Tag Archives: fred wilson

Alto Email, The Open Graph, MBA Mondays, and Las Vegas CES

Happy Wednesday.  I thought I’d write another post that points to discussions or products that I’ve been part of recently.   Leave some comments below or reach out directly if you’d like to talk further about any of these.

It’s amazing how much an interface can make or break a product, go Alto!.   In early October, I heard AOL was launching Alto, it’s upgraded mail platform.  I signed up for the limited release and was granted access to the system late last night.  I am impressed so far.  I like the interface a lot.  It’s amazing to see how much of a difference the interface can make.  Font selection, user flow and the overall idea of classifying emails is fairly smart and spot on.   I do not use Sparrow so do not have a point of comparison, but it seems to me like accessing Alto over Gmail (even though Alto is a layer on top of Gmail for me) is the way to go.  What do you think?

The big question for Google, especially if users start accessing Alto as the portal to their Gmail is at what point do they disallow this?  Gmail is a revenue driver for Google in relation to AdWords (ads on the sides and above your emails) and Alto basically gets rid of these.  Will AOL roll out an ads product in Alto?

Get Your MBA On, Advertising Models.  Fred Wilson, a friend, venture capitalist and AVC blogger wrote his latest MBA Mondays post on Advertising Revenue Models.  Being that he and I both know that this is in my wheelhouse, I helped write the piece and linked it back to a presentation I gave in 2011 to the NYC TechStars class (I mentor).  The post was not specifically used to quantify or justify advertising but rather expose the different models within advertising revenue.   I think the post is fairly comprehensive and is a good primer for anyone considering taking advertising dollars.  I’m more than happy to talk more about it which is why I created the short-lived but very specific Marketing Wednesday series.

Fb Open Graph Innovation.   At kbs+ Ventures, we see lots of companies who are innovating around advertising and marketing technology.  This is our core area of the marketplace we invest in and one we’ve considerably doubled down on over time.  An area that we see companies spending lots of time thinking about is the Facebook Open Graph.  FbOG is an underutilized asset/utility for brands and there is a ton of room for brands to engage with it.  We are sniffing around this space to understand the forthcoming players in the FbOG space so if you are someone, know someone or are just genuinely excited about the FbOG, leave a comment and we’ll hook up.

2013 Consumer Electronics Show.  I’ll be heading out to Las Vegas for 2013 CES.  I’ll be there for meetings on Monday/Tuesday so if you’re heading out and want to meet up, certainly reach out and we’ll try to coordinate some time to meet up.  I’m specifically looking to meet entrepreneurs or other folks innovating in/around marketing and advertising technology which actually had solid representation at last year’s (2012) CES.


Price and Value

This post is inspired by Fred Wilson’s recent post entitled, Does Price Matter.  When you purchase a product or service, it has a price tag associated with it.  That price tag is based on what the seller wants to make (cost + profit) based on what they think they could sell to their anticipated target market.

Traditional “price” for products/services though in itself is flawed, IMHO.  It only takes into account one side of the equation:  the seller.  There are a few promotions such as the recent one done by apparel seller Uniqlo but most [private] pricing is determined by the seller. And for financial instruments, an open market determines the cost:  NASDAQ and NYSE are examples for that.

There were a few websites back in the day such as Mercata (shut down in 2001) that allowed groups of users to purchase based on the demand that they have and almost dictate market pricing.   I’d imagine this type of service is coming back in some form or another:  the more people buy, the lower the price becomes.

I’d argue that price does not always reflect value.  Value is generally what you will receive once you actually buy something:  and that value should be at or better than the price that you paid for it or you will most likely look at your transaction with negative taste.

People say that paying >$4 for a cup of coffee is expensive.  While pricing sounds expensive, what is the value to me?  If that $4 cup of coffee allows me to sit at a table, read the NY Times or WSJ and answer emails early in the AM, the valued delivered is much more… at least to me.

The Advertising Collision

This post was inspired by Fred Wilson’s post today and Chris Dixon’s post back in 2009 about online advertising and it’s potential share gains.

Quite simply, Chris outlines that there are two types of advertising:  brand advertising (ATL= above the line) and direct response (BTL=below the line).  Much of the ad dollars have historically been centered in ATL media which is understandable but something big is happening.

A major collision.

ATL mediums are becoming BTL mediums.  BTL mediums are becoming ATL mediums.  There is no such medium that is one OR the other… both mediums are working together.

This is very important to understand.

Display, search, mobile, social, television, print, radio, ooh, and all others can be used for any format and are not mutually exclusive to the types of messaging you choose to use.  We like to call it branded-response, but I’m sure every agency around town has their own name for it.

Now that we can measure to some extent, the traditionally measurement-untouched ivory tower media channels dollar allocations will start to be reallocated to more measurable channels.  Or alternatively, as the ivory tower media channels become digital ivory tower channels, they in themselves will become measurable and will receive a dollar allocation based on their contribution to the brands marketing performance.

Companies like Vizu are releasing products that allow marketers and their agencies to optimize to campaign lift (awareness, consideration, etc).  Traditionally, most digital optimizations happen for a KPI that is quantitative (click, transaction, etc) but now we can optimize to emotion.  This is an example of startups looking at the future and innovating early.

It’s early in this game, but take note of this collision as it is going to create some amazing opportunities for the industry.

Fred Wilson's Web2.0 Keynote

For those of you who could not make it out to Fred Wilson‘s keynote at that Web2.0 Expo about the birth of the Internet industry in NYC, you should take 25 minutes and watch the video below.  Anyone will find this video interesting, but if you were around the alley in the 90s when things were cooking, you’ll smile as you reminisce.

In Chris Snyder’s review of the Web2.0 Conference for Wired Magazine, he mentions:

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson, a man who knows the ups and downs of the tech market, even postulated that New York was on an upswing that could eclipse Silicon Valley in buzz and activity.

“There’s something that goes on here in New York that’s different than what goes on in Silicon Valley. It’s more creative, more artistic, more connected to media and advertising,” Wilson said. “There will come a time when New York might be 70 or 80 percent of Silicon Valley as it relates to internet companies.”

Just don’t call it Silicon Alley in his presence. “We are not an alley. Let’s bury the name,” he said.

Thursday Digital Media Tidbits

A few events this week peeked my interest:

  • Abundant/excessive access to the Internet is looking like there might come with a price tag. Downloading your Jenna Jameson, Dave Matthews Band, and 40 Year Old Virgin movies and music may soon cost additional if you’re doing it often each month. Comcast is thinking of charging users who download more than 250GB. This information comes on the heels of my post on Web Infrastructure. Note: charging the 0.01% of users who use most of the bandwidth isn’t anything new: I used it as a model for my hosting company back in the late 90s when a few users utilized most of the server resources… generally, they understood and didn’t mind paying.
  • Fred Wilson talks about incrementalism and has a fantastic quote: We are not in an incremental phase. We are in an incremental system. I would agree with Fred and David Winer that the big wins today come from incremental increases and problem solving. Don’t bite off more than you can chew or you’ll get stuck in the details.
  • Dealing and working with Millenials. I can’t stress how different the Millenial generation is (post 1981) than it’s previous generation in terms of overall workplace entitlement. Take a peek at this ABC article as it sums it up pretty well.

Thinking Blogger Award & Thinking Bloggers Who Think

I was nominated today by Gavin Heaton for the “Thinking Blogger Award” and it’s always flattering to get some recognition every now and again.  For those of you who don’t know who Gavin is, he’s one of the masterminds behind the crowdsourced book, Age of Conversation (of which I’ll be participating in the second version… more on that on another day).

The way it works apparently is as follows (copied from Gavin’s blog):

  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme
  3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote

Thinking Blogger Award

So with this award, I get to nominate 5 other bloggers who make me think… so here we go:

Fred Wilson – always writing about the digital media and technology space from interesting perspectives of both a user, an investor, and a wallflower.  Love his personal touches on his blog which provide context to much of his writing.

Greg Verdino – we met over the blogosphere and have become offline friends.  He’s always got an interesting take on the digital media world and we bonded initially over virtual worlds.  Did you know… In 2006, he said he loved me.

Seth Godin – has an amazing ability to take complex ideas and distill them down to something that anyone can understand.  Certainly very bold and bullish, but constantly challenges my thoughts.

Andrew Chen – the two of us met over the blogosphere and then had dinner at Bucks of Woodside (Silicon Valley) and remained friends since.  Always analyzing things in new ways and when Andrew throws out new ideas on his blog (which he should do more often!), I certainly take notice.

Charlie O’Donnell – a friend, former dodgeball teammate, nextNY member, etc… writes some extremely insightful posts on his blog about the world at large and technology.  I only wish he was a Yankees fan.


Future of Media Controlled by Digital Natives

Who has the most leverage in the media ecosystem?

If you said consumers, I believe you are correct.  Without an audience for your brand/content/site, it’s essentially worthless.  With billions of consumers in the world, the leverage lies within.

Media overall is going digital.  Television, print, radio, and OOH are all moving in this direction (some at a more rapid pace than others).

If you grow up emmersed in technology and digital media, you are considered a digital native.  According to Wikipedia, a digital native is a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later. A digital native might refer to their new “camera”; a digital immigrant might refer to their new “digital camera”.

The future of the world will eventually be controlled by digital natives.  If you want to see how a digital native consumes media, take a peek at Fred Wilson’s recent posting about his children.

There are many interesting observations that Fred calls out, but one of the most interesting to me is that his children are device agnostic.  The future of media isn’t all online, in a magazine, on a television, on the radio, etc.  Content consumption should device agnostic and let the consumer decide where they want to engage with it.  Afterall, with billions of digital natives in the future, this will certainly play out.  One thing to also keep in mind:  television isn’t dead.  Television is evolving into people’s lifestyles contrary to when people had to create their lifestyle around television.

Just some food for thought on a Sunday.

How Social Media Kept My Lunch Date

I was supposed to head to 15 East for lunch today with a friend/colleague from a strategic venture fund.  We prearranged to meet around 12:30; but around 11:30am, I noticed my Twitter account freaking out when Fred Wilson posted that Union Square was closed off.

Since 15 East was right next to Union Square, I quickly emailed my friend and we arranged to meet down at Blue Ribbon Sushi in the West Village.  Had Fred not alerted Twitter, I would have never found out, and both my friend and myself probably would have been extremely late to the lunch since we were coming from two seperate areas of the city.  Twitter was finally useful.

It's That Time of Year Again… Viral Videos Galore

I’m sure the majority of us recently received a holiday themed video such as the one from Elf Yourself (an advertisement from Office Max).  As Fred Wilson pointed out this morning, this is a top 100 web property this month according to Alexa.   In Fred’s analysis of viral videos as a marketing vehicle, he says that we should expect more of this in the future.

I hope not for one particular reason:  brand recall.  Do you remember who provided you the Elf Yourself video?  Probably not, but it was Office Max.  There’s also a Snowball video circulating (JibJab) that’s sponsored by Diet Pepsi Max.  Did you remember that?

Viral videos are great because you can produce them once and benefit from free media distribution.  Your video could be showed upwards of tens of millions of times (or more).  If I’m going to spend my money as a marketer, I want to make sure that people remember who my brand is.  In most viral videos, I’ve got no idea.  Brand recall is almost non-existant.

The folks over at MediaPost ran a recent article talking about how brand recall wasn’t high amongst viral videos.

Viral ads may not always end up enhancing the brand image carefully conceived and desired by the marketer. Viewers may find the video entertaining and funny, but may not recall the message or product associated with the video. In some viral video ads, the content may involve a brand or a product with an undesirable message that may negatively impact the brand image. That said, surrendering brand control is, to some degree, an inevitable part of advertising in the future.

My thesis for advertising is that it must be part of a conversation between the brand and consumers.  If it’s not part of that conversation, then chances are, it’s disrupting it.  Viral videos are a great way to be part of the conversation, but I think we have a lot of work to do before we figure out how to use them for brands.  Sponsoring these videos is not enough, we need to go beyond that.  Slapping a logo on the video isn’t exactly going to boost brand recall.  What is it I’m looking for?  I wish I knew.

Some articles about video and recall:

  1. BusinessWeekAccording to a recent survey conducted by Burst Media, an online media and technology company, 56.3% of online video viewers recall seeing advertisements in content they have watched.
  2. Seven Deadly Sins of Advertising Via Viral Video

Who am I secretly following?

I get an email every once in a while asking me which blogs I read and which RSS feeds I subscribe to.  My RSS feeds are my NY Times or WSJ.  It’s where I get my news from.  While not everything in each feed is relevant, the majority is appropriate and I enjoy reading what my colleagues and friends are writing.  Not every RSS feed I subscribe to is a blog either, which is becoming more of a trend.

I use Google Reader (used to use Newsgator) as my primary RSS feed reader and they have a nifty “trends” area.  While I do not give out my OPML, I did however take a screenshot of my Top 20 public feeds and am sharing them with everyone.  According to my “trends,” I currently subscribe to 202 RSS feeds.

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