Archive for October, 2010

The Kids Are All Right!

Posted: October 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s energizing and amazing watching the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. A rag tag group of cast offs and kids who clearly love the game and like each other. How rare. I don’t want you to think they are that young, but if you COMBINED the ages of Sunday night’s pitcher and catcher on the Giants you would only be two years older than Brett Favre.

But as Google, Facebook and even Microsoft in it’s day proved, you don’t have to be old and experienced to change the world. Sometimes it’s enough just not to know any better.

(Bobble Head Doll from Jerry Garcia Night at the SF Giants’ AT&T Park)

It may not seem like the most obvious move to make, but the internal discussions IAC is having over extending the Daily Beast into print could lead to a major step forward for the two-year old business that has made it’s mark on the Journalistic landscape but still needs to find the slow-to-build business model.

When starting a digital content business there are some things you can control — quality of content being the most important — but there are some things you can’t. The advertisers’ ability to understand and take advantage of a new medium falls in that second group.

The Beast has done exactly what it has had to do to build a new media brand, which is enormously difficult to do in today’s content-overload environment. Using a clever mix of 1) Original Content, which generally breaks new ground in either news or commentary, 2) Curation through it’s efforts to point readers the to very best coverage elsewhere on the topics that rule the day, 3) Community through it’s efforts to involve readers and bloggers in discussion and social media, and 4) Mobility through it’s a aggressive attitude toward new distribution platforms (though I really want a great IPad app from them) the Daily Beast is a textbook example of what a media company must become to succeed.

But because the Advertising world is behind in learning to adapt to these new media platforms, media companies need to be patient. But a few have wisely converged old media and new to finance the transition.

Politico is probably the best example. Besides its enormously popular web and email presence, most people outside of Washington, D.C. don’t even know that Politico launched a print edition when they started a few years back. That publication is printed daily when congress is in session and weekly when it isn’t (excellent targeting based on its readers’ needs) and circulated at the seat of political power through controlled circulation, meaning it’s given away to every power broker in town for free. There are about 30,000 copies distributed, and about 27,000 are given away (the rest are sold at newsstands).

In a reverse of the traditional way this works, in this case the well-known web product drives the interest in the print business. Stories are printed first online, because they can be, and later in print, which can under some circumstances be more convenient to a reader. Again, thinking of the reader’s habits over the publisher’s convenience or economics, which most certainly would lead to NOT printing a paper.

But even more important is the fact that the print edition is much more convenient to advertisers who know how to work with and LIKE a print product. The fact is, that even though there are millions more readers of the digital versions of Politico, until now, more advertising money came from the Print product!

The real irony is that the company concentrates its content creation in the web product because it’s truly real time, and it has built a sizable public reputation and impact primarily through its web product. Web stories come first, and the print product evolves from the web news operation.

The company has been able to generate up to 200 times more revenue per print reader than per web reader. That means that now the revenue from print is probably about equal to the revenue from the digital editions, but up until now, Print generated even more money than the web, despite the fact that its “circulation” was only 30,000 compared to millions on the web.

This isn’t because the print product is better, it’s because it’s easier for advertisers to buy. They understand it. They still don’t understand the web. This will change, but in the meantime Politico, a new media company, is financing it’s growth on the web by using good, old fashioned print.

The Daily Beast can learn something from that.

It started, like all evil habits, with an offhand suggestion from my pal Jon Wald at lunch a couple weeks ago. We were talking about the IPad, and its future impact on our world, the media. He casually mentioned how he had his son to thank for introducing him to Angry Birds, an IPad App.

Risking appearing unhip, I nevertheless asked, innocently enough, “What’s that?”

Weeks later I’ve hopelessly slid into the world of addiction.

Angry Birds is an IPad app. It’s a game from from Robio Mobile Ltd and Chillingo. Two names that are now, to me anyway, synonymous with the Columbian Cartels.

The game is very easy to start playing. Sort of like taking that first toke. Using your finger and an on-screen sling shot, you launch little birds of varying types over to bomb little pig like animals across the screen. The animals are strategically placed around and under various pieces of wood, ice and other items meant to block the flight of the birds, which, if they land on the animal, squash it.

I’m not going into any more detail, except there are various levels of competitions, like most video games (think rolling papers, crack pipe, etc) that present growing levels of complexity.

But this game, because it’s played on the IPad, is on a screen big enough for a geezer like me with,er, substantial fingers, to play. And, it doesn’t require the kind of rapid eye-hand coordination that only 8 year olds brought up on Madden Football have. It slowly draws you in because you feel like you can do it easily enough.

And, because the IPad starts right up, has a huge battery life, and is generally with you when you are bored and traveling, well, it’s there right in front of me all the time.

I’ve now tortured myself over four flights across country, countless runways and late nights in hotel rooms. I’m behind on my writing, reading and various other work I need to do.

But, at least I got my son addicted to it by buying him an IPad, and casually mentioning on the phone that he ought to try Angry Birds. And I told him just before he left for his annual weekend trip with his pals and fellow alums to Ann Arbor to see a Michigan football game.

Ha. He’ll probably never make the game.

You should try it. 🙂

The Gap Logos: Old (above) and New (briefly)

San Francisco-based Gap Inc has always been a pretty progressive place, but based on two entirely different announcements over the past two days they have become the poster child for companies trying to adapt to the new digital way of doing business.

Yesterday, the company announced that only a week after it rolled out a new Logo, with much fanfare, it was reversing course and bringing back the iconic white-on-blue traditional logo it had used for many years.

It’s a testimony to power of social media that the change happened so quickly. Facebook and Twitter users led a virtual assault on the company. Besides the usual outpouring of negative comments, users protested creatively. A number of joke websites went up, including one called “Crap Yourself Logo” which allowed users to create their own logo in the style of the new logo.

According to Marka Hansen, president of Gap Brand North America, “We’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand.”

At Gap brand, our customers have always come first,” she added. “We’ve been listening to and watching all the comments of this past week. We hear them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo and they want it back. So we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels.”

Beyond that, Hansen acknowledged that this was a lesson to the company. “We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.”

Joke Website Critical of New Logo

When they look at changing the logo again, perhaps sometime in the future, “if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way.”

Companies that think this way will ultimately benefit from their stronger relationship with their customers. Further news from the company today is proof of that. Issuing a new strategic plan, the company said it expects to double online sales to $2 billion by 2015. Online and International expansion will fuel most of the company’s growth.

“We’re making the investments to shift the balance of revenue over time to come increasingly from our online and international businesses,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap, Inc. He and other Gap executives told investors today that by 2013, international and online sales will be more than a quarter of the company’s total sales.
They plan to launch online in China and Italy this year and Japan next year.

The Gap’s growth isn’t just about online and digital, they also understand the need to meet their customers wherever they want to shop. The company is building out several sales channels, including outlets, franchises and other partnerships.

SF Giants: It’s our time!

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

This post comes from Scarborough Research:

According to new E-Reader Household data from Scarborough Research, the nine million adults within the four million households that own or plan to buy an e-reader device, 78% of adults in E-Reader Households read a newspaper in print or online during the past week, versus 71% of all adults. They are 11% more likely than the average adult to do so.

The study finds a strong relationship between e-reader devices and newspaper readership:

* 41% of adults in E-Reader Households visited a newspaper website during the past month, compared to 27% of total adults. They are 48% more likely than all consumers nationally to have visited a newspaper website during this timeframe
* Adults in E-Reader Households are 9% more likely than all adults nationally to have read a printed newspaper during the past week. Nationally, 71% of adults in e-reader households read a daily or Sunday paper during the past week, versus 65% of all adults
* 50% of these consumers read a Sunday printed newspaper on an average Sunday, as opposed to 46% of total adults

Gary Meo, senior vice president of digital media and newspaper services for Scarborough Research, observes that “…(the) data confirms the emergence of E-reader devices as an important technology for millions of Americans and… a natural companion to newspapers… creating a new opportunity for publishers to monetize content… “

From the review: “C-Scape is chalk full of excellent case studies and commentary. Larry offers plenty of practical ways to start winning in the C-Scape. Those who reflect on his visionary advise will have a strategic advantage over those who don’t.”