Welcome to Market Revolution's blog

Thank you for visiting Market Revolution's blog.

We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

This is also our place to ruminate and comment on the world as we see it, we hope you enjoy and please join in.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Many papers around the world are taking radical steps to cut costs and improve efficiencies. Times are extremely tough and cuts are unavoidable but the industry has to be careful where it cuts and not cut a main artery.

Cutting distribution is sensible but now two high-selling Detroit newspapers have taken it a step further - by eliminating home delivery on four days of the week.

This is madness. This would be like the UK industry cutting subscribers but worse as home delivery folks pay full price. Yes they do.

Home delivery customers are the absolute lifeblood of US newspaper industry. These folks are the loyalists. They buy everday. They read everyday. Dont punish them. Reward them.

Don't take them for granted and absolutely don't expect them to go from paper to digital. They won't.

For all those UK Newspaper managers who are considering the full range of cuts learn from this and please leave the subscriber and home delivered customer alone. Broaden the relationship with them don't end it. Open up new revenue streams through transactions.

be careful where you cut

Monday, 15 December 2008

Radio bags another senior management figure from newspapers

Stuart Mays has quit Associated Newspapers where he was head of strategy to join his former Associated colleague Stephen Miron at Global Radio. Miron is the former Mail on Sunday managing director who was appointed Global's chief executive of radio in August.

Mays will work across all commercial aspects of Global Radio, taking up his new role on 5 January.

This is interesting on 2 levels:

Firstly, Mays is the second senior manager to leave Associated recently (Miron being the first). This presents a challenge to remaining management who have been used to a uniquely stable top table. We are seeing the most long standing management team in newspapers come unstitched right when experience and stability are most necessary.

Secondly, we have another senior newspaper man leaving for radio - surely out of the frying pan into the fire but from what we hear Global pay very well so hey who cares!

Mr Madoff - rounds off a very bad year

Ok - we've had collapsed banks, big bailouts, melt down on wall street but now we have (alleged) fraud and on a massive scale.

A $50bn scale!

''Mr Madoff told senior employees, including his sons, that his investment management firm had lost $50bn over a number of years, according to court documents. Prosecutors alleged that he said his operations were “just one big lie” and “basically a giant Ponzi scheme” – where investment managers pay old investors with money raised from new investors.''

Whats absolutely incredible about all this is not so much the size of the fraud but the extent of it.

Mr Madoff conned a huge number of very very experienced people, institutions and authorities big time.

HSBC, BNP Paribas, Nicola Horlick (!) Grupo Santandar. RBS (£400m exposure); Man Group ($360m exposure).

To name but a few.

More astonishingly he also conned the authorities over many many years (which is far more worrying)

How could this happen?

Who knows but there must be lots of egg on alot of important faces this morning. And more shame and embarrassment for the financial sector.

I have one word of explaination: GREED

The investors are not victims they are mugs! Didnt it seem odd to them that Madoff's fund continued to post stellar returns even in these really challenging times?

To perform this well over so many years he was either a genius or a crook and surprise surprise ............!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Newsweek - making right (but painful) moves

The rumors appear to be true: Newsweek will amputate up to one million copies from its 2.6 million circulation, according to Wall Street Journal sources.

This sounds sensible.

All 'dead tree' publications have to slim down. They have work harder on rewarding their loyal subscribers rather than casual purchasers. And rely more on digital channels.

Clearly a big, big change for the 73 year old magazine and a painful one, but its a strong and established brand and I for one think its future is bright

City AM expansion on hold - Thank God

Expansion outside London of free business daily City A.M. is put on hold until the economy “gets back to something like normal” according to chief executive Jens Torpe in Press Gazette.

Our old friend Lawson Muncaster (City AM, Managing Director) announced the intended expansion at a Conference in early October 08. We thought at the time that it was an unlikely to happen and we felt that the claim was more of a Conference headline that a serious aim.

Lets keep in mind that the economy was hardly 'normal' in October when the announcement was made.

Jens and Lawson are serious players. They have the knowledge and talent to weather the storm and the absolute last thing they need to do right now is expand.

'Next Christmas the iPod will be kaput' - the 10 worst technology predictions



Made in 1878 by Sir William Preece, chief engineer at the Post Office.

'The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys,' he said.


Lord Kevlin, President of the Royal Society was clearly unconvinced when he made his comments in 1883.


The maiden flight of the Boeing 247 took place in 1933.

Speaking after the happy event, an engineer reportedly said: 'There will never be a bigger plane built.'

The world's biggest plane is currently the Airbus A380 can carry up to 853 people.


Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox movie mogul was responsible for this clanger back in 1946.

He claimed the technology had a short shelf life because people will 'soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.'


Back in the 1950s, Alex Lewyt, president of the Lewyt Corp vacuum company, claimed it was only a matter of time before nuclear power was used in the home.

'Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within ten years,' he said.


'We stand on the threshold of rocket mail,' said U.S. postmaster general Arthur Summerfield in 1959.


In 1977, Ken Olsen, the president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) claimed there was no reason for anyone to want a personal computer.


Bill Gates's first entry into the chart with his 1981 claim that no personal computer would ever need huge amounts of capacity.

He has since denied making the statement,,,


... though there's no doubt he said this one.

Speaking at the 2004 World Economic Forum he claimed a solution was in sight.


And rounding off the technology hall of shame is Sir Alan Sugar.

He made his claim in 2005, telling an interviewer: 'Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.'

T3 technology magazine

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Shrinking value of media companies

Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Mecom will fall out of the FTSE 250 today in a sign of the rapidly diminishing value of media companies.

The three newspaper groups have seen their shares hammered in recent months as they fall victim to the worsening advertising slowdown and fears about the long-term prospects of print media.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Harnessing the brand-reader relationship to full effect

We are very focused here on the power of community, harnessing the brand-customer relationship in a dynamic and interactive way - it is the future, it's started already and businesses that embrace this wholeheartedly will undoubtedly create a competitive advantage in their markets.

Bild, the largest selling newspaper in Europe (think The Sun in German but with a bit more mid-market aspiration) has announced a deal with Lidl to sell pocket-sized cameras to shoot still and video pictures for £60. While this sounds quite a high price in today's high street market, the vision of the deal is to be applauded. If Bild can motivate its audience to buy the cameras and then use them to send content to the newspaper, it will exponentially grow its reach and influence.

While there are obvious issues of quality preservation that surround the use of any content, whether professional or amateur, this shouldn't distract from the potential here. Strengthening the relationship between brand and customer, on as many platforms as possible, has to be a positive move, and in any declining market holding onto your most loyal customers has to be the main focus.

Innovation should be applauded, it will be interesting to see how this develops over the next 12 months, and whether UK newspaper brands will adopt something similar.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Piers Morgan's view of the future of newspapers

Piers Morgan, former editor of the News of the World and the Daily Mirror, and now a successful TV-personality said to the British Journalism Review that all newspaper should go free in the future.

“I think within 10 years every Fleet Street paper will be free” Morgan added. (Press Gazette).

Well, Piers certainly knows his newspapers and his opinion should be listened to.

That said free isnt a catch all/ 'get out of jail' card for all. The model has its place for sure but newspapers need to crack digital above all else.

We do see a model somewhere down the line where frees could simply be marketing for digital versions. In this scenario the commercial model is part advertising but mostly audience explotiation (commercial explitation that is!). All the marketers would surely say that this is a very expensive marketing channel. Indeed it is, but nothing works harder for keeping your audience together and engaged than being able to touch and feel your product every day.

That said surely where we are going (and fast) is towards an electronic version of the printed paper or epaper as its called. Readers get the all important portability of todays printed paper with all the 'always on' advantages of digital. can this piece of kit be free. Yes it can for subscribers. Not it cant for casuals.

