Tag Archives: digital media

Some Good Reading for This Week

Been a super busy couple of weeks but wanted to highlight some posts/articles that have been getting my attention as of late:

The Internet of Things by Benedict Evans.  This man is smart and gets me thinking.  Great post.  Fred Wilson posts a follow-up this morning.

The NYC b2b list via Bowery Capital.  A major plus since the list has been open-sourced.

Economics of a Small VC by Charlie O’donnell.  Great recap of how a small VC operates and is a great primer for entrepreneurs to understand how that side of the ecosystem operates.

Who Will Fight for your Digital Rights?  by Andrew Parker.  Short but sweet post making you think about who will stand up for your rights/identity online.  Very Mozilla.

#codecon  Sorta upset (at myself) that I forgot to get a ticket and book my travel.  This conference flew under my radar.  Looking forward to attending next year.

Zero to One.  Blake sent me an advanced copy of his new book with Peter Thiel.  Excited to read it.

Fubnub.  Excited to check out this new project by uberhacker Kevin Marshall.  Should be a better way to take notes.  Also, Amol has a new co that’s focused on note-taking (which pushes email’s boundaries) as well called Knotable.  Check that out.

Any good posts I’ve missed?

2014 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational

Ten years ago I setup a golf game for founders of technology companies in New York.  We played at a semi-public course in Westchester County.  There were four of us.  The next year, we each invited another founder; there were eight of us.  And since, it’s grown.  Founders and executives of digital media startups, venture capitalists, marketers, agencies, all coming together to network + play golf.   No agenda, no nothing.  Just good times.   As seen in WSJ, Business Insider, Betabeat, and more.

I call this event the Silicon Alley Golf Invitational.  And it’s back for 2014.  Our ten year anniversary.  June 9 in Westchester County, NY.

If you are interested in playing, sponsoring, or inquiring for press, please use this form.

For those who have played in the past, you’ll receive a formal invitation over the next 3 weeks as we get together the sponsors and logistics.   For those who have never played in the tournament before, please inquire at the link above (or here).

A huge shoutout to previous sponsors Slyce, Spongecell, Buzzfeed, 33 Across, MediaOcean, PulsePoint, Varick Media Management, MDC Partners, kbs+, and Solve Media.

Time to dust those clubs off and hit the driving range!

 

10 Things You Should Do If You Are In Digital Media

Top 10 lists are all the rage.  Buzzfeed, Business Insider, and other sites use lists to attract audiences and provide some good snacking material.

I wrote this top 10 list for our agency.  Ten things you should be considering as a chef (what we call our strategists) of The Media Kitchen, when working in digital media.

These are in no particular order:

1.  Understand the impact of programmatic buying on the digital media industry.  A good way to start to understand where this is all going is to research Overture and GoTo and understand how Paid Search evolved.  A great resource is AdExchanger.  Programmatic buying isn’t just for remnant inventory.  I see a world where an entire media plan of all tiers of inventory are potentially bought programmatically across most major media channels.

2.   Analytics.  If you want to succeed in planning for digital media, don’t just think about it as purely a “paid media” channel.  You should immediately become familiar with Web Analytics which also covers much of Mobile Analytics.  A great primer is here.  Clients hire us to drive results and much of the results occur off of our creative assets: in our clients stores and their sites.  We must understand how to track all of this.

3.  Serving & Tracking.  In digital, we serve media and we track it using a 3rd party ad server.   Because of this, we can justify our spending and it’s how we’ve grown to a multi-tens of billions of dollars industry.  For us at The Media Kitchen, we use DART or MediaMind.  You should become fluent on how these systems work as they are fairly robust in their offerings.

4.  Content is Marketing and Marketing is Content.  We’ve grown up in digital with 300X250 ad units and 160X600 but increasingly so, digital marketing is not a banner and is more of a content unit.  We must understand how to deploy content units and measure the effectiveness of these new units.  This is sometimes called Native Advertising depending on the context of how it’s being used.  A good person to follow here is Jon Steinberg who provides lots of stats and examples of content marketing as he runs Buzzfeed.

5.  Mobile.  It goes without saying but the mobile device is increasingly prevalent.  Tablets and phones are everywhere and we must understand the opportunities and limitations of what we can and cannot do.  The secret ingredient to these devices are the “location” factor -> understanding location can have a profound impact for targeting.

