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June 2008, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, June 13, 2008

Video Game Fitness Gurus: Jillian Michaels and Shigeru Miyamoto

Getting fat is fun. Getting skinny is boring.

That's a bad equation particularly for two groups of people: those of us getting a little bit older and those of us who spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games (and it's even worse for those of us who are doing both).

But the man who brought the world Donkey Kong and Mario has teamed up with the fitness trainer from the television show The Biggest Loser to create a video game that combines playing games with losing weight.

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and trainer Jillian Michaels are set to launch Nintendo's Fitness Ultimatum, where players join Michaels' fitness boot camp and face a series of increasingly difficult aerobic tasks.

The game, slated for release this Christmas, uses a fitness balance board as a controller and Nintendo's real-motion sensors that allow players physical movements to control action on the screen.

Miyamoto and Michaels developed the game, he said, after his family started to go to they gym together. Working out, he said, was no fun when the only thing you did was hop on a scale.

Games for Miyamoto have always been about exploration, creating puzzles and challenges that were stimulating beyond the mind-numbing repetition of pushing buttons. With the Wii Fit platform, he's hoping to do the same for health.

Video Game Fitness Gurus: Jillian Michaels and Shigeru Miyamoto By Brad at 10:56 AM
Comments (2) The Art of Selling Services Online

Selling products is the Holy Grail online.

For all the bluster about audience size and advertising, pure American consumerism is still the end-all, beat-all for companies. Amazon and Ebay have always understood that, although it's a bit unfair to hold them up as righteous examples because their model doesn't necessarily translate to every company.

If you're selling a "thing," some kind of service that people can use, the ecommerce model is hard to figure out. But is attempting to do for services what Amazon and Ebay have done for products.

The company aggregates subscriptions of all sorts -- magazines, movie rentals and dating sites -- in one place, allowing people to search and price shop for services. They've also partnered with an affiliate advertising group, LinkShare, to sell banner advertising across what they expect to be a large network of drive-by consumers.

The model may work because it's content agnostic -- like Ebay and Amazon, which means it simply aggregates information on different products.

In the past, companies like Steven Brill's Contentville tried a similar approach with one exception: it focused entirely on selling articles, print subscriptions, screenplays and other written text. Since you likely have never heard of Contentville, you can imagine what happened to the company during the dotcom bust. The Art of Selling Services Online By Brad at 10:03 AM
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

BBC Set to Release Entire Broadcast Archive -- for Free

The BBC, England's broadcast and new corporation, understands how the world should work.

The largest broadcast and media company in the world has done what few large companies have been able to do with emerging technology: grab it and use it the right way -- particularly the news divisions, which have used software tools to engage readers and listeners, expand its reach and diversify the voices at the corporation.

But in a stunning turn that has to surprise even the most strident believes that all information should be available on the Web (this guy included), the BBC announced it would soon make available all 81 years of its television programming.

Not only that, but the company is going to build websites for every frickin' program, complete with descriptions and clips from the individual program.

The move has far reaching effects for the global broadcast industry. The freely available archives will expand their audience greatly, particularly for those of us who stream television through IP networks to the computer (the reason: I don't want to pay for cable television).

However, the decision also allows the BBC to build new business models, such as the five-year deal it struck with EMI to deliver all of the record label's acts from radio and television in one nice package.

It's a massive undertaking, but one that is successful companies will follow. As a friend once said to me: if you're not on the Web, you're not anywhere.

BBC Set to Release Entire Broadcast Archive -- for Free By Brad at 12:35 PM
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Metallica: A Tale of Lost Fans

I don't like Metallica.

It has nothing to do with the genre of music, heavy metal, which I like. I don't like them because they don't like me.

When I was writing for Wired News in 2000, I had the unfortunate task to cover the legal battles between the record labels and technology companies like Napster, the file-sharing service. Metallica was in a unique position, though, because they owned all their original masters, which meant they were a record label in effect.

So nearly every suit -- first against companies like Napster and now against individuals using file-trading services -- was brought by the labels and Metallica.

Gradually, file-trading lawsuits fell out of the news and Metallica -- for better or worse -- went back to just making music. Some of us even thought they'd realized that suing their fans was not a great public relations move.


The band invited several blogger fans to listen to rough cuts of their new album. Predictably, those bloggers went home and wrote previews of what they heard.

Bad idea

Metallica's management suggested that the bloggers remove their posts, which led to a firestorm of criticism. Within hours, the online news world was abuzz with commentary and stories re-hashing the band's long-simmering feud with netizens.

Metallica, to their credit, issued a statement within a day or so saying that they hadn't asked for the posts to be removed and went so far as to provide links to the post on their website.

