A War We Should Try To Avoid

“Ads are being cast as the enemy as consumers find more and more ways to block them.”

This Ad Age article paints a pretty scary future, and I’m not just worried about all of the industries and jobs that depend on the ad business or the impact on entertainment and content production that is currently ad-sponsored. The real concern is the continued trend towards class-ism, where those who can afford to pay premiums receive a significantly different experience than those who can’t. We already have riots of metro bus riders upset over Google buses, do we want to separate Jimmy Fallon’s audience into warring factions the same way we have San Francisco commuters? We already exclude some of the world’s best content behind expensive paywalls at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, even Ad Age (although they at least offer a few free articles per month), effectively excluding the financially-disadvantaged from having the same cultural, business and news resources as those of us with a subscription.

Now I’m not saying that an ambitious but underprivileged future Warren Buffet can’t scrape his pennies together for the WSJ subscription that’s going to make him the next bond-trading mogul, because anyone who has the savvy to understand that heady prose can probably find $12 a month through some clever means, but what will the internet become when every great piece of content requires a fee? First, each site will start their own pay model, and we’ll pick the ones that are most important to us, and abandon the rest. Users will consolidate into closed subscription groups, rather than graze the entirety of the digital buffet as we do now. The pressure on smaller sites will be too great as they find fewer and fewer subscribers, and they will need to join forces with networks of sites in order to survive. Soon, broad subscriptions will encompass collections of content and consumers will need to choose between collections, won’t want to pay the outlay of more than one large collection, and will cease to explore anything outside their subscription group. And then what do we have?

Cable, that’s what. We have cable. Is that what you want, world? You want the internet’s cost structure to mirror that of Comcast? Think about that for a minute before you block all the ads, because unless you want to be trapped in a content monopoly and pay a monstrous monthly fee for the few “channels” you are interested in because that’s the only way to access them, then you’d better start appreciating the advertisers that take on all the risk to give you a free internet on the off-chance they can sell a few widgets, because our “free exchange of information” internet is about to be far from free.

Source: Yes, There Is a War on Advertising. Now What? | Digital – Advertising Age

Brand Advertising & The Diamond Industry – A Great Read

One of the best stories I have ever heard to explain what Brand Advertising is, why it matters, and how powerful it can really be, this is the story of the De Beers diamond empire, dating back to the late 1800’s.  Inventors of the “A Diamond is Forever” tagline, among others, De Beers has been carefully crafting demand for their product with marketing for over 100 years.  It’s not a short read but it’s a great story – if you are in the ad biz you definitely want this anecdote in your repertoire.


From the Atlantic – Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?

The Horror Is In Your Mailbox!

I receive a lot of spam. I think we all do at this point. You sign up for a free webmail account from Yahoo or Gmail or whathaveyou, pick out a nice username that is clever and easy to remember and unique to you, and when you log into this new account for the first time there are already 37 unwanted messages waiting to persuade you to join a thinly-veiled pyramid scheme, to convince you that cialis is the answer to all your troubles, or to sell you prescription drugs you can’t get anywhere else at this low-low price.

I can expound all day on how much this annoys me, and not merely because I’m annoyed by people wasting my time (which I am) or because I’m annoyed by the flagrant inefficiency of untargeted marketing (which I am). What drives me nuts about spam – babbling, drooling, thumb-sucking, straightjacket-wearing nuts – is that it works. Somewhere out there, not just one but hundreds – if not thousands – of people are reading these messages, thinking “maybe my weight problem will simply go away if I buy these pills!” and clicking their way to another dead-end purchase. The supposed effectiveness of these products aside, is this really a viable economy? Are people actually sending real, legal money and in turn receiving an actual, tangible shipment of miracle herbs, Home Depot gift cards or “Exquisite Replica Watches”? Despite my optimism and my strong desire for the “most people are good people” belief to be true, I have to think that’s a huge “NO”. Show me the person who is a happy customer as a result of a spam message, and I’ll… well, just show me one. If you can actually drum one up, then we’ll talk recompense.

This is where it gets scary, because you know what? It doesn’t matter. People are reading, believing and clicking this stuff anyway! Some of them are new to the internet and haven’t yet developed the thick, jaded coat of misanthropic armor that inevitably grows with each passing pixel. Some of them are actually in the market for hot stock trading tips, or free virus software, or erectile dysfunction medication without a prescription, and maybe the promises in those subject lines are just too tempting to ignore. Some of them are just idiots, and that must be a lot of them, because have you actually read your spam lately? So much of it is auto-generated via scripts written by programmers who can’t even spell “english”, much less speak it, that only a card-carrying-fool would mistake their senders for legitimate businesses. Still, it must work. Somehow, somewhere, someone clicks, otherwise it would dwindle and die. If i’ve learned anything about online advertising from working in the industry it’s that advertisers want to see results, and they’re completely ready to pull their financial rug out from under any strategy that isn’t generating bucketloads of revenue after two days into the program.

So, by extension: spam is working. That’s seriously freakin scary, you guys. That’s your Halloween nightmare right there. Want to freak yourself out? Picture the person who just clicked on that email titled “CIAli$ mail for you!” (actual spam in my inbox right now). It’s not pretty. I’m very worried for the gene pool.

If Alfred Hitchcock were around to make a movie about the horrors of spam, I think this little gem from my inbox today would be the stark white text scrolling across a black screen, read by a grim announcer over the sound of tortured screams and chains dragging across cobblestone floors, in the opening scene. This auto-generated abomination, spawned from the misguided union of a random number generator and an english dictionary, would set the tone for the entire film:

    Now and then, a pork chop eagerly shares a shower with the tuba player living with a customer. A plaintiff completely seeks a polar bear. A movie theater shares a shower with a chestnut. An eggplant gives a pink slip to the tuba player. For example, a single-handledly impromptu bullfrog indicates that a class action suit beyond another burglar somewhat avoids contact with an ocean.

    Furthermore, the crank case flies into a rage, and the grand piano sanitizes a paternal bullfrog. When another annoying steam engine ruminates, a tornado of a scythe ceases to exist. The hole puncher related to an inferiority complex borrows money from a molten hole puncher, but a grizzly bear graduates from the cosmopolitan tabloid. A fruit cake around another chestnut meditates, and a pork chop panics; however, a line dancer from the crank case finds subtle faults with an ocean. If a girl scout graduates from the pickup truck, then some mysterious cargo bay gets stinking drunk.

Good luck sleeping tonight. Mwah ha ha ha!

Burger King has a weird sense of humor

Okay, you all have to go try this. Go to This dude in a chicken suit will do whatever you tell him to, while you watch live on his web cam. Ask him to act like a monkey – it’s pretty funny. Also, shaking his tailfeathers… whatever you can think of. It’s very disturbing. What’s even more disturbing is that it’s sponsored by burger king… don’t know what’s up there. Anyway, check it out, it’s freakishly weird. An internet oddity that you have to experience. Happy thursday. 😉