Tom Wheeler and Net Neutrality

Tom Wheeler is the 31st chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He has held the position since November 2013, and arguably the biggest issue the FCC has faced in this time is over whether to preserve Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality has been in the news a lot in the last few years, and it has become one of those phrases that people throw around. But what exactly is it?

Net Neutrality CartoonNet Neutrality is the principle that information sent across the Internet must be treated equally, or neutrally. Access to some data should not be prioritized over other data. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not be able to charge certain companies more to transmit their data, and the ISPs should not be able to block any content or data either. Basically, Net Neutrality is what it sounds like: an open and neutral Internet.

What the ISPs would like to do is charge certain companies more to access an internet “fast lane” that would allow that company’s clients, users or subscribers faster download times for the data sent over those “fast lanes.” If a company was unwilling or unable to pay these extra charges their data would be sent at a slower speed making download times longer. The ISP’s would also like to be able to block certain content, say person-to-person torrent sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, from being accessed by their clients.

There was much debate as to whether or not the FCC would support net neutrality or if they would support the business interests of the ISPs. Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former cable company lobbyist, was thought not to support net neutrality; so many people thought the FCC would also not support it.

Net NeutralityHowever, on February 26, 2015 the FCC declared that they would classify the Internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service. This will place it under the protections of the Communication Act of 1934 and the Telecommunication Act of 1996. They published a large document outlining the new rules for the broadcast of the internet, and Chairman Wheeler wrote a blog post on the FCC website saying, “the FCC today has taken an important step that should reassure consumers, innovators and the financial markets about the broadband future of our nation.”

And the Internet rejoiced! Well, except for Jeb Bush. And Fox News. And Rush Limbaugh. These technological masterminds are all very worried that the new regulations will staunch growth in the industry because what sort of company would want to fund expansion if they knew they weren’t going to be able to gouge their current customers and double charge the content companies?

What sort of companies indeed. Chairman Wheeler writes from his blog again, “The ISPs’ consumer revenue streams tomorrow will be the same as they were yesterday. I believe this is why Sprint, T-Mobile, Frontier Communications, and Google Fiber, along with hundreds of smaller phone company ISPs have said they would continue to invest under the Commission’s modern regulatory approach.”

Will these new rules indeed inhibit development by our ISPs or, can we, as Chairman Wheeler thinks, look forward to, “a broadband future of investment and expansion?” Will these rules stand? For now, it seems so.

Sommer Darland

Justin *Kan* Make Your Startup a Success

Justin Kan knows his startups. At age 23 he started a website for lifecasting. In 2011 he launched the world most popular e-sports streaming site. In 2012 he created a westcoast website he would flip immediately. He’s been around the block once or twice, creating success after success. So, how does he do it?

justin KanJustin graduated from Yale with a love for technology. At the same time, he also loves going to parties and having fun. These two interests ignited an idea, a “lifecast.” With the $50,000 he received from the Y Combinator, a startup funder, he created, a website where he streamed what he did, as he did it, in real time. Justin turned himself into an online personality and would do the same for others. By 2008, would have over one million visitors and over 60 channels of other people lifecasting themselves.

In 2011 Justin Kan began work on a video game streaming website. The market for video game streaming and social websites had been tried and failed. None were able to gain any real traction and work in the long term. This would not be the case for Twitch has grown and has since become the place for amatuer and professional gamers alike to stream their content. Esports has found their home in Twitch, with League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter Strike airing on the website regularly. In 2014, this startup was sold for $960 million to Amazon and continues to grow.

These two massive products have created a few guidelines Justin says to follow. First and foremost: pay attention to the user experience. The community is what matters and will be what grows the startup. Making money is important, and is needed for any successful startup, but getting a strong fan base should take priority at all times.

Next comes the money. Passion projects are great, but you need to make money at some point. This means that creators need to build in order to flip. Make the project, foster a community, and find out how to make money without sacrificing those that support it. Startup founders need to keep iterating and perfecting on the project to improve the experience and ways to profit.

There is also set of rules to follow when selling. Don’t sell when it makes sense, after things have died down. If the project is blossoming, if it’s growing and people love it–that is the best time to sell. If the project starts to decline, and there no room for growth, then the opportunity to sell has passed you by, especially if you want the most bang for your buck. The time to sell the startup is when the founder can still make a ton of money. According to Justin, sell as the project is hitting it big.

After selling Twitch, Justin has since stepped back a bit. He has turned his focus away from startups and into creating art. Since the big sell, he has delivered talks on creating startups and now has a place on the board that made the first investment, the Y Combinator. Now he is focusing on projects that aren’t intended to make money, but there’s still time for him to change his mind.

Evan Stevenson

Can Eric Shanks and Fox Sports Meet the World Cup Standards?

In 2014, the World Cup set a United States television record as over 26 million viewers watched the final match between Germany and Argentina. But that was on ESPN. A month before ESPN handled their final World Cup, for at least the next 12 years, Fox Sports and FIFA announced that they had made a $425 million deal for the rights to all FIFA events.

Fox Sports SoccerNow, having just been awarded the rights for the 2026 World Cup as well, many loyal soccer fans around the country and world have been left wondering if Eric Shanks and Fox Sports can handle an event that ESPN has been so successful with over the years.

The President, COO and Executive Producer at Fox Sports, Eric Shanks, has been pivotal in Fox’s acquisition of the World Cup rights for the coming years. Shanks said in an interview around the time that Fox acquired the rights that “The time is now (for soccer). This country, if you kick a ball your ratings are up 25 percent to 50 percent… (there’s) a lot of reasons for it. Access to great international competitions, the growth of our domestic league, the success of the U.S. team.”

Soccer fans around the world are wondering if Fox Sports can broadcast the World Cup in ways that appeal to all fans of the game, not just fans of the United States team.

Fox Sports will have a chance to showcase their soccer coverage later in the year when they take on the 2015 Women’s World Cup. As you can see in the commercial below, Fox has already taken the U.S. first approach to this momentous event. However, with the U.S. Women’s team coming off an Olympic gold medal in 2012, the hype and extra coverage of that team may be justified.

Christopher Harris at World Soccer Talk expressed his and fellow soccer fans’ concerns in an article released the Wednesday after ESPN wrapped up their 2014 World Cup coverage. Having produced multiple UEFA Champions League matches, soccer fans have experienced what Fox Sports has in store for the future.

“The level of confidence among soccer fans and critics regarding FOX’s soccer coverage is at an all-time low,” Harris said. “Fox Sports continues to ignore soccer fans, treats viewers with a lack of respect and employs talent who are not qualified to be on the airwaves.”

Fox Sports and Shanks handed the play-by-play broadcasting reins to former NCAA tournament announcer Gus Johnson in 2013. But after hearing fans voice their concerns about Johnson’s inexperience with the game of soccer, Shanks announced in 2014 that Johnson would be stepping down as their top soccer commentator to focus on college football and basketball.

But with top commentators Martin Tyler and Ian Darke over at ESPN, Shanks is still in the process of finding and securing top talent for the 2018 World Cup. Soccer fans are concerned that Fox Sports will put too much emphasis on the U.S. team and not highlight the World’s top teams as well as they should.

Despite the concern from soccer fans about the lack of quality talent at Fox Sports as well as too much coverage of the U.S. teams, Shanks has experience with coming up with new and innovative ways to broadcast sporting events. Shanks helped develop FOXTrax, a way to help viewers to follow the puck during hockey games, as well as the yellow first-down line that fans have become accustomed to seeing during football games.

But what types of advancements can Shanks come up with for soccer coverage at Fox without ruining the classic feel of the game that soccer fans crave? Do you think Fox Sports can secure enough quality talent for their World Cup coverage? Can Shanks come up with innovative broadcasting techniques that can help separate Fox Sports from ESPN in terms of soccer broadcasting?

Leave your comments below or your suggestions of who Fox Sports should get to enhance their coverage of one of the World’s largest sporting events.

Riley Ubben

Inheriting an Empire: Tim Cook and Apple

Tim Cook looks and acts like the products that his company is so famous for producing.

Tim CookThe full head of silvery-white hair looks like something Jony Ive, Apple’s famous lead industrial designer, could have slaved over in the engineering labs and formed from brushed aluminum in a Chinese factory. He is quiet, timid, precise, meticulous, he runs smoothly and without haste. He was chosen to take over the worlds most valuable company, by the most perfectionistic, and visionary businessman of the 21st Century. This choice was no accident.

