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February 2007 Archives

February 1, 2007

Ode to My Alarm Clock

In 1989, I graduated college and was heading to Lenox, Massachusetts to work for the summer (grounds crew at a local resort). While going to class in college was optional, making my 8:00 AM start time for my summer job was not. In other words, I needed an alarm clock.

So, I headed down to the local Service Merchandise and for $15 bought this:

img008.jpg And she's been with me ever since.

Over the past 17 years, my alarm clock has woken me up in Lenox, MA, Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus, Ohio, Washington, DC, New York, NY and San Francisco, CA. Many times, these wakeups were not very welcome at all. As a result, the gratitude I have shown my alarm clock over these years has included: being slammed with a pillow/ fist/ book, being tossed to the ground, being thrown across the room, and all sorts of other abuse.

Of course, my alarm clock endures this with nary a complaint. Every minute of every day for the past 17 years it has performed its job down to the second. (Think about that for a second - those red LED lights have been on for 17 straight years!). Amazingly, it shows no sign of burning out or slowing down.

In any event, I felt it high time I recognized the distinguished service my alarm clock has performed over these years. $15 well spent indeed.

February 2, 2007

Spotting Opportunity

Kelly and I were talking about going to the movies this weekend when the inevitable "what do you want to see?" question came up. As I looked over the list of potentials, none jumped out at me. This I find is becoming more and more typical. While I probably see roughly the same number of movies every year, the number of movies that I am drawn to see (as opposed to dragged to see, or end up seeing) has dramatically gone down over the past couple of years.

Quick footnote: A movie I am drawn to see is one that from the ads/ trailers/ etc. I must go to. A movie that I am dragged to see is one someone else (i.e. Kelly) wants to see and forces me to accompany (usually a chick flick of some sort). A movie that I end up seeing, is one that we go to because we have made a decision to see a movie, any movie, and the decision is based more on time slot than the movie itself.

By coincidence, my TV viewing has moved in precisely the opposite direction. For many years there was no such thing as "must see" tv for me. It took a lot for me to latch on to a particular show and it didn't happen often. Not anymore. Between The Office, Heroes, 24, Grey's Anatomy and the various HBO/ Cable shows (Extras, Sopranos, Entourage, Weeds, etc.), my Tivo is working overtime.

So I guess my question is, why is this? My understanding is that in the past, in the Hollywood food chain, movie work was always much more highly regarded than TV work. All of the creative/ talented/ pretty people busted their butts to try to get into movies. So why does it seem like that all of the really creative, interesting output of that industry is now through TV? Even many of the big movies now are really just the film version of TV shows.

Rich has written some posts about how, with respect to products, the wisdom of the crowds is usually pretty dumb because you end up a the lowest common denominator. I also heard a story (completely unverified) that Mel Karmazin stayed in radio (as opposed to TV, movies, etc.) precisely because most folks who worked in the radio industry viewed it as a stepping stone. He figured that would present an easy opportunity to leave its mark.

So is it possible that there are too many smart people in the movie industry? As a result, for whatever reason, the creativity quotient goes down? The leaner, meaner TV industry can create interesting products while the movie folks are busy worrying about their parking spots? If so, can this happen to other industries? Like, I don't know.....say, on-line technology? Hmmmmm...

February 3, 2007

Predatory Spending?

I remember from my old college economics classes reading about the Hunt brothers attempt to corner the silver market. This didn't turn out too well for them.

Wikipedia defines "cornering the market" as: "an illegal attempt to buy up enough of a particular commodity to allow the price to be manipulated." Likewise, it defines "predatory pricing" as "the practice of a firm selling a product at very low price with the intent of driving competitors out of the market, or create a barrier to entry into the market for potential new competitors."

As the internet continues to evolve, it becomes pretty clear that having a valuable offline brand means pretty much zero when it comes to online success. The offline news leaders, newspapers - online, Yahoo/ AOL. Offline auction leaders: Christies/ Sotheby's - online, eBay. The offline bookstores: Borders, Barnes & Noble - online, amazon.com. Offline classifieds: newspapers - online, craigslist. And the list goes on and on.

So with the internet creating pretty much a "fresh start" for competition in most industries, and with Google/ search being the start page for the internet, is it possible for offline brands to cripple their upstart online competition through SEM bids. Can they drive away the competition by bidding up keywords to such a degree, that buying traffic and building a brand become such an expensive proposition that they create an actual barrier to entry for that market place.

Case in point, go to Google and type in "lawn mower." The results are online retailers, price comparison engines, etc. But I'm guessing Wal-Mart sells more lawn mowers than anybody else. Do they want to allow somebody to build a business buying the key-word lawn mower and converting these buys into lawn mower sales? Or do they want to protect their market share?

If so, is there a way for them to drive up the cost of that keyword to such a level, that no one can profitably arbitrage the search traffic? In other words, is it possible to use some sort of reverse predatory pricing (predatory spending?) to corner the market on a particular set of search terms that competition from start-ups/ new entrants is thwarted?

I have no idea if this has ever been tried or whether, alternatively, it is a common practice in the SEM world today. In either scenario, I'd be curious to see how the numbers played out. I also wonder, if someone was doing this successfully, how the anti-trust crusaders at the Justice Department would feel about it.

As for Google, they too would be torn. On one hand they would be the immediate beneficiary of the increased search term costs. On the other hand, if there were antitrust implications, I'm sure they would do everything to keep the government from poking around their records and forming an opinion as to whether this could happen if a single company didn't have a 70% share of the search market. And of course, most folks would call this type of practice evil - and we know how Google feels about that...

February 4, 2007

Super Sunday

Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 70's was a great place to be a kid for lots of reasons. One big one, of course, was the Steelers. Winning four Super Bowls in 6 years - good times! Bradshaw, Swann, Mean Joe, LC, Lambert, Blount, Kolb, Webster - man, those guys were gods to an 11 year old kid.

Last year, as a big kid, I went to Detroit to watch the Steelers finally win their fifth Super Bowl. Such a great time that I didn't even bitch (too much) that the game was being held in Detroit and it snowed.

This year, the Steelers didn't make it, but we'll do our best to make it a super Sunday nonetheless. Kelly made the chili, the TV's going to be on all day and we may even have a margarita or two. Kelly spent six years in Chicago (where I'm sure she's glad she is NOT today) so here at Marksonland we're rooting for the Bears today.

Predictions: at least 2 bowls of chili, 2 chili dogs and a Bears win: 24-17.

Updated: The Colts won 29-17. Fortunately, my two bowls of chili and 2 chili dog prediction was correct.

February 5, 2007

Officially Part of the Culture

I saw this at the checkout counter of a department store:

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It's official: Myspace has crossed over from popular web site to being part of the culture.

Economics of Culture

Blake stopped by my office today and mentioned that he liked my Spotting Opportunity post. He thought that a lot of the reason that Hollywood has suffered creatively is because the high risk/ reward component of the industry these days. Big hits are great, but big flops are intolerable. As a result, movies skew towards the proven, formula for success - and anything that deviates (i.e. is creative) is not acted upon. I don't know enough about the movie industry to say whether or not that is correct, but the logic seems right.

Perhaps TV is more immune from this dynamic because of its economic model. TV survives on advertising revenue, not box office admission tickets, so the flop/ hit dynamic is not as prevalent. TV can do things like sell bundled advertising packages and segment an audience for advertisers - so they'll pay inventory for even weak performing shows, provided that the overall audience numbers are maintained (a subject for a different blogpost). The only thing that TV can't do is create such a distasteful product that an advertiser being associated with it would suffer some brand degradation. Given the FCC rules, that is difficult to do.

So we live in a world today where TV, despite having government imposed content restrictions (i.e. language/ nudity rules), is more creative than the mostly self-regulated, movie industry because, at least in part, of the economic model? In my economics classes they always used to tell us that economics was a human behavioral study. This seems to go to that. Economics directly effecting our popular culture.

Now, this doesn't explain why in the 70's and 80's the opposite dynamic existed - where films like The Godfather, the French Connection, ChinaTown, etc. were made while TV was putting out Growing Pain, Who's the Boss and Three's Company. Hmmm.....have to think about that one for a bit.

February 7, 2007

Beating the Dead Horse

I've written before about the challenges of the non-search, on-line advertising market and don't want to re-live those posts. But, with that, I have to say, I am always fascinated by this subject.

What caught my eye today was this PaidContent post about Fox Interactive's online earnings:

FIM had $125 million in revenue during the last quarter, attributed primarily to MySpace.com.....FIM had its first profitable month in December.
Remeber we're talking Fox interactive - owner of MySpace.com. MySpace has more monthly page-views than anyone else - 38 billion and change. Fox Interactive is part of Fox which owns newspapers, tv stations - even TV networks - and employs lots of salesfolks who work closely with the big spending advertisers every day.

Given all of this, from those 38 billion plus MySpace page views, they're pulling in $41 million/ month? $1 CPM? By way of comparison, Tribune's total (offline and online) revenue is $1.3 billion a quarter. That's an order of magnitude higher. I point this out to show (again) that if the future of media is online, the revenue needed to become, in today's terms, a respectable size media company has a long way to go.

So I ask again - is this the future of the publishing model?

February 8, 2007

T Minus 7 Days

My friend Rob's satellite is launching on Feb. 15 - the cool part is that I will be there to watch it go up! Rob managed to get me invited to attend the launch, tour the space center, etc.!! The festivities kick off next Tuesday and the launch is next Thursday. Of course, I will be videoing the launch, so if i can figure out how to upload it onto YouTube, next week you will (hopefully) be able to see it as well.

In the meantime, here's some video on the satellite, with Rob making an appearance at around the 2 and a half minute mark...

February 9, 2007

Thursday at "The U"

I spent yesterday at the We Media conference held at the University of Miami. Conference was good, but the only thing I kept thinking was why the hell didn't I try to go to school down here.

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My favorite moment: they had a cocktail hour after the event with an outdoor hors d'oeuvres table. At the same time, some classes were letting out and lots of students were walking through. Some of the more ambitious students did what any good college student should do - they lined up and started raiding the free food (until the police sent them on their way). Ahhh, college life....

Sadly, no Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis or even Gino Toretta sightings.

February 10, 2007

The Man of the House

Meet Jake - he runs things here in my parents house (where I am visiting for the weekend).

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February 11, 2007

Hot or Not?

I generally try to stay away form political discussions. Why? Well, for starters, no one usually agree with my libertarian viewpoints. Also, I think I have some tender political scar tissue from my years in Washington, DC, where everyone discussed politics all the time.

Washington really is a company town, with everyone's business some way or another having to do with the government. Walk into any bar in any city in the US, you'll hear people talk about sports, music, movies, whatever. Walk into a DC bar (especially some of the institutions in capital hill area) and you'll hear patrons debating things like the latest NASA regulations or other matters. In other words, after a while you (or at least I) got my fill of political discussions.

With that, certain issues do still torque me. One of the main ones is modern day environmentalism. What really annoys me is how these days environmentalism is treated as a religion. Therefore, anyone who questions any of the underlying premises is immediately vilified. To many, there is no room for an opposing view point - and, to me, that is unacceptable.

So, with that, I figured I would point out a couple of interesting articles about the hot button issue of global warming. As far as I am concerned, this is still an undecided issue, so the more facts, opinions, conversations, debate the better.

(Disclaimer, I realize these articles are newspaper columns and not scientific climatology papers. I point them out because they are easy to read and contain many under-publicized but nonetheless interesting facts).

So if you are interested in hearing a different voice/ set of facts than what you typically read, check them out. And don't worry, reading them won't cause lightening to strike you down...

Simple Thoughts On Branding

From time to time I let my mind wander into murky areas like branding. As a former lawyer, with no business school background to rely on, I realize this is probably dangerous. But then again I always remind myself that in addition to being an amateur marketer, often times I am a consumer - and a good brand should be one that even I, the novice, can deduce. So I proceed.

Very simplistically, my thoughts about brands tend to be two fold: value + context. Tell me what it is the product is and then tell me how/ why it is different than the rest of the myriad of choices out there. That's the basic foundation on which the brand is built in my eyes. There are all sorts of ideas, slogans, images, etc. that go on top of it that help refine it, but that's the blocking and tackling part.

As I am sure you could have guessed, most of my brand thoughts tend to revolve the online world. Today, my self-exercise was to think about various websites and come up 10 words or less for each that adequately conveyed my understanding of their brand. Specifically, I tried to complete this sentence: _____________ is the place to go to _____________. Here's what I came up with:

Amazon is the place to go to buy books.

Google is the place to go to search the web.

Ebay is the place to go to buy auctioned goods.

TechCrunch is the place to go to find out about new start-ups.

CNN is the place to go to read national and international news.

ESPN is the place to go to read sports news.

Gawker/ Defamer/ Valleywag is the place to go to get the NY/LA/ Silicon Valley gossip.

YouTube is the place to go to check out videos.

Marksonland is the place to go to find out what's on Mike's brain.

Pretty simple, right? So what's the catch? None really, except that it actually occurred to me that one of the things that any succinct web site brand has is actually buried in my question. Every web site is a place to go to do something. Leaving that out of the brand is the equivalent of a clothing company describing a its new product as a continuous suede surface infolded on itself with five out-pouchings, but not mentioning that is it a glove. (Or in net parlance, calling your self some sort of next generation, AJAX enabled, social-aggregator, etc.).

I think this is especially important for those sites that are trying to grab market-share from the leading sites mentioned above (Marksonland, obviously, notwithstanding). If you want to take on Amazon, the place to go to buy books, then tell me why I should go to your place to buy books instead. You have a place to buy books cheaper, used books, travel books, business books, well reviewed books, whatever. You probably have lots of features that will make my life better, but in describing them to me, don't forget to tell me the basics of why I am going to your site: ________ is a place to go for ___________.

You might even want to use these words. Hey, it worked for Myspace, right?

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February 12, 2007

Tails and Dogs

Lots of chatter about the future of music distribution thanks to the recent Steve Jobs essay. For an interesting rant on the deficiencies of the production side of music, check out the latest from the Lefsetz Letter.

You can’t let 'Not Ready To Make Nice' win the Record of the Year, never mind the SONG of the year, it eviscerates your CREDIBILITY! And all you’ve got is your credibility. Without it, you’re Vanilla Ice. Yup, the Grammys are now Vanilla Ice, laughable has-beens.

He says it a lot more colorfully than I could ever hope to. The face of music is changing. If the labels think that a new, disruptive distribution channel, with new economics attached, doesn't require a change to the approach to creating content, they should check in with the newspaper industry. Distribution and content - as one evolves so must the latter. Otherwise, people start to call you Vanilla ice.

February 14, 2007

Blog Envy

After I read Rich's latest post I dropped him a note to tell him I had blog envy.

Really a tour de force of a post and a must read for anyone "participating" in today's "participatory media" - and even the casual observers.

Lots of people noticed, even our friends across the pond.

bbc.bmp

February 15, 2007

Crash Course in Astrophsyics

We're at L minus one here in Cape Canaveral. The launch got delayed one day because of lightening, so instead of going off tonight, it is rescheduled for tomorrow at 6:05 PM EST. The satellite(s) going up have a specific mission. Solar wind wreaks havoc on the earth's magnetic field. The field that faces the sun looks like a ring around the earth. However, as solar wind passes through the field, it causes the field lines to break up. (Picture a comet with a round front and a tail behind it. The round front is what the magnetic field looks like on the side of the earth facing the sun. The tail behind it is what it looks like after the solar wind has done its thing).

However, this magnetic field is resilient. At some point, many miles past the earth, the magnetic field reconnects. Where exactly this reconnection takes place is unknown. So, NASA is sending five satellites up on a Delta 2 rocket to figure out where this happens - and that's the launch I will see tomorrow. Pretty cool.

Now, you ask, how do I know all of this?? Well, today I attended the NASA briefing on it (yes, it's obvious I dressed up and was not hung over).

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Anyway, while I was there I got to listen to a lot of smart people talk about a bunch of stuff I don't really understand (kind of reminded me of when I sit in on the Topix engineering meetings):

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All in all, a great day. Really learned a lot and can't wait for tomorrow's launch. Thanks Rob!!

February 18, 2007

Lift Off

Great video, but I have to say, even more impressive in person.....:)

February 19, 2007

The Origin of Advertising?

PaidContent pointed me to an article in AdWeek discussing the revenues/ audience disparity of MySpace and Yahoo. Essentially the article notes that while MySpace audience generates more page views than Yahoo, Yahoo's revenue is much larger.

[I]n December, with FIM [MySpace] posted 41.5 billion page views, while Yahoo tallied just under 36 billion.

MySpace was generating almost $25 million in ad revenue per month and growing at almost 30 percent per quarter, which would put its ad revenue in excess of $450 million by year's end. Yahoo had almost $1.5 billion in ad revenue in the fourth quarter of 2006 alone.

Hmmmm. This sounds familiar.

First off though, it should be noted that the reason Yahoo's revenue is so much larger is that it has a monetizeable search product. Search is where the money is. While MySpace may kick butt in page views, my guess is that most of those page views are either non-search navigation views and/or non-monetizeable search queries (queries like "Mike Markson" where no one has bought that key word). If they looked at non-search revenue for both companies, my guess is that they would be pretty close to the same. In other words, we're back to the overall issues with the publishing model online.

What's interesting about the article is it starts to delve into the metrics of non-search advertising. Reader engagement, number of page views per hour, profile page views, number of friends, etc. All of this is an acknowledgment that in a world of very exact metrics, traditional pageview measurements aren't enough.

I've always said that advertising is sold, not bought - and that advertisers will try anything once. It's getting to buy a second time that is the real challenge. To do that, you actually have to sell them on what success looks like. One of the senior folks at Tribune once told us that TV advertising started out with the direct response metric and evolved over time to the audience measurements we see today. Perhaps we're starting to see a similar evolution for online advertising.

If so, this is good news for the publishing industry.

February 20, 2007

Ode to Drudge

Political leanings aside, I really like the Drudge Report for a few reasons:

1. Coverage. I don't know how he does it. He has minions scouring the net all day? He gets more Google News alerts than anyone? He spends all his day on his RSS reader? Whatever he does, he not only seems to get all of the relevant news on his site, he actually links to breaking stories faster than anyone else. Good reason to come back a few times a day, no?

2. Editorial. And by that, I am not referring to the right-leaning stories. I mean the mix of links he puts on his page. Obviously the top story is the biggest headline of the moment, but he goes beyond that. There is always an element of serendipity I enjoy when I go to his page. It's the equivalent of when a TV news casts blends in a story "on the lighter side" - or when you check into a news of the weird page. For instance, when checking the page today, I clicked on this story. Not essential news, but something that made my visit to Drudge entertaining - i.e. a reason to come back.

3. The Layout. Drudge, along with Craig, is the classic ugly but extremely functional design. In fact, 10 years later it is now part of his brand. Imagine if you saw a layout of his page but with the distinctive Drudge Report across the middle missing - you'd still know exactly where you were. His design is his brand - really a tough trick to pull off. My short list of folks who have done it include him, Craig and Google.