The future of newspapers is a fascinating debate; one that will run and run

Friday, 28 November 2008


Religion goes digital

A quick thought of the day to end the working week on.

Parishioners in Surrey will have a church sermon delivered directly to their email inboxes as it is given by an Anglican vicar.

The words spoken by the Rev John Kronenberg, vicar of Hinchley Wood, will be converted into text and sent to 100 church members' computers using SpinVox software. Sunday's sermon is being billed as a world first by St Christopher's Church.

It's good to see such broad acceptance of digital technology throughout society, and I am so hoping it will also be made available soon as a Godcast.

Independent - it was, but it's not now....

On the blog a couple of weeks ago (Nov 18th) I commented that the latest Slimfast round of redundancies at the Indy would lead to them being able to save cost by moving to smaller offices.

A prescient, and almost correct prediction, with news today that the Indy will be leaving Docklands to share Associated Newspaper's plush Kensington offices, so a smaller space in a much larger newspaper HQ.

In theory, this will allow them to share back office costs.

In practice, am I alone in thinking about Little Red Riding Hood? Poor innocent little Independent cosying up to the wolfish Daily Mail, all teeth, spittle and vitriol?

But what's in it for Associated? A few pennies for some spare office space in these recessionary times won't make that much of a difference. Or is a longer term strategy to attack The Times on two fronts in the pipeline?

It was Independent, but no longer. Remember this date, it's the day the dream finally died.

US Newspaper industry contracting at alarming rate

The newspaper industry in the U.S. continues to shrink at an alarming rate. According to the Newspaper Association of America,, total industry advertising (both print and online) in the third quarter was $8.9 billion, down 18 percent from the year before. The oniine portion of that was $750 million, down 3 percent. So far in the first three quarters of 2008, the industry’s total advertising revenues have shrunk by $5 billion to $27.8 billion.

Print advertising has been declining for ten straight quarters, but this marks only the second quarter that online advertising also went down. More concerning is that the overall rate of decline seems to be accelerating. Here is the percentage change in total newspaper advertising for the past five quarters:

3Q07: -7.4%
4Q07: -10.3%
1Q08: -12.85%
2Q08: -15.11%
3Q08: -18.11%

The fourth quarter will probably be worse.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Social Media and the business world

We've all heard lots and lots about social media and how it has become an indispensable part of marketers' armoury. We at Market Evolution are good example of this as we use social media techniques to enable a conversation with and between consumers for market research purposes.

But I for one have always been slightly confused by who is using what and what for?

Well help is at hand. A very helpful guy called Peter Kim has put together this useful directory of social media corporate users and uses. Thanks Peter

Click here to read

There's always one spoiling the fun for everyone else.....

A cheeky ad by the Sun gloating about Britain winning more medals than Australia at the Beijing Olympics, using a twist on the "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, has been banned by the ASA following a single complaint.

The regulator considered the word "bloody" to be a swearword and that it was "irresponsible" to reproduce in a medium where children could see it, and told The Sun not to use the word "bloody" on posters in the future.

3 things spring immediately to mind.

Bloody is used in headlines on the front page of several newspapers, which are available for purchase in newsagents, where many children have been spotted before buying sweets and chocolate, and newspapers are often to be found lying around in millions of households on a daily basis. I'm looking at the front page of today's Daily Mirror and Times newspapers, and I'd rather be explaining to my kids what "bloody" meant and the right and wrong context to use it in, than explaining what "Monster raped his two daughters" and "Rape father jailed over daughter's 9 children" meant.

A single complaint is therefore sufficient to allow the ASA to ponder whether the sensibilities of the nation have been offended? 48 million people aged 16 or over in the UK, and a single complaint suffices? That's got to be nonsense surely. I find Gordon Brown offensive, so if he ever appears on a piece of Labour Party marketing communication, does that mean I can get him banned from future use?

Finally, it's The Sun. And it made me smile. Which is pretty good going in today's gloomy world.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Frank talking from Roger Alton, Editor of the Independent

I'm never slow to praise frank talking, as I've felt for a while now that those who are bluffing their way through life always try hardest to hide behind a veil of unnecessary management speak and overly complicated presentation charts.

On MediaGuardian today, a great piece from Roger Alton, about the perilous state of the Independent, particularly after putting the price up to £1 and losing 16% of daily circulation year-on-year. Here is the link to the original article:


Two things to comment on. In the same way that bears like the woods, and the Pope likes to encourage lots of children, raising the cover price of any newspaper will lose sale - it's only the magnitude of the loss that is up for debate. If the paper is good enough, and provides sufficient perceived value for the additional pennies, then the losses can be minimal. In the case of the Independent, it looks like it's a bridge too far, and will only get worse given the additional editorial job-cuts in the pipeline.

Mr Alton's quote is priceless though, and hats off for plain talking....

"Asked if he regretted the decision to raise the Independent's cover price in September, he said: "Take a wild guess! We were aware of the risks when we did it and the ice cold winds of the recession have increased to gale force more or less from that day.

From the bottom of the market to charge the most was always very risky. It's made us very vulnerable.

If I could do anything to reverse [the ensuing circulation fall], literally anything - I'd saw off my right fucking forearm - I would."

I'd have guessed at a 10% plus decline from a move to a cover price of £1 without any consumer research, based purely on 11 years of cover price movement in the UK market. This does illustrate the value of market research coupled with experience when it comes to making serious commercial decisions. Do it blindly, and repent at your leisure, giving you ample time to self-flagellate with one or both of your hands.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Behind the numbers, we must not forget the people

I haven't worked through recessionary times like these before, having weathered the storm of the early 1990s inside a particularly cosy Ivory Tower, emerging blinking into a commercial world that was just beginning to find its feet again.

Reading the financial pages today, the view from the UK and the US is both interesting and alarming. Having bailed out the financial sector, the US is facing the triple whammy of the 3 largest car manufacturers holding out the begging bowl for federal cash to save themselves, with Ford, GM and Chrysler bosses appearing on Capitol Hill to try and secure a rescue package before they run out of money to pay the bills. A nice irony pointed out by Congressman Sherman was that they had all flown in by corporate jets to ask for cash, but this shouldn't mask the human cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk if the big 3 are allowed to go under.

When MG Rover went under a few years back, the knock on effect on smaller suppliers further down the food chain was devastating in the West Midlands region. Imagining the knock-on effect if the Big 3 went down in the US should force a deal of some sort through one would hope.

Back in the UK, Mini are taking a month off from production in December, and Honda have announced a 2 month mothball for production in Swindon next year. With airfields across the country doubling up as car parks for unwanted new cars, this shouldn't be surprising, but somehow it still is. Jaguar are also asking for £1bn in interim loan finance, as Tata, their parent company struggles to finance the debt incurred to buy the luxury brands a couple of years ago.

On the other side of the pond, Citigroup shares have taken a battering this week, down 23% on Wednesday, 26% on Thursday and 20% on Friday, despite announcing a further 50,000 job cuts globally earlier in the week. Confidence, or lack of it, seems to be driving the share price down, as the fundamental financial health of the business is apparently reasonable. Though what this means anymore is debatable, the rules of the game have changed so much in the last few months that the pen and the word are indeed mightier than the sword. Confidence in the markets is everything, and without it, not even the mightiest financial institutions are safe. Again, the human cost if Citigroup implodes would be immense.

Finally, what to say about Woolworths? For too long now, a brand in chaos, with no clear consumer proposition and massive product ranges displayed in chaotic shelving. The commercial situation is clear - without a rescue deal being agreed with the bank syndicate providing the existing debt mountain, the business will be out of cash before Christmas and likely to be in administration before the month is out. The human cost is also clear, 30,000 staff in 840 stores face a Christmas without a job to return to.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Our predictions for newspapers in 2009 and beyond

Cheery news to end the working week with the publication of a report from Enders Analysis into the ad market for the next 5 years.


