Archive for September, 2007

The Application We’ll Need Soon

September 28, 2007

So the writers over at Wisdump got me to thinking with a post about surfing the web like Tom Cruise. If you’ve watched the movie “Minority Report,” you know exactly what the author is talking about. A few days after reading the entry, I saw this demonstration:

After my boss watched it, he agreed with me: because we are reaching a point where memory storage is becoming so cheap, the thing we are going to need fairly soon is a simple and beautiful means to organize and browse the world’s information. Will it look like Tom Cruise’s method from “Minority Report”? I don’t know. One thing I do know is that I want it to combine the beauty and simplicity of what I’ve seen from the OSX Leopard previews along with the  tactile browsing of this new technology:

So if you have Seadragon (the first video), the multi-touch interface tool of the second video (which takes up such less space than the Microsoft Surface), and then the beautiful/intuitive interface like Leopard, we have what I want from the next generation of browsing. Add to that a seamless integration of wireless technology (for instance, putting a wireless flash drive on my desktop to view work files) and I would be in heaven.

And all of this is not simply to satisfy my internal nerdiness. Imagine the benefits: if my workspace was only a thin glass table on four legs and all my files were digital, think of all the resources that would not be wasted in making my workspace. A computer screen as thin as the multi-touch surface tool and a glass table takes away a great amount of all the wood, plastic and metal parts of my desk. And the forests of paper that fill my drawers. So such a minimalistic design helps with the environment.

Secondly, we will be reaching a point in the near future where all of our data may simply lie dormant; as the gentleman in the second video remarks: we have all this data but it’s just sitting there. Soon we will need a way to organize and browse all of that information, especially with the flexibility to allow for the inclusion of the social aspect of information-sharing.

Dude this stuff gets me so pumped 😛

Why America Hates Advertisers: Nevermind, They Don’t

September 26, 2007

As previously mentioned, this blog is a record of my thoughts on how to leverage social media for advertising purposes, which usually leads to the question of how to monetize free content. For now the answer has been: advertise, advertise, advertise. But what is consequence of simply transforming all space into ad-space?

Why Americans Hate Advertisers

For a wonderful and fairly in-depth take on the state of the recording industry, read What’s the Future of the Music Industry? from the NY Times Freakonomics Qourom. Really, I can’t stress how thought-provoking and informative this forum was.

One aspect of the aforementioned Times’ piece that relates to advertising is the question of how to monetize the free consumption of music content, especially when the consumer has become accustomed to this model. One author posited introducing advertising into free distribution channels to regain lost revenue. This is certainly a viable thought, but I don’t know how I feel about it as the end-all solution. I sometimes get tired of the unrelenting nature of capitalism (which is ironic because my job is to essentially add fuel to the fire). For instance, in the past week the New York Times has posted these three articles in the Media & Advertising section: Company Will Monitor Phone Calls to Tailor Ads; As the Fall Season Arrives, TV Screens Get More Cluttered; The View From Your Airplane Window Was Brought To You by… . The breakdown of each article (respectively) is this: an Internet phone company will offer free calls and offset costs by eavesdropping on the conversation and displaying ads relevant to the conversation; the next article bemoans the proliferation of ‘snipes’ (on-screen graphic promotions that run during a television show) during the fall season; and finally, a company is going to create billboard-type ads visible during an airline’s approach to the runway.

The Consumer Response to More Advertising (and more, and more, and…)

Consider the results from a recent survey: only 14% of Americans respect ad industry professionals. One of the major reasons? Possibly because “72 percent reported that they were tired of advertisers trying to grab their attention.” I can’t fault that 72 percent. Last weekend I visited Six Flags Great Adventure with some friends (I’m an adrenaline junkie) and by the end of the day I was exhausted from the advertising; it is no hyperbole to say every inch of that park is utilized as advertising space.

