TV’s Addressable Ads

While targeting an online audience using disparate data sources has been de rigueur for many years, (I was working on this almost 7 years ago to the day at AC Nielsen.) there is a movement afoot to bringing more tight advertising targeting options to TV.

This WSJ article on bringing targeted advertising to TV has some choice quotes.

“Most of the work that has been in online advertising over the past 20 years has really been preparation for the big screen,” he says, referring to TV. “That’s where the money is.” Dave Morgan Simulmedia.

Seeing the still small online budgets out there, makes me tend to agree in broad strokes with Mr. Morgan’s comment above. The online advertising audience is ever growing, but the granularity of audience that can be bought tends to make specific audiences smaller. Big brands still crave the real reach that TV offers.

Ms. Tracey Scheppach of Publicis, “Adapt quickly, or go the way of other media whose business has been eaten by the Internet, like newspapers. “We have to shape our future before it shapes us,” she said, predicting that, within six years, technology could be in place to allow all TV ads to be targeted.

“This could be marketing nirvana, or fraught with potential peril,” says Tim Hanlon, chief executive of Velociter, the investment arm of Mediabrands, a unit of Interpublic Group.

To Mr. Hanlon’s point, there is additional regulations in place with data use as it applies to TV. I think that to skirt regulations and to make use of targeting options that are self regulated, that targeting methods may be one of the reasons that we will see more online (internet) and offline (TV) convergence.


Walmart the New Arbiter of Regulation?

Ad Age states here that Walmart is the new regulator. Odd to think that a retailer has enough power that it can move markets in such a way. Many times when I think of Walmart, I think about control over pricing. I guess some of the business school HBS case studies left their mark.

“Andrea Thomas, senior VP-sustainability for Walmart, the flagship U.S. retailer of the Walmart Stores, which also includes Sam’s Clubs and numerous chains overseas, said it’s really consumers setting the agenda, not the retailer. “Our customer is becoming much more articulate about needs in this space,” she said. “The best way to do it is to work together as an industry.”

This is one way that self regulation could work, as the 800 pound gorilla can make demands and push directives that if suppliers want shelf space, then they need to play by the rules.

On the surface that seems tough, but then again, with Government regulation and related politics, this method could drive much quicker results.

Customer Service?

I was reading a couple of tweets the other day on my Linked In feed and one that caught my eye was, “With a great product, you don’t need great service.”

My jaw dropped in horror. Below please find the comments. I have removed the identities of commenters, since I pulled a copy and paste without permission.

You don’t need great service if you have a great product via Twitter
1 day ago
  • But a great product with great service assures loyal customers 1 day ago
  • Sounds like AT&T + Apple. 1 day ago
  • My take is that, from startup budget perspective, great product is relatively easier goal than great service. To that end, adding product features that reduce needs for service and support is top priority IMO. 23 hours ago
  • 1% of your customer base can take 200% of your profits away through tech support costs if they just don’t understand what to do and they keep your tech reps on the phone too long or by repeated calls. Ease to use interfaces and simplified documentation help reduce that amount. And most importantly, Quality is best known by its abesence, so don’t under-resource Quality Assurance because it is actually part of the product and not just a cost center.

I can’t believe that this is even debatable at this juncture. I have worked with at least two firms that had great service and a great product. Sales and customer retention hummed. After acquisitions occurred, Account Management and related services took a back seat to other initiatives dictated by the acquiring companies. Guess what, word got around that service was suffering, competitors grabbed clients at the end of their contracts and also made it difficult in the pre sales and sales process as well.

Having exemplary service is a given. Zappos is always held up as the gold standard in the area. They definitely don’t compete on price, they are able to charge more due in large fact to their service and return policy.

Netflix is a firm that I would like to add to the gold standard category. My wife and I decided to subscribe over the Holidays, based on both the convenience as well as the low price. I figured that there would be little service at the $9.00 per month price point.

Yesterday, I received the Netflix mailer shown above. There was only the torn front flap, not the rest of the envelope (or the Social Network DVD!)

A simple email was sent to NF to which they replied to the effect of “So Sorry, sometimes things get lost in the mail.” A replacement DVD is in the mail.

No blame game, no penalties- just service and another happy customer spreading the good vibes.

I am not saying that the customer is always right, but don’t be short sighted about service, as a competitor can spring up and capture your customer base. In this case Amazon Prime…

My Facebook Friends Are Missing Me

I have been neglecting my friends according to these roughly monthly emails that I receive from Facebook, such as the one below.

Hi Rich,
You haven’t been back to Facebook recently. You have received notifications while you were gone.
The Facebook Team

After I logged into FB today after a many months absence, I received the following message:

Hi Rich,
Welcome back to Facebook! Let your friends know what you’ve been up to.
Share Favorite Photos
Take any good ones lately?
Write on a Friend’s Wall
Say hi to Christopher, Carrie and others.
Find more of your friends using the automatic Friend Finder.
The Facebook Team

´╗┐While I appreciate the friendly email reminders, I was actually running an informal test. I wanted to see how much I would miss Facebook. To be honest, FB was always more of a fun activity for me, but I have been busy with work, travel and real life, so I really didn’t miss it that much.