But the reality is this: Their reputation with fans, particularly those who exist online (and that is becoming an increasingly important component of the industry), has been damaged once again.

Metallica: A Tale of Lost Fans By Brad at 11:40 AM
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

300 Logos: A Google Boondoggle

I was listening to a marketing friend discuss her annoyance with Web companies last week. Her beef: Too many of these companies eschew traditional marketing practices such as branding.

Our talk turned to Google, the eponymous search engine. My argument was simple: you don't need a brand logo when your company's brand is its URL -- and, in this case, a verb as well.

No true, she said. With syndication and mobile services, it's important for people to have easily recognizable icons so they people associate with your company.

Google, apparently, agrees with my friend.

The company has run through 300 iterations of its new icon, the little blue "g" that appears in the URL address bar, on syndication services and on mobile devices. After all that, though, they still are satisfied.

Now they've asked for user submissions.

Normally, I'm a huge believer of Google. They've done many things right. However, this one strikes me as odd.The rules for user submissions are described in such a way that there can be almost no variation on the "g" logo the marketing team already decided upon:

  1. You have to use a small icon
  2. You have to use the name Google or a letter (the icon is about a quarter-size of a pinky fingernail, so you'll likely only get one letter -- which won't be an "o")
  3. You have to use a primary color, but you shouldn't use red or yellow
  4. You can't make it product specific (so "g" might be a good letter)

In other words, make an icon just like the one the marketing team made -- so that everyone feels better.

300 Logos: A Google Boondoggle By Brad at 11:28 AM
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Bank of America: 1 Million Mobile Strong

The Bank of America, the nation's largest commercial bank, has one million mobile users for its Web services.

A few years ago, there was some question about the growth of mobile banking. While online banking drew a big crowd -- there was double-digital growth and adoption at the turn of the century -- privacy and security concerns worried consumers.

Wide-spread adoption isn't quite here (BOA has 25 million online bankers), the one million mark is a massive number of people when you consider the fact that less than a decade ago ecommerce sites worried that privacy and security concerns would hinder their growth.

While many of those concerns proved to be unfounded -- consumers spent $160 billion online last year -- banking is one of those itchy areas for consumers. The idea of sending out your financial data across a wireless network is unsettling at best. (My parents, for instance, made me destroy their old computer's hard drive so their personal information would be secure forever.)

But progress marches on. CityBank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America pushed into the mobile market last year with these options:

  1. check balances
  2. pay bills
  3. transfer funds
  4. view posted and pending transactions
  5. locate banking centers and ATMs, accompanied by maps and directions<

As the Mobile Internet Devices -- those wireless, portable devices such as scaled-down laptops and increasingly-powerful smart phones -- proliferate, it's more than likely these types of financial services will grow.

Bank of America: 1 Million Mobile Strong By Brad at 10:04 AM
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Interactive Politics

A few years ago, I was enjoying an adult beverage in a bar. In and of itself, that was nothing of note. The person next to me, though, happened to be a political pollster who made his living collecting national data, running it through algorithms and predicting elections.

Months before the 2000 election, he said George Bush was going to win.

I scoffed. I'd lived in Austin. The Texas governor has little power. The machine is the thing. There was no way he'd convince a nation that his spotty business record and his lackluster political career would translate on a national stage.

So much for that idea.

What I have learned in the last eight years is this: the wisdom of crowds-- at least when conditions are rights -- is far better at predicting outcomes than I am.

As election season ramps up, news organizations and forward-thinking media companies are looking for ways to engage Web-users by deploying interactive software applications.

The Los Angeles Times launched an interactive Electoral College map, giving people the opportunity to put together multiple scenarios and share them with their friends. That's a big deal for passionate political wonks (and aren't we all a little wonky during election season).

In the battle for supremacy in cable news, CNN continues building its i-reporter section, integrating news and opinion from its readers with its more traditional coverage (scroll down on the bottom right); however Fox News has opted for a more traditional, one-to-many strategy.

Regardless of the outlet, though, media organization must take care that they nurture these interactive communities in the right way. There are pitfalls. If you simply turn an interactive community over to the masses, it's likely to get swamped with partisans on both sides of the aisle.

Interactive Politics By Brad at 10:09 AM
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Apple iPhone: Hype or Hoopla?

The dust has settled on Apple's announcement about its new 3G-enabled iPhone, the smart phone that has the tech world agog.

The iPhone has the digerati all abuzz with excitement about the new release, although the company has struggled with convincing the general public to shell out up to $600 dollars -- plus an expensive data plan -- for all the options.

Already, though, people are predicting that the new high-speed data capabilities and the support for business applications could pose a serious problem for Microsoft, which has traditionally owned the enterprise market.

