Archive for May 2009

This is going to be interesting.  I said a couple of days ago that Wikipedia should follow public radio’s pledge model.  But now the New York Times seems to be considering the same membership model, according to an article by the New York Observer, as well as a metered model that tracks how many free pages you viewed before asking you to pay for additional pages.

So why didn’t I single out the New York Times as something that I could live without?  I do read, so while I consider it an important source of news, it’s not my only source.  In fact, I usually read a few websites for every story that I consider important because I realize that every source has “its angle”.  I would lose a valuable source of information if went entirely behind a pay wall like the Wall Street Journal, but I feel that I have enough websites to understand a story without it.

The key question is whether the New York Times is going to alienate the frequent users who may feel that they are being asked to pay for other, “lighter” users.  Is the New York Times unique enough in the information marketplace to be able to charge a premium, or is it considered simply as another news provider by the market?  Will it be able to find out how high to set the bar between free and paid users?  The Grey Lady is about to find out.

This post was originally published on May 13, 2009.

KQED is having its spring pledge drive – and I hate pledge drives.  I wish there were a way to avoid it, but they do serve a purpose: 1) to hear the variety of reasons why you should donate and 2) to interrupt the regular programming so that you realize how important it is to you.

The pledge drive did make me think about other things which are free and that I take for granted.  I could live without most of what I came up with, but I felt that Wikipedia is an exception.  I don’t use it every day, but it shows up often enough in searches, I have a Wikipedia app on my Blackberry, it’s great for ending the never-ending debate at a bar.  And yet they only asked for money that one time in December 2008.

Unfortunately, donating does not end radio pledge drives on the spot, but I think that Wikipedia could have ‘rolling pledge drives’ that interrupt my use of its site to just remind me that I’ve been using it for free.  Say for example that I use the website a few times within 30 days, I might get a pop-up to ask for a donation.  Then I can donate what I want, and the website won’t bother me until 90 days have passed.  You can play with the model a little bit, but using an occasional guilt trip with reinforcing positive feedback wouldn’t be a bad thing.  I think this would be more successful than the micro-payments model that Rupert Murdoch wants to pursue.

Btw, I did donate to KQED and Wikipedia [I’m not being snooty – I’m just saying…].  If you use Wikipedia, why not donate too?

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Milton Glaser gives one of the more insightful talks on how the marketing industry struggles with truth vs. spin and how marketers objectify their target audiences to salve their conscience.  The essay rambles a bit at the beginning, but gets better when Glaser describes a test that he gives to his students to see if they would design an ad or a package for a product that would harm friends and family.

Thanks to VentureHacks for posting the other essay on Glaser’s ’10 Things I Have Learned’, which lead me to this essay.

[Note to self: Nothing to say.  Nice to give a shout-out to VentureHacks.]

I was speaking with a colleague about how we have become blind to all of the banner ads that we see on the websites we visit and how mistrustful we have become towards online advertising.  Ask someone what he think about online banner ads, and his reaction is probably one that resembles what you would get if you said a four-letter word.  Since online advertising is inherently less interrupt-driven, marketers and their agency proxies try more obtrusive and often deceptive methods to capture your attention – driving their intended audience away.

Marketers – especially online – have poisoned the well, and until there is a concerted effort by marketers and advertisers to improve their methods, online advertising will continue to be a ‘evil ‘force.

Seth Godin said it well in his post: “It’s so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.”

It’s time to stop thinking about audiences that a body that needs to be targeted and to start thinking about how advertising can become something that serves them.

[Note to self: A little better – although the main point was something you read a month earlier written by someone else.  Advertising as a service is a topic that should be explored further.]