Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

We believe in print advertising. We also believe in digital advertising and we particularly love multi-platform advertising campaigns. But we believe print advertising is being particularly neglected right now because of all the attention being placed on digital and social platforms.

Win $1 million worth of advertising with a Creative idea for and execution of an ad campaign.

Agencies have forgotten how powerful print ads can be, and how impossible they are to replicate on digital platforms. Discovery is still a very big advantage of print advertising and one that we fear is being lost in the digital stampede. There are, we believe, moments when print advertising may be the best alternative to sell a product or build a brand.

And we want to help prove it! So today we are offering $1 million worth of full color print advertising in USA Today to an ad agency or client who steps up with the most engaging and creative use of print to sell their product, service or brand.

Think of it. Beautiful, full color, full-page ads running in the nation’s newspaper. A million dollars worth of them to the most creative advertising storyteller we can find.

So pick up a copy of USA Today and check out the full-page ad on the competition today, or read our brand new Media columnist Michael Wolff’s column about what advertising has to do to regain its footing. Or, click on the photo with this post and get more details. Then, get out your crayons and get to it!

Today we launched the new
Thank’s to the magnificent and tireless work of an army of engineers, designers, programmers, product managers, editors, etc., under the direction of Gannett Digital president David Payne, we are taking a huge step into the future, not without risk, by creating what we believe is a major step for our viewers and advertisers.
The new is a dramatic change for both.

For our readers and viewers it represents a significant step toward visual storytelling, but one that respects the fact that no two readers are alike, especially during times of significant technological change. We give you several options on how to view news, information, entertainment and advertising but all involve significant curation by our editorial staff, the heart and soul of the value we bring to this storytelling process. This creation is truly a collaborative work between dedicated technologists and equally dedicated journalists.

We give the reader the ability to use visuals or words in varying degrees in their consumption process. And we will do it in varying degrees. If the reader wants, for example, he or she can view each story by starting with a photograph or a video. They can even use a device we call “Cover Mode” (see the little book-like design at the top of the page) that allows them to see each story via a full-page photograph, the most dramatic use of still photography in the storytelling process we have ever seen on the Internet.

We give you the ability to view by our definition of importance or by anyone’s definition of timeliness. By merely scrolling over a visual reference to a story they can also see more text to put that story in context. And by viewing our “Right Now” column along the right side of the page, you will see relevant social media reactions to the ongoing story in real-time.
Our horizontal navigation, inspired by the growing and already massive use of tablets, allows the reader to “peruse” the sections or the stories on the site by turning pages, re-imagining the “discovery” process we so love in the print media. It allows you to be surprised by content you didn’t know existed, but to do so at your own speed, depending upon your time and inclination.

Cover View: A new way to peruse stories through their most dramatic images

The horizontal “page-turning” experience also allows our advertisers to reclaim the full-page ad they so dearly want and need. We allow those advertisers the chance to use the entire palate in whatever way they want to grab your attention, all the time giving you the same ability you had in print to turn the page. But watch out, you are going to see some wonderful ads that use dramatic visual tools from interactivity to video to draw you in.

Advertising in general has also changed in a big way on this site. Gone are the many small units that appears in different places on the page, frequently below the “fold” or unavailable until you scrolled down. We listened to our readers and our advertisers, and we have reacted by giving both a better experience. We have limited the advertisers to fewer but much more dramatic positions, giving them the same chance we are giving ourselves of telling their stories better and reaching more people with increasingly dramatic tools.

This is truly a major step into the new world of digital storytelling, one that empowers them, as storytellers with their own story to tell, to use every tool available: video, audio, text, photography, interactivity and more to tell his or her story. This is a step in the reinvention of storytelling, it’s also a step in the reinvention of how news will be created and consumed. We’re extremely excited to be part of that process.

Much more to come. Watch over the next few weeks as we roll out our new tablet and mobile apps, and if you haven’t recently, take a look at our print newspaper, too. It has also begun to embrace the strengths of a print product in today’s media mix and you will be surprised. And we are making it easier on all platforms for you to contact us. In the spirit of this new era of communications, please send us your comments, ideas and suggestion.

Now, we know we have made it.  Stephen Colbert revealed our new logo treatment to the world, in a way only he could. Turns out USA Today is his favorite newspaper, and he’s not a fan of change.  But in the end, he embraces change…….sort of, by using the logo itself to tell the story of how hard the USA Today  graphics department will be working to execute our “living” logo each day.



It’s not widely known here that most of the highly-discounted fashion sites in the US, like Gilt,  HauteLook, Beyond The Rack, Rue La La, and others are really copies of a site that began in France almost a decade ago,  called vente-privee.

A fascinating company with nearly a billion dollars in revenue,  vente-privee began the process of daily sales of luxury products that were generally remnant inventory from high fashion designers discounted by about 70%.  its sales were generally posted at 8 in the morning, and enormously popular in France.  

The business soared because it offers a totally different experience than a direct sale from the brand itself.  The prices is considerably cheaper, yet doesn’t threaten the relationship between the brands and their best customers, who look for the latest and hottest fashions.  Vente-privee makes the brand accessible to a more mass audience because that audience is willing to concede certain things in order to own products from the brand at a more affordable price.

Vente-privee’s founder Jacques-Antoine Granjon had, until now, avoided the American market, making the case to me in an interview in 2010 that it was different and now more competitive.  But he found a way in.  He found a partner, American Express (NYSE: AXP).  By partnering with American Express he avoids the huge costs of having to build his brand here..they will do it for him.  And because of his relationships with the European designers, he might be able to bring more exclusive products to this market, which otherwise has become very crowded with copycats.

This international move is another example of the power of the internet to remove barriers to doing business everywhere.  Vente-privee is now able to bring its size and pricing power into the US Market without huge upfront costs because American Express, like so many US companies looking for pathways to grow, is expanding it’s presence into e-commerce.  This is a perfect opportunity to test the e-commerce marketplace with a successful partner.  By working with an established business from another country, American Express is able to extract value from the relationship in the form of a learning process in exchange for something it can trade with little incremental expense, branding and exposure to the US Market.  It’s a smart move for both companies.

The impact on the US competitors is yet to be seen.  It could make life more difficult, but it could also serve to expand the market for everyone by making this kind of shopping more acceptable.


The choice of Scott Thompson is another roll of the dice by the Yahoo Board, which hasn’t been winning a lot at the craps table lately. But to be fair to Pay Pal’s extremely successful boss Scott Thompson, everyone deserves a chance to rise to the occasion,

The problem is that Yahoos board continues to see the company in their image as a technology company when it clearly has to become a media company to succeed. The last CEO was also hired for her tech creds, though shortly after arriving she admitted that her own assessment was that the company had to become a media content company. She just didn’t know how to do that.

Hopefully, Thompson will be a quick study and will learn what it takes to become a content creator. But it is a big bet, and the choice reflects a board that is still unable to see the future clearly enough to make the changes necessary. They hired one of their own, leaving the task of deciding the company’s future in the CEO with little or no help from the board.

It can be done. But it’s not easy.

A clear message that the board understood the direction the company had to take would have been to appoint a true media executive. I’m thankful that Thompson has deep consumer experience. But it remains to be seen whether or not he has the vision to become a great media executive.

One of the biggest advantages of the new digital media world is the ability to track behavior and generate data that can have profound impact on the success of companies and their products. By measuring actual consumer behavior and being able to track the roots of that behavior — as in discovering WHY someone was led to take an action, or WHO influenced them to buy the product they did — one can craft a much more efficient attack to change or improve image or sales.

While hundreds of new companies are working on data mining techniques that will analyze this newly-available data in real time and help companies discovery what they have to do and who they have to influence to help get their products or services to grow, there are some new developments that significantly raise the bar in the quality of the data that will be available.

Many of the early players in this world, sensing that social media was driving a lot of the new online consumer activity, began to build software that monitored social media influence. By tapping into the social media behavior of people, these firms were able to determine who has power in social media. Which tweeters get retweeted the most, who gets followed or “liked” on Facebook the most, etc. It can measure the level of discussion about a product on social media platforms. Klout is an example of this kind of business, giving everyone who signs up on their site a “score” for how influential they are.

