Here Comes Another Bubble

Thanks to Scott Meis for tipping me off to this absolutely hilarious video.

Updated: Michael Arrington has a post on why this video was pulled from YouTube, along with a link to where you can still see the video. I agree with him, but The Richter Scales obviously decided it wasn’t worth paying a bunch of legal bills to eventually prevail. The offending photo was shown for about 1 second of the video. I hope Richter remixes the video without it; it’s such an inconsequential element. The Richter guys are way more creative than the photographer is. Here’s a contrary view.


I’m glad I’m just a user of all these free technologies, and not looking to make a living from developing them. And it’s great how they can be used to promote worthy causes like organ donation, as Scott is showing.

So who needs a record company anymore, when a video like this can get over 400,000 views in four days?

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Facebook, Txt at U of Minn for Crisis Communications

crisis communications

I saw yesterday that the University of Minnesota had developed a text-messaging system for quick notification of students, faculty and staff in the event of a campus emergency. Then today in my list of Facebook groups recently joined by my friends, I saw that they have a Facebook group for the same purpose.

I think this is an excellent use of technology for crisis communications. I’ve written some ideas about how Facebook could be used, and also Twitter. As Dennis McDonald recommends, you need to have multiple means of spreading the word in a crisis, because no one method reaches everyone. It’s great to see that the University of Minnesota has a comprehensive plan like this.

I think the dedicated text-message service is a really good idea, and may be preferable to Twitter for this application, because it will only be used for emergencies. I’m working with a crisis-planning group, and we’re experimenting with Twitter as a first step for a text-messaging system to alert the core crisis team. It’s a great solution for people who are just being introduced to Twitter and who don’t feel a need follow others’ tweets, because they can link their account with their cell phone, follow only the crisis communications Twitter account and have the notifications set to “on.” They will only get a text message in the event of an emergency.

For me, as someone who is already Twittering and following a few dozen people, having my notifications set to “on” would keep my cell phone buzzing all day. So I typically just check in with Twitter once in a while on the web. I want text messages I receive to be higher-priority and worthy of interruptions (especially since I’m paying for them.) But I haven’t found a way to choose which Tweets I get by text, and which just go to the web feed.

Ideally I would like to just have some tweets come by text (such as those from the crisis management account.) Does anyone have a way around this? I have a couple of ideas:

  1. Can I sign up for another account in Twitter and also link to my same cell phone?
  2. Or can I be selective about which tweets on my main account come by txt?

I would appreciate any guidance on this that anyone can offer, because I would like to have Twitter be the text-notification service for our crisis plan (since it’s free.) But if it becomes more widely used among my non-geek colleagues and they start “following” multiple accounts and not just the crisis account, they may end up turning off the text notifications, which would defeat our purpose.

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IBM: You Won’t Recognize the Ad Industry in 2012

IBM has issued a report that crystallizes and formalizes through survey research what many of us have understood intuitively. It’s called “The end of advertising as we know it.” Duncan Riley pointed it out on TechCrunch late last week, and I’ve just finished reading both the report (get the PDFs of the Executive Summary and the full report here) and the accompanying press release. As the release says:

Traditional advertising players risk major revenue declines as budgets shift rapidly to new, interactive formats, which are expected to grow at nearly five times that of traditional advertising. To survive in this new reality, broadcasters must change their mass audience mind-set to cater to niche consumer segments, and distributors need to deliver targeted, interactive advertising for a range of multimedia devices. Advertising agencies must experiment creatively, become brokers of consumer insights, and guide allocation of advertising dollars amid exploding choices. All players must adapt to a world where advertising inventory is increasingly bought and sold in open exchanges vs. traditional channels.

In a previous post I wrote about PR measurement and blogging, and how because of their ability to give lots of numbers, social media can be over-valued relative to news editorial coverage. Even though I’m a huge social media supporter, I still believe that for most businesses the value of mainstream media news coverage is currently much greater than that of online “buzz.” Social media have engagement value, too, and businesses should be getting involved. But editorial coverage still has huge value.

I believe technology and social trends are much bigger threats to traditional advertising than they are to public relations. I will get into reasons for that in a future post.

But as the IBM report indicates, these next five years will be tumultuous for everyone who has been involved in the “one to many” mass media industry that has pushed messages at consumers for the last 50 years. IBM sums it up best by saying: “The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.”

The IBM report, and its four scenarios of how drastic these changes will be, is well worth reading and pondering for anyone interested in marketing and advertising. I’m betting that the “Ad Marketplace” scenario will best describe the picture in 2012.

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The End of Cable TV as We Know It?