The UK print ad market will be the worst hit of all media sectors in 2009, down 21%, with newspaper display ads down 22% and classifieds down about 19%. Growth will not return to the print ad market until some time after 2013.

Next year digital media revenue growth will crash to just 2.1%, a long way off from previous years of explosive growth.

So, if the soothsayers have read their tea leaves correctly, it's going to be an even tougher couple of years for the newspaper sector than previously feared. We've been tracking the on-going job losses in the sector over the last week or so, with this week seeing Trinity Mirror announce a pay freeze and disappearing bonus double whamming, and the Irish times announcing 60 job losses as the situation worsens across the Irish Sea.

What does it actually mean though? Our predictions for the next 2 years are as follows.......

Costs will continue to be cut, and anything not nailed down will be jettisoned as newspapers pare expenditure to the bone.

Digital is not going to make up for the double digit drops in print ad revenue, and digital teams will also be cut back.

Functions that traditionally have been held in-house will begin to be outsourced throughout 2009.

Agencies who can offer decent revenue opportunities will be best positioned to help build new revenue opportunities from existing audiences.

At least one national newspaper will disappear from newsagents by the end of 2009.

Newspapers with courage and vision, who invest time in proper commercial partnerships with smart agencies will reap the benefits in the short term, there will still be money to be made out of audiences, but the days of sitting back and taking display and classified advertising bookings have gone for good.

Newspapers will survive, as strong brands with loyal audiences can always be profitable, but skilled management is essential.

It's going to be an interesting year.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Great Disappearing ad revenue and headcount reduction....... Part 3

The long running Slimfast diet at the Independent titles in London looks to be continuing, with reports today that another 90 jobs are being cut from the already pared to the bone business.

With reports of the monthly losses varying from £1million to £2million, it's a newspaper with serious financial problems, which can only be increasing in severity with ad revenues down by 20-30% at its larger circulating competitive newspaper rivals.

The only positive to take from this is that with commercial office space costs dropping equally quickly, the inevitable downsizing from the waterside Canary Wharf HQ into a smaller and cosier office floor elsewhere, will be a positive contribution to the cost-cutting exercise.

"The Independent - it is, are you" - was an iconic brand campaign which made individual readers feel that they were being spoken to on a one-to-one basis. At the current rate of progress, it's getting close to being that in reality. Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

and now for something lighter

For all you sophisticated marketers out there take a minute to read about a new and increasing powerful media.............

Consider taking Jenaé up on her offer to wear your startup shirt and talk about your company for a day. It’s $75, and she posts videos on her site, YouTube, Seesmic and Viddler, posts pictures on Flickr and tweets about it all as well.

You have to send her the shirt two weeks in advance, and afterwards she gives it away.

'It consists of me being your walking advertisement as I wear your company shirt and showcase anything else you send me. I spread the news via Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Viddler, Seesmic and my website, showcasing who you are, what you do, and how others can do business with you. For each, I create a showcase video where right on the show, I open your package, talk about your company, then wear your shirt and spread the news. The day after the company is showcased, it will be listed under our shirt & swag graveyard where others can buy the paraphernalia I showcased.'


Thursday, 13 November 2008

"The great disappearing ad revenue and headcount adventure - Part 2"

It didn't take as long as I thought it would do for "TGDARAHA" to return, a matter of only 45 minutes.....

Haymarket has just cut 50 jobs across the business.

Though in better news for staff, mediaguardian is reporting that NI has rebuffed a truce offer from DMGT over the London freesheet wars. Any truce would undoubtedly have led to further job losses.

This said, given how bad the ad market is for paid titles, let alone free newspapers, it can only be a matter of time before there is some sort of consolidation or deal between NI and DMGT. Can't it?

Our first part in a hopefully not too regular series - "The great disappearing ad revenue and headcount adventure - Part 1"

Every day brings further raised eyebrows in our office, and I'm sure in many others across media-land.

A quick summary of media news in the last 48 hours:

CondeNet - slashing jobs across the board to deal with the slackening of digital revenue growth.

Johnston Press - 15% decline in ad revenues for the first 10 months of 2008, with 50% fall in property advertising.

DMGT - cutting 300 of what were previously the safest jobs in newspapers.

Time Out - cutting 8% of staff (OK, this is only 13 people, but it's another indicator that all advertising revenue is shrinking).

Trinity Mirror - 20% decline in underlying group advertising revenues since June, and further cost cutting planned for 2009, also showing similar near 50% decline in property advertising.

The latest NRS figures are released tomorrow, which will provide further ammunition for many newspaper execs to load up the guns and find a dark corner to sit in, as the figures will reflect the ongoing circulation decline for almost all titles and show readership levels falling in tandem (though slightly lagging) with circulation.

It's not going to be a happy Xmas in most of media-land I fear, but in times of darkness, plan for the return of the light. It's a cyclical business and always has been. Digital may have masked the traditional curve, but you can bet your last Government owned bank dollar that the good times will return at some point. Those businesses with the intelligence and balls to back investment now, and plan smartly for the future, will be best positioned to ride out the storm.

For the rest, take solace (either in quantum or smaller measures) that it could be worse, you could be an estate agent. Remember them? Annoying branded cars driven by idiots with scant respect for other road users. As I type, someone, somewhere, is probably setting up a memorial or fundraising concert in support of this former industry sector.....

Monday, 10 November 2008

New age of austerity marketing

As the economic environment worsens it seems that marketers are rushing to re position their brands.

It's no longer acceptable (or sensible) to be flash.

Spending on expensive items (even for those that can afford it) is OUT!

Affordable and sensible is IN............

Great piece in the New York Times that captures this new paradigm very well

Barack Obama - what his victory means to me

Here at Market Evolution we keep away from politics preferring to focus on consumers etc. However please allow us one small political foray. The Barack Obama election victory seems worthy of a comment. But rather than comment directly we wanted to share with you a very personal account from a colleague living in New York city:

Friends --

I know this election of ours has almost felt like an election of
yours but I suspect you believed more in your minds what we have felt
in our hearts, that a rejection of change would have hastened
America's demise. But that hasn't happened and I wanted to give you a
taste of what it feels like and sounds like to be in New York
tonight. It's half past one and the streets are crowded with people,
three deep on the sidewalk. New Yorkers have climbed on their roofs
and on to their fire escapes, there's dancing on the streets, dancing
in front of cars. There's the ceaseless noise of cheering, even -
suddenly - bagpipes playing. Tonight, we even forgive the bagpipes.
Every few seconds comes the blare of another car horn and more
screams of Obama, of Yes We Can, more whoops of utter joy.

I've been here, on and off, for more than 19 years through two
Clinton victories, big wins for the Yankees and Knicks, a dozen or
more New Year's Eves and nothing has been like this, nothing has come
even close. This is the sound of a city set free for the first time
since September 11, 2001. This is us exhaling at last. For eight
years, New York has felt like another country. What counted for
America has been owned by others and governed for others. Everything
the Bush Administration did with its exclusionary policies, its
bigotry and intolerance, its religious fascism, its economic
arrogance was done to us, not for us. Obama can't solve everything
but he has already made the greatest city in the nation feel like it
belongs to America again and he has made someone who has only been an
American for 5 years feel like he belongs for the first time. Up to
now, my belief in citizenship had been shaken by a question about
what kind of country I had joined. By showing us the best of all our
selves, Barack Obama has silenced that doubt not just for me or for
us in New York, but for millions of Americans who can have faith in
America again.

And now I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Campaign for clarity of writing - Part One

This from Marketing Week:

"Integrated Voice of the Customer Architecture

World class companies have recognized significant value of connecting the Voice of the Customer (VOC) to downstream business results, and upstream to Voice of the Employee and to other key enablers. Maritz is a thought leader in designing and constructing Integrated VOC Architectures that integrate all of a company's VOC touch points and link them to financial and other business results, as well as to upstream enablers.

Clients partnering with Maritz benefit from best practice approaches gleaned from over 30 years of experience in Customer Experience work as well as cutting-edge advances in the state of the art of linkage modeling, convergent analysis, and business blueprinting."

There has to be a better way to write this text, without using the type of language and jargon that just smacks of "in-the-club-ism". For me, it's using language to preserve an air of mystique and commercial bafflement, to justify a large invoice. Clarity of thought should translate to clarity of writing, and clarity of implementation and results.

Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

Trade marketing, the innocent casualties

Thanks to MediaGuardian for bringing the latest battle in the coffee wars to our attention.


The in-store Starbucks deal for The Times was a groundbreaking piece of trade marketing deal making back in 2004 which has since spawned a multitude of imitators.

A genuine sales driver with the print newspaper available in-store when customers had time to buy and read it, the deal recently crumbled in unclear circumstances, with the vacuum left by The Times being filled by The Guardian.

Now the in-Wapping Starbucks franchises, previously providing subsidised Lattes to the overworked NI staff, have been replaced by a rival, as NI completes the divorce from the US coffee giant.

There's a lot of coffee drunk at Wapping, it would be interesting to see how much money Starbucks made out of the locations on an annual basis. Bet you a £1 they hadn't included this calculation in any discussions about the future of the wider in-store deal......

The Independent - predicting the future

The ongoing share-buying struggle between Denis O'Brien and Sir Anthony O'Reilly over Independent News & Media has been featured on the blog at various points over the last 18 months or so. D O'B is now the second largest shareholder, and is approaching the c30% ownership levels which would automatically trigger a takeover situation.

In essence, Sir A O'R has built the business up globally, but media interest has recently centred on the perenially loss making UK Independent titles. The rest of the empire is subject to the same market depressions seen everywhere, but are in much ruder health than the London based titles. D O'B is not impressed with the continued investment in the London losses, and wants to force a sale, and maybe even remove A O'R from the helm.

This situation is moving ever closer to a conclusion though as the credit crisis continues, as the £1.1 billion INM borrowings start to weigh down the overall group. Six months from now, £200 million of bond needs to be redeemed, which is prompting speculation of disposals to generate cash.

With the estimated £10m+ losses annually, the Independent (UK) titles aren't going to be raising cash for the group if they are disposed of. Talks to save further cost by merging back room functions with rival publishers are apparently ongoing, but even this smacks of rearranging deckchairs while the iceberg moves ever closer. With a cover price of £1 and full rate sales of only 128,738 in September, there's not much going for the Indy titles.

Would you buy them? On the plus side, a nice brand with a niche audience, but not niche enough to attract decent ad rates. On the negative side, a commercial model that promises to break even one day, but never achieves it. Our view, a step too far from a purely commercial basis.

The Independent may be the headline in the media coverage of INM and D O'B, but it's a distraction. The real battle here is on re-financing the debt without selling the family silver to do so. Interesting 6 months ahead for the Group as a whole. The big question is on who you would put your money on to come through 2009 on top, on Sir Anthony, or D O'B?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

BP - profits an outrage

I never thought that I would find myself thinking let alone writing this but am I alone in thinking what an absolute outrage it is that BP profits have risen 148% whilst we have suffered 'at the pump'.

BP has seen its latest quarterly profits more than double, buoyed by record high oil prices.

Reporting its results for the three months from July to September, BP's replacement cost profit totalled $10bn (£6.4bn), up 148% from a year earlier.

Isnt it about time that 'utilities' stopped making out at our expense? BP leads the way, but the supermarkets, the power companies and the water companies are all just as bad.

Windfall tax?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Is DAB the new Betamax?

We take a broader view of media than just the traditional inky papers, and Digital Radio is in an interesting place at the moment.

Launched to a fanfare of digital trumpets, DAB heralded a brave new world of commercial digital broadcasting, where content would be king and consumers would have a wealth of radio pleasure at their fingertips, in crackle free high definition clarity.

Well, that was the thinking anyway. Media companies saw an opportunity to take the analogue advertising funded model and place it on a digital spectrum, drive up their audiences through a technologically better offer, and watch the money roll in.

Only, it's not happened. At all. With Channel 4 pulling out of their digital radio consortium at a cost of a rumoured £10m, along with the bloodbath in the advertising market predicted for 2009, where does that leave digital radio?

Let's pause for a moment and look at this from the consumer perspective. Cost of technology has come down, but it's still £50+ for a DAB radio. The signal is clear, but actually not as good as promised, and the time lag means that you need a house full of DAB radios to move from room to room without having a problem with FM synching. You do get a nice display on your radio though, which tells you which station you are listening to. We had this at home in the 1970s though, it was a little sticker which you placed on the front of the radio on the FM frequency it applied to. Not digital, but just as effective.

The controversial (though obvious) prediction for the future of DAB is that there isn't one. It'll go the way of Betamax, the Sinclair C5 and the Sega Dreamcast, replaced by better technology which consumers actually want. The future is a combined FM, DAB and internet radio, giving the consumer access to internet radio broadcasting from around all the world.

I have an internet radio, it works off the home wifi, and I can pick any country in the world, and any genre of station, literally tens of thousands of stations at my fingertips 24 hours a day. Venezualan Jazz? Not a problem. Talk radio in New Zealand? Choice of 3 (though all of them are awful and remind why I was happy my relatives decide to emigrate there). As an aside, not quite sure how a local New Zealand radio station can commercialise my "ears" and charge advertisers, but I'm sure it's on their to-do list as I type.

DAB is dead. Spread the word, the internet has claimed its next victim.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

iPhone - monumental growth

Apple managed to sell 6,892,000 iPhones in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2008. They sold just 1,119,000 iPhones in fiscal Q4 of 2007.

Perhaps more interesting is they sold more phones in the quarter than RIM (blackberry to you and I!)

This makes Apple the 3rd largest mobile phone supplier in the world, behind only Nokia and Samsung (and followed by Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola, and RIM, in that order.)

Friday, 17 October 2008

Al Qaeda - more cash than the banks?

This won’t exactly be popular with the FBI, but the terrorist organization Al Qaeda is awash in funds. Anti-terrorism efforts to expunge Al Qaeda from the worldwide banking system mean it is sheltered from the rest of the world’s economic troubles. Al Qaeda’s principle source of funding is $800 million derived from the opium and cannabis trade. Its money-handling methods may be simple—they include moving cash by hand—but then isn’t it complexity that got Western banks into trouble in the first place?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Amazing fact of the day

facebook hosts 10 billion photos.

Wow thats a lot of photos. ok so we know youve got the photos but where are the revenues?

Like school boys infront of the head

Check out the drama behind the $250 billion US bank bailout.........

The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury Department at 3 p.m. Monday 13th October. To their astonishment, they were each handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must sign it before they left.

This is great isnt it 'youve been caught out and now its time to take your punishment - no ifs, no buts, no second chances'.

Allegedly there were some whinges (partic about executive pay curbs - can you believe that!) but they all signed.

Excellent work

Monday, 13 October 2008

obvious humour - but funny anyways

Please click on image to enlarge

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Who would have thought?

Economic slowdowns are hard and for many this will be the first they have ever experienced and it will be quite a shock. Some one asked me today how my sector (media) was holding up and I (after a brief pause) was able to say 'well my sector has been in an economic slow down for some time now so this whilst hard isn't so terribly hard for us (so far)'.

That's quite a thought really. In many ways it quite reassuring to find many of sectors that were allegedly performing so brilliantly to now find themselves in the doldrums (or worse).