All of this leads to Drudge being a top 100 site year after year. Now, naysayers may argue that he got his "break" on the Monica Lewinsky story - or that he caters to a right wing audience. Both probably true. But, there are lots of sites that have their moment in the sun and then fade away and/ or cater to a specific audience. Not many stick around for as long as Drudge.

In an era where SEO and SEM decide where the traffic goes, Drudge has managed to succeed in publishing the old fashioned way: editorial, coverage, layout - and in the process, he managed to build himself a strong brand. I'm jealous.

February 21, 2007

Heh

Chris pointed me to this little spoof video...made me laugh.

February 22, 2007

Random Rant

Many industries have hit-making down to a science. Hollywood is a good example - from the script to the the cast to the production to the testing to the release to the marketing to the distribution - every step of the way, calculated decisions are made that are designed to maximize a movies success. Same can be said for cheeseburgers, toothpaste, autos, etc. They know what it takes to make a hit and they pursue it. They might not always get it right, but there is some research and science to the choices that are made.

Notice all of those examples I gave are offline. What about online? As far as I can tell there are only three real online hitmaking "strategies": SEM/ SEO, viral and syphoning (taking your existing traffic and using promotion on your site to "syphon" it off to a new product (ex. Checkout links on the home page of Google.) I put "strategies" in quotes above, because, aside from SEM, it's hard to build a science around any of these.

Not much help offline for the online world either. Offline campaigns seem to be better suited for brand maintenance than initial hitmaking. Maybe a Superbowl ad will lead to a spike in traffic, but what's the what's the CPC? Or more importantly, what's the CPM (factoring in return user count)?

Even traditional hitmakers can't figure this out. Newspapers and record companies use to tell us who the rich and famous were - the folks we were supposed to fear and envy. Now these behemoth's have less say online than some random bloggers.

So how do you make a hit? Unless you can put science around viral, or can find yourself in the good graces of the Google Star Chamber, as far as I can tell TBD for now. And SEM/ SEO become mandatory marketing classes in business school....

Update: like I said, it's hard to put science around viral....

February 23, 2007

Mini Quiches?

Mark Cuban - fellow Mt. Lebanon HS grad, and, oh yeah, owner of the Dallas Mavericks ;) - thinks that that online video is a snack, while TV is a meal. I like that analogy. Some people have pointed me to long form videos on the net, but I can't watch them. It's not just a quality issue. Like everyone else, I'm leaning forward - purpose driven - not content to just lean back and enjoy. Anything more than a couple of minutes, I'm usually ready to move on.

Now, Mark may conclude that TV is much more fulfilling, but I'm not sure the younger crowd agrees. If online video is just a snack, unfortunately for the TV networks there's a whole buffet out there. It includes video games, MySpace, IM'ing, IPOD's, and everything else (even, gasp, a game of catch with friends in the great outdoors). TV used to be pretty much the one and only entertainment format in the home. Those days are past. It's a crowded room now. Getting the user's attention and keeping it is becoming more and more difficult.

In the spirit of the analogy, perhaps TV is that really good meal you had the other night that's still in the fridge but you worry won't "keep" if you keep it around much longer? Eh...probably not.

February 24, 2007

From the Comments.....

My friend Dave really needs a blog. Whenever he comments on my entries, it's always a worthwhile read. Here's a bit of his comment to my last post, talking about the challenges of growing up in the online world we live into today:

I also see the negative results in my job. Specifically, I handle all of the law school recruiting for my law firm's office in Pittsburgh. As a result, I often attend recruiting conferences and receive newsletters whose main topic is what to expect from "this year's class." Lately, the message has been that graduates these days will require more hand holding and the development of people skills than any class before them. Why? Because they are the first class whose lives have been entirely shaped by technology and the Internet....

What's worse is that these 20-somethings have no ability to engage in what I call "bar conversation." You know, the kind of spontaneous conversation that occurs during an interview that has absolutely nothing to do with the job, your educational background, etc. Just adult conversation like you would have at a bar with your buddies or even a complete stranger. It concerns me. We clearly have a generation that is incredibly bright and technologically savvy, but has no real life people skills.