Cable TV
Cable TV companies resist a la carte offerings of channels because they want subscribers to buy tiers of service. If we could opt to receive only the dozen or so channels we regularly watch and not pay for others, that would be good for us as consumers, but not for the cable companies or the cable networks. They would rather have a smaller charge spread over the mass of subscribers instead of a higher charge for those who really want a particular channel.

So even if I don’t want my MTV, I still have to pay for it.

Interestingly, as the New York Times reports, the cable companies use the opposite logic to avoid adding the Big Ten network and other sports networks to their basic service or even extended basic. They want to add a separate sports tier that only the hard-core sports fans will get. They don’t want to pass along the dollar-per-subscriber the Big Ten network is demanding, for instance, to every subscriber’s cable bill.

The reality, though, is the cable companies don’t want to pay the $1/subscriber. If it was 25 cents per subscriber instead, they would signing all of us up for it.

But whether they like it or not, a la carte is coming. Joost, for example, has been heralded as providing a way for users to share super high-quality video, and as people see that they can get access to most of the video they want simply through their broadband internet, they will be increasingly likely to dump cable altogether and just get their video through the web. Instead of being limited to several dozen or even a few hundred channels, consumers will have literally unlimited choices for video viewing.

In the future, instead of buying internet service as an add-on for your cable TV service, you’ll just have high-speed internet, and cable as we know it today won’t matter much. It isn’t that cable TV companies will all go bankrupt, but their business model will have to change.

And it’s interesting that even Joost, which has such disruptive potential for cable TV, may itself be facing disruptive competition before it even gets out of beta. TechCruch had an interesting post Friday, entitled The Clock is Ticking for Joost. When Flash 9 becomes widely available, the quality of all web video will double, reducing the advantage Joost has today. And users won’t need a special software player to receive this quality: it will be available through an ordinary web browser.

This all will work really well for pre-recorded programs, but what about the cable news networks and live sports? I think what’s most likely is some people will subscribe to the news and sports networks they want (like,, and get the video streamed over the web. They’ll get rid of their cable TV altogether, much as families like mine have abandoned their landlines for phone service.

This in turn will put pressure on the cable companies that the federal regulators haven’t. Faced with the reality that consumers do have choices of how to get their video (since they could use DSL or satellite dish to get their broadband), the cable companies will eventually open up to a la carte.

What do you think? How long will it be before the reality of broadband video access forces cable TV companies to allow subscribers to pick which channels and networks they want? If you have cable TV now, what’s the one channel or type of programming you can’t do without? What’s keeping you a cable subscriber?

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What technology will disrupt your industry?

Businessweek priceline music

Businessweek outlines the problems facing the music industry, and some potential industry responses, in an article published online yesterday.

The Internet has wreaked all sorts of havoc on the traditional recorded-music model. For decades labels have been signing bands, paying for their first record and video, moving the music to radio and retailers, organizing concert tours, and helping to peddle merchandise. But for many fans and artists, that model has become grossly anachronistic. If the music is flowing digitally, why allow a corporation to get between an artist and the audience? “It’s a new world now, and people are thinking of new ways to reach the people, and that’s always been my aim,” said Paul McCartney in March, 2007, when he joined Starbucks’ (SBUX) new music label, HearMusic, ditching his longtime home at EMI.

It doesn’t help that the same companies have been antagonizing music consumers for years with pricey CDs, rights-management restrictions, and file-sharing lawsuits. “They can’t even make a product you can open,” says Brandon Kessler, founder of Messenger Records, a small New York City label. “Can you imagine going to the store and buying a carton of milk you can’t get open? It’s infuriating. There’s such a lack of knowledge of their customer.”

As I said earlier this week, the record companies do have some strengths, which the Businessweek article also outlines:

Despite the challenges, record labels still perform some tasks extremely well. The Big Four turn out recordings that are technically pristine, meeting the exacting standards of radio, television, and film that are out of reach for most kids with computers. The labels also can transport these CDs worldwide, stock them at retailers, market them reasonably effectively, organize concert tours, and manage various business functions for artists under contract. “They’re very good at selling a Bruce Springsteen album and getting it everywhere at once,” says Dale Anderson, a Buffalo [N.Y.] journalist who produced independent folk singer Ani DiFranco’s first two records.

But clearly the CD market is in decline, and it’s just good to see that some at least among the Big Four are recognizing that and looking for other ways to replace the revenue that will inevitably go away as digital distribution becomes the norm. Read the rest of the Businessweek article to see some of the strategies they’re considering.

Then think about your industry. The RIAA has been roundly and rightly criticized for being slow to recognize how its world was changing. What’s happening in your industry that could be as disruptive as digital distribution has been for the music industry? And what are you doing to not just respond, but to proactively participate in shaping your industry’s future?

Update: see the news about Madonna and her non-traditional distribution/promotion deal here. More competition for the record industry.

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