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Archive for the ‘Local’ Category

Marketers must join media to get slice of online pie

Posted by Mort Greenberg on November 2, 2008

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Article Author: Jeff Cornwall 

Article Date: 2-Nov-08


“All media outlets, especially local media, need to get better at monetizing the digital expressions of their core properties. (Translation: They need to make money online.) Marketers who depend on those local media need to grasp this concept.

Local media sites also perform strongest with the heaviest spenders. Almost half of local magazine site visitors spent more than $500 online in the past 12 months.

So what types of businesses are consumers looking for when going to local sites? Restaurants and bars lead the list. Grocery stores, banks and financial services, department stores and physicians and health facilities round out the top five.

Consumer electronics stores, auto dealers and auto service, real estate, furniture and appliance stores and legal services complete the top 10 sites.

Marketers and agencies must accept the new media reality and understand the options available to communicate with their customers. It may sound ironic, but while the World Wide Web helps us think globally, it allows us to act locally. ”




Posted in Ad Spending, Consumer Behavior, eCommerce, Local, Marketplace Trends | Leave a Comment »

NBC Local Media Targets ‘Locals Only’ with New Website Launch

Posted by Mort Greenberg on October 19, 2008

New approach will provide content for the true city insider. – October 13, 2008

(PRNewsChannel) / New York, N.Y. / Embracing a new business strategy, NBC Local Media will launch websites targeting “Locals Only,” providing news, entertainment and information for the true city insider. No longer an adjunct to its local television station, the new sites will feature content from a wide variety of sources — including print, online publications, bloggers, individuals and NBC’s local television stations — to provide a new destination for local consumers who are looking to stay ahead of the curve and get plugged in to all their city has to offer.  

The sites will roll out in four phases throughout the month, beginning with Chicago in the afternoon of October 13; followed by Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco on October 16; then Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. on October 20; and New York and Hartford on October 27. The web properties, which replace the current station marketing sites, will also change their URLs to better highlight the name of each city. (A complete list of new URLs is attached).

“These sites are a departure from what we’ve done in the past and the next step in our mission to provide truly relevant local content to consumers on the media platform of their choice,” said John Wallace, President, NBC Local Media. “Our goal was to create a new type of user experience that’s less an extension of our TV stations and more of an online destination for the latest local news, information and entertainment. These sites are about putting consumers first and giving them the content they’re looking for from the best available sources.”

The new websites target a specific online community that wants to know more about their local cities – whether they live in them or not. They are highly social, digitally savvy and extremely interested in staying on top of the latest local news and information. They also enjoy the trappings of urban life – such as music, food, fashion, and museums – and have an interest in creating, experimenting, sharing and critiquing all they experience.

Brian Buchwald, Senior Vice President of NBC Local Integrated Media, added, “When we decided to change the focus of our business, we specifically set out to target people who loved their cities, embrace change and have a huge appetite for local news and information. What we found is the group we’re calling ‘Social Capitalists,’ who are less about a specific demo and more about a state of mind. They’re passionate, like to stay ahead of the curve and influence others in their peer groups. We’re confident these new sites will deliver what they’re looking for as we experiment and learn together.”

Each site will have an entirely new look and feel with easy to use navigation features. Content will be aggregated from the best available sources – in many cases linking to outside content providers or contributed by the audience itself – in order to provide consumers with the best and most informed user experience. The online features will also be created with a more integrated approach, using text, videos, blogs, or whatever medium is appropriate, to tell the full story.

The new online approach is part of NBC Local Media’s continuing effort to transform its business and become a full-service multi-platform content provider for the local marketplace. The website launch is one of many efforts made recently by the group to better reflect today’s media environment. These include the recent acquisition of LX.TV and Skycastle Entertainment; continued investment in NBC Everywhere, the group’s growing out-of-home media division; and the soon-to-launch 24/7 news and information channel at the flagship television station, WNBC.

New domain names (in order of launch):


About NBC Local Media:
NBC Local Media is comprised of ten NBC owned-and-operated television stations reaching 27% of US TV households; the NBC Everywhere operation focusing on the growing Out of Home digital market; LX.TV, a content production company that produces lifestyle and cultural programming; and Skycastle Entertainment, an award-winning entertainment marketing and promotion company. Together, the NBC Local Media properties distribute NBC Universal content and produce local content for broadcast television, broadband networks, digital channels and numerous media outlets outside of the home. NBC Local Media is a division of NBC Universal.

Media Contact:
Liz Fischer, NBC Universal, 212-664-4825,

Posted in Demos & Audiences, Local, Marketplace Trends, News Highlights, Site Development, Television & Video, Traditional to Online | Leave a Comment »

Borrell: Local Online Revenue to Jump 50% in ’08

Posted by Mort Greenberg on June 28, 2008

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May 30, 2008

-By Katy Bachman


Local online revenue is expected to skyrocket this year, up 50 percent to $13.1 billion, according to a study released Thursday (May 29) by Borrell Associates.


Posted in Ad Spending, Data & Metrics, Local, Marketplace Trends, Television & Video, Traditional to Online | Leave a Comment »

Online Ad Spend To Gain 23 Percent In ’08; Lehman’s Anmuth Revises Forecast Down Slightly

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 31, 2008

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Article Author: David Kaplan,

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Friday, May 30, 2008; 9:07 PM
Online ad spending in the U.S. will come in at $26.17 billion this year for a gain of 23 percent, forecasts Lehman Brothers analyst Doug Anmuth in his Internet Inside Weekly report (pdf only, not online). That’s down slightly from his previous 2008 forecast of $26.20 billion (+24 percent). Secondly, Anmuth expects online advertising to grow at a 20 percent 3-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and that the web will take an 11 percent share of total domestic ad dollars by 2010.

His latest forecast is right in line with ZenithOptimedia’s call for a 23.4 percent rise over 2007 and eMarketer is also expecting a 23 percent gain this year. Back in January, TNS, which only measures display, offered a much more pessimistic view, saying that category would be up only 14 percent in 2008. Also on the comparatively darker end, PQ Media, which lumps several categories like digital out-of-home under “alternative media,” said it believed that spending would climb just 20.2 percent over last year.

Search will still lead: Breaking out online ad spending into constituent categories, Anmuth finds search still in the lead with 27 percent growth, followed by display with 25 percent, while lead gen should be up 18 percent, as classified struggles to realize gains of 14 percent, all over 2007’s figures.

Opportunities: Anmuth emphasizes that the online ad market is about scale and that display in particular continues to be relatively open. That will continue to provide an opportunity for Google ( NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo ( NSDQ: YHOO), Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT), and/or AOL ( NYSE: TWX) to take share, despite market trends that are moving more toward fragmentation and verticalization. Anmuth: “This open field in display is in contrast to search where we believe that over the past year Google has solidified its moat with advertisers and users in almost every market in which it operates.”

Display’s mixed bag: Display advertising, which accounted for 34 percent of total U.S. online ad spend in2007, while getting a boost from formats such as rich media and digital video, has faced several challenges recently. One of the biggest factors impacting overall display advertising has been the dramatic rise in “available non-premium” (or non-guaranteed) inventory over the past few years, which has resulted from the enormous growth in page views at MySpace and Facebook. That in turn, has fueled the rise of remnant ad networks, which tend to specialize in low-priced, unsold inventory (which Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia‘s ( NYSE: MSO) Wenda Harris Millard likened to the trading of pork bellies, decrying the commoditization of online ad inventory). That has led companies like MSLO and others to form vertical ad networks to support their premium pricing and placement offerings.

Anmuth will be giving a presentation at our EconAds seminar in NYC next week.. details on the seminar here.

Posted in Ad Spending, Data & Metrics, Local, Marketplace Trends, Research, Resources | Leave a Comment »

Newspaper Sites Profitable with Online Advertising

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 31, 2008

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Article Author: Janet Meiners

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Related Link:

Friday, May 30th, 2008 

A study by Borrell Associates found that almost all newspaper web sites are profitable – thanks to online advertising. Advertising revenue accounts for over half of revenues locally, and 57.3 percent, goes to online advertising like Google.

They studied 3,100 sites owned by newspapers, radio stations, TV stations and independents to find out where they are making the most ad revenues.

According to Borrell, there are some important “firsts” in the newspaper industry. For the first time, newspaper online local ads topped more than $2 billion. Also, web sites of the biggest newspapers have switched from print or radio ad revenue to more than half of their revenues coming from non-print advertisers.

Local newspaper websites are getting the largest share of local ad spending among media companies. The study, called “What Local Media Sites Earn” found local newspaper websites capture an average of 11.7 percent of local advertising dollars. The highest earner in the top 200 papers generated over 78 percent of local spend in its market.

“Local Web sites continue to ride a wave that defies even the most optimistic forecasts,” Borrell says. “Local online revenues are growing at a phenomenal rate of 50% this year — even more astonishing considering that retail sales have suffered such a sharp drop.”

Other forms of advertising revenue for newspapers keep falling. Broadcast Television sites brought in 6.9 percent of local spend and local radio gets just 0.8 percent. It’s probably going to get worse:

“We expect revenue for print directories to decline more than any other local medium — 39% — over the next four years, from $12.7 billion this year to $7.7 billion by 2012.”