(I have been using LinkedIn much more in the past year. I definitely feel that the benefits of LinkedIn far outweigh any effort required to make it useful- adding contacts, sending LinkedIn requests, etc.)

The fact that I got the “Welcome Back” email almost instantaneously says volumes about how Facebook is managing their site. As I discussed with @dpbtwo earlier today, the most interesting thing about Facebook is the data that they are collecting. As they add features and functionality to their platform, FB is becoming even more powerful.

I am starting to believe some of the hype out there regarding FB being a larger threat to Google. It will be very interesting to see how FB effects some of the other apps out there- like LBS, mobile, etc.


I am going to start updating this as time allows. Life gets in the way.

Book Review – Googled The End of The World as We Know It- By Ken Auletta

The title of this book is a bit over the top, but I feel its’ point is pretty right on. Things have changed drastically for people due to the past ten years of Google. Personally, if I can’t remember something specific in a discussion with a colleague, I jump to the GOOG for the answer.

This book explores the lifespan of Google from the beginning, and breaks the time line into chapters that roughly follow years.

One of the main points that Auletta makes is that Page and Brin want to solve all issues by consulting the data. This has been obviously extremely successful for them overall. This has also lead to some serious issues as they have morphed into a self proclaimed media company. Some areas here would be the miscalculation of publisher response to Google Books and the more recent failure of Google Wave.

As Google makes its’ way to the ranks of a large company, the book makes it clear that they want to avoid becoming the next Microsoft- becoming much less nimble and tangled in bureaucracy. Senior executive exits like Tim Armstrong and Sheryl Sandberg could also be a sign that things are moving in that direction.

There were some areas that made it seem as if Googled was written by an industry outsider-while I think that is good on some level, this certainly does not come across as a Google love letter- it does make a case for a strong editor. An example here would be referring to DoubleClick as an agency. There were also a number of typos and number inaccuracies.

Overall, I found this to be a great way to get up to speed with Google as a force. Many of the historical references, I had already heard or remembered, but this book does a wonderful job of assembling all of this into a single place.

Book Review: You Are Not a Gadget by Jeron Lanier

Jeron Lanier is a person most associated with Virtual Reality going way back to Palo Alto in the 1980s.

I read this book on a recommendation from a friend, but as we started to speak about the book, I recalled that Mr. Lanier was featured in Wired many moons ago, when I was starting out online.

The book is a quick read, but the subject matter is deep, so I found myself on the train, pausing to absorb what I had just read while pondering implications. I think that Gadget really fills that need, reading it triggered a need for thought an introspection that Lanier’s commentary suggested may be moving away from mainstream thought with the constant twitterfeed and status update culture that is quickly moving to the fore.

One of the concepts that he writes about is the concept of having friends. He says that society is conforming friendship to that of a templated software program instead of the other way around. Web 2.0 “promotes radical freedom on the surface of the web, but that freedom, ironically is more for machines than people.”

By that I took to mean that people are rearranging how they think about relationships based on their familiar online haunts like Facebook. There are a certain number of options for relationship status for example and that forces people to make a canned choice.

Because of the adoption of Web 2.0 principles, Lanier says that the web is a more boring place as much discourse, blogs, discussion boards, etc all have a similar layout and feel, the revolution is no longer revolutionary.

I thought the below quote was interesting coming from a senior technologist. It is the opposite of what your immediate reaction would be.

“Software development doesn’t necessarily speed up in sync with improvements in hardware. It often instead slows down as computers get bigger and because there are more opportunities for errors in bigger programs. Development becomes slower and more conservative when there is more at stake, and that is what is happening.”

I could see this in Apple’s old software. It was getting too rigged together, so that they had to find a way to start over. This necessitated the switch to OSX. At first people really bitched about it but after time APPL was proven right. Windows on the other hand, I think is still suffering from this problem. The machines may be fine, but the software is extremely buggy, perhaps to support some of the legacy code. (NB, I used to work @ MSFT and I have not used Windows 7).

“For instance, the user interface to search engines is still based on the command line interface, with which the user must construct logical phrases using symbols such as dashes and quotes. That’s how personal computers used to be, but it took less than a decade to get from Apple II to the Macintosh. By contrast, it’s been well over a decade since network-based search services appeared, and they are still trapped in the command line era. At this rate, by 2020, we can expect software development to have slowed to a near stasis, like a clock approaching a black hole.”

Wow, I hope the future for tech advancement is not as bleak as described above, but I can see his point.

This is an excellent book to get your brain firing. As I stated above, there are plenty of times that you read a paragraph and then need a minute to absorb it all. From my perspective this is a great recommendation for a reason to read this book.