Category Archives: Technology

ESPN Will Lead Live TV into the Next Decade

It’s a bold statement in the title, but I believe that the only traditional television programming to exist in the future are based around live events.  Unless Ticketmaster/Livenation create a live concert channel which I would assume is not out of the realm of possibilities, I think ESPN and it’s associated brothers/sister channels will lead television into the next decade.

It’s just not fun to watch a time shifted sporting event.

Read this article in the Sports Business Journal about ESPN entitled, Industry Wonders Who Will Challenge ESPN?

Another great addition to live television is the use of social media and technology to enhance the experience.  Yes, you can use Hot Potato during an episode of The Hills, but watching a sporting event with updates via tweets/etc is much more enjoyable.  We’ve not even scratched the surface with what is avaialble here, but it’s an area I’m interested in and I’m sure we’ll see lots in the next two years.

In a recent article in Advertising Age, entitled Live TV is Alive as Ever, Boosted by Social Media, author Andrew Hampp talks about the undeniable link between social media buzz and TV ratings.

With a programming schedule dominated by live events, ESPN is in a nice position to win the television war into the next decade.

Note:  the TV war won’t just be on your beautiful 60″ LCD in your living room – it’ll be on multiple screens, including your mobile devices.

Super Bowl Conversation Data – Social Media Style

@kevinweil, a member of the analytics team at Twitter updated the corporate blog with a post entitled Super Data.  If you are a data/football nut, go check it out.

For those who do not want to click over to his post, it basically overlays tweets about the game (football related) to tweets about the commercials (ad related).   What the data illustrates is that there was a significant (at least 4x) volume difference between posts about the game than posts about the commercials.  More people were tweeting about Peyton’s interception, 4th and Goal stance by the Saints, and the Colts Touchdown amongst others.

After gazing at the chart, I also derived the following:   after the first hour of the game, the tweets about commercials lessened, even though the majority of commercials hadn’t aired.  If Google wasn’t in the back half of the game, it would have been “relatively” quiet.    There were the obvious spikes about the brands during commercial pods, but there was very little chatter after the commercial pods aired.  Additionally, after half time, the volume of game related conversation far outweighed commercial conversation.  Does this mean that the commercials weren’t that interesting?  Maybe.  Does this mean that since the game was close in score, people were more likely to talk about the actual game?  Maybe.

To paraphrase Kevin, The first @DoritosUSA ad at marker C caused the largest per-minute volume of commercial-related tweets — for the minute following the ad, related tweets were 19% of all tweets we saw, eclipsing even the chatter around the Super Bowl itself for a brief period.

Let me reiterate:  19% of all tweets Twitter saw for the minute following the ad were about @doritosusa.   Considering Doritos strategy was to crowdsource the commercial through social media, I’d imagine that this commercial hit the KPIs established by the agency/brand.

Question:  Could the amplification power of social media/communications platforms surpass the reach of the largest  US media event- the Super Bowl?  Oh wait, it did… and the Super Bowl could command $3MM/commercial?   Hmmm…

Learnings:  As a brand, if you want people to talk about you thru platforms like Twitter, be early in the program/event.

Don’t be a stranger and comment in the comments section… and come say hello on Twitter (@dherman76)

1990s vs. 2010s in Marketing Technology

To preface, this post was inspired by a conversation I was having with Greg Hills, a colleague of mine at Varick Media Management.

When looking at the impact that the web/Internet had on advertising, I think that one could easily argue that from the 90s through today, technological innovation led where marketing/advertising dollars would follow.   Let me rephrase this more simply:  the geeks determined where advertisements would show up as they were the ones building the websites.   A byproduct of this has been the types of ad units and opportunities available to marketers and their respective agencies.  Love them or hate them, technologists paved the path for marketers.

I think there is a major shift happening and fortunately, I’ve had a seat at the table.  Marketers and their agencies are getting more involved in technologies both at an infrastructure and placement level and are influencing the future of digital marketing greater than ever before.

There are two examples of this:

  • DBO (dynamic media buying optimization) as written in a recent report by Forrester that I’ve made available for anyone to download here as a PDF
  • P&G Productions (PGP) as a production company owned by guess, P&G, and their creation of digital properties following their similar model to their TV show offerings of years back.  This isn’t new, but we’ve been seeing an increase in the volume of these types of opportunities.  If interested, follow my friend Dave Knox on Twitter.

The area that I’ve spent the past 2 years exploring is the former – DBO – as I believe that the current buying landscape is changing and as more media becomes digital (television, print, radio, OOH), dynamic media buying infrastructure, training, and execution is going to be extremely important for agencies and brands to understand and harness.

So, the next decade or two will be about how agencies and marketers are applying themselves closer to the technologies and while it (tech) may not all be built internally, the marketers/agencies will have a seat at the table.

