Newsday Strategy.

    Home Page Strategy.

    Digital Strategy

    AOL. Strong Armin’. Finally.

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    Cambio is AOL’s first big bullet in the content strategy war with Yahoo. It makes me think AOL just may win this thing. I love Carol Bartz’s decision to go with the content approach for Yahoo, but still think her approach a bit too diffuse. They still possess a start page mentality over there – start page meaning, set your personal home page to Yahoo.

    AOL, on the other had, spent enough time with Time Warner to learn a thing about packaging content.  They probably own a camera or two and kept some producers and directors around, so by signing the Jonas Bothers and their music company to a deal with the new AOL online music channel Cambio, cranking up some new content quickly may be very doable.   This is a transformative move. It may be the first real melding of music and new media we’ve seen; think Little Steven’s Garage (dot com) for kids. And, with a big, scalable company surrounding it.

    AOL, BTW, should bring Little Steven and his garage over to the fold. No brainer. Why?  Because he’s a great curator, a special personality and he has a loyal following. The radio doesn’t do his project justice. I like this move for AOL — and though Cambio may only be the learning ground for something bigger, it’s a great idea. Tim Armstrong is human, but he’s beginning to hit stride.  Peace! 

    Newsday Strategy.

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    Over a decade ago, I wrote a creative brief for Newsday, a large metropolitan newspaper covering Long Island and Queens New York, using the insight “We know where you live.”   Newsday liked the notion but didn’t completely get the insight. They reframed it and turned the words into their tagline of many years “Newsday. It’s where you live.” 

    “We Know Where You Live” was meant to provide residents of Long Island  — a diverse, but captive audience – with a reason to buy the paper in addition to The New York Times…and in place of The New York Post and The NY Daily News. Many of LI’s hundred thousand plus train commuters buy these other 3 papers every day for world news and sports and “We Know Where You Live” was intended to make them feel a bit out of touch with their local community news and home lives. (Sneaky, but true.)  It was also a means to create greater loyalty among current readers.   

    This brand idea, if properly acculturated throughout Newsday, would have made every employee hypersensitive to providing an editorial experience that only a LI-based paper could deliver.  

    Fast forward to 2010 and the underperforming Newsday.com.  “We Know Where You Live”, though long gone, is still a powerful rallying cry for building online readership and participation.  The owners, architects and builders of the website, should be brainstorming how to deliver that experience. Instead, I submit, they are probably in brainstorming meetings chasing the latest social media twist, the next community promotion and the October program intended to build time on site. These are tactics, not strategy.  “How” is tactical. “Why” is strategic.  Newsday and Newsday.com need to revisit their brand strategy.  And let those 34 new reporters they’re hiring in on it. Peace!

    Home Page Strategy.

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    I was on the Wells Fargo home page this morning, don’t ask, and counted the clickables above the fold.  There were 46. In my lifetime there is no way I’d be interested in 46 different pieces of information on banking from Wells Fargo or any bank for that matter. Imagine walking into a bank and having 46 questions? (Too many clicks, for those Bush Tetras fans.)

    The irony is that most bank home pages have a similar number of links. Citibank does a good job, providing only 18 clickables…on one of the cleaner pages in the category.

    I advocate using your home page to convey the company Is-Does and brand value. I recently had a major difference of opinion with a company over this approach. The executive team at regional (non-financial) brand with national aspirations and a changing business model, felt it more important to use the homepage as a navigational tool than to explain the complicated business it was in and what made it different. Similar to the bank approach, it organized upon the home page an array of things it thought customers would want, by target. It’s the “me” versus “you” argument I often have in reverse when discussing advertising. (Good ads are you focused, a good home page is me/brand focused.)

    Cory Treffiletti a really smart colleague once told me, “If you give customers too many choices they will make none.”   To that I will add, if you don’t tell people what you do and do differently than competition, they won’t make a choice. Certainly, not an informed choice that is.

    Even in a category as generic as banking – when simply removing confusion can be a differentiator – companies need to use their home page to convey their brand story, their soulful difference. Homepages that are simply navigation-driven are tofu and a lost, lost opportunity.  Peace!