As the clock strikes 12:01 on January first, Time Warner is expected to pull the plug on nineteen Viacom cable channels. These include the most popular channels today, including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, CMT and LOGO among others.

The dispute between the media giants focuses on Viacom's need to increase payments from Time Warner by twenty five cents per subscriber. Time Warner insists the programming is "not worth" the cost increase (as if they asked their subscribers).

Time Warner's eleventh hour posturing is outrageous considering the fees they collect from subscribers today (yours truly currently shells out over $200 a month for their services). Try placing a complaint call to Time Warner Cable today and you'll be greeted with a "call back later" recording. They are receiving an avalanche of calls.

Are there options? Increasing ad costs to offset the subscriber cost is perhaps one solution that will eventually trickle down to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods and services. Better yet, let the local municipalities bear down on Time Warner with tighter oversight on program options that have the potential to severely impact its community's viewing choices.

An agreement between the parties was reached just one hour before midnight! Happy New Year!


Check the video post below this one. If you can identify the ad industry elves in the holiday video, we'll donate $100 to the charity of your choice for the first correct response.
Hint: Yours truly is one of the elves. E-Mail your response to pbenjou@gmail.com.

Five Ad Agency Elves


The financial markets have been reeling from the impact of a recession we all knew we were in but refused to acknowledge until this month. How can we possibly get the economy back on track?

Click to my commentary this week at Media Life Magazine ... here. I suspect I'll have a mailbox full of comments!


As the Tribune Company announces bankruptcy with thirteen billion dollars in debt, the New York Times borrows against its real estate assets to stay afloat and the Miami Herald is put up for sale by financially strapped McClatchy, one begins to wonder what the future of the printed news page may bring.

It is not for the lack of readers. It is, more obviously, for the lack of advertising revenue that began with the loss of classified ads to the likes of Craigslist and other online resources, followed by a downturn in our economy and the pullback in display ads by retailers … a perfect storm.

The newspaper business model, one that relies on ad revenue to keep the presses rolling, has been showing stress cracks and is now breaking apart.

On one hand, we have journalistic integrity and depth taking it squarely on the chin as layoffs in the industry take their toll.

Who cares? Advertisers certainly do not. They will find other channels to take the place of newspapers that have long been gone. Readers? For the most part, readers who are loyal to their morning and Sunday editions will feel the pain created by the void.

Newspapers have been through downturns in the past and reinvented themselves with special editions and sections. The rebound this time around will not be easy as the downturn is wider and deeper than before.

How can newspapers survive? Downsize the paper, creating niche markets. Increase the cost of the paper, moving from an ad-supported model to a subscription supported model. Continue to embrace the internet as an adjunct to the printed page.

Finally, boldly move to recapture classified ads. Carry them at NO CHARGE. And watch as circulation jumps and display ad revenue trickles back.

The newspaper industry has been slow to react and slower to fight back, lacking an understanding of the real psychological drivers of their business.


From today’s AP Newswire: “A new deal between Google Inc. and Hallmark Channel allows advertisers to place ads on Hallmark's namesake and movie channels through the Internet search operator, the companies said Wednesday.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Starting early next year advertisers will use the Google TV Ads platform to place ads on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. The platform will also provide viewership data that will allow advertisers to make real-time adjustments to their placements.

Hallmark Channel was viewed in 86 million U.S. homes in November and plans to run more than 30 original movies in 2009. Hallmark Movie Channel shows classic movies, presentations from the Hallmark Hall of Fame library, Hallmark Channel original movies and special events.”

Google TV Ads now represents more than one hundred on-air program opportunities. A review of their demos on YouTube provides some basic understanding of the process. Frankly, I am wary of the ability of Google to reduce the purchase of TV time to a PC driven interface. The tool appears fun to use and if you’re in a mindless state does all of the “thinking” for you. Thanks, but no thanks. The demos appear to be focused on DR advertisers paying $75 to $275 for a cable program slot in an auction based venue.

What is Hallmark thinking? Apparently, desperation breeds panic. And I’m sure the Hallmark reps feel all warm and fuzzy about the prospect of Google selling for them …. Not. If this signals trouble selling inventory for Hallmark, and if you’re a negotiator and not a PC drone, use the weakness to your negotiating advantage! You might want to do the same with all the other Google programs too.


This coming January, Google will have been in existence for twelve years. Ten years ago, it was incorporated. Four years ago it went public. Two years ago it ventured into offline media sales with the purchase of dMarc. Just last year, they acquired DoubleClick. Today, Google commands seventy two percent of web search activity in the US and manages hundreds of products in information, communication and media channels.

Search, however reins over the Google Empire. Seeking personal relevance in its rankings, the search giant relies on hundreds of signals to generate relevant query results, while battling SEOs that attempt to manipulate results and disruptive sites that rely on cloaking to draw traffic.

Google will eventually win these battles and will move on to refine search in ways that we cannot yet imagine, sometimes relying on an empirical basis for ethical theory. Near-term, look for movement away from keywords. In an attempt to capture true user intent, semantic search will displace keywords.

How far can Google go before relevance is distilled down to a single relevant result, and in doing so limits potential discovery choices? When a query result or an Adword link is returned to me because it’s “relevant” isn’t the search engine opting to reveal what it “thinks” is best for me? Somewhere between focused relevance and freedom of discovery is where I want to be.

Are we taking the potential ROI from razor sharp results too far at the expense of the consumer’s ability and freedom to explore potential alternatives? Imagine a magazine with ads and editorial content that was only relevant to your perceived interests as a subscriber. A very thin copy delivered to you while at the newsstand, the same non-directed issue had four times the content.

Are we backing ourselves into a society that needs to think less? Every school-age child carries a calculator and a digital time device. Yet few can do the math themselves or read an analog clock.


If you haven’t heard the news lately, Ted McConnell, general manager-interactive marketing and innovation at Procter & Gamble Co., suggested "What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?"

Wow! That can set the social networking gurus back a few months, if not years.

What can we make of that statement? It suggests a serious look at the channel as an intrusion by advertisers who believe that commercial messages in the midst of a conversation between friends are okay.

When marketers hijack conversations, instead of creating their own environment, it doesn’t do them any good. While MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and the like can offer a potentially valuable space to play in, an assessment of the value marketers provide, relative to the perceived intrusion (and sometimes backlash), needs to be evaluated.

One of the better examples for the use of marketer-generated content points to Johnson & Johnson’s Health Channel created for YouTube. Over the last 3-4 months J&J created sixty-four informative videos, generating over 226,000 views … all without commercial overlays. The most viewed focused on teen obesity, an animation of cardiovascular disease (likely used by doctors for illustration) and Olympic athlete profiles. Those most discussed, followed the most viewed with the addition of ADHD in kids. The videos make you feel good and, more importantly, provide a valuable service to those seeking information. I can also argue that it provides a lift in positive awareness for J&J.
Bravo J&J.


There is only one constant. Change.

The world at large, its people, nature, the environment and “even” the business of advertising is not insulated from it.

Change happens….sometimes for the greater good and sometimes for a humbling experience. Recent events in the financial world are forcing many of us to navigate what is amounting to a sea change…. a transformation that will affect our global economy and ultimately the fortunes of marketers, their agencies and the media channels we work with.

We are just beginning to hear. Automotive marketers will slash budgets and some will disappear entirely. GM is trading at $2.75 a share with a market cap of $1.6 billion! Banks are swallowed whole by other banks. American Express, for fear of its ability to continue in its present state has transformed itself into a holding bank.

Consumers are retreating, opting out of purchases that carry long-term liabilities. And our government will wind up spending trillions of dollars to support the very institutions that created the mess we are in today. And when those institutions cannot repay the government, guess who gets to hold the empty bag?

The Obama administration’s platform is all about change. Here are just a few of the changes that will likely affect the business of advertising during his term.

• Corporate tax deductions for advertising will be scrutinized and supported by a bill to exclude it as an expense. The Association of National Advertisers is already monitoring moves in this direction.

• As one of two countries on the planet that allow Rx advertising for new products, look towards a policy that will disallow the practice for up to 12 months, stripping billions of dollars out of the advertising pie.

• Placing the issue of privacy, personal data collection and utilization under a microscope, the effect on the ability of media channels to target ads based upon behavior will likely diminish.

• The FTC and the FCC will secure a broader power base to enforce mandates on ad guidelines and the ability for media channels to converge through consolidation.

The good news is that as the winds of change shift as well. We are part of business that is resilient and always bounces back. When tobacco advertising was legislated off the airwaves in the 80’s, panic set in for many agencies …. but they all bounced back. When the Internet bubble burst in 2000, it came back stronger. And as tough as it may sound, the best advice is to try and stay in the game.


From time to time I will be conducting a poll of the readers of this blog on topics that are timely and industry related.

Here's the first.

Our industry is facing layoffs coast to coast, especially in the automotive and financial sectors. It will likely spill over into the retail sector during the holidays.
Tell us how secure you feel in your job.


Google’s ability to conquer all is being tested.

The recent announcement that the Yahoo! deal for the search business will not go through and the less, but not insignificant, push-back buy Russia’s FAS preventing Google from the purchase of the Begun Ad Agency for $140 million, signals an uphill climb for the search giant outside the US.

