Media Industries

Online Advertising and Wasting “Half” Your Advertising Budget

John Wannamaker, a very successful nineteenth century department store mogul, famously once said that “I know I’m wasting half of my advertising budget, I just don’t know which half.” In his day, he didn’t have to contend with online advertising and click-fraud.

Take it with a grain of salt, but a trade group representing the nation’s biggest advertisers has found that bots are costing advertisers billions of dollars. According to Bill Cromwell at Media Life, the report…

offers an in-depth look at bots, software that imitates humans by going to web sites and clicking on ads and activating online videos, creating fraudulent traffic that advertisers end up paying for. The study predicts bot fraud will cost global advertisers $6.3 billion next year.

In mass media, advertising involves three parties. The advertiser wants to deliver a message. The publisher, such as a television station, magazine, or website, will display the ad in exchange for a payment. An advertising agent places an advertiser’s advertisement in a publisher’s publication. The first two parties are almost the same in the online world, but the role of advertising agent is often done by an advertising network. (Google owns the largest advertising network in the world.) Most commonly, advertisers pay for each click their ad receives. If memory serves, the higher the click-through rate the more money the publisher and advertising network receive from the advertiser. This is clicks generated by software, rather than human beings who will actually respond to an advertising message, is a problem.

Lastly, I say to take this with a grain of salt because advertisers are likely looking to drive the price of online ads down. Moreover, the organizational co-author of the report, White Ops, is a technology firm that sells bot-detection software. It absolutely makes sense that they would find that bots and click-fraud are a big problem for advertisers.

Starbucks, Facing a Saturated Market, Looks to the High End –

About a week ago in class, I presented to you, as an example of “disassociation,” the case of the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet.

Here’s another example of dissociation: Starbucks is going high-end. For years, Starbucks has become more or less the default coffee shop in most of the world and certainly in America. However, there’s been competition coming from cafes that feature baristas with fancy hats among other accoutrements. That’s right, instead of serving coffee that has been “roasted within an inch of its life,” as The Awl’s Matt Buchanan refers to it, Starbucks will serve single-origin, small batch coffees that will be prepared by hand. This is to placate, ahem, discriminating coffee drinkers, like me. And as I order a $7 manual pourover coffee that will take five minutes to make, I will not be reminded of the Starbuckses that crowd every corner of Manhattan, every airport concourse, and mall in America. They will be disassociating themselves from that Starbucks.

To distinguish Reserve from its mass-market cousin, Starbucks is banishing, to a great extent, its green mermaid logo at the new shops and in the product line. The Reserve stores and line of coffees instead carry a star logo, along with a red “R.”

From a coffee-drinker and armchair-business–analyst perspective, this could either be a great opportunity to bring high-quality single-origin coffee to the masses or it could be Budweiser Select.

Creative Boot Camp New York City!

Note: If you’re interested in advertising as a potential field for your career, consider applying for this Creative Boot Camp.

The One Club, a non-profit organization located in NY, would like to extend an invitation to students to participate in their free annual Creative Boot Camp New York City! The CBC will take place from Tuesday, January 20th – Friday, January 23rd, 2015. The CBC will be sponsored by Wunderman Advertising Agency and held at their location.

The Creative Boot Camp is a 4-day workshop that introduces students from all educational backgrounds to the creative process in the advertising industry. The goal is to recruit creative students who are not aware of advertising and design as viable career options and introduce them to the art of conceptualizing and building a campaign for a real client.

The CBC¹s are supported by the best advertising agencies in the world by utilizing their top creative talent to serve as mentors and judges throughout the program. Since it’s inception in New York five years ago, we have successfully completed many boot camp sessions with well over a thousand students participating from various cities including LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, San Francisco, and London. We have watched these students go from knowing little to nothing about the field, to using the information and tools they gathered at the boot camp to move on to top advertising training programs, land coveted internship at large advertising agencies and even secure full-time jobs.

