You are currently browsing the archives for October, 2010.

Roger Sterling's New Book: Sterling's Gold

Sterling's Gold Jacket Art

Now available for pre-order at Amazon. Hey, if it’s written by the same people who market Mad Men, it will be filled with brilliance. I especially love that it’s published by Grove Press, my long-ago employer.

(Thanks for the tip, Rolf!)

Mazda's Big FourSquare Give-Away

Mazda's Special FourSquare Badges

Mazda teamed up with FM and FourSquare to create special badges for geo-location check-in-ers who visit certain types of establishments that Mazda wants associated with its kind of drivers — live music venues, hipster boutiques, fashion events, stylish watering holes, and in-person videogame competitions. One select winner will become mayor (for life) of his or her very own 2011 Mazda 2 subcompact hatchback.

From FM’s blog:

“The Mazda team worked with FM and foursquare to find an alternative approach to reaching young urbanites and connect with them at music, social media and group events. Followers of MazdaUSA’s foursquare, Twitter and Facebook channels will also see special location announcements for places where they can unlock the Inner Driver badge and instantly advance through the other steps.”

Generally I like this idea a lot. It’s a big, national brand connecting with customers at a very local level, and connecting with them around activities — going to fun places and telling friends where to find them by way of FourSquare — that tech-savvy young people are doing with or without Mazda’s contest. So much smarter than the many sponsored contest that try to lure consumers into forced, unnatural behavior in exchange for expensive prizes.

Next time, though, I’d love to see if Mazda can pull it off without the giving away a free car. I mean it’s generous of them to pony up a $14,000 reward, and I’m sure the winner will be thrilled. But in some ways the pricey give-away might distract Mazda (and its fans) from the bigger idea. It’s not about the car or who wins it in early December. It’s about Mazda showing the cool kids that it understands what fun looks like to their generation.

The magic of FourSquare is the game itself: They don’t need to send you an actual gold crown for checking in to your favorite spot, it’s enough to see the digital one that tells you you’re mayor.

Great start, Mazda. Now find away to keep the fun alive for everyone who doesn’t win a car.

(Disclosures: I was part of the founding team at Federated Media and continue to root for its success. I’m also the mayor of Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack.)

Changes on the Work Front

In a few weeks, I’ll be joining the team at Pixazza as Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Publisher Development.

Which means I’m changing my role at Digg. While I’m handing off daily management responsibilities, I’ll stay on as a strategic advisor to Digg. In that capacity, I’ll be helping with Digg’s ad platform strategy.

Helping online content-creators make money lights a fire in me. Almost 6 years ago, John Battelle came to me with an idea that became Federated Media. We created a company that enables blog publishers to fund important stories and break news from outside the Big Media club.

Digg Logo

One of FM’s first major sites was Digg. As Digg’s Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer in 2009 and 2010, I worked on a platform that is now poised to enable news sites to better monetize original stories.

Pixazza Infocard

When I started talking to Bob Lisbonne and Jim Everingham at Pixazza, I heard something that reminded me of my favorite parts of FM and Digg — evidence of an innovative model to sustain great digital content. Hundreds of thousands of websites are attracting audiences to photographs. But it’s hard for contextual ad-serving technologies to identify what’s inside an image. So advertisers haven’t spent big dollars against image content, and photo-heavy publishers, like bloggers in 2004 and 2005, struggle as a result. Pixazza’s got technology that takes on that problem. In my new role at Pixazza, my ultimate goal is to serve audiences by unlocking photo content as a revenue-driver, which helps both advertisers and publishers move their businesses forward.

Why TV Networks Are Blocking Google TV

Google TV

From Ad Age:

“The networks aren’t blocking Google TV because it’s Google. They are blocking Google TV because it is putting a web TV show, with web TV show economics, on a TV, which would be incredibly disruptive to their business. The reason the networks are blocking Google TV and Boxee (and Hulu is still PC-only) is about ad revenue: they don’t get enough of it from the web. And letting you watch ‘Glee’ on your TV, but via the web and Google TV, means substituting high broadcast revenue for lower digital revenue.”

Chart: 2011 Online Ad Spend Forecasts

2011 Online Ad Spend Forecasts

US-based online advertisers spent $12.1 billion in the first half of 2010, up 11% over the same period in 2009. PaidContent rounds up the 2011 forecasts, and they’re all showing a rosy year ahead.

Save Time and Money With Multiproduct Commercials [Spoof]

The Multiproduct Commercial from Therefore Productions on Vimeo.

(Thanks, Nicole!)

School Lockers As Billboards

Ads Wrapped Around School Lockers

Several members of the ChasNote editorial board (myself included) are up in arms about this one: School districts in the Minneapolis area are supplementing their budgets by selling ads wrapped around students’ lockers.

Come on, America, let’s fund our public schools. This is embarrassing.

Diggable 300×250 Ads on Digg

Diggable 300x250 unit

Today Digg launched new functionality that gives readers the ability to share their favorite banner ads with friends across the Digg community — as well as bury the ones they don’t like. From the Digg blog:

“We launched ‘Digg Ads’ over a year ago — these advertisements are content-based and allow the Digg community to Digg or hide (buries will be back very soon) the advertisement just as they would any other story item on the site.

“One change we’re making is that we’re going to try out Digg and hide buttons on some of the display ads across the site. Usually you’ll see these display ads in the upper right corner of the site.

“When you Digg any ad (display or story-format), the story attached converts to a regular Digg story. That news story is just like any other — you can Digg, hide, or write a comment.”

Wonderbra 3D Billboards

Wonderbra 3D billboard UK

3D effects in advertising generally strike me as silly gimmicks, such as ING’s billboards in Milan that feature a real live human attached to them. What does a human being glued to the side of a bus have to do with ING financial services?

Well, I guess even for Wonderbra it’s still mostly a gimmick. They can’t think commuters will actually start wearing 3D glasses just so they can better enjoy a particular billboard. But at least, in Wonderbra’s case, 3D brings together the medium and the message.

More at Joe La Pompe, including Wonderbra’s first 3D billboard, from 1997.

Facebook Execs Fear Google Will Prioritize Google Social Pages

It’s rare that I read a newspaper article to the very end. I was rewarded for the effort this morning, though, by Claire Cain Miller’s piece on Google’s attempts to battle Facebook in the social networking arena, Determined to Crack the Social Code. The most interesting line is the last one:

“Larry Yu, a Facebook spokesman, said his company expected competitors large and small to emerge but was focused on building a valuable service. Privately, though, Facebook executives have said that their biggest worry is that Google will prioritize a Google profile page over a Facebook page in search results.”

Last week I noticed that Google prioritizes an old version of this blog that’s hosted on Google’s Blogger platform over the one you’re reading. I haven’t published new content to the Blogger version in four years, and it has significantly fewer inbound links from other sites, so to a layman it’s hard to understand why would rank higher than It’s possible that Google just knows how to optimize for PageRank better than anyone on the outside.

It’s also possible that all Blogger sites rank highly in search because, collectively, lots of other sites point to individual blogs on across the Blogger domain ( But that doesn’t totally add up. If I searched for news about some tech company, Google generally recommends more recent, relevant sites ahead of bigger, higher-PageRank sites that don’t have recent content.

Meanwhile it’s totally reasonable to expect a giant public company to do all within its power to ward off competitors. (Y’know, such as Facebook or ChasNote.) But if, in fact, Google does allow editorial judgment into its PageRank logic — especially when it comes to ranking high-profile sites like Facebook — how will they explain it to the millions of people that love Google precisely because it’s a service where math, not people, determines relevance?