Now, Dave is a master of bar conversations, so he may hold folks to a higher standard than the rest of us. :) An interesting anecdote nonetheless.

February 25, 2007

Peer Pressure

Heh. Chalk up another victory to peer pressure (or should that be blog pressure). After calling him out less than 24 hours ago, my friend Dave is now blogging! He always has a unique perspective, so I'm looking forward to reading what he has to say.

Jobs Rank?

Bob Lefsetz on the state of "hits" in the music world:

"In other words, almost nobody is listening. You can spend all that time in the studio, but no matter how great the product, not only do most people not care, they’re not even aware of what you’re doing.

Oh, you could take an ad in a targeted publication. But that’s just awareness, you can’t hear the music in a print ad. And the elder audience is used to being turned on by the radio, which they no longer listen to. And the younger audience is used to being turned on by their buddies. So what’s going on in the so-called mainstream is really the sideshow. And the mainstream is so complicated, so full of so many elements, that it’s almost indecipherable. Or, to put it another way, maybe there just isn’t a mainstream."

Reading this made me think of my recent hit-making rant. As Rich points out, what I was really ranting about were distribution strategies. But in the media model, distribution is everything - distribution makes the hit.

In the online world, distribution begins pretty much at one place. Google aggregates the audience where they then re-direct people to their ultimate online destination. Page Rank and SEM, its paid equivalent, are the hit-makers.

But who's the hit-maker for music? It used to be radio, influential magazines, newspapers, television, etc. But we all know these institutions are losing their reach and, therefore, their capability to influence.

Ironically, it seems like it should be easier to create hits today. Music used to have a distributed model where to actually buy it, people had to get into their car and drive to any one of the many places across the country that sold it. Not anymore. Access to the single point of sale - the I tunes music store - is now actually built into the player. As a result, there a distributed audience all going to the same place for the purposes of buying music. Shouldn't it be easier to build consensus, i.e. a hit, there?

In this regard, hasn't Apple has created a really effective vertical search site? All that's missing is the hit-making algorithm. Jobs Rank...kinda catchy....

February 27, 2007

Tattoo You

When I was in college I remember a bunch of us constantly talking about getting a tattoo. Most of the conversation was around getting our fraternity letters inked somewhere on our arms, legs, etc. Anyway, then someone upped the ante. One year following a winter break one of my friends came back to campus with not just a tattoo - but a huge, fire breathing dragon on his shoulder. Needless to say, while we were all EXTREMELY amused, the tattoo conversation never came up again.

Thankfully. I can't imagine being a 40 year old man with three random greek letters permanently stained on my body. At this point, what does having a tattoo say about you? In many ways, it reminds me of my old Grateful Dead days. Deadheads were perfect examples of lots of folks who did their best to be different by acting exactly the same. I used to make the joke that if you really show you rebellious side at a dead show, you should show up in a three piece suit and a BMW, not a tie dye and a VW bus.

But that's not how it works. We all want to be part of something. It's human nature. But perhaps some take it too far? For instance:

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Now that's scary.

February 28, 2007

Ad Nauseum

At Topix, we've been working with Google since day 1. While we do compete with one of their products, more importantly they are a great partner - both a terrific source of traffic and, through the AdSense program, our main monetization partner on the site.

Like any partner in life, there are good days and, yes, bad days. The past couple of days have been bad days. For some reason, where normally lucrative Adsense usually reside on the site, the past couple of days non-lucrative public service announcements have been living. I'm all for charity, but, in a word, arrrgghhh. And you wonder why I am losing my hair.

In any event, our friends in Mountain View tell me they have folks working on this - and I am confident it will be resolved shortly. In the meantime, it gives me lots of time to contemplate the benefits and detriments of outsourcing your advertising to a third party.....more on that later.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Marksonland in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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