Friday, November 20

No Shit Sherlock headline of the day

Most Mobile Users Indifferent To Or Don't Want Ads

"Most people don't want ads on their mobile device, but you have a huge chunk of people that are really neutral," said Heather Way, a research analyst at Parks Associates. "I think if anything it's a positive thing because you don't have people saying 'no.'" She added that the question is whether marketers will be able to sway mobile consumers over time with more targeted ads.

Wednesday, September 16

Next Up: Hanes Sues Webshots Regarding Underwear Party Photos

So here's the equation it takes to get Second Life back in the press:
Virtual Goods / Porn * Bootlegs = (Digital) Copyright Lawsuit

Second Life Sued For Allowing Sale Of Impostor Virtual Goods

Entrepreneur Kevin Alderman, who sells virtual erotic goods in Second Life, said in court papers that Linden Lab allows other virtual marketers to offer knock-offs of his "SexGen" beds and other products.

"Eros's virtual erotic SexGen products sold for use in Second Life have been counterfeited, cloned, and ripped off countless times by a multitude of Second Life residents," the lawsuit alleges. "The manner in which this has occurred is akin to the knockoff handbags and purses sold near Canal Street in New York City. Some of the bags are stolen, but actual brand-name handbags sold at deep discounts, while many others are knockoffs that merely use the brand-name makers' designs and trademarks."

This is like busting a guy in an abandoned mall parking lot for selling 1991 Farm Aid bootleg t-shirts. He probably sold 3 of them, which were worn once to a retro party and then stashed in the back of a closet.

Wait until the lawyers discover the exchange rate for 3.5 million Linden Dollars.

Thursday, September 3

The Ad:Tech Analysis That The Man Doesn't Want You To Read!

So the 2009 edition of Ad:Tech Chicago just wrapped up. As with most conferences, it offered moments of inspiration, periods of confirmation, and lengthy bouts of “dammit I could do better than that” as you realize 10 minutes into the session that you picked the wrong one.

For those who couldn’t scam a free pass, here are my notable discoveries:

1) Enough With The Data Affirmation!
Geezus our industry loves to remind ourselves of our awesomeness. Usually through the fine art of growth charts documenting the increase in media dollars moving online, the increase in using social network time spent, the increase in TV viewers watching online video, the increase in marketers thinking about eventually using mobile… Some of the sessions could have been retitled Historical Overview of PPT Chart Formats. Problem is we already know online will keep going up, no matter what the context or empirical values. It’s forecast navel gazing at its most redundant. Next time, how about putting a big Thumbs Up icon on the first slide and move on.

2) There Should Be An Arrogant Bastard On Every Panel
It makes the session interesting. Plus our industry doesn’t have enough vocal skeptics, those who don’t think every dotcom trend is the next big thing. That’s what keeps the other marketers treating us like some weird cult. I was waiting for one person to declare that most brands don’t need a Twitter strategy right now. Or point out the percent of consumers who would actually use your iPhone app is about the same number who click on your banners. I would have helped deflect the vendor schwag being thrown at their head.

3) Case Studies Seeking Objectives, No Fuzzies
Way too many case studies started with what they did, not the reason they did it. Assuming there was a strategy to begin with. Here’s a hint: running rich media banners on a teen social network is not a case study. Incorporating your brand into social conversation to increase product advocacy is. [Note to Ad:Tech -- that would have been a good one.] It made me realize most case studies are not really relevant to most of the people in the room, unless they happen to be a direct competitor. My proposal: throw out the creative examples and the results, and just talk about The Why. That’s what is most applicable to the audience at large.

4) Data Can Kick Your Ass
Literally. The Media Metrics panel drifted dangerously close to a beat down between two analytics companies. Never have I heard so much word of mouth post-session, especially one about data analytics. See #2.

5) Social Media Is A Means, Not An End
There was a lot of conversation about budget allocation for social media. Per #1, Social Media Spending is never going to increase exponentially because that’s the wrong metric. If you execute your programs correctly, you shouldn’t have to shift your marketing dollars to Social Media. It should be a natural extension of your efforts.

6) Future Buzzwords Today
There was a disappointing lack of new buzzwords, which are usually an indicator of innovation and evolution. More buzzwords = more new things. So in the interest of career self preservation, here are a couple new buzzwords looking for definitions. I would be happy to host a panel about them next year:
  1. Social Coupons
  2. Word of Eyeballs
  3. Cost per Sentiment
  4. Social Preroll
  5. Digital Anthill
  6. Behavioral Friending
  7. Viral Unfriending
  8. Antisocial Network
  9. Mobile Bangtail
  10. User Generated Crap

Friday, August 14

Digg Our Portfolio and Read Our Cafeteria's Yelp Review!

There's nothing more obsolete online than the advertising agency website. In the ad biz reputation is everything. It's who you know and who knows you. Or at least someone who knows someone who knows the guy who used to work with you and thought you two should meet.

If you rely on your agency website to generate new biz leads then you are doomed. If you rely on your website to attract good employee talent then you are doomed. Rely on your website to express your agency culture, competitive difference, and creative philosophy? Doomed.

At best these sites are Creative Directors Gone Wild expressions of navel-gazing ego-filled self-flagellation that confuse the hell out of the average visitor. At worst they are built by the PR interns and a couple freelancers between pitches, barely worth the cheap hosting space they occupy.

Which makes the recent Adweek article -- that agency sites are going Web 2.0 in an effort to impress everyone else -- even more ironic:
Agency sites, once a sea of client work and clever copy, increasingly are experiments in social media and other Web 2.0 technology. The goal of an agency is not only to show potential clients its ability to create state-of-the-art experiences with site navigation, aggregation and customization, but to create forums for consumer insights about the shop and its work.
First of all, potential clients could care less about your site. And if they did visit it, then a whacked out 2.0 explosion is bound to ensure they step away slowly never to return. So I call bullshit on this:
"For clients searching for an agency and doing their own research, the Web site is very important," says David Beals, president and CEO of new-business consultancy Jones Lundin Beals. "It's a first peek of what the agency is about, what they stand for. ... If a client is very into social media or networking, an agency can send out that signal through their own Web site."
If I have to go to your website to understand your relationship with social media, then that pretty much answers it.

Clients select agencies based on their street cred, their creative reel and, just sometimes, their actual strategic recommendations. Even an awesome agency iPhone app can't change that. Reducing your site to 140 characters or less? That's a start.

Thursday, August 13

Microspam = Macroprofits

I still hold true to my theory that Twitter’s future is as a content repository, not a communication tool. Let’s face it, the majority of Twitter users are pumping out personal content with minimal knowledge if anyone actually reads it. It’s always a surprise when someone retweets or direct replies to my posts. After awhile you forget there are actually Twitter people following you.

But match exponentially-growing content with the idea of live search, and suddenly something interesting is happening in Twitterville: contextually-targeted 1 to 1 real time communication. In 140 characters or less that teeters on the border of Microspam.

Earlier this summer I posted a tweet that mentioned "Tetris" [made it to the 8th level of Luggage Tetris]. Immediately I received notice that I was retweeted by @a_Tetris. Which, under closer inspection, is a Twitter account automatically reposting any tweet with Tetris in it. With 376 followers, not sure the overall benefit of that, but interesting use of technology nonetheless.

Similar thing happened when I used "moon" [gave permission for the kids to moon the Applebee's next to our hotel]. Oh Obi Wan imposter, your retro one liner was delightfully unexpected, even if you have repeated it 35,000 times.

A month later we were on a roadtrip and I tweeted about a roadside church sign [Alabama church sign of the day = Stop, drop & roll won't work in Hell]. Again, immediately retweeted by @Church_Sign, who reposts any church sign tweet to a limited group of devout Americana Christians.

I doubt these people are hitting Twitter Search every 5 minutes with their keywords of choice. Already there is a software business model evolving to support your every Twitter need -- similar to all the new service companies that eBay spawned as it grew in popularity [1, 2, 34567].

These are interesting uses of real-time responses to real-time content, under the guise of real-time communication. But what about all the dotcom entrepreneurs, up late trying to figure out How do I make money off this damn thing?

Oh, hello @JoniSloan, you may be a genius.

So today I posted a little Kindle-related wit [lady on flight carried a Kindle and a paperback, which kinda defeats the purpose]. Immediately I was reposted by @JoniSloan, who noted that she was reading a book on her Kindle and loved it. Included in her post was this short URL = I noticed she include six other @people in her reply, who probably also mentioned Kindle around the same time I did. A click of the URL sent me to Amazon’s Kindle purchase page.

A quick view of her recent tweets shows she reposts specifically about purchasable products. All accompanied by links to e-commerce sites, all tagged with affiliate marketing codes. So Joni is earning a few pennies for any purchases made by users who clicked her tweet links. All of the sudden you’ve got a Twitter business model! Microfiliate Marketing!

I’m not quite sure if this ranks as contextually-relevant Spam. Maybe when it reaches the point where every one of my tweets receives a slew of retweets, directly related to the number of nouns that I used in it. But for now it’s one of the smartest manipulations of Twitter since the fake celebrity account.

So here’s your test of the day. Tweet this and see what happens:

Just passed a church sign that said:
"Hell is playing Kindle Tetris on the moon.”

Tuesday, August 11

Democracy Has No Place In Advertising

There's an old saying in advertising that if you want consumers to love your TV ads, just put babies and puppies in them. Which is kinda true. Everyone loves puppies and/or babies. They are fun to look at, especially when doing something cute like getting messy or making a funny face. Come on, you lovvvvve it!

This is also known as the Last Ditch Attempt to win a client over, after they have chewed up and spit out the last 5 creative reviews (the client, not the puppy).

But you are likely to get a big fat middle finger if you ask consumers directly if they like advertising. Of course not! The horror! Ads suck! Where's my Tivo cheat code for the 30 second skip button? [here it is]

Consumers don't hate advertising. They just hate the fact that advertising persuades them to buy things they weren't really thinking about.

Which makes the recent news that Digg will allow users to vote on ads -- and potentially tie back an ROI to these approvals -- completely hilarious. I mean, preposterous. I mean, probably unavoidable given our fascination with all things online collaborative:
Those votes don’t just affect where an ad shows up on the site, but also how much Digg charges the advertisers for each click; the more a readers like an ad, the less advertisers pay. That creates an additional incentive for the advertisers to create good ads, and for Digg users to actually read and interact with them.
The average CTR is a dismall 1 out of 1,000 users who see a banner ad. The chance that they will go one step further and express an opinion on that banner? Better get those baby wranglers on retainer. What's your Cost Per Approval (CPAval)?

The idea that a banner's likability should determine its cost (and ultimately its ROI) is like saying Google should charge more for funny paid text links. Sure your insurance link might get a thumbs up if it was in the form of a limerick, but does that mean it is driving more qualified traffic to your quote engine?

Then again, there is the recent debate that Bud Light's sales decline is directly related to its lack of funny.

As I have ranted previously, the problem with online advertising isn't the state of its creative execution. It's the fact that consumers have learned to completely ignore your "traditional" online ad units. Like or dislike is irrelevant when consumers are systematically ignoring you from the start. When the Tivo skip button is subconscious then even a Human Baby - Puppy - Kitten Incubator online ad is doomed.

Wednesday, August 5

"S-" is the new "E-"

Remember back in the day when Cyber was the suffix du jour? We had Cybercafes, Cyberspace, Cybermalls, Cybersex. Cyber, cyber, cyber. Then one day Cyber became sooooo 1996 and we switched over to the more modest, less likely to mock, e-. eCommerce, eBanking, eBooks, eCRM, eCoupons, eMail, eToys, eBay, e, e, e. It became synonymous with "something you can do in real life, but on the Internet instead!" The fastest way to distinguish that your program or service was cutting edge and different.

Well, e is soooo 2008. Please welcome the new prefix 2.0 ... Sesame Street interlude here ...

s- !

Yes s, as in Social of the networking variety. Social media, with Facebook and Twitter as the poster children, is finally incorporating itself into standard online marketing strategies. Can't figure out how to cram your marketing into social media? Cram social media into your marketing! Just add an s to it.

(Once again Mobile gets dethroned so close to the finish. Bye bye m-, we barely new ya.)

Here's a couple s terms coming your way in the next fiscal marketing year:

Sure some marketers are tapping into social networks to enhance their purchasing experience [Jansport w/Fbook Connect] or promote their sales promotions [Dell, local malls].

But the new trend is cramming eCommerce into the social networks themselves. Bring the shopping cart, cash register, and UPS truck to the consumers, if you can lure them away from tagging old high school photos long enough to actually buy something. 1800 Flowers just launched an e-commerce page on Fbook. Other retailers are sure to quickly follow.

Does this position Fbook as the next Can they actually charge enough commission to make a decent living? Too early to tell, but at least it provides something new to dangle in front of the investor community.

So what happens when Microblogging meets Micropayments? Who will be the first to figure out an eCommerce transaction via Twitter? [hint: Pizza Hut]

More importantly, will they create a funny name for it (twuys requiring twitcash)? Perhaps Paypal should buy Twitter to protect their eCash from sCash. The South Bay Community Network might just be sitting on a golden URL.

It's like eMail but less trackable! My Fbook inbox and Twitter direct messages are just as congested as my Outlook. Which means they are now prime candidates for marketing clutter.

Actually, I think limiting emails to 140 characters could be the most productive technology solution since charging for faxes per page. I have no problem implementing private tweets as the new corporate messaging platform. Even better if attachments are limited to 140KB.

Finally, my favorite fuzzy acronym. CRM on its own has a hundred definitions and receives the most hesitant not-sure-exactly-what-you-are-talking-about headnods per capita of any marketing term. eCRM is often pitched as the solution if you don't have a CRM program.

Where CRM focuses on the lifetime value of a consumer, eCRM focuses on using the internet to cheaply maintain that relationship. All of which is very one-to-one. Where is the viral word of mouth influence in that?

But add an s to CRM and now we're talking viral. I envision sCRM as maintaining a relationship with consumers who have the highest likelihood to socialize your brand. Thus you could potentially reach a much larger audience through key influencers, without messing around with double opt-ins and database fields. Pyramid scheme relationship marketing. Amway would be impressed.

Of course, you need a plan for actually identifying those influencers and communicating with them. Which is how the new breed of sMarketing agencies are born.

Our industry loves buzzwords. Social continues to rank at the top of the hype list, destined to be ingrained in your marketing strategies for the near term.

So pick you favorite marketing term, add an s, and be amazed when your programs are recognized as the future of marketing.

Wednesday, July 29

No Shit Sherlock headlines of the day

Courtesy of the IAB:
ESPN research shows consumers looking for convenience

Chicago agency can test multiple versions of banner ads at once

Saturday, July 25

Thoughts & Reflections on Summer Vacation Part 1 – The Internet is a waste of time

I love summer vacation trips – getting away from work, getting together with the family, introducing our kids to new places and experiences. I also use these trips to understand how technology and the Interweb affect our lives. Extended separation from your home wifi really defines how much all this interactive-emerging-media-streaming-video-status-posting impacts our daily lives. [read last year’s posts: 1, 2]

Or doesn’t impact it, as I have discovered during our annual treks to Vacationland, a group of lake cabins in the Michigan Upper Peninsula (the “UP” for those of you from the Midwest, “Northwoods” for those who grew up eating fried cheese curds for breakfast).

It’s a place secluded enough that there is only one phone for all the cabins. No modem plug, as if I’d even remember how to logon using a modem. No wifi.

Best of all there is no cell phone coverage. So a whole week without SMS texts, mobile Facebook access, iPhone web browsing. Might sound terrifying to you, but over the years I have found there is nothing more refreshing than watching the cell phone signal strength drop from 3 bars to 2 bars, from 1 bar to NO SIGNAL. Digital solitary confinement at its best.

It reminds me how we coped with our lives pre-24/7 information. Need to know what the weather will be like today? Stick your head out the front door and look up. Wondering about the most recent big world event? Funny how a morning newspaper provides enough information to get through your day. Need to catch up on what your friends have been doing over last 2 hours? Well, actually, no you don’t.

Every year I reflect on “What we missed without the Internet for a week.” This year it just happened to be Michael Jackson’s death. Or, to be more exact, all the confusion around the possible death of Michael Jackson. Combing through two days of Interweb content, it was apparent we missed quite an event. Ongoing news reports with up-to-the-minute details about how no one was sure exactly what was going on. Steady streams of Fbook posts and Twitter tweets confirming the same fuzzy confusion.

It seems a total failure of the whole crowdsource/groupthink promise: That a collaborative Interweb is a more efficient and productive Interweb. It can also exponentially contribute to a lack of information. I imagine the massive amounts of collective MBs and human minutes expended searching, contributing, reading, and responding to the big question mark around Jackson’s demise. Without any satisfactory results. This Pursuit Of The Truth became an augmented reality game of its own. The ultimate race-the-clock online scavenger hunt to find the answer first, but with no clear winner.

Watching big events unfold in real time is obviously part of our culture now. Online provides easy access to these events, plus a way for the average person to take part and contribute. For everyone caught up in the hype, it probably ranks as one of the biggest online events ever. For someone who spent the week fishing, swimming with his kids, and watching bald eagles; it seemed like a colossal waste of time.

Wednesday, July 1

Damn, I Got Dotcom Bubble All Over My Shirt Again

Ahh yes. My Dotcom Bubble Burst itch just started flaring up. That minor buzz in the back of my head, hinting that we just might be glimpsing the end of the Web 2.0 ride. It may not be the massive implosion that rocked us in 2001, but at least the start of a Long Tail Slide back to status Interweb quo.

What causeth such visions? Nevermind the recession, here's my Dotcom 1.0 crash signs that the slowdown is nigh:

Dotcom companies are reorganizing, refocusing, and reducing. Poor Joost, once the emerging video on demand darlings, now reduced to B2B technology services. MySpace, the social media juggernaut, just laid off 30% of their staff and is shutting down whole countries.

Acquired dotcom companies are discarded like an expensive sweater that can't be resold on eBay. Yahoo has been quietly phasing out all kinds of acquisitions recently. eBay and AOL are setting up fire garage sales. Microsoft is looking to sell Razorfish.

There aren't any new dotcoms taking their place. The VC Guys have put away their wallets.

But hey, at least Viral Advertising is a full time position. Although leveraging Twitter for business purposes can also get you fired (sleep well, old marketer, your stagnant corporate methods are not yet dethroned by young punks!)

For those of you at the remaining Dotcom institutions; here's a couple signs that things may not be as good as they seem:
  1. Freelancers stop getting paid on time
  2. Delivery guy stops refilling the soda machine
  3. Empty moving boxes pile up in the mailroom/delivery bays
  4. Frequent messages from IT encouraging you to back up your files
  5. Senior management starts going to all day meetings and avoiding public gathering spots in the office (kitchens, cafeterias, any open areas lacking 3 immediate points of exit)
  6. Techcrunch just added you to their deadpool
Good luck and hopefully I'm wrong. But usually I'm not.

Monday, June 15

I Can't Believe The Username "Assman" Is Already Taken

Late Friday night was Facebook's Username Landgrab kickoff. According to Facebook, within 15 minutes over half a million usernames had been registered. 3 million had reserved names within 12 hours (1.5% of their user base). Which means you probably missed your chance to reserve your actual name as your Fbook name.

The first question is Do you plan to register? I still believe it is not that important unless you are marketing a brand page (or yourself).

The next question is What name do you register? What is the next best thing to your actual name? Childhood pet? Street you grew up on? Fraternity nickname?

It is slightly amusing to random URL dive into Fbook and see what comes up.

Holiday icons [1, 2]

Obscure music references [1, 2, 3, 4]

Personal protest [1, 2, 3, 4]

Names only a techgeek can love [1, 2, 3]

The most expensive search term on Google - reserved by a lawyer, of course

And yes, the ones you picked drunk Friday night when you didn't realize it was permanent [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Just wait for the HR recruiter to stumble on those. Perhaps Fbook has a viable revenue stream charging users to reset their accounts.

You know there is a freelance journalist scouring Urban Dictionary looking for the most outrageous ones that slipped past Fbook's watchful eye. Enough at least to fill a blog post or two and get crosslinked from

And mine? Well of course my real name was already taken. Me and the other 78 Stephen Strongs are out of luck. But watch out first-in-line StephenStrong. I'm doppleganging on you.

Tuesday, June 9

The Fbook Quarterly F*ck Up Is Here!

I was just thinking it had been awhile since Facebook screwed up a Big Site Improvement launch. Well, wait no more! The custom username URLs are coming!

That's right. Starting late Friday night, you can bum rush the site (assuming it handles the stampede) and try to submit your request first for a custom profile URL. Facebook's blog announced it today:
Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13, you'll be able to choose a username on a first-come, first-serve basis for your profile and the Facebook Pages that you administer by visiting You'll also see a notice on your home page with instructions for obtaining your username at that time.

Think carefully about the username you choose. Once it's been selected, you won't be able to change or transfer it.
So let's assume I'm not the first of the 80 Stephen Strongs on Fbook to reserve our name. What do I get next: stephenstrong276? or maybe theotherstephenstrong? Not since the bygone days of AOL username picking has my self-identification stress level been sooo high.

But wait a second, why do I need a custom URL? Don't my friends already know how to find me? Shouldn't anyone wanting to be my "friend" get connected via one of my linked-friend's pages? Fbook has been successful because it is a closed-loop network. Not the freewheeling "everyone be my friend" chaos that doomed MySpace.

Hmmm. Not even sure if I should care. At least not about my personal URL. But I represent over 10 brands for my company online. None of which have an Fbook fan page now. Some might justify it in the near future. Some won't. But I definitely don't want a cybersquatter claiming the names for their URL.

C'mon Fbook! I know you're thinking about all the potential advertising revenue and a way to protect the 95% of brands who aren't on you yet.

Oh crap. Really?

So that's it? A basic Contact Us form? As an added bonus, you can only submit one brand name at a time. So the process is this:
  1. Fill out form
  2. Submit
  3. Back button
  4. Re-enter personal info
  5. Submit
  6. Back button
  7. Re-enter personal info
  8. Submit
  9. Repeat 10 times

And don't get me started that there is no explanation for the Registration # section. What the hell do you type in there? If you entered 123 for every entry like I did, then there's going to be some mass confusion in the old Fbook Customer Service cube tomorrow morning. [Update: it is for entering your brand trademark registration number. Good luck tracking that down in less than 3 days.]

But seriously, did they really have to announce this spontaneously only 4 days in advance? Can someone over there apply some common sense to these launches? They obviously haven't learned a damn thing from all their other Big Site Improvements. Most of which did not go over so well.

It's one thing to annoy and disappoint your average user. But marketers (the ones who could actually contribute to a revenue stream) don't have the patience for this type of thing. We're needy, pouty, and always expect to get our way when we bring the checkbook.

I'd hate to be the media sales rep trying to sell Big Industry on establishing an Fbook presence next month. Especially as he tries to explain why theothercompanythatsellsfriedchicken isn't such a bad URL to have. Much better than theothercompanythatsellsfriedchicken276.

Let the Backlash Countdown begin!

Thursday, June 4

Do You Need a Bing Today?

TechCrunch provides a Google Trends analysis of the recent search engine launches for Wolfram Alpha and Microsoft's Bing. Wolfram Alpha is fairly unknown outside the ubergeek circles. Bing will soon be unavoidable due to their massive brand campaign that just launched.

I saw my first Bing TV commercial last night. Primarily a manifesto video, it at least prompted my wife to ask "What is that about?"

Me: "It's Microsoft's new search engine."

Wife: "Why?"

Me: "Um, I dunno."

Wife: "What was wrong with their old one?"

Me: "Um, not many people were using it."

Wife: "Why not?"

Me: "Um, I dunno. Google?"

Wife: "That's dumb."
My wife assumes that somehow I am partly responsible for everything that occurs online: page takeover ads, Twitter, broken shopping carts, the sudden speed dip in our home's broadband connection.

This often puts me in the position of explaining (and defending) many things that I actually don't really understand myself. But I -- like any good marketer -- make it sound rationale. My wife -- like any good consumer -- calls bullshit on most of it.

So why does Microsoft need a new search engine? There's lots of opinions out there: rejuvenate their online advertising revenue, defend their technology street cred, rub just one more thing in Yahoo's face before buying them.

Whatever the case, my wife posed the obvious question: Do we really need another search engine?

I just completed 3 days of consumer focus groups, asking the average Internet user to visit a variety of brand websites. Literally 90% of the consumers started their online tasks at Google. Even when we gave them a brand name with a very-easy-to-guess URL. Even if they thought they knew the URL. A few even typed "" into Google.

The other 2 people had to start at their My Yahoo page. Otherwise they were clueless about beginning their online tasks.

Which clarifies an important point: It isn't necessarily about needing another search engine. It's about needing another starting point. If you don't start at Google or My Yahoo, then you are probably launching Facebook and jumping from there. 90% of the interviews listed that as their favorite website.

Which is your starting spot: Search Engine, Content Aggregator, or Social Network?

Is there really room for one more? Especially one that duplicates the offerings of these top 3 home bases?

The only time Bing came up was when the interviewee started their search with the browser toolbar. IE redirected them to search results, which resulted in the same conversation every time:

Consumer: "What is that?"

Moderator: "It's Microsoft's new search engine."

Consumer: "Why?"

Moderator: "Um, I dunno."

Consumer: "Can I go to Google?"

Wednesday, June 3


So you think writing semi-complete sentences in 140 characters or less is too time consuming? Welcome the next Damn I should have thought of that slacker trend:


One word status posts courtesy of

No need for pesky clutter like adjectives or punctuation. No room for adding mystery teaser short URLs. Forget out-of-context retweets. Just one word expressions of your current state of mind. Which for most Internet users is really all it takes.

Sure you could just post one word tweets on Twitter. But where's the competition in that? You'd just get a bunch of retweets from followers using up the other 130 characters available.

Parody 2.0 or Next Big Thing? Sometimes the silly ideas are the ones that actually survive.

Tuesday, June 2

Future Buzzwords Today = Macromicrobroadcaster

Twitter reached that coming-of-age state where the marketing industry can't quite decide what to do with this unruly techno-teenager. Its popularity continues to rise at the same time the only social network with a revenue model is starting to fall.

While getting kicked out of China is always a good sign you're doing something right, discovering that only 1/5 of the popular crowd wants to hang with you doesn't help your street cred. Especially since you repeatedly run out of beer when they do show up.

Then comes the report that 10% of its users generate 90% of its content. Hmmmm, peer-to-peer communication platform or the next microbroadcast model? And what happens when the microbroadcaster goes macro? If the macromicrobroadcasters threaten to revolt, then you definitely hit a nerve.

This all leads to ongoing conflict for marketers. Should we care about it or not? Consumer revolution or marketing devolution?

iMedia recently published their analysis of Twitter marketing Winners & Losers. Ford vs Nissan! Dunkin' Donuts vs Starbucks! My fave analysis is Dell vs Apple:

Apple, on the other hand, appears to be missing in action. As one of the world's premier brands -- a technology brand, nonetheless -- its absence on Twitter is puzzling to me and many others.
Fortunately Apple's stock price hasn't been affected... A chart displaying the number of followers per brand would end the whole conversation very quickly.

The report eerily reflects the days when Second Life received the same scrutiny over its early marketing adopters. Then the hype broke and these marketers -- recently lauded as being soooo cutting edge -- were chastised for being duped into spending real world dollars on virtual branding.

6 months from now will not having a Twitter presence catapult you to the top of 2009's Smartest Marketers? Will the first Twitter TV show sponsor be rewarded for their savviness, or laughed off the trade show expert panel? Will you be collecting accolades, spinning excuses, or just waiting with 95% of the other marketers to see what happens?

Friday, May 29

Simple = Fun = More Fun = Fun You Will Share

I love this. It's simple. Takes 15 seconds and zero instructions to learn to use. You can play with it for at least 5 minutes without getting bored. 15 minutes before you realize that you were supposed to be doing something else.

Too often we abuse technology to make our consumer experiences cool or cutting edge. Complexity kills you on the Internet. Too many added features and users just won't use them.

So strip down your rich media banners, your widgets, your embeddable tools, your viral streaming microsites. Instead provide what consumers have always wanted = simplicity.

(first person to turn this into an audio Tetris-style casual game wins)

Tuesday, May 26

Dear Social Media, It's KPI Time Or Else RIP

So the IAB just launched their first POV on measuring social media effectiveness (PDF version here). The hope is to pull our industry kicking and screaming out of CTRs and CPMs into more robust measurement criteria.

As MediaPost notes, it's the Holy Grail for social marketers:

In other words, compared to old-time metrics like reach, frequency and the click-through, these metrics are deep, not only measuring whether people are engaged, but how they are engaging. It's like being able to measure the temperature with a thermometer rather than opening the front door and declaring it either hot or cold.

Imagine that you're an advertiser who sorely needs to understand social media. Then imagine yourself suddenly finding that you can not only monitor discussion around a certain topic near and dear to your brand but that you can also mention the number of people talking about it and their level of passion. Suddenly, social media goes from a huge, indefinable blob of conversations into something that has contours around which you can engage, plan and buy. That's huge.

Trying to measure a fuzzy nebulous environment such as social media is a daunting task. Here's a summary of just a few measurement recommendations:
  • Application and video installs.
  • The number of relevant actions, including newsfeed items posted, comments posted, uploads, poll votes, and so forth.
  • Conversation size, which measures the number of content relevant sites and content relevant links, and the monthly uniques spread across those conversations.
  • Site relevance, which measures the density with which phrases specific to a client concern are brought up among relevant sites.
  • Author credibility, such as how relevant the author's content is and how often it is linked to.
  • Content freshness and relevance, which defines how frequently an author posts.
  • The average number of friends among users of a specific application.
  • Number of people currently using an application.
And you thought explaining rich media banner engagement metrics was tough?

Marketers are continually screaming for simplicity when it comes to online metrics. The reason CPMs and CTRs still dominate is because they are easy to understand and measure. Hence the latest Key Performance Indicators (KPI) trend.

Yet they also find comfort in knowing that every online effort can be measured 1000 different ways. Just please put those charts in the Appendix so we don't have to go through them.

Who will provide the benchmark for Content Relevance/Posting Frequency (your CR:PF ratio)? Does a Conversation Size include paid media impressions, or is it only the "free" ones? Can you track those conversations back to a paid media stimulus, thus defining a Cost Per Conversation (CPC) efficiency? Did it increase purchase intent?

We repeatedly drive new online trends to the brink of complexity before pulling back to more attainable measurement criteria. Perhaps this is due to constantly justifying the existence of any new online marketing opportunity. Beat it to death with an avalanche of metrics, just to prove we can. Then once everyone is comfortable restrain it back to the two or three that really matter.

Unfortunately those two or three KPIs could be different for every program. Without a doubt they will change every three months as the social media space evolves. Which means all the ad networks and rich media vendors are safe for little bit longer...

The Local Pub Just Got Robbed & Its Burgers Really Suck

Chicago NPR had an interesting interview with the founder of -- a micronews aggregation service that provides newsfeeds for events occurring in your neighborhood. Here is a description via the radio transcript:

"There’s a bunch of crimes that happened here. Wow there’s an armed robbery right on Briar. Someone reviewed the new cupcake place that just opened. What else is interesting – I can filter to foreclosures."

On the screen I can see there were six foreclosures filed on one day in April – a little glimpse into how the housing crisis is hitting this area. Tracking foreclosures may sound tedious, but it’s precisely by sifting and sorting small pieces of data that EveryBlock is creating such excitement. The site locates that data, on a given block, within the limits of a particular city, as fast as it becomes available. To Holovaty, any new information in the public realm - not just news stories but internet reviews, public records like crime stats and building per, or personal photographs - is news.
One-stop access to localized content/news isn't a new trend. Microsoft started up 10 years ago. AOL's Digital Cities was even earlier. But those sites were directly reliant on paying people to provide the local content; usually via newspaper content feeds or freelance writers. Those sites were only as good as those creating the content.

Now there is a flood of both professional and user-generated localized content online, the search technology to find and compile it, and the personal devices to deliver it 24 hours a day.

But what happens when the Always On Generation -- raised on a steady stream of Facebook updates and Twitter tweets -- applies the same voracious appetite for real-time content to news about their neighborhood? Will we become digital versions of those guys glued to their police scanners, waiting for a convenience store robbery car chase? Does having your iPhone beep when you pass a neighbor's house in foreclosure really make you a better local citizen?

And what about the declaration that anything is news? Does a cupcake restaurant review demand the same priority as a mugging down the block? Should video of a three alarm fire compete with video from your block party? The melting pot of public vs personal news will be very interesting to watch.

The latest trends in real-time social media have taught us the difficulty in turning off the information firehouse once it starts. Opening up the corner fire hydrants on a hot day may be fun for awhile, at least until your basement starts flooding. The real challenge is not drowning in your own front yard.

You Should Hear the Casey Kasem Podcast Version

Is it just me, or does Ad Age eventually cram everything Dotcom into a broadcast model to comprehend it? Even though Viral Videos are soooooo 2007, they launched their weekly Viral Video Top 10 Chart for tracking online video popularity.

This allows agency Creatives to keep track of which clients allow their agencies to produce video beyond standard TV spots. Let's be honest, the main reason creatives enjoy creating online videos (with the intent to go viral) is because they are allowed to actually be creative. No 30 second limitations. No procurement battles over Director costs. No 6+ months of animatic testing to wring every last drop of brand effectiveness out to them.

This newfound Viral Video Freedom is quickly being pulled back into the traditional mindset. Used to be that viral videos = cheap production. Which in term = low risk. Which in term = minimal expectations for performance.

Got a viral video on Youtube with only 30,000 views? No worries, look how funny it is! And how cheap compared to broadcast! Plus it finally gave the client marketing team a reason for IT to unblock

But now viral video production values are growing. The guerrilla-style hand camera video -- shot by a couple Art Directors -- is now more polished and has a soundtrack (and more often an actual Director). What used to cost $30,000 to produce now costs $300,000.

Measurement like Ad Age's charts give marketers the data to start comparing the total views with these rising costs. It won't be long before a Media agency starts assigning TRPs to them, jargon which brand managers actually understand. At which point the game is over. Because TRPs and CPMs quickly lead to direct comparisons with 30 second prime time slots. Which leads to marketers needing to justify viral video effectiveness. Which leads to consumer testing and guaranteed online impressions. At which point you've completely lost track of the initial purpose for the Wild Wild West known as Viral.

This doesn't mean that long-form online video is dead. I'm sure the Creatives will find another reason for an extended stay at Shutters on the Beach. Although after the 3rd round of viral video animatics, they may be pining for the days when 30 second spots were king.

Tuesday, May 12

Should You Pay For An Ad Impression That Doesn't Actually Leave One?

Despite the astronomical number of banner ads that I have personally thrust into the Internet over the last 15 years; I still look forward to the day that banner advertising dies off. Disappears. Ceases to exist. Extinct to the point that CPM and CTR and 25K 3-loop with backup GIF become undecipherable words of a bygone era. Kind of like CGI-bin, server-side push, and <blink> tags. What are those you ask? Exactly.

I hate banner ads. Yeah yeah I know they are a necessary evil, carrying us through the recession, and the backbone of your online media program. I know they are practically the only online advertising standard that everyone can agree on. Some of you probably even won awards for them. But my main issue is this: no one pays attention to them.

Sure 1 out of 1,000 people actually click them (industry average CTR is now 0.1%). And your ad effectiveness research reveals that results greatly improve if you put the logo in every frame and the call to action at the top. And declining CPMs will reach the point where they are basically added value anyway. But it still doesn't change my POV that no one pays attention to them.

Seriously, when is the last time you clicked a banner ad? How many do you remember from the last site you visited, prior to reading this entry? Not including those damn repetitive Facebook text ads drilled into your brain after staring at them for 3 hours straight.

For kicks I installed the banner blocker AdBlock Plus in my Firefox browser. A simple installation that now eliminates banners on 80% of the sites I visit. I'm a two-fisted browser man, equally using IE and Firefox throughout the day. For the last month I've been heavily using the Interweb approximately 50% with ads and 50% without.

I've come to realize the funniest damn thing. I don't even notice that the Firefox versions of sites lack banners. I thought it would be such a liberating experience. But the only time I notice is when I'm actually looking for a banner (checking my brand media placements, looking for competitor examples). Then I realize there aren't any and switch over to IE. But otherwise it has no direct impact on my browsing satisfaction. Anything that animates in a square frame is automatically blind spotted and ignored.

So maybe mass acceptance of adblockers would drive our industry to its knees. Maybe it would force us to truly innovate and develop online advertising models that don't rely on mass spewing of animated images in a desperate attempt to get noticed. Maybe the smart marketers will recognize that adblockers are already embedded in our consumers' brains, no plugin download required.

For the rest of you, download the Firefox plugin and give it a test run.

Friday, May 8

Facebook is Gettin' Pubes!

It seems our little Facebook has finally reached puberty, grown some hair in new places, and is ready to become an adult entity on the Interweb. Here are some recent grown up problems it is encountering:

Online Urban Legends have started hitting user status posts and are spreading like viral wildfire. For instance this one, which is the variation of a hoax that has been around since at least 2000:

Isn't that the same guy who hides used syringes under gas pump handles? It is interesting to watch the viral spread in real time, as other Fbook friends repost the same cut-n-paste warning. You know the drill. Someone posts it, others repost, someone debunks it, it shows up 3 months later with a slightly different plot. Two years later your parents warn you about it.

Phishing is also affecting Fbook email users. The last two weeks have seen a huge increase in Facebook email phishing attacks. Get a random link from your friend, click it, and go to a fake Fbook page asking you to log in again. Give up you username/password and within seconds all your Fbook friends receive the same email message/link. Then publicly apologize to all your friends, thus admitting your susceptibility to anything with a hyperlink. Rinse and repeat.

