing as radio. Once again, Brian misses the mark and exposes ignorance about the value of offerings like lastFM or Pandora. Whose audiences are growing at an alarming rate, while traditional radio's audience is holding steady, yet their revenue is dropping faster than an anvil from Wile E.'s hands. So, once again, if streaming audio is the same as radio, why in the world would this massive shift be taking place?? Could hype really be the sole perpetrator?? Or could a tired play list, corporate controlled environment, often times small, relatively weak music selection, over abundance of advertisement interruptions, bad reception, no social component, no way to experiment with a wide selection of music, small choice of talk and non-music programming, and just an overall outdated and poor listener experience be the culprit?? Pull your eyes away from the teleprompter Brian and research what you are commenting about before put yourself out there making these ignorant statements. Aren't journalists supposed to be inquisitive researchers first and commentators second? Do journalists even investigate anymore? Brian, the facts embarrass you, not "techie" enthusiasts and/or hype masters.

Hey, maybe you are feeling pretty good coming off a successful year, based on the election giving you some air. Your candidate got elected, your ratings and ad dollars saw a slight spike, yet you still got it handed to you by the cable news networks, and who was measuring online engagement as it related to the election??

Oh yeah, your candidate was. Obama raised record numbers of campaign cash through...the Internet. But wait why did he need people to donate online, we still have the post office??

Keep fiddling Brian, keep fiddling.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anthem Bureaucracy

My previous post explained a very frustrating and frankly scary situation my wife experienced with our health insurance carrier, Anthem. I composed an email and promptly sent it off to the CEO of Anthem and their investor relations contacts listed on their corporate web site.

Well, Anthem tried...I guess. Monday morning I received a call from some assistant to the CEO of Anthem. She had a very concerned tone and seemed to want to help rectify the situation. She asked me some questions about the situation and then told me she was looking into the situation further and she would get back with me.

From there it just gets worse. I received another call later that morning from what was obviously some customer service rep who had no more authority than to read from a script and try to explain to me that what happened is policy. What a joke. I re-explained to this lady, who obviously had no real knowledge of what had happened to my wife, what happened and why what she was telling me put my wife in a potentially dangerous situation and the down side of all of this to Anthem. Basically I told her that her answers were bogus and Anthem should be ashamed of themselves.

She then changed her potential solution and said that the prescription the doctor gave my wife required another authorization from the doctor, and if she could get the doctor to fill out another form then I might get my money back and Anthem would cover the script. I asked her why the doctor's script was not enough "authorization" for the medicine to be covered. She offered no answer other than that was their policy for that medicine ans she then blamed our doctor for not filling out this form promptly close to a week after the fact.
Question: Why is it the responsibility of the doctor to fill out form after form because Anthem is too cheap to fulfill the commitment set forth by the insurance policy that we pay for week after week??
Answer: They are heavy on bureaucracy and light on customer service - if you even want to call it that - really they are light on ethical practices and are flirting with disaster by undermining qualified medical professionals and how their care is administered to patients.

I won't waste any more of my time writing to Anthem or about Anthem. They had their chance to make it right and turn a critic into a fan but they failed. Hats off to their bureaucracy and another lost family of customers. As I said in my last post - at our first chance we will drop them as our health care provider and take our business and weekly premiums elsewhere.

Way to go Anthem/Wellpoint!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Playing Doctor

I have never been one to jump on the "evil insurance company" band wagon. I believe in the free market system and how it deals with companies who treat their customers the way Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield treated my wife today.

The beauty of the free market system is that it usually cleanses itself of poor performers, while those that perform according to the market's desires flourish and prosper. Well, after today let's just say that my wife and I will exercise our right as customers in our great free market system to drop Anthem like a bad habit.

My wife, approximately 4 months pregnant, went to see her doctor today because she has had the nagging symptoms of a cold plus horrendous cough off and on for several weeks and it seems to go away just long enough to make a comeback only days later. Finally I convinced her to go back to the doctor. This time the doctor gave her a prescription and I called the pharmacy to insure it had been filled prior to leaving the house to pick it up.

This is where it gets a bit interesting. The pharmacist tells me they have not filled the prescription because the insurance company would not pay for it. I said that must be a mistake because the plan we pay for covers a percentage of our prescriptions (of which we rarely use - fortunately we are blessed with a pretty healthy family and we do not run for drugs every time we think we are sick). The pharmacist said that Anthem will not pay for the prescription OUR DOCTOR prescribed because ANTHEM WANTED US TO USE A CHEAPER DRUG. The pharmacist then proceeded to tell us to get our doctor to write a prescription for a different drug then come pick that up.

I informed the pharmacist that at 7:00pm on the Wed evening before Thanksgiving our doctor was long gone from the office and could not be reached to write another prescription for my wife. So, I told the pharmacist to fill the script and I would just pay for it in full myself.

So let's get this straight; 1. we pay for Anthem insurance and it covers prescriptions, except when they decide to just not pay 2. a certified medical doctor writes a prescription for a sick person - in this case a pregnant woman - and someone from Anthem decides they can save a few bucks, they override the doctors script and tell the pharmacist what we should take, in essence playing the role of the doctor - patient unseen

So after thinking about this I have a few questions for Anthem...
1. Are you a certified medical professional?? Do you have the legal ability to tell people what drugs they should take for their ailments?? From miles away without even seeing the patient??

2. If you have the medical certification to tell people what drugs to take for their medical conditions, do you also carry the appropriate malpractice insurance to cover the law suits you are certain to incur when a patient follows your recommendation and experiences a negative side effect or even, God forbid, worse additional sickness or even death???

3. Assuming Anthem has done this to many people repeatedly, have you experienced a class-action lawsuit from the folks that have been unable to pay for the prescription treatment that their policy was supposed to cover, yet you denied and recommended something else??

4. Could you be any larger cowards and have a worse customer service policy by relying on pharmacists to deliver this news??? Could you not have called your customer yourself to tell them that you would not pay for a prescription that the policy your customer pays full premiums for should cover?? This may very well be the absolute worst customer service predicament I have ever experienced - EVER. You not only blindside your customer - you totally blow off responsibility to a third party pharmacist and leave them to deal with upset, ill, frustrated customers, who I am sure in many cases don't know what to do because they cannot afford to pay the full price for the prescriptions you won't cover, even though your policy says you will.


God bless the free market. What do I do now?? Well, the first thing I do is inform the general public about how Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a horrible insurer. The next thing I do is switch health insurance providers to my company's provider ASAP. Then I insure the company I own NEVER utilizes Anthem for health coverage for our organization. Then I inform all of the other business owners I know (that is quite a few) to not use Anthem and the reasons why I think they are not worth dealing with. Lastly, I will contact Anthem and let them know how I feel.

What does this all mean to Anthem, I mean I only one guy, what do they care if I drop them?? They have thousands of customers, what is one less??

A few lessons are obvious here:
1. GM, Ford, Chrysler and the UAW all felt the same way at some point in time - now they are all looking at extinction - and rightfully so - decades of taking customers for granted, offering crappy products and sub-par customer service have caught up - I don't see Honda or Toyota looking for a hand out

2. Saving $20 on me just cost Anthem what will end up being hundreds, if not more, existing clients and future clients

3. Their competitors just gained those clients - that doubles the problem for Anthem automatically

4. I would not be surprised if Anthem has opened themselves up for some potential legal ramification by doing this - especially when a patient takes the drugs they tell them to take and has an adverse reaction

5. Tomorrow it may not matter, but treating customers this way will eventually catch up to them - see point #1

So Anthem, I hope the $20 you saved made you feel real good, the damage you caused your brand is severe.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Audience Meet the Future, Future Meet the Audience

Check this out straight from Technology Review, a publication from our taped glasses wearing homies at MIT...

