Monday, October 03, 2011

ABC News and Yahoo Are BFF Now

Brian Stelter of the New York Times reports that ABC News and Yahoo have formed a partnership to share material and feature web video. Is this what MSNBC wanted to be 15 years ago?

The partnership, announced this AM on Good Morning America (disclosure: my old employers) was described as a “game changer” for network news, already considered a dying animal. ABC News and already languish low-ish end of the major news brands in terms of Web and broadcast traffic, hope that joining forces will help that.

Yahoo, the #1 online news source (unconfirmed) has had its own bad news in the past few months, it’s struggling with stagnant advertising revenues, and last month fired CEO Carol Bartz. The alliance with ABC will bring Yahoo’s news site brand-name stars like the smooth-jazz-voiced Diane Sawyer and network-hopper Katie Couric.

Each Web site will have editorial independence, but the news organizations will share content, co-produce coverage of some news events and have “integrated bureaus” in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, according to a news release. In addition, to leverage its most visible broadcast presence, Good Morning America, ABC/Yahoo has launched a new online presence at

As with AOL’s (another dying dotcom dinosaur) acquisition of The Huffington Post earlier this year, the alliance is an example of two major media monsters joining forces to each become stronger on the Web, where audiences are fractured, other content is just a click away, and audience allegiance is fleeting.

With typical morning-anchor energy and enthusiasm, the anchors billed it as “a brand new partnership that is instantly going to become the No. 1 news source online.” That won’t be too hard for Yahoo News, assisted by the enormously popular (!) Yahoo home page, which is already #1 on its own. To wit, in August 2011, Yahoo had 81.2 MM unique visitors, CNN’s sites came in at #2 with 75.3 MM, and the aforementioned HuffPo-AOL was #3, with 56.7 MM, just edging out MSNBCm which had 55.6 MM. ABC News drew 24.4 million (thank you, ComScore).

Yahoo and ABC project that they will together reach 100 million visitors a month. Is that realistic? I’m not so sure yet, but ABC will definitely see a lot more traffic. As a broadcast news network without a 24-hour cable presence (they’ve considered it), it certainly may be more cost-effective and future-facing. As more and more folks are equipped with broadband video viewing capability, from home and mobile, utilizing the penetration of Yahoo and the brand credibility of ABC may be very useful. When MSNBC started in the mid-90s, it was hailed as a great partnership with giants of Computers and News, with the rise of the Internet. I thought it was a great idea at the time, but also ahead of itself: most people, if online at all, were on dial-up. A mobile phone, if you had one, was just a phone.

Now, 15+ years later, these technologies have matured, and there’s greater penetration (and consumer habit) of use. What’s this mean? There will be greater, and easier access to ABC News. All that good stuff that ABC News produces will be pushed out on the giant Yahoo network. Yahoo gets more news credibility, network-quality contents, and ABC network stars. With the launch of (which I need to play with, and report back on), they’re leveraging ABC’s most visible broadcast presence online. It’s the place that starts many mornings, has the glossiest headlines and talent (Hollywood and ABC), the most branded segments, and probably the most interactive audience. Let’s revisit this in a year, and see what happens.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Location-Based Marketing: Useful or Invasive?

Not sure if this is really cool (professionally), or a little creepy (personally). Let’s talk it out.

With new announcements from AT&T and Loopt, location-based ads will start to be pushed onto phones, offering a new way for advertisers to target ustomers.

Loopt’s "Reward Alerts" sends mobile ads and offers to users' phones to notify them of nearby deals, via a special smartphone app. Cons

umers present the message at the POS to redeem the offer.

AT&T’s “ShopAlerts” program sends a text message ad to users near a specific location. Because it’s an SMS function rather than an app, it’s open to non-smartphone users. It will offer rewards/coupons via a "geo-fence," a virtual-perimeter around a retail location/event/geographic area. Customers get alerts when they are inside this geo-fence. The texts will also include info like weather, traffic, and local shopping area details.

Now, mobile advertising has been location-enabled for some time. Google uses location to target advertising displayed with mobile search results, and mobile social networks (i.e., Foursquare) may display specific ads when a user "checks-in" at a store.

But, in this case, by pushing out advertising actively (initiating action without consistent user input), new services venture into territory that was previously unreachable.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. As a marketer, this is really cool, and something that I can use. As a consumer, it’ll be useful as well, if I don’t get 1) inundated and 2) inundated with crap/spam. It could get old very quickly. Also, take this example from Minority Report:

There’s a scene where Tom Cruise’s character is traveling through a Gap, and later a mall, where he is constantly accosted by virtual salespeople who know his name and purchase

preferences by his retina scan. Useful, yes, if you get a good hookup. But do you want to be that traceable? Does it matter?

That’s not to say retina scans are bad – Captain Kirk used one to secure the plans for the Genesis Project (which I can’t BELIEVE I can’t find an image of!). However, I don’t plan to be doing any terraforming anytime soon, so I’m more concerned with the marketing potential. So back to that.

There are a few stumbling blocks to engage consumers with this; much like the Scanner dilemma, they need to opt in to a particular service, so there’s going to be a bit of a land grab. Also, there’s a fine line between useful and obnoxious, and if a service crosses that, consumers will switch, or bail entirely. I’m not sure AT&T has the customer-service track record or feel for their customers to stay in the Nice Zone. Will anyone?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Are Codes the Next Big Thing?

As a digital marketer/mad scientist, I am constantly being asked (or asked to implement) the ‘Next Big Thing”.

I’m sure it’s happened to you, if you’re in this biz. It’s sort of like those clients who ask you to “create a viral video” for them. I’m no soothsayer (wow, haven’t used that word in a long time, D&D fans), but I am very good at identifying trends, and I see a good one blossoming.

QR codes, as the phrase goes, are big in Japan, but in this case, big in Asia. Yes, there are lots of things that are/were huge on that side of the world that have been absolutely ineffectual on this side, but there are plenty that have made the jump. One of those will be QR codes. You know what those are, right? I’ve been seeing them pop up all over the place recently (please excuse the poor iPhone imagery):

Here’s one for the Lion King on Broadway.

And one from the USOpen (tennis) using JagTag

as a contest entry for Continental Airlines.

Here’s a more immediate one that I encountered in a pop-up store (Macy's sub-brand), which drives consumers to a video interview with the fashion designer of the product.

Here’s a really cool implementation of a QR code, giant, integrated into the ad, but with a

#failed placement. As this was posted in the subway (underground), my (multiple) scanner apps

couldn’t connect to the interwebs, and thus wouldn’t scan (note to app builders) Oops. Nice try.

So how does it work? Consumers download a scanner app from their respective iOS or Android store. Then just point and scan. It’s just like using the self-service aisle at the supermarket, or registering for your wedding (in fact, there’s great price-comparison apps out there too – but that’s another post). The App then processes the code, links up to the interwebs, and delivers content (video, information, etc.), or links to content others have uploaded. It’s that easy. Neat, huh?

Even ‘civilians’ are getting into the act. You can use QR codes combined with URLs (analytics-enabled) to engage family and friends who are attending an event, in this case, a wedding (Full Disclosure: these geeks are myself and my fiancee).

The long-tail of this QR code, leading up to and at the event are under wraps for now. J

As smartphone penetration continues on a rapid pace, and more technologically-savvy young consumers are maturing, utilizing the ubiquitous camera for more than just taking snapshots will be a great tool to reach them.

Microsoft is getting in on the action with their Microsoft Tag reader application, and a partnership with USAToday. Linking its hardcopy and digital efforts, the paper has begun adding 2D barcodes to its daily pr

int edition that readers can scan to see photos, videos and other online content. At least one 2D barcode (supplied by Microsoft) will appear in each section of the newspaper, providing access to freshest news and information (financials, sports scores, etc.), as well as photos and other material tailored to each area.

As my buddy Steve Gates wrote on his blog recently, this is an elegant natural progression, from Facebook to Twitter to Foursquare to this, an automated check-in.

Key players in this space include Jagtag, ScanLife, Stickybits and ShopSavvy, and I’ve played with quite a few more. They’re very easy to use, and I think they’ll prove to be an excellent tool to connect with (long-term) and push content to consumers. It’s a great way to link printed material to digital and mobile, and as marketers continue to use them, they’ll become part of the evolving habit that we’ve come to One cavea

t – I’m not sure how well that Microsoft Tag’s going to do -- to use these barcodes, users first have to download this specific app ( Unless they open it up to the other scanner apps, they may be left behind because of convenience. Non-proprietary has better chance of user penetration.