But Apple has a long way to go when it comes to convincing businesses to switch systems, particularly since most IT professionals have been trained in the Windows environment (although some of that is changing). While Apple has released a developer kit for the iPhone, essentially allowing anyone to create software applications, customers are still locked into a deal with AT&T, hardly the type of choice most businesses -- or consumers -- are looking for.

Despite the drawbacks, the developer kit may solve many of the functionality problems if developers decide to create applications for the platform. People are already beginning to discuss the types of functionalities they'd like to see.

If that happens, customers -- at least U.S. customers -- will likely overlook the fact that Apple's new phone, like many U.S. offerings, is still years behind the Asian and European counterparts.

Apple iPhone: Hype or Hoopla? By Brad at 08:55 AM
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Warner Backs Out of Deal

I started covering the convergence of music and technology a decade ago and, with few exceptions, the landscape for digital music hasn't changed much.

The music labels' experiment with Apple's iTunes has been one bright spot (sort of), but there have been far more disappointment: the closing of digital music locker service, MusicBank's failed launch after the labels grew scary, Scour and Napster -- two file trading services -- getting sued out of existence despite the inevitability that peer-to-peer distribution was the future, Riffage's closure because the labels failed to support the independent sales movement, the labels' own failure with Musicnet and PressPlay along with Emusic's struggles (although the only company still standing) because of its adoption of the open MP3 music format.

The Apple fanatics have said that's because of the service offering. In truth, the labels believed Apple's small market share would allow them to control the distribution pattern with a willing partner with the pocketbook to provide the money they expected.

And it's always about the money.

Not much has changed in the ten years, judging by Warner Music, one of the major recording labels, pulling out of a deal with, which offers a streaming music service with social networking components.

The label is pushing for to either launch its ecommerce portal (technology companies are loathe to launch before services are ready) or give up an equity stake, according to Wired News.

Now, isn't the only outlet for music distribution these days, but the online service has slowly gained traction with music fans -- so it's hard to stomach a label once again walking away from a potentially innovative service.

In the Web world, people are clamoring for a return to the salad days of the dotcom boom, the late nineties when innovation ran rampant. For me, I'm hoping we've moved beyond that because I remember a different time.

Warner Backs Out of Deal By Brad at 11:35 PM
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NBA, Players Go Hi-Tech

The Celtics and Lakers have revived the madness of eighties basketball with their improbably run to the finals. It's a marketing dream. The two most stories franchises in the National Basketball League squaring off once again.

And it couldn't come at a better time. The league, in the middle of rapid expansion overseas, is also in the golden age of fan participation.

Emerging technologies have connected the fan, the league and the players in ways never before imagined. This isn't about fantasy sports (although that's wicked awesome too); instead, this is about the league deploying technologies that have turned the game into a thinking man's sport.

Along with other leagues, the NBA offers fans the ability to receive statistics and updates online and on cell phones. But the most innovative program may be its touch-screen computers used by statisticians to deliver real-time, graphical updates to games.

Lenovo ThinkPads running Windows XP are used by eagle-eyed and nimble-fingered statisticians to instantly distribute stats to the in-arena scoreboards and displays via a digital television interface as well as to TV broadcasters. The stats are time-coded with the game and real-time clocks.

Those stat trackers also allow the league -- and its teams -- to parse out data immediately, synching it with video clips to deliver near real-time video information overlaid with numbers.

Players like Shane Battier can then dissect their opponent's latest trends (because anyone who's played sports knows that you're constantly adjusting what you do) before they hit the court; and weirdo broadcaster Bill Walton can keep up-to-date on the latest news from the league, which he can then distribute to fans across a variety of means.

NBA, Players Go Hi-Tech By Brad at 10:21 PM
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« June 2008 Week 1 June 2008 Week 3 »

  • Week 1 (10 entries) June 1-7
  • Week 2 (10 entries) June 8-14
  • Week 3 (10 entries) June 15-21
  • Week 4 (12 entries) June 22-28
  • Week 5 (0 entries) June 29-30

Bank of America: 1 Million Mobile Strong
Actually they are growing in terms of their web us...
by Merchant Accounts
BBC Set to Release Entire Broadcast Archive -- for Free
Me gustaria poder tener acceso a nuevas informacio...
by graciela garbett
Video Game Fitness Gurus: Jillian Michaels and Shigeru Miyamoto
I randomely found out on google about this nice so...
by asanya
Video Game Fitness Gurus: Jillian Michaels and Shigeru Miyamoto
Wow - two things we certainly wouldn't except...
by Pay Per Click Journal
Metallica: A Tale of Lost Fans
Actually, the piece is about Metallica inviting bl...
by Brad King

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