But Social Media is only part of the story. The “Warren Buffett” problem is a good example why it isn’t the answer. Warren Buffett is not on Social Media, but he would rank high on anyone’s list as someone with influence. His influence shows up more, for example, in traditional media like Television, Newspapers and Magazines, on and in which he regularly appears. Yet his Klout score would be zero.

This brings me to a new product being released tomorrow from a company in New York called Appinions (full disclosure, I joined the board of this company earlier this year and watched the development of this product with great anticipation). Using search and analysis software developed at Cornell, Appinions measures the influence of individuals across all forms of media — textual and video — and allows its customers to drill down and see exactly what the influencers are saying. Appinions can tell you how many people are talking about you, how loudly they are speaking (ie how many people are watching, listening, reading their words), and whether or not what they are saying is positive or negative. And it can give the customer the same information about their competition and their industry in general.

Thus is born the “The Influence Gap”, a data product that can produce data on any topic or product or industry and tell a company where they stand in true public discussion. Are they talked about more or less than competitors? How many people are talking about them, and What do people say about them, about their competition and about the industry they are in?

This kind of information is invaluable to companies trying to build a brand, or, for example, politicians trying to win votes. Imagine a politician being able to pinpoint which Influencers, like media pundits or other politicians, are influencing the most people to vote for someone else and to be able to pinpoint exactly what they are saying and where they are saying it. That politician could then target his message to those people and focus on the issue THEY are raising. This would allow for much more efficient campaign spending on advertising or PR. They could, for example, figure our who is influencing opinion on a particular subject, like foreign policy. Then they can target that influence and his or her audience, with just a targeted foreign policy message.

Finally, by following these trends before and after a company has launched it’s marketing campaign, or a politician has responded, Appinions can, for the first time, generate a true ROI on the impact of the campaign on the public perception of a product, brand or candidate. In Appinion’s case, they serve media customers like the Economist, corporate clients and several Advertising and PR agencies like Mediawhiz, Digitas, EuroRSCG and Edelman. And they are in discussions with several political campaigns.

This will be a major step forward toward actually realizing the early promise that digital media platforms would truly monitor consumer and influencer behavior in a much richer way than has ever been available before.

Concern is growing that the overall Advertising Market is beginning to slow down, and that situation will worsen after the presidential election is over. Such concerns have caused media companies to accelerate their hunt for new revenue streams.

None of this comes as a surprise. Increasingly marketers have shifted funds from advertising to PR, social media efforts and even content creation. The percentage of marketing money that goes to advertising is dropping and is expected to continue to drop.

According to The Wall Street Journal today, Kantar Media is suggesting that decelerating ad spending growth in the first half of the year could shift to an actual decline in the third quarter.

The Los Angeles Times Story about the same report from Kantar says that “seismic shifts in spending continue to roil the media industry.” Pointing out that many of these changes have been driven by the recession, the LA Times cites major ad buying categories like retailers, automakers and homes sellers as having “been particularly hard hit, and few are predicting a speedy recovery.”

But there have been other contributors to the problems. After the Japanese earthquake damaged car factories and slammed auto production, the floods in Thailand did the same thing to many of the parts manufacturers.

All of this is contributing to a need on the part of content creators to search for new revenue streams besides traditional advertising. In the video world, while some of that money may come from non-traditional advertising, like digital or even advertising supported video-on-demand, there are also non-advertising related revenue streams, like NetFlix and Amazon deals, where consumers are starting to pay both subscriptions and one-time fees to have content delivered when and where they want it.

For print publications, that can mean several things. One of the more interesting strategies comes from the LA Times this week, which launched its e-books business this week with the publication of “A Nightmare Made Real”, an e-book about a crime the paper covered earlier in the year, combining the paper’s coverage and some new material into a digital book. Coming soon is a collection of holiday cookie recipes that paper had published earlier. Pricing on e-books is going to be tested, ranging from 99 cents to $19.99, with some consideration being given to a subscription model. The books will be sold on Kindle, Nook, IBooks and at the newspaper’s own e-bookstore. According to the LA Times, several newspapers are now experimenting with ebooks.

We can only hope the move to generate new revenue streams happens quickly enough to offset the softening in the traditional markets.