Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"When a management attains the company's objectives, it should always ask seriously, 'What is our business?' This requires self-discipline and responsibility. The alternative is decline." Peter Drucker

Sphere has gone live this morning (V1.5). Congrats, bravo and cheers to CEO Tony Conrad and crew. Tony has jumped out of stealth, fresh out of beta...into the live world of blog search. Sphere is a welcome addition, go play! The Sphere It! Bookmarklet is cool; a search widget for typepad is also on offer, check out their tools here and tips here.

Al Ries has written a good column on the halo effect ("What Apple's iPod and Motorola's Razr Can Teach Us"). Al says...

"Focusing your marketing message on a single word or concept has been our mantra for years. But taking this idea one step further can also produce dramatic results. To cut through the clutter in today's overcommunicated society, place your marketing dollars on your best horse. Then let that product or service serve as a halo effect for the rest of the line."

"The halo effect has a long history in marketing. In 1930, Michael Cullen created the first supermarket chain which he called "King Kullen." His breakthrough idea was his method of pricing. He decided to price 300 items at cost. Another 300 items barely above costs. And the remaining 600 or so items at very healthy margins. Guess which items he chose to advertise?The ones he sold at cost. What you advertise and what you make money on can be two different things."

Bravo Al! The column via AdAge here

Last week's NAB was the best ever. Enjoyed seeing Kurt Hanson at his RAIN Las Vegas Summit (very cool), recaps here and here. Nice to run into programming guru Alan Sneed and the young turk of brokerage Todd Fowler while having another amazing dinner at Bartolotta in the Wynn resort. Great to see Dwight and Virginia Case at the Pioneer breakfast - Dwight's acceptance was perfect (as usual). Over 700,000 sq feet of exhibit space, a strong lineup of speakers/sessions, a very well run event. Congrats to David Rehr and his staff on an excellent show. LR's Cory puts up points made in his well done NAB/RTNDA offering here

Anthony Lilley has written a fine piece in MediaGuardian...

"The biggest change in audience behaviour is that for much of the time, the folk out there have stopped being an "audience" at all. They are, increasingly, members of various communities and some of the time they listen and talk to the BBC.

The BBC clearly understands this idea. It's shot through Thompson's speech. But acting on it goes further than putting new media on an equal level to radio and TV. This is the BBC's main problem. Once a broadcaster, always a broadcaster. We don't need the BBC's permission to talk among ourselves and we don't need to do it on the BBC's (virtual) premises.

If there's one thing that really differentiates so-called "new media" folk from our brethren in "established" media, it's our version of the idea of control. Google knows that you don't need to control everything. You provide, in its case, the best search service and use it as a platform to become a key player online. From the rhetoric, the BBC gets this. It just doesn't seem to be able to resist going too far.

It appears determined to keep "audiences" within the confines of the BBC. But to do this, it plans to expand its means of delivery into every new area of media, and without questioning whether this is a) desirable or b) what the BBC is for. So we have the BBC developing search software. Is there a market failure in search engines? Not last time I looked. And take the idea that BBC Online should become the best place to publish the work of unsigned bands. Now, the BBC can be brilliant at discovering and drawing attention to unsigned bands, in the long tradition of John Peel. But the idea that it can't do this without having some virtual equivalent of every band playing on the forecourt of Broadcasting House is the worst kind of dotcommery. As is the BBC's intention to redesign its homepage to "exploit the functionality of" things like Flickr, YouTube et al. The same is true of what's been reported as the plan to build a public-service version of MySpace." Read on here (rr) - Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the tip.

Writing in this morning's WSJ Amy Schatz says the Bells failed to get their national video franchise language into the first draft of Sen. Ted Stevens's telecom-rewrite. His draft also puts the issue of "net neutrality" into Mr Martin's shop...the FCC. Amy says two hearings ahead and markup, maybe, after the Memorial Day recess. Important stuff that deserves your attention. Contact your member of congress and weigh in, more info here . Kevin Drum provides a solid overview on the net neutrality issues here.

"In spite of email’s universal success (as a collaboration tool), and in spite of its many good traits, email contains deep, inherent flaws that force users and markets to seek alternatives to collaborating via email." Bonus - Isaac Garcia writes of The Bad in Email here. Also read his previous post The Good in Email here.

MediaNews to become the fourth-largest US dead tree co (by circ) as a result of the deal with McClatchy. More info via LA Times here.

Landon Parvin, the former Reagan speechwriter, was the creative force behind the Double Dubyas at the WHCA dinner...backstory, including the "rule" Stephen Colbert ignored here.

From Lee Abrams' blog...

"THERE ARE NO NEW IDEAS IN RADIO. Correct—that’s why WE have to create them. Time to tear down the walls…burn the old playbook and create radio for 2006." Bravo Lee, totally agreed

The first follow-on to my writing on David Lee Roth and CBS Radio coming later today.