September 8, 2009

Hype Machine News

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Music — Robert John Ed @ 4:29 pm

I finally set up an account on Hype Machine.  I’d been lurking (btw, I want to write a longer and more thoughtful post on lurkers and what it means for sites and companies online at some point) on the site for over a year now, but recently saw that they have integrated and Twitter functionality with it, which offers a 1+1+1 = 5 equation.

Hype Machine is where I go when I want to hear early buzz on bands I’ve never heard of. works similarly for me, but it’s more of a way to track how much of what has been in my rotation lately and read more in depth band bios.  Many people use Myspace for this, but I abhor Myspace and think it’s the equivelant of an 80’s acid trip gone bad.  Meanwhile, has comprehensive information on every band and offers scrobbling, which is probably the most important music related feature on my hardware.

Ever more so recently, I’ve realized how much of a music fanatic I am.  It doesn’t matter what kind, I’m near always consuming new music.  Some lasts a long time (like the Wolf Parade or Rural Alberta Advantage albums) and some dies out.  But it’s a constant for me, and I’m going to continue to write about it.  Getting out to more live shows is also of interest.

I  also want to use twitter more proactively again(user:  @redmarketer).  I used to be a constant user and although I didn’t do it all the time (3x per day?) it did offer significant amounts of information and a good outlet for less important info, i.e. non bloggable stuff.  Combining all these three services like Hype Machine has done is the key to building a smarter network and keeping me as a user, kudos to Hype Machine for the good work.

August 29, 2009

Digg Sponsored Stories

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 4:26 pm

Was perusing Digg, an interesting consortium of geeky topical news fodder, the other day and noticed that a story was sponsored by threadless.  Turns out, it’s not really a story.  It’s an advertisement.  Check it out, there home page now regularly has “stories” that are actually sponsored ads.  They seem more interactive in nature than typical ads.

Here’s another “story.”

Now, I’m not a huge fan of this type of advertising, it’s somewhat attempting to fool the readers.  But the Digg crowd is incredibly aware of ads (far more so than your average consumer).  What’s more, I think that Diggers get that the site has to be monetized somehow.  We get a great forum for new, edgy internet fodder and in return the site gets our eyeballs and attention.  I certainly understand the costs associated with running a site at this scale, so this is acceptable to me.

It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes and if Digg can really build a profitable model and how they evolve sponsorship.

August 26, 2009

Netflix and Business Method Patents

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 11:28 am

At a party the other night, a group of people started discussing Netflix.  I love Netflix; it costs all of $9 a month to get one movie at a time.  An hours worth of time spent picking out movies and organizing them sequentially allows me to receive a few months worth of movies without thinking about it on the cheap.  It’s especially nice during the winter months when getting outside is more difficult and inherently less enticing.

The read deal Holyfield, though, is that the same $9 gets me access to all their online content.  Netflix has done an AMAZING job with their online queueing system.  There are two very specific reasons.  The first is that it’s quick, it gets licensing and buffers within a minute and you are set to watch the movie.  The second reason is content.  Screw cash, content is king.  Content is half of the market, regardless of who supplies it.  Netflix has that, and they know how to monetize it, unlike most other online content companies.  I’ve been watching the old Heroes seasons lately, they’re good and Netflix’ system makes it a breeze to watch an entire season in a week or so.

Right now, I either turn my 24″ iMac towards the couch and watch instant queue, or I hook up my laptop to the 42″ LCD for company.  Easy, breezy, beautiful.

It’s funny, the tangible DVDs aren’t really that big of a deal to me.  The online streaming is.  That’s what I’m paying for, really.  Certain titles aren’t available online, due to licensing agreements I’m sure, so they are a necessary evil.  Netflix is a big player in terms of future potential for the reason that they know how to monetize digital content on a subscription model, NOT an advertising model.  Big difference.  Looking at the closest competitor (that I know of), Hulu, and the difference in content is remarkable.  I literally have trouble finding a movie to watch on Hulu and the speed is much lower.

Then at the end of the conversation, someone enlightened me to the fact that Netflix has a Business Method Patent, which is essentially taking out a patent on the way you monetize your business due to it being unique and novel.  Apparently, they license this model to Blockbuster.  I found that interesting (and odd) as that is their main competition.  Here’s a graph of how business method patents are growing, something to think about.

August 20, 2009

Free MIT Course: Game Theory

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova, Management — Robert John Ed @ 1:23 am

As mentioned previously, I went through some of the free course on Game Theory provided by MIT.  I didn’t spend too much time on it, just an hour or so.  The online content is formalized in very lack luster power points, although still representative of a coherent story.

Game theory is very interesting, it’s basically a mapping of potential outcomes within a finite structure.  Matrices for players are developed (though I only saw this for two sided games, not sure how it’s mapped for more competitors?) with all potential outcomes assumed.  Rationalizing choices is very important, a choice is rational in expectations that all players are acting for their optimal outcomes in increasing value.  That means all players are knowledgeable on parameters of the game and expect the other players to act in a similar fashion.

The result is a road map of expectations given established potential within a static competitive environment.  A game theorist could reasonably map out expected outcomes and recommend choices based on the development.  It gets much, much deeper than this I assume, but it makes sense.  The issue here is that most competitive landscapes are infinite and have far too many intricacies and chances to alter that mapping decisions in matrices and eventually decision trees could prove detrimentally fallible.  But what do I know?  This is just a skin deep analysis.  As a comparison, here is the Wikipedia entry for Game Theory.  Decent explanation

And that’s the real point of this, reading power points online simply can’t replicate being in a class room where questions may be posed and ideas reinforced by a professor who may sense lack of understanding or emphasis behind a key concept.  It leads me to question how much of a students learning is contingent on the supplementary materials (books, lectures, .PPT’s, etc.) and how much is based on the forum where the knowledge is being given.  It’s likely different for every student, but this could be studied relatively easily in a bifurcated trial for students taking a similar course online and in person.  My guess is that the information itself is the majority (60-70%) and the rest is the forum (30-40%).  The only problem is that one can’t apply information critically with a 60% understanding.  I don’t feel confident in speaking on or explaining game theory based on the hour I spent reading the content online, and that’s the issue with content as such.

This is already getting long, so I’ll wrap it up.  The content can be optimized through better illustration, animation and narration.  A company could easily build a business model around creating palpable, intriguing content oriented on a partnership with a big brand (MIT, Harvard, et. al.) This actually raises a question, who is the big brand?  The educator, or the company that optimizes the content?  Anyway, if this was embraced, it could revolutionize education.  The best colleges and knowledge could be procured by anyone in the world.  It scales and builds even MORE wealth for the institutions, the long tail effect takes hold and doesn’t let go.  All of a sudden a complete, three year guide to Astrophysics from MIT is available for $50.

Any of us who have gone to grad school know the costs.  I’m very far in debt for a bevy of knowledge I could acquire with a library card; it just wouldn’t be verified.  In the future, the costs will go down drastically, and it will be verified.  Everyone gets smarter.  We evolve and disseminate intelligence at a rate higher than ever before.  It WILL happen.  I just don’t know when.

August 17, 2009

Learning For Free: MIT Online Courses

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 10:15 pm

Learning for free is pretty interesting to me (as are most things that don’t cost me anything).  Some amazing things are happening due to the centralization of knowledge online.

I’d like to learn French.  I don’t have an especially good reason why, except for the fact that it is spoken in many areas of the world and could be valuable.  Two years ago or so, I found a site online called LiveMocha, which teaches many different languages for free online.  I began the French program and it’s well set up.  I didn’t complete it; the onset of business school and my lack of time has put an end to that.  I still plan on learning it, after school.  I’ll likely take classes, it adds accountability and expectations.  It makes you put skin in the game.  But is it better to have skin in the game?  Especially if there are means to acquire the very same knowledge for free?

Today I went to the MIT website because they are apparently beginning a process of putting their knowledge, their educational tools, online!  Check out the list of classes, it’s immense.

There are many questions to be asked.  What happens when the most revered educational institutions digitize their content and give it away?  Do their brands become any less effective?  I don’t think so.  What about the cost of classes, should they be going down?  The site points out that using these materials is no surefire way to anything at all; it’s not a degree, there is no credit associated with these things.  If anything, cost of classes in person go up to pay for the online content.  Is that fair?  Good question.

Two very ominous things jump at me here.  The value of the content.  Is it less or more when given away for free?  I think both sides could be argued with merit.  Secondarily, the ability to learn from this kind of content.  If the most prominent educators in the world are doing this, there’s a good reason for it.  Who will optimize the experience?  Will this become the standard for learning?  When will the publishers extrapolate credit bearing online content and how much would it cost?  This will change the way we learn.  Eventually, anyway.  I think I’ll spend some time on Game Theory for Managers and get a better feel for how the content is structured, maybe I’ll post on it later.

August 14, 2009

Commitment Models

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 10:06 pm

Mark Cuban wrote a good post on commitment business models, it reminds me of a piece of Permission Marketing where Seth Godin pontificates on the ability of large companies such as Ford to build permission assets with customers and rent cars as a service much like phone companies do for their networks (I have no clue how many times I’ve cited this as my most influential read career wise, if you’re a marketer, you should have read it years ago.  I should read it again.)

This is the kind of thought provoking ideation that makes the internet so valuable.  The base of the idea is that a diversified company such as P&G create permission assets with customers, commitments to buy on an ongoing basis in return for a discount.  The consumer uses the same products anyway, they enjoy the products and may as well not have to worry about picking it up.  It’s the modern day equivalent of the milk man stopping by every other morning.

The reason this is now feasible is that distribution companies such as Amazon (oh yes, I went there; IMHO Amazon will one day make more money from their data management and distribution ability than their Etail) allow for large companies to scale one to one service into the millions.  Billions.  That’s an amazing change from typical brick and mortar sales.

When will it happen?  When the profitability proves pudding.  Someone will take the leap, make a killing and the dominoes will fall.  All I want to know is when my box full of Raisin Bran Crunch, wild rice and peppers is on shipment.  Exciting times, no doubt.

July 7, 2009

I Want FREE for Free

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Marketing Philosophy, Marketing Tactics, Media Origination — Robert John Ed @ 12:34 am

I read the Long Tail a few years ago (which, to my surprise, I never reviewed here–must have been previous to me starting a blog).  It was a really good book and helped me to understand the dynamics of a system where choice is unlimited and shelf space is no longer an issue.  Ladies and gents, meet teh interwebbery tubes.  The importance of the web on traditional consumption of products and services is yet to be completely determined (and may well never actually reach that indictment) but it’s obvious that a lot has changed over the last ten years.

Newspapers are failing.  Music is now sold more online (via iTunes and Amazon) through digital downloads than at traditional retail stores.  Traditional retail is now carried on through the tubes pretty regularly.  I bought my 42″ HD LCD online for a significant amount less than I would have had to pay at Best Buy at the time.  Banking online is really easy and normal.  So is paying bills.  Everyone has mobile email (in business at least) and texting now.  The mobile web is prerequisite to smart phones today.  It’s just gotten a lot more tech affluent in the last five years, with a collective shrug and nonchalant raising of expectations from the masses.  The stuff that blew our minds five years ago is now table stakes.

The Long Tail (and a few other books) really started to shape my fragile little mind around the complexities of online business models some time ago.  I found (and still find) it incredibly intriguing as a business person.  Everything is changing and will continue to do so.

Along comes Chris Anderson’s next book, FREE.  It’s all about how businesses operate by giving away their products or services.  Google is a prime example, but there are MANY companies attempting similar strategies online (and many companies in the past did so as well, free magazines based on ad revenues come to mind).  There are many ways to get this book free, apparently, and I’m planning on using one of them.  Evidently there will be a ad sponsored rendition.  I’d be all too happy to give some attention to whomever (Adobe?) the primary sponsor is, in order to get the book for free.  Gimmie, gimmie gum drops.  I’ll be reviewing it here as soon as I’ve gotten a handle on the content.

June 6, 2009

Expert or Hobbyist, A Matter of Perspective

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 6:27 pm

At school, some people view me as an “expert” on social media and marketing online.  I quote expert because that means they would come to me and ask about it, not that I’m a consultant or anything, but that I’m in the space and as such have a prerequisite knowledge.  This is true.

My friends who actually WORK in online marketing are experts.  They build online communities, sites, ads, paths and more in order to engage target markets.  Those friends ultimately view me as a hobbyist, a view that I share.  This is also very true.

It’s a horrific thing that today’s education system isn’t focused more on marketing online (in business school).  This is the future and yet the vast majority of people have an extremely shallow understanding of the tubes.  This may sound like douchebaggery, but the four winds are blowing and the weather vain is pointing which way to walk.

Someone told me a few months ago that reading two (two!) books on a subject makes you an expert for the simple fact that very few people read any more.  That strikes me as awful.  Today it’s easy enough to be an expert, but it doesn’t happen over night.  Do yourself a favor (ESPECIALLY if you’re a marketer) build a website.  Run a PPC campaign ($25 will last you months and teach you more than 90% of marketers today).  Read a book or two (both good btw).    This goes for everything by the way, not just online marketing.  Want to be a chef?  Read about it and practice.  Want to learn a language?  Start learning today for free.  The only thing really holding you back, is you.  Silly isn’t it?

The hardest step is the first one.  Take it and everything gets easier.

May 31, 2009

Google Wave Thoughts

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Ideas, Information Supernova — Robert John Ed @ 6:28 pm

Here’s an interesting new technology from Google called Wave.  If you have an iPhone and use the text function, you’ll notice that threads are actually told like real conversations.  This reminds me very much of that simplicity.  Wave allows users to start threads as “hosted conversations,” which has quite a few other marketing connotations.  In this instance it’s not a referral to sponsorship, but of web hosting or cloud hosting.

Watch the video to see how it works in more depth, but basically the program allows users to post in a string visible to those people they choose in real time.  It doubles as an IM client when both or many parties are online.  They used Chrome, Safari and Firefox (no MS love at Google) to run the demo.  It also has a publishing feature for other areas of the web should you choose to post somewhere else (they used Blogger, but this is an open source project and I assume so long as the publishing site allows for it, extensions will happen.)

The technology isn’t exactly mind blowing to me, it reminds me of Apple simplicity though.  Technology doesn’t always need to be revolutionary, if it’s good and easy to pick up for most people, that’s good enough.

All this said, I wonder if this will take off the way Google Maps did (Wave is created by the same engineering brothers).  The problem for most new tech like this is getting groundswell in the community, getting adoption and sustained user base.  I like this tech, but if none of my friends use it, not sure I would in the long term socially.  I could easily see this becoming a standard in interoffice work, it really adds functionality and streamlines work flow regarding one project or idea.  In fact, it’s more like a very easy and smarter Microsoft Groove.  I doubt that’s what Google set out toward, but they should be focusing on getting businesses to use this and make it a standard piece of inner office communique.  If they can pull that off, maybe it’s the leverage point for dethroning MS Office with Google Docs.  This is pie in the sky, but imagine being able to implement Docs into Waves and hosting online projects along with the conversations that surround them.

Hats off to Google and their foray into territories unknown.


March 20, 2009

What Am I Going To Do About Facebook?

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Media Origination — Robert John Ed @ 2:59 pm

I’ve got some big plans for Facebook.  Or a lack thereof.  Or a withdrawal.

Facebook has really revolutionized the way we communicate and keep up to date with friends, acquaintances, passerby’s, coworkers, family, secret admirations, detestables, and randoms.  For the most part I really enjoy it.  But when I look at my profile, it looks like this:


One of the things about writing is that it should be done every day.  Whether it’s a blog or journal or whatever, the practice helps you to sort out thoughts and be more creative.  So when I’m not in school (as that takes up such a great deal of time), I try to get something down as much as possible.  So my profile kind of gets spammed like above.  Which I don’t dig all that much.  The bigger issue is that there have to be a lot of people that aren’t all that interested in my musings.  There are certainly people on the Fbook that I get tired of hearing about, my guess is that I’m no exception.

So I’m considering dropping my feed of blog posts into Facebook and just keeping them on Redmarketer.  It’s kind of tough to pull the trigger though.  Rather than write about it, I should probably just yank the plug for a few weeks to see what happens to UV’s and page views.  I also didn’t want to just drop the feed for people who actually do read through Fbook and then have them think I just quit writing.

Next issue, I’m going to work for an incredible company in a month and a half, so I’m considering a sabbatical from Facebook and Twitter.  I spend a lot of time on both, not at work, but they are still a big time drain and I think that the time I spend on them at home would be better spent outside or meeting with people in RL.  Pretty sure I’ll be pulling out of Facebook for the three months of summer.  Just a temporary hiatus, but a hiatus none the less.  I posted this on Twitter yesterday and got a few complaints from friends about doing it.  “That’s how we keep in touch!”  “L.A.M.E.!” etc.  But I did this a year ago and it was actually kind of nice to deviate from the digital.

If you have any thoughts on taking the blog out of Facebook, or you’ve done something similar, I’d like to hear about it.

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