New Website Launch

I launched my third website today (including this one). Although all three are simple WordPress themes, this has taught me the basics of building and hosting a site.

It’s been a good experience so far, so if you have a moment head over to Nick’s Auto Detailing and Episcopal Nursery School of Royersford, PA and let me know what you think.

Father’s Day 2018

I woke up on this beautiful Father’s Day morning thinking about my grandfather who passed away in 2008. He was a child of immigrants, his father was born in Czechoslovakia and his mother Hungry. He fought in the Korean War, and spent most of his life working in the cemetery where I spent much of my childhood and teenage years.

I’m aware of his many failings and struggled mightily. He was not a nice man, some have described him as evil. He was an alcoholic. He was violent to those around him, including his wife and kids, and in all likelihood suffered from mental illness.

He had a presence about him when he walked into a room. Depending on your perspective – or time of day – it was respect or fear. You knew when he walked into a room, even if you didn’t know him.

It’s sad to say, but as the person I have become, I don’t think I would associate myself with him. It’s not that I think I’m better than he was, it’s that I came to learn just how severe his transgressions were.

Some things you can’t just simply forgive then forget.

However, as the child I was, he instilled in me important values that made me the person I am today. You see, his struggles and transgressions have become family legend, but so have his work ethic, problem solving, grit and tenacity.

He never had much, which, looking back, was by design. But he knew how to get the most out of what he did have. I remember him working long days, sometimes through the night to get the job done.

No matter what the obstacle was, he would always figure out a solution.

That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I know it’s hard to look past the bad that people do. But as a child I was too young to understand everything else. I could only see the good in people.

On this Father’s Day, 10 years after my grandfather’s death, this is what’s on my mind. I’m thinking about the fathers and grandfathers who shaped me and how they are shaping the lives of my children.

And it makes me wonder, how am I shaping the lives of my children and, if we’re so fortunate, their children?

You can probably guess that my grandfather was a bit of a recluse, so I don’t have many pictures of him. The only one I could find was from Christmas 2006, just after my youngest son, Charlie, was born.

If memory serves, this was the last times I saw him before his passing.

Me, my two sons, Elijah and Charlie, my dad (standing), Randall, and my grandfather, Andrew.

 

When will print’s advertising revenue slide end?

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

I look forward to Mary Meeker’s internet trends report each spring. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. And, unlike the now-annual release of a new Star Wars film, it never disappoints.

Regardless of professional or personal interests, there is information in the report that touches all of us. You just have to be willing to consume 294 slides of information.

You can view the full report, presented at Recode’s 2018 Code Conference, below, or check it out on recode.net here.

Slide 96: % of Time Spent in Media v % of Advertising Spending

The slide that I find most interesting, as it relates directly to my profession, is slide 96. Slide 96 shows the percentage of time spent in media and compares it to the percentage of advertising revenue spent in the same media.

2018’s slide 96

I’ve worked in local media since 2001 and I’ve been fixated on each year’s version of this slide since at least 2012. Nieman Lab has a great post that captures this slide from 2011 through this year, which got me thinking about print’s constant ad revenue woes – which have accelerated over the past two years.

Is there an end in sight and can Mary Meeker’s report show when?

Crunching the Numbers

I pulled numbers from a few sources to build my analysis, including from the aforementioned Digital Trends Report and Nieman Lab article, as well as a post from Venture Beat that shows US ad spending growth as projected by e-marketer. I also made several assumptions that I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with. For example, I’m assuming that the time spent in print will remain constant at 4%.

Since 2011 ad spending in print media has dropped from 25% to 9%. On average the market lost 3 points per year. The two worst years were 2013 and 2016 when they lost 4 points.

On a percentage basis, this equates to a 15% annual loss in print revenue. The most significant losses in terms of percentage are the past two years, where advertising revenue in print has dropped 25% in each year.

Between 2015 and 217 the market share has dropped from $29.3B to $18.1B. A loss of $11.2B, or -38%.

