Should you Take your Product to Retail or Ecommerce first?

*This article first appeared on the Web Talent Marketing blog. This is just a repost of this piece on this blog.*

The retail Home Run moment.

According to the latest data from Google, 90% of purchases happen in a retail environment. Despite the watershed of digital, retail reigns supreme for purchase intent. The niche product market is no exception. Despite a seemingly endless selection of products, the retail shelf is shrinking. More brands are paying slotting fees for placement, bigger brands are creating niche products to earn placement in Organic and secondary aisles and retailers are less interested in issuing a chain-wide distribution for a product without a limited store ‘test.’

Let’s outline an example, food. While many feel Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market signals ecommerce disruption for the food market, estimates predict that 80% of food purchases will remain in retail by 2025. However, according to a Harris Poll, 48% of respondents state a major reason for purchasing online has to do with difficulty of finding the product in store. A long shelf life is the other major contributing factor. Add to that the fact that 34% of these consumers are more inclined to purchase a new brand online means that discovery and ultimately conversion can happen online, without a retail presence.

Wait, ecommerce vs. retail?

Keeping on our food example, consumers are increasingly interested in what they are putting in their bodies. Is the food made from sustainable ingredients? Are the ingredients of Organic origins? Basically, these individuals want to know if what they are about to ingest or apply to their body will not have a irreproachable reaction.

However, those promoting a product of this sort have to understand the moving target that is present in today’s market. Consumers are increasingly fleeting from the retail experience, of which they are exposed to a bevy of products, brought to you by the ever-increasing slotting fees paid by the world’s largest retailers to earn the coveted chest-high placement. The sheer nature of retail makes it difficult to keep up with the nebulous consumer demand for a particular niche sector. Unsatisfied with the selection in retail, consumers are moving to platforms with an endless shelf, ripe with a virtual kaleidoscope of options and a story unable to be told by retail, primed for their discerning palette.

We attend a great deal of trade shows and have had hundreds of conversations with many aspirational brands hoping for the home run placement in retail, thousands of consumers are not even considering retail for their niche product interests. Search is their primary vehicle of discovery. If brands offering discerning products for discerning people would realize the inherent serendipity of being present for these niche searches, in which the story and ingredients are even more important than a presence in retail, then they would realize the fleeting importance of home run placements.

As a former Brand and Product Manager, I get it… Placement for my flagship product historically would make or break my career. But we are in an age of discovery, of information, of the endless shelf in which products from the darkest depths of our existence, are delivered to your door in 1-2 days. The home run of retail no longer has a relevancy in today’s search market. The grocery store or mass retailer is no longer our medium for product discovery.

Here are reasons why marketers of a niche product should be in an ecommerce first mentality:

A variety of innovative products with niche audiences and limited distribution opportunities. While the general retail (or even niche retail) experience might not provide the level of volume required to justify placement fees, the low risk elements of ecommerce provide a viable option to even fundamentally prove concept and then, look to retail for scale.

With such a discerning product offering, education and story are fundamental to justify the pattern interrupt required to entice trial. These stories can’t be told in retail and lend themselves naturally to ecommerce. Remember when brands used to try QR codes to tell a larger story? Yea.. that didn’t work either, but a reading a blog article, Q&A, product highlights, and reviews prior to purchase… easy in the ecommerce marketplace.

The home run of placement is also missing one of the core necessities for retail, demand. Just because a product is on the shelf doesn’t mean it will sell through. Having an ecommerce first mindset will allow you to understand consumer demand, establish your flagship products, and allow you to bring your owned audience to the retailer.