How Google Plans to Take Over TV
Can Google apply its Web-advertising formula to television?
Friday, November 21, 2008
By Erica Naone

Can Google conquer television? Yesterday, I talked with Keval Desai, product manager for Google's TV Ads unit, and he did a pretty good job convincing me that it can.

"TV is becoming like the Web," Desai says. From an advertiser's perspective, he has a point. In the 1980s, a popular TV program like The Cosby Show might have captured half the viewers in the entire United States; today's most popular shows, like American Idol, are lucky to capture a fourth of the whole audience. The difference is that there are dozens of channels now, each catering to a different set of viewers. As Desai notes, this is a lot like the Web: the audience is out there, but it's split into small bits consuming a wide variety of content.

So Google's TV Ads system works much like AdWords. An advertiser selects keywords and sets a spending limit for each day (per thousand people who see the ad). The system then figures out where and when the ad should be placed. Google is borrowing another trick from Web advertising: a soon-to-be-launched feature that lets advertisers search for shows based on audience demographics (a feature inspired by Google's search-based ad targeting).

The service is clearly aimed at a different kind of television advertiser. In addition to a simplified user interface, TV Ads includes instructions on how to visit Google's marketplace and find someone who can help make an advert. Indeed, Desai says, the plan is to draw in advertisers who don't normally put ads on TV and, as a complement, bring ad dollars to networks that don't normally have broad recognition.

The TV Ads interface already lets you select target shows based on audience age and gender information, which is in turn based on data from a partnership with Nielsen. But Desai told me about a partnership that will take this farther. A satellite-TV company called Echostar, working with credit-reporting company Equifax, will cross-reference shows watched (using its own data from set-top boxes) with income and buying habits (using Equifax's data). This will let Google offer shows to advertisers that will reach, for example, people with household incomes greater than $100,000. Desai stresses that all this data is made anonymous, so it certainly won't be possible to target specific households with ads.

I wonder how long we'll have to wait for that.


Just wanted to give a quick shout of thanks to Kyle Lacy for deciding to drop The Short Attention Span Theatre on his list of Top 50 Blogs.

As the author of this digital fish wrap, I say "Thank you sir."

One note - In his description of my blog, Kyle calls me an amazing designer - I wish I could take credit for the really solid design work that comes out of our shop at The Basement, however, I am not a designer, I just like working with them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Question Begs to Be Answered

I asked a question yesterday at the end of my post that begs for an answer.
I will ask it again...

If you pay millions to expose potentially millions of people to your brand for potentially thirty seconds and have no real way to know how many were exposed, what would you pay to expose them to and have them interact with your brand for over eight minutes?? You can quantify this audience and time engaged as hard fact. What is that worth?

My answer is the bar has been set with broadcast spend rates - either they need to come down or savvy online marketers need to shed the beggar's garb and ask for a reasonable fee commensurate with real, tangible results.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that eight minute stat is pulled from an actual project we worked on with an agency partner on behalf of a large national brand. I guarantee they are paying considerably more for their broadcast spend (30 second spots) for the same campaign. The site we created is retaining over 35,000 unique visitors a month for an average of eight minutes forty three seconds.

What is your answer??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

P & G and National Semiconductor Agree Games Engage, Educate

Pulled from BusinessWeek, Jane McGonigal's Brave New World...
Major corporations, including Procter & Gamble (PG), Electronic Arts (ERTS), and National Semiconductor (NSM), have given some of their employees an unusual assignment: play a free online game.

Admittedly, it's not a typical entertainment video game, with sophisticated 3D graphics, fantastical characters, or shoot-'em-up plots. And the corporations aren't just allowing workers to have fun on the job. Instead, the game, called Superstruct, asks players to imagine the world in 2019.

Access full article HERE

I agree games can be very effective in helping individuals learn and plan out scenarios - creating awareness, preparedness and ultimately an educated and ready populace. Since this is an outlet about marketing and communication let's take the tool and adjust the model a bit.

Games, specifically video games, are the archetype for the age old adage of full engagement = full experience which yields full understanding. Simply put doing is a heck of a lot more effective and more interesting than watching and/or listening - convert the passive experience into an active one and you succeed on multiple fronts from a marketing stand point. More brand recognition, higher levels of understanding as it relates to unique value, increased word of mouth and viral distribution potential.

Add full campaign integration into the mix and you have a powerful opportunity for making the type of impact all of the buzz word bandits like to call "the holy grail" of marketing.

All I call it is "effective."

Here is a question I will leave you with....
If you pay millions to expose potentially millions of people to your brand for potentially thirty seconds and have no real way to know how many were exposed, what would you pay to expose them to and have them interact with your brand for over eight minutes??
What is that worth?

Feel free to let me know. Thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blogging Dry Spell

Realized I have not written much significant material lately. My apologies. It has been very busy at The Basement Design + Motion. That is a good thing. We are working hard on some exciting projects and hashing through our plans and opportunities that are already lining up for 2009. Should be another great year working with our fantastic clients - those already with us and those yet to hop on board.

A special thank you to all who have joined us in making 2008 a great year filled with exceptional work, solid results and lot of fun.

Looking forward to more in '09.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some Exposure for The Basement

Received my daily AdRants news and low and behold the KFC promo we worked on in conjunction with our client Creative Alliance showed up as the first blurb.

Pretty nice - thanks AdRants!
Check it out HERE - third story down.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Madison Avenue Biggies See Digital Media As Stable Source Amid Uncertain Outlook

Pulled from MediaPost's Online Media Daily

Three of the world's biggest advertising and media services organizations - Aegis, Interpublic and Publicis - reported relatively strong third quarter results this morning, but signaled unanimous concern over the weakening global economy. While their long-term outlooks remain uncertain, two of the three - Aegis and Publicis - indicated that media would remain their sweet spot, especially digital media, within an erratic economic world.

"Our digital businesses and our investments in high growth economies are continuing to sustain our growth in an economic environment that has become harsher as the worsening financial crisis impacts the real economy," Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy said in the agency's quarterly statement, adding, "In this context where growth will essentially come from digital and emerging markets, Publicis Groupe should improve its position against its main competitors."

"Digital is a new world and we should not compare digital to what digital was in 2000," he said. "In 2000 digital was mainly Web sites and some funny things and obviously when the market collapsed, everything collapsed. Today there is the Google of the world, there is the Yahoo of the world, and the MSN and we are all looking for addressing the communication to the end users through search and through different ways of communication. And this communication is highly measured - we know if it is working or not, we know the return on investment immediately, we know what works and what doesn't work. So I don't see digital collapsing, I don't see digital going down, I see digital still growing in 2009 and the years to come."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I could live on cereal and popcorn."
Jacob--newly turned 34 year old

Great Forbes Piece - The Coming Creativity Boom

This piece was published on my birthday no less!! George Gilder nailed it with this piece - could not have said it any better myself. Previous posts on the Short Attention Span Theatre, and some of my most popular, have been about smart and green home building materials, digital media and its effectiveness, entrepreneurship and the efficiency of various digital media processes. All touched on either directly or indirectly in this article.