The net result of all of this is going to be change and with change, there is significant push back, screaming, and fallout.  Agencies are going to have to change their approaches and marketers are going to have to understand the implications of this for their businesses.  It’s not going to be easy nor fast, but it’s definitely on its way.

I’m personally fascinated by the shift that’s happening and look forward to continuing the conversation.

Thinking About Content Consumption

I’ve been thinking a lot about content consumption lately.  The main reason for this is because for me, it’s broken.  Sub-optimal.   There is no way I can keep up with everything that is actively passed my way and passively written that I may want to consume.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Not enough time in the day (which one can argue comes down to prioritization)
  • Content overload – at some point, my brain switches OFF, usually around 7/8pm after a 12 hour day
  • Filtering of content is weak.  Lots of people trying to solve this however
  • Access to content at the *right* time

The first RSS reader I used (and paid) was Newsgator, back in 2005.  I used Newsgator for a while and then switched over to Google Reader for a specific reason – though don’t remember precisely what it was.  I loved Google Reader for a while, but the issue I had with RSS readers was that if I did not check them for a period of time, I almost felt inundated with information and I would just reset all the feeds (mark as read) and start from scratch… though losing out on all of that particular content.  Needless to say, I’ve not used my RSS reader in the past 8 months or so.

I’ve recently been using My6Sense for my iPhone and happen to like what they are doing.  They are using something that they call Digital Intuition (their secret sauce filtering wizbang) to filter out articles that they think I may not like and it’s working so far.

Being that I have seeded a recent company within the content consumption space, I’d like to share you with a few thoughts which I hope you riff/expand/debate:

  • Screen Space (i.e. your laptop screen, netbook screen, iPhone, etc) is not used optimally.  Why should 1 application dominate the entire screen.  There are times when this is needed (i.e. spreadsheets, etc) but imagine dedicating a portion of your screen to “content”
  • Content consumption can be done two ways:  passively & actively.    Many people are trying to solve content consumption through active means but there is certainly opportunity around passive consumption.  It’s not OR, but rather, “AND.”  I think the killer content consumption application is passive AND active.
  • Filtering content is not easy.  Active filtering such as Pandora, passive filtering such as Amazon has not been perfected though many users expect this.
  • The reason for content consumption is not always logical or rationale, which throws off an intelligence engine/filtering product.   Some of the solid methods account for this, but you would be surprised how many do not.

An interesting company to watch in the space that just emerged is SocialVisor.  They released a ticker-like service (not dissimilar interface to what I just seeded) that is a dumbed down Tweetdeck.  Nicely done.

I continue to think there is room to aid for consumption.

  • There are 27MM tweets per day, 126MM blogs, 234MM websites and 350MM people on Facebook.  No shortage of content being created. (stats here)
  • There is over $500bln dollars worth of marketcap chasing the content indexing game.
  • Who is chasing content consumption?  (me!)

My Twitter Tipping Point

One of my tweets today was:

TweetI got a few immediate responses from @adventurista, @jbguru, and @mediahorizons asking me what the tipping point was.  My tipping point was when I started exploring the apps ecosystem surrounding Twitter to fully understand what a platform is, and thought I’d use this post as a way that I’ve navigated the waters.

I joined twitter 1026 days ago (March 19, 2007) which was during SXSW 2007.  My first tweet is below:

My first tweet

I did not really know what Twitter really was- other than a way for the TechCrunch crowd to communicate back and forth with each other and in some ways, use it as an ego machine.   @HowardLindzon always put smiles on my face with his obnoxious and ridiculous tweets and in stark contrast to Howard, @andrewparker was sharing IMHO very interesting insight and links.    Twitter became a firehose of content, so controlling who I was following was critical.

Fast forward to today, I am following around 195 people.  While I probably would follow more than 195 people, the firehose of content becomes so great that there is no way I can keep up with everyone.   Only today are the tools being built to help filter and manage the billions of tweets.

I very rarely use Twitter.com as the source of where I write my tweets.   Only 1 in my last 20 tweets (5%) were written at Twitter but the majority are written from a communications platform such as TweetDeck, Seesmic, and mobile versions of TweetDeck and Tweetie.  The reason why I use these communications platforms are because they help me quickly navigate the content by directing me to all of my friends content, direct messages, and mentions and recently, I setup ways to keep tracking of certain keywords to see what people are saying.  It’s a very simple social monitoring tool.  A few keywords I’m tracking today are KBS+P, Cliqset and Snackr through programs like TweetDeck and Squawk.

As I deepen my experience with Twitter, the more I understand the ecosystem and how multi-dimensional it has become.

I have not seen statistics as to how many people are using these communications platforms but being that TweetDeck is being mentioned at BestBuy for an Interscope promotion, I can imagine that there have been quite a few downloads.

To fully understand Twitter as a platform, you need to dig deeper into the developer movement.  I’ve been spending some time with some developers recently and want to highlight one or two which have really helped me understand the capabilities.

