Frager Factor

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bruce Turkel: "Living and Being Digital"

"Here's the big problem. Most agencies haven't figured it out. The reason? Because they have the word advertising and agency in their name. I mean, I just wrote a blog post on newspapers. I said, "The problem with the newspaper business is they have the word paper in the name." So newspapers think they have to print their information on paper. If they realize that what we want to buy is the news, not the paper, all of a sudden it would change their business model. The problem with advertising agencies is they have the word advertising, meaning they create ads, and they have the word agency, meaning they get a percentage, they're an agent, in their name. So you as domain owners, you as geodomainers have both an incredible opportunity to offer these agencies something they're clamoring for, which is a way to figure out how to get into the brave, new world. But at the same time, you've got a problem. They don't get it. They know they need to, but they don't get it. People don't like to change."


Let me just take a second or two seconds to give you a quick history of the advertising industry. The advertising agency industry was started in 1890, when a guy who created a farm journal that was selling farm implements realized that he couldn't get to all the farmers himself, but he could convince other manufacturers -- tractors, seed companies, and the like -- to put advertisements, at the time they were playbills, you know, the kind of things you would hang on posters on walls; to put them in his publication. And so he became an agent, thus the word advertising and the word agent. And so he would be an agent of all these different companies, and he would go out and sell their products around the country through his farm journal. That, of course, became the Sears and Roebuck Catalog.

And if you think about it, the business had not changed in a hundred years. At some point, they started representing newspaper -- no different than the farm journal. Then they represented radio in the '20s. Okay, it's a little bit different. You heard it instead of saw it. And then in the '50s, they added television. Okay, so you saw it and heard it instead of just saw it. And then they added billboards and magazines and the like. But really, the business did not change until the 1990s, when all of a sudden the Internet came in. Because what the Internet did, and nobody realized it in the early '90s, but they certainly realize it now, is that it gave a lot of people the opportunity to reach folks, which you could do earlier only through advertising. Now, of course through Twitter, through websites, through my blog, through everything else, I can reach people and never pay a penny to a magazine, a newspaper, or television station.

Jeff: Right.

Bruce: It also gave the consumer the opportunity to talk back. That had never happened before. Yeah, you could write a letter to the editor. You could write a complaint letter to Proctor & Gamble if you weren't happy with their product. But, for the most part, you had no way of talking back. All of a sudden that changed. And the third major change was we went from being in the broadcast industry -- meaning we would run an ad on one of the three major channels -- most people were watching. So you were casting broadly, hence the term broadcast. All of a sudden you could narrowcast. Well, you could narrowcast a little bit in the old world. If you wanted sports fans, you could run an ad in "Sports Illustrated." If you wanted young men, you could run an ad in "Playboy." If you wanted housewives, you could run an ad in "Good Housekeeping." But mostly you were broadcasting.

Now, through the Web, you could reach just one arm, harmonica playing midgets if that's who your audience was. All of a sudden you could reach a whole different market. So the business changed completely. Here's the big problem. Most agencies haven't figured it out. The reason? Because they have the word advertising and agency in their name. I mean, I just wrote a blog post on newspapers. I said, "The problem with the newspaper business is they have the word paper in the name." So newspapers think they have to print their information on paper. If they realize that what we want to buy is the news, not the paper, all of a sudden it would change their business model. The problem with advertising agencies is they have the word advertising, meaning they create ads, and they have the word agency, meaning they get a percentage, they're an agent, in their name. So you as domain owners, you as geodomainers have both an incredible opportunity to offer these agencies something they're clamoring for, which is a way to figure out how to get into the brave, new world. But at the same time, you've got a problem. They don't get it. They know they need to, but they don't get it. People don't like to change.

Jeff: Right. We've seen that. One of the things we've seen is the smart people out there, well, the smart domainers, the people who really own what could become potentially powerful domains to powerful brands, are realizing that they are now not domainers. They are media companies, fledgling media companies. We had a conversation earlier discussing the comment, "What is a newspaper or an ad agency?" The difference between, as we had comments before, AT&T versus Disney and their market cap, and the valuation of them, where one is just the distributor where the other one becomes a content company. And people don't care, I guess, how they get their content, how they get their stuff. But they want their stuff, so it doesn't matter how it's coming to them. But they want that content, and it probably positions a domainer in a much more favorable position. Talk a little bit about how people need to see themselves as small domainers as opposed to an AT&T or as opposed to, in this example, Disney.com.

Bruce: Well, Jeff, your point makes perfect sense. I mean we have a bunch of folks out in the world somewhere right now listening to what we have to say. And some of them are sitting on their couch with their laptops connected wirelessly. And some of them are using twisted pair and some have Ethernet cables plugged in. But the bottom line is they don't really care about the distribution vehicle. None of y'all who are out there care about how you're hearing us. What you care about is the data, hopefully that we're going to give you some information that you can use to make your life better. If you're using wireless and you're sitting on your back porch, you might be very happy with that. Or you might be happy that you're plugged in. The point is that the distribution does not matter.

AT&T provides that distribution in lots of different ways. But Disney provides something very different. Disney provides Mickey Mouse. And Mickey Mouse, Steamboat Willey originally, could be on a grainy, old 8 millimeter piece of movie film. It could be on a brand new Blu-ray disc. It could be done with a guy in a mouse suit who's on ice skates at the Ice Capades. Or it can be stamped onto a lunch box that's made in Indonesia and sold in Russia. The consumer doesn't care and Disney doesn't care.

Nicholas Negroponte said it, I think back in 1996, when he wrote a great book. It's actually still relevant even though it's 15 years old, a book called "Being Digital." And he talked about that. He talked about the fact that content is king. So whoever owns the domain name, you have two things at one time. You have the distribution vehicle, meaning if people are interested in the particular location that you own the name for, you own the distribution, because they're coming to you first. They're going to come to St.Louis.com or Paris.com or SanFrancisco.com first.

But then you could own the content because you could aggregate all the information about your destination. In fact, what you would become is a virtual online convention and visitors bureau, a CVB or DMO, is the new term; a destination marketing organization. Why do I know about that? Because we have five or six CVBs or TCs, tourism commissions as our clients. Miami, Puerto Rico and as Jeff said, we've done work with Mississippi, Kissimmee, Alabama, El Salvador, on and on and on and on. And the DMAI, the Destination Marketing Association International is our client. So we deal with those people all the time. But the fascinating thing is if you control the distribution by having the .com geodomain and you control the data; you become a virtual CVB, a virtual convention and visitors bureau.








Bonus Part 4-
Today's guest is Bruce Turkel. Bruce is the founder and executive creative director of the brand management firm, Turkel. He has been building valuable brands for over 25 years, and now specializes in travel and tourism advertising. Bruce has used social media and vanity domains to transform Miami, the Orlando area, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and other destinations into must-see vacation hot spots.

Bruce's books include: "Building Brand Value," "Brain Darts," and "New Design Miami." He has been featured in "The New York Times," "Communication Arts," "Advertising Age," "Ad Week," "USA Today," and "Graphic Design USA." And he has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS and NPR. An accomplished and enthusiastic musician, Bruce also can be seen fronting the Miami rock and blues band, Black Star. He is a graduate of the University of Florida.


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About The Author: Owen Frager is an Internet marketing expert ready to help take your company to the next level.

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