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Who Says Advertising Has Lost Its Creativity? March 30, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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A quick history lesson, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

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Doesn’t it seem all downhill since 1969?

(No, Todd, I’m not slyly referring to music.)

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“Niche” Cable Nets: Confusing “Niche” with “Dumb Niche” March 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I usually like the Journal’s “Small Screen” column from Joe Flint, but today’s seems a bit off-base. The thesis is that formerly niche cable networks are selling their souls for a more mainstream audience. The article’s corollary is that consolidation of their parent companies is the reason.

    The cable-television industry, after years of trying to lure viewers with niche channels, now is moving squarely in the opposite direction. Throughout the business, once-narrowly defined networks are being reformatted to attract what advertisers say they want: bigger, younger audiences. As more channels pursue the same viewers, the end result is often a homogenization of programming that serves neither the viewer nor the advertiser.

I think it’s subtler — or maybe simpler — than that. Flint doesn’t talk much about the truly successful cable nets. That would be ESPN, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central. They stayed true to their audiences, if not their original programming diet. (Flint does admit that SciFi, Food Network, and Home & Garden are remaining “pure.”)

I think what’s happening is that the networks that had lousy niches are broadening: the story tabs G4, Outdoor Life Network, The Learning Channel, A&E, and Bravo. (For some reason, he picks on Discovery, too, which programs pretty much the way it always has — as Flint notes — and, oops, is successful.) Oh, and Lifetime. Yeah, “women,” that’s a “niche.” Take a look at the others: 24 hours of videogame content? hunting? education? pretentious but still middlebrow artsy?

Yeah, advertisers would line up for those “audiences.”

As to the corollary, well, there’s just no consistency in the argument. Both the successful nets and the formerly-niche-but-now-homogenized networks are all owned by the same group of conglomerates. In fact, some of the changed strategies coincided with ownership changes.

There’s no trend in this trend analysis.

Please End this Tired Google Trope March 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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One would have thought we were done with the “Google as child who has to grow up” meme. Aparently not. Enough already. Heck, Google’s practically the most important company in the universe. You know, more or less.

    “It’s sad,” said Esther Dyson, editor of the technology newsletter Release 1.0 and former chairwoman of Icann, a nonprofit group that plays a role in Internet administration. “The kids are growing up. They’ve lost youth and innocence. Now they have to start being grown-ups and playing at least to some extent by grown-up rules.”

Career-Limiting Move Number Oh, I Give Up Counting March 27, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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My ultimate boss thinks content is king, and suggests Google and Yahoo duke it out for Dow Jones. I humbly suggest audience is king in “commodity” content (news, stock quotes, aggregating others’ content, etc. etc.). Regular readers know the Wall Street Journal is my favorite newspaper. But why would Yahoo or Google want it?

Content is king in entertainment. But owning a movie studio, or a record label, is too risky, since entertainment means fickle audience and even more fickle artists.

I guess audience is king for just about everything. That, and golfing with the right media buyers.

Now, I’m going back to watching the best show on TV: “24” which is produced by Fox’s TV studio and broadcast on Fox’s network, the one owned by the smartest man in media, that’s promoting the heck out of “The Sentinel” that also stars Kiefer Sutherland, and is produced by 20th Century Fox. Gee, maybe this vertical integration I usually dismiss actually works sometimes….

Gray Lady vs. Internet, Part XLII March 26, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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What does boolean logic have to do with literacy? A Times op-ed piece suggests online search is responsible for a decline in reading skills. Absolutely absurd. Librarian skills, maybe, but that’s not literacy. I think what the author is actually arguing is that popular results are less academic, accurate, or literate. Good thing those Times staff columnists aren’t available to the masses!

    Google modestly declares its mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But convenience may be part of the problem. In the Web’s early days, the most serious search engine was AltaVista. To use it well, a searcher had to learn how to construct a search statement, like, say, “Engelbert Humperdinck and not Las Vegas” for the opera composer rather than the contemporary singer. It took practice to produce usable results. Now, thanks to brilliant programming, a simple query usually produces a first page that’s at least adequate — “satisficing,” as the economist Herbert Simon called it.

Big Media Start-Up vs. Grassroots Network? March 26, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Over the next 2-3 years, I wonder which will have the bigger audience: a hugely funded start-up TV news network that can’t get cable or satellite carriage, or one of the many blog networks? I wouldn’t bet against either, but I’m hard-pressed to pick one over the other.

Worst Practices: MSM Hiring Bad Bloggers March 24, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This is exactly what Big Media should not do in re: little media (bloggers, consumer-created content, etc.). Goodness knows I love WaPo for their aggressive experimentation with the medium, but hiring and then firing a plagiarist is sub-par (that’s a Nic Cage quote). What MSM should do about the upstarts is filter, curate, guide, qualify, comment on, etc. etc. etc.

Wicked Huge Online Ad Spending Forecasts March 24, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I hope Microsoft’s new chief advertising officer, Yusuf Mehdi, isn’t held to his boss’s market targets. According to the latest “leaked” memo, “Analysts predict the online advertising industry will grow to $35B+ by 2008 which creates opportunity for our MSN and Windows Live businesses.” Dunno which analysts Platforms chief Kevin Johnson is reading. US and Western European online advertising combined should hit $22 billion in ’08. Even adding Asia and e-mail marketing wouldn’t go anywhere near $35 billion, not by our reckoning.

Payless Shoes: Hipper than We Thought? March 22, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Yoiks, Payless is using a snippet from Louis XIV’s “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” as background for a TV spot. Ya gotta wonder if the suits actually listened to the whole song. It’s, ummm, less than PC. A lot less. The album cover kinda says it all.

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Don’t blame me, I’m only linking.

Yeah, I admit the album was one of my faves of 2005.

Ugliness — Over and Done With March 22, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Wow, that was fast. Guess we’re dealing with grown-ups.

    Rivals PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. have settled their legal spat over sports-drink advertising…Wednesday, Coke agreed to drop one of the television commercials and modify the other. Gloria Garrett, vice president of hydration for Coke North America, said “our advertising will maintain the central theme of the campaign, which is that Powerade Option has fewer calories than Gatorade. We have agreed to modify the commercials to be clearer that Powerade Option has both fewer calories and less carbohydrate energy than Gatorade.”

Wait, do grown-ups have titles like “vice president of hydration?”