An excerpt...
The real source of all growth is human ingenuity and entrepreneurship, which often thrive in the worst of times--and are always surprising.

The crucial conflict in every economy, however, goes on. It is not between rich and poor, Main Street and Wall Street, or even government and the private sector. It is between the established system and the new forms of wealth rising up to displace it--all the entrenched knowledge of the past and the insurrections of futuristic enterprise and invention.

The real source of all growth is human creativity and entrepreneurship, which always comes as a surprise to us, especially in the worst of times, as Rich Karlgaard notes. No amount of knowledge about the present can predict the specific profile and provenance of innovation. From the pits of the crash of 2000, when the Internet and the siege were famously dismissed as a barren "bubble," came Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) and MySpace to rise up and take all the chips and establish a new Internet economy. If creativity was not unexpected, governments could plan it and socialism would work. But creativity is intrinsically surprising and the source of all real profit and growth.

Access the ENTIRE Forbes piece HERE

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Old Media Execs and Their Habits Die Hard

More bleak news for the radio, newspaper and magazine industries. It is too bad these guys have not uncovered new ways to leverage their content and their audience. It is a golden opportunity. I guess when you rely on the same executives, the same consultants and the same tired digital partners new ideas that are actually effective become very hard to come by and consequently execute. Here is the full article from Mediapost

Despite how it appears on this blog, I have always enjoyed good radio and it has a special place in my heart. It is an art form that is slowly dying a painful death and it has so much to gain from the web - stations just can't seem to leverage it. I would absolutely love the opportunity to work with a traditional radio organization to help them bridge the gap. There is lot that can be done to leverage the local perspective online.

Where there is pain there is opportunity.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

When Does it Get Old?

Recently I traveled to New York to a Web 2.0 conference. This event trumpeted the best and brightest of the Web 2.0 industry and showcased a lot of individuals and organizations that have either pioneered or are continuing to innovate this iteration of the web.

I am just a guy from little old Indiana, how can I think critically about something that is traditionally thought of as progressive? I used traditionally and progressive in the same sentence - did you catch that? Nice. After all, we mid-westerners continuously play catch up, right? Anyway, it was pretty surprising to me to see a fairly stagnant show. By that I mean I did not see that unique model, that one idea or that one innovation that made me stop and say, "Wow that is going to be HUGE. That is a amazing! Or that will shake up the online world." Not a single damn thing.

I have read a lot of blogs, regurly consume industry publications, read editorials in this industry and generally spend waaaayyy too much time getting after new information regarding communication trends and innovations - which typically revolve around the web - or how the web is advancing traditional communication channels.

It seems to have become pretty stagnant as of late. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of new models, plenty of new ideas, plenty of new web sites,plenty of new ways of applying existing technologies in slightly different ways or for new business or even non-profit models. When you scrape away all of the fluff, you basically have a few solid principals left, a few standard web technologies left and a few companies left waiting to buy it all up.

In my mind that is stagnation. I have not seen a real game changer in quite some time. How many different ways can you twist "connecting people" into a new platform - which BTW runs on the same technology backbone as the previous 100 "platforms."

How many black holes for investment dollars can you create before someone decides that it is indeed a black hole and decides to shift venture money into something that actually has a path to a viable, profitable business model? How many audience over revenue web sites can you sell to larger media companies before they all realize they each bought different sites, but the same audience? There are only 24 hours in a day, and the average member of that audience will only spend about an hour a day on any one media channel (on average). That same audience member, if they are web savvy enough to consume larger quantities of online media, has their favorites today, but will most likely find a new favorite tomorrow - and that favorite will be purchased by a larger media company, and that media company would have spent millions to acquire the same set of eyes for the second, third or even fourth time. Think of it this way - if Rupert Murdoch purchased Facebook - do you think that would grow viewership somehow to MySpace? Seeing as many in the Facebook crowd migrated from MySpace it wouldn't it be a largely redundant audience?

Ultimately I think this is okay though. It will be figured out by some research report, sold online through a distributor like eMarketer, Forrester, or some other analyst and that will spurn some young up and comer to think about these things differently. To think in a way that makes sense from the perspective of the coveted audience, the entrepreneur, the bank, the investor and ultimately Google. Why Google? Oh, I forgot to tell you - that is who will buy this new, unique and profitable model.

The moral of the story here is that very few innovate and deliver on that innovation in a way that makes sense, makes money and ultimately does some good. Many come after that innovator mimic, churn, burn and fade away. All of that churning and burning drives the world. It is done to be second, third or even fourth. To be 1,000th however is a stretch. That being said it is necessary in the cycle of an industry - it creates boredom, milk toast experience and ultimately frustration - which eventually spawns progress.

Someone, somewhere has the idea and eventual access to capital that will incubate and launch web 4.0 into this process. It is just a matter of time. What happened to web 3.0 you ask? We are already knee deep in it. You didn't hear?? You better rub the web 2.0 out of your eyes, catch up and start mimicking some more - and while you are at it publicize the heck out of it - it will motivate that genius lurking in the shadows so we can move on to web 4.0.

Friday, October 10, 2008

At Least Someone in This Country Still Learns from History

Web 2.0: Rest in peace

Interesting things going on in VC land out on the west coast. Seems as though our banking industry could take some lessons from these guys. Nice to see our friends in the valley learn from the past.

Full article here

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

AdSense in Games

AdSense for Games, Now Live in Beta!

Google's long-anticipated AdSense for Games has finally gone into beta.

Casual games publishers can display video, image and text ads in their online offerings. They can also define placements "such as interstitial frames before a game, after a level change, or when a game is over," according to the AdSense blog.


Friday, October 3, 2008

CMO Budgets Shrink, Shift Even More to Digital

This article distributed by Marketing Vox proclaims surveyed CMOs have less to spend but continue to shift more to digital.

A Quote...
"To offset budget cuts, CMOs are shifting to more targeted and measurable marketing strategies. When asked how their firm determines target market for each channel, 50 percent said they use data-driven marketing techniques: 31 percent stated they use sophisticated modeling tools to analyze existing customer data (behavioral, preference and demographic) and 19 percent said that they analyze past purchase behavior. In contrast, 28 percent said they made rough estimates based on past experience."

In summary - segmented, targeted audience(s), objective oriented creative driving conversion and lastly engaging online experience retaining the segmented audiences).

Advertising agencies examine the market data and conclude growth will come from expanding digital capabilities not only in analytical opportunities, but also through the online experience (creative executed through cutting edge flash, animated environments, etc.) that lead the audience through to the conversion, however it is defined.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo session - Designing for the Internet(s) of the Future

Okay, this presentation by Genevieve Bell from Intel was quite possibly the worst I have seen in a long time. Not because she was not smart or couldn't talk about international culture all day long, but because the expectation set by the title and summary for the presentation is not what was delivered. I do not want to give this any more time so I will simply copy and paste my notes from what I heard below for your viewing pleasure. Wish I could have been more positive on this one but it was pretty lame.

Designing for the internet(s) of the future preso

- beyond the PC
- mobile, gaming devices, embedded devices
- well beyond anglo culture – asian culture, Russian, Portuguese, Japenese, etc.
- new sites, new experiences, new services
- the presenter is an anthropologist by formal training
- she is spending waaaaayy too much time talking about finite details of little pieces of design and international cultures – no info on actual effective design – her presentation’s design is not only hideous it is convoluted and counter intuitive based on the size of the room and the information presented.
- She is all over the place and likes to talk about herself…a lot
- She really likes china and is talking about their web sites a lot – interesting since the Chinese government controls and censors the internet – big ups China
- Now she is talking about connectivity rates – come on – this sucks!!!!!!!!!!!
- Now she is espousing on the foundational value proposition of the internet – seriously?? Is this 1995?
- So far here are the takeaways – she is well traveled, very smart, very funny, knows a lot about international culture, esp. in Australia and China, hangs out with university intellectuals, thinks video content on the web has just picked up in the last 6 – 8 months LOL, likes talking about bandwidth…repetitively
- Now she is talking about connectivity in Britain
- Where is the talk about design???? At least make the obvious leap from connectivity to its impact on design and rich media capabilties
- More government talk about India, China, Britain, etc.
- I feel like I am in an high school level international government class
- She is suggesting that government should establish behaviors and user participation/citizenship for the internet – WOW LOL LOL enough I am out of here
- This preso is way misrepresented by the title

Web 2.0 Expo - Making Sense of Rich Media Applications

Was able to bounce in the last 15/20 minutes of this presentation by Ryan Stewart of Adobe. A bit more development heavy than I prefer to sit in on but a very good presentation none the less. He was objective, went through a lot of different tools and kep it all related to rich media. Great preso for developers of rich media.

I was surprised about how much he did not talk about flash - of course I was late so maybe I missed that part :(

In my opinion he did not give Flash enough credit for its video capabilities.

Web 2.0 Expo Keynote - Tim O'Reilly

Well I attended the Tim O'Reilly from O'Reilly Media keynote this morning. It started off pretty good as Tim elaborated on his thoughts regarding the web transferring from something you access at a box and keyboard to this more atmospheric access that is breached from basically anywhere.

Cool thoughts that I enjoyed listening to and that got my mind thinking about the web from an opportunity for new ways to utilize great content standpoint.

Then Tim got preachy. He started getting into a very finger wagging laden homily about how all things political - mostly environment and cause related - can be positively affected by web 2.0. I agree with many of his points, give him credit for being concerned about some legit issues, but was not in the mood to have some rich dude tell me why how he doesn't drink water out of plastic bottles anymore. Of course not, he probably utilizes a re-usable golden goblet. After all it is more environmentally friendly and can be carried easily in his $500 per pair cargo pants as he jets around the country selling people on why THEY should walk everywhere. BTW, the full access ticket to this O'Reilly created expo is $1,900. I am here to learn about the industry, not get chastised. I can get chastised for a lot less elsewhere.

On to more practical presentations.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo session 2 - Viral Marketing 2.0

This presentation was given by Jonah Peretti from BuzzFeed.

Jonah gave a pretty entertaining presentation. It was full of examples of "viral" initiatives that he has performed over the years. Some successful and others not so successful. He did a good job of breaking down the differences between the initiatives, what he believed made them successful vs. unsuccessful and how the BNW - bored at work network is more influential in getting your campaign into more hands then the almighty "influencers." He basically called out the BNW as more powerful than any other network, be it traditional or non-traditional, thanks to its huge numbers and ample time spent on email, instant messaging, twitter, blogs, etc. They have the time, the means and the motivation to pass along your communication if they deem it interesting to their friends, family, etc.

Pretty good and informational presentation overall. I agree with many of his points - not so big on the manufacturing of "viral" content for that exclusive purpose, however there are techniques to create content that appeals to this large audience - I look at it from a similar scope that I view other opportunities with vast audiences - distribute based on tight segments - focus it down.

Web 2.0 Expo session 1 - The Moonwalking Bear

Yeah that is the title of this presentation - basically a presentation on helping corporate America get tuned in and understanding web 2.0.

Joshua Ross is the presenter.

About twenty minutes in and this is pretty good. Joshua is doing a good job exhibiting in direct, clear language how he uses web 2.0 in his everyday life and translating what that means from a consumer's stand point and consequently what it means to providers of goods and services.

He also is touching on different aspects of business that are being affected by web 2.0 such as the obvious - marketing/sales and some not so obvious - human resources and legal.

Lots of standard examples given to prove his points - linking up customers, audience reaction, how that reaction is distributed online, how you manage it, etc. Pretty standard stuff but good to hear anyway.

Another good point - things are moving in real-time on today's web. Not a new or profound point but good to hear and relate to opportunities and challenges.

More examples given of how larger companies do not see, understand or realize how web 2.0 is spreading communication about them - good or bad. Subsequent point - you cannot stop it, only hope to ride the wave. Pretty standard stuff.

When I get to my next presentation around 10am I will check back with another summary.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

3D Artist / Motion Designer

The Basement Design + Motion is looking to hire a full-time 3D Artist / Motion Designer
Check out the full listing at


As i sit in NYC and discuss a few web related topics with some friends from Creative Alliance, the thought of simplification (which will yield a higher level of focus) will not escape my mind.

I asked Brendan (an ex-Yahoo staffer) about the Google and Yahoo partnership. What does he think about it. he said he did not care and ultimately he did not htink it would yield any kind of silver bullet for Yahoo. His response was get rid of Yang and go from there.

I had not been on Yahoo for a long time so I re-visited the site. I did not go past the homepage. Visually it did nothing for me. Functionally whatever it offers from its homepage I did not think I could not get anywhere else in a faster, more intuitive and format yielding a quicker and higher quality result.

My thoughts on Yahoo after this brief encounter - simplify. Figure out what you have that no one else does, simplify to that, take the resulting focus and excel. Once you excel, communicate it to the market like a bat out of hell.

Seems simple doesn't it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reflecting in the Airport

Well, I am sitting in the Indianapolis airport waiting to board a plane that is running a bit behind. I find my thoughts picking up where they left off last night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep.

I was thinking, and am thinking about the transition from what I have done for the past 11 years to what I am doing now - in my career and in my personal life. From media producer in both video and radio to advertising and marketing to entrepreneur and now as someone who is responsible, in large part with my partners, for the day to day direction, sustainability and successful growth of a company.

During this thought process I realized I am making - and to a great degree have made the transformation from full fledged, 24-7 marketing professional to full fledged, 24-7 business owner. It is bitter sweet as I think about my craft as a successful marketer - over the past 8 plus years I have been fortunate enough to work with some good business models and strategically leverage solid brand positioning, a focus on sales and a strong work ethic into some solid results. I am finding myself using these skills, but not as often. Those skills are being sidelined a bit by the learning and utilization of newly honed skills. Finance, day to day management, both of personnel and of assets and other resources and, yes, even some sales.

Now in what has become my third start up venture with one constant business partner, one new business partner, some new investors and thank God my lovely wife of eight years still putting up with me, I am seeing yet again more fantastic results yet I am in a different role and am enjoying it tremendously.

This still leaves me sitting here going to a Web 2.0 conference in New York City and trying to figure out my schedule. Do I attend the marketing presentations, the landscape presentations (I am a big fan of innovation no matter what my role is - I am an innovation addict), the more business focused presentations, or even the design presentations? I can take a lot of knowledge back to the design team if I attend that last category.

I think deep down I have a little bit of all those things in me - whether they are used daily or just accessed occasionally.

Part of me misses the day to day challenge of the true thorough marketing task, but the reality is I really enjoy learning and expanding my thought process and excitement to innovate and help The Basement succeed beyond the marketing task.

