Patch, a hyper local division of AOL just announced a course correction that will attempt to hire 8000 unpaid local blog contributors by May 4th. HA!

Patch is quilt work of 800 sites dedicated to local community news. But the cost of paying each of the 800 editors and staff is a losing proposition for AOL.

Arianna Huffington to the rescue! Replicate the HuffPost model! No need to pay for content when they can offer writers what?.....Nothing!

This is a train wreck waiting to happen and yet another example of the folly that has become AOL.

This parting shot from Mediabistro's Fishbowl LA ...

"In other words, if you have any ethical qualms about demanding free content from your writers, better get over them now–or the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the door hitting your ass on the way out."


A couple of weeks ago one of my favorite bloggers, Bob Hoffman, CEO at Hoffman Lewis, posted on the issue of privacy and the security of our personal information.

His post follows in its entirety..

Here Comes The Government

Back in December I wrote a piece for Adweek called Big Brother Has Arrived, and He's Us. In the article I talked about the dangers of tracking on the internet.

"There’s no reasonable way that this is a good development for a free society. There is no realistic vision of the future in which this will not lead to appalling mischief.
It’s time for us to say no. It’s time to put aside our petty self-interest, take a step back and see where this is leading. We need to stop tracking people and their behavior now."
Of course, this will never occur. There is way too much money being made on digital advertising for anyone to act responsibly.

So inevitably what happens in circumstances like this is that the heavy hand of government steps in to regulate. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that...
"...legislation (that) would call on the California attorney general to force affected businesses to provide users a way to avoid having their personal information and online activity tracked..." was being introduced into the state legislature.
According to the 4A's...
"...the Judiciary Committee of the California State Senate has tentatively scheduled a hearing on April 26 to consider a new proposal... which seeks to become the country’s first do-not-track consumer privacy law."
There is an outrageous amount of personal data being collected. It is too accessible, and anyone who takes promises of internet privacy and security seriously is an idiot.

But you can bet by time the knuckleheads in government are finished with this, the regulations they enact will be way more daunting than if the greedy bastards in the industry had just acted sensibly and responsibly in the first place.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

I could not have put it better than Bob.


When did it all begin?

In March 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was issued a patent for his invention which ultimately transformed into the telephone. The device became ubiquitous and the world tethered to it.
Today, 135 years later, we cannot live without the communication device that has morphed from the umbilical cord that connected us with each other to a magical wireless wonder, the cell phone. We are inextricably connected.

If we were to be visited by alien creatures they would describe us as a race with appendages connected to our heads.

But our conversations back then, save for the occasional party line or government tap, were private. Marketers were not listening in so that they could call back or mail you a invitation to try a new soap product you may have been discussing;. Your conversations and you life was private.

No longer.

Cutting the cord, moving towards a wireless world, we are giving up our rights to privacy as intrusions become the order of the day. Bell himself considered his famous invention an intrusion ... and refused to have a telephone in his study.

How far can the eavesdropping go?

A cell phone "extraction device" in use by several law enforcement agencies can search for and copy information on your cell phone via a USB port or Bluetooth. These devices, at a cost of around $10,000, automatically perform forensic extraction of calls, photos, messages, calendars, to do lists, memos, videos and audio. All in about 40 seconds.

Are your civil liberties being violated? Follow this link to a recent press piece.


When AOL and The Huffington Post teamed up last month it sparked controversy that is now spilling over into the investment world.

AOL stock is being shorted by investors betting that the company will tank. Not far from its all time low of $18.51 on March 16th, it may only be a matter of time before it, like MySpace, begins to drift towards the Bermuda Triangle.
Further complicated by a class action suit instituted by one of Huffington Post's contributors, the complaint charges that none of the $315 million paid by AOL for the news and opinion website co-founded by Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer was shared with the writers and other creators of the site’s content. The suit seeks class-action, or group, status.

The complaint claims that 9000 writers provided the site with free content worth as much as $105 million, which “should be returned” to the plaintiff and the class. Huffington Post derives revenue from advertising on the site.
Adding insult to injury, the majority of the contributors who supported Arianna's site as a more liberal platform are now taking a back seat to the more conservative AOL.

Did AOL not believe that a site whose content, driven by 9000 freelance, unpaid writers, would not create a backlash? It is so very obvious that AOL's CEO and largest shareholder, Tim Armstrong, is desperately rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship.

Watching and waiting.

Click on the chart to enlarge it

YouTube vs BoobTube

For the sake of clarity, I am posting a chart based on Nielsen estimates that reflects monthly viewing for video .. whether TV, Netflix or YouTube.

Simply stated, TV crushes YouTube.

Yet with all the hype concerning the coming of broadband video, as if it were the second coming of Christ, I see nothing in this chart that comes close to the power of good ol' television.

So why do we continue to get caught up in the gigabit flow of over-hyped, overzealous and hyper-exaggerated use of broadband video? Because it's human nature to want to be on the cutting edge of anything new and cool.

It is a young playground... and "the young are always ready to give those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience"..Oscar Wilde

Google announced it will spend $100 million to increse YouTube viewership. I would advise Google to take a close look at the chart again. If Google increased viewership by 300% would it make a difference?

The viewing landscape will eventually change .. but for the next decade I'll put my money on television as the most powerful marketing tool we have.

Click on the chart to enlarge it.


At first blush I believed the video clip from CBS’s Days of Our Lives to be a spoof for a Wanchai Ferry Chinese food product placement.

It is not.

Not a fan of daytime soaps, I was not aware of the solicitous intrusion into the daily lives of daytime soap followers. These product placements are becoming commonplace and frankly deserve no place in the realm of content. They are annoying, uncomfortable for the actors, provide no value to program content and are distracting.

Product placements have been around for quite some time but never to the extent driven by these examples. Understandably, they drive a strong revenue stream for the networks. In Latin America, product placements can account for up to 50% of the revenue produced by novellas.

What’s your take on these “placements”?

Follow this link for more examples.


Mountain View, CA (Reuters)

In a move that has the potential to rock and dislodge the underpinnings of the advertising community, Google announced a hostile takeover bid for holding company giant WPP.

With an enterprise value just shy of $11 billion Google is expected to pay up to a 60 percent premium for the firm raising the stock price to its 2000 high of $99 per share.

It is expected that Dr. Eric Schmidt, 56, recently sidelined as Google’s CEO will assume the CEO position at WPP as Sir Martin Sorrell, 66, who once described Google as a “frenemy”, takes the title of Executive Group Chairman.

Why would Google put its future at risk by assuming ownership of a major non-core business? Follow this link for a more in depth analysis: