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For the last three days Red Hat software has run fill page ads in The New York Times paper paper. Today I broke down and read one.  I’m not sure if they were three different ads or the same one. Lost opportunity.  Advertising is a funny business; even bad ads work. Sometimes just being there is enough. But I’m not of that school. I dislike “We’re Here” advertising. Ads that do little more than arrive, list services and give contact info.  

What’s the idea Red Hat? It appears, from the headline, that the idea is “Tame Today. Frame Tomorrow.”  If the idea wasn’t so hackneyed I’d mention it’s actually two ideas. Both well-done. (Like a 2 hour Bubba Burger.)

I’ve liked Red Hat, as a brand, from its beginnings many, many moons ago. Famous for open source, famous for dashing tech branding. But come on people! Could you make an ad with some vital organs? With some proof of claim? With a semblance of a brand strategy? You can’t just toss a logo on a page, add a second color, play copywriting scrabble and call it advertising.  

Red Hat needs a brand strategy. Look to your advertising ancestors. Read a book on advertising. Find an idea based on care-abouts and good-ats.

Peace.

 

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I love technology. I understand its transformative power but also its ability to alter the future tense. The future we can’t see. I say this so you won’t think me a geeze.  newspaper I was on train last week with some neighbors and we were talking about reading the news on iPads. The neighbors liked reading on their tablets. I am a fan of the paper paper. I’ve had this discussion before but never really thought about my side of the argument. Sure the paper paper uses natural resources. Sure you can bookmark and word-search on a tablet. The paper paper is unwieldy to some. But one thing you can do with the paper paper that you can’t with an electronic story is see a thousand words of the story in one huge folio view. With a broadsheet paper like The New York Times, I can go back to a piece of data or a person’s name without missing a beat. Muscle memory reminds me where on the page the content was, e.g., lower left, mid-right, previous page. That’s hard to do with a tablet. Tablets are so linear. Paper papers or a bit more for how people really read. Reading news and analysis is more chaotic. It’s more twitchy. (Google Fast Twitch Media.)

The reading experience is different using a paper paper. By tearing out passages or pages and leaving them in piles on my desk, in the bottom of my backpack or on my dresser, it reduces my footprint of digital notes, URLs, tags and logs…of which there are many. For me, the usability of the paper paper — crumbs, coffee spills, folding routines and all – provides a richer experience. A different experience. For me, a better experience. I think the paper paper is here to stay. #justme. Peace.

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In the Netflix earning report yesterday it was noted that 75% or all streamed hours of content were recommended by the algorithm.  What does that tell you?  It’s an example of the algorithm winning over social recommendation social recos being the “likes” and “ratings” and “reviews” which are the ballast of so many web communities.  

Many marketing studies rate purchase influence and far and away the winning source of influence is always  “friends.”  Advertising is usually way down in the pecking order.  But where is the algorithm in those studies? Not included.

Ad serving is pretty dumb most of the time.  I’m still getting ads served based on project work, not even closely related to what I care about in my personal life. Sluggish algorithm.  But the algorithm employed by Pandora and Netflix?  Now these use energetic algorithms. This is where big data targeting is going. This is where Twitch Point Planning is going. In the “understand, map and manipulate” triumvirate of the TPP process, smarter algos will feed the understanding component. (I am so excited about Twitch Point Planning I could pizzle myself. Even The New York Time paper-paper is using it by providing video links to twitch to a multimedia part of the story.)

Understand the algo — the many competing algos — they are the keys to the marketing future. Peace!    

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You’ve heard it said before “Boston is s young city.” Demographically that is.  Lots of college kids, lots of city stuff – it’s a big draw for Millennials and younger adults.   The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe.  The New York Times, after taking a major shot in the chops, has pulled its financials together under the guise of the old marketing saw “focus,” and been selling a  number of non-core properties – About.com was let loose a while ago.

Here’s the thing, The New York Times is a brilliant newspaper and news property. One of a kind. The Boston Globe is also quite good.  But the captains of industry in Boston are reading the Times. The problem with the newspaper business is kids aren’t reading paper papers. Walk around Boston and count how many upward mobes are carrying newspapers. They have smarties and iPads but no paper.

The NY Times has to see this and plan a generation ahead – and it know this.  The NYT is in the news business, not the paper business – and it knows this. The company can take all the Mexican bailout money it wants to right the ship but the future is the future and it’s coming. Knowing and doing are two different things. Don’t follow the new financial statements, look out the window.

Selling the Boston Globe may fund innovation but this news property needs to demonstrate it is looking and planning beyond the dashboard. Peace.

 

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When is a newspaper article finished?  Well, maybe never.  I’m was reading today about Apple’s new educational releases, e.g., iBooks 2, iBooks Author, iTunes U, in The NY Times paper paper and wanted to save the article to my OneNote document.  (Not many people know about Microsoft OneNote — but should.)  Anyway, in order to save the article I went to the NYTimes.com and while lighting up the URL noticed the article, first published at 10 A.M., had been updated at  9:02 last night.  Now that update may have made the paper paper but it may not. So why read the paper paper which may have old, perhaps, less than accurate news? The reason is the form factor.

When the accuracy of the content in news reporting out-weights the form factor (user interface, e.g. paper vs. screen, vs. Siri) the war will really be over.   

But back to the first question. When is a newspaper article finished?  Will publishers be interested in changing stories in a year because they know it to have inaccurate info?  Will it be legal to do so? If it’s on the web and accessible, shouldn’t it be the truth?  Now there are some more things to nosh on.  Peace!

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About.com ran an ad in The New York Times (its parent company) today in honor of its 15th anniversary.  The ad also celebrates About’s 36 million monthly U.S. visitors.

Not sure if they are launching a new tagline, but locked up with the logo at the bottom of the ad are the words “Need. Know. Accomplish.” They visited the triumvirate tagline store, apparently.

Apparently, 15 years – which is nothing to sneeze at – is an About differentiator.  I say that because “need know accomplish” is the Bing strategy. And we know that Google owns the “need know accomplish” space.

I want About to win because I love The New York Times. About needs some of that NYT sophistication and savvy to rub off on it. It needs to be more human, less algo, more alive. And, frankly, it’s built an okay site reflecting that. The user experience faces the right direction. Problem is, the brand is weak. The promise blah. The there is there, but the message is without ballast. The New York Times has never really had to brand plan for the paper-paper or the digital version. It has just needed to promote and sell, because brand “the package” has always been so strong.  About.com, on the other hand, needs a home in consumers’ minds. Right now it’s a word. A site. It’s has a pumping heart.  Let’s hope in 5 years it has a soul too. I wish it well. Peace.

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Sally Hogshead declaimed yesterday at TEDxAtlanta that we have the attention span of about 9 seconds when it comes to marketing.  I believe she also mentioned a neurological study that suggested our brains are evolving so as to better process multiple pieces of information at once.  Being an evolutionist, I would have to agree but add that the effects of that evolution will probably not be seen unto the year 20,010.

Personally, I cannot read a whole article in the NY Times paper paper anymore without checking the web or email and I haven’t even bit the bullet and bought a smart phone yet, which is so in my future.   Last night over a beer with GetMurphy@yahoo.com, I mean my friend John Murphy, he offered up sheepishly that there are actually times when he might go off the grid for 3 straight hours to work – he’s a creative director at Millennium Communications.  (Did you know stevepoppe.com is an available URL?)

I’ve referred to this, as have many, as the ADD-ification of America.  Is it bad? Yes and no.  Is it good? Yes and no.  It just is. I read a Tweet this morning by someone who works for MDC Partners who mentioned that in the course of walking two blocks he saw 3 people walk into immovable objects.

I’m a roots guy. Awaiting a modest overload backlash.  But while waiting I’m preparing for the ADD-ification of my marketing targets. I know that an email that hits a Blackberry is more likely to get trashed than one that hits the desktop. Preparation. Peace!

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I write a good deal about newspapers and how that business is changing. I do so because there’s a big newspaper close to home, Newsday, that has great potential, but, as is the case with many papers, is nervous about real change.

 

What paper newspapers don’t seem to understand is that their online properties are really poised to win the news and local information war. Why? Because they have the content and the ability to deliver it (fact-checked) in near real time across a lot of media platforms: video, audio, pictures, feeds, and written word.  

 

I haven’t looked behind Newsday’s curtain and know there are smart people with money doing innovative things, but at the end of the day I think they’ll take the paper paper, turn it into flash and HTML, and debate the monetization issue.  Along with News Corp., Cablevision (owner of Newsday) is one of the few companies with the resources and footprint to reinvent the online news business…but they need to lose the fear and think different. In 10 years online news sites will be the sites of choice. Peace!  

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