Why I Switched Careers

It has now been a full month since I walked away from 8+ years working for a group of radio stations in Fort Wayne Indiana.

All together I have spent 25+ years in the radio business with a couple of breaks. I started as a teenage disc-jockey and moved into the advertising and marketing world which I found fascinating.

Radio uses push marketing methods. In order to get the free music, they will push advertising messages out too.

Television broadcasting works this way too. Newspapers also use push marketing methods… you want to read the news, then you have to page thru the ads too.

Yellow Pages is not push marketing. I don’t know of anyone who has casually paged thru the phone book as a source of entertainment.

The selling point for yellow pages sales reps was, the book was the place people go to find a business to spend money with to solve problems. Once you pick up the book, you are ready to spend.

Technology however has made the phone book and the yellow pages outdated. When we want an answer, we Google it. The web and search engines are replacing the yellow pages as the source for finding information and answers.

The other reason I switched careers, I believe in the methods used by my team at Cirrus ABS which combines sound technology, solid strategic planning and analytics to measure the results.

Our Sunday Seth talks more about this:

Paying attention to the attention economy

Most of us are happily obsessed with the economy of money. We earn it and we spend it and we generally pay attention to what things cost.

Certainly, salespeople and marketers are truly focused on the price of things, on commissions and shelving allowances and net margin and the cost of goods sold.

With all of these easily measured activity, it’s easy to overlook the fast-growing and ever more important economy based around attention.

“If I alert my entire customer base, how much will this cost me in permission?”

“How much time do we save our customers with a better written manual?”

“When we fail to ask for (and reward) the privilege of following up, are we wasting permission?”

“Does launching this product to an audience of stangers waste the attention we’re going to have to buy?”

Attention is a bit like real estate, in that they’re not making any more of it. Unlike real estate, though, it keeps going up in value.


Bridging the Generations On Saturday Nights

I was a teenager when Saturday Night Live debuted in the 1970’s on NBC. That’s my senior pic.

SNL was never consistently good.

Sorry Lorne Michaels but you knew that before I said it.

I’d sit through one bad skit waiting for the next skit, hoping for something in the 90 minutes that would make me laugh.

Probably Weekend Update was the most consistent in providing humor each week.

Besides the network newscasts, SNL has the longest tenure of a network program with the exception of the Tonight Show, also on NBC.

Mediapost featured this yesterday:

‘Saturday Night Live’ Jumps On The Boomer Bandwagon
In the 1970s and early ’80s, teenagers were stumbling upon a new show called “Saturday Night Live.” The edgy comedy of the Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players spoke to everybody, and they were drawn in by the show’s hosts, a group of hot young up-and-comers like Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, and Madonna.

Watching the show many years later, I can’t help but notice that, while the show still connects with teens and 20somethings, “SNL” has apparently recognized who is controlling the younger generation’s purse strings. The hosts are increasingly in my age demo — a parade of Baby Boomers — and older.

What began last year as a Facebook-driven movement to bring octogenarian “Golden Girl” Betty White to the famed “SNL” stage has now become a full-fledged trend. Consider the following:

  • “Glee” villain Jane Lynch hosted last October only a few months after hitting the magic 50.
  • Jim Carrey had just turned 49 when he hosted in January.
  • 55-year-old “SNL” vet Dana Carvey made a comeback appearance in February.
  • “AARP Movies For Grown-Ups” award-winners Robert DeNiro (67) and “True Grit” star Jeff Bridges (65) took December spots.

This month, it showed no signs of stopping, with another over-60 double whammy: Sir Elton John (64) and Dame Helen Mirren (65).

What cultural Kool-Aid have the “SNL” producers and creator Lorne Michaels been drinking?

It turns out the sugary beverage they’ve been sipping is cold hard reality: the over 75 million boomers who will turn 47 to 65 this year not only control half of U.S. consumer spending, the average age of a primetime TV viewer this season is 51.

NBC-TV, where “SNL” lives, made a presentation last November to advertisers stating that, when it comes to spending, the 55-64 demo is just as important as the traditional 18-34 year-old media darlings.

As a matter of fact, all of the major television networks know what side the bread is buttered on, as evidenced by the host of 50+ stars who, no longer relegated to supporting roles as crotchety in-laws, now carry their own series as shrewd, commanding leads. Tom Selleck (66) and Kathy Bates (62) are TV’s newest primetime series stars, and who can avoid 63-year-old rocker Steven Tyler judging each week on “American Idol,” replacing 50-year-old Simon Cowell as fan favorite?

