Thursday, October 26, 2006


SystemSuite, American Magazine Conference, Monkey Ward is Back, Newspapers Newscasting, Adobe E-Books, Business iPods, Economic Misreporting

I'm a free software kind of guy, but I must recommend SystemSuite 7 which was just released and is on sale until tomorrow for $37 for upgraders at It's far less annoying than Norton Systemworks and has kept all of our computers in the office and in our home working great. It's also legal to put it on three computers. Ain't that great? If you're not a current user, it's $45. -- well worth it. Soon I'll be writing about the various open source software that I use and where they might be found.

The American Magazine Conference meeting in Phoenix is summarized in this NY Sun article.
NYU's publishing program has been revised so that there is a digital component to every course offered.And those who want a career in magazine publishing, on the editorial or the business side, are advised that nowadays that means both print and electronic publishing... Diane Salvatore, editor in chief of Ladies' Home Journal, says, "For editors, it really is a moment of great, unprecedented creativity. You are forced to think three-dimensionally because the reader really wants to participate on a new, intimate level." ..."It just isn't one size fits all, anymore," Ms. Link said. "Your brand and your audience will determine how you reach them. I am asked all the time about organization. Should a publisher have one advertising sales staff or two? One editorial staff or two? There are no definite answers yet. It isn't unhealthy but it is unsettling."

The Montgomery Ward catalog is back. That is, the people who bought the rights to the name in bankruptcy court have issued a catalog with that name.
Some history is at

Newspapers, especially local-focused ones, are experimenting in other media. Here's a Canadian newspaper is doing a video newscast.

Adobe is about to start pushing e-books again with some new software

Companies are giving iPods to their employees for training purposes and for company announcements
Will free e-book readers have the same destiny?

Good article on this Rodney Dangerfield economy that we're in...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


There's Some Serious Magic at Adobe, Sticking to Magazines, Hypertargeting Unisys, Printing is a Staple at Staples, and more

A bellwether of where communications is going is Adobe. They rarely make mistakes in acquisitions or in strategy over the long term. This article reports their purchase of Serious Magic. I have used their Visual Communicator product, and it is ... COOL! The product allows ordinary people to make computer-based video files, and has all kinds of little features that include TV-style graphics. I used it to make my famous roast video of Dick Vinocur.
I wasn't particularly skilled at using Visual Communicator at the time of Dick's roast, but a copy of it can be downloaded (10mb) at for the next 2 weeks.

One of the most important marketing books of the past year is What Sticks. The author just spoke at a magazine conference and said some very interesting things about print. The industry should memorize this book... it is one of the most comprehensive discussions on the interaction of media available. While we do have to remember it's an analysis of large companies' spending, it is an eyeopener, first at how little is known, and second, how well new techniques can identify optimal media allocation. Key item below: As a marketer you maximize ROI when [you] use all media. Isn't this where the new opportunity is for printers?
TV was dominant in all the studies as a way to increase brand awareness. But magazines proved to be more effective at both brand awareness and purchase intent. Magazines were superior to both TV and online in driving purchase intent. "Magazines are the most consistent performer of all media measured if you look at ROI," Mr. Briggs told attendees. "As a marketer you maximize ROI when [you] use all media, and magazines were key to that. Each element of the marketing mix must find its own strength and leverage it to surround the consumer with a synergistic and consistent message. Leaving magazines out of the mix is tremendous mistake."

The WSJ has a very interesting article on targeted marketing (the article is on their free side of the site). The first line of the article: Around 20 high-ranking executives at corporations such as Subaru of America, DHL, Citigroup and Northwest Airlines will get a surprise when Fortune magazine arrives on their desks this week. Each will find his or her own face gracing the cover.
This was particularly interesting: Unisys once relied mainly on magazine advertising, but it left people with a "vanilla" impression of the company, says Ellyn Raftery, its vice president and general manager of world-wide marketing and communications.
It's a good article, quite short, but worth pursuing.
Coincidence? Joe McGrath, CEO joined Unisys after serving as president and general manager of Xerox Production Color Systems.

Staples continues to make investments in printing, opening up a production facility in California and one in New Jersey.

When you see a headline that reads "Germany sees increase in mail order shopping" don't you think "mmm.... catalogs and direct mail must be doing well"? It always pays to look at the definitions. As you read on you find "Mail order purchases include those made online, via catalogues or phone" and then "Internet shopping is the most popular form of mail order purchases." I guess something gets lost in the translation.

This article updates the current state of e-mail in the marketing mix...
... and... there is now an "E-mail Experience Council"

Monday, October 23, 2006


Putting Consumers in Charge Messes Things Up; Video Clogs; New Media Jobs in Great Demand; Small Customers; and more...

The idea that the consumer of information is in charge of the communications process is difficult to comprehend for many. This article explains how it has affected the network TV business, as old rules of thumb no longer apply, and no one knows how long the new rules of thumb will apply.

Streaming and downloaded video clogging up servers! These problems never last long... because technology never moves in lockstep across all sectors, you get these kinds of imbalances... which entrepreneurial executives detect as opportunities...

Business Week reports on some of the new video technologies that are on their way

WSJ reports how salaries for new media jobs are rising significantly.
Soaring demand for online advertising is creating an all-out battle on Madison Avenue for people who can create or sell interactive ads. A shortage of advertising talent with digital-media experience is sending salaries soaring -- up as much as 60% in the past year...The lack of digital talent could slow the growth of online-ad spending...marketers across industries are looking to spend 15% to 20% of their budgets on digital media, but right now are spending less than 5% of their budgets in the space..."There is more demand for expertise than there is expertise." Part of the problem, Yahoo's Ms. Millard, is that skills required in the online- and old-media worlds are so different that few people can easily "toggle back and forth." Creative directors at an interactive ad agency need to understand how to craft banner ads, email promotions and video spots that don't look like traditional TV commercials. Media buyers need to know all the newly popular Web sites as well as understand search functions and other new digital venues -- a different role to buying space in newspapers or time on TV.

WSJ article about how libraries are changing
"What is the role of the physical library when so much of what students use on a day-to-day basis is available on their laptops or iPods at home?"

Article about some printers in the Wichita, Kansas area
"I think I've seen more change in the last 10 years than my father saw in 30," he said. "We were just beginning cold type back in 1984. We had our first typesetter. I'm now on my 15th."..."A lot of the business I used to do just isn't there anymore," Wooten said. "We used to do a lot of pre-printed forms for people to fill out. Now the form is on the computer screen. We used to do 30 forms for Intrust Bank. Today we do three."...But technology has also made it easier to generate documents and opened doors for designers -- and would-be designers, printers say...Home printing and self-printing have also cost commercial printers some clients. "We've lost some business to laser and office printing, but overall the industry is still growing," said Stuart Lungwitz, co-owner of The Print Source, a company that has roots 60 years deep in the Wichita economy...."There are a lot of things that can't be done electronically," he said. "You still need a commercial printer to do metallic colors, foil stamping or fluorescent colors."