6.  Cookies.  The FTC and government has come down hard on 3rd party cookies.  Keep your eyes out for articles about this subject as we’ll have to respond and react quickly to any legislation that occurs.  As an agency, we watch this closely and participate in many of the industry workgroups, but you should be aware of this in case your clients as you any questions.

7.  Early stage innovation.  If you are looking for cutting edge, you should check out early stage companies, also known as startups.  You can start here.  Working with startups is not easy as they aren’t at the same scale as most major technology companies but a successful campaign with a startup marketing technology could reap huge benefits for the client and the agency.  Our go-to-market at TMK is to harness innovation so you should not be a stranger at all to this world.  I do not want to be part of an agency that Steve Cheney talks about here.

8.  Read.  If there’s one thing that the digital media world is not, it’s shy.  Everyone likes to write.  MediaPost, AdAge, AdWeek, TechCrunch, Mashable, Digiday, Fred Wilson, Bijan Sabet, Charlie O’Donnell, Paul Graham, Albert Wenger, Chris Fralic etc.  All of these sites are chock full of information about campaigns, technologies, vendors, solutions, strategies, early stage innovation, etc.  You should read at least 1-2 of these sites each morning you arrive and maybe one of the sites before you leave.  Subscribe to their RSS feeds or newsletters.  Get up to speed as much as you can with the whole industry, even if it’s another agency or another client.  The smarter we become, the better we all become.

9.  Be Open.  Sounds weird to include in this list, but it’s important.  Don’t be scared of early stage innovation.  Don’t shy away from quantitative measurement because you’re not a quant.  Lean in and be open to anything in digital.  The rate of change in digital media is so fast that you need to lean into things to fully understand what comes next.

10.  Ask Questions.  We’ve got a great support group here at the agency around digital media.  Email me directly.  Stop by my desk.  Talk to Andre.  We’re here to help, inspire, troubleshoot, etc.   Don’t be a stranger.

Two Titans Merging: Publicis & Omnicom

I work in the advertising industry and this post is my thoughts, not necessarily representative of my employer.

This past Friday, I learned from Bloomberg that Publicis and Omnicom were in plans to merge.  I am sure there will be plenty of reactions to this and I’m one of many who have written about it.  We await the details tomorrow morning but if this goes through, it has repercussions for the entire industry.

Someone much smarter than me shared this line earlier today:  History has proven that size and creativity tend to be inversely proportional, and that scale is the enemy of innovation.  He’s right and proven by our history laden with companies who have tried (AOL/Time Warner, BofA/Countrywide, Daimler-Benz/Chrysler, etc) and failed.

There is absolutely no doubt that having $25B worth of buying power is a good position to be in, but I have some questions:

1.  Is that $25B in the right place for the future of marketing and advertising?  Publicis/Omnicom just made it even harder to evolve for the future.  Turning a juggernaut out of solely a “paid” media agency world to a “paid/owned/earned” is something that’s not simple at all.  Having 25 billion reasons not to do it is tough.  But focusing on paid media only over the next decade is a total miss.

2.  Talent numbers:  Google and Facebook have proved that they can attract talent, but at a certain scale, it’s a different type of talent you need to attract.  I read somewhere that this combined group will be roughly 130,000 employees.  I’m pretty sure the most innovative people in our industry do not want to be employee #94,212.

3.  There will be conflicts:  I have to imagine that there are quite a few conflicts in this new combined entity regarding clients.  In our agency world, it’s hard to work for two clients in the same industry.  If Publicis/Omnicom is looking to unload a client, I’d be more than happy to talk to them.

The big opportunity for this new combined entity, that I see, is to roll out one of the largest biddable media trading desks that the industry has ever seen.  Why this is a big opportunity is because at $25B and 130,000 employees, you are essentially buying and selling pork bellies (there is nothing wrong with that).  If the goal of the merger was to lower media rates for your clients, then this was purely a commodity merger.  Setup the biggest technology enabled infrastructure which has already been started at AOD and Accuen and go-to-market with a real-time ecosystem for every one of the Publicis Omnicom Groupe agencies.  I think that’s exciting.

