Wednesday, February 25, 2015
In my opinion traditional approaches are still the best way to help grow your clients business. You cannot put all your eggs in the digital basket no matter what the latest media hype suggests. But, the discussion between traditional approaches and the disruption technology has on human interaction and behaviour will influence your client’s marketing  strategy.

Lets not forget that ad recall in the digital medium is the lowest of all advertising choices and a 30 second tv/radio spot, a full page 4 colour ad in newspaper/magazine or a 10' x 20' billboard will still outperform a Big box (300 x250 pixels) ad any day, and that is why they are still thriving. Plus with the growth of cyber crime and automated traffic digital may be losing its lustre as it is becoming an untrustworthy medium.

All right, lets see how, Tim Horton’s has adapted their famous  RRRoll up the Rim  to Win promotion that is a Canadian tradition  like Canadian Tire money. Both of these hugely successful programs have added  an online component to reflect today’s consumer engagement points with their brands. But has the online component made the program more successful or is it just politically correct in today's digital centric world. Well the traffic to the RRRoll up the Rim to Win site suggests that they have hit on their hands as the site ranks 631 in Canada according to Alexa rankings. The regular website is ranked 1,249 and the site gets more traffic than Macleans that’s is ranked 779 in Canada as a comparable benchmark for success.

 

The RRRoll up the Rim to Win program for the uninitiated is a national sales program that awards prizes in cups that are provided with any beverage purchase. This traditional contest program drives traffic and sales to each location and is mainstay on Tim Hortons promotional calendar. Today, the online component tries to provide that same experience without a purchase and the RRRoll up the Rim to Win program  is now an interactive game online like a casino slot machine. After they register, visitors can pick two out of three cups to see if they win, with opportunities to play every day.  This can be played on your desktop, tablet (not my iPad1 though as the site crashed as it is flash based website) and smartphone. The program runs from Feb 2 until April 17, 2015 and is supported with a national tv campaign.

Canadian Tire has created digital money as they updated their Canadian Tire Money cash purchase rebate program. This was accomplished by using a loyalty card program that tracks all your Canadian tire money in an electronic account. (Watch out Bitcoin here comes Canadian Tire money as the new world currency). The recipient also receives a digital version of the weekly flyer by email to keep them aware of all the in- store specials after they register the card online.

 

While these marketers have adapted to the changing consumer environment, I wanted to take a  look at business reply cards (BRC), a marketing tool that was great during its time when print was the dominant channel. It provided a lead generation tool for B2B publishers that provided quality leads for advertisers. Has this tool became obsolete in a politically digitally correct world or can we update this for the online reader? In today’s  world of internet speed and websites, the need for a BRC is not necessary anymore as readers do not have to wait for information to be delivered by snail mail as they can now just use search engines to find info or go to the website of company they saw in a B2B magazine website or digital magazine and click on the ad.

So what are publishers to do to replace this valuable lead generation tool?  How can we create a lead funnel for advertisers as part of the ad sales pitch for their reps? Sometimes it is good to go back to the basics and build this out from scratch – The customer ladder we all know is awareness-desire-want-shop-sales pitch-buy- happy customer – repeat buyer. The sales cycle is not accelerated because of the internet just the customer has more information at their fingertips to make a final decision.

In today’s world there are so many channels of communications it is now utterly chaos for marketers. Before it was simple to respond – phone, fax, mail, in-person. Now add all the different ways people communicate today digitally like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest , email, text messaging, Skype, Facetime and this makes it more confusing to the publisher and marketer and they sometimes get caught in the digital spin cycle and waste valuable resources.

To provide you with some focus lets go back to the basics of direct marketing and the importance of the “Offer” to the prospect to get them to respond. B2B marketers have used “FREE information” packaged as whitepapers, research and webinars to attract readers to their advertisers' products. I have used webinars successfully in the past to generate awareness and leads when I worked with GTxcel (formerly Texterity) in the promotion of their digital publishing services for the magazine industry, so I am a big fan of this technique. Webinars are good way to get people’s attention as it captures registration (this is a lead, not a click on an ad btw) and is a soft lead awareness tool.

One of the COPA’s silver winners this year for the best online campaign was an entry from Mining.com, based in Vancouver, BC in the B2B category that produced a webinar for GEA Westfalia Separator in conjunction with their agency the Litchfield Partnership. The GEA Westfalia’s product is technical and targeted a specialty audience – miners who need a separator for processing ore. It was felt that the best way to communicate this was through a live webinar to explain the benefits of Westaflia’s product. A print and digital campaign was used to promote the campaign that resulted in 1.3 million impressions generating 1,200 clicks to the registration page. Over 190 registered for the webinar with 52 attendees from (63% drop off rate) Africa, North America and South America. One of the difficulties  of free webinar is the drop-off from registration and attendees, so a contest was used to make sure people attend and the winner was announced during the webinar. The 192 registrations were used later for sales follow-up.  Based on the numbers the campaign had CTR of  0.09% , with a click through conversion rate of 16% and an attendance rate of 27%.

 

One of my current professional challenges is the reinvention of the Masthead business model and this will include the creation of new revenue streams beyond advertising. Plans for 2015 will include the creation of technology services for publishers that include web development, industry awards software services (we are working with the Canadian Journalism Foundation) and webinars. We are also planning to relaunch the Masthead supplier section into a "Connections" database that will include media kits of Canadian publishers that will be promoted to the ad community to generate ad sales opportunities. You can get a free listing in this Connections database at this link (not public yet). There will also be a paid premium listing that will provide a web page for each listing that includes a photo slide show for your company as part of the package. You can enter your free listing now so we can build the database. Let me know what you think so we can fine tune this for the publishing industry to ensure we have all the right categories. If you wish to learn more about this you can contact me at 416-907-6562 or via email at marty(dot)seto(at)reflexmediasales.com.

Thursday, January 15, 2015
There is a belief that technology will always  solve the ills of society and bring prosperity to us all. History has shown this to be true with the creation of new industries that provide jobs to the growing population. There is growing evidence that technology can do the reverse and make our lives worse. The recent ban of fracking technology to recover natural gas in New York state has shown there are medical side effects for the local communities where the drilling takes place. This blind faith we have that technology equals a better life can be dangerous, as you can see.
 
But wait, here is a new product announcement out of the latest technology trade show in Las Vegas this January, it is called the Brain Beanie, it's a neurological device that fits on your head like a hat. The Brain Beanie receives all of your brain waves and allows you to control all internet enabled devices and appliances at home through a mesh network. This technology has been adopted by all the major device OEMs, car manufacturers and home builders for brain wave protocol and has been approved for use by the Global Technology Standards Council (GTSC) in Romania (the previous home of KGB cyber unit).
 
 

It comes with a  personal communicator function so you can get rid of your smartphone as it enables your brain waves to send email, text or voice. You can purchase all your take-out,  groceries and products with the e-commerce capability with delivery to your couch by a solar powered drone. This headgear can be used at work, in the car and at home, so you will never have to do anything that requires any mental or physical exertion.
 
This device is considered a breakthrough in dealing with today’s obesity problem caused by people sitting on the couch more than 20+ hours a week watching television, gaming and surfing the net.  It can monitor your weight by sending electrical stimuli to your body to  monitor your metabolism through the medical app that you can purchase as an extra feature. Other optional accessories include a holographic projector that creates a 12 inch  screen for you to see in 3D. Standard features include an action camera,  virtual assistant (male or female with custom Avatar settings), 10G of Ram, 1 TB of storage and a micro super computer processor that was modelled after the NASA standard for space exploration.
 
The cost of this product is $599  and it's available at the Brain Beanie Store website www.brainbeanie.gag and it comes with a 6 month guarantee that you will not have to purchase another one through planned product obsolesces. After the 6 months you can buy a monthly package for $20.00/mo and get a free product upgrade. The founder of the Brain Beanie, Joe Propellerhead says he was inspired for the product from a 1979 Maxell TV Commercial  that became a pop culture classic that brought couch culture to the mainstream. Joe says "I wanted to create a couch potato product that will appease to the masses and also solves some of the major social issues like obesity for eternal good health.”
 
 


With 40% of web traffic attributed to bots, critics of the product wanted to see how security issues were implemented to protect users from the hacker community  for criminal or malicious activity like adware, spyware and malware. Joe Propellerhead says that the security features includes a “ Intrusion Pulse” that was developed by the open source community that places a tracker tag on any unauthorized access through the sniffer code and then sends a electrical pulse bomb response that disables the source server and then is automatically logged in the cyber crime database at the GTSC in Romania for follow-up.
 
Geek fantasy or is this coming soon to a store near you soon in the next generation of devices? Sometimes, I wonder as I watch technology invade our lives everywhere and try to expand into other industries like media, publishing,  music , banking and medical; What does Microsoft know about the news business or banking or Google and Facebook know about selling advertising for that matter? It's like a baseball coach thinking the same strategy will work in hockey, sometimes it works and sometimes it will not.  Here are some claims and myths that these companies have made to into fact, or have they?
 
Somebody clicks on your ad and it is a lead.
This is the #1 myth perpetuated by the tech community to fool advertisers.
A click in some people minds is a form of response and with response rates of less than 0.1% how is this better than direct mail that have higher responses rates through better targeting? In my opinion all this has spawned is a click  fraud industry that is largely unreported. As any start up industry there is always an overpromise and under delivery scenario we see too often  to get people’s attention and this is a classic case. I look at awareness as clicks are unreliable.
 
Give away you content for free, get traffic, sell ads and get rich.
Just ask the newspaper industry about this and you know how this is so not true. All we have now is unprecedented  clutter on online as there are no barriers to entry online except for a computer. The fact you can get rich by blogging is a myth somewhere, just ask any writer and the person trying to sell the ads. The only one to benefit was the search engines as they have access to free content and sell ads around it. Publishers now have to struggle in getting people to pay for their online content as we all know free to paid is very hard to do.
 
A Facebook Like is a brand endorsement online and will lead to your company’s success
Facebook has done a good con-job of the value of a Facebook like to get people’s attention and has spawned a fake “Facebook Like” industry. This myth has taken away marketing efforts to social media with not so great results and have publishers chasing Facebook likes instead of subscribers. Social media is a “GOSSIP” medium. like the tabloids. Just because celebrities  (who suffer from hero worship) twitter feeds have been a very successful publicity tool for their fans to sell concerts tickets, music and movies does not mean it will work for a manufacturer of widgets.
 
A lot of technology claims are actual myths perpetuated by the relentless need to fill a 24/7 news cycle to provide content. Just like any hyped up stock, if you hear it enough times it must be true. The digital medium is the only ad medium where buyers have to deal with click fraud, automated web traffic and hacker attacks.  You do not have that problem when you are buying traditional media like TV, radio , print and outdoor, And now they want me to buy on these new programmable ad networks.  Anybody want to buy me a Brain Beanie so I can use the Intrusion Pulse?

Monday, December 22, 2014
The 2014 COPAs are now over and it's time to recognize the Best in Canada.  As an industry we should be very proud of the world class work produced by Canadians in this year’s crop of entries. My goal is to showcase this home-grown talent and provide some swagger to the industry on the international stage that is the web.
 
The COPA Awards party at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on November 20 was a fun time for all. I even got into the act by wearing a hockey helmet
 
to protect myself from the COPA mob as the night grew older. Special thanks goes to Readers Digest, Chateau Des Charmes , CNW Group, Digital Reno, Metro News Canada,  PressReader,  Promethean, Sharp Canada, Toshiba Canada and the Winnipeg Free Press for their support of this year’s event.
 
The honours this year for The Best of Canada were Toronto Life for a sponsored content campaign for “Evolve Functional Fitness” for Best Online Campaign, for Best Digital Content an interactive story on Asbestos titled “ No Safe Use” that has a photo wink at you by the Globe and Mail and an inspirational magazine app from Cottage Life on “How to Buy a Cottage” won Best Digital Solution of the year that had elements of an interactive graphic novel to tell the story.



 
 
 

The big winner this year was the team at St Joseph Media as they won 11 medals (6 G, 5S)  followed by IT World Canada with 7 (5 G 2S). Not to be outdone small publishers were recognized for their outstanding work like  YummyMummyClub.ca for best blog in the red category for consumer niche publications, University Affairs for best media website in the blue category (B2B),  Mining.com from Vancouver won gold for best email newsletter (blue) and the UBC Graduate School of Journal was a repeat winner for Best Interactive ( blue ) Story. The entries from La Belle province saw LaPress win silver for best digital publication in the green category for daily news organizations. You can also say that Rob Ford was the  un-official digital newsmaker of the year with all the stories that were enter that talked about his life that won gold in the writing categories.
 
The COPAs is more than an Industry Awards show as we try to take the learning from this friendly competition to help us get better. The judges are asked to provide some feedback from this year entries as part of the process. I would like to thank all the judges this year for their support and their wisdom. One of our marketing experts this year on the judging panel was Sandra Frisch from Media Experts, one of the top media planning/buying firms in Canada and this is what she had to say about this year crop of entries. To see more judge's comments please go to the COPA website.
 
“I’ve enjoyed the intense competition and creativity I saw while reviewing the publishing sites. Each site has a unique way of representing its brand to the audience through design, content, and navigation. The combination of publishing, production, digital media and creating online communities was expertly established by all the finalists.”
 
The challenge for big or small publishers is to continue to strive to find the right formula for the digital mix that will resonate with readers and advertisers. The entries that did well have added another layer to their game this year and have started to think in 4 dimensions instead of 3. The 4 dimensions are video, audio, words and interactive (action). Just like a hockey player always needs another element (new move or look) to their game to thwart the competition, if you stand still like a pylon, somebody else will go by you and the COPAs sets the bar each year for digital excellence for your organization.
 
Happy Holidays everyone see you in 2015.

 

Sunday, November 30, 2014
There is some adware making the rounds that has shown on up some of the computers I am working on. I thought it was originally something that just showed on my Windows machines. This attack occurred after I checked out one the websites (a “Watering Hole” technique to deliver malware) that my kids were visiting to watch free videos. I explained to my children how this occurs primarily on Windows machines, but this has changed as I would discover later.
 
This particular adware is ingenious in many ways. It occurs when you are browsing on the internet, but instead of going to the page you typed into it will redirect to another web page that looks and feels like a Google search page at first glance, but it has ads scattered around the screen. The ads first appear legitimate as it showed some national advertisers to bring it creditability to the web surfer. They are also reports that these organizations have hacked into legitimate ad networks.
 
This was a nuisance  and I had to clean out the computers with an anti- malware software. I also had to remove some extensions in my Chrome browser that the spyware installed. I didn't think about any of this again it until showed up on a Mac at one of the off-site offices I do some work at. This was on the Chrome browser and I immediately removed the browser from the machine. This is the first time I have seen malware like this on a Apple machine.
 
 
The software hijacks your browser settings and installs their own. In this snapshot a new search engine appears that appears like a legitimate one, but its not and serves ups ads for you to see from BetterMarkit. They try to trick you in buying security software.
 
According to the Cisco 2014 report on IT Security this type of activity is the second largest type of technique used by cybercriminals to make money on the internet after Trojan horses ( A Trojan horse is a hidden code that can take over specific functions  of your computer). Mobile is the next wave of security threat and Android devices are being targeted first by the shadow economy. The use of the Chrome Browser on desktops is part of that arsenal as you can see from my personal experience
 
 

 

The report also states that SPAM threats are still strong and below is a list that Cisco has compiled on the various types of messages that the are used to trick readers. I bet you have all seen one of these arrive in your email inbox once or twice. Spam software tries their best to do this, but the problem is that legitimate messages also get flagged and lost in Spam boxes.
 
 

The best defence is just plain education so people can recognize the signs of a con job on the internet. One trick, I did notice was websites with unbelievable prices on products (Fall off the truck sale) is one way they use to steal your credit card number, they use the number later after you buy the product. So this Xmas season buy from retailers you trust and if it's an unbelievable deal, be wary. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The digital lifestyle is now upon us and there is no way to avoid anything that is not connected to the internet. Computers come in many colours, sizes and shapes just like the old fashion print pocket organizers that you can still buy at your local Staples store.

 

The latest generation of smartphones are getting bigger and can now be considered mini-computers or pocket computers. Just like the pocket organizers, you can get the next size up and get a tablet computer for watching video, reading and games or a laptop to do some emailing, writing or number crunching with. And lastly you can get a monster 70” TV computer for online video. Next on the list coming sooner than we think are wearable computers (too geek for me!) and connected cars to the mainstream.

This is the new norm and the numbers show it, Canada’s digital literacy rates show that Canadians now enjoy a modern digital lifestyle through many devices. The Media Directors Council (2013-2014 report) reports that there are 5.9 million tablets and 20 million smartphones in Canada in 13.3 million HHs. This makes household penetration in Canada with tablets at 45% and smartphones at 150% and growing.

Maybe this is the reason that HP’s tablet plans have changed since their ill fated launch of the HP TouchPad, their first tablet in 2011. HP still remains a tech titan and is ranked second in industry market share for global PC shipments according to IDC at 18.8% in the 3rd Quarter of 2014, Lenovo was 1st (20%), Dell 3rd (13.3%), Acer 4th (8.4%) and Apple in 5th (6.3%) out of total shipments of 78.5M worldwide (1.7% decline from Q3 2013). 

IDC reported that global tablet shipments totalled 53.8M in Q3 (11.5% growth) with Apple 1st (22.8%), 2nd Samsung (18.3%), 3rd. ASUS (6.5%), 4th Lenovo (5.7%), 5th RCA (4.9%). Apple saw it market share shrink from 29.2% in 2013 and saw a 12.8% drop in sales. The numbers shows that in the PC corporate world Window’s machines still dominate and are starting to climb up in the tablet sector,

HP Elite Tablet and Laptop

You don’t see a lot of consumer advertising about HP products as they tend to concentrate in corporate markets for their servers, PCs, tablets and printers. HP did not disappoint when I reviewed their Elite tablet and laptop line for the business user. These are Windows 8 machines and they all came packed with features that you expect on any device on the market. The first thing I did was download Google Chrome that acts as my virtual desktop through my gmail account  to set-up both devices. This virtual desktop includes my email, calendar, bookmarks and cloud storage and it installed fine and can work in desktop mode on both devices.  My daily routine includes using my tablet for my daily news and video entertainment fix and the Elite tablet was a fast device with HD quality video and sound (with my headphones). I used it at the cottage, home and office and the wifi connection was reliable and fast and the screen worked fine in natural sunlight.

