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Take a deep breath ...

Now empty your mind ...

Have you ingested your hypertension tablets, reader? Excellent! Now compose your mind in Zen-like detachment, divorced  from logic or other unnatural condition.

Then consider in tranquillity a report in today’s Financial Times: “Twitter is set to secure a $1bn valuation from investors before it earns its first substantial revenues after the micro-blogging site raised $100m in new funding.”

According to “a person close to Twitter” [its PR man?], New York venture capital firm firm Insight Venture Partners is, apparently “leading a consortium of new and existing investors in the fast-growing communications network”.

Continues the FT in uncharacteristic ‘gee, gawsh’ mode: “The website allows more than 30 million members to post 140-character updates on the web or by mobile phone.

MoonWink’s view? Well, since you ask, reader, the news jolted his fast-degenerating braincells into recalling Alan Ginsberg’s seminal 50s masterpiece Howl Scream

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.”

Among the ‘angelheaded hipsters’ apparently succumbing to dollar-dementia [reports the Wall Street Journal] is fund manager T Rowe Price, who has joined existing venture capital backers Spark Capital and Institutional Venture Partners in stumping-up for the new round.

As the seventh century Greek proverb predicted: ‘Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”

ITV: Ball’s Still in Play!

Gonads of steel?

Gonads of steel?

According to a posting on the Financial Times‘ website (September 20), the protracted negotiations between ITV – the UK’s largest commercial TV company – and former Murdoch henchman Tony Ball continue to teeter on the brink of agreement.

On July 29 – six weeks and five days ago – MoonWink first tipped Ball as the ailing broadcaster’s preferred choice for its new chief executive, despite speculation in the FT and elsewhere that another high-flyer was the frontrunner.Puppeteer

Unlike MoonWink, the FT and other media had apparently failed to take into account the not insignificant fact that NewsCorp-controlled BSkyB – of which Ball is a former ceo – continues to [reluctantly] hold a 17.9% stake in ITV, thereby incurring a massive loss on the depreciated value of ITV’s stock.

Clan Murdoch therefore has a vested interest in the new man at the helm of the enfeebled giant. And Rupert is renowned for keeping all his commercial relationships – including those with past employees – in good working order.

Ball – said to be the only former NewsCorp executive able to outstare his boss – will in the latter’s eyes be the only man with sufficiently steely gonads to ride roughshod over ITV’s holy cows and reinvigorate its drooping stock value.

And Ball knows it!

PokerHandHence his holding out for a pay bonanza that will likely displease other shareholders, politicos, key ITV staff, regulators  and the business press. MoonWink’s ten quid is on Ball’s nose!

Or, more appropriately, his gonads.

TV is dead ... long live TV!

TV is dead ... long live TV!

No question but that broadcast TV profits are down. But this is due primarily to (a) recession) and (b) misperception among agencies and marketers that web/social media have the same level of consumer engagement as TV.

They don’t – not the ilk of Twitter and Facebook anyway – both of which have the fascination and engagement level of ant-hill watching. In other words: you may be fascinated by the goings-on but you don’t feel part of them!

Outside looking in?

Outside looking in?

TV works – or fails to work – according to the level of viewers’ emotional empathy with the brand. Successful use of the medium integrates the viewer into the action; social media leaves the viewer on the outside looking in.

Trouble is, though, that online media will continue to snatch share from traditional media as agencies will continue – as they have for decades – with their Pavlovian obsession with the flavour of the month.

Anybody's guess!

More accurate?

Media economist Jack Myers forecasts an adspend dive of 13.3%in 2009, and a further 4.8% sag in 2010. Oh, really?

Why does anyone takes such adspend forecasts seriously, MoonWink wonders? Most are based on agencies’ over-egged optimism, ratecard prices [and that’s a notion funnier than Jim Carrey!] and other analysts’ best guesses – the latter often tailored to fit another predetermined agenda.

If such data really matters to you, try rolling dice. They’ll be as accurate!

Moreover, these forecasts are rarely (if ever) reviewed retrospectively. There’d be blood on the carpet if they were! Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Someone  looking?

Mencken: Inner voice?

“Conscience,” opined the late, great American wit, journalist and literary critic H L Mencken, “is the inner voice that warns us someone may be looking.”