FAS Russia is an authorized federal executive power body responsible for prevention, restriction and suppression of monopolistic activity and unfair competition. It has become one of Russia’s most powerful agencies. Notwithstanding the agency’s mandate to watchdog such deals, it is also believed that Putin may have blocked the deal, recalling Sergey Brin’s comment that "Russia is Nigeria with snow, ruled by a gang of crazy cowboys."

Add to the equation that Yandex (the leading search engine in Russia) dominates the market by a wide margin and we see an emerging pattern …. One that dictates a more conservative approach tempered by a unique understanding of cultural needs and a sensitivity to the local political climate.

In northeast Asia, particularly in Korea, Google accounts for less than 3 percent of search page views, giving way to NAVER with a 74 percent market share for search.

As Google reaches out to international markets to maintain growth while, at the same time the US economy begins to stall, the giant will soon come to a crossroads. Whether forging straight ahead or taking a strategic turn to manage a maturing company, much of Google’s future growth will depend on its ability to cooperate with local governments on a global scale.

JUST DO IT . . . . VOTE!

This blog has never taken political sides .... and likely never will. This presidential election will perhaps turn out the largest number of voters in this country's history. Be part of that history. Take the time to stand in line and cast your ballot to make a difference. One vote can make a difference. Teach your children by example.


Over the last few years, Google has experienced tremendous growth. As a result, investors rewarded the company with a rapidly growing stock price….until recently.

And, as often happens with growth stocks, Google’s stock price grew faster than earnings, with the expectation that management would deliver on investors’ rising expectations…. until recently.

The year over year growth in monthly revenue for the company has been slowing and is a sign that the brand is maturing. Google's current 31 percent rate of growth may still be the envy of many companies, even though it represents a slowdown from previous years. Google grew at 56 percent in 2007 and 73 percent in 2006.

With even slower growth expected, Google is beginning to pull back on expenses.

The “news” that Google is shrinking employee perks is indicative of the maturation process. According to an internal memo, Google is instituting slimmed-down cafeteria hours and food selection as part of an effort "to find areas where efficiency can be improved."

Very often, slowing growth can lead to an erroneous interpretation …. that the brand is in trouble. Not so. Fundamentally, maturing brands like Google cannot grow as quickly as new ones.

Expect to see further “efficiency cuts” as the brand comes down to earth, and as Q4 and Q1 2009 promise to be much weaker, settling the stock price to a mature and more responsible $280.


The economic forecast for the nation, trickling down to the business of advertising, has many C-Level executives maneuvering to save the bottom line.

Follow this link to my commentary at MediaLifeMagazine . . . . why the collective wisdom of Wall Street's analysts is wrong.


The rollercoaster ride we are on in the financial markets will soon ripple through our own industry. How it will affect each and every one of us is, at best, a guess for the moment.

Layoffs are, of course, on top of everyone’s mind. Layoffs are NOT, however, the only option in the weeks or months ahead. The cost of unemployment benefits, severance packages, re-hiring and retraining when the turn-around comes is not the wise choice to make. The disruption in your business and the potential loss of client satisfaction should be avoided.

Solution: Spread the pain. Instead of cutting jobs, cut compensation across the enterprise; cut hours or days. Many employees would welcome the opportunity to advance other interests or spend more time with families.

The best advice I can give is to hang tough and stay in the game.

The clip that follows, from the 1947 film The Hucksters, best exemplifies the importance of “staying in the game” … the concept of frequency, driving home a message. The underlying message here is for CMOs to hold firm on ad budgets or risk losing market share. Many would even argue that the best time to gain market share is in a down period. The clip is courtesy of Nick Brien, President and CEO at Mediabrands, IPGs media holding company.

The title of this post, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, was borrowed from
George Parker, a Creative Consultant/Writer who has recently published his latest book, MadScam. He is currently working on his new book due in time for the Holidays …. The Ubiquitous Persuaders, a 50-year update on Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders.


This past week we’ve witnessed unprecedented swings in global financial markets affecting both professional investors as well as the general public, especially those with investments in 401Ks.

It’s far from over.

General Motors is trading at 1950 prices while Ford Motors is less than $2.00 per share. The feds bailed out AIG for upwards of $120 billion while a government bailout package of $700 billion is expected to “rescue” all other failing banking firms.

Reality check. How can we expect $700 billion will cover the mounting losses yet to be announced when AIG alone accounts for $120 billion? AIG is just the beginning. GM is on the verge of bankruptcy. Wachovia is bought by Wells Fargo to avoid failure.

Where and when will it end? Let’s take a lesson from history, which often tends to repeat itself.

In the early ‘50s post-war era, the country was facing the possibility of a recession. Charles Wilson, CEO of General Motors announced “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country”. In 1953 Dwight Eisenhower appointed Wilson Secretary of defense pointing the country to a “war economy”, a semi-command type economy which is directed by corporation executives, based on military industry, and funded by state social spending …. in order to “save” the US from a depression. This defense strategy created jobs and shored up the country’s economy. The arms race ensued and the cold war era began.

With little hope that the $700 billion package will hold back the dam, we should expect and be prepared to return to a “war economy” as the domestic and global markets fail utterly like so many dominos. As a result we will see the beginnings of yet another arms race. Only this time we have many more world powers in the game as well as rogue nations threatening to enter the race as well.

The complexity of global market swings in financial markets, increased plays for sovereignty, political polarization in the US and global terrorism are creating a perfect storm of unprecedented proportions.

In the 1953 comic strip Li’l Abner, Wilson’s line was modified by Al Capp’s character, General Bullmoose, to read …. “What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA”.

Today, what’s bad for the USA seems to be bad for General Motors.

We will survive the trials we are going through, but the course we take to get through this mess will be very different from that which we are led to expect.

To borrow yet another phrase from Li’l Abner’s Mammy Yokum …. I has spoken!


The following edit captures the essence of Google's intentions over time. With thanks to the current issue of Wired Magazine and Lore Sjoberg.

Few companies set out to do bad deeds, but most won't rule them out. Google was supposed to be different. When Josh McHugh profiled the corporation in January of 2003, it had one clear and concise rule: "Don't be evil". Ah, well, times change. CEO Erick Schmidt recently "clarified" that policy saying it was simply meant as a conversation starter. "we don't have an evil meter," he groused. Here, you can borrow ours!

Philanthropy: Creating a foundation devoted to fighting poverty, researching renewable energy, and protecting the environment. Two can play at this game Mr. Gates. Meter reading +7.1

Coddling Staff: Establishing on site day care for lil' Googlers as an employee perk. (Memo to HR: Keep eyes peels for particularly bright toddlers). Meter reading +5.3

Moral Triage: Giving Brazilian police access to private photo albums on Orkut to assist an investigation on child pornography. The lesser of two evils is still pretty lame. Meter Reading -2.4

Immaturity: Responding to Privacy International's last-placed ranking of Google with "U R BIAS!" Meter reading - 4.8

Screwing Staff: Raising the cost of on site child care to ridiculous levels in order to have the best day care on earth. $57,000 per year. Seriously, Sergey. Meter reading -6.7

Censorship: Instituting key word filters per request of the People's Republic of China. Further "clarification": Google company policies apply only within the continental US. Meter reading -8.3


As one partial to pets, especially of the canine variety, this commercial struck home. Kudos to the creators and their agency, Smith Brothers Advertising, a feisty group based in Pittsburgh.

Director - Michael Killen, Animal
Producer - Nancy Richert, Animal
Executive Producer - Kathy Dziubek, Animal
Director of Photography - Stephen Hunter
1st A.D. - Erin Killen
Gaffer - Jeff Vandermolen
Key Grip - Terry Shirk
1st A.C. - Colin Sheehy
VTR- Nathan Voltz
Dog Trainer - Christin Bummer
Dog Consultant - Nicole Larocco, Animal Friends

Creative Director - Lindsey Smith, Smith Brothers
Creative Director - Bronson Smith, Smith Brothers
Writer- Cathy Bowen, Smith Brothers

Editor - Beth Voltz, Animal
Original Music - Rob Deaner, Market Street Sound
Animator - JIm Kreitzburg, Animal
Animator - Michael Killen, Animal
Finishing - Allan Stallard, Animal
Colorist - Jeremy Sawyer, The Syndicate
Processing - FotoKem
Camera, Lights, Grip - Dan Doyle, Light Speed
Photographer's sweep - Jay Verno StudiosFilm - Media Distributors

Link to Animal Spots


Everyone’s buzzing about Google’s entry into the cell phone market, pitching itself against Apple's iPhone.

Tech analysts streaming out of the woodwork predict the Android platform will capture four percent of the smartphone market-share in this fourth quarter.

Bold predictions that will go down in a “blaze of glory”, Bon Jovi style.

Initial comparisons between the platforms suggests par value. Deeper investigations, however, reveal significant drawbacks to unsuspecting G1 phone buyers.

The G1 does not offer business e-mail security, severely limiting initial expansion into the business market.

T-Moblie, the G1 carrier is a tier-four player in the market with only 31 million subscribers. Coverage is limited to urban markets and only 21 markets maintain 3G availability compared to AT&T’s 200 markets. Sorry, Governor Palin – there is no coverage in Alaska, so you won't be able to hear Russia either.

Google’s decision to go with T-Mobile defies logic …. at first glance. Taking a lesson from Apple’s launch of the second generation iPhone and the inventory problems it encountered, Google’s strategy may well be centered upon a soft launch through a limited (read handicapped) coverage carrier generating an initial trickle in sales while the giant irons out its bugs. Sales will not surge until Google moves to a first tier player, likely to be Verizon. A smart, if not brilliant, strategy.