In the past newspapers depended on classified ads, but the Internet (including sites like has cut into their profit. The study advised newspapers to not depend so heavily on the revenue and focus more on building online ad revenue. Newspapers who’ve done so have been more profitable.

Posted in Ad Spending, Data & Metrics, Local, Marketplace Trends, Traditional to Online | Leave a Comment »

Advertisers to Consumers: We’ll Text You

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 27, 2008

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Cellphone Messages
Find a Mobile Niche;
Customers Ask for It
May 27, 2008; Page B4

Analysts like to make bold predictions about the growth of mobile advertising. Most have overshot reality.

But at least one slice of the business appears to be catching on, according to marketers: ads sent via text message. A growing number of companies are using cellphone text messages to lend more interactivity to their ads. For instance, Coors Brewing’s Coors Light beer recently added a text-message component to its traditional sponsorship of the NFL Draft. Football fans opted to receive draft alerts, and each message contained a squib about Coors Light.


Some marketers like text-message ads because — unlike most ads — viewers asks to receive the message, which means the marketer doesn’t bombard the viewer with unsolicited commercials. The potential audience is also attractive: Almost all cellphones can send and receive text messages. Finally, marketers say, the results of text-message ads are much easier to measure than those of mobile Web ads.

On Tuesday, Silicon Valley start-up 4INFO, one of the most-active players in text-message advertising, plans to announce a new trial partnership with Yahoo. Under the arrangement, 4INFO provides the technology for Yahoo to publish its content, such as news updates, horoscopes, sports scores and weather forecasts, via text messages that also contain a small ad. Consumers sign up online to receive the alerts.

Yahoo can sell the ads alone or as part of a broader online-mobile ad package, or, alternatively, 4INFO can sell the ads through its mobile-ad network.

Ad executives report click-through rates with text-message ads of 1% to 10%, a significant jump from the figures for Web banner ads, which are typically only a fraction of that.

Those higher rates, of course, could be attributable simply to the newness of text-message advertising. And, for marketers that do text-message marketing, there are challenges. One is limited space. Of the 160 characters allowed in a text message, typically 120 are reserved for content, which leaves only 40 for the ad. Often, the message is simple: “Sponsored by The All-New Toyota Corolla” was the tag line for a recent campaign with IAC/InterActiveCorp’s online invitation service Evite.

Mobile-message advertising is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2008, up 82% from last year, according to research firm eMarketer. Spending on mobile-message advertising now accounts for about 88% of the total $1.7 billion spent on mobile ads, which also includes search ads and display ads as well as mobile Web advertising.

On top of its new pact with Yahoo, 4INFO, founded in 2004 by Zaw Thet, now 27 years old, has struck similar deals with big media companies from General Electric‘s NBC Universal to IAC and newspaper company Gannett, which owns a stake in the company. 4INFO, which says it reaches eight million unique visitors a month, usually splits the ad revenue with the media company 60-40, with the majority going to whichever party makes the sale.

With these ads, a phone number to text is typically embedded in a print or TV ad. Consumers send a text message to that number to receive the content, which is sponsored by a marketer.

“A newspaper is produced once daily. With the text messages you can layer in interactivity, whether it be stock quotes, sports scores or updated weather,” says Matt Jones, director of mobile strategy for Gannett.

Among the marketers that Gannett has sold ads to are Marriott, which recently sponsored a print-and-mobile ad combination in USA Today, and Radio Shack, which is sponsoring free sports alerts from the paper’s Web site.

Other companies that compete in text-message advertising include YellowPepper and HipCricket. Like 4INFO, HipCricket has focused on bringing new life to old media through mobile ads. HipCricket works with radio and TV stations to create programs like mobile loyalty clubs for listeners to join. Then, both the radio stations and its advertisers market to this group via their phones.

Using text messages to deliver ads isn’t completely new. A company called Screenvision, which uses text messaging along with commercials on movie screens, launched its network in 2005. Since then, it has expanded its approach. Starting early next month, Screenvision, whose advertising network is made up of more than 14,000 screens in 2,300 theaters, will test a live-polling feature that is activated by text messages. Audiences will be polled on music, movies or other entertainment-related topics, and then can vote. The results will be immediately tabulated and flashed up on the screen.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, is the first sponsor of the polling service. The campaign includes a two-minute original film (“VCast Street”) directed by Spike Lee, and VCast-branded popcorn bags.

