Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Comedian Streaming 250 Netflix Movies in 30 Days

His name is Mark Malkoff and here is his blog.
I want to see how much value I can get for my $7.99 a month. For example if I watch 200 films that works out to about four cents per film.
Malkoff makes an excellent point: Is the all-you-can-eat streaming from Netflix a much better deal than their 1-DVD at a time which is the same price?

If you were able to watch every movie that came in the mail the day that you got it, the maximum number of movies would still be approximately 10 per month, or 90 cents per movie. A more realistic estimate might be 1.5 movies per week, which translates to about $1.33 cents per week.

And what if you wait all week to watch a movie, and then the disc is scratched?

While people often complain about the selection on Netflix Instant Watch, it certainly makes more sense to watch a TV series like Walking Dead or Battlestar Galactica from the beginning using Instant Watch rather than watching one DVD, mailing it back, then watching the second or even third disc in the series.  

So, if you end up watching a TV series or two, plus 5-6 other movies over the course of a month, Instant Watch could be a better deal for you. But if your priority is to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol etc as soon as it's on Netflix, then stick with the by-mail option

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Podcasts: Essentials

Like a lot of people, I didn't listen to a ton of podcasts until 2010 or so. I listened to Bill Simmons' B.S. Report, and a few other ESPN and NPR podcasts. That was about it.

Then two things happened. One, I read a post by Ezra Klein, suggesting that most podcasts can be listened to at 2X speed on your iPhone. So, now a 2.5-hour rambling Joe Rogen Experience can be digested in two or three 30-minute sittings at the most in between meetings and conference calls.

Secondly, I started commuting via public transportation (30-45 minutes each way) and eventually working from home. As such, my appetite for podcasts went from "Eh, I go to the gym twice a week," to "I have several hours of silence per day which I can fill with whatever I want (preferably for free.)"

I accidentally deleted all of my old podcasts from iTunes in March, so I had an opportunity to start from scratch in terms of what I listen to day to day.

Here are the programs that I consider to be 'Must See TV' for podcasts:
1) This American Life - This American Life is one of those NPR programs that is now hard for me to imagine working WITHOUT podcasting. I suppose people used to schedule their weekends around listening to This American Life or would tape it from the radio? Or maybe it was like Car Talk, which seems to always be serendipitously on the radio every weekend when you do errands or go on a road trip. TAL has attained a certain level of notoriety for the Mike Daisey episode about Foxconn which it retracted, but it is the '60 Minutes' of podcasts.
2) B.S. Report - As mentioned, Bill Simmons and ESPN are the reason that most dudes between the ages of 25-45 even know what podcasts are. My only warning/complaint is that the schedule and topics are extremely random, so this could be disconcerting for some. A recent guest coup: President Obama. I also enjoy the Grantland podcasts, where Mr. Simmons acts as editor.
3) WTF With Marc Maron - The WTF podcast is hard to describe, but is essentially the marquis 1:1 interview show for comedians and actors, but also touches on issues of addiction, depression and mental health. A sampling of guest include Michael Cera, David Cross and Anthony Bourdain. Older classics are available as 'premium' episodes such as Louis CK, Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia. Language is often NSFW, but generally not over the top.
4) RadioLab - I am a recent convert to the cult of RadioLab, but I am now thorougly and utterly hooked. Topics generally look at the intersection of science, society and history. The "Escape" episode was pretty great. Slickly produced, the biggest complaint would likely be that they don't produce more episodes.
5) Planet Money - I believe I've been listening to Planet Money since the beginning in 2008. They have had excellent coverage of Haiti's earthquake recovery, interviews with authors like Nassim Taleb and Simon Johnson, and helped expose a dollar coin program that was costing the federal government millions of dollars. I've given a few 'business' podcasts a chance, and this is the one I've stuck with most consistently and most passionately.

The other good thing about these podcasts in particular is that they aren't especially timely, so you can load up a few and listen to them on a flight or long car trip.

iTunes has also has lots of Top 10 lists by country and subject matter which makes it fairly easy to find more podcasts that might interest you.

Feel free to leave other podcasts that you like in the comments.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Case Study: AARP Tax Tips

AARP Tax Tips
Helping seniors with their taxes is very important to AARP. They offer free tax advice through their Tax-Aide program.

I arrived at AARP in the fall of 2010 and we almost immediately started planning for the upcoming tax season.

I had previously led the tax coverage for AOL Personal Finance. There was already a lot of legacy tax content in the Money channel, and we had more coming, both in the form of free content from the IRS and premium content from Kiplinger.

How could we get all of this great content to the as many people as possible?

- I created subject pages around tax tips and the most popular federal and state tax forms as additional landing pages for promotional and search traffic.
- I conducted an audit of the existing content, adding internal links to focus promotional and SEO traffic on the most important articles and subject pages and paginating where appropriate.
- We came up with a list of 90 individual 'tips of the day', each of which had a relevant article with more information. We promoted the Tip of the Day on the Money channel and also had the social media team send the tips to Twitter and Facebook from January 15-April 18 (Tax Day 2011.) We ended up repeating some of the tips and not using all of them, but we knew that we had more than we would need.
- This area was promoted multiple times across the home page, email newsletters, social media and SEM.

Key Metrics (January 15-Tax Day):
- Traffic to the Taxes subchannel page, as the main hub for the daily tips etc, was up 100x from 2010 to 2011.
- The AARP hosted version of Most Overlooked Deductions article got more than 400K page views alone.
- The three subject matter pages got more than 200K page views over this period, primarily from SEO.

Summary: 90-day content campaign doubled traffic to Tax area year over year, primarily leveraging existing content partners and existing tools, but integrating social media, SEO/SEM and promotional platforms.