Monthly Archives: June 2008

Reaching the young ones

Nielsen reports that per person, kids aged 2-17 viewed more video streams on the web than those over 18 and spend more time watching video from home (probably because they aren’t away at school nor at work).  The really young kids focus on sites associated with children’s TV shows and toys – no shock there.  Teens tend to focus on chat with Stickam the number 1 video site.

Strangely, they don’t seem to be spending all that much time there – be interesting to see in the numbers change a lot with school ending for the summer.  Teens 12-17 only spend about two and a quarter hours a month watching online video, roughly a minute and a half for every stream they watch.  Kids under 12 watch fewer streams but each one slightly longer – guess their web-induced ADD hasn’t kicked in yet.   Of course, these are just video numbers – Facebook, MySpace, and all the other places kids hang out are on top of this.

And yet, the gap between the 20% of time spent with media (probably even higher with this group) and the 7% of ad dollars spent in these media is still wide (yes, I”m aware that several commentators think this is unimportant – fodder for another post).  Like all of us, marketers fall into the comfort zone of doing what they did before just because they did it before.  Change is hard but when things are changing around you, what else can one do but adapt?  Yes, it’s hard to market to kids on the web, especially those under 13.  Yes, COPPA is a pain.  But you’re missing the boat (and your target) if you think you can ignore this data.  Hopefully the dollars will begin to chase the eyeballs and let’s hope as well that the places where these elusive audiences are hanging out run themselves carefully until the revenue arrives.

NOTE:  I woke up this morning and heard that George Carlin has gone on to his cosmc rewards.  More on him later.

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Why bother?

Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple of days – my daughter graduated high school and then I attended the BMOeMerging Media conference.

While at the conference, I saw, once again, a phenomenon I really don’t understand.  Crackberry-itis.  The inability to stop using one’s Blackberry.  I’m sure, like me, you see people typing away in meetings (where it’s just rude), at conferences (where it’s sort of a waste of the money you paid to be there), and elsewhere.  What could be SO important?  And if it is, why aren’t you off attending to it?

This is an offshoot of something that’s also pretty common: people saying they want one thing and doing something completely different.  That’s why part of the discovery process in consulting involves not just asking questions (and listening to the answers) but also observing and researching on one’s own.

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Listen Up

Someone told me today that the only difference between the Chinese words for “book” and “stupid” is one of tone. Many of the languages of Southeast Asia and Africa are tone languages. These languages use pitch to signal a difference in meaning between words, so it’s critically important that one listen carefully to anyone who is speaking so as not to misconstrue what they are saying.

Interestingly, one of the first, best lessons I got in sales was to listen carefully and speak a lot less than I listened for exactly the same reason.

How often have you started to think of the reply before you’ve fully heard the question? How often do we think about what we’re going to say next and ignore what’s being said to us? I’m not sure if it’s the ADD induced by the pace of information being thrown at us or just plain self-centeredness, but we all need to listen a lot more carefully. There is meaning in tone and information in complete sentences.

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Seeing things

I took the dog out for a walk this morning and saw what looked like pieces of cellophane all over the yard. I mean everywhere; sort of like cigarette wrappers but bigger. Here is a picture of a similar one:

Turns out these were the dew-coated webs of the grass spider. Obviously, they have been in our yard all along but it wasn’t until the weather conditions – temperature, humidity, no wind, etc. – were ideal that one could see how prevalent they are. You can’t see them most of the time and they’re not really sticky.

How often do we miss opportunities because our internal weather conditions aren’t aligned? How can we be more insightful no matter what that weather may be?

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MicroBooHoo

It appears as if the Microsoft/Yahoo deal is off again. From my perspective, that’s too bad. No, I’m not a Yahoo shareholder looking to cash in. I’m just a guy who has had business dealings with both and feels that the combination of the two would have taken the best of each of their worlds and made a stronger partner for the rest of us.

One of them is really good at technology (not that the other isn’t) and has a track record of innovation. The other is the best partner from a client service perspective with which I’ve ever worked. Instead of this being about ego (most business deals have a good dose of that in there) and control, I wish that they’d thought about where they’re NOT the best of breed and realized that one’s square peg fits nicely into the other’s round hole.

Someone told me many years ago to hire for my weaknesses. It’s not easy to admit you have any, but we all do, as do most organizations. Hopefully, that’s why they hire folks like me – to bring in a set of skills that are missing or unavailable.

The blogsphere has written many gigabytes about the other aspects of the propsed merger, both from a financial and a tech perspective. To me, the real strength of the new MicroHoo organization would have been a cutting-edge tech company with world-class client service. That is what is needed to compete.

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Why it’s different this time

This is not a political post. That said, this piece on the Obama campaign’s use of digital media channels to disintermediate demonstrates how things have changed, even in the four years since our last exercise in freedom:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has launched a Web site to dispel rumors about his faith and patriotism and his wife’s views on race that have dogged his candidacy for more than a year.

This is what any good business should be doing now, along with, of course, using some of the more traditional channels to dispel untruths. The classic example is the rumors surrounding a series of poisonings and how it affected the product. While the response to the Tylenol problem of the early 80’s required J&J to work through print and television, both paid and unpaid, to get their message out, they also took tangible action beyond PR as they recalled $100m worth of product. Today, while tangible action is always key, when there is nothing to be done except present facts, that action must be done through every means available.

Regardless of your political affiliation, the use in this campaign of everything from Twitter to SEO and how it has made a difference is great to watch. I’m excited to see which side does a better job. Our election cycle is a very public example of short-term brand-building and it is a zero-sum game, unlike non-political branding. It has a protracted window – sort of the ultimate brand-building reality show. I, for one, am paying attention to the lessons we can take away.

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We don’t have to care

It’s really hot here in the New York area. Like mid-July, sweating-through-your-shirt-walking-a-block hot. <This would be where we cue the Johnny Carson “how hot is it?” stream…>

I took the train into NYC the other day for a meeting in the early afternoon. As I got on, there were no lights or A/C in the first 3 cars. From the heat (and smell) in those cars, I’d say the train had left the yard that way. Walking back to find someplace cooler, the conductor informed everyone they were aware that there was no power to those cars and that they’d try to fix them when we got to Stamford, 20 minutes away. Meanwhile, your choices were to sit, sweat, and smell or to walk back to stand.

In Stamford, they got the lights on for enough time to say they’d fixed them. Of course, they bugged out again as we left the station. More conductor announcements – “they might come on again when we leave the overhead wires and go to the third rail for power.” Not so much, as it turned out.

Upon our arrival at Grand Central, the conductor thanked everyone for riding Metro North and commanded us to have a good day.

In no particular order, here are the issues:

No competition = no incentive to take immediate action to patch, then permanently fix, problems. At $4 a gallon, and given NY’s roads, there is no real competition to the railroad. The problem here is that in almost any business, alternatives will surface over time and you won’t have the mindset to combat them. In other businesses you’d never let an inferior product leave the shop to go out yet this train was not working and went out. It happens all the time.

No honesty = I’ve been on MANY trains with the lights issue. I don’t recall ever having them fixed en route. Why not tell the ridership that those cars are goners and to find another solution.

No sympathy = yeah, this sucks but gives us your money. How about letting people in those cars ride for free by just not going through them to collect fares?

There are a lot of other lessons one can learn from this but the big one is that customers need to know you care and that you’re always working hard to find and fix what THEY think is wrong (hopefully they never see the stuff YOU know is wrong and fix preemptively).

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