Monday, December 7, 2009

Bob McDonnell's Online Advertising

Last month, just prior to election day, TechPresident ran a short story about New York City mayoral candidate Mike Bloomberg and VA Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell running large Google advertising blasts in the runup to their respective elections.

The story discussed the strategy behind McDonnell's buy:
"...a Google Ad blast is running on behalf of the candidate today, targeted at both voters spending the day in Virginia and those many Virginians who spend their days working in DC. McDonnell's Google Ad buy started up at 9am, and will run through 5pm. McDonnell's buy seems to be partial to tech-focused sites. That's not the craziest approach given Virginia's vibrant tech industry and venture capitalist community."
Online ads can be an effective way to spread your political message to specific audiences and in spite of how much politicians are able to make online, they have not spent as much money on online advertisting as most companies.

According to Colin Delaney in his Online Politics 101, however, there are some cultural and technical barriers to online advertising becoming more widespread:
Running display ads is much more difficult than it should be, in part because different publications can have vastly different standards (I can remember one time doing three different versions each of four online ads, one set for the NY Times site, one set for Washington Post properties and one at standard 468x60 banner size for National Journal) and in part because ads can't be ordered from a single central broker.

professional campaign consultants in the U.S. have generally taken a cut of their clients' TV spending as a commission for placing their ads, and the industry hasn't worked out a similarly profitable business model for online political advertising.
As some of these hurdles are met, I think it will be interesting to see what percentage of advertising dollars on a political campaign goes to traditional vs. online media.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Google v. Murdoch

Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together.
-Joseph Pulitzer

I recently listened to a WBUR On Point podcast called Google vs. Murdoch.

While Murdoch and Google's back and forth was discussed (Murdoch recently said he was going to erect a pay wall around his content and disallow Google to index it), the majority of the conversation was about journalism's failing business model in the face of Internet technologies.

It was an interesting conversation to consider against the conceptual backdrops of thinkers like Clay Shirky and the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The issues discussed got to the heart of the issue: human behavior is shifting and so are the business models that were previously supported by those behaviors.

An interesting glimpse into just how destructive the Internet has been to the dacades-old business model of newspapers, the podcast was a good glimpse into the range of ideas about journalism after the collapse of newspapers.

In the face of newspaper's financial hardships, Schumpeter's Creative Destruction is a useful conceptual framework.

Schumpeter saw Creative Destruction as "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

In the case of journalism, it appears that newspapers and the means of production that supported them aer being destroyed as a new means of production is being created.

It will be interesting to see what comes of attempts to imprint the same content-driven industrial business model onto the networked, information economy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

READING: The Cluetrain Manifesto

Markets are conversations...
Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers...
Hypertext is inherently nonhierarchical and antibureaucratic...
Reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, it is hard to believe that the book was written ten years ago.

A book of 95 theses for business thinkers to transition into the post-industrial information economy, The Cluetrain Manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone trying to stay ahead of changes in the marketplace of ideas and the marketplace of goods.

Driven by the logic and distributed, conversational architecture of the Internet, the information economy has different rules and The Cluetrain Manifesto does a good job of mapping the new ruleset.

A major subtext to the information economy that the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto speak to is the transition from supply side control of the market (held by large companies) to demand side control of the market (held by comsumers with more choices).

Customers will increasingly make new things on businesses: more transparency, more humanness, more listening, less broadcast.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

READING: Millenial Makeover

According to Winograd and Hais in their book Millenial Makeover, every four decades America experiences a major political upheaval as a new and dynamic generation of Americans gains political power and new communications technologies emerge that allow that generation to mobilize.

As the Millenial generation (b. 1982 - 2003) - the most racially diverse generation in the history of the country - becomes more politically powerful, Winograd and Hais predict America will undergo a 'civic political realignment.'

Characterized by 'cooperative efforts to resolve societal problems and build institutions,' civic realignments are marked by an increasing desire for the government to deal with economic and social welfare issues.

Given the Millenial generation's community-mindedness, more positive view of the government, and literacy with Internet technologies, the book effectively argues that there are large changes afoot in American Politics and that we are entering a period of renewal and expansion of government institutions.


In the book's Afterword, the authors assert Obama's success with the Millenial vote was one of the main factors that put him in front of Clinton in the primary and McCain in the general election.

By leveraging technologies widely used by Millenials and crafting a political platform that spoke to their political values, Obama was able to win the popular vote by the percentage received by a Democrat since 1964.

The Authors assert that Obama's victory was the beginning of a political realignment driven by generational and technological change.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

READING: Best Practices for Political Advertising Online

A blueprint for online political advertising strategy, IPDI's publication "Best Practices for Political Advertising Online" gives a solid overview of recent changes in the media landscape and new trends emerging in reaching online audiences with advertising.

Charting changes in online behavior and increases in online activity, the publication effectively lays out the argument that political campaigns need to embrace the Internet as advertising platform to supplement conventional ad campaigns on broadcast media.

There is cultural pushback against the Internet however...

While research is showing more individuals are using the Internet to get information about political candidates, some political strategists still resist embracing the Internet.

Matt Bai explains their reluctance to embrace new ways of doing things:
"...for decades, presidential campaigns have been the exclusive province of a small bevy of ad makers and strategists who profited from the illusion that they, and only they, could foresee the electorate’s every reaction to everything."
There is a cultural inertia in the establishment for campaign strategists to follow the same formulas from previous campaigns:
"Conventional wisdom for campaign management is to run a textbook replica of the last campaign. If you lose it will be because of the candidate, not because you took a risk and lost. There is a slow-to-change philosophy engrained in the profession as a whole because nobody wants to be accused of doing anything that will cause the campaign harm."
As the Internet gains popularity and market share on people's attention, political campaigns will need to take it seriously as an advertising and organizing platform.

The fact that some of the more experienced, old-school strategists are resistant to embracing new technologies represents a great opportunity for political campaigns who are more nimble and open to Internet technologies to innovate with potentially less resources and take down slow moving Goliaths.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Started by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry (the co-founders of the Personal Democracy Forum), is a great resource for up-to-date information about politics and technology.

Covering a range of topics from diplomacy projects undertaken by the State Department to technology used on advocacy and political campaigns to recent studies on social media, techPresident offers a very useful glimpse into what tools and technology are being deployed both inside and outside the political arena.

Taking a look at the stories most read, commented and emailed techPresident reads as an eclectic outpost for a number of topics and themes.

High on all three is a story about the White House's decision to redo their web site in Drupal.

While Slate ran a piece that was pretty critical of this decision, techPresident's piece was more measured:
The ideal new platform would be one where dynamic features like question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools could work more fluidly together with the site's infrastructure. The solution, says the White House, turned out to be Drupal. That's something of a victory for the Drupal (not to mention open-source) community.
On the whole, the site is very useful for keeping up with new trends in technology and politics.

Friday, November 6, 2009

READING: Paul Greenberg

In his blog post "Time to Put a Stake in the Ground on Social CRM," CRM guru Paul Greenberg outlines the changes taking place as new social media technologies allow for more robust conversations between companies and their customers.

Greenberg makes an appeal to move beyond existing language differences in describing customer relations management: specifically, Greenberg dismisses CRM 2.0 and opts for Social CRM:
"CRM 2.0 has been a placeholder at best and obscuring at worst - it doesn't reflect the customer's control of the business ecosystem all that well. Social CRM is a better, though not great, reflection of what we're talking about."
An interesting point Greenberg makes is the move from a transaction based relationship to a interaction based realtionship with customers. Value creation is now a collaborative process based on customer engagement:
The lesson for business, in terms of Social CRM is that we are now at a point that the customers' expectations are so great and their demands so empowered that our SCRM business strategy needs to be built around collaboration and customer engagement, not traditional operational customer management.
Greenberg has really put his finger on the changing flow of value allowed by new communication technology tools. Customer input can now create feedback loops that offer new value to companies that are ready to respond to customer needs.

As what Greenberg describes as Social CRM becomes the mode of operation for companies, it will be increasingly imortant for companies to invest time and resources into listening to the conversation about their brand and services.

I would suggest that listening and responding creatively is the future of customer service.