Posts Tagged ‘bandwidth’

Out and About, But in All the Wrong Places

July 13, 2010

It’s no secret that each day we are deluged with data and information-all vying for at least 5 seconds of our attention.  Email tumbles in day and night.  Twitter clicks away.  Things are posted and commented on via Facebook.  Blogs are updated.  RSS readers gather information.  And to top it all off–we are so connected to it all from computers to smartphones to connected TV.  There is no off switch.

That is not the issue though.

The issue from a content guy is that with all those ways of putting my brand in front of you I take best guesses in how to reach the masses–and its very likely there is a good number of people I will miss.

Take this very blog for instance: people subscribe to its RSS; I auto share links via Twitter and Facebook; usually I will manually add a link to Twitter and Facebook as well; I share it to Posterous and MySpace.

You know what I don’t do though? I don’t email.  I don’t SMS. I don’t Yawa it.  Because my Twitter goes to Google Buzz, it gets Buzzed, but not directly.

In the case of this blog-since its more of a hobby and less of a vocation that’s OK with me.  But what would happen if disseminating my musings was my full-time gig?

Case Study 1:  Over the weekend, my beloved New York Islanders held its annual prospect scrimmage game Blue v. Orange at the Nassau Coliseum.  I knew because I follow the Islanders on Twitter the game would be available via streaming on the New York Islanders website.  I stopped by the game for a bit and then watched the skills competition at home on-line.

While reading a recap of the game on a blog not affiliated with the Islanders Islanders Point Blank I found out not all fans knew that the game was available on-line.  Perhaps these folks don’t follow Twitter?  Perhaps there was no email from the Isles announcing the game stream?  I really don’t know.  But clearly there was some swath of Isles Nation missed by publicity for the game.  To these people the term “fail” became part of the post-game lexicon.

Case Study 2: This one seems kind of quaint frankly, but its real.  As long time readers know, I work for CBS Mobile and part of my job is to bring apps for smart-phones to market.  The beauty of smart phones is that its like carrying a small computer in your pocket–and its capabilities are overwhelming.  Social media apps, sharing, SMS and even old-school (for new media) email.  Know what the one sharing mechanism that when it’s not there people want? Email.

It’s now standard in all the apps that my group brings to market-the ability to share the app and share content via email but this was not always the case.  Lesson learned.

Yesterday I spent some time reading some post-release notes from a highly successful app launch by a company called “tap, tap, tap.”  In it, the CEO of the company referred to email sharing as “of course.”  He too has learned an important lesson.

Be where your audience is.

Here are some non-scientific guidelines:

  1. Be accessible.  Don’t make a social strategy the beginning, middle and end of product–but make it ingrained and make it easy to scale so you can quickly react to the Flickr or Yawa audience you may be surprised by.
  2. Remember is social media–make sure its sociable from the product out.
  3. Beat the bushes and engage.

Expectations 2009 Out and About

August 22, 2009

So an interesting day today, and with a few minutes of downtime, I thought I would take a minute to chronicle it, because its an interesting view on how 2009 has played out-between the economy, technology and in reality service.

By way of background to understand how I got to a Quizznos in Mastic, NY to kill 90 minutes or so, we have to go back to the beginning of the summer.  I pushed my kids (especially my older one) to make friends at camp, get their phone numbers and then encourage them to call their friends and remain social with them after camp.  So yesterday was the last day of camp.

Today, the younger one decided to call a camp friend and set up a play date.  So, she called me on it. Mastic is 30-35 minutes from my house.  So rather than spend 2+ hours today shuttling back and forth, I decided to bring the lap top, do some work and figured there is a Starbucks in pretty much every other shopping center so I’ll have a place to hang and plentiful WiFi to use.

So, I pull into a new (and very large) shopping center in Mastic-and to my surprise, no Starbucks.  How is that even possible? There are four Starbucks within 3 miles of my house-literally every other strip mall.  So, I looked around and there is a pizza place, a bagel place and Quizznos.  I figured a Tuna Torpedo at Quizznos and all of the fountain soda I can handle would kill the time.

So, I order-second encounter with what we now face in modern times: The service was awful. No tuna, two guys on the counter who barely speak above a mumble, no diet Pepsi.  In fact in a moment that made me feel better about my own inability to wait on line, a mother with two kids walked out because there were two people on line in front of her, and it took more than 15 minutes for her to even place her order.  Go ahead sit in a Quizznos for a bit and you too shall understand what it means to observe.

But, there is plentiful WiFi-thanks to one of my of my former employers.  Cablevisions Optimum WiFi is cranking here.  Now the interesting thing, when I sit at the pool near my house, or up at Cedar Beach in Sound Beach-Optimum WiFi is not so plentiful.

So, in the economic downturn, this is clearly the land that Starbucks overlooked.  Service sucks, the tip jar next to the register has to be a joke.  And somehow Cablevision is less than equal with its distribution of WiFi.

Not sure what conclusion to draw fro all of this–other than the economy, the service industry and broad WiFi all remain a work in progress.

Changing the Model and Slaying the Nay Sayers

March 4, 2009

Its no secret-just look at the publications closing the media jobs that have been lost-that for years, probably decades the business model for big media and ad-supported business has been upside down. But while the model was unsustainable, during the boom of the 90’s and into the early part of 2000 (with some very short points of exception) there was very little reason to change the model–it was working.

Then came the great recession, depression, downturn, economic screwing or any other term that you like of 2008-2009 and likely into 2010.  Low and behold, the upside down business model doesn’t work and now venerable institution (read Rocky Mountain News for instance) are gone, others (read NY Times) are teetering and others (read Young Broadcasting) are fighting for survival.

With that background I read with great interest in this morning’s NY Times an article about a company I have worked for twice, Cablevision Systems, and its long talked about concept of targeting ads by demographics–making the commercial you see while watching TV more valuable and increasing the CPM.

Its so simple and straight forward, that of course there are nay sayers–those who are concerned that there will be backward engineering and abuse of the data.  Guess what, the data is out there.  This is not abuse, this is use.

Cable companies through digital offerings and bundling with ISP, VOIP and other products have a mountain of data on their customers. Wouldn’t TV be more compelling if instead of seeing a commercial for Depends (not quite my demographic) I was served a commercial about the next great family vacation resort so I can plan my next family vacation with my girls–and not take a peek into what may lay ahead for me in 40 years?

Doesn’t that increase the value to the advertiser?

This is a great leap forward for the media business.  For what I do at CBS–targeting ads by demographic and by location is the holy grail for just that reason–we want to make the experience holistic and meaningful to the end user. And its not altruistic, its about doing good business–and providing a robust platform for our advertisers and making sure we are engaging our audience with our sponsors.

This is how media will save itself.

Fighting to Be Heard

January 20, 2009

Certainly it was not unexpected.  Put millions into a confined area-like the Mall in Washington, DC and it will stress the mobile bandwidth that we have all become reliant upon.  While the network certainly did bend, I don’t think it broke.

While I was not out on the plaza, I am making that assessment based on watching Twitter, CBS Eye Mobile, Facebook and other sites-where users were posting their updates from the crowd on the mall.

But there were still some great moments captured and shared:

Like John Legend hanging with the Obama family.

The reliance we have on this mobile backbone though has never been more apparent. A good friend was in the crowd, and was trying to send an MMS of his view of history (which was from about a mile away and shaky).  It didn’t arrive to me and others on his personal distribution list until well after 1pm (ET).

His carrier (I don’t know which one) queued up the message and then sent it out.

Here in NYC, there was evidence of this stress too.  As we sent out news alerts to our customers, the experience as a content provider was interesting.  The devices and carriers that are usually the first to get the alerts got them late.  The carriers who tend to queue up the alerts had them flow right through.  In talking to our MMS aggregator, the issues all came after the gateway, which is where the message reaches the carrier.

In an interesting Tweet from the Mall, here is what @dceiver had to say about his experience trying to update via his BlackBerry:

To review cell providers: Verizon, T-Mobile, great. Cingular, failed miserably. Guess what network my BlackBerry is on

But that did not stop the content from coming in-this is the age of the citizen journalist after all.

So keep those videos coming, wherever your share them, this is our collective digital archive after all.

As Millions Press for a Slice of Bandwidth

January 16, 2009

Millions will descend on the nation’s capitol over the long weekend, and stick around for the historic swearing in of Barack Obama.  And while millions press for a glimpse to history-tens of millions will log onto news sites, picture sharing sites, social media sites and anything else to vicariously take part in this moment of American history.

Citizen journalists (and pros for that matter) will have a unique set of challenges on the Mall in Washington as history plays out.

In this ueber connected world, the masses packed onto the mall will be carrying with them a variety of devices-smart phones, iPhones, Flip cameras, laptops, air-cards and more.  Each will vie for a little slice of bandwidth so its owner can connect with others—and connect to the world.

These challenges make me think back to an evening in July of 1996 when TWA Flight 800 exploded off the south shore of Long Island, NY. At the time I was a local news producer in NYC and was among the first to make their way out to the Moriches Coast Guard base.  Granted, it was a different time so I was able to park on the base, armed with a camera, Nextel two way radio and a pretty good line of BS (and an NYPD Press Credential) I made my way onto a boat heading out to the scene.

As the specter of what occurred that night became clear, and hundreds of members of the media made their way out to the scene-those simple analog messages on the Nextel network were getting more and more garbled, and the connections fewer and far between.

I can remember even carrying a text pager-where I could not respond, but I could get a text message from managers or the assignment desk.  It looked something like this:

This was state of the art technology 10 years ago

This was state of the art technology 10 years ago


This little walk down memory lane harkens to the inauguration this way—as the media (at one point police estimated there were more than 2000 members of the media on scene) descended all of the carriers came out and added additional temporary cell towers to support the media, and emergency communications.

This is the backbone of our mobile society and communications.  Its not a glamorous part of the process-but critical.  When you pick up your cell phone, iPhone, BlackBerry-you expect it to work. To make it work you need access to the network, WiFi or WiMax.  The carriers and others have been hard at work for months adding capacity to the networks in Washington to support the crush—but there are limitations.

So that great picture or amazing video you are trying to upload to CBS Eye Mobile, TwitPic, Flickr, You Tube etc may take a little longer—or just not make the trip.

Along with the history that will unfold as Obama takes the oath of office-expect there to be a historic use of bandwidth that will go slightly less heralded, but will be critical to our memories of this moment.

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