Here's another one that I'm also going to keep an eye on: using music/sound recognition to engage consumers. Recently, ABC revived its iPad app for My Generation, and using it now for Grey's Anatomy.

This app responds to audio cues from a television program to push out content. I like this a lot, as it more easily melds with timeshifted programming, and doesn't necessarily depend upon a 'live event'.

I also recently saw a broadcast spot for (? The Gap?) that used a sample of pop music, and a visual prompt to use Shazam, a mobile app that recognizes music. Cool!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Social Media Week: Foodies and Geekery

Social Media Week – it was a whirlwind.

Aside from the fact that I was closely following the Egypt situation that week, in nine cities spanning the globe, social media hobbyist, enthusiasts, professionals, wanna-bes, tyros, ninjas and the like (no ‘gurus’ allowed) gathered to discuss trending topics (haha) IRL, instead of just online. It was a place that I could tell people that I’m using QR codes for my wedding, and the women there thought it was cool.

Some events were hits, some were misses, but most provided the audience with some level of valuable insights into current industry directions. There were six hundred events, both scholarly and cocktail-lubricated, and most were livestreamed. That increased the attendance from 30K+ IRL to around 180K(!). I hope to recap some of the things I learned/experienced…. Soonish.

Since I need to update my food blog too, I’m going to try to crush two pigs with one angry bird and cross-post this. The final (and most fresh in my mind) session I attended was a discussion about how al the digital tools that I love to play and work with enable marketers to build communities around what appears to be America’s Favorite (real) Pastime: Eating. It’s certainly in

New York City, and it certainly is mine (hence the sister blog). More than ever, social media has allowed us to see, discuss, make and share some of our favorite foods. This meeting was entitled, “Almost Good Enough to Eat: Food Communities and Social Media”, and the (great) panel was made up of:

  • · Moderator: Sarah De Heer, Community Manager, AOL's KitchenDaily and Slashfood
  • · Rebecca P. Bauer, Executive Digital Editor, Food & Wine Magazine
  • · Colin Sterling, HuffingtonPost Food
  • · Hillary Mickell, CMO/ Co-Founder, Foodily
  • · Sarah Simmons, In-House Chef, Foursquare

This panel discussion was supposed to explore the social nature of food and how food communities online grow and prosper. Didn’t quite work out that way, but valuable and enjoyable nonetheless. Considering that it was Friday morning at 9a, the event was packed with food and social media geeks – my kind of people. The sunny penthouse of the Hearst Tower played host, and the discussion ranged from how to integrate social networking technology (sites, apps, GPS, imagery, blogging), tools and techniques to check out for personal enjoyment. There appeared to be quite a few amateur foodies (no disrespect) with visions of Food Network stardom dancing in their heads (or at least easy sponsorship) eagerly looking for information how to connect with the pros. It happens.

As a foodie and wanna-be chef myself, I was raised to believe that food is brings people together and is the center of family and friends. I’ve always said that I’d like to live on a cooking show set; a big kitchen, places for people to sit. That’s it – I can sleep in a loft.

Some negative Nancies say that social media isn’t a great fit for food, as it de-personalizes the experience. To a certain extent, I agree. However, I believe it enhances the long-tail connections and experiences amongst a network; social media enables people to share in that when they can’t be together IRL, with the hopes that it will spur and IRL meeting, or at least an exchange of ideas. Much like Facebook, it’s a way to keep up with all of your friends and contacts to the extent that you want to, and perhaps find some more commonalities along the way. It’s also a way of sharing opinions and advice, on places to eat, items to look for,

or recipes to cook. And isn’t that what Social Media is all about?

Also, I met a fellow food-geek/flack there, who tipped me off to a pop-up store that Dorie Greenspan (@doriegreenspan) was selling her hand-made cookies at, which we braved the bitter February winds to check out. Cool!

WTF, dude, where’ve you been?!

Yes, yes, it’s been awhile since I last wrote. I know, I know, you’re not feeling the love, Mr. Blog, but

I’m sorry to tell you that I’ve been seeing other blogs and outlets in this time, and well, I was getting paid to do it, and I was concerned about sharing with you without upsetting my relationships with them. So I apologize, and promise to get you more storage space or something… Maybe hit ‘refresh’ a few times to stroke your ego.

I promise to make it up to you (and your sister) soon. In fact, last week was Social Media Week, and I look forward to writing some items up about whom I met and what was discussed. I also have a bunch of other things that have been bouncing around in my brain lately that I’ve been meaning to get down in writing.

So… Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

(My) Mainstream Geekery: Star Trek from the Blogosphere

reprinted from May 11, 2009 Nerdabout:

@NYCRockStar Feels the Love at Star Trek

Our pal Roger usually shares his rants at NYC Rock Star. But today he's giving his two cents about Star Trek for us lucky folks. Can Englishman Simon Pegg do a better Scotty than American James Doohan? Should Kirk quit chasing hot green chicks and admit his love for Spock? Is Karl Urban fit to fill old Bones's shoes, or should he go back to fighting Orcs? Dammit, Jim, we're bloggers, not reviewers! Oh wait, here's the review! Read on ...

By Roger Resnicoff

Fans and non-fans may look at the new Star Trek movie, classify it as "science fiction", a "summer popcorn blockbuster," or even a "nostalgia trip," but I'm here to tell you that they're all right, and all wrong. Star Trek may the biggest, loudest love story ever. And it's fantastic.

Director J.J. Abrams honors the show's legacy without alienating and antiquating its best qualities. Whereas Abrams is indeed a solid director, he's truly enabled by a strong, smart script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman that contains just enough winks and nods to ring true to the Trekkies. But there's none of the cringing that I expected. There's really so much that could have gone wrong with this reboot—in fact, I was waiting for it to. Just about 10 years ago, I was at this very same theater (the Ziegfeld) to see Episode I of a much-loved science fiction icon. Awaiting the premiere of this Star Trek was a lot like that for me ... except without the massive letdown afterwards. Somehow accomplishing the enormous task of appealing to the wider, un-indoctrinated audience while satisfying the established base, one of the most astonishing qualities of this new Trek, is how it consistently fires on all thrusters and keeps from sucking.

So, where's the love?

You can sense the love that went into writing the script, with nods to older movies and episodes, in the form of lines, themes and symbols. The optimism of Trek, absent in most recent science fiction like Battlestar Galactica, is present. My favorite Trek has always been Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; this movie both shows and references the Kobayashi Maru test (keep a lookout for a familiar apple) that sets the stage for Khan, along with that film's revenge theme. Time travel, another familiar Trek plot device (see Star Trek IV, or City on the Edge of Forever), once again figures prominently in this outing, but I won't talk too much about that, so as not to ruin any of the fun.

The plot is almost secondary to the much-more-interesting "origins" story that's being played out simultaneously. All props to Eric Bana as a great Romulan baddie and an exciting "destroy the galaxy" storyline, but it's been done before in countless tv episodes and movies, Trek or otherwise. Kirk's "saved the galaxy/Earth/alien" many times before—it's like his specialty. The real fun is seeing the characters enter the canon of Trek history. Characters in this case not only includes the members of the Enterprise crew/family, but all the great toys that we've grown up watching them use, like the transporter, phasers and even the Enterprise herself, who's gotten a facelift enough to hold her own with any other sci-fi starship of the genre, but stayed true to her iconically-shaped profile.

The same can be said for the aforementioned "toys" ... they're all updated here, but with reverence for the originals—they're instantly recognizeable. The doors still swish, the communicators still beep, and the ship's computer sounds like she always has (Majel Barrett Roddenberry, a.k.a. Nurse Chapel, in her final Trek role). It adds a layer of familiarity and comfort for the longtime fans.

There’s love in the design of the sets and costumes, with a thoughtful updating of the original Sixties look and feel, with just enough refinement to lose the campiness and be reasonably acceptable as 23rd-century Earth. That's one of the defining differences with Star Trek than other sci-fi shows—this is our future that's being portrayed, so it has to feel right too. I even bought the officers in miniskirts.

The ensemble cast lovingly channels the spirits of the show's original characters, instead of just impersonating the actors themselves. Karl Urban retains all the country-doctor charm of DeForest Kelley’s "Bones" McCoy, yet restores a youthfulness to the character with a bit of a more believable edge to his eccentricities. Anton Yelchin's Chekhov predictably mispronounces his w's and v's, and Simon Pegg as Scotty is pitch-perfect.

