February 19, 2008


Network fees come under fire
A policy paper will be released late February by the AAAA and the ANA questioning the high fees networks are charging them when buying time on television shows. These fees are in the millions of dollars and remind us of the pre-digital days, where workers had to physically time, edit and insert commercials, in between shows. Considering that most programs are handled by computers with planned schedules produced well in advance, it is no surprise that networks are under pressure to relieve advertisers of "money squeezing" charges. Lets not forget that these days, marketers are becoming more and more insistent on tracking their advertising monies. Poorly justifiable expenses of this sort will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

A document viewer that converts and streams PDF documents on to the web, for easy viewing of large files. It adds a nice touch by allowing you to read documents through a scrollable window, turning pages (like a magazine), or a slide show. Advertisers will delight in the way it seamlessly integrates googles AdSense inside each of the documents ($$$), making non web-pages monetizable. Revenues generated from advertisements are split between the Publisher and Scribd. Considering they have already received around $4,000,000 in funding from Silicon Valley, I would say this "YouTube of Documents" will only improve (www.scribd.com).

Mobile People launches Ad Server
"This Ad Server provides the capability to deliver targeted mobile ad campaigns for directory publishers... advertisements can be targeted to users based on time, keyword, category or location (Mobile Europe)." This service seems to promise an upgrade to the traditional yellow pages. Ex. "If a mobile user is searching for a car showroom in his vicinity the user can also be provided with car insurance results and local garages." I know that this has been something companies have been attempting to develop in the Philippines (look at how you get SMS advertisements on SM stores, when you are in the vicinity of SM). As far as I can tell, the technology is still expensive and the application by local content providers, not well integrated. A pity, because this sort of a service when integrated with the web, can really bring benefit to the consumer.

February 17, 2008


To those that do not know me personally, I am an environment stomping dinosaur, whose penchant for large, powerful engines and motoring relics, send waves of Prius owners to their graves. My driveway will flatly dispute any defense I may put together, so I will choose to refute that label at some later date. For this post let us assume that underneath all my capriccios, I am a concerned and active environmentalist (which I am!).

I would like to vent my perplexity about the state of bio-fuels in general and the direction it is taking within the Philippines, which actually models the region. The term “bio-fuel” refers to the fuel generated from plant sources that can be used to substitute for petroleum. In the United States the majority would be corn based, fuel ethanol/bio-diesel and in the Philippines, sugar and coconut based fuel ethanol/coco-bio-diesel.

We are all aware of the environmental benefits of bio-fuels, which are supposed to have a dramatic impact on our environment (in the long run) However, several years into this world of bio-fuels, we are starting to learn and understand that perhaps this is not as rosy an alternative as we all thought. In the United States, Timothy Searchinger (Princeton University) has found that corn-based ethanol would double greenhouse gas emissions for the next thirty years. This is due mostly to the sudden decline of the vegetation that once inhabited the cleared fields now being used by corn. You did not really think those greenhouse gas-gobbling trees you had to clear for your cornfields were sitting idle? At some point of course, the “incremental sequestration of CO2 in their roots [the corn fields] will match the CO2 once stored by cleared vegetation,” cutting emissions. Estimated time frame for this shift—decades.

Let us not forget the energy that is needed to grow, harvest, and refine the fuel. This goes beyond the processing plants, what about the effect of the fertilizer? The logistics involved in shipping it? If you actually compare all the effects of going green and not just the immediate processing effects, just how large is the improvement? Are you aware of the increased levels of nitrous oxides in the atmosphere due to ethanol as an oxygenate? Or perhaps the economic challenges brought forth when sugar or corn is now considered more valuable, increasing the prices on what used to be a basic commodity? This last point especially terrifies me, because if you follow the logical progression of economics:

[Farmer grows sugar for food. Farmer gets better price for sugar and sells it for fuel instead. Sugar prices go up, demand exceeds supply. Farmer clears rainforest to grow more sugar for fuel and food. Government tells him he is doing a service to the country and the environment. The Jolly Jetsetter stares incredulously...]

