Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 4/24/09

static4Advertising and Marketing

Someone has gone out on a limb and speculated that the addition of Oprah Winfrey to Twitter could bring more everyday people to the micro-blogging service. You think?

All that online chatter, especially in the form of blogs and forums, can be mined by companies looking for real-time consumer feedback. Those insights can be used for a variety of business purposes, from gathering information on the consumer market to finding out what customers feel is either most important or missing from products and services. A separate study shows the marketing department benefits most from that information though others find value as well.

Older demographic groups are becoming more attractive to marketers for their stable income and willingness to buy things for not only their kids but also their grandkids.

Google is continuing to make a play for display ad dollars, releasing research that shows advertisers using it’s display content network have achieved a measure of cost effectiveness that’s even better than search. While search continues to be a point of strength for Google it needs display ads to grow as well.

Media agencies still face problems in building effective multi-platform campaigns because each platform has its own dedicated – and siloed – department that might not be communicating effectively with the other departments.

“Time Axcess” is the name of a proprietary ad network being launched by Time Inc. that will offer ad space on the sites for all of the publisher’s titles. Gannett is doing likewise.

McDonald’s is the latest food outlet experimenting with an in-store content network, bringing in programs from Discovery Channel and mixing in advertising of its own along with other branded entertainment.

Media

The New York Times is cutting sections from its print publication as part of its plan to survive falling advertising revenue. It will consolidate some of that content and look to find ways to get more money from online advertising as well, which isn’t all that surprising considering that’s what, roughly, everyone is doing.

TiVo has finally announced what I’ve long expected, which is its entry into the national ratings collection market, presenting an immediate and huge problem for Nielsen.

Online

If Twitter were to launch, as R/WW and others have reported, launch a universal login service that competes against Facebook Connect I’d prefer it since Twitter is more in line with publishing than Facebook, which is activity and profile based. It just makes more sense to my mind.

Online analytics company Omniture is launching a new service to measure viral videos, including reporting back on views and other hard numbers as well as softer ideas like comment sentiment.

Yahoo, as it was looking for money under the couch cushions, realized it still owned blog pinging service blo.gs and promptly sold it to Automattic, the company that publishes the WordPress blogging software.

Finding an Audience: Distribution Notes for 4/24/09

movie-ticket-and-popcornHome Video

Despite some pessimistic forecasts, Blu-ray disc sales for the first quarter of 2009 are almost twice what they were in the same period of 2008 and some good sets coming later this year might mean the format could actually do well for the movie industry.

The Blu-ray market could be helped by the introduction of $99 players but it doesn’t appear disc prices, which still run about $10 or more over a standard DVD, are coming down any time soon.

Disney and other studios are actually looking to not recreate the Blu-ray/HD-DVD format war and establish some standards for 3D home video now, before the technology goes mainstream. Hope this works out because by the time this becomes ready for the consumer market online viewing will be even easier.

Speaking of HD-DVD, those who put their money on that format and now wish they’d chosen differently can take advantage of a program being run by Warner Bros. that allows consumers to send in the cover art to any WB title bought on HDD and, for a small fee plus S&H, they’ll get the same movie on Blu-ray.

Online

Studios and media companies (often the same thing) were dealt a blow when consumer advocates and some legislators succeeded in pushing back on their plans to impose broadband usage caps, something that would have significantly raised the price of downloading more than about one movie a month or really doing anything online after the 15th of the month. Doesn’t mean they won’t keep trying but for now their plans have been halted.

If you’re wondering why there’s such disparity between what’s available online via Netflix’s streaming service, what’s available to buy or rent through iTunes and all the other online outlets, Farhad Manjoo has the answer. But you probably won’t like it since it involves a system so convoluted only a lawyer could have conceived it.

Online documentary distribution site SnagFilms has signed a deal with a handful of film festivals to make a number of the films that have appeared at those fests available for viewing there, bringing those titles to a significantly larger audience than is able to attend the festivals.

On-Demand

Amazon’s HD video on demand service is now available for both Roku and TiVo HD boxes.

Getting Blue Ribbony

I’ve been reading off and on the “Walking Together – The LCMS Future” report compiled by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance that was assembled by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Becoming more well versed and knowing what’s going on in the Synod is, after all, one of the goals of the Brothers of John the Steadfast and so I’ve tried to take some time recently to really check out this report since it has the potential to greatly impact the future of the LCMS and the congregations it’s made up of.

The proposals contained in the report are meant to be discussion points and nothing, to my knowledge, has been formally presented as an official recommendation to the full board. Thank goodness for that.