I thought Peter Preston nailed it so brilliantly on his piece in The Observer last Sunday. He basically said that newspapers having been the punch bag for bankers for so long were now more resilient and more profitable than banks........Read Peters piece here in full. Its fun. Click here to read.

Whatever happened to those nice people at Ocean Finance?

When the UK's largest banks are having to consolidate all their loans into one new affordable monthly payment, who do they call?

These are odd times we are living in, to use an understatement of Titanic proportions. We've been commenting over the last few months on the current crisis as it unfolded. Did we predict this was on the way? Yes. Did we predict the scale of it? No, nowhere near the extent that the last 10 days have witnessed.

Today's Sunday papers have done what they do best, taking a considered and in-depth view of the current situation. They have also been hamstrung by the speed that the World is having to move, as I type, 4 of the 5 largest UK banks are working out just how much taxpayers' money they need to stay afloat. £35 billion is the current figure being bandied around, but by the morning, who knows how large this will be.

Taking counsel from my peers who are working in the media sector, in finance, and in the legal sector, there seems little cheer. Deckchairs are being arranged as the iceberg moves rapidly closer, as everywhere there is paralysis and financial confusion. When one of my good friends was personally responsible for 1% of all the mortgages granted in the UK last month (by value) then the world has truly been turned upside down.

The trouble with this meltdown is that technology has linked everyone across the Globe. We have no transparency or clarity, which is generating digital panic, which occurs everywhere, all the time.

Personally, I have absolutely no idea whether there is light at the end of the tunnel. And if there is, whether it is just an oncoming train. I cling on to the advice given by my favourite lawyer. "The sun will carry on setting, and carry on rising, and the world will keep turning. Everything else is mere detail, which you mostly can't control".

Odd times indeed.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Our banks, 44th safest in the world? Really?

Our banks, 44th safest in the world? Really?

Thanks to Tony Bonsignore | 08:35:42 | 10 October 2008 for this

If you worry about our banks being up the solvency creek without a capital paddle, then you should see what the rest of the world thinks of them.

According to the latest World Economic Forum survey, UK banks were deemed only 44th best in the world in terms of their soundness.

On a scale of 1 to 7 - with 1 indicating ‘insolvent and may require a government bailout’, and 7 representing ‘generally healthy with sound balance sheets’ - Britain apparently scored 6.0.

6.0! A great score in figure skating, certainly, but a poor-to-rubbish one for banks in a developed, G7 economy.

Just listen to the banks immediately above the UK in the list: El Salvador, Peru, Lithuania - even the United States, for goodness’ sake.

No offence meant to these great nations, of course, who if they ever read this would probably be mortified to hear their banks mentioned in the same breath as our broken behemoths.

Of course this survey was undertaken well before the recent blow up, which may account for Ireland’s bizarre positioning at number 9. And before you ask, Iceland comes in at number 36, a full eight places ahead of the UK.

So then, is the rest of the world right to consider our banks a little less safe than those in emerging Latin America or Eastern Europe? Indeed, are they even that safe any more, given this week’s events?

On a scale of 1 to 7 (7 being ‘solvent and healthy’ and 1 being ‘in a terminal state’) - where would you now place our banks

Image of the day

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

How to take a great message and communicate it really badly

This is a real email, sent to key decision makers and clients by this organisation.

There's some really interesting news here, but its power is muted and stifled by the delivery. Have a read, and see how good you think it is......

Dear :
I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you my excitement about our plans for mobile media measurement. As you may recall, we acquired M:Metrics, the leading mobile media measurement company, last May and have been tirelessly working to expand our mobile measurement and integrate M:Metrics’ mobile data into the comScore product suite.

In less than five months, we have fully integrated the M:Metrics data collection within the comScore infrastructure to leverage the scale and power of our platform. Data from the M:Metrics panel of metered smartphone users is currently viewable in the Media Metrix interface. On October 20, you will see the rest of the M:Metrics product suite side by side with PC web audience measurement within the MyMetrix interface, but that’s just beginning. Allow me to elaborate:

Expanding the World’s Only On-Device Mobile Behavioral Measurement
Always a leader in innovation, comScore has achieved another first in the measurement industry as the only firm to provide direct behavioral measures from the mobile device. For the past two years, M:Metrics has been metering mobile Internet usage on smartphones in the United States and United Kingdom. We are planning to dramatically expand this service in 2009 by adding the measurement of additional platforms, such as feature phones, the iPhone and BlackBerry. We have also committed to expanding the size of our metered panel to 5,000 by the end of the year, and 10,000 by the first half of 2009. This will allow comScore to provide reliable audience data for hundreds of mobile Internet sites, including metrics such as UV’s, page views, day of week, day part and session length. All of these data will be available in the MyMetrix interface and classified according to the comScore web dictionary.

Convergence is Power: PC/Mobile Overlap Panel
The recurring question for advertisers considering the mobile medium has been, “What is the incremental reach of mobile?” In the next two months, we plan to release data on mobile and web usage collected from the same people. Furthermore, we will have the first panel of people who have opted in to behavioral tracking on both their mobile phone and PC, by the end of the year. This panel will for the first time provide clients with a clear, behavioral-based view of the true reach of properties across both the PC and mobile channels. In addition to understanding the incremental reach of sites, we’ll also help clients compare mobile and online browsing behaviors, providing insight into sites and categories that have significant overlap versus those that have truly incremental users on one platform or another.
In the meantime, we have expanded our mobile survey to measure the audience for more than 300 mobile Web properties. These data are being collected in November, and will be available in the early part of December.

Leading in Innovation: Mobile Advertising Effectiveness
We are continuing to solidify our leadership position in behavioral measurement in the digital space by moving toward reporting on mobile advertising effectiveness using comScore’s patented on-device meter and by integrating mobile metrics across the comScore product portfolio, specifically Ad Metrix, Brand Metrix and Plan Metrix to enable true, behaviorally based advertising effectiveness metrics. Ultimately we’ll be able to provide our clients with the ability to measure the impact of advertising across both the mobile and online channels based on behavioral metrics, providing a true ROI measurement that the market has been requesting. Similar to the online advertising industry in the early 2000’s, the mobile advertising ecosystem needs independent, third-party measurement of traffic and advertising effectiveness to provide advertisers with the metrics necessary to continue to expand their mobile advertising spend.

We anticipate that clients will require additional support as we enhance these exciting new products. To ensure that we provide excellence in customer service we are immediately deploying a dedicated client service team that is fluent in all comScore and M:Metrics offerings. If you are interested in learning more about comScore’s mobile products, please contact your account manager.

Thank you for allowing me to convey my enthusiasm about our mobile product roadmap. We appreciate your support in our pursuit of innovation in digital media measurement.
Dr. Magid Abraham
CEO, comScore, Inc.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Power blogging?

Its been quite widely reported this evening that Robert Peston's (BBC business editor) blog caused a massive sell off in banking shares today.

Mr Peston reported in his blog this morning that the heads of the UK’s largest banks had approached the government for a capital injection of up to £45bn ('Banks ask chancellor for capital').

The story has been hotly denied by the banks but the damage was done....

We dont know whether it was Robert's blog that triggered the sell off but even the suggestion that it was recasts blogs as a powerful medium with the potential to cause considerable repercussions

Monday, 6 October 2008

How old do you have to be before you are brand conscious?

My 6 year old wants an iPod.

Not just any MP3 player, but an iPod.

He's 6 and brand literate already. Slightly scary to see the power of advertising on one so young.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Life magazine reborn online

Away from all the doom and gloom of the markets some really good news...one of our favourite magazines Life is to be reborn.

The photojournalism magazine closed in 2000, is to gain a new lease of life on the web as a massive photo archive thanks to a deal with Getty Images.

Life.com will allow access to millions of archived photographs from the magazine, best known for its images of presidents, wars and Hollywood celebrities from the 40s, 50s and 60s. It was published from 1936 until 2000.

