Category Archives: media usage

I think I’m Facebooked out

“All media work us over completely.” – Marshall McLuhan

I think Facebook has worked me over completely.  Not social media in general (find me on LinkedIn, @jerrycourtney, +Jerry Courtney), this is specific to Facebook.  Maybe I need talked off the ledge so to speak, but I don’t think so.

This isn’t another one of those parables about taking a break from Facebook for a little while in order to get some sort of long-lost perspective that allows me to pontificate about how things are different when not using Facebook so I have something to post about once I’m back on Facebook.

A few months back, that’s what I thought it would be.  When I went on vacation in June, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and iPad.  I wanted to be in the moment and really enjoy my time with family.  It didn’t take long for me to adjust to life without Facebook.  The compulsion to fill any down time with a scroll through status updates, post some random witticism, or check in left pretty quickly.  If someone mentioned something I should take a look at or if I wanted to see if someone had messaged me, I’d just – gasp – go online and check it.  But I haven’t even done that for quite some time.

What it’s about is coming to the realization that of the social media that I do use, I can’t seem to find a constructive, beneficial reason for using Facebook.  It’s not so much about the fact that I find it exhausting to keep up with the streams and streams and streams of stuff people I know put there.

It’s more about the fact that I’m over the form of broadcasting any part of my life through the platform fishing for “likes” and comments that don’t seem to amount to even small talk or bring about a comment that doesn’t make sense.

It just seems most of what I’d consider placing on Facebook I’d rather do on an interpersonal level through different channels.  You know, those old school ways of communicating like phone calls, emails, SMS/MMS, maybe even – wait for it – a photo or video sharing site that I only allow certain people to view.  Basically, directly to the people I’m most interested in sharing with in a way that feels more personal.

A more critical view of things tells me its an audience issue.  Whereas I have been much more purposeful in my curation of whom I follow and what I engage in via Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, Facebook somehow became a stew of family, friends, colleagues, people I’ve done business with, and assorted acquaintances that I can’t always remember what the connection to me is.  Yes, I’m aware Facebook has tools to sort this all out, but Facebook is the only entity that benefits from me spending more time on Facebook to do that sorting.

To build the audience I want, it would be easier if I simply delete my account and start over with a defined objective for my Facebook use.  God forbid people should discover I’ve unfriended them and post one of those “Well, I’ve just been unfriended.  I guess someone didn’t like my [incessant political ramblings/over indulgent selfies/cat videos or pictures/invitations to play the latest Farmville-like game/support of teams that aren’t the Chicago Cubs or Chicago Bears/etc].  Oh, well they’re loss!” posts that gets dozens of likes and “Don’t let that bother you.  You rock!  It’s their loss!  ” sorts of replies.

Some would say being in the marketing industry requires my time on Facebook.  I’m not sure I agree with that.  There’s enough industry coverage about what Facebook is doing, how Facebook is doing it, and speculation as to why they’re doing it to suffice.  Outside of a truly relevant and major overhaul of the interface or some new purpose it might serve that requires personal investigation – other than mimicking or buying something that already exists elsewhere – there’s no legit professional reason I can see to stay on Facebook.  Are they doing or trying to do interesting things with data and targeting?  Sure.  Does it require an actual engagement in the platform?  Not that I can see.  Is there exclusive content that exists on Facebook I can’t find elsewhere?  Not that I’m aware of.  I find better industry content, insight and engagement on pertinent issues via other social media platforms.

So I’m worked over by and worn out of Facebook as I’ve used it to date.  In case I may not be seeing you around on the FB anymore, here are a few things I’d like to share… I love my wife.  My son is handsome and smart.  My daughter is beautiful and smart.  My dogs are cool and fun.  I go places.  I watch stuff.  I get mad about certain things.  Some things make me happy.  I have opinions and pet peeves.  I take pictures of people and things I find interesting.  I wish you a happy birthday when it’s your birthday.  I like some of the things you post.

