NYTimes on the Death of Traditional Publishing

The Fall and Rise of Media

Choice quotes:

“That feeling of age, of a coming sunset, is tough to avoid in all corners of traditional publishing. Earlier in November, the New York comptroller said that employment in communications in New York had lost 60,000 jobs since 2000, a year when the media industry here seemed at the height of its powers.”

“Few of us could have conceived that in the next decade some of the reigning titans of media would be routed. Profligate dot-com ad money that had fattened print went away in a digital wipeout, and when digital media came back, it was to dine on the mainstream media rather than engorge it.”

“So what do we get instead? The future, which is not a bad deal if you ignore all the collateral gore. Young men and women are still coming here to remake the world, they just won’t be stopping by the human resources department of Condé Nast to begin their ascent.”

I admit it. I’ve been more or less crowing about the opportunities in New Media caused by the death of Old Media. Now, a part of me just kind of feels depressed.

Ah well, I suppose I don’t have much to complain about. At least I’m not on the other side.

I love this quote

From Chapter 1 of The Effective Executive, by the godfather of management writing, Peter Drucker:

But there seems to be little correlation between a man’s effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination, or his knowledge. Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They have never learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work. Conversely, in every organization there are some highly effective plodders. While others rush around in a frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with “creativity,” the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there first, like the tortoise in the old fable.

It’s not enough to integrate to exchanges only

Hanging out for Happy Hour on Friday, I heard something that bears repeating:

It’s not enough for DSPs to integrate only to Exchanges and other sources of remnant inventory. This seems like an obvious statement, but you would be shocked at how many DSP value propositions essentially assume that the entire inventory world consists solely of remnant and non-guaranteed.

Folks, the waves of Exchange adulation continue – and it is justified – but there’s a reason that guaranteed inventory is still going strong. If your DSP plans to optimize only against a secondary set of inventory, then prepare for a rude shock when you match up results against a DSP that can optimize against both premium and non-premium inventory.

Dynamic Advertising Based Upon Real-time Inventory

Another idea that’s been kicking around in my head for a while now, finally getting around to posting it. (Credit where it’s due: the inestimable Dave Zinman first mentioned this idea to me.)

“Dynamic Advertising Based Upon Real-time Inventory” is an admittedly bad phrase – if anyone can think of a better name for it, please chime in. Anyway, it goes something like this:

Pretend there is an over-stock of Pop-tarts at Wal-mart Store #100, located at 406 South Walton Blvd in Bentonville, AR. Like any good retailer, Wal-mart wants to sell through that inventory in order to a) make a profit, and b) free up the capital to buy other goods (though maybe not Pop-tarts this time around). Wouldn’t it be great if Wal-mart’s online advertising systems could recognize that localized overstock and begin advertising a sale on Pop-tarts to online viewers who are located within a 2-mile radius of Store #100?

From an advertising systems perspective, all the pieces to make this a reality are there:

1. Dynamically generated ad units that can access other systems for content and messaging
2. Accurate geo-based targeting

And, while I’m no expert in real-time inventory systems, Wal-mart’s famed inventory and supply management systems almost certainly have stock and inventory data at this granularity. (The issue would be how to make that data available in a convenient and safe manner.) Add to that some algorithm that knows how deeply to cut price as the products age, and we’re in business.

The CFO types out there will hopefully see the benefit instantly. By enabling micro-targeted advertising which responds in a rational fashion to local inventory fluctuations, an overall drop in inventory levels is possible. And while I’m not a Retail finance guy, I do know that capital investment in inventory almost certainly has to be a principal use of funds.

So I wonder how that crowd would react if someone asked them how a 2% drop in balance sheet inventory levels would affect their capital efficiency? (My guess is very, very positively.)

Oh, and btw, this type of advertising would be even more powerful for companies that have time and/or service-based inventory that expires immediately: hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc.

Have a good weekend!

Fee hikes at the University of California

A friend of mine posted a quick update to Facebook regarding the 32% tuition hikes announced by the University of California recently. As an alumnus of UC Berkeley, I can definitely sympathize with his views:

32% tuition hike. Where are CA govt. priorities? Outrageous. I’d go protest at UC Berkeley, if it wasnt raining. Anyone else think its ridiculous.

That said, here was my response:

I too am surprised that the jump was so big, but you had to expect that a hike was coming. The real point is this: rational fiscal policy demands that we spend only what we can afford. So in determining if 32% is too big or not, you’d have to know what the rest of the money is being spent on. In the absence of such an analysis, I think it’s tough to characterize the protests as anything but knee-jerk outcry. If California is spending money on wasteful items (pork barrel blah-blah-blah) and forcing students to foot the bill, then, yes, by all means, protest. But if we’re feeding children, paying law enforcement, or (insert other worthy goals here) – then I hope you’ll agree that this may not be so black and white.