PSFK is a trends, research, idea generation and activation company with a daily news site.

A recent clipping from the site, or whatever the digital equivalent is called, focused on a Wall Street Journal article authored by John Freeman, the acting editor of Granta Magazine. His essay,
"Not So Fast" was adapted from his forthcoming book, "The Tyranny of E-Mail".

For those of us that consider the pace of our lives to be inextricably caught up in the web of the web, this is a must read. Twenty years from today, many of you may believe his words fall into an anachronism, sadly missing his point.

"The ultimate form of progress is learning to decide what is working and what is not; and working at this hyper-pace, e-mailing at a frantic rate is pleasing very few of us.

How many of our most joyful memories have been created in front of a screen?

If technology is to be used for the betterment of human life, we must reassert that the Internet and its virtual information space is not a world unto itself but a supplement to our existing world."

Read the essay


This is not about your father's seersucker suit. It's about a caution to marketers of the potential backlash stemming from seemingly "innocuous" credit card "Notices of Change in Terms".... a practice that is spinning out of control.

The following arrived from Sears Credit Card Services a couple of days ago. Mind you, I never use the card, likely hidden under old bills in a desk drawer ....

"Dear Valued Customer,
Currently the credit card industry is facing unprecedented market conditions. As a result of this challenging business an economic climate, we are making changes to your card agreement. We value you as a customer and are working hard to preserve the broad availability of credit."

They go on to explain an increase the APR rate to 25.24% from 15.99%. Other service fees are increasing by 67%!! This is how they "preserve availability of credit"?!

While there is an opt-out provision from these increases, it forces the customer to close the account and stop using the card.

These antics are beyond the absurd. Sears is not alone ... other retailers are following suit. It's the perfect strategy for punishing your best customers ... in this instance having nothing to do with credit stability.

There is an obvious disconnect between corporate bean counters and marketing groups. The cost of recapturing lost customers alone will only add to their woes.

"Your card continues to offer valuable features and benefits including special savings events, special financing offers and more. Thank you again for your business."

I am speechless .... and now thankfully, card less.


Lately, some of my readers suggested that I often take a contrarian position on new developments in the ad business. I accept those observations as generally true with a need to explain why.

Our industry is hurtling forward at breakneck speed trying to desperately keep up with the technology that precedes it. Since the explosive growth of the Internet in the late nineties, the bubble that burst in 2001 and the rise of the venture capitalists out of the ashes, the movers and shakers of our industry are at it again.

I smell a land grab of sorts. MySpace, Facebook and, God forgive us, Twitter all attempting to make something out of nothing more than a conversation. None of them have yet to yield a return to their investors.... not a penny!

Ad exchanges and ad networks are popping up like ducks in a shooting gallery ... most of them simply replicating one another, offering identical inventory that has been dumped into them by publishers.

Skeptical? Yes. Let's set the record straight. Many of these ideas are very bad ideas and will lose money and jobs as we have recently witnessed by MySpace and soon, AOL.

It's the skeptic in me that keeps my strategic focus on the reality and business of our business in tow. It also often keeps clients that will listen and learn from making dreadful mistakes.

There are many advances in our business that make both traditional and digital media exciting, productive and return valuable insights and actionable results.

And while I am skeptical of many new "toys", I am also playing with them to see if I can keep from breaking them.

So thanks for the feedback. The video that closes this posting was found on Bob Hoffman's great blog, The Ad Contrarian. Bob is the CEO of Hoffman/Lewis in San Francisco and St. Louis.


As the dust settles on the Publicis / Razorfish deal one overriding question remains concerning the "strategic alliance" between Publicis and Microsoft.

As part of the deal, Publicis is committed to spend hundreds of millions on Microsoft search and display ad inventory, over a five year term, at favorable rates. It is unlikely that details concerning favored nation rates will be made public.

As an advertiser I might question the inclusion of Microsoft's media on a buy as a potential conflict of interest, stemming from the commitment Publicis made to Microsoft. According to David Kenny, managing partner at Publicis, the "deal presents no conflict". It is not, however, Kenny's call to make. That's for the advertiser to decide.

The alliance seems to miss the growing participation of advertisers in ad exchanges, developed to provide a bidding platform that can take advantage of hyper-targeting, leveraging a huge data pool for optimal returns. How does stepping out of that framework work to the advantage of Publicis' clients? Was this an oversight?

If search and display rates for Microsoft are below par, will Publicis be allowed to dump the inventory into the exchanges as a broker? Will Microsoft allow it and risk setting rate precedents?

This was a good deal for Microsoft. It remains to be seen if Publicis will fare nearly as well.


The dynamics of local media consumption is undergoing a fundamental change driven, in part, by community need and passion.

The notion and shift of attention to local media by the consumer has not yet reached the marketing departments of national brands. Instead, they are focused on the need to reach a widely dispersed audience on more "efficient", targeted, national platforms. They have yet to catch up with middle America and run the risk of eroding channels of distribution for both ad messages and product if they continue to ignore local media.

It's all about the Internet! But is it?

That technology has driven us to embrace the Internet as the next single source channel for information, entertainment, organization, communication, shopping and more is to suggest, as many have, that all other channels are doomed. In reality, a backlash of sorts is echoing in Smalltown USA to keep the media and the local community intact. Local community newspapers, as an example, are thriving in the face of today's economy.

The Internet represents about twenty percent of ad spending.... yet we are likely focusing eighty percent of our intellectual capital there! Television, Print and "Analog" media still represent eighty percent of all ad investments. What's wrong with this picture?

Today, Katz Television Group announced the creation of a new marketing group to boost awareness of Local Television and Local Digital initiatives. Bravo!

Last week, IPG, recognizing the need for local focus by major marketers launched anew agency, Geomentum, supported by a staff of 500 with close to $2 billion in billings. Bravo!


Did you hear? Do you care?

The ubiquitous Twitter suffered a denial of service attack that closed the network down for about five hours today.

While not an altogether uncommon occurrence, these attacks simply point out the vulnerability of networks that have grown too quickly to adequately manage security issues.

Trust is perhaps one of the most paramount issues facing Internet users today. This kind of security gap is inexcusable ... for Twitter, for any financial institution or those sites and networks we trust our personal information to.

Be mindful that the Internet will never be as secure as we would like it to be.

The poll that follows is an attempt to understand how you feel about the outage ....


Reports are circulating that Donovan Data Systems' (DDS) broadcast business unit, Media Ocean, is in trouble.

It appears thirty (30) employees were pink slipped from the unit.

On the heels of Media Ocean's troubles, Deutsch, an IPG agency, decided to move its agency business from Donovan Data to Harris.

DDS, a pioneer in the agency enterprise software business with the lion's share of the market has, over the years, been admonished for slow or lacking development of its software and the reluctance to support digital initiatives.

Could it be that DDS is conserving cash for an imminent sale of the firm? And if so, who might be courting them?


A small town newspaper serving the Wakarusa community in Olive Township since 1892.

Will it survive?

Battered by circulation declines and loss of ad revenue, major papers in urban markets are in deep trouble. And the small town newspaper may all but disappear. But will it?

The impact of these losses is more significant than we think, cutting across major cities and rural America. If we dig deep enough there may be options, but we must first understand the dynamics of the marketplace from a retailer's point of view.

My commentary today in MediaLifeMagazine initiates the dialogue. Comments, as always, are welcome.

Click here for a relevant music video story or click on the widget below to listen.