Do kids still read books?

At the January 2008 MacWorld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered up one the dumber observations I think I have ever heard him make. When talking about the Amazon Kindle digital book reader, he predicted its demise because “it doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is people don’t read anymore.”

While that is demonstrably false, the real worry that so many parents have, and I include myself, is that kids don’t read anymore and the internet has hastened the decline and fall of the reading empire. A new study by Scholastic of 5-17 year-olds offers up some encouraging news. 75% of kids in that age range agree with the statement, “No matter what I can do online, I’ll always want to read books printed on paper.”

This gets to the heart of another matter that we have talked about on this blog before and that is the either/or nature of the conversation about the influence of the internet. Either you watch TV or you get your entertainment from the web. Either you read books or you download audiobooks. Either you go to the movies or you download entertainment. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that the internet is more often than not an additive experience. (Or subtractive, I guess, if you are a major media conglomerate.) As this same reading study goes on to say, they found that kids who go online tend to extend the reading experience by going to an author’s website or community of like minded readers.

Everything in life does not have to be winner take all.

Online video vs. Cable- Can anyone win?

It was announced the other day that Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” can now be found on Hulu. (Hulu is the joint venture between NBC and News Corp where you can watch selected episodes of dozens of TV shows online for free. No downloading permitted and there are ads, but, hey…) Viacom, which owns Comedy Central, is the first major network to sign with Hulu since its launch.

Clips of The Daily Show have been available for awhile on for free. All of which got me thinking: what will this mean for cable TV providers? Sticking with the example of Comedy Central for a second, let’s play it out:

Your cable company pays each channel or parent company a carriage fee based on how many subscribers that system has. Those costs are then passed on to you in the form of your insanely high cable bill. (I’m simplifying this, but not a lot.) Now, it is not a stretch to say that “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” are the flagship shows on Comedy Central. I have no idea what their ratings are, but without those two shows, Comedy Central would turn into a test pattern tomorrow. “Mind of Mencia” ain’t keeping the lights turned on over there.

So, imagine you’re Comcast. You are paying Comedy Central a certain fee per month to include that channel in your line up. And then you turn around and find out that they’re giving it away for free. You see where this is going, right? I am not defending cable companies. That is not the point. The point is, we are starting to see the tectonic shift on how content is delivered and what logically follows is how that content is paid for. This is big, folks. And it will have far reaching ramifications.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, look at what the BBC is planning. Holy crap!

Can I add “iTV star” to my resume?

WARNING: Shameless plug, but we really DO love the service.

Today marked the announcement of the new 3G iPhone at  WWDC in San Francisco. Lost in the avalanche of media coverage of this new device was another story about a service that we really like called MediaSilo.

We found out about it after NAB in 2007 and it has really helped us a lot in our business. Essentially, it is a way to streamline the video editing and approval process with clients who either are unwilling or unable to sit in an edit session due to time constraints or geography. For us, with so many clients outside of our base of Miami, it has proven to be a godsend as it tackles the problems of time zone differences, uploading and downloading huge video files and approvals.

Here’s a little video of me talking about their service that can be found on their blog. This product is not for everyone, but for those of you in the video production business, I am not sure how we ever got along without it.

iPhone, schmiPhone. THIS is the video everyone’s gonna be talking about. (OK, maybe not so much…)

More on the marketing secret you probably don’t know

"Viral" is the new holy grail of marketing. Leaving aside for a moment that the idea of creating a viral campaign is akin to making a note in your agenda like, "3:00-3:15 p.m. Be spontaneous," I did want to share a brilliant piece of advertising for a company called Similar to Hotwire or other such services, they sell last minute plane tickets, theater tickets, spa packages, etc. This piece was created by London-based Rubber Republic.

In our last post, we talked about content being the most cost effective and meaningful way to connect with users. Give them something of value BEYOND the 30-second spot, and watch what happens. This is a concrete example of what we're talking about. Why does it work? I think for two main reasons. First, it does not claim to be something it's not, so it passes the authenticity test. The beginning of the video clearly explains that this was done with hidden cameras and actors. At the end, there is a tag that shows the name of the company and what they're selling. By the time the video is over, however, you are dying for the payoff. The second reason it works is because it's relevant to what is being advertised. It is theater about going to the theater. (Or should I write "theatre.")

The lesson for advertisers and marketers is the one we talk about non-stop: be relevant and be authentic. As of this writing, this video has been viewed on YouTube less than 170,000 times. Check back at the end of the month and let's see where that number is.

The marketing secret you probably don’t know

The competition for eyes, ears and wallets is more fierce everyday. In this blog, we often talk about the migration of all three of those things to the web. But the challenge is, as Kurt Cobain so brilliantly put it, “Here we are now. Entertain us!”

Savvy marketers are starting to figure out that engagement comes from creating quality content. Not from commercials, sales pitches, or top-down blogs or podcasts that pretend to be authentic. The secret is to build loyalty solving problems or providing services that do not NECESSARILY relate back to your core business in a straight line. (We’ll talk more about this in future posts, or you can check out our podcast for more details.)

Enter online media in the form of an audio or video podcast. Entities as diverse as BMW,, the Los Angeles Opera and even (ahem) Clearcast Digital Media have all figured this out. Marketing budgets seldom allow for TV campaigns, which are ephemeral, at best. But hear this: we are not talking about campaigns, we are talking about STRATEGIES. They’re long term, they’re lower cost and they last (virtually) forever.

We decided a long time ago that we were going to try and add value and cut through the clutter by providing valuable information that was useful to current clients, potential clients and casual observers. By exploiting our passion for new media, technology and production, we regularly publish this blog and its companion podcast for two reasons, one altruistic and one purely commercial. On the one hand, we LOVE talking about this stuff, analyzing it, trying to predict where things are going and trying to help our readers and listeners understand why they should care. On the other hand, we realize that by establishing our thought leadership, we become a considered source for that client who is looking to take the new media/social media plunge, but might not be sure how to get started.

We will talk a lot more about this in the future because I am convinced that this is the best way forward for marketers large and small. The cost of entry is much lower than a traditional offline media play, and the upside is limitless.

Too Lijit to quit?

We made a couple of housekeeping improvements to make the blog a bit more useful. TypePad, our blogging software, has added a few new fonts and features, among them they have made it possible for links to open in a separate window. Like most good bloggers, we provide lots of links in our posts, but this way you won't navigate away from us every time you click a link. We want to keep you around for as long as possible and we like anything that makes the layout prettier and more useful.

On that subject, thanks to our pal Jason Falls, the Social Media Explorer, who told us about Lijit, which does a couple of cool things rather well. Chief among them, it offers robust search within our blog. We have 100+ posts and trying to find what you're looking for can be a little tough. Another thing it does well is create what I would call a "trust tree." (They don't call it that, but they can steal it if they like it.) If you click on "Explore" you will see a matrix of other blogs in my network, the assumption being that if you're a fan of my blog, you might also like these other ones. Finally, there are little chicklets that represent all the places you can find me online so you can follow me on Twitter, friend me up on Facebook, see my history on LinkedIn or watch some videos we've produced on YouTube. Find their widget over on the right hand side, just beneath the "Email me" link.

I'm just getting started with it, but I think it is a cool little tool. Tell me what you think. Or better yet, tell Lijit what you think and install it on your blog if you like it. They make it pretty simple to do. Not a major overhaul, but we hope you like the changes.

Social media is stupid

When you work so closely in the world of blogs, social media apps, new media, etc., there is a
tendency to get lost in the echo chamber. We all spend so much time staying on top of what’s new both for our own sakes as well as to be able to provide reasoned and educated solutions for our clients. Yet so often, many of us are still met with the same kind of resistance, skepticism and just plain lack of understanding when we venture out into the real world. I wrote awhile back how we, as podcasters, had made the mistake of going a little ga-ga over all the tools available to us and taking our eye of the ball of “why is this new medium a game changer for our clients?” When you take your car to be fixed, you don’t really care what the mechanic had to do to get rid of that pinging sound. You just want it gone. That’s how your clients feel, too. They don’t want or need to see how the sausage is made.

There was a great post on Read/Write/Web last week about using social media for social change. Blogging for the victims of the Chinese earthquake, supporting social causes on Facebook and MySpace, using YouTube to promote charities and using your mobile phone to spread news and effect change were just some of the suggestions. The point is, the only limit to the uses for social media are your imagination.

The next time I get the eye roll, exhale and 1000-yard stare about how dumb blogging, Twitter and YouTube are, I plan on removing this arrow from my quiver.


TV viewership down- and it will stay down

The television upfronts concluded in New York last week and the news was sobering. Six million viewers seem to have vanished and it is unclear if they’re coming back. Back in January, right here on this very blog, we predicted that viewers who were alienated by the writers’ strike might not come back they way they did after the previous writers’ strike. The Business Day headline from the May 12 New York Times wondered “In the Age of Tivo and Web Video, What is Prime Time?” And finally, FOX Entertainment head Peter Ligouri had this clear eyed assessment of the state of prime time TV: “But we should all look at what happened to those viewership levels and be shocked into being more aggressive about our thinking.”

The revolution is being televised. Just not on TV.

Minorities and New Media

I have been hearing a lot lately about how minorities are huge consumers of new media. An interesting study from BIGresearch was revelatory.

Their survey of nearly 16,000 participants showed, among other things, that minorities have a higher regular usage of new media than whites and they are more likely to use iPods, text messaging, play videogames, IM and watch videos on cell phones.

President of BIGresearch, Gary Drenik says, “Minorities are using new media in higher percentages, providing marketers with unique opportunities to create specific marketing plans that integrate non-traditional media options into their digital ad strategy.”

Drilling down even deeper, online Hispanics, independent of their language and acculturation levels, are heavily engaged in technology. Hispanic-American internet usage is greater than that of the general US population.

Last time I checked, all money spends the same, no matter who is spending it.

Create value, print money

The fifth and final episode in our podcast series about how to best employ the myriad new media tools that are at your disposal is fresh out of the oven.

We try and give you some actionable tips, a couple of good book recommendations and some guidance on how to make your marketing voice heard.

Subscribe in iTunes, or listen right here on the blog