New Media and New Information Paradigms

I have been hearing about the demise of the newspapers, the rise of search/social networking/new media and the internet fragmentation concept for years now. (almost a decade?) And I just read about it again today with the newspapers secretly meeting to try and sort out monetization methods to save their business. At the same time I am a Guinea pig living through this time of change/shift in how people find information, use information and consume things. Here are some of my observations although not in a concise dissertation format yet. 

  • We are at an odd time in internet evolution, on pause between big developments. We got email, IM, web sites, RSS feeds, Blogs, social networking and now Twitter. We don’t need more services or ways to interact on the web. We need better all inclusive ways to connect and consume all in one. Ways to make the experience more relevant and more inclusive of many kinds of content at the same time. Not wasting our time.
  • I can’t help but notice that at 33 I have never really “read” a newspaper. This indicates to me that newspapers were not that important back in the 1980’s to my generation when their profits were healthy and the internet was but a dream for most of us. (Except being something to line litter boxes and bird cages with.) I hate the size format, I hate the ink and I always have. I actually like the ads though, especially the Sunday fliers. 
  • Weeks go by without my watching any TV. This started about 3 years ago when I got high speed internet. It’s not that I don’t like TV, I just don’t have time to sit for 2 hours plus and I know if i sit down I won’t get up and get anything accomplished in the evening/weekend. And I don’t like overly repetitive things. I was watching the sell that house shows on HGTV to get ideas about how to sell mine and after about 3 I got it and didn’t need to watch any more. Reruns aren’t nostalgic to me really, more just boring. And reruns is all Cable TV is about.
  • The only TV I will drop everything for is Top Gear UK. When it is in Season we trek over to my parent’s house and watch wwith extended family weekly. Everybody drops everything to watch that show. It makes you laugh, it makes you dream of fancy cars and it inspires you to take grand adventures regardless of what the outcome is.
  • This leads me to a general cluelessness about a lot of local and newsworthy (?) events. Things like buses that are Hijacked and what the weather will be tomorrow. I also find that these things weren’t essential to me in the first place. I carry an umbrella, what’s the big deal?
  • I find myself focusing on things I’m interested in. Maybe this is the political polarization people speak of? I read my marketing emails/newsletters/blogs as well as home design blogs and write my own blog as well. I check status on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr and maybe update if I have something interesting to say. And I work a lot. I also am always investigating 2-3 new directions for my work/career. Not all of them pan out, but they help me figure out what is evolving that I need to know about.
  • I do still use the phone (yes the land line). It is the best way to reach my parents and Steve’s parents. Steve’s parents email but mine are not really into it. And we try and go visit once a week in person. In person time still matters.
  • I am a book reader because I am a train commuter. I have been for years now and it has created a small library of business/marketing/analysis books. I order from amazon when I see something I like and then go consult the pile of books for something new.
  • And that is all I have time for. Now with a husband (fiancee really for one more month), 3 cats, 4 litter boxes, a yard, wedding planning, condo selling, house hunting, family organizing, laundry, food shopping & cooking I am overbooked. I don’t even get to skype/call my friends very often. A party invite seems really daunting these days with the schedule we keep.
  • I wonder about new media uses and if we will really care about anything not personally relevant to us in the future? Will a police chase matter to everyone in Chicago or just the people who live by the highway where it happens? Will we be less distract-able by sensational news and distracting entertainment? Will we be able to channel the news, information and analysis we really need into our lives and ignore the products/content we really don’t care about?
  • On the other side of the coin, how will we ever discover new things? I find myself looking to find out what is happening on the internet a few times a week and look to Google News and the Yahoo home page. Not the Trib. Yet somehow the list at these sites is always limited and not really anything relevant either.
  • There has to be something in-between a completely open fire hose of information and one select rss feed with just content from one niche area. There has to be some middle ground between being hijacked by ads for 20 minutes of a 60 minute program on TV and not knowing at all where to find a dress for my rehearsal dinner when my usual 5 clothing websites didn’t pan out. (who has time to go to a mall?) ((and why does Google shopping suck when the main search is generally good??))
  • People won’t pay for news. Period. They will pay for some kind of extra relevant cool service though. They will pay for innovation, new products that are noticeably better for some reason. Things that simplify your life.
  • Ads should not be integrated more with content as if they were the content. It blurs the line in what is really true and what is marketing speak. And although they may pay the bills for a while, people will eventually figure it out and abandon that medium that does this.
  • We need another search player. Google is not enough and although they do some things well, I am not a fan of everything they create. I would like more companies to work on real time indexing of information as well as historical archiving to keep information accessible if anything happens to Google’s accessibility. At some point people will be so hooked they will be able to charge for a (low cost) subscription to the search engine itself. 
  • More people need web enabled phones with internet use active. I just read yesterday that out of 57 million people in the US with internet capable mobile phones only 18 million have internet enabled! (netpop stat comparing us to China) 31.5% of the people with internet use phones don’t even pay for internet access? (only 13% of all the cell phones total) This is a huge hurdle to making info more relevant and accessible because people carry their phones everywhere. Things like bigger screens, flatter profiles and easier software app use on these phones will help the adoption rates improve. 
  • Identity management and security is also a problem. We might like something like OpenID but only if sites still allow anonymous comments too. Privacy and being able to say something important without being hunted down in person for your opinion necessary for getting people to adopt this identity management software and make our lives easier between all the hundreds of web sites and e-commerce activities we do in a day and consolidating that information for our own personal use.   
  • Data mining is going to have to improve. If statistics are wrong 25% of the time like stated in the Numerati book, we really need to combine automated data crunching with human decisions about data more often. Numbers are meaningless without someones explanation. This completely changes what and how data is configured, crunched and reported and can determine/undermine your results even if you manage to collect it perfectly.
  • All this plus the only way out of a recession is through innovation. We’re waiting.

