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    Entries in advertising (18)


    This content is not sponsored

    No doubt you have heard or read about, and possibly (more like probably), installed for yourself one of the popular Ad blocking programs or browser extensions in order to improve your web browsing experience, protect your privacy, and even perhaps to send a message to the internet publishers of the world that you are sick and tired of a terrible, ad-filled user experience.

    While Ad blockers have been around for quite some time, their usage has recently seen a dramatic uptick. A study released last month by PageFair and Adobe reported that the usage of Ad blocking tools worldwide has grown by 41% in the last year, and now about 45 million US internet users use these tools, (a 48% growth rate in the 12-month period ending in June 2015).Robert Rauschenberg, Yoicks, 1954

    Finally, ad blocking has hit the news more openly due to the recent release of Apple's update to the iOS operating system that powers iPhone and iPad that now supports Ad blocking apps and Safari browser extensions to enable ad blocking. Immediately, Ad blocking apps shot to the top of the App Store popularity charts, (although the number one app, Peace, was quickly withdrawn by its creator for reasons of 'conscience').

    And the short-tern and pretty obvious repercussions to online publishers from this rise in user Ad blocking? 

    A loss of revenue, for sure, for those sites that rely heavily on banner and display ads for revenue. If these ads are not seen, they can't be clicked on, and therefore can't produce revenue. From the user/reader perspective this is great, you never clicked on any of these ads anyway, and they drover slower page load times, potentially ate of monthly data allotments on mobile, and were just plain creepy and annoying. 

    But for the publishers, you or me or anyone blocking these ads presents to their point of view almost a breach of understanding of sorts. The deal, such as it it, is that for non-subscription and non-paywalled sites, the publisher would provide 'free' content, and you, the reader, would 'agree' to put up with seeing and occasionally clicking on ads to fund the content creation operation. It is impossible to tell for sure the number of sites that if Ad blocking continues to grow at the current pace will end up either having to shut down, or adopt an alternate business models, (subscriptions, donations, or more 'sponsored conent'). Sponsored content, for now, looks enough like 'regular' content that the ad blockers can't easily identify it as such.

    The deep backstory behind some of what is going on here, and not really worth diving into on an HR blog, is the macro battle being waged for user time and attention, and the corresponding advertising dollars that follow, between Apple, Google, Facebook and if you wanted to be generous, probably Twitter and LinkedIn too. The iOS 9 updated placed a non-deletable 'Apple News' app on your iPhone, Facebook wants every important publisher to publish direct to Facebook, and LinkedIn and its Pulse app want to be the sole source for your news as well.

    Some of these companies, (Facebook and Apple for sure), want to control and segregate user's interactions with the internet into their own platforms, devices, and/or apps - formats where they can define the rules of engagement and protect their advertisers ads from being blocked. Others like Google, want to continue to drive traffic to sites (again, especially on mobile), that don't attempt to drive users to download individual publisher apps as opposed to using the mobile web.

    It is still really hard to know how these trends are going to play out, how we find and consumer information might change, and how the revenue models will adapt. But ads are like water - they will continue to push and flow into whatever openings they can find to get in front of our eyeballs on on our mobile phone screens. 

    But to tie this back, if I can, to the HR/Talent/workplace space, I think the potential for the reduction of independent voices in our space is the real threat and the thing to worry about longer term. If indeed the rise of Ad blocking, combined with the ubiquity, wealth, reach, and influence of the world's largest tech companies drive us to an environment where fewer, siloed, and single-entity controlled sources of information dominate the conversation, then that can't be good for the generation, discussion, and spread of new ideas.

    This, to me, is worth paying attention to in the next couple of years. Sure, web pages free of ads do look better, load faster, and are less frustrating.

    But if the tradeoff is a world where all of the news (or at least most of it), gets filtered, approved, and distributed via Apple, Google, and Facebook can't promise to be a less frustrating one either.

    Have a great week!                         


    Rob Lowes, Ranked

    Your definitive ranking of DirectTV commercial Rob Lowes.

    10. Far less attractive Rob Lowe

    9. Scrawny arms Rob Lowe

    8. Super creepy Rob Lowe

    7. Rob Lowe (the normal one)

    6. Peaked in high school Rob Lowe

    5. St. Elmo's Fire Rob Lowe (I know that one has not been in the DirectTV spots, but he should be)

    4. Painfully awkward Rob Lowe

    3. Crazy hairy Rob Lowe

    2. Overly paranoid Rob Lowe

    1. Meathead Rob Lowe


    Sprinkles are for winners

    Over the weekend during an extended period of extensive reading and research that keeps this blog full of interesting and provocative content, (I was mostly watching basketball on TV), I ran into this little beauty (video embedded below, email and RSS subscribers will need to click though), one of the latest in the long-running series of 'Flo' spots from Progressive Insurance. Watch the quick 30-second spot then some FREE comments from your humble correspondent.
    I, like you too probably, was just about done with Flo, she has been seemingly telling us about how fantastic discount auto insurance can be for literally YEARS.


    But with this little bit of wisdom, 'Spinkles are for winners', she is all the way back on Steve's 'approved' list.


    Why is this spot perfect, and relevant too?
    Because it reminds us that in life, sports, business, sales - whatever, that losing is sometimes the inevitable outcome. Sometimes the other guy/company/product/candidate is bringing is simply better than what you have to offer. And sometimes you just have to accept that.