I prefer writing on a keyboard, sorry the touch screen keyboard just doesn’t cut it for me, or the tablet accessories. The smaller screen size of a tablet at 10” makes it too small to work with so it is not practical as a everyday work device. I need at least a 13” screen and the Elite laptop I used was 14”. It was nice to use both devices together when I was reading and typing at the same time as it made me more productive. I am a big fan of the two screen workstation and a tablet and laptop combo can still fit in my briefcase when I am on the go. Stacked together, both devices are 1 inch thick.

 
Rating 4.5 out of 5

HP also has a line of Android tablets available for sale starting at $215 for the 7” model under the Slate product line that is available at Staples and other stores. I fear that tablets in the future might suffer the “Novelty” effect, where the latest toy is discarded with the latest consumer mood swing and this will affect the replacement market. Plus, pocket computer (ie:smartphones) screen sizes are getting bigger and this will impact the adoption of the larger tablets. Since I got my 4” Nokia smartphone I found that I used the tablet less for reading the news.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
The CRTC will be making some decisions about the digital airwaves very soon about what they will do with online video broadcasting and cable tv pricing models. The current market structure is an industry cartel model where supply economics are used by corporations to corner the market to ensure high profits. This page out of the corporate playbook, is not good for consumers, just look at how this is done in oil and gas markets, diamonds and the 407 toll roads in Toronto.
 
 
I have empathy for the CRTC as an instrument of public policy to ensure Canadian content and consumer protection is caught in middle of these market forces. The latest noise from the CRTC hearings, is in my opinion a witch hunt to get Neflix out of the Canadian market based on the Canadian content rules for broadcasters. When the cartel says Canadian jobs are at risk, the CRTC should ask them how much of their staff has been out sourced in the call centre, IT and accounting departments.

But is Netflix a broadcaster or a digital video entertainment subscription service that has no advertising or programming schedule, just on demand video downloads. So if Netflix is banned in Canada what will happen? The cartel will launch their own service, just like they did when they banned TIVO, a TV recording hardware device that was popular in the USA, but was packaged as a hardware upgrade for cable subscribers in Canada.

Now what are the implications for publishers that produce video channels of their content online will they be included in this new definition of broadcaster. Will these publishers be banned too or better yet regulated? If you have a YouTube channel will that be included too?  How about the CRTC try and ban Adult content digital channels instead, it will be a losing battle. Whatever happen to FREE TRADE, I guess this does not apply if the cartel’s profits are threatened.

I was one of the early cable chord cutters and I now get 20+ stations through an antennae as I did not want to pay $100 a month for cable TV anymore. I got a customer friendly internet service from TekSavvy for $40/mo for 300 GB and then got Netflix for $10/mo. I use a free Chrome browser plug-in that hids my identity (Hola Unblocker) on the internet and now I can now stream the USA version to my computer TV plus other stations like CBS, ABC, Fox and Hulu. Who needs to watch conventional cable TV anymore, except for live sports programming. I would like to buy a subscription to a sports channel, but I have to buy stations that I do not want, so I do not buy it. So I hope you will allow me to buy such a subscription when you make your final decision.

 
I believe that the Newton Law of physics applies here as for every action there is a corresponding opposite action and in this case the choices in underground economy of the internet will flourish instead. If you ban Netflix, there is already a service that is for free called Popcorn Time an open source project that looks and feels like Netflix that people can go to based in Europe. If the CRTC believes in freedom as a core value you will not succumb to the lobby efforts of the cartel in Canada, who btw are all saying the same thing in a concerted effort to control markets. Be aware that when somebody tries to control the internet the open source software community will step in and help out with some new code to share to circumvent that.

Now, if the CRTC can  look at the interesting pricing models for smartphones that are inflated in telco contracts, instead of being distracted with Netflix who provides great value to the 4 million+ Canadian households that use the service. I still can’t figure out how you can get a Apple iTouch for $200 but an iPhone costs $650 and all you get extra is the phone, now if you can stop this practice I will be impressed. The internet is a place where freedom and democracy flourishes as consumers can vote with their wallet as the internet has no geographic boundaries that can be controlled.

Yours Sincerely,

Thursday, August 21, 2014
Web publishing technologies have been very disruptive to newspaper business models by creating numerous challenges for the industry. It started with the drop in advertising revenue through free classified ad sites for jobs and products like Monster.com, Craig’s List, EBay and Kijiji. Players in the news industry have seen a TV station become an online news publisher, newspapers providing online video like TV, magazine publishers now publishing daily with video and tech companies producing news sites.

This has created a hyper-competitive online media landscape during this digital transformation of the media industry. I predict that we will see consolidation in the industry as the market can only support so many players in the Canadian market, as digital adoption starts to level out. We are already seeing some of those signs now in the marketplace.

The demise of print that has been predicted has not unfolded. I guess tech gurus can be wrong too or make exaggerated predictions to get headlines as "News" as a medium is as strong as ever according to this Newspapers Canada 2014 report (below). It shows that 86% of Canadians read a newspaper in print or digital every week, which has stayed the same over the past two years. How news is consumed today through traditional media like TV, radio and print methods has changed. Today 30% read news digitally with 50% of digital consumption via a tablet or smartphone, that means 70% still prefer print. 

According to NADbank in their 2013 report cumulative weekly newspaper audience is growing slightly (5.4% overall growth since 2009) with print staying about the same (0.2% decline since 2009) with growth attributed to digital. Cross platform usage saw 76% of website readers also read a printed edition of a newspaper. NADBank predicts that tablets will be the preferred everyday digital device long-term.

 
In the same report from Newspapers Canada they look at ad effectiveness vs. other media to demonstrate that newspapers still work as part of the media plan. Historically, this is why newspaper advertising was so effective and it looks like it is still true today. The effectiveness of the internet versus other media suggest that digital has one of the lowest levels of engagement. The numbers suggest that digital perhaps is now losing its luster as it matures with consumers and perhaps their share of people's time has peaked.

What the newspaper industry has yet to determine is how to monetize digital eyeballs after giving it away for free for so long. The newspaper pay wall that has been used the past two years with a 10 article free sample is now the new norm for some newspapers. The ad marketplace for digital is a buyer’s market with an oversupply scenario that generates low CPMs and ROI for publishers.