These phishers get extra credit for bundling password scamming with email spamming, specifically to a group who has been "protected" from spam via the closed Fbook network.

What's next? Viruses from picking your Top 5 Things No One Else Cares About? Those are just fun little quizes and games, right? Well -- unlike those Free Screensaver downloads that fostered widespread installation of annoying adware and pop-up ads -- these cute little Fbook apps have the potential to do a whole lot more harm. Have you ever thought twice about clicking Allow before playing with them?

Recent announcements that Fbook will allow these 3rd party apps to tap into even more user information is another sign of TechnoEvil to come:

The move would allow developers to build applications and services that -- with users' permission -- access user videos, photos, notes, and comments. The move would be a significant change for the social-networking site, which had previously retained tight control over the site and how developers interact with it.

To allow developers to take advantage of the free feature, Facebook users would have to give the companies access to their data, and users' privacy settings would extend to new services built, according to the report.

At least Fbook isn't in the habit of changing their privacy policies, which could provide these developers access to even more personal data after they are installed. Wait a second...

All it takes is one rogue developer to create an awesome fun-to-use app, which gets spread across the Fbook universe, only to have it turn into a private info carnivore. Maybe a virtual screensaver that pulls images from your friends' Fbook photo albums, but behind-the-scenes is also reading all your Fbook email messages? Or analyzing your status posts to determine when you will be out of town for an extended time?

But at least the damage would be contained to Unless you consider Facebook Connect, which allows you to extend your Fbook personae to other websites. Primarily by logging onto those site with your Fbook username/password, allowing you to interact with your Fbook friends there, or push site content/actions back to your Fbook page. Red Bull has a good example.

Did we mention it will be leveraged to enable collaborative shopping on e-commerce sites? You know, the ones with your credit card information...

Sure this might all be unnecessary paranoia, but hackers love a challenge. Fbook's pristine natural private Utopia is just begging to be deflowered. Try not to get knocked up in the process.

Thursday, April 23

Welcome Back, Mr. Portal, Your Chair Is Still Warm

Twitter has about worn me out. Trying to keep up with the 270 people I am following is almost impossible. I check my iPhone app twice a day, each time with over 200 tweets to read. Its relevancy is quickly slipping away...

Twitter is great at aggregating and collecting content, but terrible at delivering it. There are probably a bunch of people who I would be interested in reading. It just takes too much effort to stay involved.

Which brings me to the topic of Portals. For those Dotcom 1.0-ers, Portals are the butt of all Internet jokes. They originally were created as collection points for "stuff" on the Interweb (think early Yahoo and AOL). A good place to ground yourself as web content expanded beyond comprehension. It quickly went downhill from there.

Want some fast VC $$? Call your site a Portal. Got a bunch of separate sites that you need to somehow stitch together without really exerting much effort? Build a Portal site to house them.

As I predicted last month, Porn is always first to recognize a great online idea. The "legit" business always the fast followers. Pornstar Tweet launched awhile ago as a Twitter Portal for following Porn Stars. They aggregate porn tweets so you have one-click access to their daily lives. 

Sports is another huge affinity group online. It didn't take long for someone to apply the same strategy to athlete celebrities. Please welcome Athlete Tweets!

Same strategy, different topic.

It may take awhile for these celebrities to figure out they are providing mass amounts of content for others to make money from. You can't license public communication. Perhaps at some point their agents will wise up, aggregate their own collection of celebrity talent, and bring them en masse to the highest bidder. Who will then charge a monthly fee for accessing the private public lives of the rich and famous.

Sounds like a revenue sharing opportunity in the making.

Friday, April 17

The Oceania Webcams Are Now Live

From Techweb:

Google Maps Now Show Views From Webcams

The latest layer to be turned on in Google Maps is one for webcams. Just click on the “More” button on the top right of each map right next to the “Traffic” button. When you do that, it shows you thumbnails from different public Webcams around the world as tracked by

You don’t see an actual video, just the most recent still image captured by the Webcam. But this can come in handy when you want to actually see the traffic on a major highway yourself, or how the waves look like at the beach. While you are at it, you can also click on the other layers, such as Wikipedia entries, photos Youtube videos, and public transit.

From George Orwell:

Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.

How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Thursday, April 16

At Least @WhiteHouse Isn't a Porn Account

So someone finally figured out how to make money on Twitter the old fashioned way: Extort It.

Here is the brief synopsis courtesy of TechCrunch:

  1. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk 956,186 followers) challenges CNN (@CNNbrk 968,489 followers) to a race to 1 million followers on Twitter

  2. Larry King gets involved and takes the battle public on YouTube

  3. EA gets involved and turns it into a marketing promotion

  4. It is revealed that the CNN doesn't even own the Twitter account/name that has all these followers
That's right. Some average guy set up the account, programmed it to publish CNN's RSS news feeds, and quietly amassed almost 1 million followers. Not sure how that compares to's RSS subscribers, but on Twitter it is fairly impressive.

Silly? Yes. Juvenile? Yes. Worth CNN spending money to save face and claim ownership of the Twitter name? No. Er, I mean, Yes!

Apparently CNN "bought" the Twitter account (or maybe just rents it, fairly unclear) in order to lay claim to the user base. Which is a bit mindblowing considering the events that provoked it. Even more so since CNN basically bought ownership of their own content, on a site that is still a relative blip in the webosphere.

It also signals the cybersquatting goldrush for branded usernames on Twitter. Better hurry up and register yours, even if you don't plan on using it. Fake celebrity accounts have already demonstrated how confusing things can get for consumers. Soon even @seriouslywearetherealcompanythatsellsfriedchicken will have a price tag.

In the Future, Brand Identity Guidelines Will Require Rate Cards

Even though online advertising projections continue to rise, most media sales reps will confess that everyone is still very nervous about 2009 marketing budgets.

How nervous? Well, it is a well know fact in the advertising world that a company's logo is its most cherished asset. Creative Director Rule #1 = Don't @#&! With the Logo!

Online that means no animating, spinning, reversing or, God forbid, altering. True, Google has messed around with theirs for years. But that is in the spirit of their brand.

These days it seems anything is for sale. Desperate times call for desperate rate cards. Are you a left-behind web portal trying to maintain relevancy and fighting for every declining CPM dollar? Then maybeeee jusssst once...

Yesterday (Tax Day) altered their logo to support TurboTax's online campaign, creating a hybrid halfbreed that only a cash-strapped mother could love:

Art Directors cringed. Media planners updated their Q3 RFPs. Sales reps hit their Excel spreadsheets trying to uncover the valuation for that stunt. What is the value of your site's brand compared to your advertisers? Even if it is only surrendered for one day? Or, worse yet, was it provided as Added Value to seal the media deal?

Publishers are constantly scrapping for untapped areas of their site to assign CPMs. Their corporate identity shouldn't be one of them.

Monday, April 6

What's Your RSS CPC ROI?

Twitter users must come to terms with a unique outcome of their 140 character text blasts = they are completely disposable. That's my assessment after spending the last month in the tweetosphere.

I'm "following" 240 people. About 20% of them tweet throughout the day, 50% tweet maybe one or two times daily, the final 30% rarely. I log on to Twitter twice a day, each time greeted with over 200 posts to view. It's akin to self-induced bite-size spam. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you IamDiddy!

Unlike Facebook status posts --which are less frequent and encourage dialogue via attached Comments -- most Twitter users tweet and rarely look back. You might get a response from someone using the "@username" feature, but it is difficult to track them or build any kind of conversation.

The fact that Twitter is now being lauded as the Google Killer says it all. Google is about finding and accessing mass amounts of information. Requiring a search engine to sort through social content betrays Twitter's limited 1:1 communication value.

So how do brands capitalize on microblogging? You can push out custom online discounts like Dell or create brand ambassadors like Sharpie. But at some point your tweets are going to get buried faster than a Monday morning email newsletter.

Kudos to Intuit Turbotax for being the first to identify Twitter as a content generator, not a communication channel. They just announced that they will distribute their tweets via Google Adsense search buys:
The search giant has started offering marketers ad units that stream their five most recent "tweets" across the Google AdSense network. Intuit used several of the measures available for any AdSense campaign to target the ads, which are running on sites such as Bebo, Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and Alltop.
This provides a much broader audience and overcomes the tweet overload blindspots. The only part I don't understand is their campaign objective:
"We could have used this as an acquisition vehicle, but we're looking at it more like a conversational vehicle," Mr. Greenberg said. We're measuring this [in part by] how many followers can we get. Can we get to 100,000 by allowing people to know we're a resource?" When a user clicks on an ad it takes them not to but to

Hmmm. Can you prove the value of those future Twitter followers (or the current 1,270)? Especially if the CPA is a 50 cent search link click? An email opt-in, er I mean Twitter follow, does not necessarily count as a conversation. Although it is the next CMO conversation waiting to happen, right after you explain why those 4,500 Facebook Fans are so important.

Monday, March 30

Got Doubts About the Future of Advertising?

Here's the top 5 most-read articles on today:

Which shows where the average ad industry exec is focused.

However, if their online marketing strategies are driven by AdAge, then they need additional learning aides. Haven't we all agreed that you can't make something go viral?

Wednesday, March 25

Monday, March 23

@stephenstrong Got That Feeling Again

I find it fascinating when an online technology/trend achieves what I call the Doppler Hype Effect = the average American knows everything about it before they actually experience it. This usually occurs when the mass media mentions, refers, and explains it so often that even my parents can discuss it in conversation (and they are still on a dial-up modem).

This trend dates back to the beginning of the WWW. From 1995-96 you started hearing more and more about these websites that people accessed with a web browser. Being an AOL user wasn't exactly the end game. Apparently there was another Internet out there that AOL's browser couldn't even see. But over time everyone started feeling the itch to get a website of their own, even if their computer didn't have a modem. And you started feeling really awkward when everyone traded AOL email addresses -- except you.

This mass hype is an important part of consumer acceptance. It is easier to accept something when you assume everyone else is already doing it.

Internet history is ripe with examples of emerging technologies that were so hyped by the media that even a 10 year old could explain them before they went mainstream = email, chat rooms, instant messaging, search engines, e-commerce, personal web pages, webcams. Things we now take for granted were the untamed Wild West just 10 years ago.

Sending a complete stranger money based on a digital photo found on eBay sounds risky. But perhaps less so if 60 Minutes was just talking about the new craze of "Internet cyberBazaars."

Mobile phone carriers should thank American Idol every night for bringing SMS texting to the masses.

Every new Internet trend (fad?) launches in mass media with the initial How The Hell Does This Thing Work? articles. Then come the Look How Many People Are Doing This reports. Followed by Can You Believe People Are Making Money Off This? At which point it becomes part of our culture and common vernacular or quickly fades away, overrun by the next big hype.

This trend took a 5 year hiatus after the Dotcom crash in 2001. Web 1.0 faded away and new hypes were quickly dismissed in a flurry of VC-tainted catcalls.

Then came Web 2.0.

Remember all the reports about blogging and user generated content? New crazy sites like Flickr, YouTube, Second Life, Myspace, Facebook? Most of which the average American could discuss at great length, despite never having visited any of them. The hype wheel made one big loop and is spinning faster than ever.

Which brings me to Twitter. The current King of Hype. Get ready, your mom will soon have lots of questions about it.

The Wall Street Journal recently explained how the hell it works. Everyone is talking about how popular it is getting. It hasn't quite reached the third stage of making money, but Twitter is now receiving more shout outs than a high school hip hop concert.

Yesterday the Sunday Chicago Tribune published an article on page 3 promoting comedian Michael Ian Black's Twitter-driven Fuck It list [follow him]. And this morning NPR ran a story on a Los Angeles Korean taco truck's popularity, thanks to its use of Twitter [follow that truck].

Earlier this month the Daily Show served up a hilarious overview of Congress Twitts:

The other talk shows quickly followed. Leno asking Whoopi if she Twitters [nope]. Jimmy Fallon challenging his viewers to follow this guy on Twitter [follow Jimmy]. Ellen explaining how Diddy and Martha Stewart compelled her to start tweeting [follow her and him and her].

Expect this self-feeding hype to continue growing, thus reinforcing that it must be the Next Big Thing.

Twitter is the cool club kid, jockeying to crash the big party that is our nation's consciousness. Skype, Digg, and Yelp are still hanging out in the parking lot waiting for their turn. Mobile Web has been there so long that he set up an RV camper. But Twitter is right at the club entrance, working the bouncers and pleading that they keep searching for his name on the list.

Hmmmm, your name ain't here. But everyone in line seems to know you. So maybe...

Damn, Hulu just bribed the other bouncer with a big Superbowl TV ad. You might need to wait until tomorrow night when you can get their attention again. So it goes. Maybe you can hit up Good Morning America or Time for a backstage pass. Because hanging with celebrities is the fastest way to the top.