Let me try to keep this short and sweet. All this talk about Facebook putting a dent in Google's advertising revenue is wrong. Way wrong. I have to assume it's coming from people reading news, staring at charts, and listening to FB's product evangelists. Basically, people who aren't living in both companies revenue streams. Let's call them disconnected analysts.
When I started advertising on Google in 2004, $30/month proved good ROI for me. Eventually it had to get bumped to $60, then $120, $200, $500, $1000. On and on it went. It's tens of thousands of dollars now. Per month. Only Google is getting that kind of quality revenue from me. And I am small enough to say with confidence that Wall Street will never care about my business.
When I started advertising on FB, $10/week did the job and proved good ROI for me. Here we are 5 years later, and it's still at $10/week. Meanwhile FB's user growth in the U.S. is terrible. And the users they do have are checking in less often, and posting even less often. FB's content is littered with terrible, zero value, click bait content. FB launched their own video service, and Wall Street feared for Youtube's future. The problem is - those who want to get paid for video content hate FB video. So instead they upload to Youtube, then paste their Youtube video on FB. Guess who gets that money?
When people are looking to buy a product or service, where do you think they go? Facebook? Nope. They go to the GOOG for that. They might ask their friends for a recommendation on Facebook, but they SEARCH for it on Google.
Here's where Facebook comes in handy. If you want to know what your best friend from high school ate for lunch today, go to Facebook. If you want to see 10,000 pictures of your friend's kids, go to Facebook. If you want to know who the people you barely care about are voting for in the next election, go to Facebook. Looking for a quick laugh from the latest viral video? You can see that on Facebook, in a video hosted by Youtube.
Come on people. Long term, Facebook doesn't hold a candle to Google's empire.
Update 4/21/2015: Tidal declared "Failure"
(less than a month after writing this).
My heart goes out to those select artists and celebrities who whine about not making enough money. Artists like Jay-Z, Madonna, Kanye, Rihanna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, and others backing the Tidal music streaming service... they are just scraping by aren't they? I mean, with pesky little net worths in the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, how do they get by? Bless their poor detached hearts.
One of the funniest things that happens when rich people get bored is they get involved in expensive hobbies. They tend to call these activities, "business." It just feels so much better to be in a "start-up" and call it a "business", especially if you are "revolutionizing" something. But what if your business sets out to revolutionize something that doesn't need revolutionizing? Uh oh...
Enter Tidal, yet another music streaming service that is designed to better support the artist. And like any good startup, Tidal doesn't fail us on their focus to diversify themselves in the market place. Setting themselves apart, Tidal provides the listener the unique opportunity to pay double for their music. That's it. That's the angle. Quite an elevator pitch isn't it? Instead of paying something like $0 (ie, Pandora, Grooveshark, etc..), fans now get the incredible opportunity to pay $19.95/month for music streaming via Tidal. After being gouged, they can sleep well knowing they're supporting the artist. It's the "future of streaming" Jay-Z says.
Those calling Tidal a day late and dollar short are being too kind. Tidal is several years late and $19.95 too expensive. And this just in (queue breaking news alert), fans don't really want to pay for music. Wait, what?! I can feel you not exclaiming, "You mean to tell me people want free music?!?! Say it isn't so!"
Let's take a quick trip down memory lane. AllMP3. Napster. Freenet. Kazaa. LimeWire. [fill-in-the-blank].ru. Grooveshark. Pandora. Spotify. Moral of the story? Or should I say immoral of the story (in some cases)? If you give people the opportunity to listen to free music, people will take it. Do we really need to argue this point again? Popular streaming services like Grooveshark are legal, free, & interactive. Ah, that feels good. In fact, free, legal, and interactive feels real good. A bloated $19.95/month for the same thing does not feel good. Charging $240/year to listen and not own anything doesn't feel good at all. It's way too much, and it won't work.
Remember when Lars Ulrich (drummer for Metallica), fought against Napster? "Free music is wrong," he said. "Support the artists," he demanded. The case settled and he was viewed as a hero right? The listening public's love for Lars (and Metallica) grew and grew, launching him on a path to dethrone Julia Roberts, and take over the crown of America's Sweetheart, right? Well, not so much. Sadly, he is the butt of jokes on radio stations nationwide to this day, 15 years later.
So, recording artists of the world, let me share this with you. We (the fans) absolutely support you. We love paying for music... when you're small. We love helping you go from full time food server to full time musician. We tell our friends about you. We show up to your shows. We buy your merch. We are your product evangelist, and we work for free. We eagerly wait to applaud your awards, and watch you launch into super stardom. And then, we endure asinine ticket prices to see you sell out your arena tour. While there, we take a thousand pictures of you and plaster them all over social media. We want you to "make it". We live vicariously through you while you travel the world on private jets with staff and servants in tow. It's a wonderful experience for us. And it's not so bad for you either.
However, once you make it, please do not come whining to us about not making enough money. You want to piss and moan over royalties? Take that sad story to the writers, producers, publishers, and labels. Go back in the studio and add a word and take a third. Own your music. Play it out. Fight your greedy label. Basically, go figure it out. But don't you dare pass your gold plated problems on to the fans.