Newspapers Canada produces an annual conference INK+BEYOND that takes a look at issues and challenges facing newspapers, and showcases the latest innovations used by newspapers around the world. This event was in Charlottetown, PEI, on May 28-30 in 2014 and in 2015 it will be held in Toronto. I put together a roundtable of vendors that were pitching their wares at the event this year to share in a Part 2 of Tech Notes this summer. The vendors fall primarily in three general categories content creation, content production and ad sales support.
 
INK+BEYOND 2014  Vendor Roundtable
 
 
Affinity Express
Product: Advertising and media solutions
As the SMB marketing supply chain company, Affinity Express is the leading white label creative and production partner for companies that serve the marketing and advertising needs of SMBs. Its services are offered to tens of millions of companies under the guise of some of the most well-known media, internet and retail brands.
Affinity offers SMBs custom print, digital marketing and advertising services—including print ads, logos, websites, video ads and more—without adding fixed costs. Grow your digital ad business, using Affinity to create and traffic the ads. Drive new profitable revenue and improve advertiser loyalty with Affinity Express.
Website: www.affinityexpress.com
Kelly Glass: kellyg@affinityexpress.com, (847) 930-3205
 

 
BBM Analytics
Product: Newspaper Ad Tracking Service
In the increasingly competitive newspaper landscape, get a better understanding of who is advertising and your share of voice. BBM Analytics’ newspaper ad tracking services provides you with comprehensive and timely competitive intelligence at your fingertips. All advertising activity is tracked in daily newspapers in 7 key markets across Canada. The online database is easy to access and quickly identifies strategy, volume, messaging and placement of existing advertisers and more importantly who is not advertising. Contact us to find out how to use the service for new business development, smarter negotiations/selling or as value add for clients.
Website: www.bbmanalytics.ca
Michael Abraham, mabraham@bbmanalytics.ca,  416 847 2054
 

 
Business Wire       
Product: Commercial news distribution           
Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is the global leader in press release distribution and regulatory disclosure. Investor relations, public relations, public policy and marketing professionals rely on Business Wire to accurately distribute market-moving news and multimedia, host online newsrooms and IR websites, build content marketing platforms, generate social engagements and provide audience analysis that improves interaction with specified target markets.
 
Founded in 1961, Business Wire is a trusted source for news organizations, journalists, investment professionals and regulatory authorities, delivering news directly into editorial systems and leading online news sources via its multi-patented simultaneous NX Network. Business Wire has 32 offices worldwide to securely meet the varying needs of communications professionals and news consumers.
Website: www.businesswire.ca
Matthew Allinson, matthew.allinson@businesswire.com, (206) 405-4000
 

 
Fundata Canada
Product: Canadian Investment Funds database
In all areas of our business, from raw financial data feeds to hosted web solutions, our goal is to develop strong, long term client relationships and to become a trusted business partner for our clients. Fundata offers a variety of products and services that solve problems in a number of industries and businesses. Whether custom or white labeled, Fundata’s team of professionals can customized either solution to client specifications. The information we provide currently reaches over 80,000 financial advisors, millions of investors, and scores of institutions every day through our network of newspapers, web and corporate clients across North America.
Website: www.fundata.com
Brooke Biscoe, brooke.biscoe@fundata.com, (416) 445-7445
 

 
Libercus
Product: Cloud-based publishing CMS for media companies
Libercus is an efficient, economical and comprehensive cloud-based news publishing CMS designed for today’s digital and print media realties. Print, web, mobile, video, social media and e-Editions are published from one streamlined, modern platform. Journalists, editors, and production personnel work in Libercus. Libercus streamlines costs, uncertainty and vendor bloat impeding media companies in an era requiring innovation and speed.
 

Libercus is a single system, user interface and database. Browser-based and cloud-architected, Libercus is not a legacy CMS with multiple products, databases, and interfaces. It eliminates significant infrastructure and software expense. Content is delivered to multiple channels efficiently. Libercus delivers workflow flexibility and is cost effective in terms of total cost of ownership.
Website: www.libercus.com
Steve Lett,  steve.lett@libercus.com, (847) 274-0490
 
 
 
Metro Creative Graphics, Inc.
Product: Creative & Ad Development Solutions for Publishers
Metro Creative Graphics, Inc. helps today's media companies expand ad revenue by providing advertising, creative and editorial solutions for optimizing their print, online, mobile and social products. With an unparalleled dedication to providing the finest resources available for ready-to-use images, spec ads, sales ideas, stock-quality photos, logos/trademarks, auto manufacturer photos, marketing/sales materials, copyright-free editorial features, fully-templated print and online sections, and groundbreaking digital ad development tools -- including the new Metro interactive Ad Designer (MiAD) Mobile App for sales reps -- Metro services the creative and sales needs of today’s media companies.
Website: metrocreativeconnection.com
Jennifer Steiner, jsteiner@metro-email.com, (800) 223-1600
 

 
Myles Mellor Theme Crosswords
Product: Crosswords and puzzles         
Myles Mellor crosswords offers all types of crosswords, easy, medium, Sunday size and very large. You can also order sudokus, word searches, cryptograms, diagramless crosswords and anagrams (a form of jumble). Currently servicing over 90 community newspapers with syndicated content, Myles' service is personal and economical. The company also offers interactive crosswords, sudokus and word searches that can be solved online. Myles also writes theme crosswords for advertisers, a proven money-maker for newspapers using this service. 
Website: www.themecrosswords.com 
Myles Mellor, themecrosswords@gmail.com, (818) 890-8065
 

 
NEWSCYCLE Solutions
Product: Content, advertising, circulation and audience engagement
NEWSCYCLE Solutions - which was formed by the combination of DTI, SAXOTECH, MediaSpan, and the Atex AdBase business - delivers the most complete range of software solutions for the global news media industry, including news content management, advertising, circulation, audience, and analytics. NEWSCYCLE Solutions is a trusted technology partner serving more than 750 media companies with 8,000 properties across more than 30 countries on 6 continents. The company is headquartered in Bloomington, MN and has U.S. offices in Florida, Michigan and Utah; with international offices in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Website: www.newscyclesolutions.com
Rob Dumas, rdumas@mediaspangroup.com, (734) 887-4400
 

 
News-Net
Product: Ad management  & Digital Production Software
News-Net provides first-class software solutions, programming, integration and development to over 1,800 newspapers throughout North America. A trusted supplier to the publishing industry since its inception over 30 years ago, News-Net develops affordable cost-cutting and leading-edge technologies for Ad Management, CRM, Production Workflow, Pagination,Tearsheets and more. We offer complete services from consultation, installation, configuration, set-up & user training. News- Net has the right combination of professionals and expertise for delivering quality integrated solutions on time and in budget)
Website:  www.news-net.ca
Khymn Glover, khymn@news-net.ca, (905) 844-0524
 

 
Newspaper Toolbox
Product: Revenue-generating tools and ideas           
With over 700 subscriber clients in Canada, the USA, New-Zealand and Australia, Newspaper Toolbox is the premier sales building tool available to the newspaper industry today. Created by a professional team with more than 25 years of experience in the media industry, Newspaper Toolbox offers a wealth of ready-to-sell share pages, an online sales calendar, ready-to-sell concepts, reader contest concepts, special section packages, an extensive editorial library, money making ideas and a whole lot more. In essence, it is the best idea generator for revenues in small and medium size newspaper markets. With a brand new website, extensive archives and the launch of new services such as EZ Contest and EZ Newzsite, Newspaper Toolbox is helping publishers follow the money trail.           
Website: www.newspapertoolbox.com
Candide Grégoire, candide@newspapertoolbox.com, (877) 444-4034
 

 
Newzware/ICANON
Product: Publishing software and service solutions
Newzware Business System Software - The greatest performance value in the new media industry. Circulation, Display & Classified Advertising, Financial, Editorial and Ad Production tools are deployed separately or integrated as a complete publishing business environment. ICANON Services insure a legacy of performance with unequaled personal customer support. Stable ownership since 1990, innovative solutions that keep pace with technology demands and cost effective ownership including free license upgrades make Newzware the smartest decision you can make. Installation can be either premise based or hosted as a cloud resource in our secure datacenters. Your unique product deserves the flexibility of Newzware.
Website: www.newzware.com
Gary Markle, gmarkle@icanon.com, (215) 822-5519
 

 
PressReader
Product: Digital distribution and publishing solutions
PressReader, a Vancouver-based company, is the global leader in multi-channel, cross-platform content distribution and monetisation, and the chosen partner of more than 4,000 publishers from over 100 countries.
 
PressReader connects local, national and international newspaper and magazine publishers with readers around the globe and across all platforms including web, iOS, Android, Android for Amazon, Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10. It offers the world’s most engaging reading experience to millions of readers and can be found in thousands of libraries, hotels, airlines, corporate and government offices, and aboard cruise ships worldwide, providing publishers with new revenue opportunities and increased global circulation.
 
PressReader Technology, a fully customizable digital publishing solution, helps publishers of all sizes and media types digitise and monetise their content on all devices and platforms. This award-winning solution offers an enhanced digital edition experience with its intelligent multimedia features and functionality.
Website: about.pressreader.com 
Nikolay Malyarov, publishing@pressreader.com, (604) 278-4604
 

 
Research and Analysis of Media
Product: Media Research for Advertisers
In today’s competitive marketplace, advertisers demand solutions that provide quick and accurate results regardless of media choice.  Knowing what your customers think is exceptionally valuable. Our role at RAM is to help you understand how the market and your audience connects with your brand.
At RAM we provide unique and strategic solutions with relevant insights to help increase our clients’ revenue, grow their audience and give them a clear understanding of the markets in which they operate, be it local, regional or national. Everybody Wins.
Website: www.rampanel.com
Ryan Busch, ryan.busch@rampanel.com, (904) 206 2160 

Monday, July 28, 2014
Keeping up with technology changes and picking the winners and losers is no easy task. Twenty five years ago I created my first ad using digital illustration software and today you have movie animation software for the creative arts. I wanted to take this ad out of my portfolio to illustrate the ad’s theme for Software City, that is still appropriate today - “Cut Through the Jungle”. The names may have changed, but the jungle just got thicker. Does anybody remember Lotus 123 the leading spreadsheet software in 1990 or Ami Pro a word processing solution? It seems like a technology software brand can’t last a generation in today’s disposable technology market.

 
While we have been distracted about all the latest tech toys for the reader and all the digital delivery systems that are required. I thought it was time to look at what other technology tools that are available for publishers out there. I made the rounds with all the exhibitors of Magnet 2014 in June. Here is a roundtable of the vendors and their 100 word sales pitch for the people that did not make it to the conference this year.

After reviewing the list, each company has a unique product that I tried to describe in a few words, some overlap with each other in their approach. Before you make a decision just make sure you have measurable objectives before you embark on a technology solution to solve your business needs. Sometimes the old way is still more effective, like cold calling on the phone to personally talk with someone, but technology can help you do it better with more data at your fingertips in today’s just-in-time information society to prepare for the cold call.

I am a firm believer in technology, but I feel that there are limits on how technology can impact your company’s performance. For example, I believe technology cannot make a hockey player a better goal scorer that is a natural creative instinct. Through technology you can track the shooter’s tendencies for defensive strategies so it can help. If you can increase team goals against performance by 2% it can be the difference in winning and losing in professional sports.

There is an argument (Limits To Growth, published in 1972) that there is a limit on how much you can grow no matter how much technology you have and you can witness what is called “Overshoot,” where you have constant growth with finite resource depletion and it all crashes when the resources are depleted. The best example is the North Atlantic Cod fisheries collapse through over fishing and no sustainability strategy. Just like there are a limited number of advertisers, it its hard to grow on a straight line curve if the ad market (eco-system) is volatile or collapses for your market segment.

