Sunday, June 22, 2008

"I Would Give It Eleventy-Million Stars If I Could, And So Would You"

Okay, I'm sure everyone has already seen this, but it made me laugh out loud sitting here alone in the kitchen.

The scathingly funny Amazon reviews for the Denon AKDL1 Link Cable, a $500 ethernet cable "made of high-purity copper wire" to "get the purest signal from multi-channel DVD and CD playback." Yes, a $500 ethernet cable so that your digital music will sound better.

Via BoingBoing gadgets.

(If you're a marketing person or just a normal friend of mine... Ethernet protocol involves lots of making-sure-the-digits-are-right stuff. Unless you've crafted your ethernet cable out of coat-hangers, your music is not going to sound any different on the $2 cable you took home from the office than on this $500 cable.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Expressly. You Keep Using That Word. I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means.

I've been way too busy to post lately. Sorry. But yesterday an email from Forbes landed in my inbox and I had to share. It starts:

Forbes is committed to protecting the privacy of its readers... However, Forbes does make available its list of readers who have expressly provided us with their permission to receive information...
I almost stopped reading there. It was an invitation to opt-in, to "expressly provide permission." I wasn't interested, so no need to do anything. But I kept reading anyway, to this:
If you would like to receive information and special offers from us and our business partners, you do not have to respond to this email. However, if you would not like to receive these messages, please use this link.
Wait, what? It's opt-out? So, by not opting-out I've expressly provided permission?

I guess it's naive of me to expect more from a place like Forbes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dumb Money

The juxtaposition in my RSS reader of Kedrosky's Venture Capital is an Attractive Nuisance, II and Organizations and Markets' Against Government Subsidized VC seems like a sign for me to comment on something I was striving to ignore.

Bloomberg announces a taxpayer subsidized venture capital fund just after the NBER publishes a paper on what a bad idea it is for the government to get involved in venture investing. Coincidence, of course, but shouldn't it be obvious to everyone that this is a bad idea?

I really don't understand why the bureaucrats think they can do better than the dozens of private venture capitalists and the hundreds of active angel investors in the city. We need more great startups in the city, not more investors vying to fund the few there are.

The best thing the city could do to encourage startup formation here is to make it easier to live here on a reasonable salary--startups can't afford to pay programmers like the banks can, at least not in the short-term. The City should encourage improvement of the physical infrastructure (mass transit, housing, office space, etc.) and let the invisible hand take care of the market.

Yes, Brands Work

Kara Swisher over at All Things Digital approvingly quotes NeoAtOgilvy COO Greg Smith: “No one wants a relationship with their mustard."

But, then, why do people buy the mustard they buy? Why do people persist in buying French's, Gulden's and Grey Poupon? Not price: store brands are cheaper. Not quality: no more than a tiny minority of people are going to notice the difference between French's Deli Brown and the equivalent store brand once it's slathered on a hotdog. But people persist in spending more for equivalent quality mustard, even though most people have had some opportunity to try store-brand mustards. Why?

Marketing. People have an attachment to brands. The attachment may be economically irrational, but there is no denying it. When I walk into a grocery store and stare at the hundreds of different mustards, I choose one. The one I choose makes me feel something; safe, perhaps, or the warm glow of family cookouts past. Swisher may be uncomfortable calling this a relationship, but that's what it is.

Swisher goes on to say

This odd but spot-on observation was about why big packaged goods advertisers–who are the really big spenders of the ad business–might be less than interested leveraging social media advertising and its promise of deep engagement with consumer... No one wants to interact over mustard or mayo or ketchup or most products that pay the rent up and down Madison Avenue.
She's right: no one wants to interact. But ads don't ask people to interact with the product, they get people to engage with the brand. And maybe no one wants to engage with mustard brands. But they do. They deeply engage with ads primarily because they are deeply engaged with the surrounding content. The promise of social media marketing is to reach consumers in an environment where they are already receptive and deeply engaged and then take advantage of that existing frame of mind to reinforce a brand relationship.

TV is still the master of brand advertising. Social media is the closest the web has come to TV in creating a receptive frame of mind and engagement. No one has found the secret to marketing brands online yet, but the reason is not, as Swisher implies, that brands don't work.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One Small Bug; Centuries of Notoriety

Everybody's blogging about Vanity Fair's How the Web Was Won. I found it both boring and too short. Probably because I'm old. The best quote was:

I’d rather not talk about it—sorry.
From Robert Tappan Morris.