Bob Dylan once wrote, “All I can be is me, whoever that is”. Cook has allowed Apple’s legacy of excellence, innovation, and bravery to inspire and inform his directing of the company, but not shackle it. He is not Steve, and Apple is better for it. Many of Apple’s most successful products over the last four to five years, have been ones that wouldn’t have been allowed under the old guard. Larger iPhones, smaller iPads, MacBooks with HDMI, products with gold finishes.

Apple has become more open under Cook, devoting titanic amounts of resources, both time and money, into renewable energy, funding for HIV AIDS research, marching for LGBT rights, and a huge push for equality. The world learned the kind of man Cook is, when at a recent shareholders meeting, he told a reporter, “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He is a man who cares deeply about equality, fairness, and accessibility. His office is bookended by two portraits: One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and another of Robert Kennedy. He describes them as “two civil rights leaders who put their lives on the line for what they believed in.”

Not everything has gone exactly according to plan, though. Both Maps, & Siri, as well as Apple’s most recently iOS operating system updates, have been less than well-received. Apple’s mantra used to be “It Just Works,” in reference to having software and hardware that worked together like magic. Now, with pressure to release a new update every fall, that has fallen to the wayside, in favor of an annual feature bump. And that’s just their software.

iPhone 5cThe iPhone 5C has been criticized for being made of “non-premium materials”, meaning plastic. Apple usually only uses higher quality glass, and aluminum in its designs, and a sudden shift to a cheaper housing put it in the realm of Samsung, and other competitors in terms of build quality.

But maybe, to Samsung, that comparison would have been taken more favorably. The Korean electronics giant has come under criticism, both by tech journalists and Apple in recent years, for copying Cupertino’s most popular products. Even worse, is the blatant bootlegging of design by Chinese copycat products, going so far as to recreate the aesthetic of Apple’s retail outlets

When thinking of Cook’s place in Apple’s story, I’m reminded of my upbringing as a young Catholic boy, and the “gloria” prayer. There was a verse, “He is seated at the right hand of the father…” And that to me is Tim Cook.

While Steve Jobs will always be looked at as the iconoclastic figurehead, the high priest of the computer age, Tim Cook is very much the right hand man, the man behind the legend.

Sam Strajack

Evan Spiegel and Snapchat’s Update Crisis

Snapchat had an update this January that caused a complete meltdown on Twitter from users all over the world. In the update Snapchat removed the app’s ability to see the “best friends” in people’s friends lists. Snapchat also changed around some settings and added an awesome news feature for users. In this post, I will talk about these changes implemented by their CEO Evan Spiegel, and how they affected the company and users.

For those unfamiliar with Snapchat, the “best friend” feature lets you see the three friends that a person sends snaps to most frequently. It has been a beloved feature since the early days of Snapchat, letting you basically spy on your friends and lovers to see whom they are chatting with most. Once this update dropped the feature users all over the world were freaking out, because now they couldn’t keep tabs on their boyfriends or girlfriends to see if they were “Snapchat-cheating” on them.

Evan Spiegel TweetDistraught users all over the world went to social media to complain about the new update. People were so mad that Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel was forced to respond on Twitter the same day as the update.

Spiegel didn’t think removing the best friends would be that big of a deal and it wasn’t even the biggest change in the update.

The update also introduced a “Discover” feature to Snapchat users. Snapchat’s Discover feature brings news to the millennial generation. The feature provides news platforms such as CNN, Food Network, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, and ESPN to publish short stories filled with rich multimedia elements. Like Snapchat’s “My Story” feature, it offers sleek, easy to navigate daily packages of information that disappear after 24 hours and are replaced with fresh news to make sure users continue to use the feature. Below is a video Snapchat released to introduce users to the new feature.

For some users the Discover feature is almost like a game. Once you have gone through all the content on a certain news platform, the brand’s colorful icon turns white to signify that you have read all of their content for the day. With twelve content brands posting quick updates, Millennial’s with short attention spans can get their news and keep informed in just minutes. Snapchat also revealed another short video showing how easy it is to use Snapchat’s new feature.

Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, CEO of the temporary photo messaging company, is currently the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 24. He met the co-founder, Bobby Murphy, at Stanford’s Kappa Sigma frat house. They quickly launched Snapchat in 2011 and now 100 million people use the free app monthly.

In late February of this year, Spiegel talked about his company at a fireside chat at the University of Southern California. According to Business Insider, Spiegel said, “Snapchat is better for news organizations’ branding efforts than Twitter because unlike Twitter, Discover clearly shows the users where they are getting their news from.”