This ecommerce to retail concept has been proven

Starting with an ecommerce first mindset isn’t anything new. Organizations like Bonobos, Warby Parker, Athleta, BaubleBar, and JustFab built an audience online and then further monetized that audience by creating unique retail experiences, of which they own the entire experience. And it doesn’t have to be a complete retail experience, brands like Bark Box started online and are now selling in retailers such as Target. Just look at the cosmetics space, as more than a dozen brands have started online and earned retail placement in Ulta and others.

ecommerce to prove concept, retail to scale

Retail penetration is important, but what is even more important is sell through. Marketers who are selling a unique, niche product that might require some education and storytelling prior to trial must think ecommerce first. This helps the marketer build an audience that will drive retail demand, which only comes from online and not exclusively social media. Building an audience of their existing and prospective clients, convince them of USPs, and then drive the retail demand or even earn the margin by selling direct to consumer. Retail placement is not required in the potential e-commerce disruption of food or any other niche retailer.

What Amazon’s Prime Day Means for eCommerce

Disclaimer: This post was originally found on the Web Talent Marketing blog.

Interested in an automatic egg poacher? Or, maybe a set of USB-c cables? Better yet, a giant swan raft? Anyone who shopped Amazon’s Prime Day surely noticed the eclectic variety of products featured by the eCommerce giant.

But according to numerous reports, consumers turned out in droves to purchase products which is evidenced by Amazon’s sales on Prime Day jumped a reported 60% YOY, with estimates highlighting $2 billion in sales. This is the largest in the event’s short history.

Amazon’s Hallmark Moment

While the summer season may be slow for many online retailers, Amazon’s creation of a Black Friday-esque event in the middle of the year showcases the retail giant’s stranglehold over our consumer shopping behavior.

Much like Hallmark’s creation of special days like Grandparents day or Home Depot’s ‘Spring Black Friday,’ or most similarly, Alibaba’s Single’s Day, Amazon’s Prime Day highlights the excitement, attention, and transactional consumer mindset they have over their flock of loyalists; and the promise of good deals.

Amazon Owns Product Searches

According to ComScore, product searches generally start at Amazon, earning twice as many search initiations as the next closest competitor. A few years back, you remember making a purchase on Amazon because you were more interested in the deep discount. Amazon famously set their sights on less profit margin with the goal of changing consumer behavior by altering their perception of eCommerce purchases of everyday items, and doubling down on highlighting the convenience as a unique selling proposition.

This strategy has obviously paid off as data supports that Amazon Prime members make twice as many purchases per month than non-Prime members.

Changing Consumer Behavior starts with a Vending Machine

One of the highlights of Prime Day was the most successful product, Amazon’s own Echo (more specifically the Dot) which is powered by voice assistant Alexa. While this doesn’t surprise many that the Echo was the top selling product, this doubles down on Amazon’s interest in becoming your one-stop-shop for everyday items, as well as dispels rumors about Google’s Home product earning increased market share of the Voice Assistant market.

If Amazon is able to insert their passive listening voice assistant in more homes, sell the value of its problem solving capabilities, couldn’t Amazon earn an even larger share of your consumable purchase behavior?

In my eyes, the Echo is Amazon’s vending machine. It is the device that allows you to easily purchase and dispense products you place little thought into, such as consumables. We rarely deviate from our favorite brand of Almond Milk, Protein Bar, Facial Tissue, and other everyday items. So, if Amazon can bring those to you at a relatively similar price point and delivered to your door in 2 or less days, why fight the crowds in big box retail? Amazon is continuing to adapt consumer behavior and the Echo is their device to execute this adaptation.

Room for more Saturation?

What we found to be the most telling statistic from the numbers following the event is that it appears traffic to Amazon from existing Amazon users was down from prior year, despite the massive increase in sales. Does this mean that consumers went to Amazon and purchased at a higher rate then previous years? Does this mean their cart size was larger? Both could be true, but the fact Amazon surely earned a higher share of new audience, given its saturation in the consumer mindset, should at least make other online retailers take notice.

When SEO Organic Rankings Mean Nothing: The Future of SERPs

**This post first appeared on the Web Talent Marketing Blog and is being republished here.**
Despite the consumers search evolution and never-ending quest for answers to questions, products, and services; the act of search continues to increase. Fueled by constant connectivity, we increasingly seek to answer our queries by turning to a magical machine based answering device. Whether that is the traditional search engine (mainly Google) or the new in-home personal assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, our insatiable desire to obtain the correct answer pushes us more and more to our devices. Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, these devices are better understanding our language, our nuances, our feelings and ultimately answers to the questions we might seek before we ask them, and through passive listening, know the context of our conversations.