If you are wondering which Amex card to get to maximize your points usage, this guide is for you. For regular American Express cards like the Green, Gold, or Platinum Amex, your point conversions looks like this:
100 points per $1 when booking airfare through Amex Travel
133 points per $1 when booking hotel through Amex Travel
166 points per $1 when using points to cover purchases already made
200 points per $1 when trading in points for an Amex Gift Card.
^ Lets be real, most of those are pretty awful really.
However, with American Express Blue Sky, your point conversion is MUCH better. You can apply your points towards travel charges that show up on your account for things like airfare, hotel, and rental cars. The point conversion looks like this:
7500 points per $100 credit, or 75 points per $1.
The way to get the most out of these points it to use them to cover parts of a travel related purchase. If my airfare was $375, then I would apply 22,500 points to cover $300 of that charge. I would not apply 30,000 points to cover the whole airfare, because when it's not in even $100 increments, you lose the remainder. In that case, 22,500 would cover $300, but the final 7500 points would cover $75, at a conversion ratio of 100 points per $1 (not as good). Therefore, always apply your blue sky points in even $100 increments to get the most of your point's conversion.
Bottom line, if you want to play the Amex point game to win, use a platinum card to get the preferred airline credits, lounge access, TSA/pre or Global Entry, platinum concierge, or any of the other nice benefits that come with the card. Then try and use the Amex Blue sky for the bulk of your purchases as to accumulate points on the account with the better point's conversion ratio.
Shot with a GoPro H3, Cayman Islands
You may not realize it, but many of the videos you share, quotes you forward, and news articles that win your click are fake. Why? Money of course.
Have you seen the plane at the airshow that landed with one wing? It's totally awesome. And it's totally fake. What about the eagle that swooped down and picked up the baby in the middle of the park and flew off before dropping the baby to the ground? Also fake. Have you seen David Beckham kick 3 soccer balls an impossible distance only to land directly into 3 trash cans on the beach? You guessed it, fake.
Winston Churchill once said, "Seeing is believing."
Actually, he didn't say that at all. But if I put that phrase next to a picture of him on an e-card and pinned it, it would be treated like verifiable fact. Seeing isn't believing anymore because much of what we see, and much of what we read is fake. In fact, the growing volume of fake content is one of reasons why we are continually becoming more and more disenchanted with social media. Slowly but surely, we're all graduating in levels of skepticism.
"I know it's true, because I read about it on the internet" - George Washington
We can't even measure the amount of fake content online anymore. But you know who can? The people and companies that monetize the traffic it creates. "Charlie Bit My Finger" is a 56 second YouTube video showing 2 kids, one of which get his finger bit. The father has been paid over a half a million dollars for the traffic it produced. Clearly you can see the motive behind "going viral." Just figure about $4,000 per million views.
How about those fake quotes?
"Expectation is the root of all heartache." - Shakespeare (did not say that)
"Well behaved women rarely make history." Both Marilyn Monroe & Hillary Clinton did not say that.
"I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction." Albert Einstein (did not say that).
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." - Martin Luther King (did not say that).
Know this - Your click puts money in someone else's pocket. You can quote me on that.
Here's the fake problem: It takes a lot of real work for real content to get real clicks. It's much easier for fake content to get clicks, views, & page loads - hence the rise of so many fake news outlets. Fake news create outlandish headlines that are carefully crafted to win your click. And they are winning, all day, everyday. But what does this do to real news and real content? For one, the headlines for real news often aren't nearly as interesting as those for fake news. So the fake news wins. Pick your story - "[insert celebrity name] Dies", "UFO Sighting on San Francisco Freeway", "iPhone 6 to come with Hologram Technology", "MH370 Found." and the list goes on and on. One of those probably would have won your click. I know the iPhone example would have gotten mine.
Here's my rule of thumb - Verify the Viral
Thinking about reposting that story, retweeting that incredibly relevant quote, or sharing that unbelievable news clip? Spoiler alert - it's probably unbelievable for a reason.
This practice has put the real news outlets in a real pickle. They're watching their click count go down while the virally fake are gaining click-share. So what do they do in return? Well, this:
"You won't believe what this mom did to her toddler."
"Why Obama's Use of this word is so important."
"What this mom saw left her in tears."
"This looks like a normal painting, but when I saw the truth, my jaw dropped to the floor."
"Clinton gets booed off stage, but not before saying this!"
In response to the internet's fake problem, the real news outlets are dropping to the most desperate of teaser headlines. This will only hurt them in the end. It won't take long before each and every one of us are sick and tired of being fooled into news stories of no value. We pay with our click & our time, and we gain nothing in return. We will all stop clicking eventually.
So, how do we solve this problem? Easy. Verify the Viral. Apply the internet's justice system, "fake until proven authentic." Question the author. Who published that unbelievable news clip? CNN, or M&M Breaking World News Inc.? Hint, you've never heard of one of those. Chances are it's fake. For that 100 year old quote that is amazingly relevant today? Google it. Did Einstein really say that? If you're going to forward it, at least make sure it's legit. Your click & share has value, so treat it that way. Think about it, if a full grown eagle really flew down and picked up a baby, don't you think someone like NBC or Fox News would have picked up the story?
You CAN help. Verify the viral.