Please read Jeff Jarvis’s latest post at BuzzMachine. Those of you who follow Jeff’s site (or Business Week…) know that Jeff parted ways with Dell over customer service issues a while back. Now he gets an aggressive email from an alleged intern at one of Dell’s marketing firms who’s been busy “researching trashy blogs that worms like you leave all over that frigen blogosphere.” Oh dear. Jeff’s final comments are essential reading:
“this is exactly the issue Dell â€” and any company â€” has in all its customer interactions in the age of customer control: The person who answers the phone â€” or now responds to a blog post â€” is acting on behalf of Dell and to the customer is
Dell, since that person is our connection to Dell. See the AOL cancellation video. Every one of your ‘customer service’ employees and every one of your ‘public relations’ employees in every encounter represents your company. That has always been the case. Only now, we can record their actions and report them to the world.”
A stark contrast to the recent PR homeruns at Symantec (ChasNote 7/14/06) and GM (CN 4/7/06 and CN 4/5/06).
A long, thoughtful post regarding the “New Media Value Chain” at the Bainbridge Blog suggests that new media distribution platforms (think You Tube or Napster) will help ad agencies find their margins again:
“So like I said, NBC and ABC aren’t competing to make the best medical drama anymore; they are competing to make and set free
the best medical drama. This is going to increase the importance of agencies as more relevant ads mean more forms of creative for the segments targeted and building brands that can enhance content can not be done in the content alone. It is also going to increase the role of technology in creating efficient markets for buying. Finally it is going to fundamentally change the relationship between advertisers/agencies, studios/content producers and the online community.“
Yesterday at Symantec’s Security Response Weblog, corporate blogger Todd Woodward offered some straight talk about viruses and the Mac OS: “Letâ€™s start with the hot-button issue of Mac OS X viruses. Simply put, at the time of writing this article, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X.”
But Todd, aren’t you corporate bloggers supposed to be selling me something, like — in your case — antivirus software??
Well, before you write off Todd’s blunder as a lost marketing opportunity, you should know that Mac cult site Daring Fireball gave props to Symantec on their frankness: “Very nice: an honest, accurate overview of the state of Mac OS X security from Symantecâ€™s Todd Woodward.” Next, someone posted a link at Digg, and 1266 “Diggs” later, Symantec landed itself atop the front page of the most powerful word-of-mouth tech site online. (Caveat: FM sells Digg’s advertising programs. A less partisan reviewer might say “one of the two
most powerful word-of-mouth sites….”)
Yeah, but, Todd, among the 80-some-odd comments attached to the post on Digg, some people said mean things about Symantec for selling antivirus products for the Mac at all!
Then again, one Digg contributor came to Symantec’s defense: “It’s also nice to have an antivirus tool on Macs to prevent spreading infected documents around.” And there must be some positive dividend paid to Symantec for having 80 people talking about the finer points of their products.
On the balance, then, Todd and Symantec: BRAVO! You’ve launched a corporate blog that’s reads like an independent blog — and you’re out of the gates with enormous street cred.
I missed this when it happened, but in her AdAge article about WPP’s joint venture with social-networking site, Live World, Abbey Klaassen refers to IPG’s recent deal with Facebook:
“The deal is part of a recent trend, coming just weeks after IPG Media announced it had purchased a 0.5% investment in Facebook and agreed to spend $10 million as part of a media buy on behalf of its clients, two separate transactions.”
I trust that “two separate transactions” means this avoids the legal questions around those round-trip investment deals AOL used to make in the late 1990s?
Wired News on Google’s — and our whole industry’s — problem with click fraud:
“Google’s $6 billion-a-year advertising business is at risk because it can’t be sure that anyone is looking at its ads. The problem is called click fraud…..
But the overarching problem is both hard to solve and important: How do you tell if there’s an actual person sitting in front of a computer screen? How do you tell that the person is paying attention, hasn’t automated his responses, and isn’t being assisted by friends? Authentication systems are big business, whether based on something you know (passwords), something you have (tokens) or something you are (biometrics). But none of those systems can secure you against someone who walks away and lets another person sit down at the keyboard, or a computer that’s infected with a Trojan…..
