Five reasons a football tailgate is all about social networking

Jet tailgateBecause I am an American I watch football.  Some days I watch too much football.  Well almost.  Yet like most football watching fans I don’t attend many games in person.  There are obvious reasons for that – expense being a big one.  Tickets to football games are very expensive, parking is too.  But I’m here to inform you that not only is it worth your effort to go in person to attend a professional or major college game, YOU HAVE TO TAILGATE!  Why?  Because it’s the greatest thing ever!

Marketing folks like myself talk about brands, audience engagement and one –to-one conversations with clients and prospects (otherwise known as people).  Social network marketing is booming, (just check out Facebook’s latest earnings report).   And today more than ever, the mobile web keeps us up-to-the-second and in touch with our families, friends and co-workers.  (I often wonder what percentage of your FB friends are people you work or worked with and how odd is that?)

So why do I think tailgating is so great?   Here are just five to start with.  There are more.

  1. Attitude – For starters everyone that comes to a pre-game tailgate is there for a good time.  I did not see anyone that was not smiling and happy to be there.  At 9:30AM on a NY Jet 1PM scheduled kickoff Sunday outside MetLife Stadium, the air is already filled with the smell of charcoal and cooked meat.   Footballs in a variety of sizes and colors are already flying through (some are quacking) the air.  The opposition’s fans (as are the Jet fans) are decked out in full regalia.
  2. Camaraderie – The fans share something in common that runs deep – the undying love for their team.   People that might ordinarily despise one another’s politics (if they knew) are high-fiving one another as love for the home team far outweighs love of one’s party.
  3. Egalitarianism – Despite the cost of tickets, parking and whatever else, there are only a limited amount of home games in a football season.  People of extremely varied economic backgrounds all attend the same game, at the same time and tailgate in the parking lot – together.  BMW, Ford F-150, Honda Civic – it doesn’t matter when it comes to sharing food, drink and stories.  Nobody asks what you do for a living.
  4. Passion – Football fans, college or pro, are extremely passionate.  That passion is contagious and palpable.  This past Sunday the Bills plastered the Jets and there was much rejoicing amongst Bills fans and disgust amongst we Jet fans.  But it wasn’t boring.  We Jet fans were mad as hell but unfortunately it appears we will have to take it some more.
  5. Commitment – Just going to football game is a huge time commitment especially when you show up 4 hours prior to kickoff to tailgate.  And then there’s the trip home, which if you leave too soon after the final gun can seem longer than the game itself.

What makes it so vastly different from social networking as practiced via Facebook and Twitter is that so many interactions with fellow fans are anonymous.  As people walk by there are comments that are not tweeted but no less engaging.  High fives with total strangers before and after the game are common.

Tailgating is completely social, completely unmeasured and under-monetized.   And I am very thankful for that.

I think social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, and Snapchat , should take note of people’s behavior while tailgating to help them better understand the way people can share their passion and common experience.

When it comes to tailgating behaviors what do you think we can learn?


Posted in 50+ market, Advertising to Millenials, Community, Consumer Behavior, Sports Marketing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two fingers in a Tumblr – Yahoo has something to cheer about

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On Wednesday this week the New York Times reported that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said that Yahoo had ‘strong third-quarter financial performance on Tuesday, breaking a pattern of revenue declines and posting profits from its core operations that far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations’  For a company that has not had all that much to cheer about recently it was welcome news for investors.

I think what Yahoo has done best is to have held on to its investment in which by far is the best business move it has made (or not made) during Ms. Mayer’s tenure.  You’ll recall that in 2013 Yahoo bought blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion.

Because I consider myself a sometime blogger I have had a Tumblr account for a few years now.  I truly have no idea why or for what reason.  Every time I check my Tumblr I see an endless stream of random, mostly mindless photos and chatter about who knows what.   It’s obvious that I have no clue on how to get value from Tumblr   Not being a millennial may have something to do with that.

But what do I know?  Tumblr is expected to generate more than $100 million in revenue in 2015 thanks to a growing user base and a successful introduction of sponsored advertising, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said Tuesday.   It’s apparent that Yahoo has a clue on how to obtain value from Tumblr.

