Thursday, October 26, 2006


Random Events Hide a Consistent Pattern of Opportunity

The other day, a news item about Adobe's acquisition of software developer Serious Magic reminded us that mobile, personal video is on its way to the marketplace. Combined with their purchase of Macromedia and its Flash product, Adobe is moving aggressively in this area. Get used to the phrase “mobile media” because it will be hot buzzword as the wherever, whenever consumer-in-charge media really starts to sink into the minds of content creators of all types. We're a couple of years away from its being useful and common. YouTube is just a tiny beginning. We're not far away from having e-books regularly containing video, especially e-textbooks, which today are mainly computer reproductions of hard copy books with minor enhancements.

A Canadian newspaper is now doing a streaming video broadcast of news. Is there any wonder why newspaper conglomerates are selling their broadcast properties? The barriers to entry to video markets are falling fast, much like what desktop publishing did, a 20-year old trend that we still feel today.

The change in media habits has been felt by network TV programmers. Verizon Wireless, it is reported, has its peak use of streaming video is during evening rush hour, between 4pm and 7pm, as people commute in cars, trains, and busses. For AOL, 3pm to 5 pm is the peak. Many of these are downloads of network shows that were missed during the day, the evening before, or even days before.

The reminder of this comes from the author of a book mentioned recently, What Sticks. He was speaking at a magazine conference this week, and he said “As a marketer you maximize ROI when [you] use all media.” Why? Because you never know where or when someone will access the information, and even market segments that used to have strong media preferences are in flux.

Computer and services company Unisys had an interesting, hypertargeted campaign, described in the Wall Street Journal. The first line of the article is “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.” Unisys is after very large contracts, and because of that has a very well-defined list of sales targets. It's worth it for them to do something out of the ordinary to get the attention of high-level decision-makers and bypass various gatekeepers. They even did research in the likely commuting trip of the CEOs they are attempting to influence, buying ads and billboards along those routes. This is data base marketing. The list is only 20 records long. We're used to thinking of data base marketing in grander terms than that, when the opportunities might be in much smaller situations.

Every item mentioned above hides an opportunity for print. Mobile media deploys content from print customers in unique ways. They need to deploy that content efficiently and manage it effectively. The change in peak times of viewership is a sign that all traditional rules of thumb for all media are subject to change and rethinking. Are we part of those discussions? How do content providers influence media choice and participate in those new media-use venues? How fluent are we in aiding our clients to use other media? Since you don't know where or when information will be needed or accessed, you have to work to be everywhere in a context that supports the goals and objectives of the communication campaign. That brochure that we print, with all of its core elements of data files, design layout, and raw content, is a springboard to other media. It's time to look at things differently if we haven't already. We're not in the communications business. We're in the deployment business. Are we up for the challenge?

Serious Magic
Canadian newspaper
and its video broadcast
Network TV adapting to streaming video
What Sticks
Wall Street Journal article on Unisys

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Free Downloads: Latest Reports About Media Use

Arbitron has a free report about Internet and media use that is highly recommended. Consumers use of “on-demand” media like the Internet increased sharply, and they now consider cell phones and broadband Internet access the most “life-changing” new technologies. Households with broadband Internet access now significantly outnumber those with dial-up, 13% of consumers now having three or more working computers in their homes. Given a choice between never using the Internet or never watching TV, 4 in 10 would now choose to keep the Internet and eliminate television. These changes, of course, ripple through to print, especially to young consumers. A recent USA Today report described the college campus life of “digital natives” the generation that has not known a time without the Internet... and they'll be in the workforce soon and making media decisions. It's essential our industry be prepared for them.

B2B businesses are now placing 40% of their purchases of goods and materials online. That's according to a press release by Abacus, a division of DoubleClick. The executive summary is available for free download. According to the company “...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.'” These trends are also aiding in the adoption of Web2Print technologies.

The Newspaper Next project of the American Press Institute has released a worthwhile report, titled “Blueprint for Transformation.” Go to this address, fill out the form, and you can download a PDF at no charge. The situation analysis and the “game plan” sections are well done, and have direct parallels to print. The difference is that commercial printers do not create content... but their customers do, and that's where the opportunities are. The report introduction says “Successful new business models are emerging, providing new ways to get and give information, buy and sell, create and maintain relationships, and convene communities. Many of these offerings supplant traditional newspaper functions, adding new dimensions of value, convenience and interactivity. Consumers and advertisers are eagerly adopting these new solutions to get key jobs done in their lives. The innovators creating these solutions are seeing dizzying growth rates. Why can’t newspaper companies do the same? Newspaper Next’s conclusion: They can – but not without dramatic changes in the way they think, the strategies they adopt and the innovation processes they use.” Sound familiar?

What does the commercial printing industry do to reposition itself in the modern media world? Two recent “Dr. Joe” columns from have been moved from their premium to free access side so that more industry executives can access them. The first discusses what needs to be done on an industry basis, and the second reviews what print business owners need to do. The idea for the two-column commentary started when a media advisor said at a conference of leading corporate marketers and communicators: “print can be a legitimate spinoff of the web.” There it was; those nine words put the media shift in full perspective. Print had a run of 500 years of world-changing participation, and now its relegated to being a “spinoff.” This will not change. The first step to adapting is to recognize that electronic media are here to stay, and we have to start aggressively using it ourselves.

USA Today report
press release - Abacus
executive summary - Abacus
Blueprint for Transformation
first WTT article
second WTT article

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