Alchemy ““ Sports branding is not a zero sum game.

Alchemy ““ Sports branding is not a zero sum game.  Football grows if Fútbol grows.

The NFL is one of those companies that make me go “what the hell are they thinking?“  At least every time I attempt to watch Monday Night Football.  The reason is simple; there are more commercials than football.

“Right now the NFL looks invincible. Everything about pro football keeps soaring: popularity, ratings, gate receipts, licensing. The reason is product quality — NFL games are fabulous. But could the NFL take a basketball-style tumble? Sure.“ ““ Gregg Easterbrook
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/8841434

I remember years ago swearing never to watch a major league baseball game again after one of the 932 different strikes.  America, me definitely included, finds a prim Dona millionaire vs. prim Dona millionaire dispute reprehensible.  The phrase “just shut up“ comes to mind.

So the NFL pitches Monday Night Football to television stations through an auction.  Bidders.  Winners.  Winners saddled with a bill they can’t cover.  Ridiculous commercial content 95% of the time.  And now ESPN is going to step in and save the day, and increase shareholder value by advertising even more on our cell phones.  Really?  Oh freakin’ please!

Fútbol on the other hand is known for NO commercial interruptions.   Discrete logos are shown at the bottom of the screen, and on the field, during play.  But there are no bustiere beer commercials during play.  The clock counts up, not down; as if tension is not the point.  The “stoppage play“ mocks the time clock with a variable hanging out there the entire time.

The NFL is hosting football games in the home of Fútbol games, Mexico City, because they want to recapture some of the alchemy they specifically killed.  Like a 60 year old wearing a too-short-skirt they yearn for days gone by.  And of course they SHOULD do this.  But it is nothing more than chemotherapy on a limb in an alternate country; it does not address the root cause.

From a social software perspective the NFL has successfully created a monopoly (commons) through legislation.  They have not found auctions successful in solving the problem of the commons.  From a socio-political perspective, neither has anyone else.  The real problem is deeper than that, obviously, and requires a more complex systemic solution.  We get that.  The details are challenging.

Google streaming “Everyone Hates Chris”

From Palmer – I think this is significant

And, in a historic move, Google is offering an Internet streamcast of last week’s TV premiere of Chris Rock’s UPN comedy “Everybody Hates Chris,” marking the search company’s first foray into primetime TV program streaming. The 21 minute-long show, sans commercials, is available on Google Video through Thursday.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9492639/ This sort of blows up the concept of illegal file sharing or editing out commercials — I’d love to hear your comments on this.

Also from HappyKat who seems to be one step ahead of me so many times…

http://www.jotlive.com/
I like this idea -  I also like the word “˜versionitis’.

Ford Commercial – Bad Branding with Zombies Assembling Stuff

Dallas game – Oakland is winning.  Ford Commercial comes on.

da…da-dat…da-dat…da-dat (cosmic music)

Masses of people walking towards the same destination carrying thousands of auto parts.  Parts of an SUV to be assembled.  Like zombies they crush towards the middle to add their part.

"If you could build your own SUV … blah blah … you’d build the 2006 Explorer.  The best Explorer ever."

They walk like zombies.  Am I the only one who jumps to ask if those zombies are the ones who died in the less than "best" Ford Explorers that kept flipping over a few years back?  I recognize the need for buzz, but I can’t be alone in this mind connection.  And at this moment I am more likely to purchase anything other than a Ford Explorer.

Kids who did NOT want to go to the movies

I came home yesterday to a house full of kids.  Kids who did NOT want to go to the movies.  They actually chose going to Target over going to the movies.  When exactly did going to the movies become such a downer to the youth?  Are they just tired of parents saying "no, actually you can’t have an $10 bucket of popcorn"?

The LA times, as picked up by every blogger and slashdot, is running an article entitled "This Just in: Flops Caused Box Office Slump" which points out that crappy movies keep people away from the theatres.  But the boys, ages 8, 12 and 11 (the last one not being mine) didn’t even know what was showing.  You can’t say that they didn’t like any of the movies; the conversation never got that far.  They classified going to the movies with bowling, which they also turned down.  Skateboarding – that still rocks.  Target, yes the store, was a second choice.  Times are a changing.

I concluded with the thought that as an adult I decide if I want to go to the movies, and then check what is playing (typically at least).  Kids appear to choose the movie first and consider the location secondary.  The theatrical presence of the theater has no value, only the entertainment and they probably want it to be a few nanometers north of crappy for the amount of parental grief they put up with during the process.  The process of going to the movies.

Big Media Liability for Consumer Generated Media – I am not a lawyer

To Steve’s question “is big media liable for hosted CGM?“ ““ The first step is to acknowledge that hosted CGM is still a business transaction.  While no money may be changing hands, brand impressions are being made and influence definitely IS changing hands.  Any transaction of value needs rules and therefore has consequences (liability).