Standard testing doesn’t work online, because the tester can’t be sure that the test taker doesn’t have his book open, or a friend standing over his shoulder helping him. The solution in both cases is a proctor, of course, but that’s not always practical and obviates the benefits of internet testing.”
Bring back the humans! Look, I’m a big fan of technological innovation when it both creates efficiencies (higher productivity, lower costs) AND it does the job as well or better than a person could. Like Excel or email, for example. But too often we hand over the reigns to the bots because they’re way cheaper and only a little worse than the staffers who used to do the job. Think of that automated voice system (Simon?) you talk to when you call United’s reservation line: It’s pretty good when you need find your exact departure time, but it’s terrible if you’re trying to book a trip to New York with a stop-over in Denver to drop your kids with their grandparents. Advertising — especially when the goals are brand-oriented instead of transactional — isn’t ready for a fully automated system.
According to the latest McKinsey Quarterly (reg req),
“Short-term mismatches between supply and demand appear greatest for the video ads that interrupt or precede online content, such as news clips. The inability of consumers to skip these ads and their use of sound and motionâ€”proven tools for driving brand awareness among consumersâ€”make online video highly attractive to marketers. According to many of the video suppliers we interviewed, very little unsold advertising capacity remains today. Assuming that marketers don’t increase the number of ads they place in each video stream, the maximum supply of video ads is currently about $600 million a yearâ€”far less than future demand, which we expect to reach $1.4 billion to $3.2 billion in 2007.”
“Video ads that interrupt or precede online content”? Does the supply shortage go away — and the market opportunity zip past $600MM — if You Tube starts selling pre-rolls? That’s an area I want to watch. Will the ad model for online videos follow the traditional online news model (pre-rolls and in-stream spots like you see in Diggnation or CNET videos), or the ads-only-at-the-end model currently used by Rocketboom, Ze Frank and Revver?
According to the latest numbers from NNR (as published at MediaPost)
“More than 9.2 million Web users, or 6.6 percent of U.S. adult Web users, have downloaded an audio podcast in the last 30 days, compared to 6.7 million users (4.8 percent) who published blogs in that time, according to the research company. Nielsen//NetRatings also reported that around 5.6 million online adults (4 percent) have downloaded a video podcast in the last 30 days.”
Geez, those are big numbers. Back in April (ChasNote 4/7/06), I posted on Forrester analyst Charlene Li’s estimate that there are only 700,000 regular podcast users, audio and video combined. I argued that her numbers are too low — but 9,200,000 podcast listeners and 5,600,000 video podcast viewers? If we can believe it, that’s some growth!
PC Magazine, in an article syndicated to ABC News, talks about a benefit we all can expect from Firefox 2.0′s new built-in spell check feature: “The spell-checker promises to make blog and forum postings more lucid.” Not a momet too sune!!
“Broadcasters are preparing to junk the age-old metric of charging on the basis of who watches the programs and begin charging advertisers based on who watches the commercials,” according to AdAge.Â The change will affect the 2007 upfront season, perhaps the scatter markets even sooner.
The culprit?Â You guessed it.Â “Pressured by online ad models, and forced this upfront to forgo payment for viewers watching shows in playback via DVRs, broadcast networks are marching toward more consumer-focused metrics.”
LeeAnn Prescott at Hitwise compares Digg to the NY Times. The NY Times is still way bigger. But the pretty chart caught my attention because it included Slashdot too: “Digg did receive a greater share of page impressions in June than Times Select, the subscriber-only section of the NY Times, and long ago eclipsed Slashdot.”
The NY Times isn’t just bigger than Digg. It’s also much more mature:
“Digg attracts a different demographic audience than the NY Times. For the four weeks ending 7/1/06, 26% of Digg’s users were in the 18-24 age bracket, while only 9.5% of NY Times users were in that age group. NY Times skews much older, with 34% of its users in the 55+ age group. Only 10% of Digg’s users were over 55 in that time period.”
Wait a minute. Is Prescott dissing Digg, or trumpeting the arrival of this generation’s journal of record?!