  • Provides students with the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work at an agency as a copywriter and art director by creating an advertising campaign based on a creative brief provided by a sponsoring agency.
  • Creates opportunities for networking with top local advertising professionals, who participate throughout the 4-day process as mentors.
  • Participants walk away with a solid advertising campaign to add to their portfolios.
  • Provides free breakfast and lunch to all participants during the course of the workshop.
  • Gives students the chance to compete for an internship position at the sponsoring agency.

Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Popular Music in the Twentieth Century

As promised, here’s a really short and completely biased survey of American popular music in the twentieth century. Putting together a mixtape is a lot of fun, but you always want to add more. But I can’t. Otherwise, all we’d do is listen to music all day.

The playlist has just about everything I wanted to include, but there were some noticeable absences.


It Works on Paper

The American music industry has its birth not as phonographic recordings but as printed sheets of music. The sheet music industry would be dominated by a set of publishers, many of whom were located in midtown Manhattan around West 26th Street. The area was known as “tin pan alley” because of the terrible sounds emanating from budding composers who were hoping to get discovered. (Think of the early rounds of American Idol, if anyone still watches that show anymore). The most popular music player late nineteenth century was the piano. People would buy the sheet music so that would have some software for their hardware. The most popular musicians would be composers not performers. After all, you were the performer!

Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley

A major star of the sheet music era was the head conductor of the US Marine Corp Symphony, John Philip Sousa. His music is still well known today to most Americans, such as “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

An early and very popular genre of music circulated in the nineteenth century was the rag. Listen to a composer Scott Joplin’s most famous rag, “The Maple Leaf Rag.”

Tin Pan Alley

Most of the most popular music of the twentieth century was composed by musicians who never performed the songs in public. Tin Pan Alley refers to the tradition of composers who penned some very popular songs, many of which became the basis of the “Great American Songbook.” Here’s one such song composed by Cole Porter and performed by a few different acts.

Here’s Benny Goodman’s big band performing with Peggy Lee. Note the ethnically insensitive opening line.

Here’s another version by one of America’s most famous crooners, Bing Crosby. The “Chinks” and “Japs” line remains.

This recording by Ella Fitzgerald is a much slower and sultry version. Also, the opening line is different than the other two versions.

Note how these songs feature a very particular pattern: verse-chorus-verse. Note the length: around three minutes, due to the capacity of the 10-inch, 78-rpm record.

Rock ’n’ Roll

Rock ’n’ roll signals the end of the Tin Pan Alley era.

One of my favorite songs to exemplify the split between the composer and the performer was “Hound Dog.” The song was most famously performed by Elvis Presley.

But the song was first performed, to some renown,by Big Mama Thorton.

However, the song was written by neither of these performers. It was composed by two Eastern European Jewish kids from Brooklyn, Michael Lieber and Jerry Stoller.

One particular noteworthy rock ’n’ roll song is “Rock around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. It was one of the first rock ’n’ roll songs to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

The song appeared on the popular movie Blackboard Jungle and became a hit for younger audiences of the day.

Multitrack Recording

Multitrack recording enabled some very innovative experiments in recorded music. In class, I mentioned that multitrack recording enabled stereo and, for a short time, quadrophonic recordings. But early on, it made possible trying out new combinations of sounds. Rock music, usually featuring only a couple of guitars and drums, could now utilize string and wind instruments.

One of the most famous examples of this multichannel recording was the Pet Sounds album by the Beach Boys. Notice the gradual layering of sounds, such as those instruments that weren’t part of a live rock ’n’ roll band performing.


Our tour of music in the twentieth century ends with Motown. The textbook describes how a music composer who couldn’t break into the mainstream music business founded an independent record company that released pop records by African-American performers. Here’s one of the label’s earliest recordings, “Please Mister Postman,” by the Marvelettes.

Motown would become one of the most quintessentially American musical forms of the twentieth century. Headquartered in Detroit, it was a long way from New York and Tin Pan Alley.