Founder of Transcontinental talks about China
Click here (link is so long it messes up the layout)
"Printed products are the country's primary method of disseminating information and the government is not ready to transfer control to a private corporation, and even less so to a foreign one," Marcoux said. Foreign companies are only allowed to hold a minority position in these companies, he noted. Marcoux also said Chinese competition has squeezed the Montreal printer's markets, but the company has come up with effective strategies to compete. He estimated that 75 per cent of Transcontinental's income comes from areas where competition from China is not a factor. He said the composition and publishing of circulars and newspapers offer a sound base for the company's growth. In book publishing, the firm also invested $45 million to equip two Quebec factories with fast, automated presses.

GM spending more online, and is encouraging local dealers to do the same.
...[GM] plans to allocate more of its national ad budget to the Web even as the company faces widespread spending cuts and heavy revenue losses, according to Merrill Lynch... "more of GM’s marketing budget will go online despite an already 10-15 percent share of the national ad budget [being spent on the Web]"... "The company is also nudging its local dealers to spend more online."...On the local level, currently just 9 percent of GM's media dollars are allocated to digital properties.

I was having a conversation with someone and in passing they mentioned that they had a client who wasn't interested in pursuing someone because they were "too small." I immediately thought of YouTube. This is the company that Google just bought for $1.65 billion.... (yes, billion... a thousand millions) and they had only 67 employees and were only in business for 19 MONTHS.
Two things: first, Peter Drucker's famous "feed tomorrow, starve yesterday" is very important in sales. Sales people, however, live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world that penalizes long sales cycles and nurturing of small businesses. Second, this is why we advertise. The over-emphasis of immediate returns and ROI on communications spending means that no one... and I mean no one... worries about people who are not customers yet, but will be decision-makers in the future. This is why we create brands. This is why we work with schools. But many companies have stopped, and instead focus on "events" or sales situations where there are only "qualified buyers" today. They're ruining their business tomorrow, in the process, and will always be selling. Drucker again: the purpose of marketing is to make selling unnecessary. These managers will always be selling, and one day they'll wonder why a competitor seems to "inherit" their business or come out of nowhere.

That Kodak video? YouTube vistors are now greeted with this:

Saturday, October 21, 2006


A Kodak (Embarrassing) Moment, TV Guide Becomes Internet Only in Canada, Malaysian Printing?

I must say the posting of a Kodak-produced supposedly motivational video
to define its new attitude and new aggressiveness is more "Animal House" or Lewis Black is rather strange and silly (the speaker in it is imitating LB... and if not, the idea that there is a second person just like him should scare us). The video won't change people's minds about the company, and it's very embarrassing... mainly because someone may have actually thought it was a good idea. While sales people and many Wall Street executives enjoy the good, sometimes raunchy jokes that a rush of testosterone creates, those are usually best left in the locker room or in the bar.

What is also questionable is that in a market that increasingly includes women (and it will even more so, as women represent more than half of graduate business students), this video is even sillier. This is men's locker room ranting, much like John Belushi in Animal House. Even though coarseness can be genderless (the girls on Sex and the City have their own locker room chatter), there is a sense that when you go to do business in the public, you take a shower, you shave, you brush your teeth, you dress in clean clothes, take one last look in the mirror, and go out into the world. But this is just men behaving badly, and much should not be expected of men anyway, at least that's what the SATC girls would say, and they would be right. As Otter says in response to Bluto's monologue in AH: "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part." And we see the results of it here.

What is even stranger about this is the leaking (was it purposeful?) of it online at, and now it is there for everyone to see, and link to. Right now, it links to a "Kodak S***s" video. I'm sure that's exactly what Kodak wanted.

Some people will look at this and say that it's nothing more than a PG-13 movie or what one would see on Saturday Night Live. They are absolutely correct. Some would suggest that it's out of context. The fact that it can't stand on its own testifies to its weakness. If you can't proudly say it over a family dinner with little kids at the table with the desire that you'd like them to do it too when they're an adult, then you probably shouldn't put it in a corporate video. The old saying "character is what you do when no one is looking" goes out the window in a world: once it's there, the whole world sees.

It's best to leave coarse satire to those who do it best. When those folks do it, it's called "buzz" and it can actually help build a brand. When we watch Animal House we know it's funny because of how unlikely it is: Dean Wormer would have been fired long ago, and the Delta House students' parents would have yanked their tuition or the school would have tossed them many semesters ago. It's funny because it is so over the top. Maniac Lewis Black is funny because he's not in charge of anything, yet somehow can find the weakest point and grind humor into it and make it uncomfortably funny for anyone watching. At the end of the day, Lewis goes home. We know that if we trusted him with anything, it would end up in shambles, and that's why he is funny. At the end of Kodak's day, the executives still have to be trusted to run Kodak.

As far as Kodak's problems go, real people with real families lost real jobs because of the decisions Kodak executives made. One of America's great companies was undermined by executives who were out of touch with the market except for their posh lifestyles and smooth talk with investors and the public, and employees naive enough to believe them. When they should have been acting aggressively and decisively to save and reposition the company, they ignored competition and protected their turf and their bonuses instead. The video says that Kodak has never been short of "big ideas and brass cojones" (at 1:48 of the video, and he points to the cojones, like no one in the audience knows where they are typically found). That's been their problem, and it still is. The big ideas were to ignore Fuji and digital imaging because they could never be as good as what Kodak blessed and approved, and it turned out that the "brass ones" were what they used to keep telling people that they were on track as planned and that things would be better next quarter. This is the company whose only dependable part of their financial report was its accounting for "non-recurring charges" which seemed to occur every quarter, more predictably than anything else that was happening, as they kept being surprised by the constant need to downsize again and again.

Dismissing its dysfunctional decisions, affecting all those employees and the once thriving city of Rochester, by "call[ing] the 90s one big fat makeready" (at 1:42 of the video) minimizes what happened to this once admirable member of the Dow Jones 30. It exhibits managerial behavior and credibility more typical of unlisted "pink sheet" stocks. All I know is that if I was shown this video as a Kodak manager, I'd be rolling on the floor laughing. But the joke would have been "between us," and would never have seen the light of day outside my office. Kodak doesn't need big ideas, nor does it need "brass cojones." It needs competence and people who can implement wise decisions, and whose reliability is unquestioned. This video would work, possibly, if they were at the top of their game. Instead, it's disappointing that someone thinks something like this, done all in "good fun" can actually build respect for a company that still, after more than a decade, is having trouble centering its image. Delivering consistent performance based on delighted customers changes one's image. This video doesn't advance that cause one bit. In the end, it's not offensive, it's dumb.

For the culturally impaired:
What is Animal House?
Who is Lewis Black?
What is Sex and the City?
"cojones" has an encyclopedic listing!
"cojones" dictionary listing
Kodak 10-year stock chart (it's not very pretty, and they even tried to stop it with a stock buyback; the chart may default to 1-year; switch it to 10 years by clicking the drop-down arrow under "Time" and selecting "1 decade"; then click the box that says "chart" and it will refresh the data)
Kodak dropped from the Dow 30 Industrials
At one point, the white-haired Lewis Black-like speaker lets out a "booyah." The definition is at but I heard it's generally a fishing term, screamed when you catch a big one. The word has been popularized by CNBC personality Jim Cramer on his show Mad Money Whoever made this video has create a composite Black-Cramer character. The only thing missing is the throwing of an office chair when Cramer starts his "lightning round" where he gives off the cuff stock advice to callers.
When he calls someone "Bucko" it's much like the old comedian Eddie Lawrence who had the character "The Old Philosopher" whose routines are at,_The.html -- It would not be surprising if Lewis Black and others were influenced by Lawrence's rather strange novelty act of the 1950s and 1960s.
The similarity to this video and the famous monologue by John Belushi is quite evident. Famous lines from the movie, unedited, can be found at, but here's the monologue in question:
D-Day: War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough...
[thinks hard]
Bluto: the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
[runs out, alone; then returns]
Bluto: What the **** happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my *** from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer...
Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.
D-Day: Let's do it.
Bluto: LET'S DO IT!


TV Guide
Canada discontinues its print version to be Internet-only; it's owned by Transcontinental Printing.

NYT article about why business is so bad: "To Explain Soft Numbers, Newspaper Companies Name a Common Culprit": lack of ads. No kidding. Cynics would say if you don't have hard news, you get soft numbers.

Good NYT article about the economics of printed materials and technological change

One never hears of Malaysia as a source of "offshore printing." This article cures that.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Zinio, Times Plunge, E-Mail Problems, Interesting E-Paper News, and a Barron's Note

Digital magazine provider Zinio has press release about its recent sales levels. Sales are picking up, but digital magazines are not performing anywhere near the levels that they were expected to years ago. They are on a firm, positive trajectory, however. Their biggest competitor: websites, operated by their own clients... called publishers.
...the site has seen more than 154% growth in transactions per month for the first 8 months of 2006, compared to the first 8 months of 2005. Monthly transactions include both subscription sales and single copy sales, which have grown on average more than 166% compared to year earlier levels.

The New York Times had a 48% plunge in profits though revenues were down only 2%. Are they that perilously close to their breakeven point? Anyone who mentions the superior financial ratios that newspapers have compared to other industries.... well... what do you think now? It's the momentum of earnings that matters, and this is not a pretty picture.

Think there's nothing for printers and graphic designers to do in e-marketing? This report from SilverPop explains the graphic, layout, and other elements that improve e-mail campaigns. If print and creative sales are supposed to be consulatative, isn't this something that should be part of that process?

Monthly shipments of e-paper screens reached 10,000, according to this report, with the bulk of them to Sony
Monthly shipments of Prime View International's (PVI's) electronic-paper (e-paper) reached 10,000 units in August, with most of the shipments going to Sony, according to today's Chinese-language Commercial Times...PVI is the only e-paper supplier for Sony, according to market sources...In August, sources at the company revealed that the company is ready to ship its electronic paper (e-paper) in volume to clients for electronic book (e-book) and electronic label (e-label) applications.

By the way, the Sony e-store now has this message:
Due to overwhelming demand, new Sony® Portable Reader orders may ship as late as November 30th. Existing orders will be shipped in the order they were received.

Regarding my comments about the Barron's article by Thomas Donlan, "Dow Be Not Proud," I did get a note from him which indicated that "Dividends covered about half the Dow's losses to inflation and about a third for the S&P."
The article was at

Thursday, October 19, 2006


GraphExpo, Despair with HP/Indigo, Inflation Distortion, Trade Deficit Hysteria, Good Economic News Buried on Page 12, There's Less of Dr. Joe!

I started the notes for this blog the early morning before the last day of GraphExpo. This has been the most upbeat show I have been to in quite a long time. We have to remember that the "winners" go to trade shows, plus whatever the local crowd is. But that was true of recent shows as well. Perhaps the worst of the pain is finally over? We still have many things as an industry to work through, and more ahead, but this was quite encouraging... finally. The industry needs to revise its capital base and make significant investments in modern workflow and management. For once, the latter area seemed to be getting some attention from less-than-cutting-edge printers. You can't invest in capital improvements that unless you are generating profits. Clearly, many of the attendees finally are if their show floor behavior is any indication.

Everyone knows how much I love the work done at where making fun of clueless and bad management is the core of their business. For everyone who has sat through a dumb seminar, a silly motivational speech, or explanation of procedures that assume physical laws do not apply, this company is for you. A month ago they announced that they were doing customized calendars I just got an e-mail today that has the text below... they've bought their own HP Indigo 5000... business must be good! Some background on can be found at
Here's the text from the e-mail that mentions their purchase:
For once in your life, don't procrastinate. Buy it now. Because we're not sure we'll be able to keep up with demand when the holidays start. You read it right. With only one HP Indigo 5000 printer under roof, a maximum output of only a couple thousand calendars per day, and no back-up plan in the event of equipment failure, Despair is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Fate this year. Sure, it would've been a lot more pragmatic to secure a second printer- just to have a little bit of extra capacity, to say nothing of redundancy. But at half-a-million a pop, that would've cut into profits, and in turn, might have forced certain higher-ups here to indulge their annual Relentless Pursuit of Perfection at Southpoint Kia instead of Lexus of Austin. It goes without saying that can not be allowed to happen. So if YOU'RE planning to indulge in the Relentless Pursuit of Dejection this year, why not just go ahead and do your Christmas shopping today, while our turnaround times are less than a week? What? Sheer pragmatism isn't a good enough motivator for you? You're waiting for a coupon code or something? Okay, fine, why not try "ipinchpenniessoharditmakesabelincolncry". It'll save you a whopping 1%, just like my employee discount does. Are you satisfied now?

