The current Idea Email
 explains how and why ad-blocking isn’t just a browser plug-in hack. Blocking ads is also a multi-billion dollar business. It’s based on the notion that advertising doesn’t always need to be at the transaction intersection when dollars are exchanged for content. Oftentimes, customers become so overwhelmed by the crush of ads on the internet and traditional media, they are more than willing to pay media companies for the chance to view (listen to, watch, read) ad-free content.

And many media companies have learned that there are billions of dollars in potential revenue in allowing people to pay for ad-free content, rather than subjecting them to personalized ads or the sheer magnitude of ads that appear on a web page.

Here are some examples of ad-free content providers and how they make money (or hope to).

god metric

Anyone who has read this blog with any consistency or subscribes to Hammock’s Idea Email will understand why I think the article “A mile wide, an inch deep” written by founder and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams should be required reading for marketers.

In November, 2012, we titled our very first Idea Email with a line inspired by the sentence Apple used to introduce the second generation of the iPad: “Technology at its very best is invisible.”

In our version, we substituted “marketing” for the word technology.

In that first Idea Email, we wrote what we still believe to be the goal of great marketing:

The goal of great marketing should be to make the customer smarter, stronger, happier, or whatever the customer wants when they purchase a product or join an association or sign up for a service. When you emphasize how your product can help customers achieve something, they don’t think of it as marketing. They think of it as help. And that’s when marketing is at its very best.

[Hammock’s Current Idea Email was released yesterday. Subscribe now to receive your own issue, once every two weeks.]
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Idea: Learn From the Moneyball Lessons of Bezos and Henry

moneyball has valuable lessons for entrepreneurs

During the past week, two of the geekiest (which we mean as a compliment) entrepreneurs of our era have purchased two of the most venerable (by which we mean, they were once worthy of compliments) newspapers in the U.S.: Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post; and John Henry, the Boston Globe.

It is almost a cliché for billionaires to make vanity purchases of media companies and professional sports franchises (indeed, Henry owns several).

In this case, however, the two billionaires have track records of revolutionizing industries by applying a unique formula that seems especially suited for helping traditional (venerable) media companies (and all companies) respond to the challenges (and opportunities) they face today. First, in their previous endeavors, they have obsessively searched for a means to understand and master the metrics that matter most in a particular marketplace; and second, they have passionately pursued a never-ending quest for insight into, and response to, the needs and desires of customers.

[Hammock’s Current Idea Email was released yesterday. Subscribe now to receive your own issue, once every two weeks.]

the idea email header bright ideas for businesses

Idea: Follow in the Footsteps of Companies
Successfully Using Customer Media and Content

Photo of footstep of man on the moon
The companies that really know how to use customer media content—to create and deepen relationships with customers, not just to fulfill some checklist of sales and marketing materials—have a few things in common.

From our work and research, here are 10 traits of companies setting the benchmark for using customer media and content that works:

essential drucker coverIn the current Idea Email, we explore one of Peter Drucker’s most compelling lessons regarding the reason any business exists. (Spoiler alert: It’s customers.)

In examining the dog-eared copy of the Hammock library’s The Essential Drucker, we were reminded of all the great insights he shared over his 60-year career. We were also struck by how many quotes attributed to him for which we can’t find the original source.

But still, he said (and maybe said) some things we really love.

Here are four that we can actually cite where Drucker said or wrote the quotation:

In the current Idea Email, we examine “Shared Links,” a new default feature that will be included in the next version of the Safari web browser. I believe this feature has the potential of broadening the understanding and popularity of what used to be called (by a small group of early social-media geeks) social browsing–taking it from a geek-user pattern of web usage into a mainstream pattern. Simply put, the concept adds a layer of “content suggestions curated by friends” to the typical kind of web browsing most non-technical people do.

For marketers, this presents both challenges and opportunities.

[Hammock’s Current Idea Email was released this morning. Subscribe now to receive your own copy.]


A successful customer media strategy hinges on what advertisers have long called “frequency” — the number of times a customer must be exposed to a message for it to be effective.

“One-and-done” customer media will disappoint your customers, as sure as “one-and-done” disappoints fans who see their team lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Recurring media is king. So recurring (and subscribable) media like magazines, newsletters, frequent blog posts and podcasts have been the early and effective tools of digital content marketers.

five tips for successful eBook subscription series Our current Idea Email is focused on the customer relationship-building opportunities of using a subscription model for the distribution of ebooks.

Here are 5 tips we believe will help such a series of ebooks to become popular with your audience.

Keep it Short

By short, we mean 5,000-10,000 words. This is the length of a long magazine article. A business-to-business marketer may offer longer books, if your audience seeks content of a technical or academic nature. And a how-to or recipe series may be comprised of ebooks with less words. However, the success that has seen with Kindle Singles provides the proof-of-concept that short books are popular among people with demands on their time, but who desire more understanding than a blog post (like this) can provide.

Paleolithic era image cave painting new facets for media are old ideas

Paleolithic-era Branded Content

(Post by Rex Hammock)

When I first started blogging 13 years ago, I thought I’d attempt to correct the misperception that there’s something new about companies creating informative, high-quality and helpful media for customers. Back then, the conventional wisdom among media and marketing reporters (and most marketers) was that companies communicate with customers by purchasing advertising in media that other companies own, not via media they own.

But I knew the truth: Media created by companies for their customers has been around since Fred Flintstone invented it.