Sips from the Firehose

Aug 28

This week in the paid content debate: Aug. 24-28

Posted: under Digital Migration, new media, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers.
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This week’s debate is not as acrimonious as in the past (although there are exceptions to that, of course), and in the wake of the biz models released by the Aspen conference, some people are taking building new revenue streams seriously.  At least, they say they are.  It turns out that a lot of what has been reported in this paid content debate is a little like Microsoft software releases: trial balloon “vaporware.”

Page design at looks a little like what splatters on the side of the carny Tilt-a-Whirl after you load it up with a buncha 10-years olds who've spent the day eating cotton candy and mystery meat hotdogs.

Page design at looks a little like what splatters on the side of the carny Tilt-a-Whirl after you load it up with a buncha 10-years olds who've spent the day eating cotton candy and mystery meat hotdogs. I think the boxes up & down the sides are supposed to be clickable ads, but they were inert when I tried them... (click for larger)

The illustration here is of a new French news site that is apparently taking off at Rue89; I can’t decide whether the chaotic design is totally off-putting, or intriguing because it basically violates every rule of page design.  Also, I can’t hear the word “Rue” in a title without flashing to “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Or some B-movie villain twirling a moustache and chortling, “You’ll rue the day, Rex Manly!”

As a bonus, this week I’ve broadened the focus a bit to include some big-picture thinking from some of the unusual suspects; Doc Searls has a post wherein it is posited that what we think of right now as the internet is just a finger pointing in the direction of what this thing is actually going to grow into.  Which should fuel a couple of late-night dorm-room debates, if nothing else…

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Aug 15

Die, Domain Tasters! Die!

Posted: under Uncategorized.
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OK, I’m maybe a little over-emotional about this subject. But if you’ve ever tried to help some friends come up with a decent domain name for their business idea ONLY TO SEE SOME KNUCKLEHEAD SWOOP IN, BUY IT AND TRY TO HOLD YOU UP FOR BIG BUCKS, then you can understand my pain/outrage.

And now, my schadenfreude, over the news that ICANN’s crackdown on the practice, known as “Domain Tasting,” where some scum-sucking digital scammer would track the domain names you searched for, and then snarf them up before you made the decision to register them.  Then they’d taunt you via e-mails with the carefully crafted URL you had come up with, and demand that you fork over exorbitant sums.  This happened to me on a regular basis.

Then a year ago, ICANN started charging these internet douchebags when they cancelled too many domains.

The result? In June 2008, there were 15.7 million “returns” on registered domains.  In June 2009? 37,000.

Yeah, baby!

According to Ars Technica, the domain tasters are pissed that this free stream of stolen money is getting snatched from their lazy, greedy paws. Nut graf:

One of the unfortunate aspects of networked computing is that the cost of antisocial behaviors is so small (especially if you have access to a botnet) that it’s easy to profit from activities that make the Internet a less pleasant place. It’s nice to see that ICANN has figured out how to make one of these behaviors unprofitable, but it will be difficult or impossible to apply this model to many other unpleasant scams… or spams.

Oh, if only.  Can we pleez haz some way to make the spammers pay for clogging our Interpipes? They are certainly correct in pointing out that reducing the cost of distribution to effectively zero has paved the way for deceitful knobs to make all our lives miserable and prey on any idiots still naive enough not to recognize the Spanish Prisoner/Nigerian Prince scam. It’d be nice if internet companies started figuring out “antibodies” to rid ourselves of these persistent parasites.

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Aug 10

Why ad dollars will keep surging – faster & faster – towards digital

Posted: under Digital Migration, New Marketing, new media, Newspaper Deathwatch.
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Another quick hit, this one courtesy of an article in AdAge about how the free-fall in the ad industry has at least stopped, but what’s emerging out of the wreckage is that things will never go back to the way they were.

“This current economy has stimulated a new marketing consciousness,” said Laurence Boschetto, president-CEO, DraftFCB. “Clients are saying they want accountability for every dollar they spend, and they want cause and effect. Clients will continue to rally behind ideas that build business, and we as an industry have to accept that things will never revert back to the pre-recession mind-set that wasn’t totally focused on accountability.”

At every conference I’ve attended this year, especially OMMA and Digital Hollywood, I’ve sat in the room with media planners and ad buyers (AKA the guys in expensive suits who write the multi-million dollar checks to buy 30-second spots on American Idol), and listened to them piss & moan about their jobs.

“The goddam clients are calling me every day and screaming in my ear,” groused a Tums-chomping buyer for a major food company. “All they talk about is ‘The Board,’ and how everyone is shit-scared of winding up on the front page of the New York Times for blowing millions while we’re in a Depression.

“The orders have come down from on high that every nickel they spend has to be tracked, assessed, spreadsheeted and connected to a dollar in sales. Well, it all rolls downhill to me. I have to show results for everything, and when it comes to print and broadcast, that’s getting harder and harder to justify.

“Even if the scale and the reach aren’t there yet, when I’ve got a Google Analytics spreadsheet tracking the ad buy, at least I can walk into the client meeting with more than my dick in my hand.

“I’ve got a $300 million budget for the next year. Zero point zero zero is going to print. Nada. Nothing. I can’t justify it anymore. And broadcast TV is next.”

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