Facebook Field Trip

The Center for Communication is organizing a field trip to Facebook’s New York office on Thursday, October 9. Details below.

Get Social on Our Trip to Facebook

For more than a decade, Facebook has been connecting millions of people all over the world. The phenomenally successful social network is now partnering with traditional media companies and disruptors to connect users directly to breaking news. Join us to meet with the team that handles advertising, PR and sales, and find out what’s in store for the next ten years.

  • Adam Isserlis, Corporate Communications
  • Jennifer Skyler, Head of Consumer Communications
  • Andy Mitchell, Director, News and Global Media Partnerships

Students only.

Space is limited. If you’d like to attend, please complete this form. We will contact selected students with further details.

News after Newspapers

As promised, here are the links I wanted to share with you in the context of today’s class.

  1. Edward R Murrow, “This is London.” Listen to this program and note how we get a picture of London under the Blackout.
  2. Mat Honan liked everything on Facebook…and You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next!
  3. And if you want to see how the old media (the New York Times) works in the present day, watch Page One: Inside the New York Times. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix.
  4. Aaron Swartz helped develop RSS (and also was a developer for Reddit). RSS is a standards based solution that allows you to subscribe to new stories on a website and compile those stories into your own personal feed. The most popular use for this was Google Reader, which Google retired last year to great anger. People, including me, liked that they could read their favorite websites without having to visit those websites. RSS was, around 2005, the embodiment of The Daily Me. Today, those news curation roles are served by proprietary, commercial services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

AM and FM Radio Explained

Yesterday, I gave you a pretty confusing explanation of how AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) worked.

Here’s a film from our military that explains how the two bands differ.

They also explain the carrier frequency (or rest frequency), which is the frequency you tune your radio when you listen to a particular radio station, such as 90.7 MHz when you want to listen to Fordham’s own WFUV-FM. In the case of FM, the frequency is modulated but centered at that rest frequency.

Conglomeration, or Why Sony Makes Most of Its Profit from Insurance

Last week, I explained how media companies converge into a variety of different businesses that might not even be related to media.

Sony, for instance, is one of the most recognizable companies in the world, especially for their electronics, motion picture and music businesses. But as Dan Frommer explained in 2011, the most profitable part of the business is financial services:

Sony’s profits these days come from what may seem like an unexpected source: Its financial services business, which includes life insurance, non-life insurance, and banking. (At least before the rest of Sony wipes those profits out — overall, the company expects to lose more than $1 billion this fiscal year.)


The Stone Cutter

In class, I told the story of The Stonecutter, a story that I told from memory to demonstrate how in an oral society, stories were passed on as myths and proverbs. The actual content of the text is not important but the theme or lesson is.

You can read a version of the story here and another version here.

The way the story was remembered and passed on was probably by using a mnemonic device that incorporate each step of the Stonecutter’s transformation. The step went something like this:

  1. Stonecutter
  2. King in one story; and a Rich Man in another
  3. Sun
  4. Cloud
  5. Wind
  6. Mountain
  7. Stonecutter

In my version, I had forgotten about the king/rich man, but I did more or less tell you the same story even if I hadn’t told you the exact same words.

The details were less important than the message, which I believe sticks with you because it is a proverb.

Courses for Fall 2014

Greetings Internaut!

My name is Juan Monroy, and this the course notes blog for the courses I teach. Throughout the semester, I will be posting announcements, relevant news, and other timely information that relates to our class. Please visit often and feel free to comment.

If you’re enrolled in one of my courses, or are considering enrolling, please review the courses I am teaching this Fall 2014 semester.

Course School Day and Time Course Website
Introduction to Media Industries Fordham University, Lincoln Center Mon and Thu, 2:30 – 3:45
Introduction to Electronic Media Fordham University, Lincoln Center Tuesdays, 2:30 – 5:15
Media Technologies CUNY Queens College Wednesdays, 6:30 – 9:20
Experimental Film Pratt Institute Thursdays, 5:30 – 8:20

If you have any questions about these courses, please email me at