Friday, December 30, 2005

"The important thing is to identify 'the future that has already happened' - and to develop a methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes." Peter Drucker

"The future exists today. It's just unevenly distributed." William Gibson

Time to mark thirty and put this blog to bed for 2005. Some random notes.

Love him or not Mel is so money. Look for Mel to make more great copy next year as he continues to gin up the street on subscription media. Expect Howard to stage the most outrageous and creative stunts of his career...the MSM will eat this up and provide continuous team least one member of congress will not be amused; comments and actions by members of congress and the FCC, in response to no more than three wackjob constituents, will serve as the accelerant which generates the biggest press of Howard's career. The pace of sub sales while hot in Q1, decline in Q2. Mel signs a seven figure deal involving inventory within podcasts, online streaming, online ads and live/recorded reads on the Howard channels. The business press will write this up as the moment podcasting became commercially viable. The always amazing Karmazin does get a deal done with Apple - not satradio on iPods but Howard on iTunes. Mel will continue to successfully dodge the real issue - how many actual users (listeners) vs number of subscribers.

The Arbitron PPM data will serve to explode one industry myth after another. The data will prove, without reservation, pledge drives to be harmful to the health of pubcasters. Public radio and TV stations will be forced to admit...almost everything they know is wrong. Commercial radio programmers will face the challenge of a generation...getting people to actually listen...the skill sets developed in targeting the diary and recall will prove to be way less than adequate.
Yergin's Westinghouse Nu Math becomes the rage as reach comes into vogue.

Microsoft Vista will be a success. v2 and v3, as ever, will be much better. Mr Softy will also lead the "reinvention" of interactive ad markets albeit in starts and stops. Redmond will take the lead in a revolution among MSOs introducing a suite of very cool set top box apps. EPG will come into its own in 2007.

Having significant capital committed and not acquiring the ABC Radio assets, a private equity group will acquire a major radio group not now nor previously for sale.

Battery life will continue to hold back major innovation in handheld devices. The handset market, especially telephony/data will have a good year next year but a truly great 2007.

A couple of broadcasting's bold faced names will suddenly "retire" having tired of the almost impossible tasks associated with being public in another slow growth year.

One of the three business cable channels will hire Joseph Jaffe to comment on the advertising markets. Jeff Jarvis will host a short lived weekend slot on MSNBC. Keith Olbermann and Jimmy Cramer are recognized as major video stars while their respective channels continue to disappoint. David Faber jumps to ABC, Bloomberg or FBC after a dozen years on CNBC.

Les Moonves will hit the trifecta - CBS will win the entertainment, sports - and for the first time - news battles. Both the new CBS and Viacom equities will do well without regard to the early negative reviews by analysts and biz writers. Katie joins the fold.

CBS posts best ad revenues per viewer for 2006, MTV networks top the same metric on cable.

At least one broadcast license revocation hearing will move forward before cooler heads prevail.

A media research guru with strong academic credentials will expose a much discussed set of "national findings" for what they actually are...statistically invalid guess work derived from a series of focus groups.

Fred Wilson will walk away from the VC world and join Time Warner writing in Time as music critic at large, Jann Wenner makes Fred an offer he can't refuse...hiring him to lead a dramatic reinvention of Rolling Stone.

Joel Hollander reveals "second season" deals with Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and, via KYOU, a previouly unknown podcaster who also happens to be a successful bay area mortgage banker.

Hot: RSS, AJAX, WiFi, headhunters, social media, video and vo ip (thanks to broadband), Live Web, David Rehr, Scoble, digg, Nick Denton, Opera, Pierre Bouvard, Wikipedia, interactive media ad sales, podcasting, Joel Denver, Firefox, Diller, blogs, Whole Foods, Dave Winer, Washington state wines, Mark Masters, talent, Kurt Hanson, Google, Drew Horowitz, Peter Morville, Pixar, Stu Olds, AOL, Ed Lambert Jr., MSOs, Deal or No Deal, "family friendly cable", Tom Peters, Tom Kent, P&G, WSJ, Icerocket, Bob Shannon, John Battelle and The Week.

