Month: March 2010

The New Semester Begins Now


For a number of months, I have been sharing with you courses, panels, seminars, workshops, etc. that I have found to be worth my attending. Perhaps you do too. Well, the list was getting quite long, so I think it’s time to unwrap a new notebook, as it were:

[I have moved the upcoming events to a more recent posting.]

Recently Attended:

The 10 Laws of Enduring Success.” An exclusive one-on-one interview with Maria Bartiromo. Sobel Media, Wednesday, March 31, 7pm. Samsung Experience, NYC.

Everyone wants to attain success. But what is success? How do you get it, and how do you keep it? The events of recent years have prompted many of us to rethink our definition of success. In “The 10 Laws of Enduring Success,” Maria Bartiromo shares personal insights developed on the front-lines of the financial crisis, as well as ideas from in-depth interviews with notable Americans, including Condoleezza Rice, Joe Torre, Bill Gates, Jack Welch, and Goldie Hawn. “The 10 Laws of Enduring Success,” will be released on March 30th. Catch her on The Today Show with Matt Lauer on March 31st, then join her in person with us at The Samsung Experience for an exclusive one-on-one conversation with Frank Radice.

Wharton, University Pennsylvania Interactive Retailing 2010 Conference. Tuesday, March 23, 8am-3pm. Macy’s Herald Square.

Keynote Speaker: Mindy Grossman

The internet opened up a new channel of distribution for retailers. Now, social networking, online communities and mobile commerce have the ability to transform the industry yet again. To be effective and impactful these new tools must have the flexibility required by retailers: interactivity, ease of use and the ability to influence buying behaviors.

What are the potential opportunities and challenges for retailers who embrace these new technologies?
When should you embrace them?

Can the industry effectively utilize new e-commerce tools to improve their business models and drive sales?
What are the most promising technologies on the horizon?

These are just some of the topics that will be discussed as retail industry executives and academics meet as the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative and Wharton Interactive Media Initiative present INTERACTIVE RETAILING 2010. This conference will focus on existing technologies that work and how to synergize emerging technologies to position your firm for the future

The Changing Economics of News and Print Media. Thursday, March 4th, 2010.

An intimate dinner and interactive conversation with media thought leaders to discuss the future of internet and social technologies and their impact on the changing economics of news and print media. How internet and social technologies have irreversibly changed the economics of news and print, and the implications for traditional and emerging media businesses: (a) Consumer consumption habits and trends across multiple platforms, (b) Crowd-sourcing, citizen journalists, and the cost of content creation, and (c) Aggregated vs. reported, free vs. pay.

(Excellent discussion.)

Social is the Next Search: Is Your Site Ready? Thursday, March 4th, 2010. 2-3pm ECT. Free webinar by Gigya

(Excellent presentation, materials, best practice examples)

Shorty Awards. Wednesday, March 3, 2010. NYC – via Livestream from The New York Times Center.

The Shorty Awards are unique awards for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community. Online voting is public and democratic, culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 26 official categories as well as those in crowd-sourced ones.

(Of course TweetDeck won.)

OMMA (Online Media, Marketing and Advertising) Behavioral conference. February 25, 2010. NYC

OMMA (Online Media, Marketing and Advertising) Metrics and Measurement conference. February 24, 2010. NYC

Multichannel News Advanced Advertising: The Future Is Now. Monday, February 22, 2010. NYC

Uncorking Gary Vaynerchuk: an in-depth interview with Ellis Henican of Newsday and Fox News. Sobel Media. Wednesday, February 17, 2010. NYC

Eventcamp 2010. Saturday, February 6th, 2010. NYC

EventCamp 2010 was the first industry gathering of its kind, offering an intimate and low cost alternative to the large annual conference and allowing attendees the option to generate their own content, encouraging participation and allowing for a more interactive environment. Approximately half the session topics were be pre-determined, and aimed to assist planners in utilizing social media and technology in event and meeting planning, execution, business development and networking. All levels of Social Media, Technology, and Event enthusiasts are welcome and encouraged! There were Social Media and Technology rockstars on hand to help participants get started or answer questions.

Whole Foods Market Presents: Afternoon Snack. A New York New Food Media Panel as part of Social Media Week. Friday, February 5th, 2010. NYC

Unleashing Social Media on the Sports World, hosted by the New York Times as part of Social Media Week. Friday, February 5th, 2010. NYC

Crowdsourcing, hosted by the New York Times as part of Social Media Week. Friday, February 5th, 2010. NYC

Is The Future F#cked? – a part of Social Media Week. Thursday, February 4, 2010. NYC.

The Prince of Silicon Valley: Frank Quattrone and the Dot-Com Bubble. Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010. NYC

Before subprime housing melted down in 2008, there was the dot-com bubble and meltdown a decade earlier. The Pied Piper of the Internet bubble was Frank Quattrone, the era’s most successful banker. From Cisco to Netscape to Amazon, he took some of the biggest names in technology public. In 1999 and 2000, his group at Credit Suisse led the most hot initial public offerings, which lifted the entire stock market to record heights. Take a walk down Wall Street with Randall Smith, an award-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal, whose articles chronicled the investigations of Quattrone’s firm by
regulators and federal prosecutors. Quattrone’s 2004 conviction for obstruction of justice was overturned in 2006, and the banker recently returned to the securities business. Smith will share the tale of a Wall Street Icarus who flew too close to the sun, an absorbing noir detective story of those investigations and trials. His book, The Prince of Silicon Valley, traces Quattrone’s rise from the back streets of South Philadelphia to the peak of finance as the highest paid banker on Wall Street. (This was my event.)

Early Check In – with foursquare


In July 2009, I wrote an entry called “Who’s Tweeting Now” that chronicled various observations about a new rage called “Twitter.” Yes, that was less than a year ago. Twitter was hitting public awareness with a bang, and I was being asked by social media skeptics how this new obsession could possibly be useful. So, I decided to string together short Twitter observations into “macro” blog entry.

Now, eight months later, and one year after its launch, foursquare is beginning to penetrate public consciousness. The first week in February, I was asked by a client to pull together some social media elements to be incorporated into a proposal for a B2B financial services client seeking to improve the impact, effectiveness and engagement of its trade show marketing. I did some research into whether this marketer’s clients have smart phones and use digital media and whether other major B2B players use Twitter (and Facebook). My initial finding was that this audience was not the iPhone carrying Gowalla using audience that those in NYC might think are the American norm. Some trade show organizers were experimenting with hash tags, and a number of B2B companies had huge numbers of Twitter followers – and even Facebook fans, but my sense was that the social media aspects of this campaign needed to be relatively simple.

I recommended therefore, a number of ways for the marketer to use Twitter – before, during and after each show. And I gave them overall guidance as to how to develop, maintain and optimize their Twitter presence. That done, my client and I decided to go for it, to be crazy, and to incorporate location-based social media into the equation. I looked into developing a mobile application either independently or in conjunction with the trade shows, themselves. But this was really too aggressive. It meant developing an application and then getting trade show participants to adopt it. In other words, it required creating a market. Not easy.

So, why not foursquare? An existing application, with a growing adoption rate and functionality that allowed us to incorporate our promotions and marketing into the existing framework. See, for example, what Intel did at the Consumer Electronics Show. See also what your local retailers are doing. And look at the pop up recommendations that Bill Sobel has left for those who use foursquare in and around New York’s upper west side.

I developed the plan and incorporated it into the deck. After finalizing the deck, I called my client to discuss next steps. One of the things he asked for was a more in depth conversation about foursquare so that he could better understand and represent the concept to his customer. Joe, I said (I call all my clients Joe…), keep your eye on this thing – this foursquare. Your client may think it’s niche or obscure now, but six months from now, they’ll note how ahead of the curve we were. The bigger foursquare gets, the more appropriate our recommendations will be, and since the customer’s program is ongoing, they can incorporate it at any time.

There is something about it that is very reminiscent of Facebook back in 2006. Friends and relatives thought I was crazy, or at least, eccentric, when I joined Facebook. (One even said that it was “sad” that I had to go online for friendship…) When I joined there were 6 million people on Facebook. Today, there are close to 400 million – including all those friends and relatives I mentioned. (As of this week, Facebook consistently attracts more daily visitors than Google – CNET.) In 2006 – and even today – there are those who can’t imagine why you would want to share private or personal information about what you are doing online. Today, they are scared of the risks of posting information about where you are into a public mobile ethersphere. There are even spoof sites that beckon thieves to “rob me now” when your foursquare status (geotag) shows you are away from home. The number of foursquare participants is low, but the passion of those using it is high. (In actuality, foursquare reached 500,000 participants this week – March 19th, up from 400,000 last week due to intensive guerilla marketing efforts at South by Southwest last weekend.)

