Can’t get enough of that (Kindle) reading thing

Just as we’re getting over the buzz and acclaim for the new Kindle e-reader, Amazon comes right back at us. This time, it is selling    e-books for the iPhone and iPod — that’s right — through a Kindle application that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store.

Here’s how the Wall Street Journal describes it: “Amazon’s software application, which can be downloaded free of charge, allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to read books or periodicals purchased on the Web or through their dedicated Kindle device, usually for $9.99. Using a service that Amazon calls whispersync, the program keeps track of a readers’ latest page in any given book across both a Kindle and iPhone.”

Amazon has competition, of course, from Google as well as other e-book sellers. Still, give credit to Amazon for creating big hype for its Kindle (which is still a relatively small market, regardless of all the press it gets).

“Will this put Kindle device sales at risk?” asks TechCrunch? “Not likely. The Kindle is a fairly niche product – not that reading is a niche activity (though it’s probably a bit less common than it should be), but the ideas of eBooks/e-Ink/etc are still fairly foreign to most (though Oprah’s mention definitely didn’t hurt). This lets Amazon push more copies of e-products they’ve already got licenses for, all the while coaxing the stubborn folks into the idea of reading books on an electronic screen without requiring them to drop $360 bucks on a dedicated device.”

Or as the New York Times puts it, “The move comes a week after Amazon started shipping the updated version of its Kindle reading device. It signals that the company may be more interested in becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices.”

Sweating out the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl less than a week away, this is when the anxiety really boils on Madison Avenue. Is our spot going to bomb? Are we too late in the game? Is anyone going to watch Pittsburgh vs. Arizona? Is any of this madness worth it?!!????

Advertising Age puts at least a bit of that fear to rest:

Surely, spending $3 million on a Super Bowl ad in the midst of a crushing economic downturn is a foolish waste when chief marketing officers’ jobs are on the line?

On the contrary, it’s a bargain.

The Super Bowl presents not just a huge platform with astounding audience numbers where consumers actually lean forward to watch your ad. It also pays surprising ancillary dividends in awareness: reams of press coverage that drive word-of-mouth and stampeding traffic to websites. Most importantly, for the right company, it can establish a relationship and sell product.

from Summit Notebook:

Mattresses and pillows, a diversified portfolio

With financial markets in turmoil and the U.S. economy in recession, we asked top entertainment and sports executives at the Reuters Media Summit for some investment advice.

Our question: "If we gave you $50,000, where would you invest?" One rule: They couldn't pick their own company. But then we thought $50,000 was too little for well heeled executives, so we switched it to $50 million. But that seemed excessive. After all, we're talking about personal investments -- so we settled on giving them a cool $1 million.

Here's what they said:

"In a pillow ... You might look at the energy sector, you might see what happens with gold. I've got cousins who work in the banking industry. When I asked them, they told me put it in my pillow. That is your answer."
-- Havas's MPG Chief Operating Officer Steve Lanzano

Sirius XM subs hate/love channel mashup

As if Sirius XM Radio didn’t have enough to worry about (like trying to figure out how to pay its debt and cope with the U.S. auto industry’s flameout) now its got to deal with customers grumbling about its radio stations. Some are threatening to quit the service.

That’s right, subscribers are ticked off about what they are hearing on their radios. Not the radios themselves or the quality of the signal or any of that techniclal stuff — we are talking about the actual radio content that subscribers pay $13 or more to hear each month.

Sirius this week unveiled a new channel lineup that combines XM and Sirius’ rock, pop, talk, punk, hip-hop, classical, country, jazz and sports stations. Together, it’s a robust offering of audio content, which may impress new customers. Long time listeners, familiar to particular channels playlists and on-air talent, are speaking up on blogs after the surprise shift.

Growl! Tiger’s absence no fun for networks, advertisers

tiger.jpgThere was much written in the sports pages (and in some cases the business pages) about Tiger Woods’ decision to miss the rest of the golf season and undergo reconstructive knee surgery.  

His absence is a big deal for sports fans – not to mention marketers and TV networks. After all, he is the biggest American sports machine since Michael Jordan.   

 ”Much like Michael Jordan did (Woods) has the power of drawing in the more casual viewer or participant to the sport,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Thomas Shaw told Reuters. “He has the ability of driving some participation. It gets people excited to get out and dust off the clubs and play some.”

Yahoo’s open embrace

decker.jpgThis is not an entry about Microsoft. It is an entry about Yahoo’s wagon-load of new ad partnerships announced today and what we learned about the future of online advertising exchanges. Basically, Yahoo executives told us they are trying to build a more open, more social Internet strategy vis a vis consumers and advertisers.

On the consumer side, expect Yahoo to rewire its sites, email and instant messaging so that users can manage information about themselves and their friends in a single place. 
At a lunch with reporters after speaking at the Advertising 2.0 conference, Yahoo President Sue Decker said those changes would become apparent late this year and early next year.
For advertisers, some of the new partnerships announced on Wednesday include important tie-ins to Yahoo’s Right Media Exchange, where online ad space can be bought and sold more efficiently, based on the laws of supply and demand in force everywhere else.
The ideas are part of a bigger shift away from expecting viewers to come to a given site, toward extending your services out to wherever your users may be.
“It feels like the industry is ripe right now for contributing to a larger ecosystem,” Decker said.
Right Media’s Mike Walrath put it diplomatically, suggesting the days of publishers or other parties who try to control their own ad pricing in an open market could be numbered.
“If your business is based on inefficiency, and as the market becomes more efficient … some models will strengthen,” he said.

Media agency Havas Digital is participating in one of the new deals, agreeing to build a proprietary ad trading platform based on Yahoo’s technology. Havas Digital CEO Don Epperson told us in an interview that Havas had been working with Yahoo on this for nearly 9 months, and called Yahoo’s attitude refreshing.

Advertising budgets: What’s the deal there?

scissors.jpgQuarter after quarter, analysts and the financial press keep pressing advertising executives about the economy and spending. For good reason, too, since corporations often take scissors to advertising budgets during downturns.

Thing is, the chief executives of the big ad holding companies so far have given very much the same answer during conference calls and interviews: everyone is worried, nobody is cutting spending.

Interpublic CEO Michael Roth is no exception. Here’s what he said on Wednesday about the economy/spending issue during his company’s earnings call: