Commentary

Eight Things I Hate About You

Sometimes the slap across the face is deserved.

We lived fast and loose the last few years. As executives, we sometimes spent money too carelessly, as salespeople we sometimes oversold, and as publishers we failed to innovate our product and help advertisers measure success nearly as much as we should have.

It is not entirely our fault; it is hard living in a world with multiple masters. I was taught by my mentor that as a CEO you always have five masters: your employees, your shareholders, your customers, your partners, and your community. Balancing these five is an incredibly challenging, and thankless, job.

As publishers, we also have multiple masters. We need to balance the needs of our advertisers, our users/readers, the need for editorial integrity, and the needs of our staff. It has become painfully obvious in the last 12 months that we are not doing a good job of striking this balance.

Our failure to innovate on ad formats and help our advertisers define success has left both our readers and advertisers dismayed. Our declining CPMs and revenues are terrifying us all. Yet this is an opportunity in disguise. There is nothing quite like seeing death to make you appreciate life, and good times hide problems.

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On a cold Saturday in New York, Ari Rosenberg (fellow OPI columnist) challenged me to identify a unifying theme for my columns. It is not easy to sum up your mission in a single sentence, so I spent most of the day walking around SoHo trying to figure it out (and trying to find the best cupcakes -- which, incidentally, are at Crumbs Bake Shop). After a bit of reflection, I concluded that my only goal is to challenge industry conceptions (and often misconceptions), and force people to think. I am admittedly an outsider to this industry, having spent the last 15 years in the world of software and high-tech.

So in an effort to provoke both vitriol and fantastic debate, I humbly offer eight things that need to change now:

1. Getting friended on Facebook after a business meeting. Can we please preserve the last ounce of formality that is left in business? I can live with you wearing jeans to our meeting, but save faux friendship for faux friends.

2. Writers and bloggers that need to use "in full disclosure" in their articles. This is the bizarre combination of someone with enough self-awareness to know that they are doing something wrong, but insufficient dignity to stop doing it. If you need to issue a disclaimer in your article,don't write the article.

3. People who start sentences with the phrase "to be honest with you." It is the fastest way I know to convince the other person you are full of crap.

4. Competing with your BlackBerry. Whether in a meeting, or on a dinner date, leave your BlackBerry at home (or at least in your pocket)! It is the fastest way to demonstrate to a client or date that you are "not that into them."

5. People that wear Bluetooth dongles in their ears. I have said it before, and I'll say it again: put the dongle down.

6. Consultants. When will you finally learn that their interests will NEVER be fully aligned with yours? Consultants try to maximize their fees (as they should), not maximize your ROI. It is not the consultant's fault, though. It is the fault of the person hiring them for not acknowledging what team they play on.

7. Using CTR to measure success. The notion that it is better to focus on the wrong metric rather than no metric is asinine. Focusing on the wrong metrics ensures your staff will not be successful. Brand advertisers should be measuring for brand impact, and performance advertisers should be measuring revenue. Nobody benefits from CTR as a primary metric.

8. Anyone who still believes ad networks actually sell "blind." As long as there is a financial incentive to disclose your brand, you will never have blind ad networks. You will only have companies that commoditize your inventory.

I am as guilty as everyone else. At times, these are eight things I hate about me. I present this list indignant, but looking firmly in the mirror.

What do you hate? Let me know in the comments.


24 comments about "Eight Things I Hate About You ".
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  1. Thomas Pick from Webbiquity, March 12, 2009 at 10:25 a.m.

    David, once again, outstanding post. I particularly like point #5. Whenever I see someone wearing one of those things in an inappropriate venue I'm tempted to say "You know, they have a surgery now that can remove those things."

  2. David Holland from Spectatus.com, March 12, 2009 at 10:26 a.m.

    and for that reason I don't have a blackberry or a dongle, but I do have a piece of paper and a pencil to write down what the client says...they love it!

  3. Gerard Mclean from Rivershark, Inc., March 12, 2009 at 10:26 a.m.

    You forgot to "apologize for the inconvenience" of a lot of truth in your post. All very true, all quite quotable.

  4. M. eileen Long from Nature Publishing Group, March 12, 2009 at 10:34 a.m.

    I hate that the common sense of your list doesn't have more confidence to guide the direction of good business and polite company.

  5. Michael Welch from Burditt Hill Resources, March 12, 2009 at 10:36 a.m.

    Or, as Mr. Emerson so felicitously phrased it: The more he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted the spoons.

    Really, there are "best practices" and there are good manners. Common sense is common sense in every environment, but perhaps less common online.

  6. Dan Walls from Chrome Systems Inc, March 12, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.

    Great post David thank you. Really listening to people and not "multi-tasking" is so important. thanks dw

  7. Curt Baxter from Salem Broadcasting, March 12, 2009 at 10:43 a.m.

    I like Ari's challenge to you...always appreciate his column. Your insight perspective is refreshing...I offer a challenge to one thing which you said in writing that to me is a greater reflection of the current (problematic) society/culture...I say DO the facebook bit...just do it authentically...BE or BECOME genuinely interested in your clients, business relationships etc...it's great you realize you're not, most are not or mostly don't...it's NOT great that you/they/we don't...and it's not unrealistic or unreasonable that you/they/we can.

    BE AUTHENTIC in all YOUR/OUR relationships.

    Thanks for the cerebral jolt...

    Curt Baxter
    Salem Web

  8. Bea Rush, March 12, 2009 at 11:27 a.m.

    I let out an appropriate "YES!" when I read this post! I continue to be amazed and saddened at the same time that today's innovations, ie the Blackberry and Blue Tooth, can make and break the workplace and personal gatherings. If I attend one more social event where half the attendees are busy texting or appear to be talking to themselves, I think I will scream. I concur with Michael Welch's comments. What ever happened to common sense and good manners? Oh, I would like a handwritten reply, please. (That personal touch always wins an Oscar in my book.)

  9. Jennifer Cyphers, March 12, 2009 at 11:32 a.m.

    Shouldn't "I am as guilty as everyone else" be preceded by "In full disclosure. . . "? (Heh)

  10. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, March 12, 2009 at 11:33 a.m.

    Great post David! I find facebook business connections especially creepy. They have a LinkedIn for that. I don't really want to see the pictures of your shady boyfriend from Pittsburgh nor do you need to know 25 random things about me.

    That being said, I tend to tune out people who don't at least use twitter, friendfeed or linked in, and I find myself disrespecting coworkers who act like 80 year olds at the X games when I tell them they ought to get into at least one of them. "All that newfangled technology--I just don't get the appeal." Yeah, I don't get the appeal of faxes either but I still know how to send one. They're business tools, what's to get? Just use them and see.

  11. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., March 12, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.

    @ Curt, I was not proposing a lack of intimacy in your business relationships (which I think is a great thing), but rather proposing people not force a relationship where one doesn't exist.

    I am very good friends with many of our clients and partners.

    The trust, honesty, and openness that comes with a good friendship, helps the business relationship as well.

    ...as long as you don't force a relationship where it is not natural.

    -David.

  12. Sam Rufo from nxtConcepts, March 12, 2009 at 11:59 a.m.

    Bravo! Thanks for having the courage to say what many of us have been thinking. I also have to say, I laughed out loud at Monica's comments above about the faxes. I'll have to use that comment in the future.

  13. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., March 12, 2009 at 12:01 p.m.

    @David Koch, I agree with your #9, but I'm not sure how you align those interests.

    Human nature will always lead people to seek short-term rewards unless you thoughtfully align incentives.

    I recently heard the former CEO of Symantec speak, and he closed with a great point:

    "Build a company to last 100 years, and ignore everything else. You will always make more money building sustainable businesses."

    -David.

  14. Wild Web from Wildweb, March 12, 2009 at 12:02 p.m.

    I liked most of your post. That said, regarding Hate Item# 1: Don't be hatin' me if I "friend" you on Facebook after a business meeting . Rather, hate Facebook for not doing a better job keeping my worlds from colliding. To those who insist that LinkenIn is for business and Facebook is for "friends" I ask, do you carry two cell phones? One for business and one for friends?

    Regarding "Hate"item # 3: If you were honest you'd admit that you've said "to be honest with you" before and you likely will say it again. I mean... to be honest with you : )

  15. Kirby Winfield from Dwellable, March 12, 2009 at 12:20 p.m.

    David,

    I love the Bluetooth comment. Ever notice how the people yammering away on Bluetooth at the airport are usually the least likely to actually be accomplishing something important? Get your laptop out, buddy.

    I hate advertisers who discount the impact of display on their SEM ROI; publishers who would rather show a crummy diet ad than an engaging rich media widget to make an extra penny; and anyone who doesn't deal honestly and proactively with their past due invoices.

    This economy brings these three hates into stark relief...

  16. Jon Levy from Hype Circle, March 12, 2009 at 12:37 p.m.

    So refreshing to hear #7. It's a battle we deal with on a daily basis. And yes on #1. Let's start with Linkedin, and maybe you can graduate to Facebook later.

  17. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., March 12, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.

    @WildWeb,

    It's not Facebook's job to keep businesspeople from being creepy.

    Facebook is first and foremost a place for people to connect with their friends. They store photos, personal data, and a relationship snapshot among other things.

    I think Jon Levy had it right. Start with LinkedIn and maybe graduate to Facebook. Maybe.

    -David Koretz.

  18. Dave Kohl from First In Promotions, March 12, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    I'll add another category to the list, even though I'm actually not one of them. I hate it when people who request a sales or service proposal do not respond to follow up a few days later. If you have put it off, find the price is too high, or want to re-visit it in 3 months, that's fine if you let me know. A professional marketer should always follow up on his or her work and deserves better from some of its recipients.

  19. Erin Ulicki from Centro, March 12, 2009 at 2:02 p.m.

    God I love this column. It shall be emailed and Facebooked and possibly tweeted.

    However, I'm not much of a fan of Twitter, but it is a business tool and if I tweet it, it shows up on my Facebook so that saves me one more thing to do. At the same time I only have friends on Facebook and they don't care about my job stuff. So I'll put in on my LinkedIn where all those business contacts are, if I could actually figure out where to add this to my LinkedIn page/account. If LinkedIn's usability was half of what Facebook's is then we business people could actually use it in a beneficial manner beyond a giant resume database.

    I agree with Monica's fax comment. You learn by doing - as I have outlined above.

  20. Erin Ulicki from Centro, March 12, 2009 at 2:04 p.m.

    PS - Dave Kohl -- you hit the nail on the head. It doesn't bother me if we're not a good fit for you, but please have the courtesy to tell me so I don't waste my time calling you. I respect your time, please respect mine.

  21. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., March 12, 2009 at 2:36 p.m.

    @Pat,

    For me, it's really simple. I never want to do anything that doesn't feel natural.

    After a first meeting, don't send anything.

    Once you have an ongoing business relationship, LinkedIn is fine.

    Once you have a personal relationship, Facebook is fine.

  22. Clyde Boyce from Firefly Media, March 12, 2009 at 6:29 p.m.

    I agree with all except #6. Part of my business is consulting. And I can tell you that maximizing clients ROI is my primary goal! If I do that well and help them understand how to optimize their channel mix, I don't have to worry about my fee. Their happy to pay me if what I do helps them accomplish their success metric. Let's not generalize about consultants all being greedy or only interested in their fees when the same can be said for for many other areas of our industry.

  23. Mandy Vavrinak from Crossroads Communications, LLC, March 13, 2009 at 3:47 p.m.

    I love your list! I do think friending or linking needs to feel natural... would you wanna have lunch with them, if it weren't strictly business? If not, don't "friend" them. I have some FB friends I've never met in person, but I've connected with them on Twitter and would LIKE to meet them in person :)

    As a sometimes consultant (lines blur in my business), I HAVE to be concerned about the client's ROI for engaging my services. Most of my work comes from recommendations. Only get recommended if you really do create value for the clients. So I offer that caveat to your #6 and offer this #9 > Be Careful What You Wish For - If you want a conversation, or engagement, or relationship, they can get complicated and you may not always like what you hear. Don't stop listening or responding just because it isn't perfect.

  24. Langston Richardson from Cisco, March 26, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.

    Number 7 and Number 8. True. If we can only get people to get full Laugh-In Pies to the face the next time we hear marketers begin sentences with: CTR this or Maximizing Ad Networks that.... (pie to the face)

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