Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If You Are Going to Run A Panel...

...speak with energy and enthusiasm. Holy smokes! I'm sitting here at Search Engine Strategies at a vendor sponsored event. I won't name names, but c'mon! Show some energy!

If you are going to spend the time and effort to prepare for and speak at an event, you have to show some life. Be passionate about your topic. Tell a funny story. Most of us have heard this stuff before and are sitting on our laptops or Blackberries working. We are looking for something special, something interesting. If you are as bored as we are, do you really think we are going to listen.

Sorry to rant, but I consider it a privilege to sit in front of a crowd and present to them. Even if they are high school kids, I want them to learn something. I want them to remember my talk. I want them to say, "Hey, I learned something." So I'll give them stories, personal experiences, interesting data. I'll vary my voice and solicit their comments.

A lot of these panelists for companies and see this as part of their humdrum job. They go home, have no impact and still get their paycheck.

C'mon, my friend, you can do better!

Russia's Oil Punch

Just as oil starts it fall from a high of $147/barrel, all the sudden Russia wields its power against Georgia. This is a successful democracy on its doorstep that wants to align itself to the West. Georgia wants to be in the EU and NATO. It is a country that has a pipeline that does not start at Russia. It gives Russian citizen in a territory that apparently would rather be in Russia than a democrat and economically successful. Of course, these folks need to be protected, so of course they need peacekeepers.

Back to our story. Oil has quickly fallen from $147 to $115. Traders and pension funds that bought oil to hedge and speculate are dumping their positions. In the face of massive subsidies, demand is actually dropping. US drivers cut miles driven for the first time in 20 years. Each country is investing in alternatives and efficiency.

But Russia has no other exports. It's massive foreign exchange surplus is based completely on oil. Not enough people are buying its vodka to make much of a difference. Now, they do have arms to sell.

So show some naked power. Take on your troublesome neighbor. Tell other neighbors that either align or feel the pain. As the largest oil producer, make sure you raise the price to keep the funds flowing. While showing this power, nationalize oil company and joint ventures. Make sure your pockets are filled because the time to cash in is now. The population is declining, industrialized countries are investing in alternatives, people are using less. I could see the Prime Minister pointing his finger at his general with a stern voice, "Attack now! Get those prices up!"

Oil prices should be dropping to $80/barrel. It's still amazing given it was just $20 a short time ago, however a huge drop from $140. When the cash flows in, the eyes light up. So many things to spend on, so many luxuries to buy. When it drops the whole game changes. You deserved that money, now the market is walking away from you.

So you will see more of these blow-ups and disruptions. It will come from those that like the status quo - those that benefit from high oil. Market spikes eventually turn. This one will if we let it happen. It won't if we decide to get into a tit for tat battle and respond excessively to this provocation. The forces of change are in our favor if we push for energy independence.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare A Plug?

I'm sitting at a hi tech conference with my laptop connected to one of the scarce outlets. There are hundreds of people and precious few electrical outlets. We're all ADD. We need to work while listening to a bland panel of hi tech marketers.

Most people with laptops walk around looking for a plug. This guy with a laptop walks toward 2 of us that own our plugs. What is he doing? You can't kick us off.

He pulls out a 3 to 1 extension and asks if he can hook in. Of course, we say yes.

What a clever way to make friends.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

38? 41? Congrats to New Old Olympic Champs

When you get up the morning and are stiffer than you've ever been. When it takes another 10 minutes just to stretch. When you get those strange new aches and pains, nothing heartens the soul more than you see athletes crash the age barrier. While my kids wondered why anyone would want to watch someone run for 2 hours, I enjoyed watching Constantina Tomescu Dita from Romania win the Olympic Woman's Marathon. She's an amazing 38 years old!

Then there's 41 year old American Dana Torres who won 3 silver medals in the 50 meter freestyle and 400 meter relay. Talk about being in incredible shape. Getting a silver by 0.01 seconds is simply incredible.

As much fun it is to watch Michael Phelps win his 8th gold or Usain Bolt blow out the 100 meter race, knowing that age truly doesn't mater is truly inspiring.

WebGuild Analytics and Social Media Event

I recently spoke at a WebGuild event titled "Web Analytics: Measure Social Media Engagement." Great panelists including Carla Bourque, VP Media & Entertainment, Nielsen Online, Eddie Smith, VP Marketing and Business Development, Socialmedia.com, Giovanni Rodriguez, Managing Partner, Conversation Group. The moderator was Andreas Weigand, former Amazon Chief Scientist.

We discussed a variety of topics. My focus was to discuss real-life examples of how companies advantage of Social Media whether it be blogs, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. At Position2 we work with clients to drive user engagement and leads with Social Media. There are technology companies like Coverity that connect with their community with Twitter in addition to media sites like Effinfunny that create special micro-sites and Facebook Pages to drive conversations.

Everyone is looking for a silver bullet for which new metric that should look towards. The panel recommended metrics like email forwards, sharing rates, recommendations in addition to click through, lead form fill, webinar sign-up, or time on site vs. bounce rate. Unfortunately, there is no single metric. It all depends on the business or the goal. A B2B firm selling software is going to have different goals than a consumer media site. One thing that is important is the need to dedicate resources to this fast-growing medium. Another is to give time to optimize as there are many ways to make things work. It is a game of applying best practices in a customized and iterative manner.

Thank you Daya at WebGuild for inviting me to speak. Also, thank you to the attendees for your engaging questions and comments.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sports Videos: Clever Advertising + more

These videos come courtesy of my son, Arjun. He's now the writer of the famous Oakland A's prospect blog. Have some fun and check these out...

- Here's a clever banned Pepsi commercial with Ronaldo using Far East customs against his opponents. Apparently, it was too sensitive to show (I don't understand why), but it's hilarious. It is a great way to associate a long running brand like Pepsi with youth, international and hip.

- Next, there's a banned sumo wrestling on that's worth checking out. What's clever is that even if the ad isn't shown on TV, it gets additional mileage on the web. Then again, maybe they were never meant for TV.

- Then, there's this ridiculous flop. As we know certain soccer players are notorious actors. No advertising angle, just funny.

- Most of the time when you are a basketball game, the trampoline dunkers are a side show. Well, this is better than the game.

Enjoy! Laugh!

Then go to Effinfunny and watch the Legend of Neil :)

Synchronized Diving?

I think I've heard them all. Baseball and softball are out of the Olympics after this year, but synchronized diving is a real event. On NBC, they actually show it on prime time. Is this to attract the female audience?

This Monday, there's swimming, tennis, badminton, judo, water polo, even archery, but we are being shown a sport that you could never see in any high school, college or TV. Yet NBC in its infinite wisdom believes synchronized swimming is a prime time event. We know the Chinese focused its athletes on sports that are not as competitive to drive up the medal count. Does it mean that NBC would feature it.

I've got young kids from 5 to 12 - and no - none of them said, "Oh, I'd like to do that." And yes, I have girls, too.

By the way, wasn't the 100 freestyle relay amazing? Just saw it on the DVR.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Haas Marketing Class

Today I had the opportunity to speak at a Marketing class at the Haas School at UC Berkeley. It was a great class with my friend and now professor, Charles Rashall giving the class million dollar insights on critical aspects of marketing. Today was all about Place and how it is a critical component of establishing your brand. And yes, I did learn a few things.

Later in the session, I presented Online Marketing: the purchase process, advertising trends, various forms of online marketing like search, email and social media marketing and measurement methods,. We also discussed some real life case examples.

I really enjoyed how engaged the students were and the thoughtfulness of their analysis.

There is definitely hope in the next generation...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big Computer Firm Signs with Position2

We learned today that a Top 5 global computer firm has decided to go with us as their interactive agency for search and banner media advertising. Kudos to the team for landing this large client. I originally met them during one of our Search Marketing events, so its a thrill to see them come over.

We'll announce more when we are allowed to go official...