The G1 phone’s Taiwanese manufacturer, HTC, is a relatively new brand name in the US market (although it manufactures many of the private label phones now in use) and maintains a rock-solid reputation for its products. Cher Wang, its chairwoman, has positioned the company for significant growth beyond its already stellar reputation. Look for the company to begin its branding effort here soon.

So much for the analyst’s predictions. Google will secure a fair share of the smartphone market …. but not until the third or fourth quarter of 2009.


Having braved today's numbing traffic gridlock, with thanks to the UN General Assembly convening, I attended several morning sessions at Advertising Week .... and there appears to be a decided shift in media thinking taking place.

While the focus of most sessions was the seesawing market and the economy, there was an underlying buzz that suggested the consumer is now in control as the “ultimate integrator” according to Nick Brien, CEO of IPG’s Mediabrands. A more agency-centric view by Sarah Fay, CEO of Carat believing that as agencies become more adept at targeting, specialist services will erupt, developing strategies that are bolted together in “Frankenstein” fashion. Irwin Gotlieb, CEO at Group M, not to be left out, suggests the identification of consumer intent and the ability to act upon it is key. Finally, Andrew Robertson, CEO at BBDO Worldwide turns to the sandbox, watching how kids interact as a predictor of future media habits.

While these and other media and agency luminaries exemplify best-of-breed thinking, insisting it’s all about the consumer and the data, they are not yet themselves fully integrated with their own client’s businesses to have a real impact there.

So who’s driving the bus?
Are the agencies leaders or are they followers? Ask just about any media channel representative. While the agency insists it be included in any direct client interface (and they bristle when not included), they continue, for the most part, to mine the old mine and will continue to do so until the canary dies. The media, on the other hand, prefer to deal directly with clients simply because they can activate a strategy, moving from metrics (upon which we are all too heavily focused) to marketing outcome as a success measure.

Agency behavior must change if they are to survive in some fashion. The media channels and the data aggregators are quickly taking the wind out of the agency sails and will displace them in the short-term. Long-term, agencies run the risk of replacement if they don’t truly incorporate the process of idea integration into their tool chest.

As Wenda Harris Millard, President and Co-CEO of Martha Stewart’s media empire suggested … “The power seat will belong to those that have insight into the consumer.”


The final Broadway performance of Les Miserables was on May 18, 2003.

The video performance that follows is a brilliant execution with a unique twist that plays off the Presendential race.

Note the date on the opening credit.

Kudos to the director, JD Wlash and UltimateImprov.


I’m speechless. At an MIEG (Media Information Exchange Group) breakfast this week, Brian Reich, co-author of Media Rules!, launched into a rationale for television networks taking over the full service functions of ad agencies.

What planet did this kid come from??

The rationale and the example he uses to make his point is so far off base, it’s painful to listen to and watch him. He seizes on his need for an SUV with certain requirements that cannot be had with the information the agencies (make that the middlemen who know only half of what they should know) communicate through the media channels. SUV?? Brian, have you been reading the papers lately or watching the news? I know someone who has a bridge for sale as well.

His logic is so very twisted, it defies logic itself. It’s obvious this wunderkind has no clue. Maybe he should work for Google.

His bio states: “Brian has spent much of his life working in and around politics, including helping to direct dozens of campaigns across the country.” THAT explains it!

Frankly, I’m surprised Ad Age gave him a platform. It makes for a good laugh though.

Follow this link to the video (you must click on his thumbnail for the 9/9 clip). Comments welcome. And please don’t suggest I read his book … he obviously couldn't have written it alone.

Color commentary aside, I understand Brian is a principal at echoditto, a communications company whose work with online communities is to be applauded.


A major newspaper group is poised to announce its newest entry into the market for distribution of news and advertising, competing against the digital market. Positioned as a game-changing event in media delivery channels it moves beyond Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s eReader, Zinio and the soon-to-be-launched Plastic Logic reader pictured below.

Lightweight and foldable, requiring no cumbersome chargers yet maintains the ability to sustain readability for the life of the product, it will set the standard for news delivery. No batteries required!! Ever.

The system, first introduced in Germany relies on image transfer to make the visual display incomparable to that of today’s devices. Its portability and ease of use with a simple, common user interface is perfectly suited to the casual or business reader.

There is no question that this platform will maintain the lion’s share of the reader market for many decades.

For a first-hand sneak preview and more information
click here.

The platform is not about what’s nifty, cool or high tech. It’s about a personal, in many cases tactile, experience that transcends many electronic devices that make up the digital world around us. It allows an escape from ear buds, chargers, screen glare and fonts the size of gnats you need to squint at. It bridges the distance between what is and what could be. All at a very affordable price.