Barron's opinon page editor Thomas Donlan reminds us of the insidious nature of inflation on the indices we use to measure investment performance. The brief note "Dow Be Not Proud" is in relation to the joy in the recent move of the Dow to new highs. I wrote a note to him asking what the values are with inflation-adjusted dividends reinvested; I'll post if I get an answer.
The DJIA needs to rise almost 20% from here, to about 13900, to offset inflation -- even the weak inflation of the past six years...S&P index investors need another 12% rise to get back to the old top of 1527, set in October 2000. To offset inflation, S&P 500 investors would like to see the index surpass 1807 -- a 32% gain from here. Others need still more: The benchmark S&P index beat two-thirds of actively managed mutual funds over the past five years...The only good news about the Nasdaq is that inflation losses aren't significant. That's because losses due to inflation are as nothing, compared to the 55% nominal loss in the Nasdaq index since it hit its record of 5132 in March, 2000. A buy-and-hold investor in the Nasdaq index would be even with the all-time high, adjusted for inflation, if it were at 6075.
Some folks get upset with me when I adjust industry shipments for inflation, but you have to. While I do it in both ways, the real question is what those consumer dollars can buy. I find it fascinating that you can buy more printing today with a dollar than you could before, because the Producer Price Index for print has not kept up with the Consumer Price Index. Yet such a bargain is not stimulating print demand, and it has nothing to do with capacity because capacity is coming down and capacity utilization is going up, yet these problems with shipments persist. So it must be coming from elsewhere, and these bargain prices for print are caused by the fact that dollars are going elsewhere. As far as Donlan's investment calculations, because investment dollars are long-term dollars for savings, you have the choice to find undervalued investments and move your money elsewhere, or invest a little at a time, such as is always suggested by the dollar-cost averaging advocates. Print buyers are not investing: they are buying all they need at a particular moment. They can't buy a little at a time because their content's value is greatest at the particular time that it is published. Though archived material may benefit from a "Long Tail," the greatest profits are at a time when the marginal cost is lowest, and that's at the time when the most of an item is sold. And that goes for the intellectual value as well; content has the greatest value when it is newest.

Economist Walter Williams has an excellent column explaining how silly it is to be preoccupied with trade deficits.
Last week, the trade deficit increased... that was great news, but reported as devastating, as is usually the case. An increase in the trade deficit means that the economy is still strong, stronger than most give it credit for.

Speaking of that, at the beginning of my WTT event on Tuesday, I summarized the neglected or under-reported good economic news:
GDP positive for 19 qtrs, +3%
ISM manufacturing index positive for 53 months
ISM non-manufacturing index positive for 55 months
Largest employed workforce in history: 144.8 million, +2.4 million since last year at this time
Last month +271,000 new jobs in the BLS household survey
BLS corrects itself: has been undercounting by +810,000 jobs (was on a page 5 footnote of their last report)
We're averaging +78,000 net new businesses per month
Household wealth $53 trillion, +7% since last year (current dollars)
Personal income +8.6% since last year at this time
Corporate profits +18% since last year at this time
Tax collections are up: Corporate +27%, Individual +13%
Exports +8%
Conference Board consumer confidence index is now at 104 vs. 87 since last year at this time

I received many positive comments about my presentation on Tuesday, but am still surprised by the number of comments about my weight. Briefly, I have been on a low-carb diet for five years, and knocked off more than 50 pounds and kept it off. I also have done traditional Okinawan Karate "almost seriously" for three years (I'm not good, but you don't have to be to get the benefits from it) when I realized doing it casually was solving a nagging health problem Okinawan Karate is not sport karate, nor does it emphasize fighting, but is almost exclusively self defense; I do my "forms" most every day for 45 minutes and do some light weights most of those times (even when I travel), as well as class two or three times a week. I have the various limitations in movement that one has when you break 50 years old, but it's not hard to imagine that I would be in pretty bad shape if I had not started doing this. As far as the diet goes, avoiding bread and starches has been essential. For breakfast most days I have egg whites or EggBeaters with turkey sausage or ham, but no toast and no juice. Lunch will be plain salad with no-fat no-carb dressings (, or turkey, or turkey kielbasa, or certain other meats. I snack on turkey pepperoni or similar items, and also almonds or walnuts. For dinner I limit bread and stay away from sugary vegetables, and only have small portions of potatoes. I'm half Italian, so I can't give up pasta, nor should I (too many nice memories of my grandmother's fresh tomato gravy [that's what NY City Italians called it, it was never called sauce] with a newly cooked meatball and the end of a piece of Italian bread after Sunday Mass; to this day we have spaghetti as the first dinner meal when I get home from a trip as my favorite comfort food). I have a stranglehold on two meals, so I just tweak the dinner meal because I don't want to burden the family for my dietary issues. I also make certain that at least once a week I have something totally off-diet that I "miss." I've found the diet easy to stick with, partly because of how my weight gain was the result of "eating healthy." Most diet foods are horrible (which is an improvement because they used to be ghastly), but low-carb dieting doesn't require them unless you like them. Many "diet" foods have no fat but still have sugar, which makes them not applicable for low-carb dieting anyway. Food was meant to be enjoyed, and I can't say I feel like I've given anything up other than the weight. One day, I'll write a book. Somehow this single blog paragraph will get dragged out to 150 pages. Then will be the book tour. Then will be #1 on Amazon. Then will be my own cardboard-tasting cereal.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Download Tuesday's Presentation, WSJ Review of Sony E-Book, 1st-Half Ad Revenues, and Other Essential Things...

Tuesday 10/17's presentation is now downloadable as a PDF and an MP3

Walt Mossberg of the WSJ reviewed the Sony Reader
Overall, I'd call the Sony Reader a good start -- impressive in some ways, but clearly a work in progress. I enjoyed using it, but would advise all but hard-core ebook fans to wait for an improved version.

TNS Media Intelligence reports on first-half 2006 US advertising spending (barely more than inflation)
Total advertising expenditures in the first six months of 2006 increased 4.1 percent to $73.0 billion as compared to the prior year period...growth in total ad spending for the second quarter fell back more than expected and finished at 2.9 percent...Consumer Magazines encountered softening demand during the second quarter and finished the half year with a 4.4 percent increase in spending, to $10.90 billion.
Local Newspapers, confronted with over $600 million in reduced automotive spending year-to-date, saw total expenditures erode by 3.9 percent to $11.65 billion... The Internet continues to grow its share of total advertising expenditures. For the first half of 2006, the Internet accounted for 6.4 percent of total ad spending, up from 5.6 percent a year ago. Newspapers lost 1.3 share points over this period, slipping to 18.6 percent of expenditures and falling behind magazines.

Quick-response media... coming to a cell-phone near you.

Yet another "we don't know what these Internet data really mean" story

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


More Stuff... and It's Organic!

Harte-Hanks releases "Marketing Enabler," an end-to-end web2print system. Remember-- they bought a digital printing company earlier this year-- HH is a big B2B data base company. It was obvious that this was up their sleeve.

Brief, but good, article about graphic design

Adobe bought a company active in mobile media, Actimagine. They had already announced that Flash, which they had acquired in the Macromedia deal, was being adapted for cell phones and other devices.

Affluent working women access the Internet more. This is not that big a deal of a story, because access to all media increases with income, even the reading of magazines, regardless of gender. But when it's over 90%, I guess it's worth reporting, however statistically "un-special" it is.

NAA release that provides data to advertisers about the Internet reach of newspapers. The change in tone at the NAA to support the notion that newspapers are Internet players is palpable. If only our associations could make that leap as well.
Newspaper advertiser data base

Brian Wesbury's opinion column in WSJ discusses the resilience of the economy and how bad data causes bad policy, such as the recent revision upward in the number of employed of +810,000 by the BLS (btw, that news was buried on page 5 of the BLS release, so not a single news report of the unemployment data mentioned it).

Okay, I'll say something... the Print Council released its long-awaited brochure. It perpetuates the stereotypical printing industry problems about our being preoccupied with equipment, as it is principally a capabilities brochure. It data here and there, but none of it is convincing. Its design is stock images gone wild, and the piece is hard on the eyes. What's missing? Media planners and print buyers are like consumers and they like to see people like them or people about whom they aspire to be. There's no media planner or analyst or marketing communications executive explaining why they use print and how effective it is for them. There's no product manager explaining how print worked in a big campaign. Aside from some digs at new media, there is no simple comparison, nor is there an intent to show in a demonstrable way where print fits in a typical media mix. Most of all, it violates the first new rule of selling print: electronic media has distinct and demonstrable advantages over print. There is still a great story to be told about the new print business, especially on the digital print side, and it's not told here. At a time when print is being asked to demonstrate its ROI, the things being done in direct mail are obvious choices for inclusion, especially when they use the latest technologies for targeting and measuring. Don't take my word for it, download it and make up your own mind:
Printers are encouraged to download it, but I can't find anywhere on the site where printers can get high resolution files to use it. Also, if there's a great story to be told about why people should print, it certainly can be told in Flash, online, or in a video posted on

Make up your mind...
Overpriced organics are not selling
Wal-Mart prices 10% over regular goods
Whole Foods has been a darling of Wall Street for quite a while, known for its ability to market commodity foods to an upscale, highly educated consumer, at superb margins. Wasn't it quite funny in a cynical way (except for the people who died or got sick) that the spinach e-coli problem was an organic provider? The science behind organic foods benefits is quite poor and often dubious (one day I hope to write about the placebo effect and what it means about how we're wired, good and bad). The biggest statistically provable and valuable actions one can take for health is regular strenuous exercise and never smoking; that's followed by avoiding accidents (accidental death is the leading cause up to around age 46; then diseases take over). For all of the harping about cholesterol, half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol readings, and the statistical relationship of cholesterol and heart attack loses its statistical relationship after age 47, based on the multi-decade Framingham heart study. As one who gained 50+ lbs over 15 years with terrible cholesterol readings by eating health foods and steadfastly avoiding fat, and having serious medical complications from cholesterol meds, and doing the opposite of what the doctors said to all that weight in just 2+ years on low-carb diet of my own invention, solving other health problems in the process, it's no wonder I've developed a dubious eye for organic food marketing (that's DrJoe's run-on sentence for the day). The fact that they are having problems overcharging (excuse me, charging premium prices) is perhaps a sign that consumers find little benefit in their products. Last year, Atkins Nutritionals, funded by Goldman Sachs to cash in on the low carb craze, went bankrupt. Gee, could it be that the food was overpriced and tasted really bad (the cereal box would have tasted better)? As one who occasionally shops at Whole Foods, I can say that there are some items sold there that are definitely worth the price in higher quality and attention to sensory detail; most are not, and claimed benefits cannot stand statistical tests or clinical trials. But just because what you sell is organic, doesn't mean that you're exempt from the competition of the marketplace. Organic marketers, if they believe that their products are essential to a healthy lifestyle, should be cheering Wal-Mart on to bring the lifestyle to a lower income, less educated market that is larger than they can address with their top of the market price, selective distribution marketing. What all this has to do with print, I don't have a clue. Yeah, one day I'll write about the diet, too.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Nobel Economics, The Print Council Brochure?, Other Stuff

The Nobel Prize in Economics for 2006 went to Edmund Phelps. The WSJ just ran one of his essays explaining the difference between US and European capitalism. It's long, but worth sticking with it.

The Print Council has issued a press release about a new brochure titled... well, let's have the release speak for itself:
...“Why Print? The Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper,” the full-color brochure marks the launch of an ongoing series of strategic activities by The Print Council designed to make a major impact on media decision makers, significantly elevating their awareness of, and appreciation for, the value of print...The first copies of “Why Print?” will be released on October 14th during Graph Expo 2006 as a highlight of the annual meeting of The Print Council membership.
Well, more is there to say, other than:
1) the release is not up on their site (as of 10:40am 10/11/06, and as of 4:20pm, too... see if it's there... ... if the JapsOlsen release is at the top, then it's not)
2) there is no downloadable PDF of the brochure on their site (as of the same time; I heard that someone asked and said they had to get it from the printer after the job was run.... that's kind of backwards, isn't it?)
At a time when every manufacturer has been creating buzz by "previewing" their announcements to the press, this is being withheld until the show, so there is no pre-show "buzz." Was this done in a rush? Seems like it. The press release could have even listed the 10 items... after all, the press release is a promotion of those 10 items. You never know when people will find it with a search engine... oh, and by the way... a Google News search for the press release came up... empty.... except for a GAM article... the other links were to a printmaking council. A search of the words "print council" still comes up with a totally different association

In a separate program, The Print Council is moving forward with the creation of a marketing information clearinghouse to provide verifiable research on the value of print. By the close of 2006, the web-based information is expected to be on-line and accessible by the industry and Council supporters.

While this is a tiny step, it does not talk to any decision-makers about print, and is not aggressive at all. This is incredibly passive and decidedly un-proactive.
As far as the premise, “Why Print? The Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper,” the focus seems inappropriate. Print can't make you prosper. It is clearly possible to prosper without print. But you can't prosper without communications. The issue has to be making communications better, especially making electronic communications better. Again, I recommend the book What Sticks to get a sense of the latest thinking about advertising media; while it may not be directly applicable, the spirit of it certainly is.
Print won't be considered modern media until we aggressively and relentlessly use modern media to promote it. Using a brochure to encourage people to use brochures is not what we need. If the press release quoted a real print user who used direct mail to drive their e-commerce volume to new and better levels, or Hasbro saying that their first catalog ever after 150 years went better than expected (I have no idea if it did-- it may have been a disaster for all I know--- just using it as an example, but it would be interesting to follow up). I have not seen the brochure, indeed I don't know anyone who has, but since these kinds of things were not mentioned, I assume they are not part of it.
To get the real sense of the way things have changed, just read this short article to get a sense of what we're up against:
OnDemandJournal had a good article as well about it:
And then, ad:tech is in New York in November.... the exhibitor list is at
When it comes to understanding modern media, the Print Council, and printers, are clearly "404 Not Found"

What should be done by the industry and, more importantly, printers? This was the subject of two WhatTheyThink columns. These were originally on the premium side of WTT , but the WTT folks agreed to move them to the "free" side.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Media Use, B2B Marketing, and "Engagement" = Bigfoot

Arbitron has a free report about Internet and media use: highly recommended
Selected highlights:

The article "The End of Lazy Marketing" is where I found the Arbitron link. The article gives a perspective of the kinds of media decisions marketers are facing today. The use of the word "lazy" is quite good. Was print the old "lazy" choice?