Rankings: The only metric that matters right?

Ask any marketing manager, brand manager, business owner, or other digital marketer what the one thing that will help them earn more business online… chances are, they will talk about rankings at some point in the first 3 minutes.
Rankings have been the most important conquest of any digital agency, consultant, or internal staff due to the old adage that if you rank in the top 3 positions, you will earn the most traffic, which will then allow you to earn the most conversions from that traffic. Obviously, marketers want to rank high for the highest volume of queries, but those who are smart, make sure that relevancy is the most important metric in that keyword selection. However, working with clients, I have seen why this is a very flawed mindset. I have seen clients rank in the top position for EVERY query they want and still see flat or declining entrances from organic search. No longer should rankings be the primary metric to define success of an SEO campaign.

Enter Position Zero:

The entity called Position Zero, Featured Snippets, Answer Graph, or whatever you want to call it today has gone from being the most sought after entity, to the least sought after entity (looking at you IMDB), back to the most sought after entity again. Much has been covered on this topic so I won’t go into great detail here, but fundamentally, the goal of any website owner is to answer questions that consumers have and type into the search bar. With that being the goal, everyone who isn’t selling advertising based upon impressions should be trying to earn position zero, but also not give the complete answer. Give enough of an answer or even the process that wets the appetite for them to click through to your site to learn the rest. Remember how important click-through-rate is relative to Google’s Search algorithm. If you are selling a product, even better… your goal is to connect their query to your products, so earning position zero allows you to connect them to your products for queries where Shopping isn’t the primary result (think a query like best running shoes for ultra marathon runners) and if you can have your product featured in there, you are winning, and chances are you might even earn the conversion.
Position zero should be one of your targets for SEO success, since it doesn’t always go to the top spot, but to the result that is formatted in a manner that best pleases the bots, provides steps for answer (numbered/non-numbered), and obviously satisfies users. Even if you do not rank in the top 5 positions, you can still earn the position zero and potentially ‘outrank’ all of those other sites.

Now.. I bring you…. Recommended Answers

While the Featured Snippets are only 2 years old and according to data from Stone Temple Consulting, they are on the rise. But I think there is something else on the horizon that could be the next significant focus of SEO time, recommended answers on in-home personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo.
These in-home personal assistants are experiencing volatile growth and with the holidays here and the promotions that Google and Amazon are running, we will be hearing more of that automated Google voice or Alexa. These devices are really doing one thing… making us a bit more lazy by preventing the need to actually place our fingers (so incredibly tired from scrolling) onto our devices to type the same question we are verbalizing. Additionally, our phones have Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, all capable of doing the same thing that Echo and Home does, yet the large audible speaker and returning voice makes it easier.
Recently, brands and agencies are staffing up on those who are able to work with AI to provide recommendations. Brands like Tide and Johnnie Walker have been creating campaigns for these in-home personal assistants. Think about this scenario… you spill red wine on your couch and instantly, you turn to Alexa and ask, “how do i remove a stain from my suede couch?” You immediately receive a response developed by Tide, features a Tide product, and informs you of the steps you need to take to remove the stain. Or in the case of the liquor brand, you have friends over and want to know how to make a traditional Manhattan. Immediately a recipe from your favorite Whiskey brand is there with a delicious recipe. The possibilities for ‘Featured Recommendations’ are endless and you need to think about how you can connect those queries to your brand/products/services.

A new KPI for your SEO campaign?

When we are no longer looking at a sea of blue links and relying on a device to make the best recommendation for us, earning the position as that recommended choice will be even more important than position zero. This could replace the local pack for localized queries and with advertising options SURELY going to make their way into these devices, earning that ‘organic’ recommendation could drive significant offline growth, through an online channel.
Gone are the days of the traditional SEO goal, earn high rankings and watch the traffic flow. Consumers are increasingly changing their searching behaviors, to that of devices not include mobile phones. Earning THE recommendation on the in-home personal assistants and continuing to strive for position zero adds 2 new goals for your SEO campaign, further muddies the water with regards to how you handle those conversations with your agency or partner, as well as makes it even more difficult for you to illustrate the story relative to the ROI of SEO, however, the stakes are increasingly higher.

