Bill Simmons spoke with Marc Maron on a recent episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” It was fascinating to hear these two long-time podcasters discuss the evolution of the format.
Of particular note: It took a long time for Simmons and Maron to figure out how their podcasts would work and how they’d approach them. They tinkered and pushed until they landed on the right combination. It’s a reminder that when you have a nagging sense you’re on to something, persist until you can’t persist anymore.
Listen for: The embedded ads during the episode (no, really). Companies like Stamps.com and Squarespace are ubiquitous podcast advertisers—so much so, Maron was able to finish Simmons’ ad copy on the fly (“click the microphone in the upper-right corner …”).
Farhad Manjoo has some good news for those of us who want this internet experiment to work out: People are paying for stuff .
This paragraph caught my eye:
“Apple users spent $2.7 billion on subscriptions in the App Store in 2016, an increase of 74 percent over 2015. Last week, the music service Spotify announced that its subscriber base increased by two-thirds in the last year, to 50 million from 30 million . Apple Music has signed on 20 million subscribers in about a year and a half. In the final quarter of 2016, Netflix added seven million new subscribers — a number that exceeded its expectations and broke a company record. It now has nearly 94 million subscribers.”
Netflix has nearly 94 million subscribers.
That’s an amazing number. Those aren’t “users.” Those are people who pay for the service.
For years I’ve joined the chorus lamenting the impending doom of creativity, content, and culture. No one will ever pay for anything .
I think back to that moment 10 years ago when I realized that online advertising was a race to the bottom for all but a few massive companies. I was distraught. Really, I was legitimately upset. I was fascinated by the internet’s possibilities, yet it seemed to be built on a pile of sand. I wondered how it would all play out. I wondered if I needed to find a new line of work.
And yet, here we are.
When I consider my own digital subscriptions I’m struck by how easily and naturally they’ve arrived. At a certain point, each one just made sense and just fit in.
I guess I’m not alone.
Caroline O’Donovan offers an excellent summation of online analytics and their accompanying repercussions:
If you measure performance in pageviews, you encourage slideshows. If you measure performance by social shares, you encourage clickbait headlines and giant Like buttons. Finding a metric that lines up with a publisher’s goals is one of the most important things it can do to encourage better work … [Emphasis added]
Put another way: Choose wisely.
Video section on the ESPN.com homepage
This is a screenshot of the video block that sits half-way down the ESPN.com homepage.
Notice each video has a specific and properly formatted headline. No clunky ellipses. Every word carefully chosen. Even the spacing matters.
These are the subtle cues that separate excellence from mediocrity. Taken individually, these efforts don’t matter much. But put them together — all the thoughtful edits, all the care that goes into media selection, all the language — and they create the sense of professionalism that’s a hallmark of top-tier organizations.
In a wonderful piece on the limits of science, Robert Krulwich concludes with this bit of excellence:
… that’s the beauty of science: to know that you will never know everything, but you never stop wanting to, that when you learn something, for a second you feel crazy smart, and then stupid all over again as new questions come tumbling in. It’s an urge that never dies, a game that never ends.
I’d extend that line of thought to anything that’s tough, tricky, confounding, ambiguous and important: You may never get there, but you always have to try.
Elon Musk = Tony Stark. He’s even got the same interface:
I want to edit web copy in this thing. Deleting entire paragraphs of crappy prose with grand swipes of my middle fingers, then saving and publishing on the fly with a custom fist pump.
Via @mmasnick and Venture Beat
I got this in my inbox today from a “marketing consultant.”
I thought you might like to know some reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Foddernetwork.com.
Wait, wait! I know this one!
I’m not getting enough “Social Media” (capital “S,” capital “M”) and “Organic search” (capital “O,” not sure why it’s a lowercase “s”) because it’s been years since those sites were updated.
That little fact is what makes the postscript on the original message so confusing:
PS I: I am not spamming. I have studied your website and believe I can help with your business promotion …
1. When you say you’re not spamming you most definitely are spamming.
2. If you clicked through to any of the sites listed on foddernetwork.com you’d see they ceased publishing quite a long time ago. Your extensive study of my web properties must have missed that. Odd.
And while I’ve got you here, esteemed marketing consultant, here’s a tip: Your tone needs work. You can think I’m an idiot, but don’t let me know that.
“Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.”
— Kevin Spacey, James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.
That’s a single quote from this fantastic compilation of Spacey’s recent speech:
The full text from Spacey’s speech is here.
This market value graphic is floating around the Internet:
People are focusing on the Microsoft orbs, and for good reason: Gawking is warranted when you “lose” $313 billion.
But let’s put that aside and focus on a different part of the image.
Take a look at IBM:
- 2000: $209 billion
- 2013: $203 billion
I find IBM’s staying power far more impressive than the blobby expansion and contraction of other firms. It’s hard to build something that adapts, reinvents and perseveres across long stretches of time.
I read the Quartz Daily Brief almost every day. This is notable because I’m not all that interested in international business or politics. Yet there I am, each morning, scanning through the latest Quartz has to offer.
I appreciate the elegance of the thing. It’s a simple, well-written lineup that starts with the important stuff and concludes with a handful of weird/interesting/notable links that I often have yet to encounter. The tone of the email is smart, but not off-putting, funny, but not snarky. And it has never — not once — been twee.
After reading this case study, I appreciate the Daily Brief even more. Turns out Quartz produces three editions every day, each timed to serve a particular part of the globe at precisely 6 am.
Quartz senior editor Zach Seward explains how it all comes together:
“Typically, one of our reporters in the United States—it’s a different writer each week—pulls together the first draft of the email in the afternoon on, say, Tuesday. That’s edited in the U.S. as well, and sent to our readers in Asia, where it’s already Wednesday morning. (We aim to hit inboxes by 6 am in Hong Kong, London, and New York, respectively.) About six hours later, reporters and editors in Asia update the email to reflect any new information and send out the Europe edition. Finally, the Americas edition is sent from Asia or Europe about 12 hours after the whole process began in the U.S. It’s a lot of work, but our readers seem to think it’s worth the effort, which is all that matters.”