Short article with some interesting data about the B2B marketing mix and the influence of direct marketing.... and some discussion about how no one can really define direct marketing

B2B now ordering 40% online? According to Abacus, a division of DoubleClick, it is. No wonder B2B space advertising has suffered...... once people realize that the Internet is just a fad, it will all go away.
Also significant is the report's finding that b-to-b customers make online purchases nearly 10% more than b-to-c customers, with 40% of 2005 b-to-b sales occurring over the Web, compared with 31% of consumer purchases. Abacus' report said the statistics highlight what most marketers already know: "Business purchases exhibit a different dynamic than consumer purchases."
Press release
Download the executive summary

Insights into selling multichannel campaigns

Great commentary in Advertising Age by Steve Rubel, "You Might as Well Be Searching for Bigfoot:
In Other Words, the Truth About 'Engagement' Is It's a Myth"
Engagement is, quite frankly, hot air. It's indicative of a systemic issue in the marketing community. We love to create buzzwords to describe new marketing methods when the good ol' outdated ones like blunt interruption don't quite work anymore.

European web use now passes newspapers. Study was by Jupiter.,_i_email=y.html
The time European consumers spend online has, for the first time, overtaken the hours they devote to newspapers and magazines, a study revealed. But the growth of new media is expanding total media consumption rather than simply cannibalising print and television. Print consumption has re-mained static at three hours a week in the past two years, as time spent online has doubled from two to four hours. Viewers are also spending more time watching television, up from 10 hours to 12 a week. The Jupiter Research survey of more than 5,000 people in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain shows that Europeans’ use of the internet is still behind the rates seen in the US. A similar study by Jupiter of US habits found that Americans now spend 14 hours a week online – as much time as they spend watching television – and just three hours reading print.

Monday, October 09, 2006


BLS Finds 810,000 Jobs! Soft Newspaper Revenue (That's What They Get for Not Having Hard News), Channel Conflict (Blame it on iTunes)

NY Times coverages of the Association of National Advertisers where they discuss participatory or "bottom-up" marketing.
“Content is no longer something you push out. Content is an invitation to engage with your brand.”

Newspaper revenue is "softening." I've noticed all those stories comparing newspaper company valuations on the stock market compared to other industries, and also those that say "things are not so bad." For the former, comparison to other industries does not matter, it's comparison to what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. And as fars as "things are not so bad", then why the layoffs?
While publishers are shifting more to online to slow the print ad slowdown, the benefits may not be realized immediately... it will probably take until 2008 before online revenue is big enough to start making a financial impact.
Well, yet another situation where the old business is declining and the new one is growing but the top line is stagnant? There's lots of situations where the dynamism is obscured by the aggregate, until there is a breakout to the upside. I think it will take longer than they think and newspaper owners will become very impatient. Look for more deals!

Small bookstores are fighting back against and others. Interesting article.

I love channel conflict stories like the bookstore one. But here's a bigger one: Target complaining that downloads are hurting its DVD sales. Apple is the problem. Target will stop investing in DVDs; if this is fixed, it will only be temporary.

The Bureau of Labor Satistics "missed" 810,000 jobs! Last Friday, the news reports were that payroll increased only +51,000 jobs. But the household survey showed an increase of 271,000 jobs. And now, this comment in the report, on the last page, is starting to get some attention. Yet again, we set another record for the number of people employed.
Each year, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey data are benchmarked to comprehensive counts of employment for the month of March derived from state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records that nearly all employers are required to file. For national CES series, the annual benchmark revisions over the last 10 years have averaged plus or minus two-tenths of one percent. The preliminary estimate of the benchmark revision for March 2006 is +810,000 (0.6 percent).
Again, I strongly recommend Gene Epstein's book, "Econospinning", which digs into this kind of thing, and how the business press, rarely reads past paragraph 2 of any press release.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Sony Reader Poo-poo'd, Digital Natives, Google Books, Work with Acrobat Files... for Free!

Sony Reader gets a bad review in Business Week in an article with a great title: "Gutenberg 1, Sony 0"
...the reading experience is far inferior to that of a real book, partly because all concept of page design is lost... Files downloaded from a computer (via a usb cable) fare worse. I found that most pdf files were unreadable even in the largest type size, and I could not get Word files to download at all...Another big limitation is that the display can show only four shades of gray, thus restricting graphics to line drawings. This essentially disqualifies the Reader from one of its most attractive uses, textbooks...These deficits, however, pale compared to Sony's Connect bookstore (, which seems to be the work of someone who has never visited (AMZN )...The worst problem is that search, the essence of an online bookstore, is broken. An author search for Dan Brown turned up 84 books, three of them by Dan Brown, the rest by people named Dan or Brown, or sometimes neither...The problems of the store and software are fixable. But unless Sony repairs them fast, the Reader may be headed for the scrap heap of failed e-book readers.
This article is from the UK and is typical of what has been written lately
So, the bottom line is that the Business Week writer is biased because he actually used the product before writing about it :)

USA Today article about "digital natives," in other words, the Internet generation that is always connected... is now in college.
This part of the article got my attention:
Still, the ease with which young people can manipulate data, do online research or even play games may bode well for some types of careers. For example, video games may improve a surgeon's effectiveness in the operating room, according to a study released in April by researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family in Minneapolis.
The study of 303 surgeons found a 20-minute warm-up of video gaming immediately before laparoscopic surgery improved performance. These findings support a smaller 2003 study by the same researchers that found doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37% fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and were 27% faster than doctors who didn't play.

It's not just students... half of users are 35 or older.
but this article in Advertising Age thinks that's a bad thing

In media mix discussions, public relations is easily forgotten, as everyone focuses on electronic media. This article offers a perspective on the new p.r. world.

I write (almost constantly it seems) that the savings rate data that is supposedly "so horrible" is meaningless. This article offers a good explanation
When typical consumers hear "savings"...they think about the portion of money stowed away for safekeeping in a bank or investment account... But to an economist, that emergency cash is not savings, but instead is considered "wealth."..."we see savings as the absence of consumption. Wealth is the accumulation of assets"... By many measures, even with a falling savings rate, U.S. consumers are wealthier than they have ever been.The official definition of what an economist calls "savings," according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, or BEA, is "disposable personal income less personal outlays." In other words, add up everyone's after-tax income and subtract everyone's expenses. The amount leftover is the national savings rate... According to the BEA, the national annual savings rate fell in 2005 to its lowest point since the Great Depression: negative 0.4 percent...Compare those numbers with 1985 when the national savings rate hit a record 11.1 percent and it is clear why economists are raising the warning flag...But at the same time, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, records show that American banks have more cash in their vaults than at any other point in recent history -- with $6.4 trillion deposited in the domestic offices of U.S. banks as of June. Of that $6.4 trillion, $5.23 trillion was in some type of interest-bearing account, such as a money market account, savings account or certificate of deposit... [E]conomists...say this disconnect between statistical measurements proves that the official method of calculating savings is itself a flawed measurement...calculations...reflect income earned during the production of some good or service during the period being measured. This strict definition means some big income sources get excluded..."Capital gains does not fit that definition, and therefore are excluded from the measure. ... Benefits from private pension plans are not counted as income because some portion of the benefits are paid from capital gains...