From an article in Wednesday Wall Street Journal

“The Tumblr update was something of a surprise. Yahoo has been largely silent on Tumblr’s financials even as critics repeatedly suggested that the deal was a dud. The company had been considering ways to recoup its costs from the deal.

Mayer said that in the past 15 months, Tumblr’s audience has grown 40% to 420 million users, while the number of registered blogs nearly doubled to 206 million. Mayer said this number includes logged-in users and people who land on one of its blogs.

More importantly, she said, people are hanging around on the platform for longer stretches of time – the amount of time spent went from 22 minutes to 28 minutes for something called dashboard sessions. “Tumblr is gaining share, we believe,” she said.

With the jump in users and engagement, Yahoo is now cashing in with sponsored advertising. Yahoo has been pitching Tumblr to marketers as a creative way to pitch to millennials. Marketers like the format, she said on the call Tuesday.”

Whoa – 420 million users is a big number.  I’d like to know more about these ‘users’ and their behaviors.   I still feel like I am missing something when it comes to Tumblr.  Maybe you can help?

Posted in Blogging, Digital media, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have you actually ever stayed in an airbnb place?

airbnb-logo-hed-2014Before a couple of weeks ago I would have had to say – no, I think airbnb is a cool idea but I’ve never stayed anywhere via their portal.   That’s not true any longer, I’ve taken the plunge.  It wasn’t a big deal at all and that’s pretty much a good thing.

Yesterday it was reported in Crain’s NY  than 72% of airbnb offerings were basically illegal (or as it was put by NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman ‘. That they violate the law.

Don’t worry – it’s not a legion of grandma’s and grandpa’s renting out their spare room, nor is it mostly individuals that are looking for income to make ends meet by renting a room, a second home, or whatever they can on a person-to-person basis via airbnb.  No It’s – yes you guessed it, mainly corporations.

From yesterday’s Crain’s New York article:

‘It is generally legal to rent out a room while the homeowner or tenant is present, but many listings violated city zoning laws because the legal resident of the unit was away when the Airbnb client stayed there, a spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman said.

Additionally, he said, some listings violated state tax laws.

The report charged that large operators controlled a disproportionate number of listings.

According to the report, just 6% of hosts ran large-scale operations, but that group generated 36% of all rental transactions and collected 37% of total revenue, or $168 million.’

So renting the spare room is very much ok – particularly if you stay there.  I do not have information on the percentages of airbnb hosts that live or stay on the premises while their guests enjoy their stay.

In my case my wife and I stayed at an airbnb duplex condo on a recent trip to Florida.  We were there visiting our daughter and it was a big football weekend with it being parent’s weekend and well, it’s college football in the state of Florida.  What I am trying to paint a picture of is that there were almost no hotel rooms available even two months prior to the weekend.  We had wanted to try airbnb (ok I had wanted to try airbnb – my wife was less than enthused) and it was the best option for the price.

How was our experience?  Meh.  We knew there would be nobody else there.  The place was conveniently located (something we knew prior), large (something we knew prior), it had a full size small bed (something we knew prior and just accepted due to lack of other options).  It had ‘antiques’ (something we knew prior but did not value and for good reason.  Relics would be a more apt description).

The general appearance of the place reminded me of an old 1970’s TV episode (Like Columbo – but no sign of the great Peter Falk).  It was dark, kind of musty and kind of tired.  The place was clean – mostly.  Here’s the big thing – it was rated five stars on airbnb.  FIVE STARS?  I dare offer that while I admit I have what might be considered rather discerning standards, not one person reading this post would give it five stars.  Two stars maybe.

Would I stay in an airbnb-listed place ever again?  I would not rule it out on the basis of one experience in one city.  The thought of staying in someone else’s house in a spare room is the only option for some people.  I am interested in having more experience in this aspect of the sharing economy.  It’s all because I think Uber, Lyft, airbnb, HomeAway, all are just cool.

But be mindful of the ratings.  One man’s dump is another’s Ritz-Carlton.


Posted in Customer Experiences, Innovation, Living in the World Today, Sharing economy, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Commuting and stress – can you relate?

NYC commutersI’ve written about commuting to New York City before. .  But I was speaking with a friend recently regarding commuting and he encouraged me to share my description of what it is like.  Living outside of the city and commuting whether it’s every day as I have done for part of my career, or a few days a week as I do now, offers a great contrast in how my day starts and my morning commute winds down the moment I step off a train in Grand Central Station.   I suspect every commuter can relate.

To wit:

It’s a cool morning in the suburbs of New York City (but it really could be any city around the world).  Ok maybe if it’s Hong Kong there are not too many cool mornings but you get the idea.  It’s quiet in the suburbs and the sun is just coming up (well at least some of the year).  There are birds singing, pretty trees and the air smells fresh and clean.  I enjoy the routine of commuting into New York City since what I actually do in the morning is not all that different than what I do when I do not commute.

Most days I wake up, click on the local NYC news to find out if there are any problems with the commute or weather issues.  I shower, have coffee and breakfast, read emails), and catch up on what’s going on from a variety of sources – reading both online and an actual printed newspaper (we get two at home).   I am always on the lookout for interesting and relevant information on behalf of my friends, clients and colleagues.

Most days I am feeling pretty relaxed as I leave the house for the train station.  I am not too concerned with which train I catch since they run fairly frequently, though not  punctually, so when a train headed to Grand Central arrives I just get on it.  Spending the time in the morning on the train is quiet time and there’s not much conversation on a train that is on the move around 7AM.  This is in stark contrast to the return trip home which is much noisier.

That groove that I am happy with on the train; reading, thinking, contemplating, is one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.  It all comes to an end in the dark tunnel that starts at 97th Street and Park Avenue as people begin to gather their belongings and line up to exit the train before the poor souls that remain sitting down reading or sleeping. The race is on.  And so is the stress level.

We commuters file out into the city streets in waves – often waiting to climb a staircase as the volume of humanity streaming out of the train overwhelms the track exits into the station.  I notice my gait picks up just in order to keep up with the masses.  So does my heart rate whether I want to admit it or not.  I make hundreds of mental calculations on where to walk, who to walk in front of and who to go behind, and a critical skill is to know when to cross through the flow of people moving at a 90 degree angle – without breaking stride.  If you don’t do this you are much like a salmon struggling to swim upstream.

Exiting the station the choreography continues.  Timing the lights, walking diagonally across the street so as to be as completely efficient as possible in order to minimize any wasted time.  Walking between cars, buses, taxis all are part of my daily flow.  Using cars or pedestrians as screens from oncoming traffic (hey they’d get hit before me), it’s so ingrained that I do all of this without even thinking.  If it is raining a new dynamic is introduced, that is the dance of umbrellas which take up valuable space and serve to keep people dry (for the most part) but slow down the process.

The walk down Park Avenue is decidedly different (and more peaceful) than the walk down Madison Avenue which is chock full of buses and exhaust.  But in the interest of efficiency I eventually need to find my way over to Madison Avenue and its cacophony.

Finally I am on the street where my office is and I churn all the way to the front door.

Arriving at the office I take a deep breath and do my best to ratchet down the stress level that is only really ten to fifteen minutes old.  It’s quiet in my office and I can begin to regain the groove that started my day.

While I have spent nearly all my professional career in New York City, my travels around the world have shown me that it is not all that different in other cities.

The rat race really does exist and it’s up to each individual to find ways to cope. They don’t call us mad men without reason.

What is your commute like?


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Amazon and Apple – are they rivals or partners?

apple-vs-amazonAggravation: As of last week The Wall Street Journal application that resides on my ‘Original’ Amazon Kindle Fire is no longer is supported by Amazon.  I learned of this when last week I could no longer download the paper.   No warning, no communication from Amazon at all.  At first I thought it was my individual device but when I called (yes I really called the 800 number) I was informed of the news.  Since I called the Wall Street Journal I got their point of view that Amazon changes things rather consistently without any advance notice.

While I am far from being a member of the Apple cult (and a cult it is), I appreciate the good things (design elegance and usability) that come with Apple devices and platforms.  Those things are the cornerstones of the Apple brand.  But hey, what about Amazon’s cornerstones?  People tend to trust Amazon and have confidence in the platform, but I’ve never heard anyone mention anything regarding the elegance of an Amazon device.