The Pleasing Paradox

We spend most of our time aiming to please strangers. Actively ignoring those who we have already succeeded in pleasing. Those individuals who welcome our banter, quirks, and uniqueness. We have successfully sold them on our bill of goods. Ironically enough, our laser-like focus on those for which we aim to please clouds our judgement. We all know too well there is an infinite number of strangers to try to please. Each with their own requirement for pleasing. Our constant pursuit for the pleasing paradox prevents us from enjoying and continuing to nurture the relationships we have already built. Our arrogance in the conquest of a successful sale, only satisfies a taste of our malicious desire.

Continuing the hunt of additional skulls for our belt, our blood thirsty lust for another satisfied customer blinds the real meaning behind our subject’s pleasure. The desire for interaction and meaningful relationships.

This metaphoric representation is all too true today in our business world. Our thirst for new customers and the conversion of a cold lead prevents us from understanding the true value of the already qualified and satisfied customer. Until that customer falls back into the funnel, as a now scorn and neglected antelope grazing in the field.

Why I left my dream job (and Corporate America) to join the agency life

First of all, how did I land the corporate life…Why I left my dream job for the agency life

I have always been a ‘marketing’ guy. But when I went to college, marketing = sales and believe me, I wasn’t a sales person. So, this new fangled internet thing was just taking hold and everyone was lining up to be the next Network Engineer, or if you were me…. you saw the opportunity going into development. With that stage being set, I started college as a Computer Science major. But when second level C++ programming came up on the list, I quickly changed paths. Going back to my roots, I moved to Business Management, where I saw myself eventually owning or running an agency full of brilliant ad men & ladies and dominating the branding world. Marketing FTW!!

However, risks of owning and running an agency when you have NO REAL WORLD experience was just a bit much and my interests were forced to change again. I did my time working for small organizations, single handedly running marketing departments and I did quite well for myself. This work netted me a brand development role with a medium sized multi-national. This was it… this was the realistic dream I have been searching for:  Becoming a brand manager with a massive multi-national conglomerate. Seeing myself being the next Brand Manager to bring to market the likes of Swiffer, Axe Body Wash or Google Glass invoked a sense of anticipation that I have never experienced before. Walk into every store in the country and see your products = perfection.

As I continued down my destined path, I grew in the role and it landed me a Product Management role in a massive multi-national conglomerate.. This was it…. I was now responsible for launching some of the greatest products the world has to offer. I launched products and the sense of pride/accomplishment/ego that came over me everytime I walked into a Home Improvement store was the reason I did it! This would be my career and the fire burned super bright….

Until the fire went out…

The further I got down the path, I couldn’t get away from my fascination for the internet and this unbelievable mystery about the agency life. Being in brand management kept me away from the one thing that continued to burn through my heart and mind. I was working 60-70 hours weeks consistently and still caught myself digesting everything there was to know about what is happening on the web. Knowledge Graph, Hummingbird, Panda 2.0, Penguin 2.0…. all happened and I stalked/observed from the outside like a jealous ex boyfriend on Facebook. This job I thought was my passion just wasn’t… Every night, I went home and read all night about what was happening with winners and losers on the web.

And then the decision was made…

I was going to do it…. Leave my dream job and long term sustainable career with upward mobility to join the crazyness of an agency? The unpredictability, the long hours, the crazy clients, the ticking time of the ‘clock.’ All of these items got me fired up, instead of invoking the typical reaction, which was run for the hills. The question is why? Ultimately, there were several factors that led to my decision to throw away the dream career that I have been working so hard for and enter the throws of the agency life.

I feel the decision I made isn’t necessarily unique and feel that the below thoughts are indicative of how corporate america burns out their greatest assets, and is forced to supplement this talent void, with none other than agencies. Which is why driven, infovore marketers such as myself are making the leap to agency life. All of the joys of corporate marketing, but on a macro scale surrounded by droves of brilliant marketers like yourself.

Without further ado.. here are the reasons I left Corporate America for the agency life.

  1. You can’t win the race while sitting at the starting line: A hyper speed product development and launch is 6-9 months. Then you have corporate red tape, constant meetings about meetings which involve additional meetings, countless number crunching in attempts to find a way we can squeeze that additional .25% margin out of the product, the constant raw material rodeo to find cheaper materials, various design iterations, in which every C-Suite member instantly becomes an acclaimed product designer, the projections, the retail partners and their constant foot on the throat power grab, and o yea… meetings…. all items that lead to delays, and more delays. To top it all off, delays caused by the C-Suite, followed shortly by the inevitable ‘walk to the principal’s office’ to get the ‘YOUR LATE’ tongue lashing  by the same C-Suite who delayed your project. Joys!
  2. Red Tape is the only color tape the Office Services team can’t order in bulk: Everyone knows about the infamous TPS reports but seriously…. Red Tape is the cornerstone of Corporate America. Before you can do anything, fill this form out, get it approved by these 25 senior members (who are never in the office…sorry) and then run it back through those who didn’t see the change approver #24 made. Sorry about your timeline friend.
  3. You can’t shoot the gun with the safety on: Fear…. what drives corporate america. We can’t launch this product because it loosely infringes on a sister company’s product. We can’t make the product in this new innovative package because the staff is trained on the old manufacturing equipment. Everyone LOVES the current product offering available today. Why would they want innovation? The incumbent organization, for which your product directly competes is the preferred brand, your product has no chance. All questions that show Corporate America’s greatest trait…. Fear. You think that Square was concerned about the incumbent credit card companies when they launched?? You think that Amazon believed everyone who thought people wouldn’t buy books, lawnmowers, and costume sunglasses from the internet? The constant second guessing never allows you to make your profit goals.
  4. Group-think is the only kind of thinking allowed in our meetings: Here is a wonderful idea…. break away from your plugged in and efficient productivity mode, sit in a room with 10 other people and recap an email that was sent to all 11 of you. Then lets go back and forth on discrediting every line in this email to why it doesn’t pertain to my department, why I have done everything in my power to make this correct, and end the meeting concluding that John in accounting (who is the only person not invited to the meeting) was to blame for this issue. Agree to meet back in 1 week, just to rinse and repeat. That my friend…. is how great products are launched.
  5. Projections are made to be unattainable: Why would we create a goal that can be reached? What is a great marketer, manager, contributor, if they have accomplished their goals?? Who wants an accomplished employee?? Not us…. unattainable goals are what keeps employees motivated to do more. And when they fail, we squash their ego like bugs and increase the goal by 20% next year. Good luck employee, enjoy the free coffee.
  6. Research can tell you anything you want to hear, but most of all, it is wrong: The mind of the consumer. The holy grail of any brand marketer. Brands spend six figures plus to get into the mind of a consumer. They achieve the exact results they are looking for and when presented to the C-Suite, they punch as many holes as possible to discredit the research that you do not even believe the research. They decide the product needs to go against the research, and when it fails, you didn’t follow the research.

As most brand marketers, I could go on and on. But these 6 suffice why many of the most gifted brand marketers leave Corporate America and contribute their knowledge to agencies. And these are the reasons why I left my dream job (and corporate america) to join the agency life. Corporate America will not listen, change, do anything but continue to drive their biggest and brightest across the sound to greener pastures of the agency. And now fully entrenched into the agency life, I would say, that I have found my niche and enjoying every second of this.

Controlling the Internet of Things

Internet connectivity is all around us. spilling from our lifeblood (our phones) to our televisions, gaming systems, and DVD players to appliances, lights (using WeMo) and even cars. Everywhere we are, connectivity follows us. We depend on it but most of all we expect it. Our random queries at social events and interactions where people would speculate about who the team was that was MVP of the 1961 world series, or what was that movie with Samuel Jackson where he played the bum?? No matter where we are, we demand internet.

So when the internet of things movement started, i actually was curious why it took so long. But it has started and started with the appliance we use most often… our refrigerator. This essential appliance makes sense to have connectivity. But connectivity needs to take the next level. We need to have some efficiencies between all of this connectivity.

Lets go down the idea train: What if your connected fridge can communicate with your Nike+ fitband to monitor what you are eating and adjusting your work out plan based upon your caloric intake?

And what about seeing a commercial for organic granola bars from Nature’s Promise (my favorite) and wanting to add them to the grocery list…. so you use your remote and add that item to your shopping list…. o wait… did i go too far?

With all of our connectivity, what is the use if they do not speak to each other? We need to have a centralized hub that controls the connections. We could have at least 10 devices using the internet at all times (wow… what a commodity game this will ensue to control the connectivity) but none of them have a seamless transition. Why can’t i view something on my TV, use my remote (or phone as a remote..hint hint) and take action from my TV and send it to another one of my connected devices. If i see a recipe on the TV, i sent it to my fridge. If i see a pair of shoes i like from Zappos, i can send it directly to my phone from my TV… or to my tablet.

Seriously… why does this feel so far away? why can’t we make this happen. If the Nest can connect with devices in your home, why can’t we do something to connect everything in the house? Why not take your Cisco router, create a hub and bounce all of the connectivity seamlessly between devices? If you are utilizing the same platform or a synonymous operating system, this shouldn’t be difficult. Someone make this happen before a crazy marketer like me figures it out.

Which brings me to the the point of my next post…. marketing the internet of things. Obviously i am a marketer who is always looking for the next big thing and area to fulfill consumer demand. I will leave you waiting for that post…. until then.

MSM is The Next Big Thing in Advertising…Whats that?

Not late breaking news here but the role of traditional advertising has become bleak. Less and less organizations are dumping their funds into the abyss of traditional push messaging due to the low returns. Online advertising is reaching its saturation point and the targeted consumers are inundated with multiple messages constantly on various screens, their attention levels has reached their lowest point.

The infamous question in marketing/advertising is…. whats next? What is tomorrow’s banner ad? or TV spot?

Just a thought, but i feel the future of advertising/marketing lies in what i will coin… multi-screen messaging or MSM for short.

What is multi-screen messaging. Lets set the stage:

Data Set:

We all know that multi-tasking and multi-screen viewing is commonplace in today’s society. we are constantly between screens, whether it be TV and laptop, TV and tablet, TV and smartphone, Tablet and Smartphone…do i need to go on? This constant seesaw ride between devices continues on our pace of broken messages and short attention spans.

Scenario:

Let me tell a story…close your eyes and picture yourself here….

Sitting on the couch… lets say… watching a popular talent competition… lets say NBC’s The Voice (more on that here). You have your trust Samsung Tab or iPad handy watching YouTube videos, checking your social accounts or live tweeting along with your favorite show. The constant back and forth allows you to miss most of the commercial messages between segments and the constant checking on the performance diverts your attention from the online display ads. what is a marketer to do?

Enter MSM:

The future lies in this…. Lets use Amazon as our advertiser de facto. More on Amazon here… but back to your couch. Just as you are hearing “We are the ones with the smile on the box”…. your connected TV displays an ad showcasing a sweet pair of headphones you were just looking at over at Amazon yesterday… wait how did that happen? Your connected TV obviously is on your network and shares your IP address. Amazon/Google (insert advertiser here) already tracks your viewing history and purchase history. so… if you are searching on your home network or logged into your account…. your viewing/purchasing history is already there. So Amazon sends you related messages based on your previous viewing/purchase history….right on your connected TV. you are interested in the ad but do not want to disrupt your viewing of the Voice to visit a web page…. so it presents you with the option to ‘send to tablet, smartphone, or laptop’. Right then, the destination of the ad is send directly to the device of your choice.

Seem far away?? lets go back to my previous statement…. your home network shares an IP address…which is tracked by Google/Amazon and a gaggle of other advertisers online. so the information is there…. stored based on your IP address/cookie. so tell me again why there is a gap?

the ability to link your devices on your home network should work both ways. you see a video on YouTube and interested in blowing it up large…. the option “Send to TV” is presented and the ad is shown on your TV… instantly.

The smoke is rolling out of my head right now. The possibilities here are endless. it is more then display ads. it can be social interactions. i am honestly shocked that our disconnected and attention lacking society would actually take the action to see a various hashtag, twitter handle, facebook page, and actually visit that page/destination. “you actually want me to take what you told me to do and ACTUALLY employ it? o the audacity of you”.

So what if you could just select or even voice control (getting fancy huh?) that you want to visit that page on your smartphone. this instant interaction would not only explode the adoption of consumers visiting these pages and taking part in the conversation, but would add an interactive element to the TV (aka thoughtless box) that keeps your brain engaged and not a zombie staring at moving imagery.

Why should we stop at ads and social…. this can be content driven…. or educational. seriously the thoughts coming to my head in 5 minutes of thinking about this idea…. it could be the leap that integrates traditional and digital marketing…. once and for all!!!

Your thoughts?

Now of all Times….

Perhaps the most overused and least understood statements in used to discuss something in which people are not fond of….

Now of all times

Lets use this in a sentence….  I can’t believe they would run an ad like that… now of all times.

When i hear this statement, my first thought is… ok when is the ‘time’ you are referring to. Flanking that intriguing question bodes the follow up…. Is there ever a time in which people wouldn’t say…Now of all times?

We live in such an immediate society that the thought of something that feels out of place, used in the past, or so forward thinking that it is uncomfortable for the viewer… deems the response… Now of all times.

There will never be a time in which the person would say…. you know what?? right now is ‘that time.’ Deflecting away from the item in question that is out of place is easier to chalk it up to be ‘outdated’ or ‘not of this time’ as opposed to being a different attack aimed at a different content consumer.

Short sided comments such as ‘Now of all times’ do nothing but further pigeonhole close minded individuals.

What is the Future of TV?

Here is a topic that is sure to get your mind racing and have you seriously question everything that you have known about for most of your lives.

What is the Future of TV?

I don’t mean the future of TV as in 3d technology, laser technology, 6000″ screens, and 1/3333333th” screens. I am talking about the actual medium in which you watch television and the juggernauts that ‘run’ TV. yes, i am talking about Comcast, DirecTV and i guess i have to throw in there DISH Network (even though they aren’t as relevant).

Ever increasing bills associated with the big 3 and how they deliver content are forcing consumers to find new and creative ways to see the shows they want, without having to foot the massive cost to watch. HULU tried and streamed a large number of shows a week or so after they aired live. Obviously, they couldn’t get all of the networks to get on board and still left consumers clamoring for a more robust tool.

Don’t forget about the best thing to happen to TV series since well umm… the TV…. Netflix. Not only did Netflix change the way that we consumer movies in general, but it changed the way that we consume TV shows. I watched entire series(es?) on Netflix and was not even subscribed to the channel in which they first aired. Netflix or consumers didn’t know this, but this changed the game.

O and it didn’t stop there… The inception of GoogleTV, Roku, AppleTV and the like are providing consumers with a lower cost way to consumer content.

Add the fact that Amazon is now in the game offering a streaming service (a la Netflix) and is VERY serious about the space and is willing to basically give it away. Wait… give away movies and TV content that people are paying in excess of $2k for a year? that is blaphemy. ooo no, it is the new world order of TV.

Should Cable companies and Satellite companies be worried? Yes.

Should networks be worried? You would think yes, but i think no… if they follow the HBO lead. 

What about offering an a la carte service for their shows to stream online? Obviously connected devices such as TVs, gaming devices, and blu ray/DVD players are just adding an additional pipeline to the internet.

Consumers are increasingly viewing 2 or more screens simultaneously and is it me, or does the TV (in the traditional sense) feel like a relic in our hyper connected world. instead of having to broadcast your hashtag or facebook address all over the screen and require one additional albeit substantial action for the consumer to use their other screen and convert on your request, you can just have a live ticker on the side of your screen and merge the 2 screens. I honestly haven’t heard anyone talking about this action but why not?

Why add more screens to our arsenal when we could consolidate and just have everything on 1? we are already doing that with our mobile device blending the desktop/laptop/tablet world onto 1 device, so why not with the TV?

back to my point of TV. If HBO would offer a service for lets say…. $7.99/month (this price point appears to work…) to watch new runs, reruns, and on demand access, anytime you want through your connected device? this is where TV can be saved from its inevitable demise.

But here is a reality check….

Is it me or are cable and satellite companies just a middle man? they are a distributor of content… not the creators. The Makers movement is showing everyone that you can make anything and be a creator… not a distributor. everything is about going DIRECT to the manufacturer. So why do we need cable and satellite companies anymore?

Networks are the creators and they are the ones responsible for garnering eyeballs…. the distributors are there just to show content with no real accountability.

If networks would just cut the cord and use this tactic to actually control their demand and market penetration, it gives them the ability to value add and provide that Purple Cow…. similar to what Amazon is doing with Prime and basically everything else they touch. Networks should take a lesson and it could quite possibly save their business and bottom line. Why do they consistently stay on board of a sinking ship?

Networks could use this to drive their online space and sell merchandise very easily, partner with sponsors to provide a more robust advertising campaign and perhaps might actually extend TV advertisements into a new market (i.e. Small and Mid size businesses)…. this could be the resurrection of network advertising and completely blends the online and offline space perfectly.

One more thought before i step off the soapbox. What is the biggest hurdle for networks? time slots. they are the Boardwalk and Park Place of TV and they bank so much on the primetime slots and are competing directly with all of the other networks. If you have this digital consumption model, you are not limited to the constraints of time slots and able to be creative and try multiple shows that are fringe and different with very low investment. Hmmm… I am not a network exec or anything but… you know… just a thought.

I think that this was the ideal that Google was looking for when they made the Google TV Ads platform (which they just killed) but obviously ran into the roadblock of networks stuck in the yesteryear and getting their lunch ate by digital consumption of content.

Own the space and be a frontrunner or find new and creative ways to cut costs and play the lottery on a few select shows.

This is a topic i could go on and on about forever because it just makes sense…. and i find it so difficult to understand why nobody else has talked about this? Ok other than Mitch Joel

Amazon Takes the Gloves off…

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the devastation seen by millions along the East Cost (no exception in my small town in PA) shown me that I need to make sure that i am prepared for what i feel is going to be a HORRENDOUS winter. So…. i need some snow shovels and where else to look but Amazon??

Upon first glance onto Amazon.com, i am welcomed by this pretty aggressive review of the iPad Mini by Gizmodo….

Wow…. I would say that this is a pretty aggressive review to have posted on the page that surely goes for $100k+ a day for advertising. And then it hit me….

Amazon is seriously taking the gloves off and making it known that they are HERE TO STAY in the tablet game. To put such an aggressive and potentially defamatory post on the highest trafficked and highest viewed page on the site is telling.

This goes right along side of Samsung who has thrilled marketers and consumers alike with their blatant ridicule of Apple ‘fanboys’ with their Samsung G2 and G3 commercials over the past few years.

Obviously everyone wants to go after the industry leader (although Samsung is pretty much taking over that trait in the marketplace) so Apple can’t do anything but feel flattered.

Another sign that this aggressive statement shows is the saturation of tablets to the point where fighting for share is priority #1. Before, everyone could advertise tablets and the adoption was just as volatile because they were new and the introduction to the market was plentiful. This shows that the fight for share is on and taking down the tablet leader (Apple) is the big fight. Are we reaching the exhaustion point of tablets and have the adoption rate vs. laptops/desktops officially reached the brink?

What are your thoughts on this pretty aggressive statement by Amazon?