Yesterday, I called my client to check in (not in a foursquare sort of way, just a phone call). The first thing he said was that since we had spoken, he had seen and heard about foursquare over and over in the press. It wasn’t gradual, and it didn’t take six months. It was immediate.

My heart began to beat as I observed the amount of hype this new trend is getting – fast. And so, the question arises again, “how can this new obsession be used – and why?”

Now, I wear a number of hats. I am a “user” – of media, that is. I am a consultant to media and entertainment clients. And I am a consultant to marketers. So, my introduction to foursquare posed at least three sets of questions.

First, how and why should I use it? How can I improve my life by joining foursquare?

Second, what’s the plan for Dennis Crowley, founder of foursquare, and his partners? How are they going to monetize this? And, wow, these guys have something hot with a lot of potential. Oh and how might Apple limit or enhance this potential – specifically, Apple recently announced that they would not allow hyper-local advertising on their platform. Uh oh, that seems limiting.

Third, how can marketers exploit this great new technology, growing social trend and incredible treasure trove of consumer behavior information? And in using the word “marketer,” I reference a huge range of players, from your local ice cream shop to the Bravo network (“America’s Top Chef” program) to major global marketing brands.

And fourth, how can other constituents partner with and leverage foursquare. For example, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina and announced foursquare programs this December; and Zagat announced a content partnership shortly thereafter.

And so it goes that I must take up the mouse again – to create a repository of foursquare marketing uses that I observe, identify and generate…

Be sure to check in to see what I uncover.

Is Watching TV a "Yesterday" Thing To Do?


When I consume my video media, I like to be sitting in my livingroom, with my MacBook Air in front of me, my iPhone within easy reach, a bottle of water nearby and some kind of food at the ready. Yesterday I watched the Shorty awards on my laptop, and it was tiring. The day before I watched “Up” on my 15” LCD screen, and it was suboptimal. When I watch TV, I want to lean back. I want to unwind. I want to give my eyes, maybe not a rest, but a change of scenery.

So when people say that livingroom TV watching is going away, that “Gen Y” does not watch television, and that their behavior will take over our world in the not too distant future – 3D TV be damned, I don’t fully buy it.

As someone who considers myself to be a “young [insert age here].” I do feel somewhat embarrassed saying this out loud. Is it because I straddle two generations – as a Gen Xer tucked between young Boomers and the seemingly endless millennial generation? Well, tonight I had an epiphany! It didn’t actually come to me organically but was vaulted at me by a very self-confident HBS I-Banker, who by the way, had no idea what FourSquare was and was irate to find that it did not come up in his Droid app store when he typed in “4.” But I digress.

This erudite MBA pointed out to me that, as someone who often works at home, I am in a unique sub-segment of the population. So the rule that “people watch tv on the best screen option available to them” is not completely false. It’s just that I typically have a better screen available to me than my office- and classroom-tethered brethren. Hmmmm… Duh.

Calling a Spade a Spade at the OMMA Behavioral Conference


Thursday of last week was a messy, mushy wet day here in New York City, but the ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, home of the OMMA Behavioral conference, was warm and comfortable. That is, until Rishad Tobaccowala of Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi gave us all a tough talking to.

His theme: collaboration – and our lack thereof.

“We believe we’re in a share game when we’re in a growth industry,” he said. We fight tooth and nail for $1.2 billion while overlooking $240 billion that is “lying there.” We need to focus, he said, on the customer, not on each other.

So what is it the customer wants? Six things:

Clients want:

(1) Continuous Improvement
(2) Service
(3) Collaboration

How do we score?

(1) Continuous improvement: We pass!

(2) Service: Well, that’s a 50% score

(3) Collaboration…. “We do this horribly.”

Leave it to Rishad to say out loud what we all know to be true, particularly from the client’s perspective. Clients are faced, he said, with a choice between best of breed agencies, that don’t play well together or a mediocre but collaborative combination of vendors.

Most sobering, Rishad wrapped it up by saying that these are the requirements that determine whether an agency stays or goes: “You get fired for these things,” he said.

The spade that Rishad called a spade is something that has surprised and perplexed me – particularly when looking at the situation from the client’s point of view. The client wants an overarching look at how its marketing dollars are working. But an increasingly common refrain is: “We can’t get access to that data because it belongs to an agency that is not part of our group.” Craziness… but hard to fix.

How are clients fixing it? They’re taking it in house. “Clients are much smarter today than they were 5 years ago,” he said. “They are taking a lot of things in house to avoid the drama.”