In 2011, when the market share was 25%, time share for print was 7%. Between 2011 and 2014 this fell to 4%, where it has since remained. As the Nieman Lab article points out, this 4% could be as high as 4.4%, or as low as 3.5%. Regardless, we can say that the percentage of time spent has, at the very least, slowed.

As slide 96 illustrates, in media percentage of time spent and percentage of revenue generally correlate. Does that mean that the share of print revenue will drop to 4% of market share?

There is no real way to tell, but for purposes of  this article, I’m assuming so.

What Does a 4% Revenue Share Look Like?

If we assume that advertising revenue in print finds its low-water mark at 4%, how far away are we from seeing this, and what do the next few years look like?

If we assume that 2018 is average from a point loss basis, print should lose another three points, bringing the market share down to 6%. This is a 33% loss in revenue, which would dramatically accelerate the losses in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019 another two point loss would bring the market share down to 4%, matching the share of time spent. This would also represent a second straight year of 33% revenue loss.

This would put revenue in the print ad market around $8.9B, down $20.4B, an astonishing revenue loss of 70% since 2015.

Note: Using the percentage losses from the past two years, 25%, extends the time frame an additional year. Using the historical annual losses of 15% expends the time frame by three years.

On the Bright Side?

The bright side, regardless as to whether you look at revenue losses on a point, recent trend, or historical trend basis, is that once print advertising finds its low-water mark, it could show advertising revenue gains. However modest they might be.

Assuming the total advertising market continues to grow at 5% annually, print advertising should, at the very least, be able to maintain year-over-year revenue. Whether that’s in 2020, 2021 or 2022, it will be a welcome sight for an industry that has been beaten down for the past few decades.

Although, the media industry has yet to successfully monetize mobile to any real degree, relying on desktop for any signs of growth in recent years.

Hmm …

We may want to pay attention to the fourth column on that slide.

 

I Installed A Floor

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but I have an excuse. With my free time I installed a Pergo floor in our dining room. I know a lot of folks out there will mock my accomplishment, and that’s okay.

I’m not normally a DIY kind of guy. I know a lot of people are, but I prefer to let professionals do what they do best.  But every so often I get a project in my head and go for it.

It took me two full weekends, minus a few hours to partake in a family gathering, but the job is complete and it has me feeling

 

Seriously, is there anything better than the feeling of a job well done?

Probably, but I’ll take it.

Here is a before and after pic my wife took. Note that the after is prior to trim.

Before
After

News consumption is hard work

Being a news consumer in 2018 is hard work.

Although to be fair, it’s always been hard work. Mistakes, bias, false narratives and lies have always been part of the news. It’s never been easy for news consumers to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not.

The difference, as social and distributed media have grown in the last decade, is that it’s easy to find content and distribute it to your circle of influence without thought or consideration as to whether what you’re posting is right, wrong or somewhere in between.

And when that narrative aligns to your personal worldview, you want to be the first in your circle to get that hot take out there. You get that post/tweet/like/share/snap out there as quickly as possible.

It’s cathartic to see those reactions pile up and know that you’re right and all of your friends agree with you.

And thanks to the magic of algorithms you’re constantly shown a similar worldview, reinforcing your belief.

You are the king of your own world and you can never be wrong.

Isn’t this why we all love social media?

The problem is that so many of these hot takes end up being wrong. Which, unless you’re someone with zero self-awareness, is an embarrassing place to be.

But no matter how careful, woke, or self-aware we think we are, we’ve all shared something that was wrong.

Congratulations.

Over the past several weeks two news stories have me thinking about the bubbles I’ve built for myself. The first was the uproar over comments Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi made while being interviewed on the Freakonomics podcast.

The interview was part of a larger series about CEOs in America – I listened to each episode as they were released.

The conversation her and host Stephen Dubner were having was around data. I remember hearing Noovi’s comments, but because of the context of  the conversation, they didn’t strike me as anything for that a few data points.

Noovi talked about data collected by Pepsico researchers that found women don’t like to crunch too loudly in public, don’t like to lick their fingers, don’t pour broken pieces of chips into their mouths, and want snacks that fit into their purse.

I never gave it another thought until a day or two later. While listening to another (comedy) podcast, The Daily Zeitgeist, they started discussing how the CEO of Pepsico said that the company was working on Lady Doritos. This struck me because having listened to the interview, I didn’t remember saying this, but did remember the data points.

The other thing that struck me was the host who referenced the story kept referring to the CEO as a male. He later corrected himself, but IMHO that’s a lazy mistake.

 

Another example from this same story is from the New York Daily News. Here is the headline they used for the story:

Pepsi CEO: Women want ‘lady chips’ that don’t ‘crunch too loudly’

The headline makes it seem like the CEO used the words “lady chips.” But read the story. No place is she quoted as saying “lady chips.”

So I started thinking about the Noovi’s interview more critically. Was I missing something?

Did she suggest that the company was looking into how the data can improve its products? Yes, this is something every company does (or at least should).

Did she say they were working on ‘Lady Doritos’ or ‘Lady Chips’ as was being reported? No.

Can you assume from what she said that they were working on snacks tailored for women? It seems like it, yes. But this is something most snack companies do now.

So did Noovi’s comments deserve the criticism and uproar they received? I’m sure the people who criticized would say yes, so I would say it’s not up to me to decide.

What I do know is that it taught me a lesson.

Just because I’m aligned with someone’s overall worldview doesn’t mean they are always accurate. Before repeating what they say and what I hear, I need to do some legwork to make sure it’s accurate.

 

My other example is a mistake I made right after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

The day of the shooting I was at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL with my family. When I first learned of the shooting we were standing in line waiting  to ride Escape from Gringotts.

My wife and I stood there refreshing our phones to get as much information as we could as quickly as possible. And, like so many of us, as the details came in I got angrier and angrier – and felt completely helpless.

The next day, as we continued our time in the park, shuffling from line to line, my social media feeds filled up with memes that proved my worldview about gun control and gun violence.

Normally I’m careful about the stories I share and the memes I post, especially when it comes to news and world events. Even though it’s not in an editorial department, I work in media and the last thing I want to do is spread fake news.

I always take the time to source before posting. I look for one or two sources from reputable outlets before sharing.

But like I said, I was angry and was feeling helpless. So just before jumping into the Jurassic Park ride I re-posted a meme about the number of US school shootings so far in 2018.

And hey someone said Bernie Sanders said it so it must be true, right?

Later in the day someone called me out for it. But because our political worldviews don’t align, I ignored him.

The next day a friend of mine from college posted this:

I don’t usually post on this stuff and I certainly do not want to take away from the tragedy and the seriousness of the situation. But I find this article to be very revealing and truthful. I keep hearing the term “fake news”. I think my definition may a bit different than others. Watching the news networks may be misguided or misleading news. But fake news to me are the people who post unchecked “facts” and mislead by making opinions “facts”. Celebrity tweets, your best friend’s FB post that was a repost from 3 sources ago in 2014. Yes that is fake news. That’s why we have to be diligent to do some of our own fact checking and not automatically hit the share button. The news networks aren’t always right. And neither is your neighbor from when you were 8 years old who is tweeting the sexual harassment of an old man smiling at her as he complimented her dress as he holds the door open for her. Opinions are not facts. And you are allowed your own opinion and thoughts. But get the facts straight.

Along with this link:

No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.

I’m not sure what her worldview is exactly, but it doesn’t matter.

She was right.

I was wrong.

Period.

And I know better. I watch friends and family members share lies day after day and just shake my head. “How can they be so stupid,” I think to myself.

Well, now I know.

Like I said, being a media consumer in 2018 is hard work.