Monthly Archives: August 2015

Gone In A Flash

If you are using Google Chrome as your browser, and over half of you are, your experience as you use the internet is about to change. Google has decided that as of tomorrow, September 1, they will begin pausing many Flash ads by default to improve performance for users. What that means is that if you are desperate to see an ad you will need to click on it to manually enable it. Otherwise, ads will remain plain images by default. Firefox is also doing this  and Amazon also said that it would no longer allow Flash-based ads to serve on its network or across its Amazon Advertising Platform.  In short, the bulk of web browsers is now Flash-unfriendly. This prompts several business thoughts.

First, yay Google and others!  Flash creates all kinds of issues, the biggest of which are that it drains batteries quickly, it doesn’t really perform that well on mobile devices (in a world that’s now mostly mobile) and, most importantly in my mind, it has abysmal security.  Just look at the recent malware attack launched via MSN‘s ad network as an example. This is a good thing for consumers and maybe makes our digital world a little safer.

Second, this is going to have a major effect of the digital ad world.  The supply of ad space is actually going to drop since much of what is out there is Flash-based.  That should kick prices up.  The question in my mind is will the price rise get publishers rethinking their ad load strategy?  I don’t know about you, but in my mind surfing much of the web has become a stroll through the proverbial Arabian bazaar – one hawker after another in an extremely cluttered environment.  Maybe this is how the tidal wave of ad blocking is pushed back?

Third, what will this do to the numerous ad-serving companies?  Who has technology that is so tied to Flash that their business model is disrupted and where are the opportunities in companies that aren’t Flash-based?

Finally, this points out how interdependent every digital business is.  The browser companies make a change and ad companies and publishers are affected.  A hardware company decides to change a business model, as Apple did with iTunes years ago, and nearly every subsequent business deal is held up to that standard.  Never a dull day in digital – how about in your business?

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Filed under digital media, What's Going On


This Foodie Friday I’d like to talk about something I hope you have handy in your kitchen: a table of substitutes. There is nothing worse than doing your mise en place and realizing that you’re out of something you need for what you’re making. Maybe it’s sour cream for a dip you decided to whip up to watch TV (use plain yogurt – Greek if you have it!). Maybe you need some buttermilk but only have regular (combine a tablespoon of an acid – lemon juice, vinegar – and enough milk to make a cup). How many large eggs can I substitute in when the recipe calls for jumbo?  Even understanding how to substitute dried herbs for fresh is important (use 1/3 as much dried as fresh). Having a list of things which can serve as alternatives is very handy and can often save a dish.  

We need to do that in business too. When we don’t have the proper things for what we’re trying to accomplish, we need to figure out substitutes. Maybe the higher-ups aren’t giving us the resources we need or maybe the budget isn’t big enough to cover the project at hand. We need to think about alternatives and reframe the problem. Maybe there are exceptions to what we perceive as the norm – organizations who have faced a similar challenge. Can those exceptions point us in another direction?

There are some things for which there are no substitutes.  Good people, for one, and smart, out of the box thinking for another.  I realize that you can’t cook a piece of chicken and call it beef.  Then again, you can substitute turkey for veal in some dishes so maybe chicken for beef isn’t so far-fetched.  That sort of thinking is something in which every organization needs to engage.  What business model can we substitute for our own if things begin to fall apart?

My table of substitutions is tucked away in a kitchen drawer and I rarely need to use it.  I used to have one for my business tucked in a desk drawer – people I might want to hire, companies to replace current partnerships if they fell apart.   Where is yours?

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Filed under Consulting, food

What’s Up?

You might have heard about the latest information from the Pew Research Center about how most of us seem to get our news these days.  If the study is accurate, you might even have heard about it on Twitter or found it in your Facebook news feed.  You see, according to the study, clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms.  

What makes me a little nervous is what the Pew folks go on to say:

As more social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features for news users, and these features may foster shifts in news use. Those different uses around news features have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process.

Having worked with professional reporters and journalists, I can tell you that they don’t just report what they see since sometimes appearances can be deceiving.  The problem, both in journalism and in business, is that instant analysis is often wrong – who can forget CNN, The Boston Globe, and others having to retract reports around the Boston Marathon bombing?  When the reportage is immediate from many people who are untrained in evaluating information (what’s the source, how reliable, etc.), the chances of something being way off base increase dramatically.  Couple that with the built-in selectivity, in the case of Facebook, of algorithms which filter what you see unless you dig a little and one can see how “news” found on social media can easily be “rumor.”

I think social media can play a valuable role in surfacing breaking stories.  Twitter is soon set to unveil its long-rumored news feature, “Project Lightning.” The feature will allow anyone, whether they are a Twitter user or not, to view a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by a bevy of new employees with “newsroom experience.”  This is a good thing, in my opinion.  What’s not is accepting what we see there as gospel until there are multiple, professionally trained sources weighing in.  Yes, sometimes they’re wrong (see above), but when they don’t try to compete with the instantaneous stuff found in non-professional sources, they generally get it right.  What do you think?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud