Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Value

The Lunacy Of Pay Walls

It was Reagan who said,

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

He understood that walls keep us apart. Walls exist to stop the flow of knowledge, ideas and human connection. It is the lack of walls that has fueled the growth of Facebook and Twitter, while the existence of walls has crippled Microsoft and MySpace.

Now, this is not to say that walls can’t protect us or be built to protect our treasures. Walls have a place in our society. As I wrote here, I actually applaud the idea of a wall:

I was reminded this morning of one of the best chapters in the “Last Lecture,” titled, “Romancing The Brick Wall.” Randy Pausch eloquently and pignantly writes, “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people.” I couldn’t agree more.

The key here of course is that on the other side of the wall is something of value. In essence, the effort involved in scaling the wall is equal to the reward on the other side. If you will, there’s a certain mutual exchange.

It’s this concept of mutual exchange that publishers have seemingly forgotten.  Last week, I was reminded of how far publishers still need to come and how silly their approach to pay walls are.

For those not in the know, the term “pay wall” refers to the approach being taken by companies where you pay for access to their content.  Some companies take a 100% approach to this, where all the content is behind the pay wall, while others offer a hybrid model that allows for some content to be free and some (generally content considered to be more premium) is behind the wall.  This isn’t new.  Companies have been using a variety of pay wall approaches for more than a decade.  Of late, though it seems that there’s been a shift from rationale thinking and approaches to pay walls, toward ridiculous and unbalanced approaches.

Let me explain; for years AdAge.com had a great pay wall model.  Fresh content was made free to users (it was ad supported), but archived and older content required a pay subscription.  In my opinion, it was a great way to demonstrate to visitors that they completely grasped the idea of mutual exchange and wanted to create an environment where ideas, insights and knowledge would thrive.  This approach was smart and balanced.

Of late, AdAge seems to be experimenting with different thresholds for their pay wall. While this post focuses on them, let me say, there are 100s if not 1000s of companies experimenting in the same manner. Last week, nearly every piece of content on the site seemed to be placed behind the pay wall. I was perplexed.  Clearly, it had to be just me, right?  It was a cookie glitch or something.  I checked with several folks in the office and we were all having the same “problem.”

Putting all the content behind a pay wall would make sense if AdAge’s content was truly premium.  But, when you consider that sites like AdRants and Mashable, in addition to the great collection of agency blogs out there, have better and more importantly FRESHER content, how can AdAge justify this model?  This is a clear case of a company disregarding the concept of mutual exchange.  In a 24/7, real-time, always on demand world (yes, I just stuffed all those buzz words into one sentence), AdAge and the like have three options if they want to remain relevant:

  1. Provide better, fresher, more premium content – that in a perfect world offers different viewpoints and voices.  If they do this, a pay wall…heck even more of an aggressive pay wall makes sense.
  2. Keep offering the same voices and same frequency of content.  In doing so, maintain a status quo.
  3. Tear down more and more of the pay wall.  This would make even MORE of the content available and in theory attract more visitors.

Pay walls are here to stay.  They won’t go away.  They can be a good thing.  But, companies need to remember the idea of mutual exchange when they put up those pay walls.  If they forget about it, they might find themselves alone, behind a wall that serves no purpose, because no one is trying to get in.

Time Is The Most Valuable Currency

Last night I saw, Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps.  I’ve been looking forward to this for some time.  I was a big fan of the original Wall Street movie and was chomping at the bit to see Michael Douglas reprise his role as Gordon Gekko.  I won’t ruin the movie for you and give away secrets, but I will tell you that there is a profound scene in which Gordon Gekko explains that time, not money is the most valuable currency.

Of late, I’ve been thinking the same thing.  If you really think about it, time is the one thing that every day we get less of.  It’s a rapidly depreciating asset that we aren’t even control of.  It’s tragic really that we don’t value something like time more than cars, jewelry, HD TVs and of course money.  All of those and more can easily be added to, replaced and in some cases they can appreciate in value.  Nope, not time.  If you store it, unlike money, you lose it.  If you waste it, you can’t earn it back.  Time is ultimately invaluable.

The president of our agency, Michele Fabrizi, often challenges me and our Sr. leadership staff with an important question.  If you only had 2 hours in a day, how would you spend that time to drive the agency forward.  I won’t give way what I’d do here, but I can tell you that this concept works beyond the borders of our jobs.  If all you had was 2 hours, how would you spend it?  Would you really spend it shopping?  Or watching TV?  Or getting a manicure?  Would you?  I sure hope not, because all of those past times are wasted time.

Give some thought to the people that matter most in your life and the activities that make you happy.  Those are the things worth those valuable 2 hours.  Money, ultimately is insignificant unless you have none or you’re filthy rich.  If you’re in between those two extremes, money is worth less than time.  Why?  Well, if you have no money and all of a sudden have several thousand, you won’t waste it on expensive meals, because you know what it’s like not to have any money.  In effect, you’d treat every dollar very preciously.  At the other end of the spectrum are people like Bill Gates.  They have the luxury of being in complete control of how those 2 hours are spent, because everything is an option.  For you and I, using those two hours to fly to another state would be impossible.  For Bill, it’s possible with a simple phone call.

For all the rest of us in the middle, we spend most of our time chasing money instead of chasing moments.  And I can tell you, from experience, all the money in the world doesn’t help you get back a missed moment.

A highly recommend the movie and recommend you think about the value of time:

50 People You Need To Follow On Twitter Today

It’s tough trying to find smart, thought provoking, and valuable people to follow on twitter. There’s no shortage of lists and with twitter’s new list functionality rolling out to everyone soon, I thought it might be fun to create a list of 50 People You Need To Follow On Twitter Today. The following list a nice representation of the people I find the most value from on a day to day basis. Their signal to noise ratios are amazingly high and I rely on them for knowledge, insight, and sometimes a chuckle. I hope you get some value out of this list and maybe discover someone new to follow or connect with.


There Has To Be An Easier Way To Bank

I’ve belonged to 4 banks over the years: PNC, TCF, Citibank, and Wells Fargo. My Wells Fargo relationship has been in place for about 6 years. During those 6 years one thing has continued to bother me about my banking experience with Wells Fargo: the check deposit process.

This morning I got in the car and headed to the drive thru option at my local Wells Fargo. I had a check (signed by me), my Wells Fargo banking card, and my license. I placed all three of those items into the canister and sent it through the vacuum tube system to the banker. The banker asked me if I wanted to cash the check, I replied, “no, I’d like to deposit it into checking.” The banker then explained I would need to fill out a deposit slip. I don’t understand how it is in today’s day and age of digital banking that I still need to fill out a piece of paper. The information that needed to be filled in was information they already have: name, address, date, and deposit amount. Huh? Anyhow, I fill out the slip, drop it into the canister, and send it back to the banker.

Look, I should know better. This experience is the same every time I go to deposit a check. I guess I keep hoping that one day they’ll have it fixed and surprise me. The kicker in all of this, was after making me waste an additional 5 minutes, the banker thought I’d like to come in (at the very moment) to meet with someone about upgrading to a “better” savings account. Really? You some how thought that the guy who took the drive thru and who was irritated at filling out paper (aka wasting time) would now be jazzed about spending more time with you?

In full disclosure, this same problem has existed with PNC ad TCF. It never happened to me at Citibank. At Citibank you simply provided 2 forms of ID (eg check card and license) and they took care of the rest. If you wanted cash back all you had to do was enter in your pin. It was that simple.

Bob Gilbreath has a blog called Marketing With Meaning.  It’s a great blog that grounded in a simple concept: your marketing should have meaning.  Meaning to me is about value and marketing is more than the ad campaign a company runs.  Value and meaning come from the day to day interactions you have with a brand.  If Wells Fargo really wanted to provide me value they’d focus on making my life easier.  Not just my life, but all customers.  I’m telling you, the check deposit process should be better.  Isn’t it in their benefit to make it easier?  The more funds they have on hand the more they can lend out.  The more they can lend out the more money they make.

There has to be a better way, right?

2008 Top 10 People To Follow On Twitter

I really believe in following people that have a high signal to noise ration.  It doesn’t make sense to follow someone on twitter that posts a high amount of useless tweets and then seemingly at random gives you 1 great one.   I also don’t go for the people that too into themselves.  The ones that simply love to hear themselves tweet.

 That said, I also enjoy smart POVs, great links, and a little bit of humor.  I follow people that will engage with me in good discussion, share fantastic links, and make me say, “wow, that was cool.”

Without further adieu, here’s who I recommend following:

  1. @steverubel
  2. @mashable
  3. @timoreilly
  4. @chrisbrogan
  5. @guykawasaki
  6. @MarketingProfs
  7. @awolk
  8. @andybeal
  9. @Gartenberg
  10. @PSFK

For bonus, here’s, some people worth following because their content and tweets are simply enjoyable.

  1. @secrettweet
  2. @perrybelcher
  3. @jowyang
  4. @mleis
  5. @vegasbab
  6. @theonion
  7. @darthvader
  8. @therules
  9. @TechCrunch
  10. @leeodden

And since I’m in the Christmas spirit, here’s a list of people that other people will tell you to follow, but I wouldn’t recommend given their low signal to roise ratio and insane need to self promote.

  1. @JasonCalacanis
  2. @Scobleizer
  3. @loiclemeur
  4. @Pistachio
  5. @algore

It’s not that the people on the “don’t bother following” list aren’t smart.  They are.  But, they just don’t provide enough value for me on twitter.  Go ahead and start following them (you were going to do it anyway), you’ll see what I mean.  If you think I’m wrong, let me know.  Would love to hear about the value you’re finding from these people, that I’m clearly missing.

Also, feel free to use this list of the so-called Top 100 Most Influential Online Marketers.  Their twitter IDs are included.

Alex Rodriguez vs. Alfonso Soriano

Quick disclaimer: I think Alex Rodriguez is overrated, over paid, doesn’t show up in the clutch, and is a whiner.  Ok with that out of the way, many people consider A-Rod (silly nickname) the best baseball player in the league, a sure-fire hall-of-famer, and destined to rewrite the record books.  Back in 2003, the New York Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez.  I thought the move was silly and didn’t make sense.  Soriano made less and offered similar production.  Not to mention, the Yankees already had Derek Jeter at shortstop.  Well the Yankees didn’t call me up for my opinion and as such they’ve been “stuck” with A-Rod for the last 5 seasons.  During those 5 seasons the Yankees haven’t won a World Series, but the Boston Red Sox have won 2.  Just saying.

Ok, well I’m a data driven guy.  I love data.  With Soriano and the Chicago Cubs seemingly headed to the World Series (wouldn’t it be great if they won) it got me thinking about Soriano and Rodriguez.  I pulled the stats and I was flabbergasted. For the purposes of streamlining this comparison, we’re going to look at the following statistical categories: Salary, Games, Hits, Runs, Stolen Bases, RBI, Home Runs, Batting Average, OPS, and World Series titles.  Check this out:

  • Salary: A-Rod $120,389,252 (AVG of $24,077,850) vs. Soriano $46,900,000 (AVG of $9,380,000)
  • Games: A-Rod 743 vs. Soriano 681
  • Hits: A-Rod 845 vs. Soriano 799
  • Runs: A-Rod 578 vs. Soriano 461
  • Stolen Bases: A-Rod 104 vs. Soriano 125
  • RBI: A-Rod 592 vs. Soriano 423
  • Home Runs: A-Rod 201 vs. Soriano 166
  • Batting AVG: A-Rod .304 vs. Soriano .284
  • OPS: A-Rod .975 vs. Sorano .867
  • World Series Titles: A-Rod 0 vs. Soriano 0
A few things stand out to me:
  1. A-Rod made nearly 3X as much as Soriano did from 2004 – 2008
  2. A-Rod has played in 62 more games
  3. On the whole A-Rod’s raw stats are better than Soriano’s with the exception of stolen bases
  4. Neither player has produced a title

So on the surface, A-Rod seems like the better performer.  If your course correct for the games played differential, the numbers get within +/- 10% of each other.  For example Soriano averages 1 home run every 4.10 games.  If you scale out the home runs for Soriano to the same 743 games A-Rod has played you’d end up with 181 home runs.  Fascinating.

The real question though should be, “Is Alex Rodriguez worth 156.69% more (that’s the salary differential) then Soriano?”  If we assume the goal for the Yankees, as it is every year, is a World Series, then no.  But, let’s be serious, no one wins the World Series every year.  So let’s find a way to normalize the player’s value.  Thank god for win shares.  During the time period we are evaluating, Soriano had 98 win shares, while A-Rod had 151 win shares.

According to the win shares formula, A-Rod produced 53 more win shares. Based on the formula, 53 win shares, means A-Rod generated 17.67 more wins over those 5 seasons.  As a percentage he was 153% better than Soriano.  This is where the surprise came in.  Even though the raw numbers don’t seem to indicate A-Rod was worth 156.69% more money, his win shares seem to indicate he is.

For what it’s worth, I’d argue the Yankees would have been better off keeping Soriano and filling the third base hole with someone else.  But, that’s just me 🙂