Boomers have the money and are becoming increasingly prominent in TV programming, yet the networks still charge far more to advertise on shows with younger viewers than ones that skew older.

While the networks have progressed, responding to the demographic shift in population, advertisers and marketers still have to be weaned off of the idea that recent college grads carrying a mountain of school debt somehow have more in their wallets than their parents and grandparents do.

With demand for accountability, advertisers will eventually get on the same page as the networks when it comes to catering to Boomers, their appeal and their spending. If it’s imperative for marketers to “follow the money,” they should look no further than who is turning on the television sets and paying the cable bills.

Mark Bradbury is research director for AARP Media Sales.

The Battle of the Screens

In my house, we have more screens than people.

5 Televisions.
1 desktop computer.
3 laptops.
2 smartphones.
1 non-smartphone.
and now a Kindle that has WiFi too.

3 people and 1 cat.

But the difference between my wife and I are our preferred screens.

I could live without a regular TV,

She likes her shows.

Look at this from Mashable:

Americans are now spending as many hours online as they do in front of their TV screens, according to a survey released by Forrester on Monday.

The average American now spends roughly 13 hours per week using the Internet and watching TV offline, Forrester finds, based on its survey of more than 30,000 customers. The Internet has long captivated the attention of younger Americans to a greater extent than TV and is now proving more popular to Gen X (ages 31 to 44) for the first time ever. Younger Baby Boomers (ages 45 to 54) are spending the same amount of time per week using both media.

While the amount of time Americans spend watching TV has remained roughly the same in the past five years, Internet use has increased by 121% in the same time frame.

Regular Mashable readers will not be surprised to learn that Internet-connected mobile devices have aided this growth in Internet use. One-fourth of online mobile owners now log into the mobile Internet, largely through mobile websites, rather than apps.

So what are Americans doing online? Shopping, mostly. In a similar survey issued in 2007, a little more than one-third of online respondents said they were shopping online; now, 60% claim to do so. A little more than one-third also access social networking sites regularly, often through their mobile devices; two-thirds of Generation Yers report that they update a social networking profile at least once per month.

Blogging, listening to streaming audio and IMing prove far less popular, engaging one-third or less of the U.S. online population respectively.

In addition, Forrester expects that 2 million new households will be connected to the Internet by the end of the year compared to the end of 2009, and that 82% of households will have Internet by 2015. Broadband will have reached 5.5 million new households by the end of this year, meaning that more than 90% of connected households will have access to high speed Internet by the end of 2010.

Image courtesy of Flickr, San Jose Library

Teen Truths

Wednesday I posted a story about teen spending habits.

Here’s a few more revelations:

9 Myths You Thought Were True
A teen, a Millennial and a Mom walk into a restaurant for dinner. The Mom has a coupon for 10% off that she got for “liking” the bar’s Facebook page, the Millennial checked in on Foursquare to get a free drink, and the teen has nothing and is too busy texting her friends to care.

Teens are a unique audience. They have their own needs and social drivers that are unique to their stage in life. Many marketers assume that, because teens are young, their needs are the same as Millennials and that they will interact with brands in the same way.

New research is showing that teens have their own needs and behaviors that are different from other generations. If you’re a marketer looking to reach teens, it’s vitally important that you always have your finger on the pulse of the teen audience. As technology evolves, teens are finding their own uses for it that are unique to their personal and social needs.

There are some myths about marketing to teens that every marketer can learn from.

Myth #1: All teens want smartphones
While it is true that teens want phones, smartphone adoption has only reached 31% as of 2010. If 90% of teens own a cell phone, why aren’t they buying smartphones? The answer is actually pretty simple: texting. Teens send an average of 3,339 texts per month, and typing that many messages on a touch screen is a lot more difficult than typing on even the most basic phone keyboard. That’s why BlackBerry is one of the most popular phones for teens.

Myth #2: Texting is the way in
We already know that teens love to text. What some marketers fail to realize is that teens only love to text with their friends. Only 10% say they want companies to contact them via text message. There are some instances where a brand can use a texting campaign to engage this audience, but most teens see texting as “too personal,” and aren’t inviting brands into their personal space.

Myth #3: Teens use Facebook the way we use Facebook
Don’t count on just your Facebook page to reach teens. Teens interact with brands on Facebook if they feel there is a real benefit to them for doing so. They’re not “liking” every brand on Facebook that they purchase, and even if they do, they’re not likely to come back to your page after the first visit.

