Niche or Reach?

by Drew Cashmore

NicheThe online advertising industry is constantly pushing niche over reach; niche content, niche categories, niche audiences. The unique selling point: niche audiences are more targeted, more definable and more engaged. Publisher’s can charge more for these categories because the audience is a lot clearer than on a general purpose website. But is niche really what advertisers are asking for?

What it comes down to is niche is a way of defining the undefinable. We don’t always know as much about you as Facebook or Google so we place you in a bucket based on your interests, navigation paths, etc.

I agree with targeted messaging. If you’ve worked with me you’ll know I’m a big advocate of the few to many model. That’s why I have so much faith in social media as a service or SMAS (just trademarked that so don’t even bother). I truly believe that the push marketing model is dying faster than the major music labels. But ultimately advertisers still want the reach. Whether they’re running a run of network campaign or a channel specific one, if the traffic isn’t there, neither are the buys.

May 2010

Life at the Speed of Google

by Drew Cashmore

If you’re like me, Google has forever changed your life. From the way I learn to the way I get around. It has a profound impact in almost every facet of my life. My knowledge, my social life, my entertainment and even the device that rarely leaves my hands are all, in a large way, powered by Google.

I saw this video (and stole the title) from a post my friend Ben wrote back in February. It’s a simple, sweet story (and only 0:53 seconds) that truly showcases the power and influence that Google has had on all of our lives. Google was born to “develop the enabling technologies for a single, integrated and universal digital library” (source) but it ended up changing the world.

Life at the Speed of Google.

May 2010

Dear Cable Television, Listen Up!

by Drew Cashmore

smashed-tvThis is one of the more important things you’ll read on your slow decline but it may just save you! Every day we hear different stats about the shift to online television: “forty percent of people 18-24 are watching television online” (source?), “ad dollars continue to shift to the Internet”, “all my friends are cancelling their cable”.

The truth is, you’re still a powerful medium. Why? Because you have the reach. Sure people say they don’t watch commercials on TV anymore, sure Pepsi has opted out of Super Bowl Ads, sure Desperate Housewives is still on TV – but where else can advertisers reach millions of highly engaged viewers in one hour? They can’t. So you have a monopoly. Congratulations! Now what…?

Every day, more and more people shift their viewing habits online. It’s not the programming, we love 30 Rock! It’s not the ads, they have those online too! It’s the convenience. My generation especially is used to getting things when and where we want them. I don’t like watching my favourite shows on my small computer screen but if the alternative is to watch it at 8pm on a Monday night (when I could be writing blogs about the decline of cable television) then I’ll choose the former.

Now I’ve worked in the media industry long enough to know how complicated things like online television, DRM, PVRs, and on demand are in this business from a legal perspective. “How does the talent get paid?” “What about the commercials?” “What is the Internet?” All valid questions. And I really do appreciate the effort of attempting to bring these things to fruition but… work harder. This is about your future. You can hold on to this monopoly for at least the next 3 years but after we’ve installed PVRs or IPTV boxes on all of our parent’s televisions, this shift is going to become a lot more dramatic.

The other question is how do you make money when people are skipping the commercials? How do you support multi-million dollar TV shows when CPMs are so low online? I’ve heard Hulu isn’t doing that well… Simple, you offer a better alternative. We’ll watch your commercials and advertisers will pay higher premiums as long as you’re innovative and you offer them the same continued reach that they had before.

Give us what we want, when we want it, where we want it and maybe we’ll continue to pay attention OR, if rights compliance is too complicated a fight for you, go hang out with the newspaper industry and we’ll figure out an alternative ourselves.

May 2010

To Multi-Task or Not to Multi-Task

by Drew Cashmore

MultitaskingAt work I have two computers and four monitors running at all times. Tweetdeck on monitor one gives me constant updates from people talking about my company. Monitor two has a spread sheet where I track relevant Tweets (I know, it’s fairly rudimentary). Monitor three has my email and calendar and monitor four has whatever I’m working on at the time. Oh and two BlackBerry’s vibrating right beside me.

Where it becomes most challenging is when I receive a long email or article that I have to read. Do you honestly expect me to sit through two pages of email when I have five other screens to look at at all times? Not let’s be clear what I mean by multi-tasking. I’m now talking about personally being able to do multiple things at once. I’m good at that! I’m talking about my devices giving… SQUIRREL!… me the option of running multiple programs at the same time (a functionality that Apple just added to their iPhone OS).

Our devices are constantly being upgraded to handle more and more tasks at the same time. Our monitors are getting bigger to handle more windows on the same screen. Our phones are giving us the option of doing two things at once. My computer is teaching me to be inattentive.

So for now if I need to pay attention to something I’ll stick with my BlackBerry or iPad (coming soon), which are really only good for doing one thing at a time. And in the future, when my phone becomes my computer and my computer has six monitors, you probably won’t want to talk to me because I likely won’t be paying attention to you.

April 2010

She’s Not That Into You

by Drew Cashmore

A cute, flirty 26-year-old walks up to you in a bar and starts chatting you up. You’re into it, she seems pretty down to earth and you’re thinking ‘I could really hit it off with this girl’. After a couple of minutes she hands you her BlackBerry Pearl and tells you to enter your number. You do, thinking you’ve got a great chance with this girl! You don’t.