I guess I will leave it at that. My inner marketer will not rest easy, I am sure it will rare its head when needed.

I have been thinking of a new series for this blog though. And yeah it is marketing focused - possibly discussing the different categories of marketers and even entrepreneurs I have seen over the years, and which ones have proven out to be most successful. Not sure I can elaborate yet, but that topic could probably have its own book - probably already does.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I listen to kids talk about what they're consuming, what they're doing, what they're not doing." She also reads a lot -- not only business magazines but also "People and Vanity Fair and anything close to the cutting edge of the culture. Even the AARP magazine."

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's chairman and chief executive

Author's Note: So is she inferring that People, Vanity Fair and AARP magazine are cutting edge??


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Comcast Totally Sucks

Wow, now I am reminded why I do not have cable television. Aside from the cable companies not really having much to offer in the way of television services aside from a forced menu at a forced price, which airs a lot of re-runs, second rate movies and low-grade customer service I am now finding that their horrible service extends well beyond their television offering to their high speed internet offering.

I have been going back and forth with Comcast for the last three weeks trying to get them to service my commercial account. They billed me within a blink of an eye, however to get them to come out to my office to actually turn on the service is, well, lets just say unacceptably slow.

I initially called to get our new temporary office hooked up two weeks ago and it took them one full week to show up and plug four wires into a cable modem. Took their tech like 10 minutes to do. One week!! That was only because I called and emailed them repetitively to commit to coming out and hooking us up. They never even called to set an appointment - after one week!!

Now that we are ready to move into our permanent offices, I called them last Friday to get our service moved down the hall, and they still have not called me back to get it transferred. 4 business days and not even a phone call. Amazing. I called today and they had no one in their office that could tell me when we are scheduled for service transfer. LOL LOL.

Comcast you suck. I advise anyone who reads this never to utilize Comcast or any other sorry cable company for service if you can avoid it. I have avoided the phone company for several years because of similar issues (VOIP only for me through a third party) and as soon as I get a choice, I will drop the cable company, specifically Comcast, like a bad habit.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Welcome Ross Woods

I just wanted to officially welcome Ross Woods to The Basement Design + Motion. Our newest addition comes to us from the windy city of Chicago and was with Somersault. Ross joins us as a production manager.

Ross is an accomplished producer with many national projects under his belt. In addition to that he is very nice guy.

Welcome Ross!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

First Maxi Pads, Now Senior Living

Before reading this reference my post regarding the maxi pad direct mail from a few weeks ago. Same point, different direct mail.

This past week I got a piece of direct mail for a senior living facility/community or whatever you call it. The people in the pictures on the cheesy brochure were easily in their eighties and apparently having pone hell of a time - or at least getting some dandy meds from their caretakers at this facility. Regardless - I am far from being an octogenarian and am even too young for my mother live in one of these places. So, since this blog discusses effective, and not so effective marketing, why in the world am I getting direct mail for the silver eagle living community and why is someone poor sap paying someone to create and mail this crap to my house??

For the record, if I was shopping for a "senior community" I would not move into this place based on the obviously overstated exuberance of the people captured for the brochure. All it made me think of was the place Happy Gilmore sent his grandmother when she lost her home. Ben Stiller as a fu-man-chu sporting orderly still has me freaked out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the Offensive????? Really, is That What You Call it?

I was actually reading our trusty Indy Star a few weeks ago and came across this headline,
War of the wireless
Emmis CEO is on the offensive as iPhone's popular applications for radio on the go tread on traditional industry's turf

Basically Emmis (Jeff Smulyan) is trying to convince somebody that, hold your laughter, cellphone service providers should put AM/FM tuners into their cell phones. Isn't that the equivalent of putting old school tubes into a digital HDTV??? Oh wait, maybe it's like duct taping a walkman cassette player on your iPod, pouring leaded gasoline into your get the point. I do not know what made me chuckle more - tuners in cell phones or the fact this was declared offensive. Maybe offensive in the fact that a cell phone would have a tuner in it. i can see the commercial now, "Get the new Tuned phone from Verizon and you too can hear Freebird for the 5,000,000th time - on your phone!!!! Be the coolest person in your office while you laugh along with the ZANY morning show as it emanates form your pocket and get the latest weather report when the static isn't totally screwing the listening experience."

Well, the ever "on the offensive" Smulyan doesn't seem to be convincing many industry folks to downgrade their digital devices with AM/FM tuners. He is not convincing many with his pitch on conserving bandwidth, so he is going to the old tried and true strategy of lobbying politicians to mandate it - wow, a business man in this free market economy can't get his way so he tries to get the government to mandate that his product be shoved into an industry that really doesn't want or need what he is hocking. Pretty sad. Here is a how it was described by the article...

Neither Sprint nor AT&T seemed concerned about conserving bandwidth.

"Sprint has a very robust network that can handle streaming (Web) radio," said spokesman Aaron Radelet.

That may be strike one.

The iPhone doesn't have an AM/FM tuner and may not get one for quite some time. It's a hardware issue, not a software issue that can be changed with a download from the App Store.

That may be strike two.
Creative uses

So Smulyan and the radio industry are also going in the back door.

They are hoping to persuade the federal government to modify the WARN Act of 2006, which ordered carriers to create an alert system for mass notification during emergencies. A text messaging system is under development, but Smulyan argues that broadcast radio's existing Emergency Alert System could handle it if tuners were put in cell phones.

"If one broadcaster survives, everyone is alerted," he said.

Note to Jeff - quit playing catch up, get in a room with folks who actually understand the future of the media landscape and come up with some real innovation. You are still positioned with an audience, thus have a vast opportunity. Find the right transition that leverages what you have with the desire of your audience to move beyond it. Repetitious tunes that are created on a tired formula, even more exhausted on-air "talent" in addition to many new ways to acquire new music, commercial free, is killing your business so move on and quit trying to make it fit.

Tuners in cell phones???????? Are you serious??? Larger radios with antennas cannot even get good receptions half the time - how in the world is a cell phone? Moreover, obnoxious commercials and extremely played out formats. iPhones now can handle the job of the iPod - it will only continue to evolve without the likes of the local yahoo carnival barker spinning Steve Miller and yelling in my ear. Move on Jeff, move on.

On a side - I like and appreciate what Emmis has done over the years and love the fact they are in Indy. It pains me to read articles like this because a great organization, who has lots of opportunity, is not capitalizing. This ultimately hurts not only that company, but its investors, staff and community.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good Piece in Ad Age About Digital Production

Creatives and Producers Grapple With a New Era of Production

What's coming? Is there a new production thing on the horizon? "Yes, of course! As the definition of interactive marketing gets bigger, there will be a lot more specialists. There are already some excellent interactive production companies that only do installations or mobile or 3-D, or games. And there are some giant ones doing massive productions of banners. I think it will fragment and actually make it much easier for agencies to go back to being brand agents, and there will be a wealth of specialists to make it easier to get good work done." -- Benjamin Palmer, president-CEO, The Barbarian Group

That is why we formed The Basement - higher level of specialization yields higher quality of work, which ultimately yields greater results for the objective of the production.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Men and Maxi Pads

So my wife went to a baby shower today for one of my sisters-in-law. My Mom, many years after I have left the nest, still feels compelled to bring all the junk mail she receives, addressed to me, to us when we see each other. I have let her know it is okay to throw it all away, but she refuses, she must give the junk to us - like we do not get enough at home.