Mencken’s dictum struck home among the adveratti a couple of decades back as it finally dawned on the trade that something had to be done about it’s excesses before the politicians and Joe Public finally lost patience.

Since when there has been a procession of half-hearted, limp-wristed attempts to impose a set of workable rules that wouldn’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

A realisation now confronting the adolescent internet advertising industry.

Within the exponentially expanding fish-tank of online marketing and media, there’s growing concern that US lawmakers could soon intervene on issues concerning the collection of personal data, according to US trade journal AdWeek.

It’s certainly an outcome encouraged by the vociferous privacy and public interest lobbies, currently bending ears in and around Washington DC.

Zaneis

Zaneis: Behavioural believer

Blather, balderdash, bosh and bilge, splutters Mike Zaneis, vice-president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who claims that  the real goal of the privacy campaigners is to eradicate behavior-based advertising, one of the most promising areas of innovation.

“They don’t believe in behavioral advertising,” he said. In which, of course, the IAB understandably does believe. Implicitly. According it a status akin to Holy Writ.

On the other side of the battlefield, the call to arms is taken-up by Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum: “We want consumers to be able to take advantage of all of the new technologies without the technologies taking advantage of the consumers. Right now, that balance is not there.”

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of lobbyist, the Center for Digital Democracy, is of like mind. Industry self-regulation, in the form of the IAB’s  Network Advertising Initiative, he avers, has failed.

Chester claims that tracking from all directions besets consumers with opt-out notices buried in legalese on hidden privacy statements. “The one thing that’s crystal clear that’s emerged so far is that, as in almost any industry, self-regulation doesn’t work.”.

And that assertion, italicized above, finally brings MoonWink  to the point of this article. Exactly how effective, if at all, is advertising self-regulation?

It’s a question aptly answered by a famed cartoon (circa 1895) from the long defunct British humorous magazine Punch.

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg:" Your egg is not bad, I hope?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. It is exceedingly good ikn parts!"

Bishop to new, young curate beset with queasiness at the aged state of his egg: "Your egg is not bad, I trust, Mister Simpkins?" Curate to Bishop: "Oh no, my Lord. I assure you it is exceedingly good in parts!"

Yup, like the curate’s egg, self-regulation is exceedingly good in parts. On occasions. And with a following wind.

But, as with the dollar-generating ambiguities of law, so with adland’s self-imposed rules as to what is – or is not – permissible in advertising. And where. And to whom.

Booze is a good example. In the UK, for instance, a sanctimonious entity known as The Portman Group, funded in its entirety by large multinational pedlars of alcohol, preaches moderation and responsibility in drinking. And on behalf of its paymasters Portman tuts like a proverbial auntie at the frequent nationwide instances of alcohol-fuelled behavioural excess and violence.

Responsible drinking?

Responsible drinking?

Such antisocial goings-on are directly connected to the self-same booze-pushers’ stratagem of  ‘Happy Hours’ and other ongoing promotional events at bars and pubs throughout the country. Events that are, of course, intended to encourage moderation and responsibility in drinking!

Self-regulation in TV advertising is a similar cynical mockery. While medical professionals and dieticians condemn the peddling of high salt/calorie/sugar junk foods to children and and teens, over-exposed millionaire former sporting heroes and TV pundits continue to push these poisonous products to kids via  networked TV.

While the ad industry to its eternal discredit vigorously lobbies government and media regulators to further  ‘liberalize’ the current latitudinary rules.

Meantime, the letter of the law is adhered to – usually by the merest whisker! The spirit, however, is up for grabs.

Moreover, the foregoing examples relate solely to the UK – a nation almost Stalinist in its media controls compared with the USA, much of Latin America and Asia.

Makes you proud to be a marketer, doesn’t it?

Ball’s in ITV Court!

Another Ball!

ITV's havin' a Ball!

On July 29 – six weeks ago – this blog wrote …

“Divination being one of MoonWink’s myriad skills, he predicts that before this week is out, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster ITV will have opened the box to reveal the identity of its new head honcho.The name inside will not be that of the current frontrunner Simon Fox (see today’s FT) but that of Tony Ball, former ceo of NewsCorp’s BSkyB and one of Rupert Murdoch’s few henchmen able to out-stare his boss.You heard it first from MoonWink!”