Rishad brought this up in response to my question about how we can address this problem in the short term. And I’ve had it corroborated by recruiters looking for agency people to work directly for advertisers. Uh oh, if we don’t play well together, we’re going to have our very expensive toys taken away from us.

So that’s why agencies get fired. Why do they get hired? What can we do to catch the eye of a prospective client? As is often the case today, the answer came in “I’s” – three “I’s.” They are: (4) Insights, (5) Inspiration and (6) Ideas. Sounds sexy.

So… how are we doing? The story starts well:

(4) Insights: What industry is better suited to provide insights, Rishad exclaimed. Good point (if we do it right, of course…).

(5) Inspiration: Maybe not so good. Eloquent as always, Rishad explained, “We give perspiration, desperation, hallucination…” but not inspiration. Well, that’s a bummer

(6) Ideas: [hmmm.. I’ll have to go back to the recording to see what he said on this topic].

As I said, at the end of Rishad’s uplifting talk, I asked what we could do in the short term. His response:

Treat people like people. “If you are answering a question with PowerPoint slides,” he said, “you have already lost. Take your clients out to a drink and recognize that they are actually people.”

And with that, I’m tempted to put my keyboard down and get a drink but…. the last bit of what Rishad said was intriguing. “All of TV,” he said,” is going to get like digital.” Hmmm, that may be coming but not in the immediate future. Though… I must say that the satellite providers are offering some very cool interactivity with respect to remote DVR programming. This is how they differentiate themselves, and they are ahead of the curve. They are not tethered by a patchwork of acquired cable providers and corresponding remote controls.

And, he said, if the iPad succeeds, it will be the same for magazines.

Food – and drink for thought.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock. The Digital Clock.


Tick tock, tick tock. I’m back on the clock.

What does it mean when a man includes this in his dating profile:

“I’m tired of playing games.”

What does it mean? I’m going to ask…

I can’t help it, this blog writes itself:

Headline: “your best friend and lover”

Opening line: “My name is Mark. I’m a vivid camper and hiker.”

Our educational system has failed us.

Finding My Digital Identity


This blog posting came up in a recent discussion of Four Square and whether I am an influencer of some kind, so I thought I’d bring it back up into the light of day. It was originally posted April 21st, 2009.

I was born into the television generation. I cannot deny it. Much of my childhood was spent watching reruns of “MASH” and “Gilligan’s Island.” And I once asked Carol Burnett to air her show earlier in the evening because my mother wouldn’t let me stay up to watch it. (Ms. Burnett did write back to me, but did not reschedule her show.) These were the days of purely linear television. Do you remember? Even before VCRs with their flashing clocks that were so annoying to program.

And thus, I will never be a digital native. I cannot run for president of our digital nation. But yet, my identity is in flux. In 1985, while I was still watching shows like “LA Law,” I was also using instant messaging and e-mail via a proprietary system used within IBM, where I worked during summer vacations. At the end of that summer, I bought my first personal computer, an IBM PC with floppy drives and an amber (or green?) screen.

In 1993, I discovered e-mail, and my friends soon learned that to communicate with me effectively, they needed to follow suit. In 1994, I purchased a Motorola cell phone after running out of gas on the Merritt Parkway, hiking up a snowy hill and knocking on people’s doors asking to use their phone to call AAA. Can you even imagine that today! Cell phones would have ruined “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

In 1994, I also worked with a stroke victim, helping him use a software program that enabled him to turn mouse movements into spoken words. I also wrote e-mails for him that traveled through an extremely clunky internet client. In 1995, my employer had to add an additional server to handle the e-mail volume produced by me and one of the firm’s partners.

In 2003, I joined “Friendster!” (Ugh) and sometime thereafter “MySpace,” where my niece let me become her friend – something that will not be repeated on Facebook now that she is a teenager.

At the beginning of 2006, I signed on to FaceBook as one of two people in my college class. The social network had 7.5 million users at the time. (Yes, you read that correctly; that is in contrast to today’s number – February 2010 – of 400 million users.) I urged my client – a leading business magazine – to utilize FaceBook, which was just starting to experiment with sponsored programs. In fact, I recommended that they seize what turned out to be a “do it or lose it” opportunity to create a branded FaceBook for MBA students.

To sum things up, I have deemed myself an “early settler and highly assimilated digital immigrant.” Perhaps I can become governor of Motorati Island.