So today she got a real laugh, as did all of the female members of my family, as she gave Beth one very special piece of junk mail at the baby shower - a piece of mail addressed to me, at my mother's address, containing a free sample of Stayfree Ultra Thin maxi pads. Yes, that's right, Jacob Leffler received a free maxi pad in the mail - to utilize to convince me that it would be the best thing ever for my "moderate to heavy" period. After all, once I used this product, they are sure I will switch to their brand of maxi pads and be a faithful customer for life - or until menopause. Go ahead, get the laughing out of your system now.

But wait!! They are sending these samples of pads to men. Reverse psychology to reach the females in my life? I seriously doubt it since it was sent to not only the wrong sex, but also the wrong address!

Someone needs to let McNeil-PPC, Inc. (good luck getting on their web site - it timed out each time I tried to get on) know that sending direct mail, which houses a free sample for Stayfree Ultra Thin pads to a man no less, who at the last time I checked, does not experience periods, is a pretty good sign that the most basic of marketing tasks is not being executed properly.

This is just a microcosm of the poor direct to consumer marketing that runs rampant in today's push-more marketing and advertising environment. The company that is front and center as the vender to McNeil for their direct mail is RedPlum.

Note to McNeil and RedPlum - how much money are you wasting to not only send out direct mail, but free product to wrong addresses and completely off target individuals?? How many men do they know named Jacob?? This is a great indication that their databases rarely, if ever, get scrubbed, and the sad thing is McNeil is paying a lot of many to mail out tons of product that will ultimately get thrown in the trash. Moreover, any female who is part of this experience, and the actual target audience - in this instance - my wife and all the female members of my family, no less than ten, will look at the product as a joke.

I am all for free samples, when they are relevant in some way, shape or form. I noticed on other non-McNeil sites (web sites that actually worked) that McNeil is owned by Johnson & Johnson, who also makes and distributes Tylenol. Next time please send me some free Tylenol to help rid me of the pain I suffer from experiencing such poor marketing execution.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Deconstructing Hulu (and other content aggregators)

Well I am a confessed Hulu fan. I love the model. Take old content, and even some new , and throw it out onto the web for folks to view, and maybe even make a little ad revenue off it in the meantime. I mean after all, where else could you offer up reruns of The Facts of Life?

Seriously, it is a clean interface, makes content easy to find, and they seem to be adding content to the network based on user feedback. Not too shabby.

One thing I think is tell tale network is the ad model. It is pretty weak. Kudos for limited commercial interruption, but when will they take the next step and completely re-think and deliver a better model? One that brings more value to both audience and advertiser? I have spent enough time on this blog spouting off about ad models, even step by step putting out models that would be more relevant to the audience than the "30 second spot." Usually I would link to all my past posts on this subject to prove my point, however today I will not. I will simply sit on them and let you find them yourself.

A wise man once said, "There is always a better way."

Friday, August 1, 2008

In Good Company

I just discovered today through a heads up from some friends at the School of the Arts
at Virginia Commonwealth University that The Basement Design + Motion is sitting with some very good company on the Motion Design Directory.

It is nice to be on a directory next to the likes of Blur.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who Needs Cable Television?

Seriously - I just wheeled home the other night with a new tv that has HDMI ports on it and a new laptop with HDMI ports - I am watching content from my laptop on my TV. Movies, music, etc. - all legal. I do not need blockbuster, cable television, local or satellite radio. It is all accessible through the net with my wireless connection in my home - so wherever my laptop goes - so goes the vast array of entertainment and news programming. Most of it with no or limited commercial interruption.

Now before broadcasters and other laggards cry foul - the opportunity is there for you folks, you just need to innovate a bit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MS XBox Ramping Up Content Offerings

Pulled from Financial Times

Microsoft Brings Its Games To Life As Movies On Web
Financial Times
Are you ready for Halo3, the movie? Microsoft has struck a deal with Safran Digital Group and five directors of horror movies to make short films based on its Xbox games, which will be released on the Internet.

Scott Nocas, product manager for Xbox Live's video programming and original content, said the company was treating the short films like TV pilots. Microsoft will show them in the 26 international markets that support the Xbox Live service and plans to commission more original content if the movies prove popular.

"We're not in the TV business," Nocas said. "But we believe our consumers want bite-sized entertainment content that they can watch between (playing) games."

Gamers Can Be Found in Most Demo Segments

Gamers are growing older and the Wii is ushering in younger demos to the gaming world. The old stat still rings true - most people make the decision to bounce off of a web site in about 2 seconds. Do you think having content that provides an experience can help improve time spent on site? Do you think gaming will play an increasing role in interactive television? Am I leading the witness with these questions? ;)

Some interesting insights on gaming and who the audience really is from this MediaPost piece.

A clip...

Gamers: They're Not Who You Think They Are

SAN FRANCISCO -- While gamer demographics and targeting potential have long been defined by the medium that they play on--i.e., hardcore gamers play shooters on consoles and soccer moms play casual games on PCs--that logic is slowly but surely being turned on its head.

And according to panelists from the OMMA Gaming session "The Demographics of Play: Who Is Gaming Where and When," marketers that want to fully harness the power of games need to rethink their ideas of who gamers are and what constitutes a game.

For example, console gamers have traditionally been considered to be males ages 18-34 (and in some cases even 18-24). But in May 2008, Nielsen found that three-fourths of Nintendo Wii usage came from players between the ages of 6 and 34. In contrast, the game giant's previous console, GameCube, which launched in the U.S. in 2001, only attracted players ages 2-17 three-fourths of the time.

Get the full piece HERE

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hey Look! It's Interactive TV!!

Yeah yeah, I am a skipping record.

TiVo Gets Its Own Shopping Channel: Amazon


Online shopping addicts beware. A TiVo-Amazon partnership will soon allow TiVo customers to purchase items via without ever leaving the couch.

With Product Purchase, TiVo users can click over to Amazon on the TV screen using their remote control and purchase items discussed on a certain TV show.

Want a few of Oprah's favorite things? Intrigued by a book mentioned on The Colbert Report? Click over to TiVo's Universal Swivel Search function, find the items, and purchase them directly.

Full article HERE

Marketing, Service, Service, Marketing

Pie charts, graphs, numbers, stats, jargon, buzz words, the latest book on the latest trend written by the latest guru for the latest "api" so you can successfully execute a "turn key app."

You sometimes you can take all of that crap, throw it out the window and grow your business by leaps and bounds by simply:
1. Returning a phone call
2. Actually acting like you want someone's business
3. Do what you say you are going to do
4. Sell with some sense of urgency

In the last week I have tried to give at least three different businesses my business and based on their reaction, they could have cared less. I was left scratching my head. I was nice, expressed a high level of interest in what they were offering and showed them the money, yet they still had trouble or simply did not do one, more or all of the above. Someone please tell these people there is supposedly a recession going on - or even that our economy is "in a downturn" because the way these folks acted, you would have thought they had enough business to retire.

Marketing lesson of the day - do the four things above and in the sectors where I am trying to spend my money, you will get my business time and time again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More IPTV Related Stuff

Here is an article that shows how the XBox 360 is integrating on more demand content through its online platform. They are partnering with NetFlix to offer a full library of on demand movies available for streaming through the 360. Uh, can anyone say impulse movie viewing?? Forget hopping in the car and driving to your local blockbuster to rent from the narrow selection. Just hop on the 360 and choose from a ton of titles through NetFlix. You just save some precious $4 a gallon gasoline.