Meet wow.ly – Kevin Marshall, a.k.a. Falicon

Kevin has been building a few apps around Twitter under the wow.ly name with partner Whitney McNamara.   Think of wow.ly as a collection of apps which utilize the manipulation of twitter and other content (accessed thru an API) to provide value to its users.  wow.ly has started with Twitter because it’s the most easily accessible and has scale.

ConversationaList is an application that is a Twitter list of the people that you talk to (and about) on Twitter. The list is automatically updated daily, so that it always reflects the people that you are paying attention to right now. If you @reply (or @mention) someone, they’re added to your list. If you stop talking to that person, they drop off your list.

This provides lots of value as it helps me navigate my personal firehose and allows me to find very relevant information.

Another app they have built out is Hivemind.

Hivemind shows you who you’re missing on Twitter. Give hivemind up to five Twitter users that interest you, and it will report back on who those people as a group are all following that you aren’t.

If you respect a few folks and want to find out who they are all following that you are not?  This is a great way to add folks to your following list.   You are using people as “curators.”

So the above two examples are from wow.ly which tend to use people’s following/followers lists as proxies to analyze data from, but there are other people building some other projects.

Unmasking Masked Links

Check out TweetMeme.   If you are familiar with Digg, then you’ll quickly understand TweetMeme.  Their tagline is “check out the top links on Twitter.”  They break down the links by a few different categories as well, so navigation through these links become easier.  This is a nice compliment to TechMeme and worth a check every so often.

A project that I came across is called Bitme.me, a name I don’t understand but useful nonetheless.  I had this idea as well, but Dan Lewis actually took the steps to build this site.  Bitme pulls the most clicked links across Bit.ly (though not all links are on Twitter) confined to a curated list of sites.

Example:  For BitMe’s Technology section, he is pulling the top clicked bit.ly links from Mashable, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, and a few other sites.  Extremely helpful.

Twitter In Itself is “Dumb”

It’s not dumb in the sense that I’m not going to use it, it’s dumb in the sense that it is much more intelligent when your interface with it through the apps.  That in itself is a definition of a platform.   I believe that Twitter will ultimately succeed if remains a platform and allows developers to continue innovating through the APIs.  If Twitter starts to make acquisitions that limits the amount of companies accessing the APIs, then the pace of innovation may slow.  ReadWriteWeb had a great article about Twitter’s API rate change that could lead to significant innovation and I’m all for it.

As mentioned, my tipping point was when I started exploring the apps ecosystem surrounding Twitter.  This tipping point is the true understanding of what a platform really is.  If you are inspired and want to learn more, check out John Borthwick‘s Charting the Real Time Web.  If the ecosystem of the real time web is inspiring to you, check out Betawork’s network of companies to see how the space is playing out.

From me, I’ve made a recent investment in this space (company not listed in this post) that should surface in February/March 2010.   I’ve been inspired by streams of content and believe there are simple ways to consume content that can be leveraged by the masses.  Look out for more posts like this one, and yes, I’ll be tweeting about it too.  You can follow me on twitter here.

2010 Predictions & Trends "Cloud"

I aggregated 25+ trends & predictions for 2010 centered around technology, media, and advertising last night (see them here) and created a “wordle” based on them.  See below.  You can obviously see that Facebook, Mobile, Google, Social, and Twitter are popular.

Some not-so-big (in terms of volume) but still important trends and predictions that appeared:  data, cloud, devices and acquisition.

Blogs/sites that I aggregated include but are not limited to Mashable, Read Write Web, Clickz, AdAge, Alley Insider, Center Networks, GigaOm, WSJ, MediaPost, CNBC, Adotas, and many, many more.

happy new year – @dherman76

Trends Cloud Large

2010 Predictions & Trends: Technology, Media & Marketing

I created an uber prediction list back in 2007 and it was a hit.  Here are some of the predictions already posted across the net re: technology, media, and marketing – three things I’m very interested in.  If I missed your post and you’d like to be listed, just leave a comment and I’ll add you.

My Friend David's New Book – Releasing on Dec 31 – Semantic Web

I met David at a dinner hosted by a MD of a hedge fund a few years back who happens to be one of the most connected digital guys.   Little did I know, I was sitting next to the guru of the early web design books of the 90s of which I had 2 of them on my shelf at home.

I maintained friendship with David beyond the dinner and have gotten coffee over the years to chat about his entrepreneurial engagements, chocolate, roller skating, candidacy to become Apple’s next CEO, and of course, children (he’s also a father of a young child).

David’s big day is tomorrow, when Portfolio Hardcover is releasing his next book entitled Pull:  The Power of the Semantic Web to Transform Your Business.  The title is a mouthful and a bit boring but if I know David, the book will certainly impress.

Per his book description:  Pull is the blueprint to the next disruptive wave. Some call it Web 3.0; others call it the semantic web. It’s a fundamental transition from pushing information to pulling, using a new way of thinking and collaborating online. Using the principles of this book, you will slash 5-20 percent off your bottom line, make your customers happier, accelerate your industry, and prepare your company for the twenty-first century. It isn’t going to be easy, and you don’t have any choice. By 2015, your company will be more agile and your processes more flexible than you ever thought possible.

For those who are interested in learning about the semantic web further, you can purchase his book on Amazon.

Other ways to learn about the semantic web:  wikipedia, w3c, semanticweb.org, avc (fred wilson), oreilly

Social Media & Optimized Display in the Same Post? Recapping 2009

Unless you live under a rock, the economic environment impacted brands and agencies this year and the whole publisher ecosystem that goes with it (media cos, ad networks, etc).  Full-year 2009 will mark only the fifth spending drop since Ad Age began ranking the 100 Leading National Advertisers in 1956.

Holding Co. Stock Chart As you can see from this chart, holding company stocks (MDCA, IPG, OMC, HAVSF, PUBGY, WPPGY) all tanked along with everyone else during late 2008 but have started to bounce back in 2009.

In the digital trenches, I witnessed an interesting divide really start to occur:  this “social media” phenomenon and hyper targeted and optimized display advertising.  If you put a social media “guru” in a room with a data and targeting company, the conversation would probably be as bad as one of my dates when I first moved to Manhattan.

Social Media
I put “social media” in quotes as I fundamentally do not believe that this exists in itself.  I believe that all media can be social and it’s not new.  Anyway – this year saw a continuation of thousands (over 15,700) of social media experts pop up on Twitter and even carve out little businesses for themselves as consultants/agencies to a few brands.  The common question in 2009 that came across my desk was “what should be my social media strategy?”    Twitter’s constant presence in the news in early 2009 and Facebook’s dominance in the social networking/graphing space has contributed to this “social media” trend.

Recently, Pepsi announced it was going to forgo its advertisement in the Super Bowl which we’ve grown accustomed to each year and put those dollars to work in a rather large social media campaign.  I applaud their efforts to generate PR, but is this sustainable for them?  Meaning, they are essentially putting the money to work in a cause marketing campaign… will this have impact?

2009 saw Dell racked up over $6.5 worth of sales directly attributable to Twitter and the almost-too-hyper/passionate Gary Vaynerchuk climb to 848k followers.

Hyper Targeting & Optimized Display
There has been a trend in the display space towards audience driven media.  If you can identify an audience based on different characteristics stored in computer cookies, why not advertise to a handful of extremely targeted users? Data facilitators/providers like BlueKai, Exelate, Domdex, TargusInfo, Media6, Lookery, Rapleaf, Peer39, LucidMedia, Quantcast, and many others became front and center this year.  Demand Side Platforms (DSP), or technologies that allow the dollar holders (typically agencies) get closer to the media (through exchanges and other sources) also became popular and a few closed significant funding rounds.  AdExchanger popped onto the scene and started covering this entire space rather comprehensively.  If you have not read their 2009 year end report, download it now.

2010 should be interesting for this industry as the government is looking into online privacy.   Because much of the targeting is done through accessing anonymous cookies, this whole industry could be hampered or shut-down depending on legislation that is passed around ad targeting.  There are a few startups, particularly the Better Advertising Project focusing on helping congress solve these issues.  Personally, this would be a big bummer as I believe that if we can offer a much more targeted advertisement to users, then their overall experience could be much better.

Recap
Any media planner or buyer on Madison Ave has put a few social elements and optimized display on a media plan in 2009.  I’m sure that this will still occur in 2010 but I’m going to hypothesize that the gap between optimized display and social media may widen and you might start to see shops specialize in one or the other (i.e. CPMAdvisors vs. Crayon).

The one thing that’s consistent is that the audience is in the center of all planning AND buying both in social and optimized display – the more we can learn about our audiences and serve highly relevant messaging to each audience segment will allow us to create better relationships.  Better relationships between users and brands, means a mutually beneficial relationship for the agency and advertiser.

If you are interested in the Optimized Display & Hyper Targeting area, I’ve put together a Twitter list of thought-leaders in this space.  You can subscribe to it here.

High Frequency Trading and Online Advertising

The advertising world is being impacted by the adoption of technology at it’s core.  I speculate that the majority of all ad impressions will be “served” by some sort of technology within the next decade.  This speculation includes print, television, radio and OOH.  We’re seeing this start to play out within the online advertising space.

I’m a believer that history repeats itself and that we can learn from correlations to similar industries.  I was reading the Technology Review this morning and came across this article on Wall Street’s high frequency traders.

Are the likes of MediaMath, Turn, Invite Media, and Dataxu on the way to becoming high frequency trading platforms?