Saturday, April 29, 2006


New Internet Data, ad:tech, and Other Worthwhile Stuff

The Pew Internet Survey released their latest data on Internet penetration. There are lots of interesting items in the short report about daily Internet use and satisfaction with it (all increasing). The basic stats are interesting all by themselves.
While the share of internet users who report positive impacts has grown, the sheer size of
the internet population also continues to increase. Surveys fielded in 2006 show that
internet penetration among adults in the U.S. has hit an all-time high.1 While the
percentage of Americans who say they use the internet has continued to fluctuate slightly,
our latest survey, fielded February 15 – April 6, 2006 shows that fully 73% of
respondents (about 147 million adults) are internet users, up from 66% (about 133 million
adults) in our January 2005 survey. And the share of Americans who have broadband
connections at home has now reached 42% (about 84 million), up from 29% (about 59
million) in January 2005.

As noted recently in our Generations Online report, internet use still varies significantly
across age groups. While 88% of 18-29 year-olds now go online, 84% of 30-49 year-olds,
71% of 50-64 year-olds, and 32% of those age 65 and older say they use the internet. In a
separate survey conducted in Oct-Nov 2004, we found that 87% of 12-17 year-olds use
the internet.

Among those age 65 and older are the most educated, wealthiest of that cohort.

Car buyers looking more at the web, less at newspapers
Last year, 30 percent of new car buyers visited dealer sites, compared with 35 percent who looked at dealer advertising in local newspapers. In 2001, 17 percent of potential new car customers visited a dealer Web site. "It's a very real possibility that dealers will spend more ad money driving traffic to their Web sites," said Judy George, president of Friedman-Swift, Cincinnati. "As more dealers look at their own numbers and see that only 35 percent of their customers are looking at the newspaper before buying a car, it will change their advertising habits."

Newspapers seeking more Internet revenue; reports of their demise are premature.

ad:tech reports from this week's show in San Francisco... the show not a single printer or printing organization exhibited
Red Herring§or=Industries&subsector=EntertainmentAndMedia#
Advertising Age
ad:tech returns to New York November 6-8, 2006. Hint: The speaker proposal form is due May 19 for anyone who wants to make a presentation about winning applications of print and e-media or whatever topic one would think of making. Will someone represent our industry? their own businesses?

Nice article on Xerox in this week's Barrons' -- only subscribers can see or forward it; if anyone needs a working link, send me an e-mail, and I'll forward you a message for 7-day access to the article.

Chew on this one, new media deniers: Skype is up to 100 million users

Quad/Graphics story

They must be reading Dr. Joe :) Forbes article "Why the Pump Isn't More Painful."
And I was reminded of a Tax Foundation report that tax collections from oil exceed oil industry profits

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


All Kinds of Stuff and a Rant About Oil Price Silliness

The dark side of e-paper: "Blackberry Squint"

Some comments about trade shows on industry blog Lornitropia, to which I posted a comment.

The economy is really bad, crushed by high gas prices. So therefore, consumer confidence is at a four year high! Yet another discontiuity that is little-reported by the press! If confidence is supposed to crash because of high prices, then when it does not, something is probably worth investigating as a news story. Instead, there are emotional outbursts and whining and polls but no analysis.
This gas thing is being blown way out of proportion. Congress bungled laws affecting the MTBE - ethanol conversion, and they have refused to repeal the 56-cent a gallon tariff on imported ethanol. We've seen how reduction of tariffs has lowered inflation worldwide, but how protectionist polices strangle supply and raise prices. But ethanol has a special place in Congress with various subsidies and trade protections that protect producers but not consumers. Consumers are helped by low prices, not hurt by high prices and low supplies.

Look at what VoIP is doing to telephone costs. VoIP is essentially unregulated, and prices are virtually zero to have phone service in this way. We buy milk at a nearby dairy and the price is $3.50 a gallon, yet they don't have to explore for milk, drill for milk, ship raw milk across an ocean, process milk in a multi-acre processing plant, send the milk through pipelines, store it in tanks, ship the milk in trucks, empty the trucks into underground tanks, and then operate dispensing equipment. Milk still has price supports, too. Oil doesn't have price supports, but it has high taxes and in return gets a large amount of corporate welfare payments to offset them. The convenience store now part of so many gas stations is usually more profitable than the gas pumps. The funniest part of all of this is the claims that there should be a windfall profits tax. In economics, there is no such thing as a "windfall profit," just as there is no such thing as a "fair" price. There are market prices, but there is nothing fair or unfair about them: they are what they are, the result of the interaction of supply and demand. Peter Drucker would explain that there are no such thing as profits, only costs, and the profits are always used for future costs. In any comparison, the robust times of the petroleum business are short and fleeting, and it has been an underperforming industry for most years. ExxonMobil is in the bottom half of profit performance for the Dow 30. How come there are no windfall profits taxes on Microsoft or Johnson & Johnson, or on Adobe to take an example closer to home. I think Pixar, which earned 60 cents on every dollar of revenue should refund its "windfall profits" to all those little kids who are addicted to Toy Story. All of these companies have far higher profits as a percentage of sales than ExxonMobil. There already is a windfall profits tax: the US corporate tax rate is far higher than other developed economies, and the US treasury gets approvimately 38 cents of ever dollar of profit of the petroleum industry already, which is about 3 or so percentage points higher than other industries.

Industry profits still are exceeded by taxes paid from the processing level to the consumer price. There are 43 different direct and indirect taxes on gasoline, from pumping from the ground until the customer puts it in their tank. Maybe stopping the tax shell game would lower the prices, ya think? Tax collections are so strong, especially in states where sales tax as a percentage of the sale is collected, that there is no incentive to lower or remove the taxes; there is only an incentive to have meaningless press conferences with much flailing about.

The real profits from oil are earned at the source: whomever owns what comes out of the ground. But in the long run, the prices that caused 1970s oil embargo pain are actually in 2005 dollars $5.80 a gallon of gas and $140 a barrel of oil, when you adjust for inflation and the productivity that those prior high prices inspired businesses and consumers to pursue. We're still not close to those prices. While gas prices, like all prices, affect those with lower incomes disproportionately (when you are poor, all prices are too high). these prices are already causing people to change habits, which supposedly many hand-wringers have wanted all along: greater use of public transportation, car pooling, and other frugal behaviors. These are the kinds of acts that some have wanted all along: prices are always better at creating desired behavior than guilt or jawboning.

In the end, gas and oil prices will collapse, though that is definitely not imminent (it was in the mid-90s that it was less than $20 a barrel in current dollars after a long time well above that). Still much of the developing world is generating electricity from on-site generators and not utilities, which is far less efficient than the utility systems in developed countries. China's oil consumption is already running about 25% more than last year's rate. Countries that have well-developed nuclear sources and hydropower clearly have an advantage.

In an economic boom, commodities prices rise. We have been in a worldwide economic expansion. Lose the sad face and join in the fun.

This link has a great chart comparing the processed cost of gasoline compared to other common liquids, like Gatorade, Scope, Pepto Bismal. Be glad cars don't run on Evian water.

Tax Freedom day is April 26, three days later than 2005. I still think they should move Election Day to April 16, the day after Federal taxes are due. It'll never happen.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Searching for Online Revenue on TabletPCs or Epaper, Even in Baghdad... Now That I Have Your Interest... Today's Reading

Three consecutive years of online ad revenue growth

Bill Gates still sees TabletPCs replacing textbooks,aid,125492,tk,dn042106X,00.asp

The NYT has an e-paper story (for some reason it reminds me of a press sales rep I knew who would go to his new installs and call his reluctant prospects and say "Hear that noise in the background?" and then hold the phone up to the press and then say "That's the sound of your company going out of business.")

Search marketing is getting lots of press lately. Here's an Ad Age article about integrating it with offline campaigns.

There's been lots of debunkable writing lately about employee shortages in the printing industry. Here's an industry that's growing: digital media... sure, in the post-Internet-bubble era, we should be suspicious when we hear that. Read and decide for yourself.