Write to Emily Steel at

Posted in Ad Products, Local, Mobile, Multi-Channel, Traditional to Online, Widgets/Distributed Content | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

NBC to Enter All-Local-News Arena

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 10, 2008

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May 8, 2008; Page B10

General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal is starting a 24-hour local news network in New York, in what could be the first of several such channels around the country. NBC hopes the network will draw in new viewers and help the company weather a weak local TV advertising market that has depressed revenue at many of its individual stations.

The 24-hour “hyper-local” news network will launch on the digital tier in November and share newsgathering resources with WNBC, New York’s NBC-owned station, which will continue to have its own daily newscasts.

The new network will face competition from several existing 24-hour local news outlets, including Time Warner Inc.’s NY1 network in New York City and Cablevision Systems Corp.’s seven News 12 cable networks in the New York metropolitan area, including Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

NBC is investing several million dollars in the venture, building a “content center” that will house local TV staff and operations. NBC doesn’t plan to hire a new staff for the channel, but instead said it will retrain its existing staff to produce news for the regular affiliate broadcasts, the 24-hour network and a new version of WNBC’s Web site, to be called NBC New York.

If successful, the New York channel will serve as a model for other markets, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago, where NBC owns the NBC-branded local station. In most smaller markets, the NBC-branded affiliate is owned by another affiliate group.

“We think this will be better for advertisers,” said WNBC General Manager Tom O’Brien. “We’ll be able to aggregate different audiences and create a bigger audience, and that gives us a lot more opportunities to go to the advertising marketplace.”

In an email to his staff Wednesday, NBC local media division President John Wallace said the reorganization “marks an important change in the station’s philosophy in how it serves the community. Rather than focusing on any one distribution platform, WNBC is redesigning its operations to be content-focused rather than platform-driven, something that is essential to ensure long-term growth in today’s media environment.”

Steve Paulus, regional vice president of NY1, said that although his channel is profitable and ad sales are “holding strong if not increasing,” the advertising market for 24-hour local news isn’t notably better than it is for any other local programming.

Posted in Local, Marketplace Trends, Media Company Stocks, Multi-Channel, Online Video News, Television & Video | Leave a Comment »

Mobilenet Promises to Be the Next Big Medium

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 7, 2008

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But Don’t Get Sidetracked Into Third-Screen Thinking

Published: May 06, 2008

We are on the verge of witnessing the birth of a new mass-communications medium. It’s the second new mass medium to appear in the last two decades.

The internet arrived in the 1990s, joining the other four mass media: 1) The book 2) The periodical 3) Radio 4) TV. Each new mass medium has created enormous upheavals in society.

  • The book ignited the knowledge explosion.
  • The periodical furthered the growth of democracy.
  • Radio created a celebrity-oriented society.
  • TV homogenized the culture.

The internet, the latest and newest mass medium, continues to make waves. “We are not witnessing the beginning of the end of old media,” Advertising Age’s Bob Garfield wrote recently. “We are witnessing the middle of the end of old media.”

“Both print and broadcast — burdened with unwieldy, archaic and crushingly expensive means of distribution — are experiencing the disintegration of the audience critical mass they require to operate profitably,” Mr. Garfield continued. “Moreover, they are losing that audience to the infinitely fragmented digital media, which have near-zero distribution costs and are overwhelmingly free to the user.”

Fasten your seat belts. On the horizon, there’s another profound shift in media, consumer behavior and technology coming. In the near future we are likely to welcome the arrival of a sixth mass-communications medium.

And what is this earth-shaking new medium? It’s the Mobilenet.

The what? Surely you are joking, Al. The Mobilenet is just a subset of the internet. Just another way of going online. Just another way of surfing the net without using a computer. That’s why mobile devices are commonly called the “third screen.”

Third-screen thinking is going to cause you and your company to miss the boat. Which big brands were created by moving content from one medium to another? Very, very few.

  • Moving The Wall Street Journal online didn’t save Dow Jones from the clutches of Rupert Murdoch for just $5 billion.
  • Moving ESPN onto cellphones didn’t take it to the big leagues.
  • So far, moving TV shows to the internet hasn’t created as much value as one internet site, Less than 20 months after its launch, YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion.

Google can afford to splurge. In the first quarter of this year, Google had net income of $1.3 billion. In the same quarter, The New York Times Co. lost $350,000. Moving the Times to the internet didn’t solve the company’s financial problems. Last year, had estimated revenue of $27.6 million, pretty small potatoes for a site that was launched more than 11 years ago.

In spite of its dubious record, the content movement continues to gain momentum. The telecoms plus the TV industry are making massive efforts to move TV to cellphones, in spite of surveys that show, according to Yankee Group analyst Linda Barrabee, only 5% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay for mobile TV.

The software industry is also spending a fortune developing programs to permit these inter-medium transfers. Two weeks ago, Microsoft unveiled “Live Mesh,” a software program to link all internet-enabled devices. “Not just PCs and phones,” reported Ray Ozzie, the company’s chief software architect, “but TVs, game consoles, digital picture frames, DVRs, media players, cameras and camcorders, home servers … our car’s entertainment and navigation systems and more.”

That’s the wrong approach. A new medium calls for new brands, not for extensions of existing brands. The internet didn’t reward traditional brands like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, Barnes & Noble and Hallmark. It rewarded new brands created especially for the net. Dot-com brands like Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Expedia, Netflix, MySpace, Facebook and AOL.

The Mobilenet will also reward new brands created especially for the medium. Like Loopt, a service that lets people with GPS-equipped phones share their real-time locations with friends.

A slimmed-down, warmed-over dot-com brand isn’t going to make it on the Mobilenet.

Laying the foundation
The Mobilenet, of course, isn’t going to become an overnight success. (The internet didn’t either.) A number of developments need to come first.

On the sending side, the missing ingredients are the dot-mobis that will make the receiving device a universal, carry-everywhere product much like the cellphone.

On the receiving side, the missing ingredient is a gadget that integrates telecom service with three technologies in an attractive and convenient package: 1) GPS, global-positioning-system receiver; 2) scanner; and 3) voice-recognition software.

Oddly enough, the most heavily hyped new product of the 21st century (Apple’s iPhone) doesn’t include any of those three technologies. Too bad. With all of Apple’s brilliant design and technology skills, the company could have pioneered and dominated the Mobilenet for decades to come.

Instead, Apple perfected the smartphone, a convergence device destined to remain a niche product. The first smartphone (the Nokia 9000) was introduced 12 years ago. Yet today the smartphone accounts for only 10% of the global cellphone market.

In the last quarter, Apple sold 1,703,000 iPhones, about 6% of the global smartphone market. Not exactly earth-shaking results. In the same quarter, Apple sold 10,644,000 iPods, about 70% of the MP3-player market.

Besides market share, there’s another striking difference between the two products. The iPod, a divergence device, pioneered a new category. The iPhone, a convergence device, was not designed to create a new category, but to improve on an existing category, always a risky strategy for a would-be market leader.

Dawn of a new device
If the Mobilenet is a new mass medium, what would you call the receiving device? The logical name is “MobiPhone,” to reflect the millions of dot-mobi websites sure to come.

Names don’t always describe what a device is really used for. Most people do little “computing” on a computer. (I do my computing on a printing calculator.) A MobiPhone may not necessarily include a cellphone. Many people might like a separate device to make telephone calls.

Obviously some people are thinking along similar lines. To me, the most interesting news item of the month was Nokia’s purchase of Navteq, a firm that collects map data from around the world, for $8.1 billion.

Eight-point-one billion? That’s one and a half Wall Street Journals for a company with revenue of just $853 million last year. That mind-boggling number tells you what the folks in Finland are thinking about. It ties in with the thought that the GPS receiver will be the key function of future telecom devices.

The global positioning system, like every technological change, creates the conditions for a product or a medium to diverge in the same way that environmental changes create the conditions for a species to diverge.

Mobile marketing would snowball
First the internet; now the Mobilenet. That’s how divergence works. Furthermore, the Mobilenet promises to make the dream of mobile marketing a reality.

Up till now, mobile marketing has captured a trivial slice of the advertising market ($708 million last year) even though the cellphone predates the worldwide web.

The potential Mobilenet marketplace dwarfs the internet. Last year more than 1.15 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide, compared to only 271.2 million personal computers. In other words, more than four times as many mobile phones were bought than PCs. And, in my opinion, most consumers will find a GPS-equipped MobiPhone to be a device they can’t live without.

The MobiPhone is not just another device, of course. It’s the receiving end of another medium, one that is unique and different from the internet. And one likely to be larger and more universal than the internet. Companies that want to take advantage of this new medium will quickly register their company and brand names as dot-mobi domain names.

Furthermore, each dot-mobi website should be considered separately from the company or the brand’s dot-com website. Two different media demand two different approaches. (You wouldn’t run a radio advertisement on TV, so why would you run a dot-com program for a dot-mobi audience?)

Long-term, “mobile” is going to become a very important part of the overall marketing environment in America. What kinds of advertising approaches are best suited to the new mobile medium?

Consumers empowered
In my opinion, there are two types of advertising: one that might be described as “passive” advertising, the other as “active.”

Passive advertising is conventional advertising found in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. It interrupts the reader, listener or viewer in order to present “a message from the sponsor” of the medium.

Active advertising, on the other hand, is initiated by the consumer. Search advertising on the internet is a typical example. But there’s active advertising in conventional media, too. In particular, classified advertising in newspapers and telephone directories. Roughly 40% of all advertising on the internet is “active.” This is what has made Google such a big success.

The Mobilenet is going to be an even bigger medium for active advertising than the internet. That’s why there is a golden opportunity for a Google-like brand specially designed to search dot-mobi websites and coordinate with the user’s exact location.

But that’s only the beginning.

A MobiPhone with a 2D barcode scanner will enable consumers to get a wealth of information by scanning products in supermarkets, drugstores, clothing stores.

MobiPhone users might be able to arrange to be notified when certain things occur; for example, when a celebrity shows up at a restaurant or nightclub.

It’s easy to visualize what a useful device a MobiPhone could be if it is served by appropriate dot-mobi websites.

  • What’s the speed limit? (Maybe we can avoid those huge pileups that sometimes occur in heavy fog by automatically lowering speed limits when visibility is impaired.)
  • How far is the next exit and what facilities can be found there?
  • Without stopping to read them, what do those historic markers actually say?
  • Location of the nearest hotel/motel and the price of a room?
  • Location of the nearest gas station and the price of gasoline?
  • Location of the nearest restaurant by type and price level?
  • What’s the Parker number on that bottle of wine? (One of the many facts that might be available by simply scanning a label.)

What consumers can do with the receiving device is not the most significant aspect of the Mobilenet. More significant are the changes in structure the new medium will facilitate.

For example, taxicab dispatch systems are likely to disappear, since a consumer will be able to see the location of the nearest available cab and call one directly. Similar changes are likely in all types of dispatching systems.

Consumers will find many other ways to use a MobiPhone. Every August for the last eight years, my wife and I have driven around the scenic areas of the Southwest. Every afternoon on those trips, we would keep an eagle eye out for a Dairy Queen in order to snare a couple of their chocolate-dipped cones.

Hopefully, next year we’ll check DQ.Mobi instead.

~ ~ ~
Al Ries is the author or co-author of 11 books on marketing including his latest, “The Origin of Brands,” which discusses how the Darwinian concept of “divergence” applies to the world of business. He and his daughter Laura Ries are partners in the marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries. Their website:

Posted in Brand Advertising, Consumer Behavior, Content, eCommerce, Local, Marketplace Trends, Mobile, Multi-Channel | Leave a Comment »

Do-It-Yourself Display Ads

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 7, 2008

Article Source:


May 7, 2008; Page B3B

Much of the valuable online-ad real estate is sold the old-fashioned way: through a salesperson.

But now start-ups and major Internet players such as Facebook Inc. are giving advertisers the option of planning, buying and tracking online-ad campaigns all on their own. Just as the ability to buy plane tickets online steered business away from travel agents, the self-service options promise to shake up the $20 billion online-advertising market.

Google Inc. built a $185 billion company largely thanks to its self-service model for buying the online text ads that show up in Web searches. The next front in do-it-yourself is the display-ad market. Display ads are expected to be 40% of the online-ad market in coming years. Until recently, such ads were too expensive to buy and too difficult to create for many companies.

“In order to really move into large masses of advertisers, display advertising has to be easier and simpler,” said Ajay Agarwal, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures. “Google did this with search advertising. We think the same thing has to happen with display.”

The self-service options have the potential to bring huge numbers of new advertisers and sites into online advertising, including small firms that currently find it too difficult or expensive to advertise online, or to advertise at all.


Andy Dunn is one of the new do-it-yourself-ers. Mr. Dunn is chief executive of Bonobos Pants, an online clothing company that says it makes “pants for real guys,” aimed at men who want well-tailored and fashionable clothes but hate to shop in stores. The company, which the 29-year-old Mr. Dunn launched last fall with a classmate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, initially didn’t do much to market its wares. “We think advertising is pretty wasteful for a company like ours,” Mr. Dunn said.

But for a pants line aimed at Chicago Cubs baseball fans, Bonobos took a chance on Facebook’s new self-service ad system. In less than five minutes, Bonobos created ads that would be seen only by young men in the Chicago area who identified themselves on their Facebook profiles as Cubs fans. With a picture of the “Cubbie blue” pants — named Clarks, after one of the streets surrounding the Cubs’ home of Wrigley Field — and simple ad taglines like “pants for Cubs fans,” the ad was seen more than 250,000 times. Quickly, Bonobos sold out of Clarks, at $120 a pop. Total cost for the ads: about $63.

Mr. Dunn said that next time, he may spend thousands of dollars more on the Facebook ads. “It’s so economically compelling that we can’t ignore it,” he said. “This was five minutes of our time, and we sold through these very specific pants that otherwise we’d have a hard time finding our audience.”

Facebook is only one of a rising number of self-service ad options. There are new entrants such as AdReady Inc., AdBrite Inc. and AdItAll LLC. MySpace, like Facebook, is offering do-it-yourself ads that marketers can tailor to individual interests on the social-networking site. (MySpace, like this newspaper, is owned by News Corp.)

Time Warner Inc.’s AOL Internet unit and Google have new self-service ad options for the opposite side of the equation — for Web publishers who want to attract advertising to their sites.

The rising number of self-service options underscores the expanding market for display ads, the graphic- and video-heavy ads in fixed spots on a Web page. The market for display ads reached $5 billion in 2007, according to market-research firm eMarketer Inc. That is far less than the estimated $8.6 billion in spending for text ads tied to online search. But in coming years, the mix is expected to tilt in favor of display ads, thanks to the rise of online video and the increasing push of brand marketers such as car companies into the display market.

But for the majority of mostly small- and medium-size businesses, it remains too difficult and expensive to buy display ads. To create an ad, businesses have to navigate the 15 standard sizes and half dozen standard formats and design something that will be eye-catching. They have to pick which Web sites or networks to buy ad space from, test multiple ads, track which ones draw the best consumer responses and adjust marketing campaigns accordingly. Doing this alone is daunting, and paying an ad agency to do it might cost thousands of dollars. Sites such as Yahoo Inc. often require advertisers to promise they will spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on advertising.

“There’s no real solution for the smaller advertiser who wants to enter the display market,” said Aaron Finn, chief executive of AdReady, one of the new companies offering access to the market. Mr. Finn used to head marketing for, one of the biggest buyers of online ads, and launched AdReady last fall with backers such as Bain Capital LLC’s Bain Capital Ventures.

AdReady promises to ease the headaches and guesswork and to lower the costs associated with buying display ads. A Ford dealership in California can pick from a pool of templates and customize an image of a revolving Ford car with the dealership logo and contact information. Then, the dealer can buy ad space through AdReady on major Web sites targeted to reach only Web surfers in California. The system suggests tweaks, such as making the ad background purple rather than white, that have proven to draw more people to click on ads. Advertisers can spend as little as $20, and AdReady is paid a cut of the ad buy.

AdReady and other services also give advertisers the ability to tie ad spending to results. For example, an advertiser could see how many people viewed a car ad and how many people clicked on it. The car dealer could then decide it wants to turn off the ads that received the fewest clicks and run more of the ads that were more effective.

By drawing in new ad buyers, the self-service options also aim to address one of the nagging problems with the display-ad market: cheap prices.

As a flood of new Web sites compete for consumers’ eyeballs, sites such as Facebook are having difficulty raising prices for ads. The cost for reaching a thousand Web visitors can be as little as a few cents on Facebook or MySpace. Reaching the same number of viewers of a prime-time TV show can cost $30.

By widening the pool of advertisers vying for display space, sites believe they can increase the prices for their ads. Facebook Ads is seeing a huge influx of first-time Internet advertisers, according to Tim Kendall, director of monetization at Facebook.

Along with innovations such as ad networks, self-service options are hoping to do for the display-ad market what Google did for search: make it more accessible, cheaper and, ultimately, a much-larger business.

“There’s a huge market that’s still being untapped,” Mr. Finn said. “I think you’re going to open up the floodgates.”

Write to Shira Ovide at shira.ovide@dowjones.com1

Posted in Ad Products, Ad Spending, Ad/Behaviroral Targeting, Direct Response/Email, eCommerce, Local, Marketplace Trends | Leave a Comment »

Local vs Search, the Online Ad Battle Begins

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 6, 2008

Article Source:

By Dave Porter

(AXcess News) Reno – The Internet appears to be pulling more ad dollars from traditional media like print, television and radio during a time of lean advertising budgets, but even though there is a slowdown in ad spending, the real battle online appears to be ‘big box’ vs local.

According to eMarketer, ad spending in 2008 will “bounce back”, increasing 3% and television will see the highest growth thanks in part to the election and the Summer Olympics.

Still, the Internet is expected to show a healthy gain as well.  According to a December, 2007 Borrell & Associates report, “2008 Outlook, Local Online Advertising”, total online ad spending is forecast to grow by 1.8%, while offline ad spending was estimated to shrink by 1.8%.  That’s a far cry from eMarketer’s forecast, yet Borrell’s prior market estimates have been far more accurate in consideration of the researcher focusing more on local advertising.