Myth #4: Teens are going to join Twitter
Recent findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project show that only 8% of teens have embraced Twitter. Other studies also show that most teens don’t have any interest in joining Twitter in the future (76%). By the time they decide to use Twitter, they probably won’t be teens anymore.

Myth #5: If you build it, teens will come
Great ideas go to waste when no one knows about them. Many marketers believe that creating a social experience for teens will spread itself through word-of-mouth and online sharing. A good social media activation can always benefit from a mass-media driver.

Myth #6: Teens are online all the time
Teens spend roughly two hours per day on the Internet, and almost half of that time is spent on entertainment. Teens don’t need the Internet to interact with their friends — they see them all the time, and if they’re not with them, they’re texting them. If you want to reach teens online, you have to find a way to bridge their online and offline experiences.

Myth #7: Teens don’t watch TV
Teens watch over 100 hours of television per month — most of which is not viewed on TiVo, Hulu or Netflix. They may be texting or playing games while they watch TV, but they’re definitely still watching it.

Myth #8: Teen word-of-mouth happens online
Teens do not spend most of their online time communicating with their friends. In fact, over 80% of teen word-of-mouth happens offline. If you want to tap into teen word-of-mouth, find a reason for them to talk about your brand offline.

Myth #9: Teens love online video
Teens use the Internet for entertainment, and online video is an important component of that. Branded video can be a great way to engage with teens as long as it doesn’t come off as one long commercial. Teens aren’t going to be tricked into thinking that your “viral video” is anything more than an advertisement.

David Trahan is a strategist at social marketing agency Mr Youth in New York, which was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Marketing Companies in the World by “Fast Company” magazine.

Death to the TV and Landlines?

I could live without both. Could you?

Landlines And Television Sets Losing Importance

According to a new nationwide survey from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, reported by Paul Taylor and Wendy Wang with Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith, only 42% of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity. Last year, this figure was 52%, and in 2006, it was 64%.

After occupying center stage in the American household for much of the 20th century, says the report, two of the grand old luminaries of consumer technology, the television set and the landline telephone, are suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that they are necessities of life.

The drop-off has been less severe for the landline telephone. 62% of Americans say it’s a necessity of life, down from 68% last year, but 47% of the public now say that the cell phone is a necessity of life.

What Americans Need (% Rating as Necessity)


% Saying Necessity

% Change 2009-2010




Landline phone



Clothes dryer



Home air conditioning



Home computer



Cell phone






TV set



High speed Internet



Cable or satellite TV






Flat screen TV



Source: PewResearchCenter, August 2010

In the case of the landline phone, the verdict does not come just from the survey, but also from the marketplace. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data, just 74% of U.S. households now have a landline phone, down from a peak of 97% in 2001. During this same time period, use of cell phones has skyrocketed. Fully 82% of adults now use cell phones, up from 53% in 2000. There are now more cell phones in the U.S. than landline phones.

From 1996 through 2006 a rising share of Americans saw more items on the list as necessities rather than luxuries. Since 2006, says the report, as the housing bubble burst, and consumer spending throttled down, the trend has moved the opposite way. A rising share now sees more everyday items as luxuries than necessities.

The report concludes that the dichotomy posed by the question “luxury or necessity” may be a relic. A more appropriate question in 2010 may be whether consumers consider these venerable appliances to be “necessary” or “superfluous.”

The economy isn’t the only factor driving these numbers, says the report. For several items on the list, the television set and the landline phone for instance, innovations in technology also seem to be playing a role.

Even as fewer Americans say they consider the TV set to be a necessity of life, more Americans than ever are stocking up on them. In 2009, the average American home had more television sets than people, 2.86, according to a Nielsen report. In 2000, this figure was 2.43; in 1990, it was 2.0; and in 1975, it was 1.57.

The disconnect between attitudes and behaviors, opines the report, may be that the TV set hasn’t had to deal with competition from new technology that can fully replace all of its functions. If a person wants real-time access to the wide spectrum of entertainment, sports and news programming available on television, there’s still nothing (at least not yet) that can compete with the television set itself.

Another twist to the TV story, though, comes from the flat-screen television. According to the latest Pew Research survey, 10% of the public now says that a flat-screen television is a necessity of life, up from 5% who felt that way in 2006. And according to industry reports, American consumers have bought more than 100 million flat-screen television sets since 2005.