Life.com will launch early next year. Searching and viewing images on the website will be free.


Friday, 26 September 2008

Time to run or time to fight?

All around us is the all pervading air of panic.

The financial crisis has introduced the public to names and issues that this time last year were the preserve of the City boys (and girls). The housing market continues to shrink faster than a snowman in April, and the Government continues to twist and shout like a sky blue football terrace in mid-anthem.

Today, more forecasts for the 2009 advertising market have escaped, battering the already browbeaten media sector. DMGT has issued a profits warning, Trinity Mirror continues to cut costs, ITV has seen its share price decimated (like its regional news and content is about to be), Channel 4 is looking to shed jobs, and regional newspapers are reporting 20%+ declines in ad revenues across multiple sectors.

So, what to do then?

We could all head down to Turnstile, the Cold War nuclear bunker under the Cotswolds, lock the doors and resurface in 2011 when everything looks a bit better.

Or, we could take a deep breath, and focus on the basics, "concentrate on the knitting" as one famous media guru used to say.

Even looking at the UK, there are still 60 million human beings out there (give or take a few million that the Government can't count, track down, tag, place on a register or lock-up).

Disposable income is still down, but people will still consume media in some format, they have always done so in the past, and always will do in the future. Strong brands with loyal audiences have longevity and long term profitability, the key is protecting this during the cold dark winter nights.

We think these are the basics, get these right and the cold upcoming winter may pass by without claiming too many more victims.

Knowledge is the foundation - you are fighting for a share of a shrinking consumer wallet (or purse), you have to understand why consumers spend money on your brand to understand how you protect this going forwards.

Recognising your customers - you need to know who they are, and their value to you, at an individual level - data is crucial.

Relationship building with your customers - talk to them, nurture them, engage them, be interactive with them, listen to them, watch them talking to each other about you.

Reward your customers - if you don't reward them, then someone else will.

Retain your customers - in any declining market it's easier to retain existing customrs than acquire brand new ones. Particularly in markets where the under 30s have grown up never paying for any content

Be brave - "There is no shame in failure. The shame is in not learning from it". A quote from the famous English philosopher Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards. A test is a test, if it doesn't work then learn and move onto the next test. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it already.

Be smart with budgets - you need to know what's working, why it's working and who it is working against, in as near to real time as possible. Insight is an investment, but done smartly, it will pay its way ten-fold.

Do the knitting right, and you'll have a large enough jumper to get you through the nuclear winter nice and warm while everyone else catches pneumonia. The future's bright, but not for everyone. Evolution did away with Dinosaurs, Dodos and Lehman Brothers, don't let it add you to the list.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A soothing piece of humour

Thanks to the New Yorker for this one.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Market Evolution's sister business For Fans relaunches

We've been hard at work smartening up our sister business www.forfans.co.uk. The service proved hugley popular with stay at football home fans last season.

The idea is to broaden the content selection and ultimately we hope to cover not only Sport but entertainment programmes as well

Please check it out. It may well help to solve some of those pesky Birthday & Christmas gift problems!

Metro sues Metro

Thanks to Dr. Piet Bakker for this one.

German wholesale retailer Metro is thinking about suing free paper publisher Metro International after the successful lawsuit in Hungary.

In August (see previous post) the Hungarian Metro was forced to change its name to Metropol after the retailer argued successfully that the use of the ‘Metro’ brand was an infringement to its own right.

According to business website B2B Köln first options would be Italy and France.

Other contested markets could be Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Russia. Also Belgium, the UK and Poland where other publishers operate Metro papers could be affected.

The Metro brand, however, is not used in all markets. In France, Italy, Russia, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland the company does use that specific brand name. In the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain and the UK the supermarkets are called Makro. In Belgium and Greece both names are used.

In Denmark the Metro paper is called MetroXpress. In Spain it is officially called Metro Directo although Metro is the brand used.

The Metro Cash & Carry group is longer around than Metro International (40 against 13 years) and is active in 28 markets.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Its not funny being a journo

click to increase size

Why US and European Govts and Central Bankers are sooooo worried

We havent blogged much on the financial crisis because it isnt an area that we feel equipped to pass wisdom on but it strikes us that Robert Peston's (BBC Business Ed) piece below is the truest reflection of not only the extent of the problem but the seriousness of its consequences. This is why Govt and Central bankers are moving heaven and earth to put a stop to this thing.

China could easily end up owning the lion’s share of the US and UK’s financial systems. - Robert Peston, BBC

With the collapses on Wall Street this week and signs in the United Kingdom pointing towards a housing market crisis as well, it appears that the U.S. and the U.K. have left the door open for other world economies to step in and take over the global economy. Peston reports: “It's a world in which the Chinese state, if it co-ordinated the investments of its cash-rich institutions, could end up owning more-or-less the entire financial system of the US and the UK.” It is conservative institutions, he says, and those with simpler business models with a history of careful management of their funding sources, which will become the new superpowers.

Introducing a new business model to the world of magazine selling,

This sounds like a really good idea and one that - finally - recognises that freedom and choice are crucial......

Time Inc just launched Maghound, a mix and match service for periodicals. Maghound members don't subscribe to a fixed set of magazines. Instead, they pick the number of magazines they'd like to receive every month, and can then change the selection of titles as often as they like. One month they might select Food & Wine, Forbes and Women's Health, before switching to People, New York Magazine and Smithsonian. (While the current selection of 200 titles isn't as substantial as many magazine lovers would like, it does obviously include magazines that aren't owned by Time Inc.)

Freedom of choice extends to membership terms, too—customers don't have to commit to an annual contract and can cancel at any time. And pricing is tiered: USD 4.95 for three titles a month, USD 7.95 for five, USD 9.95 for seven titles, and USD 1 per title for eight or more titles. To keep track of their mix of magazines, members can view expected delivery dates in their online account.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Metroexpress no more in Croatia

Newsflash: Metro International has closed its franchise operation in Croatia, which published the free newspaper Metroexpress in Zagreb. The company's decision followed poor results over the past six months.

This surprises us. Croatia is a fast growing economy with a fast growing - young - professional class which should be perfect reader material for Metro.

So what went wrong?

Well the failure in Croatia above all is yet another example of the weakness of the FREE model. Being totally dependent on a single revenue stream as the FREEs are isnt great by any measure. Its worsened by having that single revenue stream derived entirely from (physical) advertising in this increasingly digital market. Additionally costs of print/production and the big cost associated with unique by hand distribution model weigh heavily on the balance sheet.

Credit To Metro CEO Per Mikeal Jensen who continues to rationalise and consolidate which is exactly the strategy in these challenging times. He has got the focus, energy and board support necessary to realise Metros' potential to be profitable.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Handwritten Newspaper - genius

India's oldest Urdu-language daily paper, it is still being handwritten by calligraphers, as it was when founded 81 years ago.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

whats going on a the New York Times Co

Breaking News - the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and his family have amassed a sizable 6.4% stake in the New York Times Co.

Whats this all about?

Maybe this is another example of the mega rich buying into newspapers for vanity reasons? Slim is certainly rich! In fact Forbes have him down as the richest man in the world (ahead of Gates & Buffett)and they say he worth worth $60 billion.

Somehow I doubt this is vanity. Slim is really really rich and really clever. He isnt flashy. In fact he allegedly lives rather quitely etc. More importantly he also owns most of the major media (and telecoms) in Mexico and beyond in South America.

So I suggest this is strategic.

He (like Rupert Murdoch) sees real future value in the great newspaper brands. He recognises that the NYT is a major media asset that is not only available today but at a knock down price.

The newspaper industry needs more investors like Murdoch and Slim. Men who see value in the brands and the medium and know they can run the businesses better and sustainably now and long into the future........