This economic effect is no joke. In poorer, developing countries, higher food prices can very well lead to starvation and public unrest. China has put a stop to ethanol plant construction as it tries to solve the threat it poses to the country’s food security. In Mexico the increase in tortilla (corn based) prices have led to heated public protests. Lester Brown (president of Earth Policy Institute) sums it up nicely when he says that we are creating an “epic competition between 800 million people with automobiles and the 2 billion poorest people.”

I often feel that in our sudden urgency to “go green” we are rushing into projects that may not be the best long-term solution for our world. New government regulations and green tax breaks are making it extremely appealing for companies to clean up their act, but in doing so are we creating a false sense of progression? It can be said that in many first world nations, growing bio-fuels has become a huge government handout to farmers getting beaten by china, chemical companies, seed companies, environmentally supportive companies, and so forth. Yes, we are all in the same boat together, but why do I have this feeling that countries like the Philippines will get the butt-end of this environmental drive. Where our lands are cleared to grow crops and our industries geared to remain reliant on the demands of first world nations.

The thing is, I cannot think of a reasonably viable alternative at the moment. Which is why I am so preoccupied with this industry and at least a tangible solution. We have plenty of other bio fuels that can be explored, which may yield more gain with less of a fall out. Algae can be grown on ponds, which will not take up farmland. Solar power and wind technology has gotten significantly cheaper, making it feasible alternative. A focus on hybrid and hydrogen engines in vehicles can dramatically reduce our emissions (GM and Toyota have an excellent future in this). David Morris has even stated, "if Americans reduce our input of sugar, we could make 2 billion more gallons of ethanol and help overcome our obesity problem.” Certainly a bit off center, but it makes a clear point.

So, as I watch this industry develop and smaller industries pop up around it (carbon credits being one), it is encouraging to know that at the least, the public is aware and concerned. Perhaps if I mull it over a bit longer, over a deep highland malt, I may be able to offer at least a semblance of a suggestion.

February 14, 2008


The weather forecast was positive: It was going to be a beautiful Friday morning. Being the responsible Jolly Jetsetter that I am, I decided to take a 4:00am drive to Pampanga, so I could make it back for my 10:00am meetings. It was dark and the streets were mostly empty, so a brisk 200kph average had us at the balloon field early enough to enjoy a warm cup of crappy coffee. I have to say that I was quite disappointed with the organization of the Balloon Festival. I try to attend this event yearly because of the skydiving jumps and my interest in the gyrocopters business that is being launched in the Philippines. It is a yearly event with amazing potential that has been reduced to the cheesy afternoon carnivals you find in Cavite or Laguna. The mix of a poor choice of events and vendors, loud dance music from 5:00am onwards, poor logistics, and crappy marketing force me to give the balloon festival a fat thumbs down.

Fortunately I did not have to stick around for too long, by around 5:30am we were being whisked into the staging area for the balloon pilots who were preparing for the game of hare and hound. In this game they send a lead balloon (Hare) ahead by about two minutes, after which the remaining 16 balloons (Hounds) start the chase. The Hare’s objective is to land and drop a marker, the hounds that place their marker closest to the hare’s marker get the highest points. Sounds easy enough no? Well do not forget that you cannot steer a balloon. It floats according to the wind, which is in constant flux. To change directions, you need to catch a stream of wind by either raising or lowering the altitude of the balloon. Note that these streams of wind go in varying directions, travel in varying speeds, and are of different temperatures (which requires more or less hot air in your balloon). So chasing a hare can be quite a challenge, requiring a keen sense of direction and an ever-calculating mind.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me just relate how I got into the balloons in the first place. UPS is one of the largest sponsors for the event and decided to assist me in securing a place on one of the balloons. I guess all those packages I send out have finally paid off! They bring me into the briefing area, where the lead organizer and pilot proceed to shout: “There are a pair from UPS, anybody want to take them? (Silence) Anyone? (Silence) UPS is one of the largest sponsors and would like you to take them, anyone? (Silence).” This went on for quite some time. My companion and I were being whored out to the different pilots and out of a group of 17 balloons; only the Gulf Air team was kind enough to take us both onboard. Not that I can blame them, the additional weight does add a different component to steering the balloon.