For some items dependency increases with age, especially with the very-21st-century attitudes of today’s young adults. Fewer than half of 18- to 29-year-old survey respondents consider the landline phone a necessity of life, while fewer than three-in-ten say the same about the television set.

Approximate % of Group That Considers Item as a Necessity



TV Set

Cable Service

Flat Screen TV





















Source: PewResearchCenter, August 2010

For other items, dependency decreases with age:

· The cell phone decreases in importance from 59% of the 18-29 group to 29% among the 65+ group

· Importance of the home computer goes from 53% of the younger group to 35% of the over 65s

· High speed internet is important to 33% of the younger group, increases to around 40 from 30-64, and falls off to 15% for the 65+ crowd.

The “balance of necessity” between cell phones and landline phones shifts with the age of the respondent. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, more respondents consider a cell phone a necessity than a landline phone. For those in middle age, more consider a landline phone to be a necessity. And for those ages 65 and older, those who say the landline is a necessity outnumber those who say the same about a cell phone by a ratio of more than two-to-one.

Landline Phone vs. Cell Phone (% in Each Age Group)

Age Group

Landline a Necessity

Cell Phone a Necessity













Source: PewResearchCenter, August 2010

As a June 2010 Pew Research Center report and other recent surveys of consumer behavior have shown, the deep recession that began in December 2007 has led to a new frugality in Americans’ spending and saving habits, and it appears to have scrambled Americans’ judgments about whether many everyday appliances are necessities or luxuries, says the report.

But one pattern is consistent across items studied. Their necessity rating was at (or very near) its peak four years ago, and has since declined. This suggests that the psyche of the American consumer is in a much different place now than it had been in the heady days before the recession, concludes the report.

For additional information please visit Pew Research here.

Teen Time

I have a 12 year old grandson who has a cell phone and is active on Facebook.

I know that teens (and pre-teens) are an important market, but how do you reach them?

Take a look:

The True Effect Of Interactive Media
Interactive is a term that can encompass the entire buzzword category — social, viral, mobile, digital and even most non-traditional (for all you experiential or promotions gurus!). These terms have been floating around for the last decade, but they all boil down to one core result: consumers have options about the messages they receive.

How does this relate to the teen category? As children grow into teens and mature into adults, certain tried-and-true paid media strategies will be less effective. It is increasingly important to look at the underlying shift in behavior and media consumption that is occurring in order to utilize the most effective mix possible.

So what are the underlying shifts that are occurring?

1. Active media is becoming passive media, but it’s still important. It’s cool to say “traditional is dead,” but is it really? According to several studies, TV is still the most effective way to reach a mass audience quickly. Studies are also showing that teens are more receptive to television advertising than you would think — just check out this report from Nielsen highlighting a study from the What Teens Want conference.

As an advertiser, you’re more likely to reach a mass segment of your audience using traditional impression-based media even if you’re paying for un-targeted impressions based on the volume of impressions you are able to gain. A number of media vendors are smartly beginning to package interactive media opportunities with traditional placements, driving up the value that is received by buying into the medium. TV, print, and radio will no longer be the main driver to instant action; however, they drive brand awareness, which makes your audience more likely to visit a social media page, click a banner ad, and/or participate in an event.

2. Experience is everything. A major shift in behavior is the role of instant gratification. Increasingly, consumers are given an instant high online and offline, and your marketing strategy better account for this when a teen interacts with your brand. Online, teens can spend hours reading Facebook gossip the instant that it is posted. Offline, mobile devices are bridging the gap between these interactions and are providing a forum for people — at any point in the day — to get that instant feeling.

Whether teens are interacting online or offline, the brand experience is what’s important. Make use of co-branded artistic opportunities with music, such as Nike did with the band Ok Go, or movies/videos, applications or adver-games. If you want to kick it old school, run a simple promotion, contest or sweepstakes. But keep in mind that the next step down the path to teen marketing Zen is providing payoff to the effort they’re putting into interacting with your campaign; a simple offer won’t cut it.

3. Coupons are cool again. Strike that — loyalty programs are cool. Once you’ve opened up that two-way street with your consumer, invest in the community. If it’s Facebook, build out and maintain your page. If it’s an in-store rewards system, make it something that’s better than your competitors’ rewards systems.

Keep in mind the most important marketing message of all: the one that doesn’t include any marketing. If you’re going to build goodwill with teens, it’s important not to come across like a used car salesman. Include relevant, cultural content to your fans or loyalty network to drive interaction. That will ensure your marketing messages are read and, more importantly, accepted when you have something valuable to say.

