Tuesday, May 29, 2012

6 Reasons to Ignore Doubters of Digital

"The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty." - President of Michigan Savings Bank, 1903, advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Company.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" - Associates of David Sarnoff, manager of an early US radio network, 1920s.

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossiblity, a development on which we need waste little time dreaming." - Lee de Forest, "father of radio", 1926.

"Television won't be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six mmonths. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." - Darryl F Zanuck, 1946.

"I think there is a world market for as many as 5 computers." - Thomas Watson, head of IBM,1943.

"The telephone may be appropriate for our American cousins, but not here, because we have an adequate supply of messenger boys." - group of British experts, c.1900.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seven Things Ad Tech People Have Been Saying For the Last Five Years That Are Total BS

1.  “Brand dollars will come online if we just do ____.”

Brand dollars will come online, but it won’t be because of ad tech. It will be because television itself comes online. It’s already happening, with blended TV/online buys from most big networks, and the emergence of the “newfront”. Will ad tech need to provide features and functionality, new metrics, and innovative formats to capitalize on this endemic trend? Of course. But the idea of online publishers somehow keelhauling the established TV ad market is the single largest and most consistent fallacy this industry has propagated since its inception.

2.  "We don’t need a GRP for digital.”

The Media Kitchen's Darren Herman and I agree on a lot of things, but this is not one of them. Reference point #1 above: TV is coming online, and not the other way around. The GRP needs updating, and validation, but it’s still the currency by which the vast majority of ad revenue today is planned and evaluated, and for an optimal merge of the online and TV ad markets it will necessarily need to remain.

3.  “Buying ads is like trading stocks.”

Jordan Mitchell said it best here:

"When you buy a share of stock on the NASDAQ or NYSE, you know exactly what you’re getting...In contrast, ad exchanges provide very little transparency or standardized information to what you’re actually buying – they simply offer ad inventory by the tonnage through an auction model and cookie retargeting...This basically means ad exchanges as they exist today are built on “insider trading” principles."

4.  “This is the year of mobile."

Last year was the year of mobile, actually. I guess if you say it every year you’ll be right once eventually.

“The year 2011 saw mobile advertising become a meaningful category,” said David Silverman, Partner, PwC U.S. “By combining some of the best features of the internet, along with portability and location-based technology, mobile advertising is enabling marketers to deliver timely, targeted, relevant, and local advertisements in a manner that was not previously possible. It is for these reasons that we expect strong growth to continue with mobile advertising.”

5.  “The digital advertising industry is too crowded.”

Competition breeds innovation and forces vendors to price solutions at rates that encourage widespread trial and adoption of new technology. Without venture capital, and the attendant “crowding”, online advertising would be stuck in 1995, with a ceiling imposed by direct publisher sales, blind inventory, and zero accountability. More than 35% of the vaunted Lumascape has been acquired, which ought to be a strong indicator of value creation of all parties in the ecosystem.

6.  “Online advertising is too complicated.”

Inefficient? Sure. Resource intensive? Can be. But is hiring vendors, placing buys, and measuring results really that complex?

7.  “Ad networks are dead.”

For the last time, no they’re not. More than 50% of the comScore Top 50 Properties either own or are owned by an ad network. The 26th largest ad network is bigger than the 5th largest publisher. The Google Ad Network is the single largest provider of inventory on the Internet. Can we please stop talking about this now.

Friday, May 4, 2012

RIP MCA - An email I sent a few friends, who said I should share more widely

In 1986 I was halfway through my first year at a new school after getting kicked out of the old one at the end of 5th grade. My parents were separated and on their way to divorce. I was getting in fistfights, skateboarding, and starting to drink a little.

And then I discovered rap music. UTFO, Whodini, RUN-DMC, BDP and the Fat Boys were my first exposure to the genre that would define me musically for the rest of my life. I knew there was something in the poetic braggadocio mixed with funky beats and jazz. I was raised on Motown and the Beatles and this seemed like a natural evolution.

But nothing could have prepared me for the Beastie Boys. Somehow they mixed in juvenile aspirational lyrics about all the things everyone’s older brothers were doing (drinking, smoking, fucking), musical samples everyone’s older brothers were listening to (Zeppelin, Sabbath, Clash, Steve Miller) with the rap-driven beats some of us younger brothers had started to love. They were rap my friends could listen to.

I was the first kid at school to buy the Licensed to Ill tape. Girls all of a sudden wanted to borrow my Walkman or better yet just an earphone. Guys started inviting me over after school to hang out a little more often. I was easily the biggest fanboy in school. I remember when they made the cover of SPIN magazine and I brought it to school and recited from the ill interview (including a pot-loaded “Buzzbee” and a titillating “double dong dildo”), to a rapt audience of 12 year olds trying to act 16. The Beasties gave me the beginnings of a new identity.

Yauch was the elder statesman of the group. While Ad Rock screeched frantically and Mike D kicked his dusted cruise control flow, MCA gruffly carved out the band’s foundation with a low end, off kilter, purposely un-smooth style. I’ll admit Yauch wasn’t my #1 Beastie. I have always been a Mike D guy. But just do yourself a favor and listen to this track, where Yauch absolutely KILLS the Isley Brothers, and tell me you won’t miss him. This is affecting me way more than it should.