After a short set up period, we were off. Once you are in the balloon, you do not really do much except enjoy the view. Give or take a few planned dips, the ride was smooth and gorgeous. Even our landing, which involved quite a bit of dragging and bouncing (your tossed all around the basket), was relaxed and almost elegant. I can understand why this was such a popular sport for the upper society of Europe. We ended up fairly close to the hare, but did not receive any points, as we were unable to find our marker when we came back for it (you don’t actually land to place it, its dropped). I would say that with a ready bottle of champagne and a tin of beluga caviar, I may just consider ballooning as a new sport! It’s fairly reasonable considering that a fully set up balloon costs roughly $30k (lasts many years) and the gas used to fuel the burners is propane.

I was a bit late for my meeting, but I’d have to say, it turned out to be a spectacular Friday morning! Now to figure out where to get a balloon and how to learn to fly it…


The Xperia X1 will be the first mobile phone developed between Microsoft and Sony Ericsson, to be launched 2nd quarter of 2008. With Googles mobile phone operating system well in the works and a hugely successful IPhone, it is clear that the technology behind Mobile Phones will be making a drastic shift in 2008 and the coming years. Companies are developing phones that integrate your consumer lifestyle with strong business applications. From the stocks you track to the weekly episodes of Grey's Anatomy you watch, these phones are rivaling computers in terms of importance for your day to day life.

From a Mobile Advertising perspective, technology and user acceptance is slowly developing into that dream of a lifestyle integrated and connected consumer. However, as pointed out by some detractors at the Barcelona conference; you can advertise through Mobile Phones, but how do you develop the "endearing" and "loyalty inducing" advertisements that are prevalent across print and television media? It is one thing to target users through short 3G clips, MMS blasts and Mobile clips. You can even spread the same message across several mediums through a diversified campaign (Blogs + 3G + RBT + MMS/SMS). These are all interesting and certainly well targeted advertisements-- but do they develop the connection that a rich, colorful, and audio superior, television advertisement does? Can they?

I still remember the Wendy's "Where's the beef?" campaign or Joe Isuzu's ridiculous claims, I remember the Delmonte nuns and their tomato sauce as clearly as I remember sexy, 90's Britney dancing for Pepsi. How will mobile advertisers develop this sort of an impact? With small screens, multiple running applications, and the fact that a mobile phone is DESIGNED for multitasking (consumer focus is fragmented), this will be no small feat. I'm looking forward to watching the industry progress.

February 10, 2008


Bluetooth and WiFi Connect: A collaboration between Bluetooth and WiFi functions is going to be announced mid this week. The idea is to use a single chip that combines Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities (currently your lap top runs two separate chips). This combined chip will use the low-power Bluetooth radio to pair and send small sized files. For larger transfers the combined chip will switch to WiFi radios, resulting in much faster file transfers. If they can develop a seamless connection between both functions (which they will), this chip shift will speed up the lives of many executives and students the world over. We may even get to an age of wireless computer syncing with the same convenience as syncing your mobile phone.

Social Networking Sites join forces: I found a fairly interesting bit of information surfing through the web yesterday, which brings to light the direction companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are taking. It was announced that Yahoo is planning to develop an email service that shares data with Social Networking Sites; Delver is working to develop a search engine that tracks and summarizes social network data; Facebook is introducing new services that take advantage of users' online contacts.

By sharing and linking user information with one another, they are developing an interactive and soon to be search able set of personal information on YOU. I am not sure I like the idea of being a page on wikepedia, which lists (by priority of course) all the personal information I have combined across my Facebook, Email, Blog and Friendster sites. Using the Beacon service launched by Facebook as an example, it will only be a matter of time till online purchases, Ebay bids and so forth are also linked in. Do I really want my personal data easily accessible? Advertising companies and Social Networking Sites certainly think so.

Yahoo wants more: Yahoo finds that the offer by Microsoft undervalues the company significantly and is currently wagering that a $9 per share, or roughly $12 billion added to the original offer price, will sway the board to accept. Microsoft is currently trailing in fourth place for this industry, with Yahoo second (not a close one) to Google. Considering that online advertising pretty much pays for...well... everything online, I would wager that Microsoft is going to fight for this one.

February 08, 2008


Every blogger these days seems to be sharing their two cents on the Microsoft/Yahoo merger. $44,600,000,000 is no small number, I know plenty of countries that do not make that in their yearly GDP. So what is the big deal with this merger other than plenty of zeros and a battle between two, huge tech giants (Microsoft and Google).

Some basic information that we will need:
Market Value:
(M: 296 Billion, G: 147 Billion). Google is 49% of Microsoft

2006 Revenue: (M:44.28 Billion, G: 10.6 Billion) Google is 24% of Microsoft

Online Advertising Revenue: (M: 2.29 Billion, G: 7.3 Billion) Google is 68% larger than Microsoft.

*A combined Microsoft and Yahoo would have 27% of Worldwide Search Share, Google would have 66%

*Zenith optimedia expects global online ad-spend to grow with 28.2%, that would be roughly $184.39 Billion spent on online ad spending (Global Ad-spend est. at 653.9 Billion). *Google has been outgrowing Microsoft every quarter since its 2004 IPO

Google is a behemoth, its actually quite amusing to read their online blog which challenges the antitrust issues with such a merger. Microsoft may have a long history of such antitrust issues but Google's ever growing influence on the industry is starting to show similar signs.

This merger is an effective and attempt by Microsoft to battle on Google's turf, especially with online ad-spend growing exponentially. Lets not forget that this fight for online advertising market share has a distinct impact on the mobile advertising industry. These are both, extremely large pools of $ that both Microsoft and Google are maneuvering to command.

Our world is becoming increasingly ingrained and I would say, reliant on our computers and cell phones. With these industries well within a strong growth curve, you can understand the speed and commitment being made by Microsoft and Google to one up each other. The future direction of the advertising world rests on these industries. The shift from impersonal to personal advertisements, from mass hits to direct, from unknown to known demographics, this will all be realized to a large extent through the efforts of Microsoft and Google to develop an effective advertising platform. Our lives as consumers will be entering an golden era of personalization.

Of course there are some major issues at stake for Microsoft. For one, Yahoo has not been doing particularly well as a business these days. As stated by Jon Fisher (one of the investment analysts): "With Microsoft paying a full price for a broken business where there's not accelerating organic growth, I can't make that work at all." With an estimated $50 billion value, this is not going to be an easy pill to swallow and it may be the stumble that Google needs to take the lead.

The synergies between Yahoo and Microsoft are good, but I wonder if they are $50 billion good? Fundamentally, both Yahoo and Microsoft suffer from a business model that is in my opinion, inferior to Google's: The Centralized Operations Model v.s. Google's Distributed Network Model. Lets not forget that the web is built primarily off a distributed network model-- which is a large part of what has made Google so dynamic and efficient!

These are some concerns that I am sure the brains of Microsoft are spending dateless nights figuring out. From an outsiders perspective, who's knowledge of the online industry is substantially meager, this merger is one that is on the right track. Google should be worried.


I made a quick visit to the Yahoo Live site, which has been overshadowed in recent news by the Yahoo acquisition attempt by Microsoft. Its cute, I suppose, certainly with plenty of moneymaking opportunities. Some key issues do need to be addressed:

The site experience is lousy. Similar to Ustream, Stickam, etc. Video streams take a while to load, they are choppy and constantly crashing. Yes, this is all to improve as internet bandwidth and streaming technologies advance, but its still irritating.

The camera angles are almost ALL the same. You are looking at "heads". Granted, these amazing heads talk, dance, sing, even strip (though the sites have a genuine PG rating), but viewers are still basically watching, experiencing and interacting with some persons floating mug! This promptly led me to click on users based on their appearance... (hey, at least I don't lie about it!)

This, in my opinion, will be the key to all of this-- are people really interested in the inner lives of other people? Social Networking have shown that we do have an inner desire to interact and "network" with each other, but these sites still filter a lot of what we see and read. Streaming video takes all of the illusions we may have about the person, you see, hear and experience the individual for who he/she is. Interesting.

As the technology improves, there is no doubt that we will start seeing live streaming as a complimentary addition to websites, social networking sites, etc. Applying this technology to a more useful purpose: Imagine college interviews being done online, or sending in your video resume to a business position you look to fill. The opportunities are quite limitless as the people in our world becoming increasingly more connected.

There will always be those people that enjoy sharing themselves with others. For The Jolly Jetsetter, he will remain behind his Facebook and Second Life walls- at least for the time being.

Sites to visit