What Went Wrong With Rushmore Drive
As posted on AdAge.com today, an article co-written by Pepper Miller and John Parikhal:
RushmoreDrive.com, the first black search engine, recently shut down only a year after its launch. This raised the question about whether there is a market for a black version of Google.
Rushmore Drive was the brainchild of Barry Diller's IAC, which just reported a "first-quarter net loss of $28.4 million compared to a profit of $52.8 million in the same quarter a year ago."
Too bad. Rushmore's failure is not only another negative statistic from the fallout of the economic downturn, but also from questionable planning.
Early on, several folks from both the black and mainstream blogosphere balked at the idea of Rushmore. Bloggers criticized Rushmore for being racist and separatist while others didn't understand the concept at all. Additionally, a few questioned why IAC, whose focus is e-commerce websites, would even consider such an idea. Importantly, naysayers wondered how Rushmore would compete with the powerful Google brand?
At Hunter-Miller, we understand why and how Rushmore (and even Blackbird, the black web browser) traveled down that path. Many African-Americans -- be they business owners who target African-American consumers, students or those who want a deeper understanding of black culture -- look for specific black content, resources and stats. These black-consumer information searchers often complain that the web isn't delivering. We discovered several types of African-American content that appeared on earlier pages of Rushmore's site but appear a lot, lot later on Google and on Bing, Microsoft's new search engine. Thus, it appeared that Rushmore was better than Google at collecting, organizing and disseminating Black information.
There are some who are sorry to see Rushmore go.
Donna Smith-Bellinger, co-founder-VP of PCG Technology Services, a digital strategy company, says: "We need special search engines like Rushmore Drive to make it easier to identify and locate African-American information online. An African-American search engine not only helps other African Americans find Black-owned business websites, but it can also aid corporations looking for minority companies to hire."
Additionally, Donald Moore, newly appointed president of Burrell Digital, added: "I believe that ethnic search engines have a place in the digital space. What I do question is how will they build scale and sustainable profitability?"
However, business strategist Jaclynn Topping doesn't agree. After learning about Rushmore's failure on Huffington Post, Topping questioned Rushmore's strategy. "There was nothing missing [from using Google] as a Black person. The concept of a race-based search engine (or browser) is ridiculous, especially in the face of the move to open platforms. The world-wide-web is color-blind, gender-blind, disability-blind. No barriers. It's all about the tag, keyword density and linking strategy. It's the Internet's greatest strength. What is Rushmore giving me? What's Black about browsing?"
John Parikhal, co-author of this post, and an expert on both the internet and black consumer preferences, provides another perspective: "Rushmore's failure is really about a lack of consumer understanding. They didn't recognize the difference between search and engagement. Search usually starts with utility -- just give me something I want. That's what Google, Yahoo and Bing are fighting over. It has less to do with color. But engagement (which really makes ads work) is different. That's where understanding Black America really pays off."
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John Parikhal is a "practical futurist" and consultant specializing in media strategy, marketing, research and consumer trends.
Pepper Miller is founder and president of the Hunter-Miller Group, Chicago.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Thursday, June 25, 2009,
As reported in this morning's Radio-Info.com, Joint Communications' John Parikhal had come choice words about how Mercury radio advertising award competition need a big re-think. Says Parikhal:"Return On Investment really shouldn't be a measure for the Mercurys. A radio ad can be engaging and persuasive, but the product packaging might turn customers off at the store. Or the price might be too high, etc. In other words, the ad worked, but the rest of the chain didn't.
For serious marketers like Procter & Gamble or Coke, ROI is a complex equation in which the ad medium and the dollars spent are only a part of the formula. But if by ROI, you mean - can I tie the ad to a sale? - then take a page from the best awards ever - the Effies. They measured 'effectiveness', asking participants to submit their 'before and after' case studies with the ad.
The Mercurys should be about 'effective' radio ads - not 'creativity.' And, an effective ad starts with 'engagement.’ Often, judges confuse engagement with entertainment when they are asked to decide what is most 'creative.' They choose 'entertaining' ads and call them 'creative.’ Some very engaging ads are not entertaining. But they work. Just check out spoken word ads on News and Talk stations. Bring back the Effies.”
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, June 22, 2009,
Formats are the internet’s killer app. Yet, they get little attention and even less respect.
Formats create more value online than content. Yet, content gets all the press.
There’s already a mountain of content available online – most of it free. We don’t need more content. We need better formats.
Formats have been around for a long time, packaging and organizing ‘content’ to make it worth a lot more.
Top 40 radio is a format. It takes about 40 songs that are ‘worth’ 99 cents each at iTunes and packages them so that can be worth millions in advertising. The Top 40 format adds millions in value.
We can see the same format power at work for Amazon, eBay, Zappos, YouTube, and Facebook . Formats have added billions in value online.
Amazon is a format. It doesn’t create content – it formats or packages it.
Amazon made a fortune because it formatted the department store online.
It formatted (organized) its store as a simple, one-stop shopping experience - with a series of ‘departments’ ranging from books and electronics to garden tools into -just as Sears had done in the physical world 40 years earlier.