As a solution, perhaps an author-sponsorship-model using partnership agreements?  Somewhere between a limited liability corporation partnership agreement and a creative commons license.  IANAL so the actual structure of the document can be paraphrased as:

1) Media tries to remain objective so they can’t fully “endorse“ a blogger, but they can and should provide a logo reflecting status to create social pressure for professionalism of the authored content.
2) Media provides some training, perhaps just an FAQ or guidelines on contributions. 
3) Authors acknowledge they have a point of view, but contribute in a professional manner and accept responsibility to check the facts.  Disclaim where they can’t check (pretty much the case now anyway).
4) Social network solution to evaluate the content contributions based on both the content itself and on peer review of the content.  Slashdot does this although that method may be too geeky for main stream bloggers.   

None of the above fully covers the liability issue, but it does go towards the “safe harbor“ type training that companies conduct for HR issues.  If someone is guilty of sexual harassment, you are going to be fined, but if you have conducted safe harbor sexual harassment training for everyone in the company your fine is likely to be far less.  Your liability is less because you did educate everyone on what the rules are.  So MSM is probably liable to specify some standard for content shown on their branded site.

Either way it is just a matter of time before a published trackback post because a liability issue.  Do you feel lucky?

IBM *and* Lenova Thinkpad

Laura Ries is going to tear this one up.  It won’t be pretty.

New ThinkPad Is All Work, and Some Play
David Pogue

THE Subaru Corvette … the Green Bay Dolphins … the Microsoft iPod.

There’s no getting around it: sometimes, a company’s name just seems like part of its product name, and anything else just sounds weird. Take, for example, the I.B.M. ThinkPad. Since I.B.M. sold off its entire Think division last May, the laptop line should logically be called the Lenovo ThinkPad.

Yet even Lenovo is torn about that name. Take its new Z-Series laptops: on one hand, a letter to reviewers begs, "Please ensure that you give proper attribution to Lenovo. …Do not refer to products as ‘I.B.M.’ … Use ‘Lenovo ThinkPad.’ " On the other hand, the laptops themselves are stamped with large, colorful I.B.M. logos, molded into the plastic of both the lid and the keyboard deck – and the word Lenovo doesn’t appear anywhere.

Can you say "identity crisis"?

PR Disaster: Candidates that lie

This one is amazing, after everyone repeating over and over "no fake blogs" we still get fake blogs.  And for bonus points, innacurate fake blogs for a politician.  Great.

On the Candidates’ Blogs, Writing Right and Wrong
By PATRICK D. HEALY
Published: September 28, 2005

Mr. Ferrer, the Democratic candidate for mayor, nevertheless found himself stumbling yesterday after his political opponents pointed out something amiss on his campaign Web site: a personal log entry "posted by Fernando Ferrer," in which he recalled attending "public schools for most of my education."  Mr. Ferrer actually attended Catholic schools for most of his education
….
They maintained that Mr. Ferrer did not write the blog entry attributed to him.

"An item submitted by Freddy Ferrer was inaccurately edited regarding Freddy’s education," Nick Baldick, the campaign manager, said in a statement. "We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the entry."

Yet even that explanation was not quite right. Jen Bluestein, a spokeswoman for the Ferrer campaign, said the candidate did not submit a written item but rather "passed on some ideas" to an aide, who then wrote three paragraphs and posted them in his name.

"This happens in political campaigns all the time," she said. "In this case he called in some ideas, and someone got a little loose with the editing."

Oh, well if everyone does it then I guess it is OK.  Uuuuugh.

cognitive analysis of tagging

Tagging is easier than categorization because you don’t have to make as many decisions.

A cognitive analysis of tagging   (http://www.rashmisinha.com/)
(or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular)
….
With tagging … you can note as many of those associations as you want. This is how tagging works, cognitively speaking. Yes, it’s that simple.

What I suspect the author is saying is that we don’t like to make decisions.  I don’t.  I get home from work and sometimes I can’t figure out what t-shirt to change into.  As I post this on typepad there is a keywords box shown below that does cause me a bit of stress at the end of a post.  Basically keywords are tags, or relevant topics at a minimum.  I suppose keywords have a sort-of-unwritten rule that they are supposed to be nouns while tags can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

Other challenges of tags, or really any ontology:

1) You can’t guarantee other humans will categorize like you do, so even if you can remember your own categories your methods may be in no way helpful to others.  For your mp3 collection this is fine, but for social software you are breaking the social contract and not providing value to others.  We will find a way to derive value, but you get my point.

2) Time changes how you categorize stuff.  As a young man you might put owning a yacht into the "success" category while a former boat owner would categorize this as "classified listing".