Spiegel believes that brands are losing their value on Twitter because the brand isn’t as important as the content they are reading. Snapchat is trying to bring back the editorial perspective because Spiegel believes it is valuable to have someone smarter find out what is important in the news circuit.

Spiegel thinks that the Discover feature will definitely kickstart Snapchat’s revenue growth and help expand the company. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I want to leave you with a few questions. Do you think that Snapchat’s Discover feature is useful? What does Snapchat need to do to make the app more interesting and keep users around for many years to come?

Tommy Zittergreun

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is Bold, Just Like Their Marketing Strategy

In America’s electronics field, it seems like it is Apple versus the world. If it is not PC versus Mac, then it is IOS versus Android. I was not surprised when I did a quick Google search to find out some information about mobile devices, specifically what percentage of smartphone users use Apple’s iPhone versus the percentage of users that use Android devices. According to a recent Yahoo Tech page, 42.7% of smartphone users in the U.S. use the iPhone, while 52% use Android devices. That isn’t a surprise, considering that I see about one in every two people using an iPhone. As most people know, Android devices come from multiple companies including HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung. While Android might have a slightly larger share of the market, the prize for the most phones in use easily goes to Apple. Of all U.S. smartphone users, 43% of them use the iPhone, while Samsung comes in second with 29%.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4While Samsung does make up over half of the Android smartphones in use, it is still lagging behind the juggernaut of Apple with its weapon of choice: the iPhone. How does one stand up to these odds? Can it be done? Samsung seems to think so.

Samsung has recently released its newest flagship “phablet,” the Galaxy Note 4. The bold marketing campaign hopes to increase the market share of smartphones. Samsung has approached it in three specific ways: taking shots at the competition, focusing on Samsung products, and branding.

The Note 4 was released on September 3, 2014. Ten days later an advertisement was released that showcased the strategies that Samsung would be using to accomplish their goal. For their campaign, their competition is obvious: Apple.

In this one-minute spot, shots at Apple can be seen from 18 to 24 seconds, and from 37 to 52. It belittles (no pun intended) the iPhone 6 and Apple in general. It basically labels Apple as a copycat brand with little innovation. At least, that is the message they hope viewers will receive. This is a major way that Samsung has marketed itself recently, by attempting to drag down the competition of Apple. At the same time, Samsung does a great job at focusing on their products and the functionality of them.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 AdLooking at the advertisement once again, the Note 4 is focused on from the beginning to 18 seconds in, and from 24 to 37 seconds. This is what really sets them apart from Apple, as Samsung puts a much larger emphasis on their products, and features of the products, then actual branding. During a middle section, there is a feature shown called multi-window, which allows more than one application to be shown on the screen at the same time, a feature that Apple does not offer. This also reinforces the subtle branding of “Samsung does it better” when thinking about how large screens should function. View Samsung’s other ads here and here and here.

Samsung is communicating that they do it better, and they have been doing it for longer. The branding is far overshadowed by the focus on the product, but it is still present if you look close enough.

How effective was this ad for you? Do you think Samsung should change their strategy? Is it effective on a large-scale? Also, take a look at some discussion regarding the “bendgate” issue here.

Thanks for reading!

Moving Meat: How to Sell the Pig

Eating pork may seem like an extremely common occurrence in the Midwest. But, during the 1980’s the nation had began to buy into the health craze and people were convinced that chicken was the best meat option for them due to its naturally lean composition. Cue the National Pork Board and their extremely successful “the Other White Meat” campaign. That campaign was the foundation of the company from 1987 to 1999, but then the campaign was changed twice more in rapid succession, in contrast to the long lasting “Other White Meat” marketing effort. That following campaign failed, but the next was a complete success. I will be summing up the history of events, while showing how the Pork Board assessed the most accurate way to market themselves and made a huge profit.

PorkIn 2004 the Pork Board set a goal to increase the total pork per capita by 10% by 2009. They had done research on markets and consumers, and contracted a new advertising company to design a new slogan to help meet their goal: the Richards Group had been widely successful with their campaign for Chik-fil-a “Eat More Chicken.” 

After the Richards group evaluated the research done by the Pork Board, they advised that marketing should be focused on consumers that were already purchasing pork products. In their estimation, marketing pork would become much less effective if they tried to pander to a larger audience. The goals became twofold, to market to the demographics that were already buying pork, and then to make them buy more of it.

