It is a few minutes before six as I climb on the train in New Haven, CT heading into New York City for the Digital Publishing and Advertising Conference, DPAC III. Besides writing for my own blog, Orient Lodge, I expect to post some entries on DigidayDaily.
The day starts off with a sponsored breakfast, with Lindsay O'Neill, Senior Vice President of Datran Media Display and Michael Silberman, General Manager of NYMag.com talking about “why audience measurement has become even more critical in today's publishing environment”.
It’s an important part of the business, measuring who is reading your articles and viewing your ads. Sure, I look at Google Analytics, Quantcast, Compete, and even Alexa to get a sense of what is going on with my traffic, but somehow, so much of audience measurement seems to miss the point. The lyrics of “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent go through my mind. “five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes… How do you measure a year?”
While the struggling bohemian in the East Village dies of AIDS, the ad execs measure eyeballs. At the DigiDay conference I heard people suggest we should not be focusing on eyeballs and but should be thinking about the minds they are connected to. As I think of the young bohemians I also think of the hearts they are connected to and all of this leads me to the idea of “winning hearts and minds”.
It will be interesting to see if anyone has anything interesting to say about measuring how engaged ones audience truly is.
The first keynote speech will be by Dr. Jim Taylor, Chairman of The Harrison Group. I must admit, if I hadn’t of done work with The Harrison Group in the past, I wouldn’t have been able to find their website. The Harrison Group regularly produces as a “Study of Affluence and Wealth in America”. The program says that Jim will talk about the “10% of the economy” and how “people under financial hardship are taking pride and pleasure in their ability to manage themselves and their family's real needs”.
The Harrison Group website talks about the people in their survey as having annual discretionary income of between $100,000 and $5 million. While I am sure that the recession affects these people as well, it feels like this is another big disconnect. Another recollection of the DigiDay conference comes to mind where someone commented that frugal mommy bloggers are America’s new sweetheart.
The following keynote is scheduled to be Patrick Keane, Chief Executive Officer of Associated Content. He will be talking about “What defines content quality and consumer value in the growing landscape of user-generated content? How can traditional media companies build community and user-generated content platforms?” I believe friends of mine have written for Associated Content, and I’ve heard mixed reviews. It will be interesting to hear what Mr. Keane has to say. Beyond that, as users attempt to monetize the content they generate, either through sites like Associated Content, PayPerPost or Today.com, does the line between user-generated content and professional content begin to blur?
I expect to see this explored even more deeply during a panel moderated by Henry Blodgett, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Business Insider. The panel will include Brian Quinn, Vice President and General Manager of Digital Ad Sales for The Wall Street Journal and Betsy Morgan, CEO of The Huffington Post.
Recently I was told of a meeting in Washington where Arianna Huffington spoke of the success of her venture and berated some of the newspaper executives bewailing their decline in revenue as a bunch of crybabies. I’m told that the Huffington Post model is based substantially on unpaid user generated content, and I wonder if this model will face challenges as the media ecology evolves.
While it is good to see The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post on the panel, it is striking the lack of representation of others in the newspaper industry. When I’ve spoken with various people complaining about the decline of the newspaper industry, they talk about how they just can’t make as much money online as they did for print advertisements. Perhaps, instead of complaining, members of the news industry need to get more involved in conferences like this.
After the panel, Mojiva will sponsor a smoothie break. Staying with an inside joke since the DigiDay conference, I hope no one spills a smoothie on my blackberry.
While this only covers the first half of the day, it is probably about as much as it makes sense to put into a single blog post. Conferences like this can be overwhelming, especially if you get on a train before six in the morning, so I’ll rest a little and try not to hold too many things in my mind at the same time, or get overwhelmed, at least until lunch time.
A final word to my followers on Twitter: I hope to be sending many Tweets from DPAC III. If you are sensitive to the number of tweets you get and you don’t want to be inundated by messages about digital publishing and advertising, I’d encourage you to mute my Twitter stream for the day. On the other hand, if you are interested, please keep an eye on my tweets, since I hope they will be many and interesting.
I am on the train heading into Boston for #newsout where participants will struggle with "What happens when the newsroom lights go out?" The focus will be on who will watch the government as newspapers close. It is a topic near and dear to my heart.
The first speaker is Steven Clift. Mr. Clift has been involved with e-Democracy efforts since 1994 and is a frequent speaker on the topic. I’m on a few mailing lists that he runs and he asked people on the lists for feedback on good examples of e-Democracy. He shared his slides on the Internet and I’ve looked through them on the train ride up.