Monday, 8 September 2008

Happy Birthday Google - Advertiser fight back

On the 10th anniversary of Googles' launch the Association of National Advertisers sent a letter objecting to the proposed Internet search advertising partnership between Yahoo Inc and Google Inc to government regulators reviewing the deal.


The intended deal between these two giants of search isnt good news for advertisers and they should fight it hard. The alliance will see Google/Yahoo control 90% of search advertising inventory in the US..........

Call me old fashioned but 90% of the power held in only two hands isnt good for anyone (apart from those holding the power).

Its about time those holding the ad budgets began to exert some influence over digital channels as its they that fund the extraordinary growth of Google etc

Monday, 1 September 2008

September 1st - Officially the start of the autumn

Two things caught the eye over the weekend.

Firstly, consumers voting with their wallets and their feet, with Aldi reporting 44% sales growth in July, as shoppers sought out the best prices for their groceries. Aldi has featured heavily in media commentary in the last few weeks, with their limited but carefully selected product range providing significant cost savings for customers. We've commented before on their business, now it'll be interesting to see how Tesco et al respond to this new threat.

Secondly, reports in the press that Metro International may be selling or closing their US newspapers. In a previous life we were involved in the Metro New York launch, into one of the toughest markets in the World. It needed a strong digital presence to make it a success from the outset, but that wasn't a key competence of Metro back in 2004. It would be a wasted (and expensive) opportunity missed if Metro closed their US presence, so we hope PMJ can find a strategic solution to minimise the losses and build on the 4 years product and brand building.

Friday, 29 August 2008

End of the price war

From Monday the price of the weekday Times will rise by 10p to 80p, matching the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent for the first time since the price wars that began in 1993, when Rupert Murdoch dropped its price from 45p to 30p and sent circulation soaring.

We were at News when The Times dropped its price and we played a big part in the price war. It was alot of fun and for a time price was an effective circulation builder. But its a war that should have ceased long ago. The battle now very sensibly transfers from cover price discounting to subscription discounting. A much more intelligent battle and one of course the Telegraph has a real advantage in.

Should be interesting.

Lets hope that the marketing guys wake up to the real opportunity to reward purchase loyalty not just with price discounting but with added value benefits as well. The case (as blogged here before) for loyalty programmes is growing stronger and stronger.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

(bad) News Digest 28th August

Heres todays (bad) news digest from Print & Publishing sector.

Half-yearly profits tumbled 35.6% at the Independent and Independent on Sunday titles due to challenging trading conditions and poor consumer confidence, the papers' parent company said today.

The People has suspended its sports editor, Lee Horton, over alleged 'financial irregularities'

Johnston Press has said advertising revenues have slumped 21% year on year in the first seven weeks of the second half of 2008

Any good news anyone?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Clever Vending - under utilised

Electronics retailer Best Buy has installed vending machines at 8 major US airports.

It's a pilot program for the company's new Best Buy Express kiosks, which are large vending machines that carry cell phone and computer accessories, digital cameras, flash drives, MP3 players, headphones, gaming devices, travel adapters, and other items that are likely to appeal to customers on the go. Prices are similar to those in Best Buy stores.

Best Buy is targeting travellers in search of last-minute gifts, as well as those who need a replacement for a gadget or accessory they forgot to pack or lost along the way.

Ive always thought vending was under utilised. Serves as the ultimate in convenience retailing and a huge visual
brand ad. This stuff is going to get really big when we can use our phones to pay (as in Japan and Finland etc)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

What price loyalty in a recession?

The ongoing global financial situation continues to soak up the average consumer's spare cash, forcing people to re-assess their spending on a daily basis. I for one am bored of having to phone the bank to pre-authorise a personal loan to fill up the car with a tank of petrol before I travel on the motorway. While the media may be guilty of fanning the flames of recession talk, they certainly aren't guilty of lighting the fire in the first place.

I'm waiting for one of my favourite brands to approach loyalty smartly in these cash conscious times. I'm on databases, they have my email address, and probably my mobile number, and I'm ready and waiting for my loyalty to be rewarded. If they invest in me, then I'm happy to commit to them, there's always a good deal to be done in times like these.

However, only two brands are talking to me and trying to save me money. The Times, with their 20% off subscription offer, which is flexible, good value and promoted out of the newspaper itself, which is an industry first, and Varsity bars. Varsity bars is an odd one in this context, as it's a student focused drinks business, and my student days pre-date the internet. No matter, I signed up online to see how their CRM process worked, and to be honest, it's surprisingly good. Received an email and an SMS highlighting their special offers to save me money on beer this week. They are talking to me, and if I was a student right now, I'd be listening.

Those who know us, will recognise that we are passionate about loyalty. Identify your best customers and prospects so you can communicate with them on as near an individual basis as possible, then recognise and reward their loyalty. It's a long term game, but an ultimately profitable one. Get it right, then it can securitise a business in the medium to long term. And therein lies the challenge. The average tenure of a marketing director is apparently under three years in the UK. Successful loyalty programmes need time to develop, implement and nurture. They grow over time, but are not a short term fix, they need investment, resource and expertise to get them off the ground in a smart and successful manner. Like children, they need nurturing, attention and money.

Our view, the time is right now for successful loyalty schemes to take root, when consumers want to be recognised and rewarded. Question is, who is going to take the plunge and back a medium-term investment rather than a short term fix? Time will tell.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Is this the way its going for news?

This is powerful stuff (thanks to guardian.co.uk). Pew is the best and most credible of all US media usage surveys so we have to listen

Pew report: New breed of 'net newsers' shape US media habits


A new generation of well-educated, technically-savvy young web users are shaping the media habits of the US, with one in 20 Americans saying they do not watch TV on a typical day and a sharp decline in newspaper readership, according to new research.

The biennial Pew Research Center report on changing news audiences described 13% of the US public as "net newsers" - web users under 35 who read more political blogs than watch national news coverage, rely heavily on web-based news during the day and have a strong interest in technology and technology news.

Yahoo, MSN and CNN were the three most popular web news destinations, though users gave many of the leading mainstream media websites low credibility ratings.

Just 6% said the Huffington Post was very highly credible and 13% said the same of Google News, which aggregates news from mainstream news organisations.

Net newsers are typically affluent and 80% are graduates, making them a highly desirable demographic for advertisers.

They do favour some traditional media brands, including the New Yorker, The Atlantic and the BBC, the Pew survey of 3,600 adults found. But only 47% watch TV news on an average day.

The research paints a picture of steady decline in the US newspaper industry, with the percentage of Americans who regularly read print titles falling from 58% in 1993 to 34% in 2008.

According to the long-running survey, respondents saying they listened to radio news fell from 47% to 35% over the same period. As for network TV, the national news dropped from 60% to 29% and local news from 77% to 52%.

Cable TV grew from 33% of Pew respondents saying they watched it in 2000 to 39% this year, while the number of people who turn to web news at least three days each week rose from 2% in 1996 to 37% in 2008.

"For more than a decade, the audiences for most traditional news sources have steadily declined, as the number of people getting news online has surged," said the Pew report.

"A sizable minority of Americans find themselves at the intersection of these two long-standing trends in news consumption."

However, TV is still the most popular medium for the US, with 46% of the public classified as "traditionalists" who watch throughout the day, but are likely to be older and less well educated than net newsers.

More than 40% of this traditionalist group are unemployed, and were found to prefer visual news stories to audio and have little interest in science or technology news.

A further 14% are described as "disengaged", a poorly-educated group with little interest in current affairs.

Pew's research identified a further 23% of US media consumers as "integrators", an older group who are affluent and influential but still rely mostly on TV news and are interested in politics.

The research also found that the proportion of young people in the US getting no daily news has increased from 25% in 1998 to 34%, with only 10% of people using social networking sites for their news

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Associated CD's Mcflying into the Bermuda Triangle?