On September 1, the New York Times ran a story on the attempts Google is making to befriend agency media folk. And as Google seeks to “displace” agencies, its real objective is to “replace” agencies … there is a BIG difference.

Google’s initial focus, playing in the traditional media sandbox, is to become the media centric agency-of-record for its advertisers. Where they go, once the media universe is conquered, can only be imagined.

It’s a long road traveled. One that is likely fraught with mounting agency suspicions, process issues (a problem that can be solved with the purchase of Donovan Data), compromised relationships and hidden agendas. Google’s expanding reach to become the single pipeline for global information, media channels, a telecom communications hub, and now an Internet Browser (Chrome) is not to be taken lightly.

But let’s not get too carried away. It will be 2020 before Google realizes many of these lofty goals. Agencies, and especially, media buying units, however, must come to grips with the machinery Google is quickly putting in place to make the media dream a reality. Jobs will be lost on both buyer and sellers sides. Strategic thinking will make room for “efficient” buying as major advertisers have no choice but to trust their ROI to the only game in town. Creativity will suffer as Google media begins to dictate creative strategy, reducing it to a numbers game.

The New York Times reflects on Google’s python-like embrace of agencies as a visit where it “typically brings in a gelato cart or a coffee bar. It has even built a replica of Google’s office kitchens. It offers free food and prizes of iPod Touches.” Google’s attempt to lure Publicis planners with “candy and bean bag chairs” may be cute for some unwitting and unassuming newbies, but it comes off as an embarrassing ploy in the face of the criticism it’s been encountering.

Google is absolutely addictive. And it appears Martin Sorrell and WPP is the single most vocal entity willing to de-tox the industry.

Martin Sorrell: Bring it on!!


Parents often tell their children you are often like the company you keep. Readers of MyOpenKimono are flung far and wide within our industry, and by last count, to over forty-five countries.

Our partners at StatCounter provide rich insight into the source of a visitor down to the company level. In many cases a deeper view can reveal the person and his/her approximate location pinpointed on a Google satellite view. Scary, huh.

So who's reading MyOpenKimono? Here's a partial list, representing about ten percent of the blog's readers. You're all in good company.

Advance Publications
Advantage Sales & Marketing
Agency Spy
Alm Media
AP - Associated Press
Apple Computer
Aquantive - Seattle
Arena Capital Partners
Arnold & Co.
Audium Corporation
Avenue A / Razorfish
Bank of America
Big Fuel
Burson Marstellar
Cablevision Sales
Carat - Poland
Carol H. Williams Advertising
CIT Group
CoActive Marketing
Cox Communications
D'arcy Masius Bention & Bowles
DDB -Chicago

Ddb Worldwide

Dgwb Advertising
Donovan Data Systems
Educate Inc
Fishs Eddy
Foote Cone
Freud Comm PR
Front Porch Inc
Greylock Partners
Guidant Insurance Group
Harris Corporation
Hnw Inc
Horizon Media

IPG Global Information Services

Jack Morton WW
Johnson & Johnson
Katz TV Group
Ketchum - Pittburgh
Lehman Brothers
Leo Burnett
MacDonald Media
Mascola Advertising
Mccann-erickson Inc
Me Dium Inc
Medco Health Solutions Inc
Mitsubishi Foods
MPG Spain
NBC Universal
New York Times
Newspaper Direct
NJ Transit
Olympus America
On Demand
P R Taylor Group
Pace Advertising WPP
Paradigm Music
Paradyme Capital
Personnel Decisions Internatio
Polo Ralph Lauren
Publicis & Hal Riney
Rodale Press
Ruder & Finn
Ryan Partnership
Sales Athlete
Salomon Inc
Shubert Organization
Starwood Hotels
Sussman -Morris
TBWA Chiat Day
The Martin Agency
Time Inc
True North
TV Guide

United Nations
Universal McCann

Universal McCann J3
USNews & World Report
Vansken Group
Western Intnl
Westmark Harris Real Estate
Wpp Group U.s. Investments
Wpp Group Usa
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.


Tracking the share of searches performed on CUIL (the self-proclaimed "Google killer") since July 29, the news is not so cool for CUIL. They've hit rock bottom just thirteen days following the debut. See my original post here.

Can they come back from the cryogenic state they're in? Not likely.

So much for the investments made by Madrone Capital, Greylock Partners, and Tugboat Ventures.

The ship is sunk ...buh bye.