You did indeed hear it first from this hoary scribe – although he was admittedly wrong about the time span.

According to today’s Financial Times, Ball’s appointment is signed and sealed save for the number of trailing zeroes on his self-proposed remuneration package.

Writes the FT: “ITV and Mr Ball were holding talks over the structure and conditions of a turnround incentive award for Mr Ball akin to a similar plan in place for Michael Grade, the current executive chairman, the people said.

“It’s all in their court,” a person close to Mr Ball said. “The nominations committee are considering a contract proposal from Tony, and he is waiting to sort it out.”

Postscript: Ball’s appointment, if confirmed, will not be unrelated to BSkyB’s current sore thumb – its unwanted 17.9% stake in ITV. Gossip from 1211 Avenue of the Americas is that speedy excision of this embarrassment will be at the top of Tony’s ‘To Do’ list!

Darwin, he aint!

Clan Murdoch versus the 'Creationists'!

The scion of a media mogul and bearer of a fine old Caledonian name (who himself was the scion of a media mogul of that ilk) stood before an audience of his peers in Scotland’s ancient capital on Friday 28 August and socked-it to ’em in a manner of which poppa would have been proud.

Reminiscent of a cyborg Daniel in the lion’s den, the chairman/ceo [by proxy*] of News Corporation, Europe and Asia stood, before the arrayed hostility of the Edinburgh International Television Festival and manfully delivered this year’s keynote MacTaggart Lecture.

Murdoch minimus didn’t, of course, jet-in solely for the glory of delivering this annual set piece to the British TV establishment. No Siree. He had something to get off his chest – just like poppa when he delivered a similar paean to unfettered capitalism in 1989.

Wee Jamie [*who owes his present position to the disinclination of elder brother Lachlan to work under Rupert’s yoke] inveighed against the British government in general – and the BBC in particular – for failing to operate in accordance with the principles upon which the Murdoch dynasty was founded and has prospered.

An unlikely Murdoch ally?

Rooting for Rupert?

Citing this years’ centenary of the publication of The Origin of the Species, Murdoch minimus compared the BBC and the UK establishment with the ‘creationists’ who railed against Charles Darwin’s upturning of the Christian myth.

And whilst it’s invidious to mention Darwin and wee Jamie in the same breath – there are those [including this scribe] who agree wholeheartedly with some of the latter’s cavils, e.g …

Yes, the BBC is saddled with a top-heavy management structure and a controlling trust chaired and populated by out-to-grass members of the British establishment.

Yes, the BBC does appear to be vying with its commercial rivals to peddle populist formulaic crap to the proletariat.

Yes, the BBC has failed miserably to cater for those who prefer a TV diet free from the endless round of so-called ‘reality’ shows, cop sagas, hospital and other soaps, in-yer-face sitcoms, property makeover programmes and ancestral anus-gazing.

And yes, the present British government is responsible for the creation of communications regulator Ofcom – a  fatuous hybrid whose primary activity appears to be digging holes for the sole purpose of filling them in again.

Pops and Jamie don’t care for this situation one teensy bit. The Beeb eats into Sky’s market for mind-numbing TV trivia, while the publicly-funded corporation’s extra-curricular activities provide unwelcome, cross-subsidized competition in the internet and publishing arenas.

But at the end of the day, aren’t the former and present UK prime ministers, Blair and Brown, and Clan Murdoch birds of a feather?

All are driven by the quest for self-enrichment and power while a docile population – drugged by media mediocrity –  obediently performs its obligation to consume, consume and consume again!

Media dinosaurs battle it out!

Primeval media monsters ...

For those who relish Kong-like spectacles such as a fight unto the death between primeval media monsters, MoonWink reproduces (courtesy of MediaGuardian) the following exchange.

“At an official dinner following the [MacTaggart] speech, Murdoch and [over-exposed BBC business editor] Robert Peston – who were sitting with the Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark and BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons – became involved in a discussion about banking deregulation which progressed to the flashpoint of whether or not the BBC was patrician.

“According to those who were there, Murdoch apparently banged the table and shouted: ‘How dare you?’ with Peston shouting back: If you think you can get fucking angry, I can get fucking angry.'”

By such informed debate between the representatives of Mammon and the Establishment are our drab lives shaped!