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Filed under communication platforms, media usage, social

Stuff I’ve Said Other Places, Take 2

In Part Two of my preemptive strike against information decay, I go back to a piece that originally appeared on iMediaConnection May 13, 2005 entitled “The New Media ‘American Problem'”.

I recently and sadly missed my 20th high school reunion (though got a nice second hand experience via Facebook – no link embedded intentionally), so this ode to good ol’ Mr. Drake is coming back at the right time.

I’ve used the Moses analogy in here a number of times over the years, one of my faves.  And there’s even a reference to Subservient Chicken (see it here in all it’s swf-y glory or read about it here if you were too young or all the glitzy followers on to this have made you forget the original – or at least the originally hyped), a seminal event in digital marketing if there ever was one.  Enjoy..


My senior year of high school, I took a class entitled “American Problems,” taught by Mr. Drake. It took a look at the complex issues of the day in our country, encouraging young, fertile minds to take a position and engage in healthy debate.

When things became especially heated, Mr. Drake would step in with a seemingly innocuous phrase that would make the quarreling parties stop and think — some sort of phrase that had been completely overused, that seemed to have lost its meaning somewhere along the way; something you really couldn’t respond to. Usually, it ended the debate just prior to the bell ringing. The man was a master manipulator that way.

Although the phrases seemed practically meaningless, a little meditation on what Mr. Drake said usually led you to realize you had the necessary intellect already in place to comprehend the issue at hand. I also liked the way it brought about the abrupt end to unwanted conversation.

Recently, these phrases got me thinking about the relationship between all things that are deemed “new media.” Right now, there is much consternation about what, exactly, “new media” is and how and when it should be used. Indeed, an “American Problem,” if there has ever been one. Allow me to share a few of these time-honored phrases and explain the connections I made.

“We’re talking chicken and egg.”

More than likely, when Moses came down from the mountain after carving the Ten Commandments, one of the wayward souls in the valley was probably angling for a way to sponsor this tablet that would obviously have such mass appeal. And, hey, it would allow Moses to cover the cost of the hammer, chisel and labor he’d just used to produce the document.

I use that example to point out the sacrilegious way we can tend to assume that every new device or mechanism for delivering and consuming media was put there for us to better reach our target audience. Also, to reinforce that although technology makes consumption and delivery of content seem “new,” when you boil it down, it’s still about reaching the correct audience at the correct time with the correct message.

Let us keep in mind that the best examples of devices and mechanisms for content delivery and interaction (the chicken) are created with the idea that it will be easy for the user to get to the content (the egg) they desire with as little impediment as possible. Keeping this thought in mind will allow us to stay consumer-centric, not media vehicle-centric, in our communications planning.

“Is that a means to an end, or are you justifying the end with the means?”

Doing something new because it’s new is not the answer if it’s not grounded in an over-arching objective. Additionally, latching onto a new media vehicle as a tactic then retrofitting an objective around it will not deliver against your clients’ desires.

In our post-Subservient Chicken media lives, let’s keep in mind that the idea (the end) was subservient to the execution (the means), and that when it came time to execute, there was a plan in place for getting it done.

“That’s neither here nor there.”

Once upon a time, there were simple rules to media consumption. Everyone watches weeknight primetime. Most people are listening to radio during their commutes. Newspapers are the best mechanism for fast-cume, daily reach.

Now we talk about things like time-shifting, co-media usage, on-demand, consumer-generated media, wireless access, content integration, and on and on. Our formerly rather stationary, predictable targets (we knew if they were here or there) are now empowered to have their media the way they want to have it when they want to have it (here or there could be practically anywhere at any given time). Oh, and now they feel so bold as to even create their own media (would that be it’s neither who or whom?).

Although this is a relatively new phenomenon, there’s no need to panic and start throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. We do plan media for a living after all. And, for the most part, we are rational people.

We simply have to put more thought into the context of the media usage as it is occurring and how our product or service fits into that context. Does the product or service contribute to or, at least, flow with the content being consumed? What is the target’s situation as they are consuming the message — in a taxi cab, playing a video game, at work, in a movie theater? And, for a common sense test, would you as a consumer be willing to receive a message on a particular device or via a particular medium at that particular time? No one likes a focus group of one, but sometimes common sense is a good gut check on your media tactics.

“It’s six of one, half dozen of another”

Our ultimate goal as media planners is to stimulate some sort of action or reaction from our intended target. If what we deliver is useful and in context, the target does not care that the message comes via their wireless device as they walk down the street, while playing a video game, prior to watching a VOD piece, or even within the confines of some sort of ubiquitous “traditional” media vehicle. If that target is engaged in an activity and receptive to the message being delivered while in the flow of that activity, we are providing a benefit to the target while achieving our objective. At that point, for our target and our media plan, it’s six of one, half dozen of another.

Mr. Drake, if you’re out there, you can be proud of my application of what I’m sure was an unintended lesson.

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Filed under media usage, monetizing media, stuff I've said other places

Stuff I’ve Said Other Places, Part 1

Inspired by the recent piece on GigaOm about information decay, and perhaps due to a bit of laziness about posting something new more consistently, I’m throwing up a few things I’ve written that have shown up other places over the years in an attempt to not let my digital info decay.  Most, if not all, of what I put up originally appeared over on the website of my good friends at iMedia.

I’m finding it interesting that though this stuff is “old” (most of it from 7 years or more ago), the topics still feel, for the most part, of the now and, for the most part, not really resolved.  Lots of progress has definitely been made for sure, don’t get me wrong.  But not having full resolution on stuff from 7 years ago I don’t necessarily think is all bad, just that sometimes (frequently) the pace of change in the industry is such that we never really get things resolved before we move on to the next thing.  Or we evolve the thing we haven’t resolved to a new place somewhat compounding the lack of resolution.

Anyway, installment one of Stuff I’ve Said Other Places was posted on iMediaConnection back on August 19, 2005 under the title “New Media to Media Pros: Don’t Label Me”.  Ironically, I arrived back at this piece after numerous, recent email and in person conversations about the evolution of “social” and what, exactly, does “social” mean.  This piece was spurred by an article in Technology Review (read it in print) called Social Machines (the link isn’t dead and seven years later this is still a good, pertinent read).

In moving to a research firm, I have found the concept of The Mathematical Mind flourishes here as it does for the media strategists I was originally referencing.  Actually, I found it alive and well in my time on the client-side as well.  Maybe even more funny is that though “Web 2.0” feels so passe, when you look at how it’s defined, are we really onto whatever the next version is just yet?  Enjoy…


The past couple of months have been an interesting time for me. I was entrenched in a couple of new business pitches, as well as in many discussions and presentations involving emerging media.

Now that I’m coming out of this intensive time spent primarily talking about the future of media delivery, media consumption and subsequent models for planning and purchasing said media, I’ve been reflecting a bit on what I’ve learned. Where I feel I’ve gained the most insight is in how our media minds need to evolve and adapt to these emerging media trends.

The Mathematical Mind

It took me awhile to put my finger on it, but I’d have to say the biggest drawback we as media people have in fully understanding and applying “emerging media” is a want, I would say a need, for specific order and categorization in our work. We may use big words and a lot of acronyms that many don’t fully understand, but in the end, we want nice, neat, simple labels applied to what we do and how we do it. Our logical, mathematical minds always want one and one to equal two.

Think about it: We do detailed analysis on target audiences so we can label them based on demographics and behaviors that will allow us to better decide the mix of media to use which are nicely separated based on how the message is delivered to the audience. Yes, from a professional standpoint, the majority of us are the dreaded “Type-A Personality,” seeking order and control in what we do.

Case in point:

As mentioned above, the current rash of hot emerging media trends has been the focal point of my professional life for the past couple months. Most of these things aren’t terribly new (especially things like mobile, blogs, podcasting, RSS, social networks, P2P networks, etc.) per se, but are emerging in terms of advertising opportunities. Most were developed on a “grass roots” basis by people reaching out to other people, not as a means to push messaging to the masses.