07/29 0.10 0.11 0.19

07/30 0.11 0.12 0.19

07/31 0.08 0.09 0.10

08/01 0.06 0.07 0.09

08/02 0.05 0.07 0.09

08/03 0.04 0.04 0.08

08/04 0.03 0.04 0.06

08/05 0.03 0.04 0.05

08/06 0.03 0.03 0.05

08/07 0.02 0.03 0.01

08/08 0.02 0.02 0.01

08/09 0.02 0.03 0.01

08/09 0.01 0.02 0.01

Note: These figures (courtsey of StatCounter) show the % of searches performed using Cuil relative to the total number of searches performed. This information is based on a total sample for the period of over 365 million page views globally.


From time to time this blog posts on the creative geniuses in our industry, unbridled by the many marketers that are willing to move into a more creative realm. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, often heartbreaking but always brilliant.

What follows are several print ads, outdoor executions and TV commercials crafted by a cross section of agencies both here and abroad.

Enjoy . . . .

Is the following art or is it a commercial? A brilliant execution.

The next pick takes me back to childhood with a unique twist at the end. It's not what you think.

Not a television commercial ... guess where it belongs.

The following executions will roll without explanation. They speak for themselves.

If you really want to touch someone, send them a letter.

Reading the finer print, this is an ad for a funeral home. Genuis!

The following print ad give Bentley Motors the last word in a recent "we are better than you" war between top brand auto makers.



The buzz around the release of Google’s GPhone appears to focus on this year’s fourth quarter. If I were to place bets on the styling of the device, it will likely mirror that of HTC’s (the device manufacturer) Touch Diamond, released overseas earlier this year and pictured here. A call to HTC confirms release of the device in the US in the second half of the year …. Coincidentally dovetailing with Google’s entry.

HTC’s Touch Diamond and Touch Pro models appear to blanket all of the functions (and then some) inherent in Apple’s iPhone. Not available in the US and supported by the ubiquitous Google, we can expect the GPhone will give Apple a serious run for its money in a few months. It’s price tag overseas is high .. as much as $499, but expect that to drop significantly for the US market.

Apple’s misstep (or strategic blunder) may be its inability to maintain inventory at levels that would provide instant gratification to its customer base. More than a month after its release, the iPhone is still not available without a long waiting list. Coupled with the recent press concerning dropped calls and lost signals, it allows Google easy entry to fill the void.

I've given up waiting, finding many excuses not to purchase the iPhone. I don’t need ‘pretty”, I need a phone that’s dependable.

Here’s a list of just a few pluses for the Diamond:

• Comes with a super cool touch-based interface, with a really rich media kind of feel to it.
• Like the iPhone it has built in sensors and accelerometer, so that it can react to the different angles you are using it with.
• It has built-in email support, calendar, Word, Excel, tasks.
• It can display images and video clips in a lot of formats (more than the iPhone).
• It is not restricted to iTunes software, or the iTunes Apps.
• It comes with Opera instead of internet Explorer, and what a great browser that is. It is actually better than Safari.
• It supports higher 3G speeds than the iPhone.
• It comes with Google Maps, YouTube, PDF and a ton of other applications that has already been made for Windows Mobile 6.1.
• ...and it small enough to not feel like a brick in your pocket.

Gotta run …. phone’s ringing.


The video that follows is a great example of the power of viral marketing, set in motion by a very clever public relations effort on the part of VanksenCulture-buzz, an agency that focuses on Word of Mouth (WOM) communications.

With offices in New York and Paris, in the agency's own words "We believe in the “consum-actor”, the power of iconoclastic ideas, permission marketing, collaboration marketing (word-of-mouth), the power of communities, the combination of genres and 360° approaches."

Have fun with this .... we certainly did.


The eight hundred pound gorilla oinks!

Last month saw a significant up-tick in Google’s market share for search in the United States. A whopping 70.77%, sourced from Hitwise, representing a year-over-year increase of ten percent, banked off of the declines for both Yahoo and MSN during the same period.

Click graph to expand

How much higher can Google’s market share go? Some analysts expect Google to hit one hundred percent, effectively monopolizing search (if it hasn’t already done so). At that level, according to a Credit Suisse analyst, Google may well be on its way to a $900 share price. Has the search engine turned from a heavyweight gorilla to a monopolistic piggy? Or is it all Wall Street hype?

Who are these analysts and what methods of madness are they utilizing to assume that Google will be permitted to reach that stratospheric target for search? Analysts argue that the cost of maintaining technology to keep pace with Google will be too restrictive to support a viable business model. That’s a doubtful scenario.

Assuming a “counterintuitive” position, I believe market forces will eventually dictate a realistic valuation for Google, bringing it down from the giddy heights it’s enjoyed. Certainly not $900 and not even $400. Generously, a market cap of $90 billion and a stock price of $290 could easily be realized by 2010.

In a four month period beginning November 2007, Google’s share price plunged from a high of $741 to $413; a drop of 45 percent. History will repeat itself, but for different reasons next time around.