This story about how Google Books is stimulating sales of publishers sounds suspicious to me (note the lack of data). But it's also interesting in that this may be just like when the studios fought video rentals... only then to "discover" that this was the best way to sell their titles (and they also discovered a "post-theatrical release" market, and that there is definite age and income segmentation for various formats).

Finally! An industry event at a decent location! :)

Don't want to buy Acrobat? (I don't! It won't work with some of my peripherals!)
Of course, Acrobat Reader is free, and we'll soon be getting version 8.
You've got free alternatives for actually working with the files...
Office suite OpenOffice has PDF making built in --- works great for Powerpoint documents
Use PDF Creator for all the non-Office suite documents
PDF Split and Merge does exactly that for PDF files

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Print Scores Four Positive Months in a Row; Newspaper Next Report; Other Stuff

The August manufacturing shipments data were released by the Commerce Department, and printing’s August was strong. Current dollar shipments were up +$245 million, or +3.9%, compared to August 2005. On a current dollar basis, this was the fourth consecutive month of positive comparisons. July 2006 shipments were revised down by -$22 million. For the last four months, inflation-adjusted sales are down -$57 million, which is essentially flat with last year. The Newspaper Next project of the American Press Institute has released a worthwhile report. Go to this address, fill out the form, and you can download a PDF at not charge.

Story about digital makeover of the NY Times

Xerox bought XMPie... after being reported in the Israeli business press a couple of months ago and then vehemently denied by XMPie, to the point of sending accusatory e-mails questioning the journalistic competence of some who reported it. Well... it's obvious there was a leak, and this is how they attempted to plug it. Not good to burn bridges with the press... you may need them one day. The people who were flamed are above that, though.

Back in April, I gave my forecast of the eight teams that would end up in the baseball playoffs. I got all four teams in the National League playoffs correct; and got all four in the American League wrong. I never liked AL baseball after the rule change allowing the designated hitter. Well, I should stick with what I know, I guess. Let's Go Mets!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


More Myths Debunked, New Media in Real Use, Cable Business Knows How to Fight Back, and Other Stuff

This is a really light story about how the printing industry is changing, perpetuating all kinds of myths like "we're no longer a manufacturing industry" and "Printing companies need skills never required before in the industry, such as marketing, financial analysis, long-range planning and human resources and organizational development."
Yeah, right. The industry always had activities and always needed to do them better. Marketing? 1972 was the publication of "Why Marketing?" the seminal article by Victor Strauss demanding that printers wise up; most never had to and they still made money because markets were growing. Sorry: good sales management is part of marketing. PIA Financial Ratios have been about all that printers have needed for decades, that, and a good cost accountant. When they didn't have that, NAPL and others were there with cost books, as were manufacturers who provided these as a service, as were a variety of published estimating resources. Bookkeeping was always bad for small business, but even though it's bad today, it's a lot better because accountants and bookkeepers have far better tools (software) than they ever did before. Long-range planning? That's why God made 10 year leases on equipment; the print entrepreneur made a bet, putting all that capital in plant and equipment, and that was their long-range plan, a bigger bet than any MBA with an Excel spreadsheet would ever dare to do with their own money. Only recently has writing about business planning started to recognize the value of the entrepreneur's unspoken, unwritten culture they create in their business as more important than any written strategic plan. Human resources? For years, this was the role of the unions, who by their own hands and deeds made themselves irrelevant, but left a legacy of industry structure. If they weren't in a company, non-union printers still mirrored the structures and workflows unions created. Organizational development? Print businesses are still primarily family businesses; nepotism begins at home, as they say. Small businesses are functions of the owners personality, and wise owners found like-minded individuals to aid them in their business. And when succession was not possible, sale, merger, or acquisition was the organizational development plan. Large print businesses have most of these functions, and have had them for a very long time. Think Donnelley or Quad or Quebecor don't have these things? They have for decades. Having these things are no guarantee of success. All kinds of unsuccessful companies have had all of these functions; business graveyards are full of companies with bad ideas but who had great procedure manuals and binders full of plans. None of these functions make print demand change in the industry's favor. Much as I love marketing, the marketing practiced in the printing industry is not uniquely deficient; it is the same marketing practiced by most manufacturing companies, it is mainly sales-based and administrative. As far as printing not being manfacturing, that is hogwash. While the nature of manufacturing and service seems blurred throughout the economy, the printing industry does not create intellectual property, it reproduces on behalf of others, and that process requires capital equipment, and inputs of other manufactured goods that must be transformed into something else that is physical in nature. As far as service goes, do not confuse the change in the ways of delivering or selling with the core nature of a business. All businesses are service businesses, one could contend. The definition (according to is "the making of goods or wares by manual labor or by machinery"... we don't do that? Service has many definitions, but they all relate to the provision of activities, or the movement of things from one place to another, for the public. In that sense, no manufacturing business is "pure" as just being manufacturing, but one cannot doubt where the bulk of its resources are invested. Creative businesses position themselves to look like service businesses but that is actually a marketing strategy, and not the essential economics of that firm. Print businesses are manufacturing companies, and unless they understand that first, they can't craft the right range of activities that need to be built around them to make manufacturing appear secondary. That's where good management comes in: holding these two seemingly conflicting ideas in their head at one time, and still making them work. Most important: understanding why people use print, and that wasn't cited in the article at all. None of these tools do anything to make a print owner understand media.

Good story with some case studies about the use of new media

The cable industry is not taking any of this new media stuff lying down. This study may be biased in favor of TV (I don't have the methodology or the questionnaire). Their site has sales materials for cable folks to use to sell against other media.
Press release

And new media can be its own worst enemy. While metrics can be reported immediately, such as web page hits and site visits, no one really knows if these data are correct, or what they really mean. Ultimately, how do people judge advertising? Sales. Yet no article ever really mentions that.

Flexible packing market study. Predicts slow growth. Packaging does that... it's related to population growth and then the demographic and other trends that are around at the time, and often disappoints in sales to the downside. It's still a wild and crazy business, with great potential overseas as economics change in developing countries.
press release
report description

Wonder why Sony is donating to breast cancer awareness? Campbells doubled sales to Kroger with special pink cans with the same pitch. "Cause marketing" works... but it has diminishing returns, which is why it is only done at particular times.

Monday, October 02, 2006


More Sony E-Reader, New Quark Logo, The Dead Parrot, Good Riddance to the Old Agency Ways, and Stop Asking Opinions and Do Something

The Sony e-Book Reader press release
and promoting e-readers for the visually impaired
and to support breast cancer research
MS Word documents:
Company-created interview with Sony VP Ron Hawkins
Quotes from impressive industry leaders who want to say something good in case the product takes off
Spec sheet

The daily comic Close to Home illustrates how the Internet has affected a critical social and religious institution.