How does this evolve?? Eventually once the audience gets large enough you will have a choice to either pay for a commercial free viewing or you will get a free viewing that is supported by advertising (see HULU). Then when that gets old the entire film will be interactive and chock full of "supplementary content" that advertises stuff.

Check out the article HERE

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yellow Book Spot Breathes New Life

Something unusual happened the other evening - I saw a TV spot that not only grabbed my attention but also, in my opinion, told a really good story in a way that put a very positive spin on something that up to this point, I think, had been written off.

Check out this spot from Yellow Book, yes, that Yellow Book. From the wedgie to the solution I think this commercial accomplished a few goals.

In this brief 30 seconds Yellow Book...
1. Shuns the common perception that they are strictly this big irrelevant book - they are a valuable resource - yes even online
2. They are focused on local search - this is key - local search has been a sore spot for large search providers Google, Yahoo and MSN for quite sometime. Yellow Book - or any other phone book, already has the position of the leader in localized product and service search - their challenge has been translating that to the web. Well, it looks as though someone either in Yellow Book, at their ad agency or both has an idea of what the future can be.
3. Making the connection between powerful local resource and quality information-rich content that is not bound by paper - they have, can and will transcend the document stage and will be a provider of rich, interactive content - as "futuristic" as this spot tries to be, the reality is sub out the hologram with a large flat screen and this is not so futuristic - it is possible now.

If this spot communicates what the Yellow Book is truly becoming, then they may just have a pretty bright future - after all - even on a keyboard or with a mouse, your fingers do the walking.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Big Piece on Interactive TV Ads in USA Today

A great piece in the USA Today talking about interactive tv ads. One of the best pieces I have seen on this topic in awhile. Per many other posts in the SAST it talks about some of the satellite and cable companies and how they are delivering this format. Take what we understand about audience segmentation from email marketing and SEM and apply to this opportunity. Not a whole lot different - just a different delivery system - it is still interactive and digital, still interesting when done well and can be incredibly effective with very accessible metrics to determine effectiveness.

Check out the piece entitled Interactive TV Ads are Clicking with Viewers by clicking HERE

A quote from the piece...
"Cable operators such as Charter, as well as their satellite TV rivals, all are experimenting with such ads. Their goal: battle Internet media for ad dollars by merging a TV commercial's impact with former Web-only selling points such as interactive content, ad targeting based on consumers' personal data and precise effectiveness measurement based on how many people click on an ad for more information.

With a traditional 30-second spot you only know how many people saw it, says Sam Chadha, marketing director for deodorants at consumer products giant Unilever, which has used interactive ads for several products, including Degree deodorant. "Interactive TV lets marketers also study consumer behavior in response to the ad."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Transitions Launches

Go check out and click through to the interactive guide at

This is a project that the basement recently finished up in partnership with Brandwidth. The reason I am putting this on the blog is that this site is a great example of a balance of form and function. It shows how you can accomplish a goal, communicate online using a lot of different visual tools and the end result is a great experience that educates.

As you go through the quiz and answer questions you will notice that the glasses build themselves based on your responses. The constant updates build over the course of the quiz, and ultimately are dropped in to a document that you can present to your eye care professional to help establish a conversation you may not have had with your doctor before. A combination of flash, 3D models and a pretty robust developed out back end make this all possible.

Focus groups were utilized to help our design team figure out the best possible layout for the interface, and how the motion would be best received by the audience. Also, as you go through the piece you will see links to watch animations. These are integral to educating the audience on different aspects of not only eye health, but how best to maintain it through lens options.

Seth McFarlane/Google Teaming Up for AdSense Content

We have talked about it here before - supplementary content, instead of traditional push advertising, taking center stage as a successful ad/marketing medium online. Seems like Google and Seth McFarlane are taking a somewhat related approach.

Check out the blurb and click through to the full story...

How Seth MacFarlane Will Help Breathe New Life Into Old Ads
Here's an Experiment to Watch in a New Rich-Media World

"News of a Google-powered Seth MacFarlane content-syndication play hit the The New York Times today. It describes how Google will turn its AdSense display ad units into mini film units that will run MacFarlane-created videos, bringing advertisers that sponsor the content along for the ride.

Advertisers and content owners will look to turn standard 300 by 250 ad units into expandable video experiences. Old ad real estate becomes a window into a new rich-media world. Environments (sites, games, apps, etc.) that can deliver consumers into these experiences efficiently will be worth more (see my previous post). Page-based inventory is going to find new demand as a starting point for short media and video experiences -- and with it, brand advertising."

Go HERE for the entire story.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google and Flash - What a Pair

Usually I try to stay away from the tech stuff on the SAST, but today I wanted to share this little tidbit with you all straight from Google's mouth...

Improved Flash Indexing
Monday, June 30, 2008 at 9:31 PM
"We've received numerous requests to improve our indexing of Adobe Flash files. Today, Ron Adler and Janis Stipins—software engineers on our indexing team—will provide us with more in-depth information about our recent announcement that we've greatly improved our ability to index Flash.

Q: Which Flash files can Google better index now?
We've improved our ability to index textual content in SWF files of all kinds. This includes Flash "gadgets" such as buttons or menus, self-contained Flash websites, and everything in between.

Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?
All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.

In addition to finding and indexing the textual content in Flash files, we're also discovering URLs that appear in Flash files, and feeding them into our crawling pipeline—just like we do with URLs that appear in non-Flash webpages. For example, if your Flash application contains links to pages inside your website, Google may now be better able to discover and crawl more of your website."

Read the rest HERE

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Basement Looking for Sales Pro

Ripped straight form the job boards this just in...

An aggressive sales performer who has a passion and interest in interactive marketing and digital design/animation services. Perform business development role as key driver of new business from approved target group (30-50) of potential major accounts that have the business volume to enter into long-term business relationships with The Basement Design + Motion. Will be primarily focused on advertising agencies (small to medium), web development firms, marketing communication firms and pr firms within the Midwest geographical marketplace in 2008 and 2009. Agency experience or selling to agencies experience a plus. Contact if you are interested.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What IPTV Can Be - Baby Steps Happening Now

I have written about the "Project Canoe" initiative a few times in the past and it seems they continue to progress forward, which in my opinion is good for the progress towards a viable and successful IPTV model. I am not stating that this is a successful and viable IPTV model, however it seems that it may be a baby step in the right direction. As you will see in the article they have hired a CEO, David Verklin, who has a lot of experience in advertising. It will be interesting to see how he leads this initiative and how the model evolves as it rolls out.

Check out the piece HERE

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Think Tank and I Agree - Digital Media Cannot Afford to Act Like Traditional Ad Model

I came across a pretty cool piece put out by the Jack Myers think tank talking about how a lot of digital media content companies are trying to generate revenue the same way traditional broadcasters have, and how that is a dead end.

Some excerpts...
Advertising is simply not a sufficient revenue model to sustain content companies into the long-term future.

For the foreseeable future, the pool of available advertising dollars will be stagnant. There are new media alternatives virtually every day and ad budgets are splintering into micro-fragments. Advertisers are being pulled in multiple directions. Dollars are seeping from traditional budgets into search engine marketing, event marketing, cause-related marketing, merchandising, experiential marketing, location-based marketing, public relations, conversational and word-of-mouth marketing, social and mobile media, and consumer and trade sales promotion. This year's national television Upfront market could be a bell-weather for determining advertisers' continued appetite for paying significant cost increases for eroding audiences.