But for everyone else, including us, the world just opened up.  There will always be clients who want “global scale” and commodity based buys.  Thirty second spots are a necessary component for some clients.  CBS and NBC will be there to solve for this.  But where does the innovation come in?  As the majority of marketing becomes digital, not saying it’s a banner ad, but digitally delivered, a new communications construct is opened up and we’ll be communicating with consumers (and vice versa) in ways we’ve never thought or imagined, all enabled by technology.  I cannot imagine having a $25B legacy balance sheet will allow for the change that this new ecosystem will need.

I’m excited for what’s next.

 

 

Constantly Changing Ad Products Does Not Help Adoption

For good or for bad, Madison Avenue takes a little bit of time to adopt new features and services en-mass.  Dollars flow into ad units and products once there is a comfort level with them.  Yes, sure we’ll buy the one-off sponsorship or launch that costs a couple million bucks, but beyond that, we probably won’t be back for repeat business.

But your investors and the street want and expect repeat business.  Recurring revenue.  Having a new ad product launch each month and getting a launch advertising sponsor each time dilutes over time.

Constantly changing your ad strategy actually hurts, IMHO.  It takes time for creative and media folks to ramp up knowledge of ad unit specifications and availability – and if they are ever changing, then we do not have enough time to do each unit justice.

I agree consumers like new things.  And brands like being fresh.  And in this whole world of digitally delivered content, being new and fresh is the whole point.

But for a publisher or platform, please be consistent with your offerings.  Don’t keep sunsetting what we’ve gotten good at buying and executing against.  Introducing new ad products every 6 weeks and wondering why others are not getting adoption isn’t rocket science.

This post was in reaction to this piece re: Facebook.

Stuck In A Rut of Incremental Innovation

I have been in the digital media marketing ecosystem since its inception.  The first documented digital advertising was born as banners and buttons (1996) that lived on webpages.

Ad servers were built to deliver these banners.  Incrementally better ad servers were built to better serve these banners, video, and buttons.

Sites federated together to create ad networks.  Incrementally better ad networks were built around technologies such as contextual, behavioral, semantic, etc.

Boxes on websites were created to house advertisers’ creative.  These lead to banners.  Incrementally better banners were created that yielded rich media units.

Search engine marketing solutions were built to manage and optimize voluminous keyword lists.  Incrementally better SEM platforms now include Facebook buying

Lots of incremental-ism.  Being incrementally better sounds like a rat race.  Or the cold war.  I’m better today.  You’re better tomorrow.  Its a no-win game and becomes all about marketing and salesmanship where it should be about the product and performance.

So where is the 0-1 going to happen in this industry?

Maybe we focus so much on going from 1 to n because that’s easier to do. There’s little doubt that going from 0 to 1 is qualitatively different, and almost always harder, than copying something n times. And even trying to achieve vertical, 0 to 1 progress presents the challenge of exceptionalism; any founder or inventor doing something new must wonder: am I sane? Or am I crazy? (Blake Masters class notes of Peter Thiel CS183)

Its happening.   But it’s not overly obvious to all.

The social marketing space inclusive of content creation is unbelievably sloppy and inefficient right now, but I propose we will see tomorrows DoubleClick-like, Advertising.com-like and Google-like come out of the social landscape.

Why?  Because it’s fundamentally different.

There are no banners or buttons.  The way we’ve acted in the past is not the way we act in the future of this space.

Communication does not scale.  We need to re-think the way we communicate and participate in this space.  The role for earned and owned media becomes just as important as paid media.

The 0-1 innovation is going to come from the social places in ways we cannot imagine today (or some people already are).

 

* Note, I’m not down on paid media buying.  I’m all for it.  I work in it. It’s evolving quickly and there are some fantastic companies participating in the space.  But when looking out across the marketplace, and looking for disruption, this (s0cial) area is ripe.

 

 

 

 

2012 Silicon Alley Golf Invitational Right Around the Corner

It’s that time of year again when we’re just weeks away from the Silicon Alley Golf Invitational.  Or SAGI as I commonly refer to it as.  This event started ~7 or so years ago but only in the past 3 years have I used the fancy name.  It all started with myself and 3 founders of tech companies in 2004.  We played golf and chatted.  It was that simple.  The next year, each of us brought an additional founder.  And each year after, it grew.  The common theme each year was to keep it to either founders of Silicon Alley based startups or venture capitalists funding the innovation.

Fast forward to 2012, we’ve got an absolutely full event of 72+ golfers (can only fit 72 on the course at any given time) and about 30 non-golfers coming for the luncheon and awards ceremony.  We have amazing sponsors who enable the day to happen.  We even have a guest keynote speaker who will be announced much closer to the date…

A lot of planning goes into this event, especially because it’s a labor of love and not a business and I have very limited staff to pull this off.  I personally handpick everything for the event – the invitational list, the swag, the event location, the foursomes, etc.  It’s a lot of work but in the end, it pays off because of all the great conversations and camaraderie that’s had at the event.

Unfortunately, the event does not scale well.  It cannot accompany 1,000 people.  Or even 250 people.  With just one day and 18 holes, you can only accompany so many people on the course.  It’s a fact of life for the event but a good one at the same time – we do not always need to be able to scale in order to have a great event.  In this case, it’s quality over quantity.  This year in aggregate, we have founders representing over $1.2BLN in exits in the past 1,000 days.  Quality is important.  We’ll leave “scale” for the companies we’re building.

I’m super excited for August 6 and look forward to participating with everyone.  Here’s a link to the official video from last year’s event.

If you have any questions about the event, feel free to reach out through my contact form.

Two Steps Forward and One Big Step Back: GRP

I receive different newsletters each morning from digital media industry sites & blogs.  The headline in today’s MediaPost was “Nielsen to Industry Analysts:  We’ve Created a ‘Currency,” says GroupM to Guarantee Ad Buys.”  This caught my attention as I’ve been fairly public about my stance about shifting away from proxy based measurement into hard metrics for marketing and advertising*.

It seems like much of the industry is getting behind GRP’s within the digital world.  I continue to think this is a mistake.    Here are some of my reasons why:

  1. GRP’s are used for understanding how often you are reaching your targeted audience (reach + frequency).  This measurement is not a business moving KPI.  This becomes a business moving measurement when you can tie GRP levels to store/e-com sales.
  2. There is inherent waste in GRP’s.  These points are calculated on an audience, but we all know that your target audience is not the only audience that is buying your product**.
  3. Infrastructure exists to measure beyond GRP’s, yet many folks are in denial about it.   While a large bundle of media dollars are in television advertising and that’s measured by GRP’s today, television is becoming video (not the other way around) and should be measured on actions, rather than reach.   TV measurement should migrate to digital media measurement as televisions become more like computers.

It is easy to understand why people are talking about GRP’s.  I meet with at least 5 startups a week who are going after brand dollars and those brand dollars are measured by GRP’s.  Nielsen, comScore, and others are releasing products that measure the online equivalent to the offline GRP.  As I said above and I’ll continue to say again and again, measuring your marketing by GRP’s is dumb.   Hey public company CMO, on your next earnings call with Wall Street, are you going to tell the Street that you reached your audience and bought 250 points per week and don’t know why they didn’t convert?

Measure.  Optimize.  Repeat.  Go beyond the GRP.

I’m on a bit of a rant this morning.  Just wait until you hear my rant for start-ups going after “brand dollars.”

* Barry Lowenthal’s piece on GRP’s Is a Lazy Metric

** See my piece I wrote for a 4A’s conference in 2010 on a concept called “de-averaging: changing the media planning paradigm

One of my favorite days of the year: TMK Digital Media Venture Capital Conference

The Media Kitchen logoOn Wednesday, April 11, The Media Kitchen is hosting our 5th annual Digital Media Venture Capital Conference.  Here is the writeup from 2008, our first one we ever held.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year because it’s packed with inspiration from some of the greatest minds in venture capital, technology, and entrepreneurship.  For five hours on Wednesday, executives from Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, LUMA Partners, OMGPOP, Adconion Media Group, PlaceIQ, Flurry, and Advertising Age are going to be taking our stage and talking about marketing, disruption, and mobile.  It’s going to be exciting.

I have one extra spot I’m holding for a reader of my blog.  If you’d be interested in attending, please contact me and let me know why you’d like to attend.  It’s from 8:30am-1pm in Tribeca (NYC) and you’d be expected to stay the whole time to maximize the opportunity.