Very quietly, last Friday afternoon, Google sent out thousands of notices (if not many, many more) to bloggers that it shut down their ability to post until such time that they could identify if blog spamming had occurred. The lock-down began as a trickle in mid-July, several weeks before the surge at the end of the month.

Of particular note was the theme of blogs that were affected. While anti-Obama blogs were the first and loudest to cry foul, many political, adult and left-wing blogs were trapped in a Google-esque loop with no human connection. Political blogs, Gossip Blogs, left wing blogs, religious blogs, Peace blogs were all on lock down with the same "spamming" notice as excuse, and no extra explanation or help from the Google mother ship.

Conspiracy theorists suggest that this had something to do with either Google censoring anti-Obama blogs or a bad beta test of the software they will be using to censor the coverage of the controversial Chinese Olympics. And while there was the odd "arts and crafts" blog that got censored too, the big majority of the blogs shut down were blogs that at one time or another had negative things to say about both Obama or the Olympics, or posted porn.

Needless to say, bloggers were not a happy lot and Wordpress.com (competition to Google's Blogger) benefited with a surge of new sign-ups.

In the words of one blogger....."Without any notice, apology, or explanation, my posting privileges have (sp) been reinstated. Blogger's "guilty until proven innocent" approach is appalling. As bloggers, it is a good thing we still have choices, and I have exercised my choice to leave Blogger and establish a new home at Wordpress. (I have been advised that Wordpress investigates charges before taking action.

What was Google thinking?!

Let's take this "exercise of power" one step further into the realm of media and advertising control. Assume for the moment that Google wins the battle to manage, sell and control how all media channels are priced, parceled and invoiced. As the single largest player in the game, pricing is no longer demand driven. It's dictated. It becomes inelastic. Brands that cannot afford or are ill-equipped to find other communication outlets will pony up and adapt to the price shock. Combine this hold on media with the enterprise software that agencies utilize to manage and pay media invoices (did someone say Donovan Data Systems?), and both brands and agencies will find themselves under the same thumb that bloggers "gently" felt.

Most of the blogs have been opened to posting and any scenarios as to the cause may be simply speculative. But the toys still belong to Google and they get to make up and change the rules whenever they want.


The debut of “the world’s largest search engine”, Cuil, (pronounced COOL) is perhaps the biggest Ho Hum of the year.

Boasting three times the number of documents Google searches, I decided to review this bold new search engine to see how its algorithms perform.

On a scale of 1-10, it peaks at about a three. A search for the engine itself (Cuil) generates 721,578 results (after a 15 second response time)…. Not one result on the first page made reference to the search engine! Search for the engine on Google and it generates 2,030,000 results in one quarter of a second, chock full of information on the engine. An embarrassment for Cuil at the very least.

Round two … I searched for my own self. Over the top results numbered 655,971 with a confusing display of irrelevant topics on Cuil …. including my obituary!!!! Google’s results returned a respectable 1,290 listings, all relevant.

The display order for Cuil results read left to right, up or down. It’s not easy on the eye and takes a bit more time to scan than do Google results.

While I am no fan of Google’s over eagerness to control the world’s media inventory and relegate agencies to creative bull pens, I do give them credit for developing useful applications that simply work.

Cuil's founders, Anna Patterson Russell Power and Louis Monier are former Google employees, while Tom Costello has worked for IBM and others. Investors and board members that can kiss their investments farewell include Madrone Capital, Greylock Partners, and Tugboat Ventures. Remember folks ….YAHOO! bowed to Google for search. Cuil is one tugboat that should raise the white flag before it begins to take on water


Is Google courting Donovan Data Systems?

The scenario is very likely given a chain of events going back to April 2007 when Google announced the acquisition of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

"Google is the absolute perfect partner for us," said David Rosenblatt, Chief Executive Officer of DoubleClick. "Combining DoubleClick's cutting edge digital solutions for both media buyers and sellers with Google's scale and innovative resources will bring tremendous value to our clients."

Early in 2008, one of Donovan Data’s program managers who had been with the company since 1993, quietly made a move to DoubleClick.

Just last week, DoubleClick announced a new proposal exchange platform built upon application agnostic standards, which will ultimately allow for broader integration with other advertising technology solutions.

Google forked over 20 times the estimated revenue for DoubleClick … it would not be a stretch for the giant to similarly overpay for Donovan Data in its effort to grab a company whose lion’s share of the off-line ad agency market hovers in the 75% plus range. Add into the equation Michael Donovan’s age (66), and an exit strategy can’t be too far off base.

Is Donovan Data the missing puzzle piece for Google and off-line media?

This according to Mark Howe, Google UK, just about a year ago …. "If we can build tools to link information from Donovan Data Systems and plug into other systems to measure the effectiveness of online, then that is the Holy Grail. It won’t happen this year, but that is the Holy Grail."

If not now, when?