I want to think that Apple would never handle an update the way that Amazon did.  As if Apple would ever allow a situation to occur like ‘Too bad Original iPad owner but we don’t support that anymore’’.  At least that’s my perception.

So I began to think exactly where do and Apple directly compete?   I decided to make a little scorecard.

The first thing that comes to mind is music.  iTunes vs. Amazon’s new Prime Music service. There’s a clear winner here even though Prime Music is relatively new and unknown.

OK Apple 1 – Amazon 0

How about books?   Again, there’s a clear winner but the other way around.  Amazon’s roots, past if not present, are books.  Just ask the folks and authors at Hachette.   There actually is an iBooks application but it is not built as an e-commerce platform in any traditional sense.

Apple 1 – Amazon 1

What about mobile phones?  Until very recently this was literally a no contest.  With the introduction of the Kindle phone it’s all so different now, isn’t it?  NOT.  Still no contest

Apple 2 – Amazon 1

How about tablets?   The Kindle Fire from Amazon vs. the iPad, iPad Mini or any tablet device from Apple.  Again no contest and I can tell you this from first hand experience.

Apple 3 – Amazon 1

And what about distribution of goods?  Starting with books, Amazon has built an impressive distribution platform that can deliver goods to Americans in less than 48 hours (this is without delivery drones).   Apple is not at all interested (at least not at the moment) in distribution.

Apple 3 – Amazon 2

I’m not even going to get into which company has made money over the years and which one has yet to make money.    Apple is the most valuable company on the New York Stock Exchange.  In 2012 Amazon did almost $18 billion in sales.  Amazon has always been about long-term value, which is why it has remained a popular stock on the Street.

Now my scorecard is totally biased with my own opinion.  However what did emerge is that Apple and Amazon (for the most part) do not really compete – at least not to any substantial degree. Yet they are not partners to any degree either.  In fact with Amazon’s handling of the Hachette situation there’s talk of Amazon already having or on the way to having an industry monopoly when it comes to books.  Not too long ago Apple was being called out for something similar when it came to music but not so much recently.

Both Apple and Amazon seem to have some unwritten gentlemen’s agreement not to get into each other’s stuff (the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire phone non-withstanding).   So are Apple and Amazon rivals?  Partners?  Neither?  Something else?

Posted in Apps, Best business practices, Brand Advertising | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Direct Response Television – A mature industry still in the process of growing up

virginia-super-slims-advertisement1Most of my career has been in and around direct marketing. Sometimes B2B and sometimes B2C. I’ve attended countless conferences over the years although with my extensive background in print and mail dominates and I’ve had not nearly as much career experience in DRTV (you know the things you claim never to watch. Infomercials. Short form ones, like 30,60,120 seconds; or longer form, like 5,30 or even 60 minutes). Last week I attended my first Electronic Retailing Association (can we agree it’s time for a name change?) Direct to Consumer (ERA D2C) show/conference/expo (call it what you like), in Las Vegas where the focus is on DRTV. (The Wynn Hotel is awesome by the way).

When direct response pitchman Billy Mays died in 2009 I wrote about that from the standpoint that perhaps the time had finally arrived where DRTV marketers would stop all the yelling. To a degree that has happened but what continues to work are a plethora of low cost products that are as easy to purchase as a few clicks or a quick phone call. Most of the attendees, presenters and organizers appeared to have experienced successes in DRTV. And yes a few failures as well. After all DRTV is a business that necessitates failing fast.  If orders don’t come in when spots air cut and run as soon as it’s clear.

Like so many industries technology is having a big impact on the DRTV business. Viewing habits are very different from even five years ago. There are more cable channels than ever before and now with Internet TV channels countless viewing options so advertising inventory is spread out over an increasingly wider landscape. Audiences continue to fragment making it harder to reach likely DRTV purchasers of products and services.

One of the things that has always interested me regarding direct response is that if it doesn’t work you don’t keep doing it since your direct sales figures are the only indicator of success or failure. Professional marketers readily admit that brand advertising is nearly impossible to correlate to an overall ROI.