We, as ad industry professionals, may be doing ourselves a disservice by monetizing every centimeter of available space through advertising. Again, I’ll borrow an idea from the forum about the future of the music industry: because no one stepped in with a reasonable solution to the growing problem of free file-transfer, young consumers got used to the idea of music as disposable. Also, we live in a culture of mass consumption which consequently leads to the by-product of mass disposal, thereby reinforcing the notion of content as hyper-disposable. The evidence? One author wrote that it’s a terribly difficult decision to sign musical talent because they probably won’t be around in a year. Since advertising continues to increasingly invade every corner of our life, are we starting to see it as useless and, quite bluntly, akin to trash?

Wait, It Could Become Even Worse!

Because of the Internet, an easy and inexpensive means of distribution, and the drastically reduced price of production (such as recording an album with a Macbook Pro and one microphone rather than buying studio time), more content is available at a cheaper rate than ever. And in turn a lot of that content is being distributed for free. So how do businesses monetize that content? It seems to go-to solution for this issue is  to tack on advertising. And to further exacerbate the issue, my boss pointed out that it’s the advertisers who have the deeper pockets, not the publishers.

So here is the line we tip-toe: consumers want their content free, and we’re willing to  give it to them dependent upon their willingness to put up with our ads. But that can only last for so long, especially at the ever-increasing rate of transforming any space into ad-space. I think there could be a point at which consumers will actively seek means to be without ads: TiVo? Adblock Plus? Or, a personal example: I’m pissed that ’30 Rock’ may not be available on iTunes throughout its second season. Why? Because I’d rather pay $1.99 and watch it when I want rather than sit in front of my TV on Thursday night and live through the pain of enduring crappy commercials during such a great show.

But then again, people have always griped about advertising. Although some swear by their TiVo and Adblock Plus, we have yet to see a critical mass of fed up consumers leading to the death of the 30-second spot and banner ads (and as for the former, although many herald its demise, I believe it is only in a state of transition and will be around as long as television is around… but that’s a whole other story). As such, the transformation of any space into ad-space continues nearly unabated while consumers tell poll-takers they’re fed up… after which they promptly head home and enjoy Pandora. Thus, as long as 1) it’s easy, and 2) it’s free, consumers will sit through whatever pitch you want.

But We’re Not Out of The Deep Waters Yet

So it’s fair to predict that the ad-generated revenue model has staying power, and that despite polls which proclaim we’re a hated profession, Americans will sit through an ad for their free content. But therein lies the rub: where are the successful sites generating great margins solely from an advertising model? Most of the industry blogs I read (see the blog roll to the right) constantly reiterate the fact that most websites simply cannot afford to rely solely on advertising revenue. Which, and I truly apologize for this, puts us back at square one: how do you monetize free content? The quest continues….

Google Gadget Ads

September 19, 2007

Google has announced a new advertising program: Google Gadget Ads, or, as Advertising Age put it, “AdSense, Now With Widgets.”

A little over a week ago I posted a quick entry about a new advertising program Google would be announcing. My post was almost all hyperbole, and as the days passed I lost my excitement. First, because I thought maybe it was just my geek side getting riled up. Second, because the news was released a few days after I thought it would be. But now the day has come and the more I think about it, the more I believe that if utilized to its fullest potential this addition to AdWords could eventually change the face of the web experience. Why?

1) Widgets enrich the web experience. Now advertisements don’t merely have to be flashy .swf files (ha! sorry, I couldn’t avoid the pun) or moderately interesting video ads (please don’t misunderstand me: there are some incredible flash and video ads), but rather ads can exploit the immense functionality of widgets. Imagine an ad for the newest pop musician that has tabs with YouTube videos, song previews, and a list of the most recent print/web news stories about that particular musician, all of which can be viewed without leaving the web page.

2) Widgets can instantly monetize advertising for companies (and increase instant gratification for the consumer). Because the placement of these ads will be powered by AdSense, we can assume that they will show up at (somewhat) relevant sites. Reading blogs about the upcoming season of Heroes? Maybe there is a widget ad on the blog your reading that displays current prices and the time remaining for EBay auctions for the season one DVD’s of ‘Heroes’. Or maybe you’re using Yelp to find a good Thai restaurant in your neighborhood. What if there is a widget ad for a Thai restaurant (that has rave reviews on Yelp) through which you can place your dinner order and have it delivered in the next thirty minutes?