The printing industry of Baghdad, Iraq
(sounds like they're making more money from politicians than those printers in India are)

Media execs told to wise up and get with the new media program (they said it nicer than that). Interesting quote:
More people are spending more time with text and images than at any time in the history of mankind.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Media Mix Keeps on Changing

Burst Media has an interesting release on where the Internet fits in consumer product information gathering in their April 2006 newsletter. It also has a good comparison of where it fits with other media (behind TV, and ahead of magazines, newspapers, and others).
More than half (57.1%) of respondents say the Internet is their primary source for information about products or services they might purchase. Men are more likely than women (61.9% versus 50.3%) to say the Internet is their primary product information source; and usage is near equal for all age segments except respondents 65 years and older, of which fewer than half (41.7%) say the Internet is their primary product information source.
The most striking difference in use of the Internet for product research occurs between income segments. Use of the Internet to gather product information rises dramatically as household income (HHI) increases – going from one-half (50.6%) of respondents reporting HHI less than $35,000 to fully two-thirds (69.2%) of respondents reporting HHI of $75,000 or more.

Merrill Lynch analysts say this is the year that Internet ad dollars exceed magazine ad dollars or

Morgan Stanley has posted their Global Internet Trends presentation

There is a good summary of XML and JDF events at IPEX online. One of the more interesting hands-on articles I've seen about the subject, also discussing the role of PDF. It mentions issues of open source software as well (of which I am a big fan). One of these is Scribus, the free desktop publishing software.
Gimp is an open source competitor to Photoshop was the subject of a USA Today article. Think of it as video blogging.
The story
The site

Direct magazine publishes a letter around Easter and Passover that helps put life in perspective. May none of us ever have to be this courageous.

Monday, April 17, 2006


This Week's Assigned Reading

"Future of the Internet" is the topic of an article in Red Herring. Notice it's not "future without the Internet" or "the Internetless office" or something like that. It's more than 10 years now that the Internet has invaded my life. My son, 15, just got a new PDA. He does Google searches on it, uses Skype, IM, sends documents, e-mails, and stores other things on it, for just $375. This is, of course, in addition to the usual calendar, address book, etc., for which he actually has little interest right now. The world is in the palm (no pun intended, but it is funny how that slipped out) of his hand. (It's not a Palm, anyway, it's a refurb HP).

Okay, new media deniers, try this one on for size:
The number of online catalogs jumped from 7,440 to 8,903 according to the 2006 edition of "The National Directory of Catalogs"... Online catalogs make up 78% of the 11,438 catalog listings, compared to only 60% last year, with 1,320 available only in online format -- double the 772 online-only catalogs in the previous year.

Deliverability is still a problem for e-mail campaigns. Anyone listening? Hello? Hello? (always aim at your competitor's weakness with something they can't change... hint hint...)

The radio folks have an interesting idea: promoting their media using a different one. Gee, what a concept. And, they chose print!

China has more Internet users than the U.S.? (get this link asap because it expires)

One of the problems with new media is that there are legacy media with all kinds of legal agreements that existed prior to the new media. This was one of the reasons why AOL never became the cross media monster that many had hoped it would become. Instead, it became a cross media amoeba. Ruport Murdoch as no intention of letting that happen to his Fox properties. This story discusses how he's letting broadcast stations share in the new media wealth.

The CEO of Caterpillar writes an interesting editorial in the WSJ about global trade. Perhaps protectionist printers will listen.

Taxpayers are not warming up to e-filing like the IRS wants them to. It's over 50%, but supposedly has to be up to 70% for them to meet their targets. How about charging less. How about less forms and attachments? No doubt a simpler tax law would help. The whole tax collection thing is a mess to begin with, filled with special interests and good ol' loopholes. Loopholes make paper, and more complex tax forms. Better to have an incentive to file electronically. How about the equivalent of "free shipping" which got many of the Internet retailers going? Give people $5 off their taxes for what they would have spent on postage. Give people $1 for each page of their return. Something!
Electronic banking has been growing,aid,125360,tk,wbxnws,00.asp

I was recently interviewed for the podcast Inside Print Radio
The actual podcast can be downloaded with this link

Friday, April 14, 2006


Magazine and Publishing Stuff, and How We As an Industry Are Wallflowers in the New Media Dance Drinking Caffeine Free Diet Cola

101 New magazines have been launched in the first quarter of 2006

Is this high or low? Beware press releases without context! "Mr. Magazine" tells us what's going on
If you don't know Dr. Samir "Mr. Magazine"™ Husni, go here

The founder of Rolling Stone discusses the future of print magazines in the WSJ

Author starts publishing her own books and e-books... will publishers be needed in the future?

India story about digital technology in the printing industry; mentions EFI's software development there

Hello? Anyone listening? Forrester Research and the Association of National Advertisers did a study about the effects of the (my words) disintegration of TV advertising as a result of DVRs (digital video recorders like TiVo for those in the audience who don't understand these TLAs [three-letter acronyms]). What's an advertiser to do? Where shall they spend their dollars to reach their audience? Search the press release: nowhere are the words "print" or "magazine" or "mail" to be found. The release has this sentence
"As new and traditional media alternatives compete more aggressively for a share of the media pie, and marketers look to improve consumer targeting, reduce costs and enhance accountability, television is aggressively responding."
Can we replace that word "television" with the word "print"? Nope, not a chance. Will anyone other than me rise up in the business and say something? For all of the money and time people spend and volunteer on associations, is anyone getting anything out of it more than meetings or press releases? Go to the Print Council site (not which is something else, but and count up the press releases that discuss the comparative effectiveness of print media compared to others with something hard that a media analyst or marketing manager can use. As of 11:18am edt of April 14, 2006, the answer is 0. Using current dollars (the inflation-adjusted dollars are too painful), that's $3.5 billion in "lost" shipments since December 2003.
To contrast this, go to the Interactive Advertising Bureau site and look how many reports they have
ad:tech is in two weeks in San Francisco. Look at the exhibitor list: Look under "P" or "T" to see if the Print Council is there. For that matter, try to find any printer's name or other association.
Show details:
I'm often asked "have we hit bottom" or "are things leveling off" and "will things turn around." If we ignore what's been happening to us and don't step into the new marketplace with both feet and claim a space as our own, it's our own fault.

We need a good shot of this stuff

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Buyers Tell Printers What They Want, Online Continues to Grow... Not Like Dr. Doom Didn't Warn Anyone... Beware the Killer PDAs

Margie Dana of the Boston Print Buyers has an excellent piece on "If I Were a Printer. . .Musings about Selling Print Today"
Her latest columns can be accessed at

This first paragraph certainly grabs your attention...
"When a magazine's ad pages climb nearly 50% in a year and its paid circulation jumps almost 20%, you don't expect it to get shut down. So when Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. put a stake through its vibrant Elle Girl last week and called the future, the normal rules suddenly seemed, well, old. "

Zenith Optimedia forecasts that Internet advertising will shortly outpace outdoor advertising... and supplies a lot of global advertising data in their release as well.

Business Week discusses the "killer PDAs" that will be hitting the marketplace this year. The "wherever-whenever" world is about to take a big step forward.

Latest trends in e-business and other media. Some quotes :
"Websites are becoming the hub of industrial marketing. The Web is increasingly becoming the hub of manufacturers marketing efforts. In fact, over half of all manufacturers consider their Website to be their most powerful marketing tool.
"Manufacturers consider online marketing more effective than traditional marketing because it makes a measurable impact on their business. Industrial marketers feel online marketing is more effective at producing measurable, business-building, results."
Press release
Download the report

Monday, April 10, 2006


Ginsu Knives and Political Printing in India: Yes, It's One Strange Day on Dr. Joe's Blog

Key concept that drives media reallocation: traditional old-style direct mail metrics are being applied to all media. Here's a good article from Advertising Age is called "What P&G Learned From the Veg-O-Matic and Ginsu-Knife"

Surprise! B2B marketers are spending more on their Internet initiatives!
Press release
Download the report

Disney putting up broadcast shows on the web the day after network broadcasts, for free. Network broadcasting continues its death spiral, but it will be an incredible well for Internet content... that is, as long as advertisers want to keep paying for it.
Funniest line of the story: "Disney was not immediately available for comment." Of course he will be... in the year 2357.

Startup company Webaroo grabs Internet content and puts it in a form that you can search offline. I haven't used it yet but the concept seems quite interesting.

Nice printer turnaround story. Classic dilemma though: now that you've fixed the mismanaged business you just acquired, what do you do next?

Digital printing is changing the political landscape in India!

Friday, April 07, 2006


Dr. Doom, There's no Stringing Barnes & Noble Along, and Other Stuff

I'm kidded about the Dr. Doom monicker I've been stuck with, and the jokes among my co-consultants and writes get pretty funny. This Career Builder ad fits into the same theme. It's been suggested that I turn my printing shipments charts upside down so I could say shipments are up.

Barnes & Noble told Sony where to put its e-book reader

Time Inc. is combining its print and online sales forces for its business titles

Adobe doesn't make many mistakes (and when they do, they seem to fix them), and watching them is always worthwhile. Here's a story about a deal with Verizon to use the recently-acquired Macromedia Flash

Web development (not the press kind) getting a new surge? This article says it is.

Looks like Google and Earthlink's proposal for free (Google) and fee (Earthlink) wi-fi in San Francisco is almost a done deal.,aid,125329,tk,dn040606X,00.asp

E-Dialog, the company I mentioned the other day in reference to bounced e-mails generating a direct mail piece, made an acquisition to expand their services.

Interesting article about online publishing in the UK, especially about online paid vs. free issues
The article:
The original release:

Article about publishers reaction to AOL's new mobile initiatives
I love these articles... they always assume that all people do all day is look at media, and imply that all current media use will remain static.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Printing Profits (Ick!), the NYTimes and Other Stuff

Printing profits for Q4-2005 were just plain awful and were disappointing for the whole year. It's not like we didn't have any warning. Here we are an $88B industry and all we can muster is a bit over $3B in profits. This was the worst profit showing since 2001. And for the capacity utilization freaks out there, the r-squared for utilization and profits is only 35%. That's worse than flipping a coin. What's it tell us? We've gotten very busy producing unprofitable things. There'll be lots more about this in my Friday WTT column.

Popular investor and crazyman Jim Cramer writes in New York magazine that the NYT should make the bold move and go digital. The ranticle (rant + article) is quite interesting as he calls them to task on a variety of issues. There are two things about this that I find really funny in a refreshing kind of way. First, all those "newspapers are not dying" articles we've been seeing lately discuss the viability of the medium but not the financial viability of the companies that actually do the newsgathering and production. Without profits, those companies can't transform themselves without facing hard realities. The medium will survive, but the companies will not in their current forms. Secondly, he calls on the NYT to use the Internet to become a global newspaper. His rationale for moving boldly is this comment: "The whole contingent [referring to newspaper stocks] gets valued as a wasting asset, where the worth will be smaller each year, and the only real buyers are the other companies themselves." And this line: "Why not just jump it and become the international paper of record, rather than just a cumbersome local paper with some national brand? The Times could become, say, the No. 1 news source in China." Does anyone in the newspaper business think boldly, or do they just think about themselves? This strategy is not crazy; Advertising Age has made the switch from weekly print in its strategy to be a worldwide daily presence.

InfoUSA has announced ZipMailUSA. The service allows small businesses to use templates for direct mail or to upload their own templates and run direct mail campaigns. Two problems: 1) they issued the press release and the web site's not up; 2) it's only available to SalesGenie customers (their subscription sales lead service). So they really jumped the gun. The bulk of InfoUSA's mailing lists are from yellow pages compilations, which are filled with duplications and dead addresses, but in some cases these are the only lists you can buy. All that aside, don't you think this is the next natural step for what we now call "the VistaPrint" model? Lump in services like ConstantContact, the e-mail campaign management service and this, and what do you have? A low cost marketing machine that small businesses can use that bypasses the traditional printing business. Anyone think that Staples of someone else isn't looking at this concept? If they're not, they will.

UK's PrintWeek and Printing World have merged

And if you didn't hear, Computer Graphics World was sold by PennWell to... a printer!
Press release (It was issued on April Fools Day... yeah, right, a printer buys a magazine... has to be a joke... but it's not... I missed working on the WhatTheyThink April Fools edition. Since it fell on a Saturday, there was none).
The printing company that bought it So no one is confused, they also own other publications, so this is not just your typical printer by any means.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Multichannel, Cross-Media, Whatever You Call It, For Some Reason the Printing Industry Just Won't Participate

What? E-mail intergrates with other media? It has executives discussing how they use e-mail with other media, most of it print media, like direct mail and inserts! Why won't the Print Council promote this positive article about integrated marketing communications? They're still sending releases as Word documents attached to e-mails, and their site still has nothing that discusses the effectiveness of print in relation to other media. This week, they're at the National Postal Forum. Exciting, huh? I wonder how many e-mail marketers are there. In a prior posting of the membership of the Interactive Advertising Bureau it was amazing how many publishers and agencies were there (I've heard that some of those businesses occasionally buy printing services) and not a single printing organization was listed. We deserve what happens to us. Sorry for ranting... it's the beginning of the month and I want to be sure I hit my ranting quota.

Related to this is an audio report up on the Advertising Age site about how media selection is changing. It's quite good. With a title like "PRINT PUBLISHING DECLINE QUICKENS AS DIGITAL MEDIA SOAR" don't you just have to listen to it?

In a related rantable matter, I had a discussion about a year ago with a major exec in a huge agency about the media shift to electronic media. The executive was mainly involved in print production, and was not aware these things were going on. Some other occasions I've chatted with sales and marketing people at major printers who have no idea that their own publishing clients already have digital divisions. It reminds me of about 10 years ago I was at a meeting at a trade shop that had a lock on the high-end catalog business. I asked the sales people "how many of you read Catalog Age?" No one raised their hand. But someone did say that I could have the stack of back issues out in the lobby because no one knew what to do with them. Maybe it's just me, but when a market is in turmoil, doesn't it demand that you have the market curiosity of a hungry pirhana who has just sniffed out the possibility of a meal?
By the way, CatAge as it was called has since changed its name to multichannel merchant and can now be found at

AA also had an article about the redesign of the NYT and WSJ web sites

Borders will be selling the Sony e-book reader
Press release
cNet story

The download of audio and slides of my WTT economic webinar of 3/29, and sponsored by Kodak, is now available.
Press release

PC World has compiled a list of the best free software and free services. I've used lots of them (OpenOffice, AbiWord, PDF Creator, many others) and highly recommend you give any of the items on the list a shot.,aid,124883,pg,17,00.asp
Speaking of free software, an associate of my had MS Outlook crap out on him. No matter what he did he couldn't get it to run right. Before reloading his entire system, I suggested he try Mozilla Thunderbird. He even switched to Mozilla Firefox. So he got rid of Outlook and Internet Explorer. Guess what? All of his problems are gone. My life has been much easier since ditching MSWord for 90% of my work, and ditching Powerpoint as well. Excel is next on my list for extinction. Hooray, OpenOffice!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


On to Important Things

Finally, I get to write about something important: baseball. These are my "predictions" for the year. It was hard to pick the Mets, since I have followed them since I was 10, when their infield included Ed Kranepool, Ron Hunt, Ed Bressoud, and Ken Boyer, and their outfield had Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda, and Al Luplow. Ron Hunt would have a good career; Ken Boyer was at the end of his. Jerry Grote was the catcher, who would prove his game-calling and defensive abilities once Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman would join the staff a couple of years later. Their big pitcher that year was Dennis Ribant. Yes, household names, all of them. This year the Mets have bought a good team and should be fun to watch. They're in the division with the Atlanta Braves who have had 14 straight years of "they'll never win the division this year" and always do.

Wild-card DODGERS

Wild-card WHITE SOX

It's for the birds! Blue Jays & Cardinals

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