An Open Note to Mobile Ad Networks – Show Me The Money

An Open Note to Mobile Ad Networks – Show Me The Money

It seems like once every couple of weeks I’m complaining about the see-saw nature of mobile advertising rates.  Of late, the rates have been what I consider to be abysmal (sub $4 to low $3 CPM).

This is particularly frustrating if you’re serving up between 500,000 and 1,000,000 impressions per month.

And seemingly, just as often, I’m approached by competing ad networks wanting me to switch to their platform.

They always want to talk about how they can pick and choose between several publishers and that their tech is superior.

You know what I want to know?

How much am I going to get paid.  Period.

Seems harsh, but here’s what I’m supplying and risking for switching to any ad publisher: my (or more properly, my app’s) reputation and traffic.

If they are only offering what I’m getting today – or less – what’s the point of even talking?

Today the cycle repeats.  I have an ad network calling to make their pitch, and I can almost predict the spiel.

Mr. Ad Network cubicle guy, you REALLY want my business?

Pay me a signing bonus for switching to your network.  Pay me for the time I have to take to integrate your ad client into my software, unit and system test it to make sure it doesn’t blow up under load, and bake it for 2-3 weeks in the App Store approval queue.

But please, don’t come to me expecting me to switch because you have the best brokering system since bartering began.

Show Me the Money.

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Tonight, Tonight, Tonight… Hot Damn! Tonight!

Tonight, Tonight, Tonight… Hot Damn! Tonight!

For those not familiar with the quote in the title, it’s a line from the ubiquitous holiday movie, “A Christmas Story”.

The Old Man jaunts about the living room after receiving a Wester Union telegram informing him of winning a “major award.”

That’s pretty much how I feel this morning.

I just found out I’m one of one hundred “tweeters” invited to the NASA TweetUp during the launch of STS-129 on November 15-16, 2009 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is me (the relevant scene is at the 5 minute mark if it doesn’t start right there):

Sign o’ the Times Redux

Sign o’ the Times Redux

Dysfunction Junction

Yesterday I commented on why I wasn’t re-upping on my local Chamber memberships this year.

Today, I’d like to offer up what I consider, in my humble opinion, to be what Chambers of Commerce have to do in order to stay relevant in today’s business environment.

I can actually sum it up in three words: More Meaningful Engagement.

But before I offer up concrete examples of how Chambers of Commerce can provide these improved avenues for engagement, let me restate the problem:

The days of simply joining a local Chamber to see and be seen are a thing of the past.  The existing business environment is entirely too fluid to think that offering a window placard and a free ticket to a golf event is going to sway businesses to fork over several hundred – or thousand – dollars a year in order to be “current.”

Chambers have to offer a compelling argument on how they are helping local business succeed.  And, at least for me, my local Chambers are not fulfilling that function.

More Meaningful Engagement

Chambers are now competing with other pay-for-networking organizations (like So-Social and Red Carpet Mondays) and with free networking events (TweetUps, Bar Camps, Meetup.com).

Offering big ball room events where there is a speaker, little room or time for physical mobility, and no formal channels for follow up ain’t working.

In order to facilitate meaningful networking, events should be offered in venues where intimate communication can take place among a manageable number of participants.  Many chamber events seem to be designed to allow companies to bring along 5-10 people to a catered affair as a means for promoting the Chamber and not for the participants to offer anything in return.  This is good if you work for one of these companies and are looking for a couple of hours to kill outside the office, but not entirely beneficial if you’re looking to do something that can bring business your way.

The format of a TweetUp is probably the most recognizable format for what I’m talking about, and it is tremendously effective for connecting to like minded people or with people who need what your company is selling.

Listen, Not Just Talk

Most Chamber functions are speaker-centered.  That is, a speaker is touted, the audience shows up, and then leaves.

Why not offer events where Chamber members can tell their own business story in an extended format, where prolonged engagement can occur?

Chambers are supposedly filled with businesses looking to tell their stories, but rarely are afforded the chance to do so under the auspices of their respective member organizations.

A great model for this is the Bar Camp, where speakers volunteer to do short presentations in front of their peers.  These events can be single day, and with a strict timeline in place can afford a great deal of information to be communicated in a short period of time to an interested group of motivated people.

Get to Know Your Members

In my five years as a member of one of the local Chambers, I’ve never been invited to visit the Chamber offices (aside from a mass mailing meet and greet) or out to lunch to discuss, one on one, what my business is doing or to talk about where I see my business fitting into the local business community by any staffer of the local Chamber.  Not once.

If you don’t know me, there is no way to know how you can help me.

Make Your Organization Accessible and Accountable

Each Chamber should have a recognizable face in their respective communities, whether that be one or two high profile people, who are approachable and accountable for making things happen.  Social Networking is a good – though not exclusive by any means – place to start.

In short, a local Chamber should have low-barrier to entry means of communication with staffers that are geared toward the way people work today, not the way that they worked in 1995.  I would love to be able to quickly text a message to ask a question of the local Chamber.  I would love to be able to tweet or DM a message to a Chamber Twitter account for a response from the community.  Leaving a voice mail message or an email to be answered a few days later is simply not acceptable.

Make Your Brand “Business” and “Business” Your Brand

Some Chambers of Commerce think they “exist to exist.”  That is to say, the events they provide seem to offer nothing more than a way to generate a revenue stream in order to stay in business, with the value of the content events being secondary to promoting and building business.

In fact, one of our local Chambers (the biggest one actually) has created an overarching parent agency and has subjugated several different programs that were “Chamber” programs as separate “business lines” within the parent organization… with the Chamber itself as one of the subjugated “lines of business.”

Something’s wrong here.  Is the Chamber there to fund a larger parent organization –  and in some cases, an individual – or is it there to promote business, and more specifically, MY business?

If the answer is the former, don’t be surprised when people vote with their feet.

Sign o’ the Times

Sign o’ the Times

This month, I decided not to renew my memberships in local Chambers of Commerce.

To be honest, I’ve invested a ton of time – and money – into chamber memberships these past five years, not including extras like leadership programs (not cheap) and events not covered by the membership fees (luncheons, speakers, networking events, hob nobs, what have you).

But I have found the return on investment for time, energy, and capital spent to be a wholly one-sided affair… with me and my business doing all of the giving, and not a whole lot of taking to be had. Speaking with colleagues this year, I see this as not something unique to me.

Oh sure – I could go to the business mixers and be “rushed” to buy insurance or financial products. Or hear another speaker tell me how I should be answering my phone for the fifth time (long boring story – not even worth telling).

I want to be part of a collection of companies looking to mutually grow business, and particularly, growing MY business.

Sadly, that ain’t the model of most chambers of commerce.

To be brutally honest, I’ve gotten more business from contacts I met at Tweetups than I ever got from a single Chamber function.

And that is indeed very sad, for organizations whose sole purpose is to better its member businesses.

I will be putting my thoughts together later this week on how I think Chambers of Commerce may better serve their constituencies.

But for me, for now, I simply have to say my local Chamber is not holding up its end of the engagement. With the emphasis on lack of engagement.

More later.

Where Does the Time Go?

Where Does the Time Go?

It doesn’t seem like over thirteen years ago I started my current company.

It doesn’t seem like almost thirty years ago I graduated high school.

It doesn’t seem like I’ve been married twenty-three years (that seems like forever – in the absolute best possible sense).

It doesn’t seem like my oldest son should be about to turn ten. That my youngest son just turned four.

This afternoon I was listening to some favorite music, and realized that when I saw the band that played the song for the first time was twenty years ago.

Yikes.

I am grateful and thankful to be here, each and every day.

And hope to be around when my boys ask each other where the last thirty years went.