Martha Stewart Explains It All For You

April 28, 2011

While reading the latest financials from Martha Stewart I realized that her template could be applied to most long-time publishing organizations today. Revenue up, profit down. The only thing unusual about Ms. Stewart’s story is the “revenue up” portion. More often I read “revenue down, profit down.” Digital widgets generally sell for less than their analog predecessors.

Digital ad sales at MS rose 55% (print advertising squeezed out a 2% increase). Unique website visitors were up 42%. Pageviews up 29%. The result? A net operating loss of 5% of publishing revenues (admittedly an improvement from 8% last year).

I’ll take a two-page spread, please

Charles Koppelman, Executive Chairman and Principal Executive Officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, offers an excellent stock phrase: “We believe the transformation of the company is beginning to take hold as we seek to broaden our portfolio…We feel we’re positioned to deliver profitable growth as we execute on our business plan in 2011 and beyond.” Good, no?

Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis has an excellent post this week called “Hard economic lessons for news.” He’s got rules, reality checks and more rules. And then something called “Opportunities.” If you’re in the newspaper business. you might want to take a Valium before reading it – you wont feel encouraged. Jeff talks only about the squishy stuff: “engagement,” “networks,” “value added,” “other revenue streams worth exploring” and “collaboration.” OK, there’s one notation on good old “infrastructure.”

Jeez, Jeff. I thought you were going to tell us about opportunities.

But, keep in mind, today Microsoft announced that it had a $726 million loss from online operations in Q3, staying on track to losing $3.5b (yep, billion) in the full fiscal year. Only Apple makes online look easy.

(Can’t resist: Yahoo previously demonstrated how to lose $3.5 billion in a single acquisition, Geocities.)

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Miami Beach Expresses Itself

January 24, 2011

1. Read the article in today’s New York Times. It’s about a remarkable new structure in Miami’s South Beach.

2. Go to the new building’s web site, and click on this graphic:

3. After the well-designed flash images flash by, take time to interact with every graphic you can click on. Unlike so many sites that feature strong design elements, each click returns a useful image, a useful piece of information, or takes you to your next destination on the site.

4. Now pause to ponder.
What have you just encountered?
What does this mean to you?

5. Now answer yeah or nay:

(i) Does this look like a great building?
By great I mean audacious and original, fun yet functional.
Does it reveal to you something about the character of Miami Beach, whether you feel positive or negative.
(I’m guessing that you don’t develop strong feelings about most new building in the city where you live.)

(ii) Is this a great web site?
By great I mean audacious and original, fun yet functional.

(iii) Can you imagine accomplishing what this site accomplishes in any other medium?
Direct mail would just cheapen the image, unless a lot of money was spent on developing the piece.
A magazine could capture some of the bright images, but would be challenged to convey the motion.
Would you sit still through “the movie”?

(iv) Finally: Do you feel like you want to celebrate your next big birthday/anniversary/rebirth at 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, FL?

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The Dumbest Publishing Startup of 2010

October 11, 2010

You thought you dislike online banner advertising? Perhaps you’ve even installed software like Ad Annihilator, Adblock Pro or Super Ad Blocker to block banner ads from appearing. Or, more likely, you’ve trained yourself to just filter them out, to generally ignore these intrusive ads.

Do not despair. Now you can renounce your bad habits and regain the consumer karma that you lost. The just-announced AdKeeper lets consumers click to save online ads. Yippee. Now you can see them whenever you’re thinking, “Boy, I sure wish I could look just at online ads and avoid all that pesky web site content.”


Or, as the company press release states, AdKeeper is:

…a transformative online advertising service that will forever change the way consumers interact with the Internet. With one simple click of a button, consumers can place ads of their choice into their personal ‘Keeper™,” offering them absolute control to save, sort, sift, share, rank, review, click, print and buy online from ads they have specifically selected… One Click. Kept. Period.

And here you thought the business world ground to a halt on Columbus Day. (Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving today, and now they’ve got one more thing to be thankful for.)

AdKeeper is founded by Scott Kurnit, self-declared as “one of the nation’s most successful online media entrepreneurs.” He’s also the founder of, the web site that continues to prove that superficial, badly-written and inaccurate information can make money in these still-nascent days of the Web.

Strangely the advisory board of AdKeeper includes some strong players, including John Battelle, Jeremy Allaire and Esther Dyson. Their presence makes me wonder if I’m missing something here: maybe there’s a benefit to mankind to be able to keep ads nearby, like old teddy bears or childhood photos.

Until I figure it out I’m calling AdKeeper “The Dumbest Publishing Startup of 2010.”


Update, March 6, 2011

According to MediaPost Volvo will be one of the first advertisers to use the AdKeeper button, starting next week.

A video on the AdKeeper site provides a straightforward explanation of AdKeeper’s straightforward value proposition. Advertising on the Internet, it says, has been modeled on television, while it would have been better to have modeled it on print. With print some consumers like to clips ads for later reference. Now it’s possible on the Web.

Of course it has always been simple to save ads in GIF, JPEG, PNG and other 2D-only formats. Only Flash-based ads are difficult to capture. AdKeeper adds metrics to this practice.

Stay tuned.

(According to the AdKeeper site, the current #1 kept advertisement is for Wendy’s Bold New Asiago Ranch Chicken Club: “Wendy’s new Asiago Ranch Chicken Club. Tender, juicy chicken breast fillet topped with Applewood Smoked Bacon, aged Asiago cheese and a creamy ranch sauce. Available in spicy, grilled or homestyle.” Yum.)

Update, June 27, 2011

A balanced report in The New York Times, which demonstrates, among other things, how to reduce 45 minutes of my blather into a two-sentence pithy quote.

February 20, 2014: Adage: “What You Can Learn From Adkeeper’s Epic Fail (And Pivot)”

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The Power of Targeted Advertising

August 12, 2010

Actual screen shots, guaranteed (a few elements compressed to reduce image size):




With cookies from Google:


After I deleted cookies:


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Adobe Photoshop Day Cream

July 13, 2010

The secret of great models everywhere:


Source: Technosexual Monkeys

And it was used even before Photoshop was invented:


Source for image above and next image: Giopet’s Graphic Art blog (Italy)


A favorite of La Wanda Gastrica!

And of advertising agencies everywhere.

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