There's love of mythic storytelling: Shades of Howard Hawks and Kurosawa (and by design, Tarantino and Lucas) when the young Kirk is encouraged to join Starfleet by Captain Pike, who issues a challenge to "do better" than his father, "a Starfleet Captain for thirteen minutes and died saving the lives of 800 men and women," including Kirk and his mother. This is immediately followed by a scene with Kirk, en route to ship out to Starfleet, rides his motorcycle to gaze at the sun as it rises on the dawn of his new destiny. A nod to Hidden Fortress, Star Wars, or maybe even Top Gun? Steadicam cinematography and stylized editing reflect the influence of Trek TNG alum Ronald Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot.

That brings me to the grandest love story of all: James Tiberius Kirk and Mr. Spock. Notwithstanding the parody videos of homoerotic relationships between the two, their story is of the budding of a lifetime relationship and iconic friendship (with the occasional triangular complications added by an alien hottie or Dr. McCoy). That said, in classic romantic-comedy fashion (like Cheers' Sam and Diane, Moonlighting’s Maddie and Dave) they initially can’t stand each other at Starfleet Academy.

Chris Pine, as the young Kirk, reminded me a bit of Good Will Hunting, which I find amusing, because there were rumors of Matt Damon being offered the role. Like Will, he's seen as an extraordinarily gifted young man, with lots of potential and an attitude problem (which is how many geeks see themselves). A father-figureless townie living in the shadow of Starfleet Academy (like Damon's Southie to Cambridge), he's kind of an ass—but that's as it should be. Zachary Quinto fully inhabits the young, more impulsively emotional, Spock. Nimoy's Spock was always fun to watch when he was mortally threatening, especially to Shatner's Kirk. Quinto convincingly plays Spock *just* in control of his emotions, with sometimes logic being the only thing keeping him from kicking Kirk's ass. As per tradition, Kirk, seemingly reckless cowboy, calls shots from the gut, in contrast to Spock's logical, deliberate decision-making as the Nerd-in-Chief. You can see how these guys are going to "grow up" to be the men that we've come to know.

Bottom line, it's a satisfying, warp-speed reboot of a franchise held dear (and sometimes as equally derided) to many. I loved it back. Oh, and there are tons of the pew-pew-pew and kickass that makes it a fun summer movie for everybody else.

Thanks, Roger! And don't forget to watch the man-on-the-street coverage from@sciencegoddess as well!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

New School University Protest

Another day, another University protest....

Lots of angsty college kids demanding something (blah blah blah) in front of New School University. Again.

The University says the controversy is due to "bad communication".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Magazine Publishers Association Digital Awards

A number of months ago, I met with fellow Newhouse / Syracuse alumnus Howard Polskin of the Magazine Publishers Association. We had gotten hooked up with each other via another fellow Newhouse alum Howard Sholkin a few weeks earlier, to talk shop and do a little bit of networking. We had a great conversation, talking about the media business in general, and the direction it’s going in.

During our chat, Howard mentioned that the MPA was in the process of planning for their third annual Digital Awards luncheon at the fifth “Magazines 24/7 Digital Conference” in March, and asked me if I’d be interested as acting as a judge for the competition. The MPA Digital Awards honor excellence and innovation of magazine brands on all digital platforms in 12 categories.

I told him that I’d be honored to be part of the distinguished group.

Anyway, the Conference was a big success, and the awards were announced a little over a week ago (yeah, I’m a bit behind – been busy), so I thought I’d share the news with you as well, if you hadn’t heard. Kate Maxwell, Senior Editor at Condé Nast Traveler, presented the awards to the winners at the Marriott Marquis New York on March 3rd.

And the winners are…

The “Website of the Year” category recognizes excellence and innovation in content, design, functionality and usability in four subcategories.

Website of the Year: News, Business & Finance:
Website of the Year: Entertainment & Sports:
Website of the Year: Enthusiast: Architectural Record
Website of the Year: Service & Lifestyle:


Winner: Entertainment Weekly “PopWatch


Winner: National Geographic Magazine “Searching for the Snow Leopard


Winner: National Geographic Magazine “Fast Lane to the Future


Winner: The Campaign Trail on


Winner: Parenting and Babytalk “Child Health Guide




Winner: InStyle Mobile


Winner: WIRED Store

via the Magazine Publishers of America