And, Amazon made millions without manufacturing any ‘content’
Even eBay is a format. They are worth billions because they formatted the flea market. eBay simply created the packaging that sold someone else’s ‘content’.
iTunes formatted the online music store. And, the iPod re-formatted the record player.
Zappos formatted the shoe store. They don’t make shoes. They format the experience of the world’s best shoe store to appeal to shoe junkies. And, it works.
Or, consider Facebook. It formatted the reunion. It hasn’t earned much profit but it could sell today for billions of dollars even though there is no clear business model. That’s the power of formats.
The same is true about YouTube. It formatted the ‘home’ movie, never made much money and got sold to Google for over $1 billion.
Not surprisingly, the biggest online business of all, Google, makes most of its money from formatting, not from content.
Google makes enormous profits by formatting the ‘library’ experience for users and then selling ‘knowledge’ about user interests to advertisers. That’s the power of formats.
One could even make the case that the Mac operating system (OSX) and Windows are both a form of format. They organize the way we can use a computer.
If you make that case, then the ‘format’ that jumpstarted the world wide web – Netscape, is the granddaddy of them all. And, it sold for billions of dollars.
That’s why we’re bullish on formats and formatting. Because, there’s already a staggering amount of content available online – most of it free – and, most of it is not formatted well, if at all.
We see big growth opportunities for companies that get better at formatting. And, lost opportunities for those who don’t.
posted by John Parikhal @ Monday, June 08, 2009,
Alexa.com is an Amazon.com-owned web traffic analytic tool that estimates website usage. It's not as precise or accurate as comScore, MediaMetrics, Nielsen or other more sophisticated Internet measurement tools...but Alexa is good for getting an idea of what search engines are considering "top performers."
The higher a websites Alexa ranking, the higher "authority" that site receives from search engines.
Having higher search engine authority means it is much easily to get found online through search engines.
Viewing the latest rankings, News & Info stations lead the pack with ten within the Top 20. Corus has 9 in the Top 20, while CBC has 4, Astral has 2, NewCap has 2, CTV has 1 and Rogers has 1. Toronto's airport and business station is also in the Top 20 (in March 2007, it was the "station" with the most Alexa web traffic).
Curiously, Virgin Radio doesn't appear to be captured accurately by Alexa. It doesn't include any of the Virgin station on their list. When searching Alexa for the individual Virgin station traffic rankings, each market's stations (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver) don't show up. Instead, only the main domain (virginradio.com) appears (the station sites are found their sub-domains). Collectively, all Virgin Radio station would rank 26th, just behind CHOM and ahead of Rock 101.
Prior to the Virgin flip, Mix 96 in Montreal was a Top 20 online web traffic radio station.
Here's the latest Alexa search for Canada's top 20 radio station traffic rankings (June 2009):
1) CBC Radio - British Columbia (www.cbc.ca/bc) (CBC)
2) Radio Énergie (www.radioenergie.com) (Astral/Anglo & French AC)
3) CKOI FM 96.9 (ckoi.com) (Corus/Anglo & French Hot AC)
4) CKWX - News 1130 (www.news1130.com) (Rogers/News)
5) VOCM Radio (www.vocm.com) (NewCap/News & Info)
6) CFYZ 1280 AM (www.gtaa.com) (Toronto airport & business)
7) 102.1FM The Edge (www.edge.ca) (Corus/New Rock)
8) CBC Radio (www.cbc.ca/radio) (CBC)
9) Country 105 (www.country105.com) (Corus/Country)
10) Q107 FM (www.q107.com) (Corus/Classic Rock)
11) CKNW 980 AM - Vancouver (www.cknw.com) (Corus/News & Info)
12) CBC Radio 3 (radio3.cbc.ca) (CBC)
13) CHUM 104.5 FM (www.chumfm.com) (CTVglobemedia/Adult CHR/Hot AC)
14) HOT 89.9 FM (www.hot899.com) (NewCap/Rhythmic CHR)
15) CFOX 99.3 - The Fox (www.cfox.com) (Corus/Rock)
16) CBC 102.1 FM Calgary (www.cbc.ca/calgary) (CBC)
17) CJAD 800 AM (www.cjad.com) (Astral/News & Info)
18) CJOB 680 (www.cjob.com) (Corus/News & Info)
19) CISN 103 FM (www.cisnfm.com) (Corus/Country)
20) AM 770 CHQR (www.am770chqr.com) (Corus/News & Info)
Here's a quick link to find all Canadian radio stations streaming online. Or here's another good link.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, June 02, 2009,
Last night was the debut of the new Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, following in the historic path of Steve Allen, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. He's off to a good start...with strong opening ratings and plenty of funny. He kept Max Weinberg and his band (along with the opening theme from the Late Show), brought back his original co-host Andy Richter and even kept his trademark cutting of the puppet strings move.
Liked the run-across-America move to open the show, his hanging with new fabulous LA friends watching a Lakers game, the entrance of first guest Will Ferrell and first musical guest Pearl Jam.
Very different first show than his debut on The Late Show September 1993.
With all the changes in late night programming (Leno earlier, Jimmy Fallon replacing Conan), late night just got fresher.
Good of NBC to open up the show video clips to share and embed on their site instead of containing it only on Hulu.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, June 02, 2009,