Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Perils of Hesitation…..

One of the aspects of business (and life) I’m most interested in is the way people and companies make, or do not make decisions.

I went to a party this past week, and one of the couples I encountered told me about their 3 grown adult children, and their grandchildren.

The father proceeded – “Our middle daughter joined the circus at age 21, right out of college, and spent 11 years on the road working for Barnum and Bailey.”
I was fascinated (this party just got a lot more exciting for me, as soon as a parent uttered those words, (“my kid/joined/circus”) and in typical fashion, I asked many of my probing questions, to DETERMINE HOW THEY (the parents I was speaking with) HANDLED IT, when their daughter informed them that after college graduation, she was going to be a clown, full time?

“We obviously were not thrilled, and we asked her – would you rather have a plane ticket to Europe, summer paid for --- instead of joining the circus?”

She declined the all expense paid trip her parents tried to bribe her with, and spent 11 years living in a railroad car – touring the United States, and EXPERIENCING LIFE.

I’ve never met this dynamic young lady – but her adventurous journey, made me think about many of the opportunities we all take, and others we miss out on.

How many times have we said to ourselves that we will be more daring, take on more challenges, and generally just confront life head on, more aggressively?

Time is NOT on our side – (as Jagger and Richards wrote) – time works against us, and each day that passes in our lives makes, joining the proverbial circus, harder – more difficult, and more fraught with risk.

I’ve made a decision.

I do not want to simply build another cool internet company.

I want to change the way internet media is BOUGHT AND SOLD.

I’ve hired some pretty incredible people, and I think the time is right for an evolutionary change in advertising and publishing.

The tide is turning, people are consuming media differently, interacting and utilizing tools that bring them more RELEVANT information, in a format that they desire – (mobile, web, PDA desktop) – and the advertising community is still utilizing metrics, from the early days of media.

Cost per thousand?
Reach and Frequency?
Share of Voice?

Do these terms really still apply?

The simple answer is yes they do. They are still very relevant because (for the advertising community) they are the dialect that has endured, and truth be told – they will always have a place in the media world.

But, with social media – are they REALLY VALUABLE? Do they encapsulate – and DEFINE how truly valuable THE DATA, AND ABILITY TO TARGET A CONSUMER (in social media landscape) – and maintain strict privacy -- LIKE NEVER BEFORE?

The short answer is NO. It is easy to continue, to use easy to understand formats, and planning tools, even if they do not apply. It is short sighted, and impeding progress.

It reminds me of the story about how the horse and buggy manufacturers, who sensed that they were about to lose their shirts, and their businesses – (as the automobile started to catch on with the American public) – the carriage manufacturers mounted a strong public relations campaign to denigrate, and attempt to shed negative light on the perils of owning a car.

“If you put your family in a car, you are putting your family in untold danger.”

“The auto is VERY unsafe – the engines are combustible, and are very dangerous.”

“Autos are unreliable means of transportation.”

And my favorite: “Stick with what you know, a proven commodity that has stood the test of time – the luxury carriage.”

I learned this from my Sociology professor in 1988. His name was Dr. De Angelo, and he was a master communicator who loved to mix the world of commerce, with sociology. Are they not intertwined? Are the habits and trends learned from one generation to the next, as technology advances, not the EXACT SAME?

“50,000 people die per year in the US.”

“Your Family is at Risk.”

“It is not safe.”

60 years after the AUTOMOBILE – the above 3 quotes were the argument, AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER. (the activists did not want America to be more fuel efficient with technological advances)

So you see – most of the same arguments endure – but with a different spin.

In the advertising and media world, as a new format is launched, such as the TV -- and later the internet……HERE is the argument from the folks who are late to adopt……

“We do not feel comfortable having our brand associated with that content.” (big argument used by many brands during the early 1950’s, for TV comedy shows)

“How do we know the right demographic is seeing our brand?”

“How do we measure success? It is still the wild west….”

Same objections, but different times -- now, many Social Media publishers are hearing the same issues of hesitancy, that TV executives heard in the early 1950’s about why NOT to embrace change…..

Auto’s, Nuclear Power or Social Media…….the perils of hesitancy risk many of us on the wrong side of the equation, if we do not TEST, and continuously push the envelope of our lives, our businesses, and our willingness to try.

We at Lotame are focused on changing market dynamics. We believe the Social Media publishers can unlock the power of their media, by helping to, CHANGE THE CONVERSATION.

Instead of carriages, it became carburetors.
Instead of large power plants, it became nuclear fuel rods…..
Instead of radio – it became TV sponsorships.

For social media – its about
Influencers instead of CPM’s.
Actions instead of navigations
Profiles instead of demographics
Content Consumers instead of Forum Visitors…..

Oh, and we have formatted these terms to fit TODAYS vertical media buying world. Advertisers and Publishers can use Crowd Control (our technology) to purchase media inside of social media against verticals such as: Health and Beauty -- Fast Food, Early Technology Adopter, Wireless and Hollywood…… (to name a few)

I’ve made a commitment (in a business sense) to join the circus. I aim to carve a path with Lotame that changes Social Media Data, and its ability to unlock the power for advertisers to TALK TO CONSUMERS THAT THEY WANT TO……

Lotame is forging ahead, with targeting concepts, audience building – and definitions that will make it much easier for advertisers to embrace the world of user generated content, and Web 2.0.

The circus is coming……but without animals, railroad cars, and concessions.

We bring evolution, and change to the fastest growing form of media in the world today: Social Media.

The Peril of Hesitancy for me is NOT changing the conversation for publishers and advertisers – but continuing to use out-dated terms and technologies, that are not equipped to deal with the consumer evolutions that are radically altering the comfortable landscape of the media world…..

Like the young lady who joined the circus, Lotame is setting out to trail blaze, and pioneer how media is bought and sold in Social Media.

It’s ambitious, and our goals are lofty – but the greater risk for Lotame is going with the status quo, and not challenging our clients, and our prospects into thinking differently about their uniqueness.

“Make it Happen” was a common refrain from a former boss that I worked for. We at Lotame are making it happen daily……..

And, it is as fun and as exciting as a circus…….and there is no time to hesitate.


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