During coffee before the conference, I spoke with Mr. Clift who spoke about having lots of examples of e-Democracy, but few of them are very deep. The question that I want to see addressed is how do we increase the depth of involvement, or the level of engagement in our democracy, through technology and beyond.
With that, Mr. Clift has taken the stage.
Last Thursday, executives interested in marketing and advertising in mobile and social media gathered at the W Hotel in New York City for a conference called DigiDay. The first half of the day focused on Mobile marketing and advertising and the second on marketing and advertising in Social Media.
The day started with a conference sponsored by ChaCha. ChaCha is a service where you can text any question and receive a response from one of 55,000 ChaCha guides. These guides, many of whom are work at home moms or college students, have an active community for finding ways to quickly answer any question that might come in. The answers are supposed to reflect information on the web, as opposed to their own personal opinions.
When you text a message to ChaCha, you receive a text message back which includes an advertisement. These advertisements can be targeted by location or topic. Currently, location targeting is done at the area code level. It has been used by over four million people and their surveys get over a twenty percent response rate. Currently, they are receiving over ten million questions a month.
It seems like a great service so I thought I would give it a try. While no registration is necessary, on their website, you can register your email address and phone number. I registered my email address and verified it successfully. However, I never received my verification code on my cellphone.
I thought this would provide an interesting question, and I sent a text message to ChaCha asking why I hadn’t gotten my verification code. The response was unhelpful, simply saying that I didn’t need to use the verification code to ask questions. I replied, acknowledging that it wasn’t required but that I wanted to anyway, and asking how to get it. The second response was as useless as the first.
On Saturday afternoon, while I explored the Hebron Maple Festival, I noticed a car with the State Representative license plates for Assembly District 55. I sent a text message to find out who the State Rep for the district was, and was informed that it is Rep. Pam Sawyer. The message included her phone number and an advertisement for H&R Block. So, currently ChaCha is batting .333 for useful answers. I’ll probably keep using it from time to time.
However, I was also disappointed to receive a text message at the same time informing me that I had used 3 of 5 questions during a 48 hour period and that I could only ask 2 more questions over the next 18 hours. Considering that one of the questions was an attempt to get an answer for the previous question that they failed to answer adequately, and even that answer was not adequate, I was disappointed. Have you used ChaCha? How well has it worked for you? If you haven’t, you can text to their short code, 242242.
After the breakfast, the first panel was “The Mobile Marketer Roundtable: The Elephant in the Room: The Economy:“ Personally, I’m a bit tired of all the gloom and doom discussions about the economy. Yes, the economy sucks. However, there are still lots of people doing lots of interesting things. Tell me something I don’t know.
Fortunately, June Bower, VP of Marketing for Cisco-WebEx did tell me something interesting I didn’t know. There is a WebX app for the iPhone. Over 70,000 copies have been downloaded already and WebX will be coming to other smartphones soon. Another interesting idea from this panel was the cellphone as sales assistant. Someone is going to come up with an easy way for a user of a mobile device to find something he is looking for in a store. That will be a cool app.
There were discussions about ‘click to consume’ and the closest people have come up with so far have been buying ringtones, wallpapers and games. None of these are all that compelling, but they have been lucrative.
The biggest hurdle that members of the panel saw to mobile devices playing a bigger role was getting marketers to understand the role of mobile as part of their 360 marketing.
A final thought from this panel was that to television people, a mobile device looks like a small TV. To computer people, it looks like a small computer. More and more, simple telephony is playing a smaller and smaller part of mobile market.
This was brought home in the next panel, The State of Mobile Media by the Numbers, when Julia Resnick, VP Mobile Media Products for The Nielsen Company spoke about their research. The iPhone is drastically changing the data usage of mobile users and Android and Blackberry Storm are also making data a much larger part of the mobile platform. The other interesting tidbit that she revealed was that the average age for children getting their first cellphone is now 9.7 years. They also revealed that the average teenage sends 2300 text messages a month. That works out to around 75 text messages every day. I guess I’m not that heavy a texter after all.
The following panel, Keynote Panel: The Mobile Platform Implosion, spent time looking at appropriate metrics for mobile usage. Nothing particularly memorable came out of that panel except for the observation that cookies on mobile devices are a problematic stop gap measure. More interesting was a rant about metrics about how each decade has had it’s own ad science, but then about 2005, all that ad science went out the window simply for measurement without a lot of consideration of what was being measured and why.
It was an interesting observation. If you know what you are measuring and why you are measuring it, then you can determine if you are reaching your goals. Yet many people do not seem to have a clear idea of what they are measuring or why they are measuring it.
After this panel, a spokesperson for a company called Mojiva got up and made a sales pitch. It wasn’t all that compelling. What was compelling was the discussion afterwards. During the Q&A, he was asked about Twitter. He dismissed Twitter as diarrhea of people spending too much time online and having no mobile implications. The large community of participants at the channel who were having a great discussion about the conference on Twitter were merciless. They spoke about it as an epic fail, a credibility failure, a debacle, a shame, and some suggested that it is sometimes it is just better to get off the stage.
Could virtual worlds become a new platform of choice for musicians? If Darryl McDaniels (DMC) is successful, it will be. Later this month, he will be launching DMC World, a virtual world running on the Worlds.com platform. He was at Engage! Expo along with Thom Kidrin, President and CEO of Worlds.com, to talk about what their new world might be like. One person who viewed it summarized it saying, “This is Club Penguin for Hip Hop”. That’s a cute summary, but I suspect it could be much more than that if they do it right.
The Worlds.com platform is highly scalable and one goal is to be able to have concerts in DMC world. Fortunate musicians might also get the opportunity to jam with him online. Yet what is perhaps more interesting is that DMC hopes to sell not only his own music there, but the music of emerging artists that catch his interest as well.
There are already good venues for buying music online, from iTunes to Snocap. You can find new artists on sites like MySpace. DMC World could take this to a new level.
Will DMC World have what it takes to succeed? There are various issues that need to be addressed. The client is a relatively small download, compared to the size of other virtual world downloads. Yet it is still a download and not yet browser based. On top of that, currently, it only runs on Windows. A MAC version is expected in about six months. It should have many of the other features that Second Life users have come to expect such as the ability to build, as well potentially the ability to upload and download content. Worlds.com is also part of the virtual worlds interoperability committee, so progress on that front will hopefully make its way into DMC world as well.
Additional features that are in the works include a port to mobile platforms and the ability to chat from DMC world to phones. All of this presents a further challenge to the existing models of music distribution. In essence, each artist has the opportunity to become their own technologically savvy micro-label, facilitated by DMC World. Will it be successful? Time will tell.
Three years ago, a relatively unknown Greenwich Businessman challenged Connecticut’s Junior Senator and the Democratic Party’s former Vice Presidential candidate in a primary because he believed that the U.S. Government was wasting taxpayer dollars in an ill conceived war in Iraq. To the surprise of many, he won the primary and changed to discourse about the war across our country.
Last week, the New York Times had an article about Ned Lamont considering a run for Governor of Connecticut. It has been followed up by an editorial in the Journal Inquirer.
As a former staffer Mr. Lamont’s Senate bid, I won’t comment on the editorial’s views about Mr. Lamont’s political savvy or the quality of the staff. Instead, I want to focus on this key section:
Connecticut doesn’t need progressive government. Not exactly. It has pretty much had that forever. It needs rethought government, restructured government — a progressive government its citizens can actually afford. Because we can’t afford this one.
That might mean, for example, less top-heavy and top-down government and more actual service: lower taxes, less bureaucracy, fewer state-employed bodies but more help with health insurance, and small-business development, and college costs for people who make less than $30,000.
Is it possible?
Can we at least talk about such a hybrid?
Is anything remotely like this in Ned Lamont’s head?
I don’t have any inside insights into what Mr. Lamont is thinking, nor recommendations about how he can best get his voice heard. Is his work with former legislator, state budget chief and chancellor of the Connecticut State University system, William J. Cibes Jr. on the Blueprint for Connecticut’s Future the best approach? Would running for Governor provide him a better soapbox to talk about how we can address the financial difficulties our state faces? These are issues that Mr. Lamont needs to work out for himself.
Yet Ned Lamont is exactly the person who can lead us in a serious discussion about the issues raised in the Journal Inquirer editorial. He needs to decide what venue is best for him to call us into that discussion and we need to decide if we are ready for such a discussion. I sure hope we are.
Beyond leading the discussion, could Mr. Lamont be an effective chief executive officer of our state? His role as head of Lamont Digital, as well as his previous work as chairman of the State Investment Advisory Council during previous rough financial times for our state leads me to believe he would do a very good job. Everyone talks about the importance of small business in addressing our state’s financial problems. Maybe we need someone who has run a small business to lead our state.
Most importantly, there is the old saying that only Nixon could go to China. Perhaps something is similar today. Perhaps only a successful small businessman with progressive political views from Greenwich can get us to address the financial issues that our state faces. Let us hope that Ned Lamont can help us change the discourse about our state finances the way he helped change the discourse about the war in Iraq.