A full point-by-point enumeration of my problems with some of the documents points is something that I’ll have to put off for another time when I have the bandwidth to really get into is. But there are two major problems I have with what’s presented that can be easily summed up:

First, there’s far too much talk in the document of ways that existing processes can be streamlined by simply cutting out congregations, both pastors and laymen. In too many instances is power ceded to District Presidents and other political appointees while shutting out the voices of others. The danger here is that groupthink will emerge and decisions impacting the entire Synod with little to no oversight by either the clergy on the ground or the rank and file members. I’m sure all those people in appointed roles are Godly men, but if they can’t be held accountable by congregations the possibility of negative changes being enacted rises significantly.

Second, the proposals are filled with talk of the Synod and its employees “encouraging” and “supporting” congregations.

This is actually the biggest problem I have with what’s laid out and winds up, ironically, providing the clearest reason not to enact the structural and procedural changes laid out in the document.

Congregations might be in need of encouragement, but I’m fearful that this encouragement will come in the form of being reassured that trying new ways to water down the Gospel in order to appear more pleasing to “seekers” is just fine. “No, you don’t need a cross in the sanctuary. And by the way, have you thought of changing ‘sanctuary’ to ‘meeting room?’”

I highly doubt that, given the other programs in the Synod that are focusing on outward evangilism that are meant to be all-inclusive and non-offensive to either non-religious individuals or members of other religions, this support and encouragement will be offered in the form of encouraging congregations to hold true to traditional creeds and confessions. I might be wrong but I’m guessing I’m not.

Too many congregations are falling away from those traditional confessions. Too many are replacing historic liturgy with popular music. Too many are looking for moves of the spirit instead of focusing on the promise of the Sacraments are our connection with God and points where our faith can be strengthened.

These congregations need to be encouraged to come back to the confessional, liturgical fold and, failing that, reprimanded. As Scripture says, first go to your brother with your grievance against him in love and if he fails to repent bring a witness and, failing that, bring him to the authorities. The Synod needs to be the resource to which congregations that are discarding an adherance to the true, revealed Word are brought and not a source of encouragement to those congregations as long as they continue to increase the number of “spiritual moments” that are tallied up.

While the Blue Ribbon Panel’s document is titled “Walking Together” there’s very little in it that’s meant to bring well-intentioned people together in unity of doctrine and practice, unity that should be based on a common confession of the faith. There might be value in logistical changes being made, but I think those that cut out systems of checks and balances aren’t the ones to be looking at.

And if the Synod is actually interested in bringing people together, it would do well to first look back at the Augsburg Confession, one of the foundational documents of the Lutheran Church, and make sure it was adhering to the points made there and correct congregations and thinkers who would deviate from that. If they feel that AC doesn’t offer an up-to-date list of points to agree upon they can always include The Lutheran Manifesto written by Dr. Baue last year and find that it addresses points not made in the AC, points that are relevant to today’s church.

That’s all for now. As I said, if I have the time I’ll make a point-by-point refutation of the problems I have with items in the proposed document later on.

Picking Up the Spare: Watchmen, Fanboys, MVA

bowling-pinsWatchmen

Coffee maker Chock Full O’ Nuts has sued both Warner Bros. and Organic Coffee Cartel over the latter’s Watchmen tie-in Nite Owl Dark Roast, saying the can it was distributed in is too close to Chock’s and therefore infringes on their trademark.

Fanboys

Fanboys has continued to expand into more and more cities since its initial limited release and how has a new poster that, for the first time, puts Kristen Bell front and center in her Leia’s Golden Bikini outfit.

Monsters Vs. Aliens

I didn’t see this promoted anywhere so I can’t say definitively whether it’s official or not (it certainly seems to be) but there’s a MVAMovie Twitter account that has published updates on the movie’s release. This would have completely passed me by if I hadn’t noticed a referral to MMM from it in my traffic stats.

Confessional Lutheranism via OPML

Oh sure, there are the Sacraments (Word, Baptism, Lord’s Supper) by which we are given God’s grace. But what about OPML?

I’d been looking for more Lutheran-oriented blogs to start reading and decided to start by tapping the “Linked Blogs” section of the Brothers of John the Steadfast website. After subscribing to each one individually I decided to streamline the process for others and so have created an OPML file with all those feeds, which you can easily import into the RSS reader of your choice.

Lutheran OPML

In addition to what’s there there are, naturally, the feeds for the BJS site as well as the Issues ETC program and the Twitter feed for the Lutheran Study Bible, which offers a selection from that publication throughout each day. Hope this is handy to anyone who’s interested.

For the record I gladly would have included the feeds to LCMS pubs The Reporter or The Lutheran Witness but none are offered.