Here are some of the topics of the talks:

The 2012 Industry Landscape—Challenges and Opportunities

Mention “the slide” to any industry vet and she’ll immediately know that you’re talking about Terry Kawaja’s famous “LUMAscapes”—the maps of how the different pieces of the digital marketing business fit together. Whether it’s how trading desks like Cadreon relate to DSPs like Turn in the display ecosystem, how Tremor feeds into Akamai in video and other companies across social, e-commerce, mobile, search and more, the LUMAscapes are, in the words of Google’s Neal Mohan, “the clear industry standard when it comes to understanding the digital media economy.” Today, we’re pleased to welcome LUMA Partners CEO Terence Kawaja as he outlines the most significant challenges and opportunities to companies trying to succeed in these rapidly evolving and inter-related ecosystems. Don’t miss this exciting keynote address!  Terence Kawaja, CEO & Founder, LUMA Partners LLC

The Past, Present and Future of Online Advertising

Can’t see the forest from the trees? Here’s a chainsaw. This presentation cuts through the complexity of the advertising industry by looking at its evolution over time. From the creation of the first billboard to the Exchanges, DSP’s, and Trading Desks of today, Ben Fox takes a comprehensive look at where the industry started and where it will go next. He exposes the forces that will drive change and takes a deep look at the technology systems that will be the foundation of the new online advertising ecosystem. Finally, he provides agencies, advertisers, ad networks, and publishers a roadmap to navigate the future space.  Ben Fox,  Adconion Media Group

Trends and Opportunities in Venture Capital and Mobile

First Round Capital has been one of the most active investors in NYC and across the country over the last several years, and one of the earliest to focus on seed stage investing.   Managing Partner Chris Fralic will discuss the forces driving the startup landscape, and where First Round is innovating and adding value.    He’ll also give an overview of some of the most important trends in Mobile, with real-world examples and insight, and what it means for brands and marketers.  Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Zero to $200 Million in 30 days

OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter interviewed by Chris Fralic.   It took AOL 9 years to hit 1 million users.  It took Facebook 9 months.   Draw Something by OMGPOP took 9 days.   Dan Porter is the CEO of NYC’s OMGPOP who has literally taken the mobile gaming world by storm, and in under a month launched one of the most successful games ever and were acquired by Zynga for over $200 million dollars.    This is no overnight success story, though – Dan and the team worked for years developing other games and learning what worked and didn’t.  Find out how they did it, and what brands and marketers can learn, from virality, to game theory, and working your way on to and up the app store leaderboards. Dan Porter, CEO OMGPOP & Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Inside the Trillion Dollar Media Revolution

Everyday, mobile applications appear to be disrupting multi-billion dollar industries raging from gaming and entertainment to transportation and logistics. In this session, Flurry will discuss the impact mobile applications are having on traditional media, the web and television and will also share insights on how mobile advertising is changing the way consumers are engaging with advertisers.  Simon Kalaf, CEO Flurry

The Future is Location Aware

“Location may be the biggest indicator of intent since search…” so the saying goes and we are out to prove it. In mobile advertising PlaceIQ is pushing the boundaries of privacy friendly audience targeting using the context of location as the key. We’ll discuss how, and show some specific customer examples. Plus discuss how the future is truly ‘location aware’ and what this means for the digital media industry.  Duncan McCall, CEO PlaceIQ

Why Everything You Know About Advertising Is Wrong

Well, maybe not *everything*. But if you think the future is about interruptive advertising, then yes, Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger thinks you’re mostly wrong, and maybe about to become obsolete. Technology is changing how humans interact with each other and if brands want to be part of that conversation they need to figure out how to add value in a way that’s “native to the user flow.” Advertising Age digital editor Michael Learmonth talks to Wenger about what that looks like and how the next generation of brands can thrive in the social web.  Michael Learmonth, Sr. Editor, Advertising Age with Albert Wenger, Partner, Union Square Ventures

64% of Digital Ad Spend Controlled by 5 Companies

I was doing some calculations for my own purposes and wanted to find out what percentage of the digital media ad spend (search, display, mobile, etc) is controlled by Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, and Microsoft.  Well, after searching through their 10K’s, it’s about $40.1B, or roughly 64% of the worlds digital media ad spend.

According to a ZenithOptimedia press release on October 3, 2011, worldwide digital advertising accounted for about $64.03B.

Google generates approximately 364% more revenue from advertising than it’s next closest rival, Yahoo!.

With Facebook at $1.86B in advertising revenue (excluding virtual currencies/goods) for 2010, it puts them at right behind Microsoft but ahead of AOL.  With Facebook only now starting to monetize their platform, you can start to see how big an impact they could have on the dominance of the digital advertising landscape.

And of course, you can really see how dominant Google is.

Digital Media Ad Spend