    But, and here is the key, you don't get a complete pass, or a do-over, even if the other guy really is better. You get an acknowledgement, sure, (if you are lucky), but you don't get many more chances probably, and you definitely don't get a prize.


    You have to figure out a way to win, eventually, even when no one blames you for losing. 


    Sprinkles are for winners, Jimmy.


    Have a geat week!

    REPRISE: Christmas Past - Smokes, Guns, Chicken, and Beer

    Note: The blog is taking some well-deserved rest for the next few days (that is code for I am pretty much out of decent ideas, and I doubt most folks are spending their holidays reading blogs anyway), and will be re-running some of best, or at least most interesting posts from 2014. Maybe you missed these the first time around or maybe you didn't really miss them, but either way they are presented for your consideration. Thanks to everyone who stopped by in 2014!

    The below post re-runs my Christmas piece from a couple of years ago - a look back to a time when we were all far more innocent, less jades, and Christmas meant lots of firearms, booze, and smokes. 

    Merry Christmas!


    Christmas Past: Smokes, Guns, Chicken, and Beer

    Just a quick note to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas, Happy Holidays, and to simply take a well-deserved break from the hamster wheel.

    Like many folks, sometimes I like to look back over the years and reflect on special occasions and holidays and think about what is different about them today, when compared to the sometimes sketchy recollections of wonderful and idyllic holidays of yore. Sometimes our memories deceive us, certainly, and we often color our memories to fit our pre-determined conclusion, whatever that conclusion might be.

    After thinking about this carefully for some time, and trying hard to be as clear and unbiased as I could, I came to a conclusion: Christmas used to be WAY more fun. And here is the evidence that I submit in my argument that Christmases of year's past were much more of a white-knuckle ride of guns, booze, smokes, and chaos compared to the kind of tame celebrations of today.

    Exhibit A - Nothing says Christmas like some unfiltered goodness. Ron Reagan would not steer you wrong!

    Exhibit B - You know what is great to wake up to on Christmas morning? Guns!

    Exhibit C - And after the gifts are unwrapped it's time to eat! Pass the bucket of chicken.

    Exhibit D - Nothing like a cold drink to wash everything down. You know what would go perfectly with that bracelet? A cold Bud!

    I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

    Anyway, I hope you have a fantastic holiday, even if your holiday doesn't include smokes, guns, greasy food and booze.

    Happy Holidays!


    Artisanal HR

    For the beer fans out there I have a question for you: When is the last time you had a cold, refreshing Budweiser? You know, the classic, iconic, King of Beers?

    I think I can hear the beer snobs out there answering 'Not for ages, who drinks Bud anymore?' You likely prefer some kind of triple filtered, quadruple hopped, double bocked India Top Secret super pale ale, (aged for 18 months in oak casks imported from Bordeaux).

    (For the record, I like Bud and Bud Light, so there.)

    But the reason I bring up Budweiser on the blog today was this interesting piece from Ad Week - Budweiser Woos Hipsters With Artisanal Wooden Crates and Throwback Logos. Here is an excerpt from the Ad Week piece:

    (Budweiser) today revealed it's planting 10,000 vintage wooden crates in stores across the country this week. The packages will contain 18 bottles of Bud adorned with a classic label from either 1918 (beginning of Prohibition), 1933 (end of Prohibition) or 1976 (the brand's 100th anniversary) as well as two pilsner glasses. The crates were handmade by a North Carolina shop called Vintage Editions.

    Additionally, the throwback labels will appear on 1.6 million Bud bottles to be shipped in the next several weeks.

    Why am I bringing this up?

    Because I think it is interesting, (the number one reason I blog about anything), and also because it is about beer, (the third reason I would choose a topic for the blog, the second reason being some kind of a take about basketball).

    What is interesting about the move by Bud, is that beyond a simple re-packaging tactic it is also a play to evoke and leverage Bud's rich history and mythos as America's traditional and largest brewer. Bud has been a part of America longer than any of us have, and likely even if many of us have moved on to more (allegedly) 'better' beers, that most of us have memories of family and friends and Bud.

    But somehow along the way Bud (and other mass-market brands), become not 'cool' any more. Bud is too generic, too large, too mass-produced for many folks. For them, whether it is beer or tomatoes or cheese or even physical products like furniture or clothes what is valued is new, unique, and something called 'artisanal.' I don't want the thing that lots of other people have, (or have access to). So while Bud can't change and somehow become hip or artisanal, what it can do I think, via smart messaging, packaging, and leveraging a strength of theirs, (their history), is remind a new generation of potential customers that they are still around, still relevant, still cool, (in an ironic way, see Blue Ribbon, Pabst).

    What's the connection to HR/Talent/Workplaces?

    Well, lots of what we do (and have done) in HR probably seems more like Bud and not much like Pliny the Elder (Google it).

    But just like Bud is still a pretty refreshing drink, especially on a hot day, lots of what we do in HR and Talent is still relevant and valuable - even if it doesn't seem cool anymore. Maybe there are a lot of old-sounding processes for training or leadership development or even mentoring that still have value (and you can prove it), but just need a refresh, some re-packaging, and a way to remind the new wave of customers of their value.

    Maybe instead of re-inventing everyrhing, you should start by considering re-packaging the best of what you already have first. 

    And don't be a beer snob.