The Value Proposition

Why should a consumer buy from you?

Competitive Advantages

What makes you better than your competition?

Choosing A Differentiation Strategy

You chose a target market, now what?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saying Apple Won The Mobile Flash War Is Misleading

Remember the headlines in November?  Ones like those in this CNET article saying Apple won the mobile Flash war.  Sources at Adobe were quoted as saying that "We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations." (source CNET UK).  So Steve Jobs won.  Flash really is unnecessary on mobile devices.  Actually, it is very necessary.

Adobe made the right move, enabling a successful development platform (Actionscript) to exist in an "app" consumer model within the mobile space via Adobe AIR.  Let's remember what Flash is: a development environment for delivering rich, interactive content to users.  This has traditionally been done via the Flash plugin, allowing web browsers to decode and display this content. However desktop and laptop PC's have more CPU horsepower and screen real estate available for processing Flash content and Actionscript code.  Mobile devices, with their smaller screens, and slower processors, are not ideal vehicles for delivering Flash-based content.

Adobe, FINALLY, recognized this.

So Adobe took a step back, surveyed the situation, and realized what they have: a viable, established development platform.  This development platform not only delivers games and entertainment, but it enables advertisers to create dynamic ads and apps, allowing them to connect with consumers in new ways that traditional advertising does not allow.

That's why the mobile play is so important.  Traditional advertising methods don't work in a mobile environment.  In February of this year, Comscore reported smartphone usage was up 60% year over year (Business Insider).  If you want to get your costumer's attention, it's no longer via a television or a regular PC screen.  In order to win mind share, you have to get consumers in their pockets, so that they will open up their pocketbooks.

Flash/Actionsctipt development via Adobe AIR packaging makes sense. It allows Adobe to continue to sell software.  It allows Adobe to stay relevant with developers. It allows Adobe to be a key player in the mobile advertising realm.  It just makes sense.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's about the content, not the algorithm

SEO. Search Engine Optimization.  For the past few years, no other term (other than Social Media) has owned the mindshare of marketers and business owners when it comes to the web.  It's almost a foregone assumption: if I build a website, I must perform SEO.  If I own a website, I must perform SEO.

The next big assumption is that performing SEO means either hiring an expensive "SEO Company", or getting a "SEO For Dummies" book and doing it yourself.  What exactly are you doing when you are "SEO'ing"?  Altering "alt" tags, meta data, headers, tagging images, keyword selection,'s almost as mind-boggling as trying to guess how many letters there are in a can of alphabet soup.  Why are we putting ourselves through this insanity?  It's because we desparately want to be at the top of Google's listings.  We want to meet, beat, and even fool Google's algorithm at it's own game. 

It's time to stop the insanity.  Sure, having as much of your content indexable as possible is worthwhile.  Sure, you want to have good keyword selection and contextual page titles.  But lets get one thing clear.  No matter the algorithm, if you don't have relevant content, and others don't think you're content is relevant, Google isn't going to care either.

Google cares the most about relevant content.  If your content is actually about what you claim your website or webpage is addressing, then your content is relevant, or contextual.  If you title your page "Dogs", but you present information about cats, then it is not relevant.  Google and it's genius engineers have figured out how to "crawl" your website, examine your content, and rate it's relevancy.  It grades everything on your page that it can search, or "index.

Not only must your content be relevant, but it must be updated frequently.  Google will index your site on a set schedule once it "finds" you for the first time.  How often you update your content, or create new content, will determine how often Google "decides" to visit your site.  If you create a site, and never update it, then Google will eventually "decide" to visit your site more infrequently, and as a result, it will lower you in relevant search results.  But if you continually update your site, and continue to create relevant content, Google will raise you in it's search results.  Old and stale = forgotten and unimportant.  Fresh and exciting = relevant and important.

Even if you write relevant content, and keep it fresh, unless others also think it is relevant, then Google will not raise you up the search ranking results.  How do others make you relevant?  Link backs.  The more people, in contextual situations, link back to you, then your content is relevant.  What is a contextual situation?  Link farms are NOT contextual situations.  In fact, Google has clamped down on this practice; recently altering its algorithms to remove link farms from the equation.  So many people were "playing" the system with link farms and dummy websites that Google re-worked it's code to severely discount the influence of link farms and dummy websites.

What Google did was increase the relevancy of a website, with content relevant to yours, linking back to you.  For example, a blog post talking about dog sweaters, mentioning your comments about them, and linking back to your site, is relevant.  A series of forum posts on a public community forum site about dog sweaters, with links back to you in those posts, are relevant.  A series of social media posts on Facebook or Twitter, mentioning content about dog sweaters and linking back to your site, are relevant.

Google cares about content that others care about, and if they care about you, then Google cares about you.  So go ahead and optimize those page headers.  Make your site's content match your keywords.  Make as much of your website able to be indexed as possible.  But if your content isn't relevant, and if others don't care about your content, then Google won't either.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Another Ad Network = More Fragmentation

On Wednesday Yahoo released it's "Living Ad", interactive video ad format for advertisers.  This new ad format works within an ad network, that is centered around Yahoo's Livestand publication app.  Livestand, along with it's ad network, enters an already saturated ad "market" occupied by the likes of Flipboard, Zite, AOL's Editions, and Pulse.  Yahoo is pushing advertisting packages to buyers, some of which are said to run upwards of $500,000.

According to Yahoo, Livestand features a magazine-style layout.  It will launch with some content from third-party publications.  Those publishers will share their ad revenue with Yahoo.  The details of these revenue sharing arrangements are not yet known. These publishers can also re-sell ad packages on the plarform.  I can only deduce that Yahoo get's a cut of that revenue as well. Diane McGarvey at Scientific American, which is offering some content on the Livestand, states Yahoo will keep about 70 percent of revenue on ads sold to appear inline with Scientific American content.
Living Ad, along with Livestand, is one of many initiatives to attempting to make Yahoo a relevant player in mobile advertising.  Mobile advertising is projected to net around $1 billion this year in the U.S. and up to $1.2 billion in 2012, according to eMarketer. Yahoo is positioning itself to receive as large a portion of this pie of revenue as possible.

The mobile ad space is already over-saturated.  Frankly, none of the ad formats and networks bring anything new to the table.  Nothing currently compells a consumer to do anything after viewing these ads compared with any other form of advertising medium.  We don't need another ad network.  We don't need another "method" to get an ad to a consumer.  What we need is a new type of ad, a new way to interact with a product, that might actually compel a consumer to buy.

Advertisers, and content networks, need to bring new ideas to the table.  The internet and mobile phone networks bring whole new possibilities to advertising via interactive ads.  An interactive ad would allow a consumer to configure products, explore them, walk around them, try a focused "demo" of it.  After they have played with it, or configured it to their hearts content, they could be connected with a vendor to purchase that product within a few clicks.  This gives the consumer a quick way to satisfy their emotional desire to buy the product.

However, most online ads don't do anything other than present a picture, an animation, a call to action phrase, and link to a normal website.  There's no point to showing a traditional ad online or on a smart phone if there's nothing new about it's experience.  None.

Yahoo's Living Ad is trying to do this.  However, most advertisers don't seem to know how to create an ad "experience" that really compels consumer interest.  We need to stop telling

If advertisting is going to survive, and make money, the "ad" as we know it needs to evolve along with the technology available to deliver it.  With the growing popularity of mobile devices that are connected to mobile data networks, there is a new opportunity to truly try something new.  Who is going to lead the way?