Monday, February 26, 2007

Will Video Save the Newspaper Star?

OK -- now that I've accomplished getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day, here's the scoop:

A study by local media consultant Borrell Associates revealed that newspaper websites that offer online video streaming attract substantial advertising money, much more than their broadcast TV counterparts.

Why? Well, NY Magazine is inclined to blame the broadcast media's 24/7 loops of Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears, which make for a good broadcast strategy, but don't fit well into an on-demand market. In this formulation, producers of print media are more likely to excel in the new world of on-demand video: they understand the nature of the long tail and the attraction of super-local content.

I think the analysis may hold water. Heck, my local newspaper has been running this on-demand news device outside my office for years now...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tufts on NPR: A triumph of Fax 1.0?

On NPR on the way to work this morning, this story:

So, Tufts has implemented a new idea: What if instead of writing an essay, students were asked to draw a picture? Or write a short story, about, say, "The Disappearing Professor" or "The End of MTV"?

School officials are now hoping that better questions might result in better answers — and better clues about who students really are.

"Our argument is that the problem has not been lack of creativity in students but lack of creativity in the college admissions process," says Robert Sternberg, dean of arts and sciences at Tufts.

Now, I think this is a great idea for applications.

But more than that, this is a great story. NPR essentially just ran a five minute ad for Tufts, saying Tufts cares about how unique you are as an applicant; other schools, not so much.

What's the worth of a story like this, in terms of marketing? How many parents drinking their coffee or stuck in traffic heard this story and thought, you know, my son/daughter should apply there, that sounds more like their sort of place?

Answer: a lot. So that's point one: TradMed still rules the roost.

The second interesting thing to me is this story looks to me like it was offered initially last summer on a standard press release or verbal pitch: both the Boston Globe and Inside HigherEd covered it on the same day, which would be atypical of more PR 2.0 approaches. So that's either a triumph for Fax 1.0 or a triumph for being Tufts.

Probably a bit of both.

So point two: PR 2.0 does not replace the verbal pitch and press release.

Easy lessons. Probably self-obvious. But it's Friday and the week has been long...

If I get a chance I might try to track down the provenance of this story further. I'm particularly interested in whether it's appearance in the summer edition of the Tufts Alumni Magazine resulted in any coverage -- but I'd have to find a mail date for that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wii, Stumbleupon, etc

Had a great time last night pointing my Wii to the new Wii-compatible Stumbleupon Video channel. Saw a ukelele version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and an old recording of that Sesame Street skit where the two monsters improvise jazz ("Bah-da-da-bupp! boo-doop-doo-doo-doo...Oh forget it, either you know it or you don't).

How does this relate to marketing to Millenials? Well, two advantages that traditional TV has had over the internet is that it is

a) A more culturally shared experience, and
b) Semi-ambient and social

And this takes another chunk out of an already dying market.

Is this the same evolution that's been happening all along?


What does it mean?

Don't know. But I'm listening to OK Go on Pandora right now, MTV is laying people off, and I spent last night relaxing watching the StumbleUpon Video Music Channel on my Wii while posting at my political blog.

Year of the dynamic playlist, perhaps? Seemed worthy of note...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

One Million Common Applications served

The one millionth Common Application has been served.

The big surprise? Use of the Common Application has resulted in no significant increase in the number of colleges students apply to:

While many have feared that the online Common Application would lead to a sharp increase in the number of colleges that students apply to, the average number of colleges of online applicants this year through Common Application is 3.9, a marginal increase from last year’s average of 3.8.

This surprises me, and I'd welcome anyone that can explain what keeps the number of apps stable. It seems to me that especially when considering varying amounts of financial awards that it would be in the student's best interest to increase the number of schools to which they apply...

For the record, we do not use the Common Application at my institution.

Google Reader passes Bloglines

and email still lives...

New motivation to get professors blogging

Because academic conferences are destroying the planet.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay Books, 2005)

OK, so I got a little reading in over the weekend. And I happened to sit down with the pop-psych hit of last year, Blink.

As a treatise, Blink is fundamentally flawed. Gladwell's assertion that intuition needs to be more valued is undermined by Gladwell's own anecdotes, and while he seems to be aware of that, it is something he does not adequately address.

But what makes it a worthwhile read is not the question of how much we should treasure or doubt our intuition. What makes worthwhile is two things:

a) the discussion of less being more when it comes to analysis, and

b) the discussion of how unaware people are when it comes to understanding what influences their decision

It may fail as a treatise, but it works wonderfully well as a compendium of counterexamples to what we think we know about human decision making. This invariably intersects with questions we deal with on a daily basis. Does it make sense to ask students what they would like to see on a college admissions site (Short answer: No). Should we listen to what kids tell us they like in terms of the look of the site? (Nope).

What the book really drives home is how detached our perception of our decision-making process is from our actual decision making process, and how simple models can become once you filter out the noise. For anyone in marketing, that is a helpful lesson. Expect me to quote it here ad nauseum...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mizzou's "interface"

How good is Mizzou's site? How much do I like what they do?

This much: I found out 20 seconds ago their Web Communications team has a practioner blog. I haven't even been there yet. Yet I will recommend it. Why? Because they know what they're doing over there.

Here it is.

I trust these guys implicitly. Check out their College website/portal and their visitor-centric Undergraduate Admissions site. These people do a great job tying together a largely decentralized University web presence; I'll be interested in what they have to say.