MagNet 2014 VENDOR ROUNDTABLE

 

Bard Business Solutions Inc.
- Magazine Manager
Product: Magazine database solution 
In dealing with today's markets, it is imperative that your company maintains accurate data on advertisers, rates, publications, contracts/insertion orders, production dockets, production scheduling, articles, subscribers and invoices. The power of this application is derived from the philosophy that you "enter data once and use it many times". The Magazine Manager is developed in FileMaker Pro and runs on both the Mac OS X 10.7 or higher and Windows 7, Windows 8 and iPad OS platforms for a multi-user environment.
Website: www.bardsolutions.com
J. Stephen Bard, info@bardsolutions.com, (416) 410-2273
________________________________________________________________________

 

EquiSoft - Publisher Elements
Product: Magazine Automation Solution
“PublishersElements is specifically designed to help publishers increase their revenues through a set of flexible and integrated web modules including digital/print subscriptions fulfillment and circulation management as well as newsletters administration, e-commerce and multi-platform digital publishing (online, mobile, tablet). PublisherElements easily connects to existing websites and email marketing solutions, so it helps increase web presence in a cost-effective way. By gathering all customer information into a single database, PublisherElements allows publishers to achieve a 360° view of their customers and thus permit to deliver them the right content at the right time. With PublisherElements and Equisoft’s publishing expertise, going digital has never been easier.” Martin Boucher, Product Manager – PublisherElements
Website: www.publisherelements.com  
Camile Diodati, camile.diodati@equisoft.com, (514) 989-3141 x 104
________________________________________________________________________
  
 

GTxcel
Product: Digital Publishing Solution
GTxcel helps thousands of Fortune Companies & Publishers monetize, discover & engage with their digital content; Desktop Web, Tablet Web, Mobile Web & Apps. Typically we work with companies who are frustrated with readability across multiple devices; concerned about the expense of software solutions that take over 40 hours for each device type, screen size and orientation; anxious to get more scale out of their publications by publishing once and getting it everywhere; desktop web, tablet web, mobile web, apps and disappointed in decreasing ad revenues with replica editions and looking to maintain replica while generating new digital revenue stream.
Website: www.gtxcel.com  
Matt McGinty, mmcginty@gtxcel.com, (508) 804-3041
________________________________________________________________________
  
 

Hallmark Data Systems
Product: Reader Behaviour Optimization Software
Engaging, acquiring and connecting the right content, audience and advertiser is Hallmark's mission.  It is Hallmark's industry-leading audience engagement platform; marketing database, digital marketing, fulfillment and more, in combination with industry expertise and rich heritage that sets us apart. With our modular, seamlessly integrated platform, your marketers are directly connected with your audience's behavior, your audience is connected to the content they crave and your advertisers are connected to their prospects. Find out why Hallmark's solutions are chosen by more media owners.  Get started at halldata.com today!
Website: www.halldata.com
Joel Besner, jbesner@halldata.com, (323) 782-6959
________________________________________________________________________

 

MAGwizard
Product: Ad sales management software
MagWizard automates the administrative tasks associated with print and digital advertising. The web-based software allows you to easily collect and organize ad insertion orders (I/Os), ad materials, and payments, eliminating the busywork your team hates and leaving them more time for sales. The thing that sets MagWizard apart from the other publishing software, is our focus on automation. While most software is designed to help you keep track of your daily tasks, Magwizard is designed to automate those tasks. The goal of MagWizard is not just help you track the ad sales process but to do the administrative tasks for you so that you can focus on more important things.
Website: www.magwizard.com
David Averbach, david@magwizard.com, (641) 209-3959 
________________________________________________________________________

 

Marketwired
Product: Social Media Metrics Tracking solution
Partnering with companies of all sizes – from start-ups to Fortune 500 enterprises – Marketwired is an innovative communications company offering best-in-class global news distribution and reporting. Powered by social intelligence engine Sysomos, Marketwired products also provide state-of-the-art social media monitoring and analytics. This critical business intelligence delivers instant and unlimited access to all social media conversations, allowing brands to see what’s happening, why it’s happening, and who’s driving the conversations. Serving more than 15,000 clients worldwide through 20 offices on four continents, we help our clients find better ways to create and distribute content, influence the people who matter most, and open up new opportunities. Follow us at @Marketwired 
Website: www.marketwired.com
Tara Tomulka, ttomulka@marketwired.com, (416) 814.2535
________________________________________________________________________

 
MediaRadar
Product: Ad Sales Data Mining solution
MediaRadar helps websites, magazines and newspapers dramatically improve ad sales and client management. The company provides detailed analysis on over 1.9 million brands, with advertising, editorial, and social media insights from more than 8,000 media properties. MediaRadar will give you a competitive advantage by placing the best prospects and most relevant pitching advice onto the desktop of every member of the sales team. “Raw” data is good; information you can use right now is better. MediaRadar makes it happen.
Website: www.mediaradar.com
Paulette Moir, paulette@mediaradar.com, (646) 439-4007
________________________________________________________________________

 

Mirabel Technologies - Magazine Manager
Product: Ad Sales and Digital Production software
The Magazine Manager® is the only web-based software integrating your entire publishing workflow from: CRM, Ad/Order Entry, Production, and invoicing to Online Pagination and Digital &Tablet Edition creation. It’s the industry’s first and most mature web-based platform.  Ideal for companies with multiple offices, offsite employees, and companies wanting to reduce their IT infrastructure costs. Used by over 10,000 magazines, newspapers, websites and events worldwide. For every fifteen licenses of The Magazine Manager®, you can expect to save an average of 43,000 CAD annually.  
Watch our Video.
Website: www.magazinemanager.com
Andy Balch,VP Sales & Marketing abalch@magazinemanager.com, 1-(954) 519-2023  
________________________________________________________________________

 

The LoweMartin Group
Product: Print Production Technologies
In keeping with its vision of helping customers improve the quality of their communications and reduce their overall cost of doing business, the Lowe-Martin Group has focused on introducing technology which makes the printer an extension of the magazine’s production team. Advances in secure file transfer, online proofing and electronic scheduling reduce the lead time in production. Proforma pricing tools allow the magazine’s publishers to calculate costs in real time as they decide on page counts, run lengths and stock selections. Real-time pricing also let the magazine’s sales team calculate costs for advertisers without delay.
Website: www.lmgroup.com
Pamela Falkner, Pam.Falkner@LMGroup.com, (613)741-0962 x3433
Thursday, June 26, 2014
This June 4, I was invited to speak at Magnet 2014 in Toronto by Mara Gulens and Daniella Girgenti from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) that put on on seminar on email newsletters before an audience of 80 people. I describe email newsletters as the Yin of the Yin-Yang relationship with the web site the Yang, as without each other there will not be any online success. I use this description as email newsletters are a “Push”  strategy and the web site is the “PULL” strategy for online content. Two polar opposites of each other just like Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy.

