You are currently browsing the archives for July, 2007.

Ballmer: Hell-bent on Selling Ads

From CNET:

“The largest software company is hosting its Financial Analysts Day at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters, where Ballmer described Microsoft’s strategy as making several big bets on emerging businesses while drawing more revenue from its mature desktop and server software franchises….. ‘We are hell-bent and determined to allocate the talent, the resources, the money, the innovation to absolutely become a powerhouse in the ad business,’ Ballmer said.”

CBS's Good News: TV Rev Down Only 4%

From AdAge:

“CBS said TV revenue fell 4% to about $2.2 billion in the period from about $42.3 billion from the year-ago quarter, when revenue fell about 1%. Meanwhile, radio revenue fell 11% to about $463.4 million from about $519.1 million, when revenue fell about 10%.”

Dang, I can’t remember the last time I told my boss revenues would be down another 4% this year (after being down 1% last year) and convincing him or her that we should all be pleased.  I guess it works if you put those numbers next to the 11% drop in radio sales!  Tough times for broadcast TV.

Boing Boing Uses Voice Post to Add the Soundtrack

In his post yesterday, “Songs for Ice Cream Trucks,” David Pescovitz at Boing Boing uses the voice post technology to play the music, literally.

Original post on voice posts.

FM's Conversational Marketing Summit, Sept 11-12

FM’s Conversational Marketing Summit is offering early-bird discounts, register here. The speaker roster is filling out, too:

Jay Adelson; CEO,
Heather Armstrong; Founder, Dooce.
Jon Armstrong; Founder, Dooce.
Paul Beck; Senior Partner, Ogilvy.
Barak Berkowitz; CEO, Six Apart.
Matt Cohler; VP Strategy, Facebook.
Laura Desmond; CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group/The Americas.
Scott Donaton; Publisher, AdAge.
Sarah Fay; President, Isobar US.
Shawn Gold; SVP Marketing & Content,
David Grubb; Worldwide Media Director; Microsoft.
Curt Hecht; EVP, Chief Digital Officer, Starcom MediaVest Group.
Carla Hendra; Co-CEO, Ogilvy North America.
Casey Jones; VP Marketing, Dell.
Patrick Keane; EVP, CMO, CBS Interactive.
David Lawee; VP Marketing, Google.
Ross Levinsohn; Former President, Fox Interactive Media.
Daina Middleton; Dir, Global Interactive Marketing , Imaging and Printing Group, HP.
Jon Miller; Former Chairman & CEO, AOL Inc.
Kent Nichols; Writer, Performer, Beatbox Giant Productions.
Greg Ott; VP, Global Marketing,
Randall Rothenberg; President & CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Suzie Reider; Head of Advertising Sales, Youtube.
Douglas Sarine; Writer, Performer, Beatbox Giant Productions.
Tina Sharkey; Chairman and Global President, BabyCenter, LLC.
Suhaila Suhimi-Waldner; East Coast Director, Digital, OMD.
Rishad Tobaccowala; CEO, Denuo.
Johnny Vulkan; Founder, Anomaly.
Jeff Weiner; EVP, Network Division, Yahoo!

Digg, Microsoft Deal Announced

Kevin Rose announced big news for Digg: They’ve signed up Microsoft to sell their banners and text-link sponsorships. (FM will keep doing what we’ve been doing — the integrated sponsorships, custom programs and conversational marketing.) From Kevin’s post:

“We’ve signed on Microsoft as our new partner to sell and serve the ads on Digg. It’s a deal similar to the one Facebook signed with Microsoft last year. This move gives us an advertising partner with a larger organization and a more scalable technology platform to keep pace with Digg’s growth. Best of all, it lets the Digg team completely focus on new feature development. Federated Media, which has been an awesome partner for the last year and a half, will continue working with Digg focusing on integrated sponsorships and custom programs like the Arc project in labs.”

Here’s Battelle’s comment at FM’s blog:

“Today our partner Digg and our new partner Microsoft announced a deal to work together on advertising across Digg’s burgeoning site. At FM, we’re proud of our partners, and particularly proud when we’ve helped prove their businesses’ value. It’s no secret that Digg is the kind of property – like Facebook – that was bound to get the attention of the Big Guys as they continue to play an ever more fascinating game of Internet chess. That’s why I’m even more pleased that FM is continuing to work with Digg and with Microsoft to further Digg’s goals.”

And here’s the official press release from Microsoft, including news that FM and Microsoft will be collaborating around conversational marketing stuff:

“Microsoft and Federated Media Publishing, Digg’s current advertising partner, plan to collaborate to bring integrated programs to Digg’s users and advertisers. ‘Federated Media has unique advertising sales assets that dovetail with our efforts, and we look forward to working with them,’ Berkowitz said. [Steve Berkowitz is Microsoft's SVP for the Online Services Group, ed.]”

Congrats, all around!

AOL Buys Tacoda for $275MM

Here’s the press release. Reuters says the deal is $275MM in cash.

Voice Posts Roll Out on Ars Technica, Searchblog

The voice post technology arrives just in time for John Battelle at Searchblog, who broke one of his typing hands last week at camp with the kids. I know what you’re thinking — I made him break his hand as part of the HP sponsorship deal, but, alas, I didn’t.  Also, Ken Fisher at Ars Technica debuts his site’s voice post series with a review of Tivo HD.

Digg Labs / Intel Sponsorship Iterates

Conversational marketing in action!

In mid May, Intel sponsored Digg’s new visualization widget, Digg ARC. Now, based on feedback from the Digg community, Digg has released a new and improved version of the ARC application (see Digg’s blog). The front door of Digg Labs has added an explanation of Intel’s involvement with ARC. Oooh, I like that!