2) A sense of fairness can screw up categories.  This is just a brain game we all play.  If I categorize 50 items and they get divided as 25, 10, 10, 4 and 1 – I will really look at the category with one (1) item to see if I can’t refile it in one of the larger categories.  It is the odd-man-out so surely it must fit in another category or nobody will ever find it in the future, right?  I can’t explain this reflex.

4) Cultural relevance, although I believe tagging and categories both suffer from this limitation.  Rashmi, the author of the above article, discusses cultural relevance in her article but this probably warrants a complete novel unto itself.  We need a cultural-tag-encyclopedia in the future.  "Cadiallac means AAAAAAA in Detroit and Cadillac means BBBBBBB in Tokyo… or similar.

I will defer to Rashmi’s analysis on the cognitive aspects of tagging.  Definitely worth further thought.

Pay Per Call Model – maybe for small businesses in some situations

I was linked an article on pay per call pricing model for web sites.  This means the web site works to generate leads and only charges if it results in a phone call to the client company. 

At a technical level this means that the pay-per-call provider does not want the prospect to call the company directly, but rather through a tracking telephone number so they can fairly measure the number of calls generated.  This will work.  It will result in calls.  But it seems a short sighted overall strategy because;

1) It omits the value of branding. The company is paying for the leads alone, nothing more.
2) Contacts will continue to call the tracking number in the future reporting false positive matches on inbound calls. 
3) You are going to market as someone else’s brand, so not only are you not getting the branding value but you are also paying to build someone else brand!
4) If you end your contract that pay-per-call company can, and will, redirect the campaign to a competitor.  Given the importance of tenure on the Internet this could be a real problem effectively locking you into the pp-call program.

All of that said, yes there are times when this model will work for some businesses.  But it is definitely not as Earth shattering as Pay-per-click advertising has been with the low cost of entry, performance based pricing and free branding side affects.

MSN profile data mixed with adwords

From AdAge, this is the next logical step in pay per click.  Although it is hard to tell from the article if this actually is PPC or if it is more targeted marketing based on demographics.  So here is the quote and commentary below.

MSN LINKS KEYWORD SEARCH TO DEMOGRAPHIC DATABASE
New Feature Enables Marketers to Target Search Engine Ads at Specific Groups
September 26, 2005
By Kris Oser

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — In a effort to technologically outflank Yahoo and Google, Microsoft Corp. will launch a new U.S. keyword paid-search program that enables marketers to target their keyword buys at specific consumer segments.  The new feature links keyword search techniques to MSN.com’s demographic database of 400 million registered users.

AdCenter allows advertisers to draw from MSN’s 400 million users worldwide who have registered for MSN’s Passport, Hotmail or Messenger services.

AdCenter allows advertisers to draw from MSN’s 400 million users worldwide who have registered for MSN’s Passport, Hotmail or Messenger services. Based on the demographic information those users provided, the advertiser can then target commercial messages based on geographic location, gender, age range, time of day and day of week. MSN can then also overlay additional data rented from database marketing companies, such as wealth index and psychographic information, to target more specifically.

(full article)

I added the emphasis and underlining.  Here is the deal, the web responds like direct marketing in PPC and SEO *because* the user *at that moment* typed in a specific term.  They have told you two things; first what they are interested in (dishes, BMW, etc) and second WHEN they are interested in it (RIGHT NOW!). 

The challenge with classic direct marketing is that repetition is key because there is only so much you can do to predict the timing but you can characterize that this group is likely to buy this object or service.  With direct mail you just keep hitting them with letters or cards or whatever trying to reach them WHEN they become interested buyers.  Let them buy when they are predisposed buyers.  The genius of search marketing is both questions are answered.  You know what the buyer is interested in and when they are interested.  So the program above from MSM is cool but classic DM.  It won’t be the surprise hit that search engine marketing has been with targeted buyers and a pay as you go pricing model that small business can afford.  It will be added value in the marketing mix.

B2B Marketing Trends running my article on SEO and qualified marketing leads

*self plug warning* – B2B Marketing Trends is running an article from our team:

How Much Is a Qualified, Interested Lead Worth to You?
Ed Schipul

Many organizations grow frustrated that their Web site never seems to be included among the top listings on Google or Yahoo. To help organizations move up the search engine listings, an entire industry has emerged, full of specialists who stay on top of changes made to the arcane inner workings of search engine algorithms. However, this takes time, and they may be tempted to use some of the trickery that is tainting the search engine marketing field.

    One alternative that can immediately show results is search engine advertising. (more)

Definition of Television

Shelly Palmer posed an interesting question to his NYC Emmy New Media list.  Define Television. 

Television: A tube that shows stuff. 