She’s an actress hired by RIM (makers of BlackBerry) to get you using their phones. It’s called stealth marketing.

Would I be upset if I knew someone was toying with my emotions to sell me a phone? Probably. Would I ever really know if this was happening to me? Probably not (although given the amount of times I get picked up at a bar I’d have my suspicions). Is it brilliant marketing? I think so.

Let’s face it, a lot of things we purchase, whether we realize it or not, we buy because of the perceived social status that comes along with it. People buy what others they admire own.

Marketer’s are trying new and exciting ways of reaching their audience so whether you’re being picked up at a bar or your girlfriend is forcing you to go to the opera during the Real Madrid vs. AC Milan game, watch out, somebody might be trying to sell you something!

April 2010

Why I Will Never Buy a Dell Again

by Drew Cashmore

Dell LogoDell used to be the only type of computer I would buy. Powerful, customizable computers coupled with outstanding customer service and just-in-time production. I would recommend Dell to anyone and have personally owned seven Dell computers, some I still use today.

But then they outsourced the customer service and support suffered. And then, to throw salt in the wound, their products started failing, a lot.

But still I was willing to buy Dell. Over a month ago I placed an order for a laptop which was then put “In Production” on their convenient order tracking system. I checked back daily to see when my computer was shipped and every day I was greeted with the “In Production” verbiage.

I waited patiently for three weeks and then decided to call. I was told that Dell was waiting on a part but that it should be shipped to me in the next couple of days. I was told to expect a call back in two days telling me the status of my order. I didn’t receive that call but two days later when I checked back on the website, my order status was changed to “Cancelled”.

Furious, I called Dell and was told that they didn’t have the part for the computer so they cancelled my order. No phone call, no email. They told me they were sorry but that there was nothing they could do. They then asked me if I would like to purchase another product… NO!

Two weeks later after going out and buying another computer I received the Dell computer that I had ordered over a month prior. Fail.

After calling customer service multiple times and waiting on the phone for a combined hour, I was finally passed on to the right person to help me return my order. I was told that the charge to my credit card might not disappear for 30 days after they received the computer back.

Dell’s competitive differentiators were customer service, just-in-time production and quality products and they’ve sacrificed all of those things for higher margins. That is why I will never buy a Dell again.

April 2010

The Biggest Social Media Mistake

by Drew Cashmore

biggest mistake in social media

Too often we see major brands approaching social media the same way as we’ve approached marketing in the past. A pure broadcast model of one off campaigns that end in a couple of months leaving baron Twitter pages and unanswered Facebook wall posts. An agency convincing their “we have to be there” client that 500 followers and 150 responses is a true social media success story.

Nobody has a model for social media success. Despite what the ‘experts’ tell you, there really aren’t any proven metrics for social media ROI. But we do know one thing; the term “social” connotes a conversation. A conversation between a friend, a family member or even a customer. A relationship, built over time that like any other depends on trust, respect and continued commitment.

It’s the fear of open and honest conversation that leads many businesses to hide behind a wall of pre-approved messaging, generic responses and ultimately, innovation.

If protecting your brand is more important to you than an open conversation with your most engaged customers, success in social media is not an option for you.

April 2010

I Like This

by Drew Cashmore
Like Button

Facebook Like Button

For those of us that have made Facebook part of our daily routine, the word ‘Like’ has become more then just a simple verb to describe something that we are fond of.

It has become a way to share your interests with your friends – a way to acknowledge and show appreciation for something your friend may have done without ever having to really communicate with them directly.

It’s one of the simplest tools online but also one of the most powerful. With the simple click of the Facebook ‘Like’ button, hundreds of people who may share the same interests as you are instantly notified of what you like. How many of you have been surfing the web and wanted to give kudos to an article or a picture by pressing the ‘Like’ button? How many of you have seen an amazing sunset or eaten at a fantastic restaurant and thought to yourselves, “if only I had a button to share this with my friends”?

The only problem with the Facebook ‘Like’ button is that it only lives inside your Facebook wall. Until today…

Today Facebook announced in cooperation with over 30 major websites online, that the Facebook ‘Like’ button is now available for all. So whether you’re reading a great article on CNN or listening to a great song on Pandora, you now have the opportunity to share the love with your friends and see how many of your friends liked the same thing you did.

And starting today, the Facebook ‘Like’ button will be integrated into all of my posts! Can’t wait to hear from you!

April 2010

Pale Blue Dot

by Drew Cashmore

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known.

View the original article here.

April 2010

Everything Is Now

by Drew Cashmore

How many times have you been at dinner and your date or friend pulls out their phone and starts texting? It happens to me a lot (maybe I’m not that interesting) and to be honest, I do it a lot. It’s not because I’m overly important and my messages can’t wait. It’s not because I’m bored or not interested in the conversation. It’s because it’s habit.

I’m used to always having a device in my hand and even more so I’m used to always knowing things the minute they happen. I like being connected and I love being in the know.

Twitter is an incredible tool for that. It’s the first place I go for information. Why is there a traffic jam on the Gardiner, what did the mayor just announce? It’s live information at your fingertips!

How fast is Twitter? This image shows an instant reaction to a major story out of California versus four minutes for local news and ten minutes for national news.

When you’re building a social media strategy for your business, one of the most important rules is that everything is now.

p.s. Eric Schmidt coined that phrase yesterday in a speech about cloud computing.

April 2010