Digg Arc V2

Voice Posts: Conversational Marketing Gets a Voice

Earlier this week, several FM sites rolled out their first “voice posts,” a new series of editorial segments served up as audio files on blog sites. HP is the sponsor of the series, meaning their logo appears under the audio file with copy that says “voice post technology sponsored by HP iPaq 510.” HP also bought banner ads on the sites. Beyond that, though, HP has no relationship to or influence over the content of the voice posts — a brilliant stroke on their part. Why? Two reasons.

HP voice post player
First, by giving blog authors a new, easy-to-use platform to talk to their readers (listeners?) about topics of their own choosing, HP stands a much better chance of creating a “voice post habit” among top independent bloggers. Mark Frauenfelder, for example, one of Boing Boing’s editors, reads an excerpt from his book, “The World’s Worst.” According to Amazon, the paperback edition is 176 pages long. If Mark gets good feedback from Boing Boing readers, he’s got a lot more book to read — in his own voice! — for voice-posting on the site. Not that HP’s logo will necessarily accompany hundreds of future voice posts on Boing Boing (their current sponsorship runs for 2 months); but presumably the HP and the iPaq brands benefit if more bloggers and more online media consumers get comfortable with voice-to-text and text-to-voice activities.

Second, not every visitor to these sites will understand what’s meant by “voice post technology sponsored by HP iPaq 510.” So David Ponce at OhGizmo used a voice post to explain to his audience exactly what HP paid for (ads on his site and the HP logo under voice posts), and what they didn’t (his editorial content). Transparency and full disclosure, never bad things, are enormously important practices for independent publishers (who tend to face greater, or at least more vocal, scrutiny than traditional publishers, see this or this) and for publishers exploring marketing that goes beyond standard ad banners. And while HP didn’t pay OhGizmo to write or “voice” a disclosure, they benefited from it: It’s impossible for an author to disclose a sponsorship relationship without naming the involved sponsor. In OhGizmo’s case, David mentions HP or iPaq five times in the voice post and another five times in the accompanying text post, both under the headline “Voice Posts On OhGizmo: An Explanation, A Disclaimer And An Example.”

Nice going, HP.

(Disclosure: FM represents OhGizmo and Boing Boing and takes a commission on advertising that runs on those sites, and I work for FM.)

Update 7/24: The voice post technology arrives just in time for John Battelle at Searchblog, who broke one of his typing hands last week at camp with the kids. I know what you’re thinking — I made him break his hand as part of the HP sponsorship deal, but, alas, I didn’t. Also, Ken Fisher at Ars Technica debuts his site’s voice post series with a review of Tivo HD.

Update 7/31: Boing Boing uses voice posts to add the soundtrack to their site.

Update 8/14: As voice posts add to content, readers demand access. Here’s what the editors at Boing Boing are doing about it, according to David Pescovitz.

BB Audio from Guatemala

Update 8/31: HP marketing staffer and blogger Tac Anderson asks the question, Is This Really Advertising?, to which he replies:

“Technically yes. The better answer is that this is the way new media advertising *should* be done. It leverages ad dollars to bring additional value to a community that is not interruptive. I don’t know who on the HP side came up with this but I think it’s great.”

Update 9/15: Here’s a handful of comments from readers of Battelle’s Searchblog.
SB LogoSearchblog comments

Corporations Still Control Marketing Conversation, But Less Now Than Before

Nick Carr’s recent column for Guardian Unlimited is called, “How corporations still control the marketing conversation.”

I like the implied admission that these conversations — what we used to call publications — are controlled at some level by the corporations who pay the bills through advertising. (Excluding, of course, Ms Magazine and Consumer Reports.) Hey, admitting the problem is a great place to start! He even turns the mirror on his own sector of the media business:

“Even in traditional media, the line dividing marketing and editorial content has long been a blurry one. Many newspapers and magazines publish in their pages advertorials written by companies, even though they know that many readers don’t distinguish the paid content from the articles written by journalists.”

But, ironically, he concludes with this:

“It has long been assumed that the internet, by democratising media, would level the playing field, shifting power away from corporations and to individuals. A lone person, using a computer and a web connection, could broadcast his opinion about a company or a product to the entire world. There’s truth in that, but it’s not the whole truth. As the line between media and marketing blurs further, corporations are finding that the web may give them more power to influence what people see and do. In the end, conversational marketing is more about marketing than about conversation.”

When the NY Times let ATT wallpaper the print pages of the business section in January 2007, horrified readers didn’t have an easy channel to voice their feedback. Or when it has launched new sections of the newspaper — such as Automobiles or Small Business — not because there was suddenly more news about those topics, but because advertisers would pay the Times more if they wrote more stories on those topics, there was no forum for public discussion. When the Wall Street Journal promoted Dell advertorial videos as video news coverage (with another tech vendor’s commercials running before and after the advertorial, to make the ruse complete!) the traditional journalists at the Journal and its competitors looked the other way. When CNET, ZDNet, PC Magazine, CNN, Fortune, or Car and Driver have lent their voices, words, logos and names to advertisers for use in ad creative — it’s something we consumers just have to deal with, quietly.

When websites — especially the new generation of “conversational” sites that , oh my!, make it easy for their readers to express themselves right there in the publications (attached to the story itself, not on page 28 where “letters to the editor” are hidden) — explore more relevant approaches to advertising, they DO open themselves up for criticism, actively. They invite it, in fact, because they recognize their survival depends on listening to reader feedback and improving from it. Conversational media and conversational marketing certainly “level the playing field” and “shift the power away from corporations” more than old school media and marketing ever has. It ain’t perfect yet, but it’s a move in the right direction.