In the past few decades, only a handful of media companies recognized the imperative of brand-creation and even fewer made the commensurate investments in organizational resources to support them. Most investors in digital media companies remain dependent upon the transactional advertising business model, expecting to build wealth by capturing a growing piece of a shrinking advertising pie. Many are being confronted by the reality of under performance and unachievable growth requirements.

Check out the full article HERE

Monday, June 9, 2008

Good Old Network Location

Analytics packages for web sites are a hoot. I have enjoyed playing around with them for a long time. The best in my opinion is the good old network location drill down in the visitors area of most analytics packages. That is where you go to see what organizations firewalls are being detected and you can at least get a general idea of who has been on your site.

A quick snapshot of who has been viewing this blog in the last seven days - and some of these are just funny, some not so funny:
Cox Communications
AC Nielson
Administrative Office of the United States Courts (yeah, what are they doing here??)
Ball State University
BEA Systems
Cal State University Network
City of Mississauga
Financial Times
J Walter Thompson USA
Whittman Hart
University of Detroit Mercy
universita l. bocconi - milano
Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (First a federal court, now some big law firm, why am I feeling nervous???)
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Twentieth Century Fox

and the grand finale...............the US Senate Sergeant at Arms
Yeah, I could not make that up - the US Senate Sergeant of Arms (or at least someone browsing the web through that firewall) was on my blog

Now I am really sweating bullets - would you want this guy looking at your blog????

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Increases for Digital, Mobile

Straight from the Editor and Publisher, yes you read that right, Editor and Publisher...
Report: Digital, Mobile Advertising Revenues On the Rise

"The second annual World Digital Media Trends report, released at a meeting of the World Association of Newspapers, said the digital platforms of newspapers are growing at a double-digit rate worldwide, as the world increasingly goes online. The report, compiled with the help of 71 research groups, said digital and mobile advertising revenues are expected to increase 12-fold from 2002 to 2011, to about $150 billion worldwide."

"Even after newspapers generate enthusiasm among their traditional print staff for new media, they still have to find and provide the resources and qualified personnel for doing both, he said at the three-day meeting 1,800 publishers, editors and other senior newspapers, which started Monday."

Shortast commentary: I do not think there is anything new here - as IP networks grow beyond the personal computer screen, more and more communication channels will find themselves devoting more time and resources to their online effort - and collecting more ad dollars through that same IP channel.

As it relates to recruiting qualified personnel, newspapers do have a challenge - they have to compete with companies who have been attracting this talent for years in a very shallow talent pool. What can newspapers do to shake their reputation as old school to attract the best personnel?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lots Going On

The last several weeks have been very exciting down in the basement. Cannot really talk much about a lot of it but let's just say things are moving along at a pretty quick pace. In the months to come you should expect to see quite a bit happening on our web site and possibly even some big announcements.

As always stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Art Institute Features The Basement Design + Motion Show Reel

Recently we were approached by the Art Institute and asked if they could feature our current show reel in their online curriculum. We said yes! (of course)

“We’re thrilled to showcase the demo reel from basement design + motion in our Advanced Modeling & Animation Topics course in the Media Arts & Animation program. The reel is an excellent example of how to integrate interface design, motion graphics, and both 2D and 3D animation work into an entertaining presentation.”
-- Jeannie Novak
Online Program Director, Media Arts & Animation / Game Art & Design, Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division;
Lead Author & Series Editor, Game Development Essentials, Cengage/Delmar Publishing

Many thanks to Jeannie Novak and the Art Institute.

The Basement Design + Motion New Demo Reel

Just finished...
The Basement New Reel

Friday, May 23, 2008

Louisville Friends

Special thanks to our friend Jason Falls, and the Social Media Club down in Louisville for hosting a great event this week. My fellow basement dwellers Kelli and Brian joined me down in Louisville to sit in on the club's monthly get together.

Very informative and you can learn about the club by going to their site now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Tribune Hype

The headline reads Tribune Is 'Actually Friggin' Doing It'
Doing what?? They hired a big wig from XM (a company who has to merge with its only one true competitor to stay alive) to become its vp of innovation. Well, I give them credit for hiring someone, paying him, I am sure, a king's ransom and sitting back and waiting for him to provide the silver bullet. I guess they are trying. I really do not think this is the answer.

Really when you think about it, the almighty Google was started by two no-name guys and now it is the company to beat. Amazon, same thing. MySpace, yep. Facebook - once again someone no one knew - created a monster success and an innovator.

These large newspaper companies, in my opinion, need to start going way unconventional to start moving in the right direction. It will be tough, but if they keep going to the same well, they should expect the same bogus results, resulting in more wasted millions. Go HERE and read the full piece. Based on what this article says it seems like so far Tribune is not "friggin doing it."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Evidently I am not the Only One Who Thinks Evista Spot is Odd

Eli Lilly's Ladies' Drug Campaign: Kind of Strange TV Ad?
Posted By:Mike Huckman at

His critique is not as to-the-point as mine, however it is obvious by his writing that he was caught off guard by the strange spot. His term is strange - mine is creepy. For the record since this is a product for women, and not men, I am not in the target so maybe I am not supposed to get it - so for the record my wife was equally as disturbed by this freaky spot. She ran to the fridge and proceeded to drink tons of milk for fear that osteoporosis would sentence her to the towel only Stanley Kubrick-esque alien spa wear the women in this spot seemed to be hanging out.

Who is Selling to the C Suite???

Well we knew this was coming. The c-level execs were one of the first categories to adopt in home broadband connectivity in large numbers for their category, and now low and behold they are called out for being one of the groups growing their online media consumption. Let's just say this will only go up - as people from Gen X start infiltrating the C-Suite, as this article puts it, that media penetration rate will pop even more. Good news for those of us in the digital media creation business. Agencies of all sizes - take note - this a great clue as to how you can reach your target.

Check out the full piece HERE titled C Suite Favors E Media, Study Finds 'Business Elite' Embracing Online

Innovation from Collaboration

I ran across this little article today and found it to be pretty interesting. It is all about one of my favorite topics - Innovation. It talks about how innovation can come more fruitfully from collaboration with other market experts and communities of other innovative thinkers - as opposed to market research. Aside from the obvious group plug, the rest of the piece is pretty interesting. Remember what Peter Drucker said, and I will paraphrase, the two best ways to grow a business are marketing and innovation. I couldn't agree more.

Go HERE to read the full piece.

Quote of the Day

"We have no idea."-- Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment

Pulled from the article
Long-Awaited: Jimmy Fallon Takes 'Late Night' Reins

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lilly Evista TV Spot...Creepy

I took a few minutes and turned on the tube last night. I saw something that completely freaked me out. No, not the most recent installment of Saw. Has anyone else seen the new TV commercial for Eli Lilly's product Evista? I am no health care expert, especially as it relates to osteoporosis, or how this product treats that ailment, however I do know when I am creeped out by a TV spot. When I saw this spot I thought I was watching a Stanley Kubrick movie, not a commercial for a drug that may help you if you have osteoporosis.

The way they had these actors standing around in bath towels with blank creepy stares on their faces in some ultra sterile environment with a cold, clammy narrator made me want to throw my TV out in the backyard and spray it down with holy water. Make it stop. Yikes!!