3) Widget advertising has a social component: for instance, the widgets can be pasted on someone’s MySpace site, outside of Google’s normal distribution (if I understand the model correctly). That means you have guaranteed distribution through the AdSense network (where appropriate), but also the possibility of distribution through social networking sites, meaning the chance to spread your widget virally. And if you’re spreading things such as, say, a widget that searches and books Kayak flights among travel enthusiasts… then, wow.

I graduated with a degree in English, but I must say this: Don’t tell me that’s not hot.

eBooks and Advertising

September 13, 2007

In the article Envisioning the Next Chapter for Electronic Books, Brad Stone remarks that ebooks have never caught on with the mainstream crowd. Why? Is it because ebooks have not “adequately duplicate[d] the book reading experience”, as Burt Helm once posited in the article Curling Up With a Good E-Book? Is it because electronic tablet-like gadgets go against nearly 1,800 years of reading bound books, and the human race needs more time to switch from such an ingrained practice? I don’t believe so.

Think about it this way: we are trying to bring reading into the future by having consumers switch from good-ol’ paperbacks to reading these books on ridiculously expensive gadgets: “You want me to buy a $500 dollar piece of technology, and then pay for the books to put on it?” That’s what I’m thinking. Personally, I’d much rather walk from my Flatiron-district office during lunch to The Strand on 12th & Broadway to buy Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (which, at the time of writing was available in paperback for $10.46). Do you see what’s missing? The incentive. So here’s my proposition: if someone’s already willing to spend a few hundred dollars to bring their reading into the future, why not make the books more expensive as well!

You heard me.

Why make them more expensive? Because it would help alleviate the licensing nightmare my solution would create. For example, some of my required reading for work currently includes The High Rise Low Down, which is a tour of the history behind New York City’s most prestigious addresses. I’m not more than fifty pages in, but I already know this: when the authors are describing the view from the Time Warner Center, I want to see pictures. And I want to view see interviews with Yoko Ono about her time with John Lennon at their Central Park West estate (if such a thing exists). In other words, if we’re trying to bring reading into the future, then bring it into the future. Reading a fiction book where the narrator describes his love of the song ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s? I want to listen to it. Or even watch the music video. Do you see what I’m getting at? If we’re going to do this, push reading to the next level and make it a new, rich and exciting experience.

And advertising. If Amazon’s new ebook has wireless capabilities, then expand that to include other options. Want to look at the brochure for xyz but don’t have the time to stop by the sales center and pick one up? Well, open your ebook tablet and download it. Reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being but want to read the Nietzsche book he mentions? Well, highlight the title or keywords and download it through Amazon in a few seamless steps.

You get the idea. There are so many untapped possibilities with the ebook, and yet we keep thinking: “Make the screen look more like real paper” (read the aforementioned NY Times article about that), or, “Just copy the text and paste it on a screen and people will read it.” No, they won’t. And most importantly, they haven’t, despite the numerous launches of ebook readers throughout the past. Isn’t the definition of insanity trying something repeatedly despite getting the same result? Now go to people!!!

Google Ad Products

September 11, 2007

I can’t give details, but I will say this: Google is going to rock the advertising boat next week (supposedly on the 17th of September).

I was in awe. It made me want to cry. It was that beautiful. I can’t wait.

Google Education Courses | New York City

September 5, 2007

Yesterday my boss received an invitation to attend search engine marketing courses from Google’s New York Agency Education Team. I’m actually fairly excited to attend (I RSVP’d for all four), but mostly because I have a ton of questions. Such as why you are not allowed to use the ” | ” symbol (the symbol I used in this entry’s title) in creative for AdWords. Or why on some of my accounts the ads with lower click-through rates are being served more. Or why… or how… and then…

You get the idea. Anyone else going to be there?