I’ve heard ratios like one in thirty DRTV spots actually work. And in pure direct response terms you are always hoping for that grand slam like a Snuggie from a few years back, or the expandable garden hose that is everywhere today. In recent years a direct to retail strategy has become increasingly popular. The real success today is often seen in using DRTV to create some sales to offset media and production costs that will enable a hit DRTV product to then be sold at retail – Wal-Mart, Kmart, etc.

What I became aware of as I took it all in with an industry colleague and good friend, was that most DRTV efforts have still not graduated from being strictly tactical to being strategic first before going to tactics. The machine is still working (although not as effectively) – spots are written and produced, and media is purchased in pretty much the same fashion as it has been, (with more technology to better catalog and report to clients where and when spots aired).

The prevailing notion is that the best DRTV products appeal to the broadest range of people. For that reason fitness and health products rule the roost. Yet when we asked marketers and companies who was their target audience we often heard “everyone can use it” or something like women from 16-55. Instead of determining the most likely segments to purchase, since everyone needs to be fit everyone is a prospect. Since everyone wants to be healthy than health products are for everyone!   Let’s face it folks – DRTV for most of its history has been nothing but a blunt instrument.

There’s so much useful data in the marketplace that can be used to finely target the people that would MOST likely purchase your product. At the same time it’s just as important if not more so to not reach out to people who might be able to use the product but would NEVER BUY it. One of the show personalities, a sometime DRTV spokeswoman, noted that even DRTV now has begun to realize that shouting is not the answer, and that a conversation should be had with the prospective customer. The only way that can happen is if DRTV folks grow up and understand that leveraging behavioral and attitudinal data is the key to unlocking those conversations that your prospects and customers will be interested in having.

Unlike the old brand ad for Virginia Slims cigarettes, DRTV’s version of the line should be ‘You’ve got a long way to go, baby’.   And yes I am going to go back again next year, after all, it’s Vegas baby.

Posted in Direct marketing, Direct Response Television, Marketing stuff, Targeting, Television advertising | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook wants you to wish Happy Birthday to the deceased

automatic-wish-happy-birthday-in-FacebookThis morning I read an interesting post written by Josh Cline as if it were February 2016 ruminating on the death of Facebook.

While I found the post to be amusing, (if not implausible) the same day it was overshadowed by a ‘suggestion’ to wish a now deceased former classmate of mine from high school a Happy Birthday. It’s not that I don’t understand that someone in the person’s family should have (by now since it’s been more one year) contacted Facebook (FB) to have the profile removed. Maybe the family tried and was unable to reach the right people at FB. Or maybe the family in some way wants to have the profile remain for some reason I will never be able to understand.

Shouldn’t more be expected of Facebook? With all the tracking and data it’s impossible for me to believe that some FB algorithm would not indicate that a FB user has passed away, especially after more than a year. My view is that it is in extremely poor taste to suggest FB friends wish someone a happy birthday when they have passed away.

I am not of the opinion that FB should take down the deceased’s profile page and that appears to be FB’s ‘’policy’ as well. I’ve noticed that family has used my classmate’s FB page to post occasional loving remembrances and far be it for anyone to opine on a family’s way to deal with their grief whether it be short or long term.

But surely Facebook knows when people pass away right? If FB can retarget me contextually based on a website I visited it should also be able to search and match files of the deceased (don’t tell me this is not possible I won’t believe it) to make certain that mistakes like suggesting wishing a happy birthday to deceased FB friend do not occur.

The same is true of other social media profiles like LinkedIn. I had a LinkedIn connection that passed away tragically and yet more than a year later I was asked to congratulate him on his years with the company. Ugh.

Social networks need to do a much better job of stopping this kind of thing from occurring. Hiding behind protocols is not the answer. It just should not happen. Leave the page active, stop the suggestions for wishing the deceased a happy birthday, anniversary or anything else for that matter.

Do agree that FB is responsible for a certain amount of insensitivity here?  Shouldn’t we expect and demand better?

Posted in Facebook, LinkedIn, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment