Lessons to learn from pirate P ArrrghhRE: "The Habits of Moderately Successful Somali Pirates" (AdAge.com, Oct. 6). With the world as we knew it going over the spillway, this is a timely article and attractive concept. Savvy, team-building, PR-conscious pirates -- who would have thought this would have been a topic of discussion five years ago?
The New York Times got its scoop on this story by crafty use of technology -- and it revealed a side of piracy that has probably been there since the Jolly Roger was first flown. If Blackbeard could have been interviewed on a satellite phone, he might have said similar things! Pirates have always been "savvy," and they have always aimed toward a team-building enterprise, focused on a single, easily understood objective: booty.
So far, it seems these wily characters have taken advantage of the global confusion on how to cooperate among the nations of the world, and the easy pickings when there is no hard-line policy as to what to do when pirates strike, take booty and demand ransom. Taking advantage of this stupidity on the high seas is smart thinking on the pirates' part. Until the game changes when it "dawns" on maritime managers that the first thing to do is arm their ships in "pirate-prone" waters, then immediately blow approaching craft out of the water, look for more praise being heaped on pirates by reporters with a new twist for their articles.
For business leaders, I suggest they learn from these pirates while keeping an eye on the reality that the game can change overnight.
The Thompson Group
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Why lower standards for political ads?RE: "McCain Makes Big Strides on YouTube" (AdAge.com, Oct. 6). Since when do smear campaigns qualify as advertising successes?
If companies did to each other what McCain is doing to Obama -- without much success, according to the polls, especially among YouTube viewers -- it would be scandalous. Lawsuits for defamation would be flying.
It's okay for presidential candidates to do so, however? Not in the court of public opinion, at least.
San Mateo, Calif.
More ads not the answer for online TVRE: "Distributors, Networks Push for More Ads in TV Shows Online" (AdAge.com, Oct. 6). This shows the advantages of a distributed content-delivery system. Rather than a single data center paying all the bandwidth costs, those costs are shared by all the people who view the content.
Looking for an example? Think Joost. Or if you don't mind the back-alley atmosphere, try BitTorrent or LimeWire or any of the file sharing applications.
A distributed network is more vulnerable to hacking or piracy than is a centralized one. But the cost savings may well be worth the trade-off of having a small percentage of users pirate the content, while the majority are monetizable and have low infrastructure and support costs.
Adding more ads seems like the easy route. Companies and subsidiaries such as Hulu and others have some great minds working there -- I am sure they can come up with more-innovative ideas than adding more advertising. The parent companies need to let them operate like start-ups, and not be forced into traditional TV models. Why not try and figure out more ways to understand who the unique visitors are and create better ad targeting, allowing them to possibly up the rates. The more measurable it is the more valuable it is for the advertisers. Plus as we have seen, bandwidth and storage will continue to drop over time.
VP debate was good programmingRE: "Biden/Palin Debate Reaches 69.9 Million Viewers" (AdAge.com, Oct. 3). It is not just the number of eyeballs, but also the extent to which viewers are glued to the screen. Comparing the intensity of interest among viewers of VP debates to the first presidential debates, it seems the VP candidates scored higher in the "sshhh, I am watching" and "waiting for the commercials to use the restroom" factors. Regardless of who you thought "won," unlike the recent presidential debate, the VP debate made for a good show.
Professor of marketing
Golden Gate University