Quark has a new logo... again!! I haven't seen this reported anywhere except here The company has not issued a press release (perhaps they are gunshy?)
Last year they made a big deal about their logo
but then bloggers and others realized it was just like that of the Scottish Arts Council
The whole thing was so badly bungled... including their defense of the mistake, which seemed a lot like the Monty Python "dead parrot" sketch.
I wonder if they got a makegood from their agency. The logo business has changed quite significantly over recent years. A Google search will get you to lots of companies that will design logos for less than $500. This used to be a big business for graphic designers ("corporate identity") and now, it's not... except for big agencies who still make megabucks with big corporations in market repositionings.

Article that laments the downfall in advertising creativity... huh? Maybe in the B2B space... Back when there were three networks and that's all there was, everyone saw the ads. With narrowcasting, they don't. The article also makes it seem that older advertising was actually good, but we only remember the good ones. The turning point was the "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" ads for Alka-Seltzer, which won many awards, was highly memorable, but made Alka-Selzer sales go down. The Clios changed their ad awards standards the next year or so. What's really changed is that there are more media than print, and executives, starting two decades ago, became sick and tired of the agency markups and started demanding fixed billing. It wasn't the three-martini lunch era that ended, it was the 15% markup on anything that moved era that ended, and well it should have.

This article is probably even more important: consumers are sick and tired of being asked their opinions.
Nothing kills creativity like market research. Consumers can only respond to what they know, and all their answers regress to means. If good strategy is to create differentiation, and exploit niches that others haven't, using market research is like hitting a railroad spike with a stale banana. Market research is best directed at measuring historical things, and identifying problems, never to ask what kinds of products people want. The best examples I can think of, but can't find anything on it, both involve Coke. The New Coke fiasco is a classic that is online at
But when Coke bought Columbia Pictures, they attempted to do market research about what movies people wanted to see. It didn't work. Creativity is the search for newness. Market research used in that way just creates mediocrity.
Finally, whatever happened to leadership? Research is the greatest excuse to do nothing. All this article tells me is that new, small agencies are going to well, because they way they get noticed is because of the risks they take and their unforeseen success. Let's hear it for entrepreneurship.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


A Bevy of New Media Mirth and Fun

Magazines have to wise up to the digital age, according to Robin Steinberg, svp and director of print investment at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest
...pressure is mounting on magazines to offer advertisers multiplatform packages that tie-in to the Web, mobile and other appropriate digital media... clients are scrutinizing print budgets more closely, demanding greater accountability and innovations..."It's getting harder and harder to sell" clients on the notion that print is an essential medium in the digital age...Digital ad budgets are increasing exponentially, and "it's got to come from somewhere and it's coming from both print and TV budgets"... "You have to solve problems and the consumer has to be at the heart of your marketing plan."

In the meantime, publishers are trying to gang up on Google... don't they know the portal thing died a couple of years ago and that search engines are the portals to content now? Sheeeesh!!!

Good article that misses the point -- the 9/22/06 "Driven to Despair" posting by William Powers of the National Journal (this link will probably go to the latest posting).
Powers is lamenting that newspapers financial performance is actually good to other industries, and they're being tarred as bad businesses when they really aren't. The really are bad business... 18-36 months from now... and that's what investors are looking at. They're also looking at the loss of prestige in many newspapers over the last few years because of horrid reporting (Jayson Blair need not apply). Of course their financials are good. But they're not as good as they used to be, and the writing is on the wall, and they're still ticked off that journalists didn't put it there.

Media buyers are having a really tough time keeping up with changes in families and their media habits.
...Thanks to portable media and multitasking behavior, the typical consumer packs an average of 43 hours worth of activity into a typical day. .. The family, according to the survey, is more democratic than ever, with children influencing 50% of all purchases...But technology and changing family dynamics and makeup is increasingly allowing everyone in the household to have a say in buying decisions.

Forrester has an interesting report about changing media habits and how they vary by age.
Gen Y and Gen X households lead the way in integrating technology into their lives. Gen Yers take technology everywhere. Young adults are the most likely to put a premium on mobility, owning mobile phones, laptops, and MP3 players more often than their older counterparts. But the balance of consumers are following in their footsteps: 34% of Older Boomers and 22% of Seniors have cut the long-distance cord.... Seniors' media intake revolves around TV. Seniors consume one-third more hours of TV per week than Gen Yers do; Gen Yers devote more than three times as many hours to the Net per week as Seniors...Viral or word-of-mouth marketing is appealing across generations, but the Net is the place to reach Gen Yers and Gen Xers for product research. While almost 90% of Seniors do their decision-making research offline, nearly 40% of Gen Xers do research online and purchase offline. .. Gen Xers are the sweet spot for online shopping. With their disposable income and near-ubiquitous connectivity, more Gen Xers shop online than any other generation: 16.2 million online households... More than half (55%) of online travelers book their travel online. Young adults research and book their travel with Web agencies like Expedia or Orbitz more often than older travelers: 51% of Seniors booked with the airline they flew compared with only 33% of Gen Yers.

This article says podcasts are misunderstood-- and there's lots of "PC-casts"... which is my experience as well{2AC72A0B-8A77-4A48-B8FA-427CBC1AC51B}&siteid=mktw&dist=nbc

The Sony e-Book Reader is out!
PrintWeek story
Book Business
Skeptical Computerworld article
Online video
Order it! (early demand must have been hot, because no more shipments until mid-November, a message that just recently appeared on the page)

B2B marketing getting more sophisticated in some ways, but not in others... are printers helping? I think not.
Here's the original story that got my attention
And this is the press release
[Marketing Service Providers]cited several challenges limiting the success of B2B marketing. Topping the list is analytics. Data acquisition, database management, lead management and tracking ROI also present major obstacles... “Given the protracted sales cycles and lack of data insight, B2B organizations must rely on marketing even more than B2C organizations to establish a dialogue with prospects and customers,” said David Eldridge, Alterian’s chief executive officer. “There’s a huge opportunity for MSPs to apply their technology and services to help B2B marketers understand their audiences’ individual preferences and purchasing motivations. Specifically, MSPs can lead their clients to a greater use of interactive marketing tactics that elicit audience insight that can be used to advance B2B analytics.”... clients use email for customer retention and cross-selling, 72 percent stated their clients do so for customer acquisition. And 48 percent reported their clients use email for transactional communications. About 50 percent confirmed that email is part of a combined online and offline tactical mix, while only 14 percent of marketers said they use email as a stand-alone effort... “Each year, the adoption of direct and database marketing strategies grows more widespread, even taking firm hold among B2B marketers,” said Eldridge. “As this trend spreads, the role of the MSP is more important than ever. Businesses need a knowledgeable marketing partner as consumers and professionals cross multiple channels, preferences become harder to pinpoint and privacy and legislation concerns deepen.”

World Economic Forum has issued its country competitiveness rankings
Executive summary Rankings (Excel)

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