Monthly Archives: December 2008

Good content has a price tag

A recent Pew research study shows that for the first time, the internet has overtaken newspapers as people’s primary source for news.  In a blog post about the study, Mitch Joel expresses his concern that the shift from print to digital media has happened so fast, the development of new commercial models for funding that content hasn’t been able to keep up.  “Who is going to pay for all this content that we are now consuming online?” Mitch asks.

I wonder if there’s simply an education process that needs to happen. Perhaps most digital natives have never quite understood that excellent content has a price tag. (Isn’t this the same generation that thinks wearing designer labels is a God given birth right?) Someone’s got to pay for the content and/or the distribution system that delivers it, whether that be online or off. In the past, commercial sponsors have picked up the tab. Sorry kids, there’s a deal here. You want great content?  Well, someone needs to pay for it.

It seems like the digital content providers of the world just keep trying this or that advertising format and see if their users accept it.  If one format doesn’t fly, they try another. Maybe they need to start actively communicating to their communities the benefits for content quality when that content and its distribution are supported via commercial sponsorship.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  Has anyone ever told that to this new generation of digital natives?


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All I want for Christmas is Josh Bernoff’s social media report

Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research, co-author with Charlene Li of the groundbreaking social media study Groundswell, recently issued a Forrester report entitled The Growth of Social Technology Adoption.  I came across the link on ReadWriteWeb.  Delighted at the chance to download my copy, I went straight to the site, where I was stopped dead in my tracks.  Unfortunately, all I got to read was the synopsis, because the full report costs $279.

Now I don’t want to appear cheap or ungrateful.  Josh, Charlene and Forrester have been quite generous in sharing their social media knowledge.  For example, you can go to the Groundswell web site and create, free of charge, a basic Social Technographics profile for a demographic and geography of your choice.  I also recognize that Forrester Research is a business, and businesses need to make money.

Still, social media is in its infancy.  And many of its standard bearers, bloggers like me, promote the cause on their own time and with their own finances.  Sure, I have a day job in marketing and communications, but my forays into social media are not an official part of that job — yet.  I’m working to change that, and one of the ways is by constantly deepening my understanding of social media and slowly but surely bringing that knowledge to bear on the work I do for my employer and our clients.  But for now, whatever resources I leverage to build my knowledge base, if they involve a monetary cost, I fund out of my own pocket.  And $279 is a bit steep for my budget.

So here’s my request to Forrester.  How about a special rate for independent social media proponents like myself?  Google provides many services — Google Analytics for starters — free of charge.  They recognize that by helping marketers to learn how to use online advertising more effectively, it will ultimately help Google’s business.  In the same way, if Forrester helps me to nurture my expertise of the social media space, that should pay off in the long term for Forrester.  I will be better able to show my clients the value of social media for their business, get them started in the space and eventually purchase Forrester reports, tools and services that help them engage successfully.

Or how about a discount for people who bought Groundswell?  (I’m sure I still have that Amazon receipt somewhere.)  Or for writing a review of the book on a  blog?

And if all of this doesn’t move you, Forrester, how about just getting into the Christmas spirit?  I’ve been a good boy all year — especially as a standard bearer for social media.  I hope when Santa comes down my chimney this year, he’s got something in his sack from Forrester.

Merry Christmas!


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I’m all for social media, but in a recession it pays to advertise!

This link will take you to just one of numerous articles and reports coming across my radar screen recently documenting the advantages of investing in marketing during economic downturns, especially in innovation and advertising.  Again and again history shows that those companies that have the wherewithal to prioritize long-term growth over the short-term bottom line and spend during recession come out the better for it at the other end.  They gain market share and are better positioned to further build their business as the economy enters a new period of expansion.

Continued investment in innovation means companies can widen the performance lead between their products and those of their competitors more quickly and significantly as those competitors cut back on R&D.  This is good for both the post-recessionary period, and the immediate present, since it means companies can strengthen the performance side of the value for money equation of their products precisely when consumers are re-evaluating their brand choices.

Investment in advertising means companies get more bang for their buck, as media gets less expensive in the wake of competitors’ budget cuts.  So the absolute out of pocket decreases at the same time share of voice

Despite my own personal passion for social media and the great promise it holds for marketers, it cannot be denied that above-the-line communications still build business.  The data is there.  I’ve seen it with our clients.  When we invest in above-the-line spend, business increases — presuming we’ve got something worth saying — and the ROI’s are right.  In a recession, those ROI’s will be even better.

So while I wouldn’t deny, as many now say, that social media can be especially valuable in a recession because it helps companies  strengthen relationships with their existing consumer base, no one should think it can be a substitute for the broad scale competitive advantage above-the-line media can achieve for brands in recessionary times.

Especially in a recession, it pays to advertise!


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