“Even with the Olympics and presidential election campaigns on the horizon, overall ad spending in the US is in the doldrums,” says eMarketer’s David Hallerman. “Except online.”

Hallerman says that “US Internet advertising will not only be more resilient than traditional media, it will grow. In fact, in 2009, 10% of all US ad dollars will go online.”

Stepping forward in the minds at Borrell & Associates to the most recent Report, “2008 Online Promotions – The Big Shift”, Borrell & Associates made a bold prediction.  That a shift in ad dollars was underway with promotional advertising rising to the top while Standard-sized ads (banners, skyscrapers et al) would shrink dramatically.  In fact, the researchers over at Borrell & Associates were already downplaying ‘standard advertising’ online back in December, predicting then a severe drop in web advertising dollars this year.

“We are seeing a distinct shift of business spending away from classic online advertising per se toward non-advertising marketing expenses – the more nebulous category of ‘promotions’,” said Borrell & Associates founder, Gordon Borrell.

“The Internet provides tens of thousands of marketing channels that allow businesses to reach consumers directly with information on pricing, sales, features and new products,” says Borrell.

While Borrell’s report gives some startling predictions, such as, Online display ads (Web page banners, pop-ups, etc.) have lost their luster; and, Paid search advertising is likewise facing a luster-loss, the ‘big box’ theory of major search providers consolidating is threatening the pricing model for competitors.  While lower ad rates may be attractive to online advertising buyers, some of the allure comes in the form of logistics in doing business with one resource capable of handling a large ad budget, where spreading those ad dollars across a host of local sites is more difficult to manage and monitor.

So the question arises, who’s right, Borrell or Google?  The answer is, both.

Borrell notes that the web is creating opportunities for viral marketing, such as an online video of a new beer which when post online gets handed around by viewers.  That branding tactic works well, but production may not fall into the hands of the brew mister as much as at it rests in the hands of skilled public relations providers.  Borrell was sharp enough to note that in its report in which they predict that “Online promotions, including the revitalized and expanded practice of public relations, will nearly triple over the next five years to $22.8 billion, surpassing all other online advertising categories (paid search, banners, email, and online audio/video advertising.)”

Oh wow, you say.  That is a startling revelation indeed!    So far the paid researchers who derive the bulk of their revenue from reports gleaned off of information from the top search engines and major websites haven’t responded to Borrell’s ‘revelations’ and for good reason – they’re not about to get into a credibility war with the maverick of online research and king of local – Borrell & Associates – as it could cost them plenty.

The ‘big box’ dominance of Google’s combination with DoubleClick is certainly going to affect the online advertising market and the most likely area will be in ad costs falling as the mass-market appeal of one-stop advertising online takes hold.  Recently, Google and Yahoo tried teaming up with Yahoo looking to display Google ads, which appears to be getting a green light from regulators while the rumors of whether or not MSN will be combined with Yahoo still echo through the tech blogger world.

I have often argued that people should pay more attention to the fact that while the bulk of traffic lies with the top search providers, there is more action in the long tail of the web and Borrell is saying the tail is now getting more diverse and with it greater opportunities to brand products and promote online on a local scale.  Underneath it all is one recurring theme – geographic.

Local is becoming king and through it new, more creative ways of reaching customers are developing.  Video and even content is being used to achieve a geographic appeal.  Perhaps where that’s winning out is in the fact that major newspaper websites, along with Yahoo and Google, have been unsuccessful at capturing the geographic theme of marketing on a national scale.  That may be due to their inability to cooperate because they’re so large and bulky.  Enter PR.  Public Relations firms on a geographic scale are able to come up with creative ways of reaching local audiences online and can virally expand that both regionally or national.  E-mail may be playing a part, but content appears to be winning out in presentation format where a dining out section of one local website is being used in consort with other local sites to generate an interest through their online promotion.

But firms like Marchex are also getting in on the ‘local’ theme and have teamed with local content sources in sharing both content and advertising.  That kind of creative thinking is on the rise and more boutique advertising agencies like are coming up with ways to lure ad dollars through both innovative technology and targeted intelligence.  Newer technology providers like are also attracting partners who are looking to team with innovative agencies in combining both cutting edge technology and better performance matrix of delivery in order to compete.  So while Borrell cites a shift in ad spend, I say parallel to that is a shift in cooperative public relations, where innovative firms are combining technologies and resources to offer ad buyers better conversion rates to compete with the lure of big box ad providers like Google.

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