Damn, he probably wants something deeper than that.  On Shelly’s blog he gets all deep on this new media stuff so my bet is he really wants an answer to the question of "what is television?"  I found that I could not define television in just one way because what it is is NOT what it soon will be.  I had to first say what it is, and then what it will be.  Standing on the mountain preaching down to the viewers, telling them when to arrive and what they will see and that they will like it; those days are gone.  Even interactive television is still one main editor and content provider, or at least an elite group, talking to the masses.  It is not a conversation, and that is the fundamental problem.  So this is my response to the question:

What is television?

Right now we understand Television to be: An advertising supported mass entertainment medium that sends video, pictures and audio to a remote viewing box.   It is a one way medium providing edited content utilizing limited resources for transmission (radio waves or cable) which makes scarcity a problem.  The competition economics of the medium lead it to sensational but highly professional content to attract advertisers.  Advertisers and content owners attempt to maintain ownership and control of their content.
 
What Television will be:
 
A user driven method of displaying videos, recorded from the past, happening real time, or scheduled to be recorded in the future and displayed on demand for an end user based on their time table.   Television becomes one of many possible portals to view video.  Video remains primarily an entertainment medium but with unlimited resources for transmission (the Internet in addition to radio waves or cable) the democracy of content creation reduces the demand for high dollar advertisers.   Television production as we know it becomes more pay per click and branding focused.   TV and video become part of the conversation that is the blogosphere.   It evolves into a conversation and the one way communication “down“ from broadcast stations to the public falls away into antiquity.

NYT on improving students through school integration by income in North Carolina

The New York Times has a story that makes you go "duh" but nonetheless is something that should be part of the dialog on education in America. 

As Test Scores Jump, Raleigh Credits Integration by Income (reg required of course)

RALEIGH, N.C. – Over the last decade, black and Hispanic students here in Wake County have made such dramatic strides in standardized reading and math tests that it has caught the attention of education experts around the country.

The main reason for the students’ dramatic improvement, say officials and parents in the county, which includes Raleigh and its sprawling suburbs, is that the district has made a concerted effort to integrate the schools economically. (more) By ALAN FINDER

Racial segregation in America required integration to recover, but mostly because at the time race had a high correlation with economic capability.  The very success of desegregation has created diverse economic groups within racial groups so it only makes sense that integration based on economics will produce the same positive results that desegregation did.  They are the same thing, with an acknowledgement that times have changed.

Tivo DRM flag issue precurser to independents exceeding major label music

I am a geek at times.  OK, quite a few times. I read enough PR and spend enough time on PR strategy that I can almost sound like a PR guy, but it is the interaction of technology and PR for social ends that most interests me.

I won’t buy a piece of hardware that restricts my access to files. I change iTunes to record mp3 instead of ACC right after I install it.  Instictively.  Why?  I really don’t know, I hardely ever transfer files and record from CDs that I buy at the store onto mp3s.  Perhaps it is because I go through computers a lot and don’t want to have to rerecord everything if I upgrade.  I still buy CDs over paying for songs on iTunes for some reason – not sure why.

What I do know is that the feeling in my gut of "this is icky so others probably feel the same way" is usually dead on.  So I now won’t buy a tivo because it won’t record in the true sense of the word.  Tivo is limited in that I must choose to record something before I can time-shift view it.  With podcasting I can go backwards or forwards in time without restrictions.  And now Tivo thinks a downgrade is in order? They want to limit it more?  Sure that is their legal right, I am just saying as a marketing guy that it ain’t going to fly.  Duh.

End game; major labels are becoming secondary to independents.  Not because of independent lables, but because of myspace.com which has hit songs like Emo Elmo by Andrew Mcshan.  Emo Elmo is genius and I don’t have to worry if it will sync with my iPod.

Major bands are going to have to come up with pseudonyms so they can post great music to indie sites free while major labels kill themselves with denial.  Then they will still have some popularity to drive attendance at their concerts which is where they make money anyway.  Walmart cut out wholesalers because they could do the job for 3% less.  Think about it.  If you do not add value to a transaction, be afraid.

Inhouse SEO versus outsourced – but data can be deceiving

From toprank quoting Marketing Sherpa SEO report

For SEO, overall site traffic lift six months after optimization was:
Agency optimized 110% increase
In-house optimized 38% increase

OK, so for those of us who sell SEO as a service this is great news.  But let me flip that statistic for you.  It means that the content matter experts, the client themselves, is incapable of correctly articulating their point from a search engine perspective.  This indicates a huge failure on the part of both the authors (what IS your point?) and the search engines (trying to read the minds of the authors).  This is NOT good news for distributed authoring and putting SEO in the hands of the everyday user.

Our position remains that distributed authoring is vital to society.  It is vital to creating the mass that becomes the wisdom of crowds.  That voice can’t be heard if tools like search engines and SEO that is content focused doesn’t come naturally to the authors even if helped with tools (think wall studfinders when hanging a painting, that is what a keyword density calculator should be like to authors.)