A quick thought on the newspaper ABCs for July 2008. Apart from The Sun and The Sunday Times showing increases month-on-month thanks to some effective marketing, the numbers for the Mail on Sunday are most interesting.

Month on month the MoS remained level, but the year-on-year comparison makes more interesting reading, down almost 5%. This is despite heavily backed McFly and Barry Manilow CD giveaways, which would have been expected to perform well in a normally quiet month.

What to make of this? Is Barry no longer the hearthrob of the middle England twinset? Would McFly have flown better off the shelves or digital music racks than they did off the news-stand?

Either way, our view has been for a while that the free CD or DVD should be the last resort rather than the regular fare of a forward thinking marketing professional. Anyone can give something away and see a short term uplift. Very few can build sustained growth in a shrinking print market.

While The Sun and The Sunday Times are investing for future sustainable growth, what next at Associated newspapers, who have an equally might marketing war chest? We wait with interest to see some innovation in their marketing approach.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pot Noodle: the musical - Does exactly what it says on the pot

"Pot Noodle: the musical" is being heralded as being at "the vanguard of a revolution which could transform advertising and possibly the entertainment industry over the next few years". A big claim for a play based on the students' favourite freeze dried convenience snack.

Mother has developed the concept in its "content" department to break away from the traditional advertising "product" and PN:tm is currently playing to standing ovations on the Edinburgh fringe. The result, and I quote directly from The Times, is "a riotous hour's entertainment set in a Pot Noodle factory and very very loosely based on Hamlet".

Given that the Mamma Mia film has seen the Abba Gold album rocket back to the charts for the first time in 15 years, will this alternative approach to advertising PN see the familiar plastic pot leap off the shelves of Aldi's across the country?

Either way, we applaud the vision, and the commitment to trying new ways of advertising product to audiences. The world is changing, and brands with the courage to test new routes to market now will in our view be hugely rewarded in the longer term. Put the kettle on, it's noodle time......

Saturday, 2 August 2008

A challenger to supremacy of Google in search?

In an attempt to upstage their former employer, a trio of ex-Googlers have launched a search engine of their own. They are calling it "Cuil" - pronounced "cool," (not bad) - and they say it "goes beyond today’s search techniques."

They say they get "richer display of results" by indexing a whopping 120 billion web pages. According to the company, that's three times more than any other search engine.

Its going to be tough (impossible?) to knock out google as they have installed base of many many millions of content serach customers.

Here at Market Evolution towers we encourage and support competition (both as business people and as consumers) so I'm going to give it a go...........

Tell us what you think www.cuil.com

Steve Fossett - what ever happened to him?

Ive often wondered what happened to Steve - the great adventurer and friend of Richard Branson. Steve was declared officially dead in February 08 after disappearing in a light aifcraft.

The conspiracy theorists are out and about (surprise, surpise) in the media. Heres quite a good one as it comes from several investigators who were charged to find the body.

Click on Steve below and enjoy.


Saturday, 26 July 2008

Timeshifting - brand friend or foe?

There's been some debate about which brands are embracing the new consumer ability to choose when, where and how to consume and interact with content and products.

One brand which has managed to re-invent itself in my personal world in the last 2 years has been the BBC. Old time, pillar of the UK society, somewhat staid in its view, it was something I consumed without really a second thought.

Now though, it's all changed. My view of the brand, and the way I interact with it have changed radically recently.

I rarely watch BBC on TV at the time they would like me to. The i-player gives me the ability to carry around my TV on the laptop to watch when I want to watch it. I used to listen to BBC radio when I could. Now, I download the podcasts I want onto my MP3, and listen at my leisure. Not convinced on bbc.co.uk's relaunched new coat, but that's a minor quibble.

I have control, which is nice, but I'm now getting into a routine of when and what I download, which is a commercial brand's dream relationship with a customer. Which non-licence fee funded brand is going to build a relationship like this with me? So far, no-one has.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

McFly bigger than Barry Manilow!

The Mail on Sunday's exclusive giveaway of the new McFly album boosted its circulation 300,000 copies above its non-promotional average to 2.4m copies, according to estimates.

Couple of things strike me about this the latest in a long, long line of CD giveaways.

Firstly, McFly are more popular than Barry Manilow amongst MOS readers. Thats extraordinary. Surely no one I mean no one is bigger than Barry in middle Britain .

Who are McFly anyway?

Well the answer must lie in the popularity of McFly with MOS readers children me thinks.

Is this pester power at work at the news stands

Second thing that strikes me is how attrition seems to be finally taking its toll on these promotions. McFly beat Manilow but fell well short of Prince's Planet Earth CD last year.

All involved with these promotions are very polished at heralding their success but once again isnt it time to call into question the ROI of these deals. Its estimated that Associated Newspapers alone spend £100m a year on this type of stuff. Meanwhile the piles of unused, unwatched and unlistened to CDs and DVDs pile up - unloved - on readers shelves.

Car boot sales are the major beneficiary of these deals!

Wouldnt the money or at least part of it be better spent investing in long term relationship building with readers rather than short term bribery?

Maybe recessionary times will necessitate move toward strategic rather than tactical marketing at the papers.

That would at least be one good thing to come from these challenging times.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Is Google a victim of its own success or of a declining market

Google shares were off 8% in late trading today as it posted a profits gain but fell short of estimates.
Whilst its hard to feel sorry for these guys its ours to wonder whether they arent a victim of their own success. Posted growth in this market would be enough for most brands to set the shares alight but not Google. They post gains and analysts say not good enough and shares fall - hard.

But its not that simple is it.

Clearly Google are not only a bell weather for the advertising industry but the entire economy . Any sign of slowdown adds more evidence to what we already know so well - we are entering an economic nuclear winter.

Its unfortunate for Google stock holders that the business has become economic 'canary in the cage'

Keep warm

Monday, 14 July 2008

iPhone opening weekend sales

Apple has sold more than 1m of its new iPhone 3G handsets, the consumer electronics giant announced today, just three days since the chaotic launch of the second version of the smartphone.

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs said that the new iPhone 3G has had "a stunning opening weekend".

"It took 74 days to sell the first 1m original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world," Jobs added.

Bellwether report: Ad budgets see sharpest downturn since 9/11 attacks

Monday July 14, 2008

UK businesses are slashing their marketing and advertising budgets for the third quarter in a row in the sharpest downturn since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, according to the latest Bellwether report published today by ad agency trade body the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Internet marketing was the sole bright spot, with 19% of companies reporting a rise from the budgets set at the start of the year, and only 12% reporting a decline.

But even the growth of digital spend has slowed dramatically since the first quarter of 2008, when 27% of respondents reported an increase in their online marketing budgets since the start of the year.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Friday Queues

Soho on a Friday morning is usually an oasis of calm, with media and arty types stumbling towards lattes, cappucinos and wet decaffeinated skinny americanos.

Today however, a queue snaking along the pavement. At 8.45am. Was the European opticians having a black chunky framed glasses sale? Was the executive man-bag shop doing 2 for 1 deals?

No, the queue was for Carphone Warehouse. For the next generation i-Phone launch.

Have to hand it to Apple, it has brand loyalty like few others, and customers who go that extra mile without complaint.

Looking forward to seeing the phone in action.

Credit Crunch - just how bad is it?

With shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - two pillars of the US housing market - continuing to plummet yesterday investors and federal officials contemplated the possibility that the giants of the mortgage business could require a federal bailout.

OMG this is pretty serious stuff. These 2 companies are key part of the infrastructure that holds together the US economy (together they underwrite nearly 50% of US mortgages). Whilst they wont (cant) be allowed to fail its a huge concern that we are even close to this situation.

The conclusion that we draw from this is that the economic situation is far far worse that we are being told.

Hold on to your hats and tighten you belts