I was having a difficult time sitting in meetings where folks were trying to place them into unique, simple categories. My opinion was, and still is, that most of these things don’t live in a vacuum in the eyes of the consumer, and most consumers don’t see these things as “media” or media delivery mechanisms. Therefore, we shouldn’t be placing them in silos without context around how people are actually using these things: to be more connected with others.

It could’ve been I wasn’t as articulate as I needed to be in saying that. It could’ve been that I was fighting a losing battle against rooms full of Type-A Personalities. Most likely, it was a bit of both. Regardless, my point didn’t seem to resonate.

It’s about the community, stupid

Then, the August issue of Technology Review hit my desk and crystallized my point, as much as a publication from MIT can “crystallize” anything. The cover story, “Social Machines,” provides an in depth look at the phenomenon of “continuous computing” and what, exactly, that means. In essence, it means that “always on” connectivity between the slew of gadgets we now rely on has led to people’s use of technology as a means to develop communities — of family, friends, co-worker, or others they’ve never met in person but have strong ties to for one reason or the other. It talks about the phenomenon of “Web 2.0,” whereby what once was a repository of relatively static documents is now becoming “a platform for personal publishing and social software.” And the desktop and laptop computer are by no means the sole or primary devices being used to get at these platforms.

(Before I move on and tie this together, let’s keep in mind my initial pronouncement regarding media people’s need for categorically defining things. I’m about to make a couple of broad statements about mankind and a few thousand years of history that will, in short order, lead me to my ultimate point. I only insert this interruption to let you know that I do not completely stand outside of this need to have things labeled neatly, at least when it suits me. Anyway, back to our normal programming.)

I make no claims as a cultural anthropologist, nor do I claim expertise in the finer points of human interaction, but I feel like I can safely say over the course of millennia people have proven that they will use advancements in technology as a means to draw closer together as a community. Initially, that meant physically closer together. It could have been to get things to market; it could have been to simply get from Point A to Point B. Think of the wheel.

But when you think of communication innovations, such as the printing press, the telephone, or short-wave radio, it was about the community that can be built via shared likes or dislikes simply by having discourse with others regardless of location. And that is the mindset with which things like mobile, blogs, podcasting, RSS, social networks, and P2P networks, i.e. Web 2.0, have flourished.

Thoughts on moving forward

So what does that mean? It means that we need to redouble our efforts around being focused on business objectives, as well as be consumer-centric, not media-centric, in everything we do. Define the business objective, understand the audience, and then determine the channels for reaching out to that audience.

It means we’ve got some growing pains ahead of us when it comes to our want for simply defined buckets vs. actual consumer behavior. People are empowered now to NOT be easily placed into preconceived buckets of demographics, behavior and media usage. Linear usage of media is quickly becoming a thing of the past, if it hasn’t already completely evaporated.

It means we’re going to have to define the best ways to become part of these communities of communication where ideas are freely passed back and forth, not simply consumed. It could be we move from being advertisers within content to creators of content to best take advantage of some of these emerging media. That, in and of itself, is a pretty large shift in the way we think about the business our clients are in, and our jobs of planning their media and communication.

It means we’re going to have to seek units of purchase and measure that make the most sense in a new paradigm of media usage and creation. We’re going to have to question where “media” value exists — in the delivery of a large audience, in the inclusion and acceptance within, or maybe in the development of, a community, or at some other point.

Don’t be alarmed. Much of this work is already in progress, and that’s the exciting part. Right now, we’re in a time where we can say things like “a new paradigm of media usage and creation” and have it mean something. We can all participate in this new definition of what we do. It’s like we’re all one big community or something.

Then, when digi-pod-mobi-socio-blogging takes off in a few months, we won’t be trying to figure out under what line item on a media plan it should fall.

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Filed under communication platforms, media usage, social, stuff I've said other places

As the Neutrality Turns

Surely that bastion of idealism and community, the Internet, is not subject to such wrangling between creators of content and providers of access to content as the soap opera of the old-fashioned cable TV industry.  Surely a company committed to “organize the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful” and another who seeks no prejudice to “Rule the Air” wouldn’t be talking behind closed doors about a deal to carry certain websites and their content faster and at a better quality than others.
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the (most recent and continuing) flap over net neutrality, you’ll see that’s not the case.  (Time Warner Cable subscribers who are Getting Tough and Not Rolling Over and are fed up w/ being “taxed to subsidize free web video” usage, please don’t follow that link – use this one that takes you to some nice, light text).
A recent piece in a WSJ blog puts it nicely:
“Net neutrality was always a contentious issue, and, idealism aside, there were straightforward economic issues at work.  For media companies, it was about getting access to telco networks at a rate that was advantageous to them.  The aim for the telecom companies remains to extract as much return from the network as it can get away with, without upsetting regulators and customers.  And one of its ways of fighting its corner is to not build infrastructure if it thinks it will be given away cheaply to others.”
Interestingly enough, large content providers and ecommerce sites are actually willing to pay higher fees to network operators to ensure higher quality experiences for its users.  Amazon’s VP of Global Policy, Paul Misener, recently made the argument that improving the quality of delivery of certain websites willing to pay to have improved quality without degrading the quality of delivery of other sites is a win-win-win for Internet users, network operators and content providers.  He said it was no different than a website that is now able to pay to have their site hosted or cached at multiple places across the country to ensure better performance regardless of geography.
Perhaps that would be making the best of the situation as it is.  But maybe this is all a bit alarmist at this point, the solution looking for a problem, and maybe the continual buzz about the potential for regulation will be enough to ensure their won’t be any. But knowing that this is a relatively straightforward economic issue, where do you think network providers would spend their time – on the base, “non-degraded” network available to all, or with the paying customers who have the money to spend on ensuring their sites perform at a higher level than the base?
More importantly, what does this mean for consumer options?  What would be the incentive for people to innovate on web-based platforms, to develop Mom-and-Pop storefronts if you will, if the stuff they’re creating won’t perform at a level seen as sufficient compared to the proverbial Big Boxes with the deep pockets?  Who will be the next Jeff Bezos if the network operators are spending most of their time making sure the current Jeff Bezos is happy with the performance of his site on their network?

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Consumption (sumption) what’s your function?

To the two people who have requested in the past week that I write something, and you know who you are, this one’s for you. I must say, I do always feel better after some good ol‘ fashion word mincing. I feel like I’ve written something like this before, but don’t care to cross reference to see since the catharsis of writing it (again?) feels so good. Out w/ it, then.

It’s the week after upfronts. I’m shocked to hear that television viewing is (gasp!) on the rise. During a down economy when people desire escapism. While DVR penetration rises and C3 ratings are now standardized. With TV programming proliferating across many different screens to the ultimate benefit of the larger screens. Insert other factors for television viewing increasing here _________________.

But the word I heard used many times wasn’t “viewing”, it was “consuming”. And thus a pet peeve of mine burst from the pod: Do people “consume” or “use” media? Let’s review definitions from our friends at

con-sume [kuhn-soom] verb, –sumed, –sum ing
–verb (used with object)
1. to destroy or expend by use; use up.
2. to eat or drink up; devour.
3. to destroy, as by decomposition or burning.
4. to spend (money, time, etc.) wastefully.
5. to absorb; engross.
–verb (used without object)
6. to undergo destruction; waste away.
7. to use or use up consumer goods.

Hmm, I’m liking #5 a bit, at least “engross”, but all the others sound a bit dark and foreboding. A bit too Apocalyptic, a bit to Convenient Truth-ish. It seems the end game is ending the game, what’s done is done, and the benefit derived is the ending or the done-ness. That’s just no good when your talking about media these days.

use [yooz or, for past tense form of 9, yoost] verb, used, using

–verb (used with object)
1. to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of.
2. to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes.
3. to expend or consume in use.
4. to treat or behave toward.
5. to take unfair advantage of; exploit.
6. to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually.
7. to habituate or accustom.
8. Archaic. to practice habitually or customarily; make a practice of.
–verb (used without object)
9. to be accustomed, wont, or customarily found (used with an infinitive expressed or understood, and, except in archaic use, now only in the past): He used to go every day.
10. Archaic. to resort, stay, or dwell customarily.

OK, so “consume” shows up in #3, but the noun “use” does as well, which is defined as “the act of employing, using or putting into service”. So something is expended towards an end that isn’t just the expension (that’s not a word but stick w/ me here) of the thing.

Exploitation, substance abuse and gluttony are referenced in Nos. 5 and 6. But according to Dr. Phil, people do these things to fill some sort of void in their life, so the doing of such things isn’t just to do the things, and, frankly, they just need to “Git o-vur eeyet.”

The other inherent beauty in the verb “use” related to media are the references to habit and custom. Something is done habitually and customarily to further one’s purpose. If you could articulate a universal marketing/advertising/media objective, would that not be the one?

Frankly, when it comes to TV, my bias is towards the mindlessness implied with the word “consume”. But, alas, I cannot allow it. Though the networks very noticeably backed off their multi-media messages from the past couple of years this year, it is quite obvious that the proliferation of content written by fans about programming (OMG, Adam was soooo screwed by AT&T telling those Arkansas ppl how to send power texts…) means people actually do, indeed, use TV.

It’s just kinda ironic that the usefulness comes to life elsewhere.

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Filed under media usage, riffs, TV

New Thinking on Old Media

Fabulous, succinct thinking from Clay Shirky and Steve Johnson on old media. Thank you.

And this is the time of year I wish I still lived in Austin…SXSW Interactive sounds great this year as I track friends who are there via Twitter (#sxsw).

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"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"

I’m still in a waxing philosophical about the possibilities mode. Perhaps the following post will get it out of my system. Ah, the giddiness of a new year…

If we are to pull ourselves out of this ad revenue recession, do we not need to fully actualize the capabilities of the digital distribution networks at our finger tips? Not just in terms of our abilities as marketers/advertisers to reach more of the “right” people, but to make sure what we send through those digital distribution networks provides benefit to their media usage (note: people don’t consume media, especially if it’s digital)?

Since I’ve heard so much talk of “the new depression” floating around, let’s begin w/ The New Deal to address these questions.

The New Deal was jarring and disruptive to business as usual that returned focus to the people and solving their issues first and foremost, and then allowing those solutions to drive upwards to benefit the suits running businesses. The New Deal vaulted the US forward to stake legitimate claim to “The American Century”.

Well, that and FDR’s ability to stand firm w/ sanctions and policies that blocked rogue aggressors access to needed resources that led to bringing the US into WWII. Some scholars have said he intentionally agitated and taunted those aggressors to accomplish the goal – which was to rid the world of the rogue aggressors and to further shore up the bedrock of the US.

That nasty Cold War sure was an unpleasant side effect, though. Of course, it did do a wonderful job at continually spurring ingenuity and innovation (maybe not in the right sectors of the economy but it did give us the Internet). Yet it led to some bloated bureaucracies w/ little transparency and hidden agendas. The good news was a leader who was no longer willing to accept status quo – Gorbachev – empowered the people to, also, no longer accept status quo. And Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall…

And now, of course, the world is flat and Post-American, which means more and more we are competing in asymmetric spaces against entities and people we’d never have considered competitors in the old, top-down controlled environments of The Cold War and prior.

So I ask you – Who are the leaders who can stand firm and vault us into a new media paradigm? Leaders that are comfortable in defining new ways to compete in new markets? New ways to monetize new markets to benefit people using media, people buying media, people producing and selling media, and people selling access to the media? Who are the rogue aggressors needing agitated and taunted into the fight that will cause change? How do we avoid the side effect of protracted disputes that few understand the reasoning for, but all are sure their side is right?

Yes, the giddiness of a new year makes these issues feel refreshing because it feels there is a necessity and urgency to address these questions now more than ever in our media world. Once again, here’s to 2009.

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