Sunday, November 23, 2008

Contextual ads in online communications - make sure the context is right

Neville Hobson has commented on work by Niall Kennedy to create a new "front-end" interface for Twitter that allows additional levels of customization to the web page for a Twitter user, to include local languages, different ways of linking, and, perhaps most importantly, serving of Google ads that are relevant to the specific user.

Relevance is a key consideration, because some of the current implementations of ad-supported SMS leave a lot to be desired in that department.

I've been subscribing to several of these ad-supported SMS feeds from the New Jersey Gannett newspapers in the past couple of months. At no cost to the user, the Asbury Park Press, Vineland Daily Journal, South Jersey Courier Post, and some others, have been inviting online readers to subscribe to receive up-to-the-minute headlines.

The service is actually pretty good, you get breaking news heads several times a day, and sometimes it's even traffic warnings -- that could be a whole separate revenue generator if they play it right.

The problem is the juxtaposition of the ads included with the news headlines. The ads are clearly randomized, but the very randomization makes them humorous in connection with the headlines they pay for, often in a dark and certainly unintended way.

Here are some examples.

WARNING: Don't be sipping a beverage or eating food when you read these or you will either pass it through your nose or spray it all over your monitor.



Crash on Rt. 30 E between Ben Franklin Bridge and Federal St. - all lanes closed *Go Acela - Book at



Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States of America *Talk to your next date! Call 866-228-2164



FAIRFIELD: Man arrested in September slaying *Feel silly? Reply JOKE



Water main break on Rt. 73 N at Rt. 38 - left lane closed. *Meet singles near U! Call 866-228-2164



Aberdeen man admits in court to beating and drowning 19 cats *FREE HBO and Starz! Reply SATELLITE



FRANKLIN: Three teens arrested in tool-theft case *Protect your family + home 24/7! Reply BRINKS


Murder indictment of Jersey Shore nurse dismissed *Check out movie listings Reply BIGSCREEN


Missing Jackson boy found in Brick this morning *FREE info on the best schools! Reply SCHOOL



Financial rescue bill sails through House *Great deal! Save $$ @ Friendly's! Reply FRIEND



Man, 88, dies after fatally shooting wife at Community Medical Center *Escape to Myrtle Beach! Save $$$! Reply MYRTLE

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two decades later and they still haven't learned the lesson of Michael Moore

Open letter to auto industry executives:

You guys need a reality check. You have been spending way too much time in your gated Grosse Pointe communities and not enough time experiencing life the way most of us live it.

The Washington Post yesterday reported that despite the 24 daily nonstop commercial flights between Detroit and Washington, the CEOs of the three failing US automakers chose to fly on individual private planes to a hearing where they asked taxpayers to pony up $25 billion to paper over their wretched record of mismanaging formerly great American industrial companies.

There are frequently very good business reasons why it makes sense for corporate executives to use private aircraft to go somewhere. More control over the scheduling, getting somewhere quickly in a crisis, and so on. But this was an incredible display of what the Post politely called "tone deafness" to the climate in Washington, and it may very well have killed the industry's chances of getting a dime from lawmakers.

It is a direct parallel to the disastrous tone deafness of an earlier GM CEO, Roger Smith, when his office was approached by a young unknown documentary film maker from Flint, who wanted to discuss with Smith the impending plant closures and layoffs at GM's Flint complex, which was going to wreak havoc on the Flint economy.

Despite pleas from some of GM's very bright PR counselors at the time (I know this from speaking to them directly), Smith refused -- against PR advice -- to meet with the filmmaker, and Michael Moore's movie, "Roger and Me" went on to launch Moore's career in ambush documentaries.

The whole premise of the movie was "Roger Smith doesn't care enough to meet with me, and he's now trying to hide from me." Smith, with his aristocratic arrogance, played right into the typecasting he was being shoehorned into by Moore.

If he had been honest, met with the filmmaker, explained the difficult decisions, maybe, just maybe, it would have damaged the premise of the movie. Instead, he just helped confirm Moore's worst caricature of the GM CEO, and severely damaged the firm's reputation.

KEY TAKEAWAY FOR CORPORATE EXECUTIVES: Be honest, if you don't know, say you don't know. Stop pretending you have this economic thing figured out any better than your hourly workers. We're all in this together whether you like it or not -- and your behavior up to now is clearly indicating that you don't like it and really do think you are different from the rest of us.

And so today, we have this awful PR disaster that may very well wreck the chances for restructuring this industry any time soon.

You have to think that the veteran PR people at these auto companies MUST have told the CEOs that flying their $10,000/hour jets into DC would be an image problem. It certainly didn't get past the members of Congress who grilled them, according to Dana Milbank's column in the Post. As Milbank reports:

"There's a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hands," Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) advised the pampered executives at a hearing yesterday. "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high-hat and tuxedo. . . . I mean, couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here?"

If the miserable consequences of this error in judgment weren't so appalling for thousands of innocent auto workers, Michael Moore might even be chuckling, with a slight hint of schadenfreude. But I have a feeling he's punching holes in the wall with his fist.

And probably so are the PR folks at these companies, because saying "I told you so!" isn't a real career option for them right now.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Walmart Store #5201 Grand Opening, Edison, NJ 11/12/2008

Steve Lubetkin reports on the opening of Walmart Store #5201 in Edison, Middlesex County, NJ. The new 141,000 square foot store features environmentally friendly skylights, LED lighting, floors made of recycled materials, as well as one-hour photo, full service pharmacy, and oil and tire express services.

TV News Directors and Online Video News Editors: There is substantial b-roll available from this grand opening if you are producing reports. Please contact or (856) 751-5491 to obtain b-roll.

Thoughts about Podcasting and "Micro-Communities"

On November 13, I joined more than 60 social media experts in Melville, NY for the "Social Media Jungle Conference organized by Internet entrepreneur and investor Jeff Pulver.

I was one of 15 session presenters/facilitators for the all-day conference, and I focused on how companies can reduce their marketing expenses through effective use of audio and video podcasting. Much of the conference was streamed live over the Internet through

You can see part of my presentation in the player below.

You can see the lineup of Social Media Jungle speakers at Jeff Pulver's Blog.

For videos of many other presentations, go to the program page here.

Photo by Jeff Pulver


The conversations at the conference got me thinking about how we focus on our podcasting activities. Our clients' audiences are very highly targeted niche markets with specialized interests. They are "micro-communities" exquisitely tailored for the niche-based or narrowcasting focus of social media. Social media liberates the "media" distribution platform from the limitations of broadcast networks or terrestrial radio and TV stations dictating to the audience what content they will see.
Nelly Yusupova, ("DigitalWoman" on Twitter) who spoke at the Jungle about how to integrate advertising effectively in social media, coined the couplet, "The narrower the niche, the more you get rich."
That is exactly on point for social media. In my opinion, social media entrepreneurs are often too focused on collecting large numbers of eyeballs -- in terms of page views, clicks, or downloads.
Just as Twitter (I'm "PodcastSteve" on Twitter) gave rise to the concept of "microblogging" because of the short length of messages, Nelly's idea carries heavy freight for me -- and for my podcasting business. We are not particularly worried if our audiences are small, as long as they are self-selecting to gather our content. We are producing podcasts for very narrow niche business-to-business purposes. Our clients want to communicate highly technical business expertise to prospective clients who need to understand how that expertise can help them.
It's long past the time when a business could get its expertise covered in detail -- and effectively -- in the mainstream media so that prospects would knock on the door. And getting a business story covered in depth on radio or TV? Fuggeddaboutit!
Businesses that want to have some level of control over the opportunities to present their expertise to these micro-communities need to consider podcasting as a tool that makes them broadcasters and takes control of the content away from third parties.
But with this control over one channel comes additional responsibility. Corporate podcast users also need to be sure there is a mechanism for passionate believers in their brand to express that passion through conversation, creative activities, even fun and humor -- often at the expense of the brand. It's really OK to not only let that happen, you couldn't stop it if you wanted to, and if you have passionate microcommunity members talking about your brand even when you're not around, isn't that a success?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Justin Oberman

Justin (@JustinOberman on Twitter) was the final Social Media Jungle speaker, on mobile social media.

Jamie Thompson discusses privacy at Social Media Jungle

Jamie (@Jamie_Thompson - Twitter) is talking about privacy and
the line between personal and professional.
Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow, PRSA
Managing Partner
Lubetkin Communications LLC
Professional Podcasts LLC
1.856.751.5491 ofc/cell

Ben Grossman discusses ROI

Benn Grossman (@bengrossman on Twitter) discussing Schultz's work

Return on Investment (ROI)
Return on Brand Investment (ROBI)
Return on Customer Investment (ROCI) combines attitudinal and behavioral data to predict.

Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow, PRSA
Managing Partner
Lubetkin Communications LLC
Professional Podcasts LLC
1.856.751.5491 ofc/cell

Jonathan Yarmis discusses getting out of the Kumbaya zone with corporate clients

Jonathan Yarmis (@jyarmis - Twitter) discusses how to be more effective engaging corporate clients in social media. It's not about the conversation for most CEOs, it's about how that conversation helps meet real corporate objectives.

Brett Petersel @ Social Media Jungle

Brett talked about some examples of business models that use social media.

Oz Sultan discusses social networking stes

Oz (@ozsultan) and Brett Petersel discussed social networking site trends. @smj08 Social Media Jungle.

Nelly Yusupova discusses monetization

At Jeff Pulver Social Media Jungle, Nelly Yusupova (@DigitalWoman on Twitter) discussed monetizing social media content...

Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow, PRSA
Managing Partner
Lubetkin Communications LLC
Professional Podcasts LLC
1.856.751.5491 ofc/cell

Jeff Sass speaks @ Social Media Jungle

Jeff Sass (Twitter @sass) discusses social media from the agency perspective. At #smj08

Dean Landsman presenting

Dean Landsman (@deanland on Twitter) presents about the three screen world. Social media can support other media by connecting all three screens (TV, handheld) and computer.

Howard Greenstein

Howard and Dean presented on three screen world

Jeff Pulver kicks off Sociak Media Jungle

Jeff Pulver kicks off the all day Social Media Jungle in Melville, NY. I wil be leading a discussion on podcasting this afternoon.

Live tweeting is going on from multiple sources. Search hashtag #smj08 and follow @podcaststeve.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Participating in Jeff Pulver's Social Media Jungle Thursday 11/13

I will be up and on the road quite early on Thursday, driving up to Melville, NY, to participate in Jeff Pulver's Social Media Jungle all-day webstream conference. I will be facilitating a discussion of podcasting and vidcasting as a way of helping companies reduce their marketing expenses. My portion of the program begins at 2:45pm. Visit to watch the festivities, starting around 8:30am tomorrow.



I interviewed Jeff earlier this year during his social media breakfast in Philadelphia.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Coherent Sales Consulting - Ed Callahan’s Blog » Blog Archive » How can I learn about “social media” for my business?

Coherent Sales Consulting - Ed Callahan’s Blog » Blog Archive » How can I learn about “social media” for my business?

Ed Callahan wrote a summary blog post of the social media workshop in which we participated yesterday for the Center City Proprietors Association.