SCAD shows us viral video is done

I mentioned a couple of days ago that the one prerequsite for viral video was that it appeal as much to "carriers" as "targets" (and yes, that terminology needs work).

This approach gets that.

Viral Video: Following up

At the risk of becoming nothing but a Joly feeder blog, I have to point you to this great post at

It's often said that viral video "just happens", and you can't plan it. That's partially true.

Knowing how to capitalize on it when it does happen, though, is important. Check out the post to see how Vancouver Film School did just that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carriers and Targets (or, Going Viral)

Karine over at has highlighted a couple viral videos in the last week. But of course, all viral content is not the same.

The first, a a rather expensive looking University of Florida promotion, has had approximately 900 views.

The second, a screencast on steriods about Web 2.0, is approaching one million views.

"The Undergraduate" video was not meant to be viral: it serves primarily as a part of the campus tour process.

The Web 2.0 piece, on the other hand, was produced by a professor, was never meant as a marketing tool, and the college it came out of is not really identified in the video. You can watch it a half a dozen times without knowing it came from Kansas State.

So it's an unfair comparison. Period.

All the same, one went viral and one didn't. And I can't help thinking that it confirms something I've been thinking regarding viral video: compelling content has low friction, whereas explicit marketing, even when sugar coated, has high friction.

But why is that? I think it comes down to relevance.

The Gator ad is primarily interesting to people considering going to the University of Florida. It's a good closer. But because you would likely only forward it to people interested in going to the University of Florida in the first place, the network is focussed but weak. There's a high probablity that each person you forward it to will not forward it on.

The Web 2.0 video, on the other hand, is educational and interesting in a general way. It's interesting to people who have heard the term before. It's intereting to people like me who take issue with some of the characterizations in it. And it's visually just a neat thing. Between those three points of interest, the likelihood is that you will forward it to at least one person when you see it.

In short, any viral video has to be focussed on carriers, not just targets. We can't forget that it's the people you aren't marketing this to who spread it.

Of course, there are ways to mitigate the friction of the Gator Ad. One obvious way is to plug it into a network where there is a high degree of relevance: for example, creating a "I love the Gators Ad" group on the high school version of Facebook (and perhaps an "I hate the Gators Ad" group too... it's frankly just as useful).

They had the video anyway, so they put it up. That's a good move.

But if they were designing a viral campaign from the ground up, they would be best served by small clips with less marketing and more content: a montage of the best sacks of the football team, a clip comparing the life of a warm Universtity of Florida student cut against a student at one of these COLD New England colleges, and various clips from the great teachers at the university.

[And on a day like today, especially, I can tell you a video of the difference between New England and Florida would pass the family test: i.e., Would I forward it to a member of my family? It is cold here, folks...]

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Half of all teens watching online video

and 22% watch every week.

Not sure how this compares to previous studies, but when paired with the observation below that teenagers may be watching as little as one to two hours a week of TV, it shows the relative power of the medium. "The guy that did that photo a day thing" may be a star equal or greater to any of the cast of Lost.

Karine Joly: UB column on Media Relations site design

Karine Joly, just got her second (third?) UB column.

For regular readers of Karine's blog it doesn't provide all that much that is new. For others, it's a good summary of some of the best practices she's outlined over the life of her blog.

The summary at the end is somewhat helpful:

Seven Components of Highly Effective Media Relations Web Pages

1. A direct link from the home page
2. 24/7 e-mail and phone (including the area code) contact information
3. Mailing address (complete with town, state, and ZIP code)
4. An academic experts online directory
5. Searchable current and archived press releases with targeted RSS feeds or e-mail subscription (by category/by audience)
6. Background information (fact sheets, statistics, relevant links in press releases)
7. Downloadable, high-resolution photos (300 dpi)

Also, the stathound in me noticed this:

According to the 11th Annual Survey of the Media commissioned by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, released in 2005, 51 percent of 1,202 journalists said they used blogs regularly. Also, 53 percent of journalists who read blogs reported doing so to research and fact-check, 36 percent to find sources, and 33 percent to uncover breaking news.

These figures speak strikingly against the myth that blogs and mass media are somehow at odds. Blogs have become one of the most important feeder mechanisms to mass media, and for news organizations that have seen their research budgets plummet, blogs are providing "research packets": bundles of semi-processed information with enough direct cites to serve as the backbone for a story.

Of course, that's my hobbyhorse. Karine's article is much bigger than that, and focusses on the constuction of a decent Media Relations page -- you should check it out.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tagline Repository

Over at

We went through this process here recently; it would have been nice to see these all in one place like this.

Also available by state.

Enabling Communication

If you ever have doubts about whether the importance of social media in college marketing is overhyped, you should read this great post over at Radical Trust:

Some anecdotal research overheard from Guy Kawasaki on Marketing Voices, a podcast hosted by Jennifer Jones, is very revealing. Kawasaki asked a panel of five teenagers about their media consumption habits and learned: They don’t like direct advertising because they know they’re targeted for everything by everybody; They watch 1-2 hours of TV a week and that’s TiVo’ed; They rarely click on banner ads, as they’ve learned to tune them out; They tend to be more influenced by product placement than by an ad; They send 1400 text messages a month!

This is a demographic nearly unreachable by traditional media. Yet how to reach them through social media, with out, you know, being "the man"?


Enable communication rather than create it. That is the message.

It's a great post with a lot more in it than I am presenting here, and I highly recommend it.