Not: Web 2.0, newspapers, Delta airlines, MSNBC, CNBC, Air America, RBOCs, talentless hacks, the motion picture industry, RIAA, each and all of the current blog and podcast ad networks, jockless radio broadcasting, Tony Danza (due to loss of key DMAs), most Dems in the midterms, DRM, and TiVo.

Having no inside information please allow me to suggest most (and more likely all) of the above are dead wrong. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

“The magic is in the product…No matter how skillful you are, you can’t invent a product advantage that doesn’t exist. And if you do, and it’s just a gimmick, it’s going to fall apart anyway…Getting a product known isn’t the answer. Getting it wanted is the answer.” Bill Bernbach

Phil Boyce is a smart guy. The ABC AM group is blessed with some of the best and brightest programming minds on the planet including Phil. Those facts make a recent WABC decision difficult to understand. The decision - run some hours of WABC's morning drive show commercial free (the stated purpose being to impress and attract former Howard listeners) is not, in my opinion, a good business move. There is nothing wrong with commercials and listeners expect them. The Howard fans, above all other morning listeners in the city, have demonstrated a significant tolerance for commercials. The real issue here would seem to be...will Curtis and Kuby appeal to Howard's listeners and in what numbers? The number of commercials played by Curtis and Kuby will not change their act nor is it likely to make them any more appealing to a Howard fan. So why do it? Why introduce a strategy that can not be sustained, an approach that costs the station money? What does it say to your audience when you present this as a novel benefit only to later take it away? What does this say to your advertisers? Is there not a way for them to participate in this very cool promotion?

The bigger question may well be - will Howard fans listen to AM radio? Perhaps recent history can offer some insight. What audience was shared by the two shows and the two stations over the past year? What is the twenty-four month history of AM usage (cume, occasions, TSL) by Howard listeners? Finally, it seems fair to ask...what is the objective? How many former Howard listeners need to sample and convert to Curtis and Kuby partisans for the exercise to be considered a success? How do we measure success?

My thought is any promotion worth doing always involves one or more clients. Stations should always make money with their promotions without exception. I'm reminded of the great retailer and legendary genius Sol Polk. One day in the last century I went on a sales call in Chicago with Kevin Sweeney. The legend Sol had wanted to meet the legend Kevin, we were in. Before we could pitch Mr Polk our "exciting promotion" he explained what he expected whenever he invested in "a promotion." He told us a story. In a purchase of Westinghouse white goods he arranged for the seller to include free copies of a new cookbook written by Betty Furness then a popular actress and Westinghouse spokesperson. He had done his homework with the help of a young seller on his floor and discovered the 1926 D quarter was worth three times its face value to collectors. He used his newpaper advertising - paid for 200% by his vendors - to run an ad saying "Available now only at Polk Brothers the new Betty Furness cookbook. This book is not available in any Chicagoland stores but it is available for a limited time at Polk Brothers for the amazing price of one coin - one 1926 D quarter." Polk had obtained the cookbooks at no charge, made money running the advertising, mobilized Chicagoans to find the rare coins and bring them into his store. He created goodwill with his customers (the books flew out of the store), created traffic and had a good sale of white goods. After telling us the story he motioned to an assistant who opened a rather large old fashioned floor safe. His assistant revealed a bankers bag filled with the coins collected in the promotion some 20 years earlier. His assistant then provided the going rate for the rare coins something like $5.50 each as I recall. Sol leaned back in his chair, directed his attention to us and said "now gentleman...please tell does your promotion work?" By the way today one of those coins is worth hundreds of dollars. Going forward...if a promotion is worth doing...let's agree to find a way to emulate Mr Polk, let's make some money in the process.

Kevin Sweeney was a great mentor to me, he once counseled "why would you waste your time doing anything that does not make you money, breaking even on a promotion suggests to me that the promotion expense was too great or you didn't sell smart or, in the most likely case, both." Before his Curtis and Kuby promotion is staged my bet is Phil Boyce will come up with a much cooler idea. Stay tuned.

"Safe advertising is the riskiest advertising you can do" Bill Bernbach

A friend sent me a link to and when I arrived what was waiting was the image you see here and nothing more.

Perhaps I just don't get it but this seems to be a major missed opportunity. Should the CBS Radio gang be moving away from the call letters they should have their web person remove them from the page title. This single web page could be dramatically better, could actually play a key role in getting out and spreading the new message, could generate $$$. The page as it is = a dead end, a wasted moment, a lost victory. Simply put...the page does nothing, nada, zilch, zero. You are given no reason, no incentive, no excuse to ever return. Worst of all a unique moment passes and those that may have the site bookmarked are left to wonder "what happened?" Welcome to the 21st century, the web matters, it's no longer optional.

This page reminded me of the Bernbach quotation used above. It came to mind because it was easy to imagine someone saying "just put the new logo up, that's safe, we'll deal with the site later." My thanks to Joseph Jaffe for citing the quote in his book along with these gems...

"Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula"

"I warn you against believing that advertising is a science"

"Logic and over-analysis can immobilize and sterilize an idea. It's like love - the more you analyze it, the faster it disappears"

More later.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"The value of your product is in inverse proportion to the cost of customer aquisition" Shelby Bonnie

Lucky Chicago - they now have an eatZi's!

Century Shopping Centre, 2828 N Clark Street

This is an exceptional concept - food meets theater. Another great excuse for us to get to Chicago soon. I love eatZi's!

Couple of emails about my CBS Radio posts re Jack. The flavor is "how can you be a fan of Jack???" I'm not. Don't care for it, never have, I invite you to read my previous writings on this issue here, here and here

One of the most valuable lessons for any media organization is to discover the price of creating each avail. Once you establish the price of creating an avail you will sell smarter and, typically, improve your operating margins. You may then focus your sellers on selling the avails that produce the best margins. In reviewing formats you will find that jockless stations produce bigger operating margins for the simple reason that the single largest expense - labor - has been eliminated, this is not to say jockless is a solid long term strategy - it ain't.

My apologies if you have emailed me without reply - seems the new spam filter is much too aggressive - hundreds to get through.

Two excellent ways to burn bandwidth, here and, thanks to joho, here

Dave Winer looks into the future here

Jason Calacanis predicts here. Fred Wilson puts up a collection of predictions via - brilliant, bravo - jump to it here

Check out the year in audio - highly recommend #4 - via BlogPulse here

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Technology will be the great ally and lurking enemy. For every threat it raises, it will also bring an accompanying opportunity for those who wish to see the possibilities. Skipping ads may prove to be the norm, but avoiding experiences could be the exception. Above all, content will remain king - now more than ever." Joseph Jaffe

"They (salespeople) must want to grow, learn and try new approaches. Otherwise they become good players in a game that's no longer being played." Norm Goldsmith

Joseph Jaffe's book "Life After the 30-Second Spot" deserves your attention. What makes this writing so refreshing and such important reading is Joseph's candor...

"The bottom line is that we've built an entire kingdom on old data, unchallenged theories, and faulty methodologies. We've lost track of the original meaning and purpose of advertising"

Jaffe does more than offer examples of what's not working, he suggests practical steps and solid counsel on how we can begin to "rethink advertising." Over the next few days I'll post a fuller review, my suggestion is buy the book - highly recommended. Also - check out more of the uncommon wisdom on offer at Jaffe's blog here

Terry Heaton offers his thoughts on 2006...

It's a very dangerous time for any broadcaster to be making assumptions based on history.

But the biggest problem for broadcasters is their crumbling core competency and the shrinking value propositions they offer to both viewers and advertisers. The natural ability of the Internet to distribute unbundled media is disrupting broadcasting's basic business, and that will accelerate in 2006.

Most broadcast companies have responded to the disruption by forcing their mass marketing value propositions into the situation (it's what they know), but most are finding that such a response while creating some revenue opportunities doesn't produce the kind of scale necessary to make up for the kinds of losses to their core business that they're facing.

The irony is that the same disruptions that are eating away at the business of broadcasting offer tremendous opportunities, if broadcasters could simply rise above defending their old turf and play a little offense in the new stadium.

Heaton gets it - Bravo! Read Terry's entire writing here

Terry's writing brings to mind the notions of my friend Norm Goldsmith. Norman, on the subject of sales people, often said "If they're not helping you, they're hurting you." His commentary on media sellers and sales leadership is spot on, check it out here

Lots of email regarding my posts on Infinity/CBS Radio. Some text from one such email...

"...wake up and face reality Dave, Infinity is a big failure, one stupid 'global' decision after another beginning with their failed Jack attack, continuing with pinheadeded vanity spending (the Ad Age buy) and ending with the tepid Howard replacement strategy. How can you continue to defend the gang that couldn't shoot straight?"

Serving as the CEO of a measured media firm in 2005, especially one that's public, was no day at the beach unless you were leading online properties (e.g., Google or Yahoo). My view is 2005 will be remembered as the year leadership finally heard the wake up call, the last year leadership invested precious time in the creation of graduate level dog ate my homework excuses; 2006 is full of great promise and amazing opportunity, it should be the year we let go of the assumptions that continue to hurt us, it should be the year we take bold action and stop doing what we have always done. 2006 is the year to unlearn.

With regard to my thinking on CBS Radio/Infinity. I give Joel Hollander high marks for doing something, for being decisive and taking action. To be certain the outcomes have been mixed, however, on balance, my sense is CBS Radio/Infinity is better positioned today than they were one year ago. Joel has put CBS Radio on the offensive, has encouraged measured risk taking, has put an end to the previous "business as usual attitude" at Infinity, that's all good and long overdue. Leadership is responsible for results, that's the five word job description. While the Jack approach has yet to catch on in New York and might never equal or exceed the earlier success of WCBS-FM, Jack is, in fact, an early ratings, sales and operating margin success in other CBS Radio markets. One need only compare and contrast the Dallas market where the company ended five years of poor performance in flipping to Jack. On the Howard is amazing to me how folks can have an opinion regarding shows not yet heard. The one exception being Rover. Joel has made some clearly unpopular decisions and while some of those decisions may prove to be wrong or less productive than expected there is still reason to celebrate the end of stasis. "Stasis in the arts is tantamount to death" so said Charles Marsh and for too many years Infinity leadership allowed stations to fail by doing nothing. WNEW is the poster child for what went tragically wrong at Infinity in years past - neglect, denial and a complete failure to provide leadership took a valuable company asset "off line" for years. The Ad Age insertion got agency folk talking about Infinity a not all together bad thing. Goodman and company have taken control of the agenda, another refreshing first for Infinity this year. Success in the creative arts begins with attracting and retaining the best and brightest people - the recruitment of Jhani Kaye serves as an excellent example of why 2006 will be the year Joel gets CBS Radio on the right track.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Our task is to stop seeing old failings everywhere and start seeing all the new opportunities before us, to exploit the future" Jeff Jarvis

CBS Radio has recruited Los Angeles media legend Jhani Kaye to program K-Earth, a simply outstanding move - congrats, kudos, bravo, cheers!

Jhani is the architect of one of the greatest success stories in radio history - the legendary KOST radio. He built the storied station from scratch.

There are very few that CBS Radio could have recruited to lead the mission of successfully reinventing the K-EARTH of Bozzi, Hamilton and Phillips fame and among those few Jhani Kaye is, without question, the best, the most qualified, in point of fact, the perfect executive to lead that charge.

Good luck Jhani!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." George Bernard Shaw

Back to the future for CBS - Bravo! My money is still on Joel Hollander - good man.

Back home after the final 2005 road trip. Lots to blog about once I clear my desk at the office.

Happy holidays!