In closing, it’s important to look deeper into the shifts that are occurring in consumer behavior and not just the tactics. Make sure you utilize proven tactics efficiently, dive deeper into what will really work, and provide value beyond the initial interaction.

Frank O’Brien is the founder of Conversation, a strategy-driven, independent advertising agency specializing in emerging technologies and cross-channel marketing integration. Building on his previous success at agencies such as Deutsch Inc and Mr Youth, Frank has grown Conversation’s client roster to include The Children’s Place, Estee Lauder, Unilever, E*Trade, Rocket Dog, Prince Tennis, Pollo Tropical and HGTV, among others.

TV vs Social Media

The subject of debate is: Word of Mouth…

Internet Can Drive Word of Mouth Even Better Than Television

There’s no arguing that word of mouth (WOM) marketing impacts sales. And while a large number of people talk about content they found online, three-quarters of the time those conversations take place offline.

A recent study from Yahoo on WOM marketing demonstrates that the Internet has grown more influential when it comes to informing people through conversations about brands, even more so than TV in certain categories. The study also finds that the best vehicles for influencing WOM come from consumers who play in social networks. These “Conversation Catalysts” drive a disproportionately higher percentage of WOM activity.

While many marketers have little doubt that the Internet can influence WOM marketing nearly as much as TV, the huge gap in budgets for online versus television tells a different tale, says Radha Subramanyam, Yahoo vice president, who heads corporate and media research. “There’s a bit of an intellectual gap in how marketers spend their budget that doesn’t exactly tie to ROI,” she says.

Although only 7% of all brand-WOM conversations occur online, 38% of people have brand-WOM conversations both online or offline influenced by the Internet, which Yahoo estimates at 74 million people.

Among the media channels influencing WOM, the Internet has grown while others like television and print remain flat. The level of Internet references rose to 15% in January 2010, compared with nearly 12% during the same time in the year-ago period.

Despite the buzz around social media and its role in WOM, most conversations take place face to face. Media — both online and off — are influential in driving these conversations, but it’s important to note that 76% of WOM conversations take place in person.

Two-thirds of WOM is positive, and only 8% is negative, according to the study.

Certain categories such as financial and automotive appear to do better than health and health care and personal care and beauty. The study recognizes a 17% impact on finance from the Internet, compared with 8% for television. Yahoo believes that impact has a 1% bump to 18% on its network.

The study finds that Yahoo’s audience drives more WOM marketing for automotive and finance categories. While the Facebook and YouTube audiences both have a considerable reach, a much higher volume of auto and finance WOM occurred among the Yahoo audience since January.

Automotive in Yahoo’s network drove 54% of WOM marketing volume compared with 48% in Facebook; 46%, YouTube; 21%, MSN; 17%, AOL; and 15%, Hulu. Finance in Yahoo’s network drove 55% of WOM marketing volume, compared with 48% in Facebook; 40%, YouTube; 23%, MSN; 17%, AOL; and 14%, Hulu.

Conversation Catalysts have become the most valuable WOM segment, because they have a large social network, belong to clubs, organizations and social groups, and often give advice in five or more product categories. They are 20% more likely to mention the Internet in brand WOM conversations.

This trend is driven by millennials, Subramanyam says. “This generation is moving into the years of life where they think about purchases. These kids are now becoming adults,” she says. “This generation is the first that literally grew up with the Internet.”

As millennials become the new adults, marketers will see an interesting cultural shift, Subramanyam says.

Even so, there’s a missed opportunity in understanding that traditional Internet marketing has a bigger impact on word of mouth, says Brad Fay, chief operating officer at Keller Fay Group, and marketing consultant at McKinsey. “There’s a big opportunity to drive word of mouth using something as simple as a brand Web site,” he says. “The study found it’s the number one component to drive word of mouth through the Internet.”

About 15% of all conversations include something from people who found the information online, Fay says. People sit side-by-side with a mobile device in hand, talking about restaurants, clothing stores or services they read about online, he says.

The study concludes that Internet content can significantly impact WOM activity, especially on sites that serve this market segment known as Conversation Catalysts.

Yahoo partnered with Keller Fay to observe WOM activity from more than 18,500 survey respondents between August 2009 and January 2010. WOM conversations were tracked with the assistance of a 24-hour diary and follow-up contacts to answer standardized questions about brands and companies they talked about.

(Source: Online Media Daily, 06/11/10)