Archive for the 'general banter' Category

Three Companies that Apple Could and Should Buy

By: Tim Baker
It’s amazing how a company that went from the brink of bankruptcy 13 years ago now has $51B in cash reserves,  market cap of $275 Billion and a share price of over $300. Last week, CEO Steve Jobs said that Apple plans to hold on to it’s $51B in cash to pursue “strategic opportunities.” As their war with Google continues to grow as does threats from music startups that could potentially dethrone iTunes as the de-facto digital music destination, here’s a list of companies that could be huge acquisitions for the Cupertino giant to buy that could potentially change the shape of the tech industry for decades to come.

Facebook
Facebook is currently valued at a little over $30B. While it would be an enormous investment for Apple to make, the rewards from purchasing the world’s number one social network could have seismic effects across all of Apple’s verticals. It’s pretty safe to say that Apple will be launching a music subscription service in the future and as physical music formats continue on their death march, streaming music startups such as Spotify, MOG and Rdio are winning people over left and right. As smartphone and home broadband penetration continues to expand, it’s only a matter of time until most music fans are enjoying their music in the cloud. Apple realizes this and it’s most likely why they purchased Lala.com last year. Should Apple buy Facebook, every user could have access to a streaming iTunes service instantly. Apple’s new music social network Ping would also have a much better home than living in the iTunes desktop & mobile software and Facebook credits could be used to purchase video rentals.

Putting aside the benefits that an embedded iTunes store from within Facebook could have, the most appealing thing that comes with the purchase of Facebook is their data. Apple’s foray into the mobile advertising business with iAd has put them toe-to-toe with Google and owning Facebook would give them ownership of the very lucrative Facebook ad platform to compete on the desktop as well. Facebook ads allow marketers to deliver very hyper-targeted messages based on the data found in a user’s profile and Apple’s merging of that information with the data they receive from their iAds could very well shift the power in online advertising for years to come.

Netflix
Netflix currently has a market cap of $9B and a subscriber base of over 15 million. While Apple dominates the digital music space, the same can be said for Netflix with regards to digital video. While Netflix started out as a DVD by mail service, their business model has shifted towards streaming video and as they continue to roll out streaming-only plans, their subscriber base is expected to explode. Analysts expect Netflix to have over 19 million subscribers by the end of 2010, which totals about 6% of the US population or 17% of the estimated 116 million US TV households.

An acquisition of Netflix would allow Apple the flexibility to focus on streaming video rather than the pay-per-view rental or pay-to-own model that they’re stuck in now. Streaming video is the way of the future and it’s only a matter of time when Blu-Ray users will see they can get the exact same audio and video experience via the cloud than on an overpriced physical disc that takes up space and is prone to scratching.

Additionally, a purchase of Netflix by Apple would give them enormous market penetration within streaming devices already in-use, such as video game consoles, TiVos, Roku Boxes and Netflix-enabled televisions. While the newest incarnation of the AppleTV is a huge leap forward compared to its predecessor, future success in streaming video will not come from being one of many players in the hardware game – one must control the content.

Last.FM
Last.FM is a popular music social network that founded in the UK and was acquired by CBS Interactive for £140 Million in 2009. While it may not have the cache or price tag as Facebook or Netflix, Last.fm would give Apple something that it’s failed to crack thus far – success in social media.

It’s pretty safe to say that most diehard music fans are finding Apple’s Ping social network to be a joke. Aside from the very lackluster initial offering of artists involved, it’s pretty much the most anti-social social network of them all. Artists that are on Ping are not interacting with fans like often found on Facebook or Twitter. Ping is basically a glorified RSS feed of artists news and events and feels as warm and welcoming as a hospital waiting room.

I don’t see Ping taking off ever in its current form. There’s no way for artists to create their own accounts; an Apple staff member must create the account on their end. There’s also a ridiculous list of rules for entertainers participating on Ping that is nothing if not laughable.

Music loves have embraced Last.fm for multiple reasons, but the three that are most popular are 1. scrobbling, 2. streaming radio and 3. social networking. Scrobbling is basically Last.fm’s way of indexing all the music you listen to on your computer or iPod and keeping a running record of it. It uses that data to show which artists and songs are most popular on the site as well as allows users to meet other music fans based on their compatible music tastes. Last.fm also leverages their API so other music services can import their data into a user’s Last.fm account for even more ways to scrobble music. Two great examples of the API use are Spotify and Blip.fm. Ping currently only automatically tracks your iTunes purchases. The streaming radio on Last.fm also allows users to listen to Pandora-like stations built for them based on their actual listening habits.

While a purchase of Last.fm would be a drop in the bucket for Apple, it would allow them to buy into an established and trusted network of music lovers. They could also leverage all the data they obtain from users on their listening habits to offer a better targeted buying experience within the iTunes music store.

I believe all three of these aforementioned services provide excellent growth opportunities for Apple as they continue into the next decade. I’d love to know what other companies you think Apple could and should realistically buy. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

To Take Action or Make Action

By Anthony Nunno

I’m a person with strong opinions and have always been very vocal about them. I make no attempt to hide them, nor make any apologies; I’m a native New Yorker, it’s just not in my DNA! One reason I believe in voicing my opinion is in an effort to Make Action.

Making action is different than taking it. Making action means making things happen, it means not sitting idly by and letting others make the laws; it’s going out and telling them what I want it to look like, who I want it to effect or who I don’t—it’s getting involved in the planning process. Its’ also the very premise that allowed Facebook to grow and prosper over the years.

One topic that is particularly irritating is how our federal and state elected officials try to close budget deficits by raising taxes on the average Joe. I’m not talking Income Taxes, I’m talking vice taxes, sin taxes, bottled water taxes, sugar taxes, fat taxes… the list goes on and on. These taxes are the reason why the drink you ordered last night was $14, the reason why you’ve had to switch to generic soda, the reason why you have had to choose between food and cigarettes, or at least one of the reasons. I think these tax agendas are giving a new meaning to the old adage, being nickel and dimed to death!

So what does the average American do? Well, you can sit back with the $14 martini in your hand or you can speak up and Make Action. Whatever your issue may be there is a site that allows you to voice your opinion. So, get up and make action!

A great example of online advocacy is the destination site www.AxeTaxesNotJobs.com, which has been developed to fight federal and state tax increases on beer, wine and beverage alcohol. This type of sponsored advocacy is created for every person as a mechanism to reach out and Make Action by telling state and federal officials that there is opposition to the decisions and issues that affect lifestyle and checkbooks of the people they represent.

What I find amazing is the way emerging media has created a wealth of opportunity for each of us to Make Action. Through destination websites and microsites, Facebook, Twitter, mobile apps and even augmented reality you can contact just about anyone in order to get things done and make things happen. As of late, I’ve used the Internet in efforts to evaluate issues that are affecting me. I’ve researched the issue, formed an educated opinion and set out to search for ways to make the appropriate action.

I use www.AxeTaxesNotJobs.com as an example of fighting unfair tax increases for the purpose of this post. There are advocacy site for a gazillion issues citing both sides of the issue; the tools are there for you, so research, educate and MAKE ACTION in your favor because your opinion counts or at least mine does.

Coldwell Banker Works One of the Best Intranets in the World

The Kinesis-designed ColdwellBankerWorks.com, the global Intranet site for Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation, has been named one of the World’s Top 10 Intranet sites for 2008 by the Nielsen Norman Group, a user-experience research firm that advises companies on how to succeed through human-centered design of products and services.CBWorks

Kinesis developed the strategy and interface design for the site last year, working with long time partners Modus Associates and Bootstrap Software. The site aims to improve communication between Coldwell Banker Corporate and its network of more than 100,000 agents and brokers.

This is the second year in a row that Kinesis has had one of its sites make NNG’s annual list. Last year The Comcast Store was honored.

“Intranet Design Annual 2008: The Year’s Ten Best Intranets,” which presents detailed case studies of the 10 winners, is available to download for $198 from the Nielsen Norman Group website.

The Year That Was: 2007

At Kinesis, we’re all about momentum, moving forward, perpetual motion. But at the end of the year, it’s worth a quick look back to examine what went right and what went not so right in the digital marketing world. And what a year it was.

While many Kinetics met personal milestones like weddings, engagements and babies, (congratulations Paul Sekerka, Kate Rumore, Diane Puma, Katie Babinski and Anthony Vespucci) as a group they lamented the fizzle of Second Life. While we all heralded the release of the iPhone itself, the iPhone campaign left us under whelmed in comparison to the Mac vs. PC ads.

It was the year of Intranets and Web 2.0, as social networking, content-rich, user-driven sites, ajax and flash became tantamount to digital marketing, while mobile marketing still never found its groove.

Windows Vista was perhaps the biggest let down in 2007, although not entirely unexpected, especially to Mac lovers, and re-designs of both Amazon.com and Yahoo.com reaffirmed the status of two of the Internet’s mainstays.

Email marketing continued its decline, while search got local and overall ad spending continued its meteoric rise. TV watched both DVRs and the Writer’s Guild strike claim more advertising casualties, even while all the networks fortified their Web presences.

On the home front, the Kinesis Knights softball team went 10 and 2 in its inaugural season, losing in the last round of the playoffs in a game of questionable integrity, and the annual paintball outing once again left no client or staffer MIA.

It was also the year of User Experience, as a reorganization of Kinesis’ IA practice, led by Brian Kempf, began paying dividends, winning two prestigious Nielsen/Norman Group awards, one for the Comcast Store and one for ColdwellBankerWorks.com.

The circle K saw its creative product jump a few notches with stand-out efforts by newly promoted Design Director Trevor Aldinger for Comcast and Coldwell Banker, Larry Latore for Coldwell Banker and Goodwill and Amanda Thieme on Gain Capital and Coldwell Banker Commercial, and the media team’s Frank Puma made Second Life a real estate reality for client Coldwell Banker as Mike Pierre took the reigns on Web 2.0.

The Program Management team added Katie Babinski and Amanda Sackawicz and also made remarkable strides this year, taking control of the work product and solidifying new relationships, including those with new clients Gain Capital, Equifax, Feedroom, Anbau Enterprises, and Great Freedom, three of which were led by Pam Holland.

On the technical front, it was a very big year. 2007 saw the addition of Derek Grier as a technical lead, the release of the new Comcast Store, the successful integration of Canada into the Coldwell Banker system, and widgets for Siemens, Wyndham and Coldwell Banker, just to name a few.

And with the addition of new clients Deloitte, Rodale and Round Table Brewing, the stage is set for 2008 for Kinesis to continue generating business momentum.

Yes. It was a very good year.

IAB Says Q3 07 Internet Ad Revenues Set New High at $5.2 Billion

From the Interactive Advertising Bureau, December 5, 2007

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) announced that Internet advertising revenues exceeded $5.2 billion for the third quarter of 2007, representing yet another historic high for a quarter and a $1.1 billion increase, or 25.3 percent, over Q3 2006. The results, published in the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, are nearly 3 percent higher than Q2 2007, itself the last record-setting quarter. All three quarters in 2007 have set new highsQ1 at $4.9 billion, Q2 at $5.1 billion, and now Q3 at $5.2 billon. Revenues for the first nine months of 2007 totaled $15.2 billion, up nearly 26 percent over the $12.1 billion recorded during the first nine months of 2006.

“The continued robust growth of the industry indicates that marketers increasingly understand and appreciate the benefits of interactive advertising,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB. “Marketers large and small have come to accept digital media as the fulcrum of any marketing strategy.”

“Internet advertising revenues are on an annual run-rate exceeding $20 billion, further demonstrating the industry has truly come into its own,” said Peter Petrusky, director, Entertainment, Media & Communications Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The emergence of new platforms, including broadband video, rich Internet applications, mobile, and social media promise to deliver new benefits for consumers, and create exciting new venues for marketers to realize value in digital media.”

“The results of the survey continue to underscore the value that interactive advertising brings to the marketplace, as marketers and agencies build on established guidelines and best practices to control costs and maximize returns from their growing interactive budgets,” added David Silverman, partner, Assurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Source: PwC/IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report (www.iab.net)

Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the “IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report” was started by the IAB in 1996, and represents data from all companies that report meaningful online advertising revenues. The results are considered the most accurate measurement of interactive advertising revenues because the data is compiled directly from information supplied by companies selling advertising on the Internet. The survey includes data concerning online advertising revenues from Web sites, commercial online services, free e-mail providers, and all other companies selling online advertising.

First and third quarter revenue reports are estimates, with the actual figures being released along with second and fourth quarter data, respectively. PwC does not audit the information and provides no opinion or other form of assurance with respect to the information.

The IAB sponsors the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, which is conducted independently by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The full report is issued twice yearly for full and half-year data, and top-line quarterly estimates are issued for the first and third quarters.

Get the Most of the Internet. Slow down.

Brian KempfI have never met a man nor woman who can work at the speed of light. As much as i have tried I can’t even come close to breaking the sound barrier. I can only type somewhere in the range of thirty words a minute, forty if I don’t care about spelling and punctuation. So I have come to the realization that I will never work at the speed of the internet. In fact, no one can.

So maybe we shouldn’t think of approaching the internet as something we need to race through. The internet houses a wealth of information and we can either choose the abridged version or the encyclopedic version. Both versions fit our needs and both versions are readily accessible but there is a barrier with the internet that we do not often experience in the print world.

With abundance comes waste. In the online world that waste often comes in the form of irrelevant information for our business needs. If we could create a website that simply had a button labeled “find what i am thinking” we could be millionaires. But, as of this writing, that button does not exist.

So lesson one in navigating the internet is to slow down. We have quickly become scanners of information rather then readers. When we search for information we are often too quick to deem it irrelevant yet we often base this assumption on the first three to five items that are returned to us. We fail to keep in mind that this golden real estate has been either purchased or influenced by sites with large SEO budgets. Take time to read through more then just the top five hits and maybe even think about looking at page two or three of the results before you jump to another query.

When you first approach a web page don’t forget to slow down and take a few extra seconds to look at the whole thing. It is ok to scan but let’s shoot for some more intelligent scanning. Review the navigation, look at the imagery and by all means read some of the content. More and more sites are becoming user centric entities which means that the navigation has often been designed for the end user. This bodes well for those of you that take the time to look through the navigation to understand the content categorization on a site.

Be at peace. The internet can be your friend and the information you seek is out there. Just be patient.
ED. NOTE: Brian Kempf leads the User Experience practice at Kinesis by day and the internet revolution by night.

Becoming Part of the Conversation: Equifax

We’ve spoken before in this space about how imperative it is now for marketers to start taking part in the internet conversation. We’ve talked about how consumers are discussing your brand or at least your business (whether you know it or not), and that getting in on the discussion, and helping to direct it, can help bring you brand, product or service into the light and delivering straight into the hands of of your consumers.

EquifaxOur client, Equifax , known to most as one of the three credit reporting agencies, has long been dogged by negative perceptions. Credit reporting agencies are thought to be the people who decide your fate when it comes to credit scoring. Not true. These companies just report the scores, they don’t decide that you can’t afford the car you want. Actually, they are the good guys because they can at least educate people on the credit scoring system and how it all works. Still, perception is reality, and Equifax often causes wrinkles in the brows of consumers when it comes to their credit scores. Kinesis has been working with them to try and change that impression.

As part of a larger Equifax strategy aimed at educating consumers on better understanding their credit, Kinesis helped develop the Equifax Learn Portal, a stand alone Web site dedicated to providing consumers everything they need to know about how to protect and maintain their interests when it comes to personal finances and credit. The site is an important foundation, able to be accessed from anywhere including paid advertising, search, offline ads and of course the main consumer site.

Equifax Learn

But it’s really just the foundation. Equifax could not sit back and wait for people to realize that they are helpers not hinderers when it comes to thier credit. So Kinesis, working closely with the Equifax team, delved into the internet information boards, places like Yahoo Answers and WikiAnswers.com, to better understand consumer issues with finance, monitor the conversations around the Brand, and listen to the types of questions that are being asked . But listening is not enough.

Yahoo Answers 1

Yahoo Answers 2

When appropriate the Brand participates and offers guidance, clarifications and points people to the most relevant sections of the Equifax learn portal. An important fact of this 2.0 campaign is that we never hide that we work for Equifax, in fact, we were very up front. But the campaign has been successful so far because the information is good and useful and is presented in the right context. We are establishing trust and becoming a valuable part of the conversation.

How are you becoming part of the dialogue your customers are having?


About Kinesis Momentum

Want to keep your digital marketing moving forward? Welcome to Momentum, brought to you by the folks at FD kinesis. Whether its online advertising, social media, mobile technology, web design or any other discussion of the digital domain, you'll find it here.



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