What music the world is listening to this week – popularity

I love getting this email update from Last FM every week or so (it hasn’t come in a few months until today, so I don’t know if it will be as frequent in the future) because it tells me what is popular by what people are listening to rather than what they are buying. I think this is a way more meaningful metric than what people buy because people buy a lot of music they don’t listen to and if you don’t listen to it you won’t buy it again. And that is the primary goal of the music industry right? To make as much money off selling you cds over and over again right? Anyway, this is a few weeks old now, but still interesting.  

Rank
This
Week
Rank
Last
Week
Weeks
On
Chart
Artist : Album Peak
1 1 10 Kanye West : Graduation
( Roc-A-Fella)
1
2 2 40 Amy Winehouse : Back To Black
(Universal)
2
3 3 55 Justin Timberlake : FutureSex/LoveSounds
(Jive)
1
4 5 72 Red Hot Chili Peppers : Stadium Arcadium
(Warner Bros)
1
5 7 27 Timbaland : Timbaland Presents: Shock Value
(Mosley Music Group)
4
6 6 22 Linkin Park : Minutes To Midnight
(Warner Bros.)
1
7 4 7 Foo Fighters : Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
(RCA)
2
8 9 53 Fergie : The Dutchess
(will.i.am music group/A&M)
7
9 10 13 High School Musical Cast : High School Musical 2
(Disney)
1
10 11 15 Hannah Montana : Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus
(Disney)
2
11 12 19 Rihanna : Good Girl Gone Bad
(Universal)
5
12 8 5 Bruce Springsteen : Magic
(Columbia)
2
13 13 25 Avril Lavigne : The Best Damn Thing
(Sony)
1
14 18 12 Colbie Caillat : Coco
(Republic)
14
15 14 7 James Blunt : All The Lost Souls
(WEA)
4
16 16 21 Maroon 5 : It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
(Universal)
2
17 15 35 Mika : Life In Cartoon Motion
(Island)
7
18 20 14 J. K. Rowling : Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
(Listening Library)
1
19 17 66 Nelly Furtado : Loose
(Geffen)
3
20 21 52 The Killers : Sam’s Town
(Island)
1
Gracenote Digital Top Ten Charts:
Album Charts: Alternative | Blues | Catalog | CCM/Gospel Country | Electronic/Dance | Folk | Hip Hop/Rap | Jazz | Latin | Metal | Pop | R&B/Soul Reggae | Rock | Soundtrack | World

