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  • The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy]
    The Big Lebowski (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray Book + Digital Copy]
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman
  • The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
    The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston
  • The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
    The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
    starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston

It's the End of the Web as We Know It

The following essay is also my AdAge column this week.

Wither the web? It's hard to believe but soon, if not already, the web is going to become a lot less interesting to consumers -- and just as it approaches its 20th birthday.


According to Morgan Stanley, within five years global internet consumption on mobile devices will surpass the same activity on PCs. This sounds like good news. It's natural to think that browsers on the third screen (phones) and the fourth screen (tablets) will simply replace time spent in front of the same on a PC. That's not the case.


Mobile devices, by their nature, force users to become more mission-oriented. As more internet consumption shifts to gadgets, it's increasingly becoming an app world and we just live in it. Innovation, fun, simplicity and single-purpose utility will rule while grandiose design and complexity will fall by the wayside.


It won't be enough just to build branded mobile applications that repurpose content across all of the different platforms. That's like newspapers taking the print experience and replicating it on the web as they tried back in the 1990s. Rather, we will need to rethink, remix and repackage information for an entirely different modality than platforms of yore.


First, let's look at the trends.


1) The canvas. The iPad has been deemed by some a blank slate. When you use any mobile device, you're really only able to do one thing at a time. This means that we become entirely engrossed in whatever we have on the screen. Companies will need to up the ante if they hope to keep users in their fold longer. Development costs will go up, and the economics of content and experiences will look more like Hollywood -- where a few hits deliver enough profit to pay for the dogs -- than Madison Avenue.


2) Content snacking. How often do you consume media meals -- e.g. engage with a unit of media like a newspaper, magazine or film from start to finish in one sitting? My guess is that you do this less than you did 10 years ago. Content snacking rules today. Popular digital metrics, such as time spent, may soon be useless.


3) Infinite choice. It never ceases to amaze me what a single mobile device can hold. Every time I turn on my phone, my finger needs to decide what's more important to me at that time -- friends, work, entertainment, etc. Choice will scale, human attention is finite, and mobile devices put all of this in our pockets. Time is your competition.


To succeed, here are three new behaviors we need to consider:


1) Adoption. Marketing and media has long been about invention. We like to control our own destiny by bringing to bear the best content and experiences we can muster. However, in an app world it's easier to seek out those who have been successful and partner or acquire them. That's the road chosen by Disney with its purchase of Tapulous, and eBay (an Edelman client) with its acquisition of Red Laser.


2) Collaboration. In the mobile world, there's strength in numbers. To fight shrinking attention spans, companies will need to increasingly create partnerships to cut through the noise. Look for applications to pop up that are co-branded and curate content in high-interest verticals.


3) Context. When it comes to mobile, one size doesn't always fit all. Content producers will need to rethink how they package up information and chunk it down. ESPN, for example, is rolling out mobile applications that cater to local markets, in addition to wider offerings that are all things to all people.


Marketers and media companies must adapt to this new construct -- and fast -- or they will get left behind.


Photo credit: #53/365 BlackBerry Apps by Tatsuhiko+ (RIM is an Edelman client)


Study: 43% of Online Americans Addicted to Social Networking 

Experian Simmons is out with a new package of stats that document the incredible growth of social networking in the US. (Experian is an Edelman client.) Here are some of the notable highlights...

First, some 66% of online Americans use social networking sites today, up from just 20% in 2007. This has been covered a lot before. However, what's notable is that it's an increasingly additive activity - 43% visit multiple times each day.

Second, social networking is largely synonymous with Facebook. This doesn't bode well for others that are positioning themselves as a social network since it could confuse consumers. (Since it does not require mutual friending, Twitter to me really isn't a social network but a continuous public communications channel.)

Third, social networking is largely viewed as a way to connect with friends, not co-workers or business partners. This may show that people are splitting up their personal/professional networks. This was something LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and I recently discussed and it flies in the face of edge cases like me who have co-mingled the two. (LinkedIn is an Edelman client.)

Last but not least, social networking appears to be more predominant in the western and mountain states, even more than in the east.



Essay: The Apple Threat to Online Advertising

The following essay is also my column this month on

Caption: Safari's new Reader view could rob publishers of page views especially if it finds its way into iOS devices

Watch Out: Apple May Aim To Reshape Online Advertising

Apple, without a doubt, is creating a massive sea change in how we interact with digital content. Note that I didn’t say “the Web.” This is because the millions of iPad and iPhone users spend more time within Apple’s walled garden of apps rather than in a browser. However, there’s a potential dark side to the millions of Apple devices being sold and it should give every marketer pause.

If you look just below the surface of all the hype around the iOS devices (the iPads, iPod Touches and iPhones), there’s a dirty little secret. Apple might be positioning the platform as a Trojan Horse that reshapes digital advertising as one man—Apple CEO Steve Jobs—thinks it should work. While this messianic zeal benefits users, it could conceivably create a competitive moat for Apple and its partners.

Jobs has more than a passing interest in online advertising. He co-authored a patent filing in 2008 called “Advertisements in Operating System.” Now Apple has put into place systems that handicap existing dominant formats like rich-media ads and interstitials.

Case in point: Safari. On June 7, the day Apple unveiled the new iPhone, it also shipped Safari 5. The browser, available for both PCs and Macs, has a feature called Reader that neutralizes multipage articles and interstitial ads by giving the user the option to read an article in a new clean view that strips away all but the text of the article.

A primary benefit of the new Reader view is that it allows a user to consume a multipage story without having to endure multiple clicks, interstitials and a new set of banner ads. This sounds great but it may rob publishers of ad impressions.

Now, granted, no one is saying that Safari is a powerhouse. It has a minuscule 10% share, according to Net Applications. However, keep in mind this feature is found only in the desktop version of Safari today. There’s no reason why Apple wouldn’t bring Reader to the growing armada of iOS devices—which commands an 60% share of all mobile browsing, according to Quantcast. The end result may be that more publishers will flock to the App Store and iAds.

Equally troubling is Apple’s posture toward rich-media ads. In the April open letter “Thoughts on Flash” Apple and Jobs clearly outlined why they are not allowing Adobe to push forward with its plans to bring the technology to the iOS ecosystem.

Most of Jobs’ arguments were primarily based on technology issues and user experience. Ads were only mentioned briefly. However, if you read between the lines, there may be another motive. Apple could be trying to pave the road for the success of iAds. (Disclosure: Edelman, my employer, is Adobe’s PR agency.)

The takeaway here is that as iOS devices grow in popularity, the platform encourages advertisers to increase their iAd budget and/or develop their own apps. This benefits developers and iAds advertisers. Now, I’m no lawyer, but it’s conceivable that if the iOS platform one day achieves any kind of dominant position the way Windows has, this may be viewed as an anti-competitive move.

No single company will ever control the Web. However, as Apple’s power grows and it begins to push into advertising with new formats, it must not put up roadblocks to other formats as it has done in the case of Flash or could do with its Reader view. Pressure from CMOs and others in the industry like the Association of National Advertisers and the IAB will ensure that even as Apple devices gain share advertisers will have the same freedom of choice in how they advertise in the post-PC age that they did in the previous era.


The iPad Stimulus Plan

David Rothman writing on James Fallows' blog says we need an iPad stimulus plan. Fallows:

"In this essay, (Rothman) proposes ways that radically speeded-up adoption of the iPad-style devices could serve economic-stimulus and social-equality needs at the same time."

It's a lengthy essay, but compelling in that Rothman sees the iPad as a way to help media and education in one fell swoop. It would be great to see tablets become a pivotal way we retrain the workforce.



All Your Emails are on the Record, Unless Noted

Lifehacker's new editorial policy:

"If you send us a tip (which you can do any time at tips at that you don't want published, remember to explicitly say so in your email. Likewise, let us know if you just don't want us to use your name or anything along those lines."

This policy is no different than how newspapers have handled letters to the editor. Still, this is a different age. It's another sign that opt-out is becoming the new opt-in.