The first slogan was “Pork: Don’t Be Blah,” and the campaign was originally aimed to be marketed at consumers who were well-to-do, active, forward thinking, and very positive people. The slogan was designed to make people want to invest more in a product that was juicy, flavorful, fulfilling and very social. They also found that there were high sales in the Hispanic community, and so this demographic became the center of advertising for the Pork Board.

The Hispanic community that was buying pork at the time was still unsure of pork being healthy. Most Hispanic adults at the time had grown up in homes where pork was for special occasions, due to the high risk of trichinosis many decades ago. So the best way to fix this was to reassure the public of the flavor and safety of pork, leading to this ad targeting Hispanic audiences:

Pork2The target Hispanic audience responded well, but by 2009 it was obvious that something was wrong. The slogan “Don’t Be Blah” was not driving people to want to buy more pork than they already were. Instead, the industry fell to a two-decade low in real capital expenditures.

Something had to change, and it needed to change quickly. The Pork Board re-evaluated the information that the first slogan had been designed to appeal to, and they realized just how off the campaign was. “Don’t Be Blah” was fundamentally negative, telling the consumer not to be “blah.” The Company quickly came up with a campaign that has surpassed previous expectations. The new slogan was, “Pork: Be inspired,” and it drove up the real per capita expenditure of the Pork Board by the 10% they had set as their goal by the end of 2014. The campaign inspired a series of videos and media that has focused on health, flavor, and being modern.

The “Be Inspired” campaign, and the intensive focus on market-based research helped make the company reach its financial goals. Focusing on customers who have already been purchasing pork, and then motivating them to buy more is an amazing example of maximizing the most from your consumers.

– Thomas Winkelman

Nike Will “Risk Everything” on Social Media

The World Cup is long behind us, but the memories will last forever: The United States’ historic run, Germany’s fourth World Cup win, and Nike’s Risk Everything campaign. A campaign that made it into AdWeek’s top ten most viral ads. Nike created one of the most memorable advertisements of 2014, so the question is, how did they do it?

This campaign was almost purely digital, using social media as key to their branding. Nike bet big on creating a couple of great videos in Winner Stays and Last Game, then let the fans do the work of getting it out there.

nike-risk-everythingNike collected their spokesmen from across the globe. The soccer ad featured superstars inside the sport such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr. and Tim Howard. They also reached outside the soccer world with appearances from Kobe Bryant and Anderson Silva to reach those who don’t know the sport.

Superstars don’t always drive success, but Nike’s production quality was top notch. Both the videos produced for Risk Everything told great stories, had an amazing look and were emotionally driven. They extended beyond the traditional thirty second spot to well over four minutes. Nike didn’t create an advertisement, they created phenomenal videos that also advertised the brand.

Nike brought together brand, media, and content to market their products. So let’s start out with the brand.

The literal brand really took a backseat in these videos. At no time are product names or images thrown in that could interrupt the story. While all the products in the commercial were from Nike, there was no blatant, “in your face” attempt to market themselves. The video came first in every aspect, letting viewers crave the brand after viewing the commercial because of how much they enjoyed the ad.

Nike Risk EverythingNike’s media choices really set this campaign apart. Short ads were shown during the World Cup, but the videos thrived on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. By February of 2015, the two videos had a combined viewership of 175 million. They reached this incredible number by being sharable. Winner Stays and Last Game were spread by Facebook and Twitter, reaching more and more people without any additional cost to Nike.

This leads to the content. Ads generally just try to get the product in your head. They produce subpar content and force the product on you. Nike’s content resembled nothing like their competitors. The content produced was primarily for entertaining.

The ads were shown as a world coming together, exciting and daring. This is exactly what the brand wanted you to feel about their product without ever saying it. They wanted the consumer to associate these traits with Nike soccer gear without uttering any of those words throughout their ad.

So did the risk pay off? Was focusing on creating great, sharable content instead of putting money into traditional advertising the right route? Nike saw 22 million campaign engagements during the running of Risk Everything. There were also 250 thousand user generated memes, five million visits to the product page and a 21 percent increase in earnings to $2.3 billion according to to this article. This campaign was wildly successful.

Does this campaign act as a game changer in the advertising world? Is running a digital campaign better at reaching out to consumers than traditional media? Is this where advertising is heading? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Evan Stevenson