WalMart Black Friday Sales & Cyber Monday Deals

walmart, sale, onlineI am starting to get more impressed with WalMart’s ability to change when they are under fire. They have a big article in TIME Magazine this week about revamping their stores and getting the selection tailored to the needs of each community and now I also read that they will be announcing all their sale items online for the Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday sales. (the day after thanksgiving is called black friday because retail stores’ P&L statements go from red to black for the year at that day with the burst of new shopping done. The next monday at work is also a popular day to buy online and it’s called Cyber Monday)

Also new this year is text updates on your cell phone. From mediapost: The site will reveal new items daily. Before the secret items become available, consumers who opt-in by texting the keyword “save” to 96278 (WMart) will get a text message back when Walmart.com reveals the product information on the site. Consumers will find Apple’s iPods and digital cameras from Casio, Cannon and Sony. Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3, along with an assortment of games, are expected to sell well. There are big-ticket electronics, too, such as LCD TVs from Sony and Samsung and pocket-sized global positioning systems (GPS) from Garmin, Magellan, and tomtom.

This much online presence and change for customers and employees would have been unthinkable a few years ago. It was always the our way or the highway game with them. It is good to see that they will have more flexibility with people’s needs and maybe win some customers back. But now we have to get them to chat with us about that whole import everything from China where there aren’t the same saftey regulations as in the US thing.

Housing Slump

I am getting more and more scared of this housing slump. Don’t get me wrong, I am in my place to stay and have not entertained any thoughts of moving to a more appropriate living space since this all started this summer and I will be in my current condo until it is most likely paid off. In fact I am trying to get to the point where I can double my payments to save a boat load of mortgage interest by paying it off early. 

This mortgage blog that says they have free mortgage quotes has news and articles about the housing bust and has a tough love view of the market. They say it is good that people are loosing homes that are not in a position to pay them off or make payments and that this is a natural adjustment process in the economy. I don’t agree with that.

I think that the Realtors and banks should have to deal with the penalty of not making as much money now that they pushed the boundaries so far and offering fixed rate refinancing to people who can’t afford these balloon payments is a good thing for the economy and helps them learn their lesson, because they created this problem. You cant plaster every surface with ads and run TV commercials 24/7 on every home makeover show there is and say it’s the consumer’s fault.

The Realtors, banking, finance and housing guys pushed too hard and got people to sign on to bad lending deals that are impossible for anyone to pay. And they thought they would get away with it? That it’s ok? They should be responsible for cleaning up the mess. It’s their problem.

Holiday Shopping Gift Cards

Apparently consumer spending in the U.S. is down in September and everyone is worried about a down sales year for this christmas and holiday season. Part of the problem is that so many toys have lead ala china production and have been recalled. Another part of the problem is that many people have had their housing mortgage rates adjust and are looking at not affording much or are loosing their homes to forclosure and are in financial disaster. And the last reason is that a lot of people are forecasting a recession due to the job growth slowing sue to the housing boom going bust. Why does every industry have to go through a bubble these days? Anyway, one of the bright spots for retailers is gift cards. They are practical to give, because people can get whatever they want and retailers like them because they get paid up front and a certain percentage of them are lost and they still get to keep that revenue. So here is some info on that forecast for the holiday shopping season from emarketer:

gift cards

Baby Boomer Marketing

Everyone in the business world is a buzz about marketing their products to U.S. Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964 after WWII and in that big baby boom that happened post war in peacetime) They are a hot target for companies these days for the following reasons:

1. There are far more of them than in coming younger generations.

2. They have money. They have been ardent savers for their retirement and now need somewhere to spend it.

3. They are mostly in better health than past retired generations because of advances in medicine and will live longer too.

4. They still have energy and are interested in new fun things, provided it’s not too out there.

 So, how do you find out if your product or service is a good fit for the Baby Boomer generation? Well a new survey report is out today that has some answers to what Boomers like and dislike and how different they are in these categories from other generations. From the center for Meida research; See below:

BoomerView Snapshot Percent of Baby Boomers who…
% of Boomers % More/Less Likely than All Adults
Personally carry any medical, hospital or accident insurance

76.8%

+6%

Voted in a federal, state or local election in the last 12 months

55.0

+22%

Have a regular (2+ times weekly) exercise program

42.4

+2%

Played the Lottery in the last 12 months

41.0

+18%

Say “Preserving the Environment” is a very important guiding principle in their lives

40.7

+11%

Believe they will be better off financially in the next 12 months than they are now

39.1

-5%

Live in a household that owns or leases at least 3 vehicles

35.6

+31%

Did home remodeling in last 12 months

30.8

+21%

Signed a petition in the last 12 months

21.7

+21%

Own a Giant Screen TV (>42″)

13.9

+10%

Source: MRI’s Spring ’07 Survey of the American Consumer

Additionally, the summary notes that:

  • Almost four in 10 Boomers believe that they and their household will be better off financially one year from now. And, close to 90% believe they will be either financially “better off” or “the same” one year from now.
  • A fairly large portion of Boomers are potentially unprotected financially should they face serious medical issues. Almost one-quarter (23.3%) report that they have no personal medical, hospital or accident insurance.

Value for your dollar

I do post about a lot of consumerist topics here even though I am a marketer and this is supposed to be a marketing and advertising blog most of the time. I think my background in work helps me see through the sales ploys and marketing tactics and see what the real value is. I’m not stupid, and I won’t be taken advantage of by big fat corporations.

Today for example, I was at the mall because my brother had to buy some new clothes for work, and he needs a lot of help putting things together. (yes really) so I go and look around at the women’s section of the Gap where he is buying shirts and sweaters and see a cute Green T-Shirt with a square neck and this gathered look across the front that seems all the rage now. The Gap wanted 25 bucks for a short sleeved T-Shirt. I knew that was a bit much, so I put it back and low and behold I ran across the same T-Shirt in Grey at Ann Taylor Loft on the sale rack for $6.99. So I am glad I put the first one back and bought the second one, because it was 18 dollars less for the same thing.

It’s not consistent between stores though, I saw courderoys at the ann taylor loft for $59.00 (yikes, they’re just pants!) and I bought almost the same kind at old navy at 50% off last week and they were $14.00. So, you have to make those decisions on a piece by piece basis and not fall in love with any one store.

When you are shopping here are some tips to use to save money:

1. Don’t shop for something you have to have because of some event or something coming up. It fixes your timeframe and if there isn;t a deal you will have to pay double or tripple what it is really worth because of the deadline. Always plan ahead a month or two so you can walk away if the price isn’t right.

2. Go shop on weeknights so it’s not crowded and you can look through sale racks. They are always in the back of the store hidden (despite the sale signs on the windows) so you fall in love with the more expensive stuff up front that you have to walk past on your way in.

3. If something is dirt cheap and available in more than one color, or a basic thing you will wear until it falls appart, buy 2. It’s cheaper than trying to find it again later and paying more.

4. Buy stuff at the end of the seasons so you can put it away for next year.

5. Knock off stores are your friend. H&M, Target and Old Navy are a big part of my wardrobe now a days because I have decided I can’t afford 100 dollar pants and 100 dollar sweaters anymore. I would rather put that money towards paying off my morgage faster or invest it and make some more money there. It’s just smart living.