Why are email newsletters so important? Email newsletters are the number 1 driver of traffic to your web site (sometimes up to 80%). That’s right it is not social media or SEO that drives the majority of traffic to your web site it is email newsletters. I have worked with magazine publishers in the launch of  email newsletters, digital editions and web sites so I saw this first hand. The claims of social media and SEO are over hyped by some of the media out there trying to get noticed or companies making misleading advertising claims that should be banished.

On July 1, 2014 the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in Canada goes in effect. After looking over the Act it is like closing the door after the horses have left the barn as I feel it will be ineffective with spammers and phishing threats (identity theft artists). It will cost companies money for compliance and this looks like a lawyer gravy train for the uninitiated. Just like security software the bandits will always be 2 steps ahead as they have no ethics or care about laws as they are criminals trying to steal from you. So you can lock the door, but they can still break in. The best deterrent is education ie: digital street smarts not digital book smarts.

This underground economy of spammers have been part of the internet fabric forever. My innocence and naivety of the internet was broken when I talked to a security software expert that says you can hire spammers to do a denial of service attack on your competitor’s web site by them hijacking somebody’s computer and using it as an email server and flooding the target web site with requests and thus crashing the site. This legislation is not going to be effective with this crowd as their servers are most likely in a jurisdiction outside of the reach Canadian lawmakers anyhow and they have been doing this since 2003 or before the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in the United States was introduced.

Canadian publishers have already lead the way in honest and ethical behaviour for email newsletters since the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act was passed in the United States that required email newsletters be opt-in and have the ability to unsubscribe. And if you use a USA vendor for email services they have protocols to ensure spam laws compliance. For companies this is another matter as they most likely have a list that needs to cleaned up as it very unlikely that their list are opt-in, which explains the flood of emails I am receiving from companies the past two weeks that I have already sent to the junk folder and forgot about. The CASL is also forcing companies to have consent to install computer software on your computer like they do in Europe for cookies that track your online habits. This is a major victory for privacy advocates.

The seminar portion put on by Mara and Daniella talked about their journey in launching an email newsletter  for their organization. They had to clean up their list first and have the people on the list opt-in . Once this was done they saw the open rates of the email newsletter increase. Here is there checklist that they shared with the audience on their learning.

 


The metrics for email newsletters are open and click through rates (CTR) in addition to list size and reach of the desired target market. Open rates depend on the quality of the list and good writing in the subject header. Open rates I have experienced range between 20-65% depending on the message and time of year. CTRs can range form a low of  0 up to 10%, depending on the message or offer. Open rates are underreported as through my experience technology does not always works as I have had responses from people , but in my report the email was not opened.

Email newsletters are an important part of the marketing mix for advertising as it provides the same quality audience as a magazine subscriber. The question publishers have to deal with is how many emails do they send out before they irritate their readers and they will unsubscribe. In my opinion anything more than once a week is disrespectful and it should have personal salutation to that person. No one like online stalkers that send you emails everyday.  I believe we should go beyond the SPAM requirement and treat your reader with the utmost respect and transparency as it is just good business. The new spam laws will make email list rentals or sponsorships obsolete as I do not think people will ever opt-in for 3rd party emails and when the person signed up to receive the newsletter it is implied that it will be an editorial message not a sales pitch that will only have them unsubscribe from your list and that is bad for business.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Sometimes it is good to get out of your sandbox for a change of scenery, so I thought I would take a look at how other traditional media are adapting to the new digital media landscape. Before we do that lets have a look at the media universe according to the 2013 Media Digest published by Marketing and the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC).

The media consumption habits of Canadians shows that traditional media still captures over 80% of a person’s attention. The chart below also shows the share of advertising dollars vs media consumption share. Magazines are doing very well in this analysis as it shows magazines have less than 1% of media consumption share but have a 4.5% of ad dollars share with an industry index of 555.

 


 
This great infographic gives you a good birds eye view of what is happening in the Canadian media universe and the choices a media planner has at their disposal. You you can drill down to see more stats. http://www.cmdc.ca/useful-links.html

Canada’s major media companies now offer a suite of solutions that may include TV, radio, web, newspaper, magazines and out of home.  The chart below on cross media ownership in Canada from the  2013 Media digest outlines the relative offerings and competitive positioning.

 

One of the digital leaders in Canada is TSN, a tv station, and they were the keynote at the ClickZ digital marketing conference in Toronto on May 15. Mark Silver, the Head of Digital at TSN, talked about the changes TSN is undergoing in the bridging of TV to digital for their audience and advertisers by offering a multi-platform experience. He revealed that TSN will be growing from 2 channels to 5 and will be unveiling a new web site this fall, plus new apps.

Their planned digital offerings will include native apps such as TSN Go (a TV  companion app for paid cable subscribers) plus free specialized content apps, TSN Hockey and TSN Golf. They currently have a free TSN mobile app available that gets high usage on smartphones. The TSN offerings also include Sports AM radio stations with local broadcast rights of NHL games.  The appetite for sports content will be tested with Sportnet’s bold moves that includes TV, radio, magazine and online as part of the brand’s offerings and Rogers ownership of pro sports franchises as content.

Radio has not died but has maintained it position as the #2 most used medium and there has been some interesting usage habits. The #2 ranking is no surprise as smartphones are banned in cars and 51% of radio usage is in cars. Another fact 30% of radio usage is online. This trend is supported by the launch of Indie 88.1 a FM radio station in Toronto that was launched this past September 2013. In February 2014, it had 230,000 visitors per month with 50,000 listening to the station online for 1 hour a day 6 times a month and 11,000 daily. Typically, a 30 second radio spot will reach 10 - 20,000 people in the Toronto market through traditional methods. The station is actively selling display ads on their web site in addition to 30 seconds spots that reach both traditional and online audiences.

The media offerings from TV and radio stations, perhaps, spur or fine tune an idea to help give your media brand a competitive edge in today’s hyper-cluttered media landscape. The question I ask? Do advertisers really care how the message is sent as long as the target market is delivered with enough frequency that will generate the expected marketing outcome. In some cases digital will not work in the car as  media planner use radio or OOH to reach this audience.
About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners online publishing, ad sales and acquisition/selling brokerage services. His media services also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He also moonlights as a pro goalie as a "rent a goalie" at mypuck.com.
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