Tuesday, July 12, 2011

End of Space Shuttle Program Doesn’t Mean End of American Innovation

VC investments way up and B2B advertisers look to third wave of advertising

We’re no rocket scientists here, but today and July 20 will mark historic milestones for the U.S. space program. In case you missed it, today was the final “spacewalk” by the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And when the shuttle lands on July 20 at Kennedy Space Center, it will be on the 42nd anniversary of the first moon landing. For many of us born at the tail end of the Baby Boom, Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk was one of our earliest memories of actually paying attention to something on the evening news. This month, as the space program goes into early retirement, it signals our generation’s official descent into middle age. But, we don’t seem to be the only ones running out of steam. That’s just not acceptable to us here.

As Frank Bruni of the New York Times wrote the other day, the shuttle was the “centerpiece of our country’s gaudily ambitious space adventures. The shuttle program was a pre-eminent symbol of our belief that there were literally no limits to where we could go and no boundaries to what we could accomplish, so long as we hitched our ingenuity to our imagination and marshaled the requisite will. The program’s end carries the force of cruel metaphor, coming at a time when limits are all we talk about. When we have no stars in our eyes.”

Yesterday, a sobering U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report was released. According to the Chamber, almost two-thirds—64 percent—of small-business executives surveyed said they weren't expecting to add to their payrolls in the next year and another 12 percent planned to cut jobs. Just one in five (19%) said they would expand their work forces. This comes after a Labor Department report Friday showed employers added few jobs in June, and unemployment rose to 9.2 percent. The Small Business Administration says small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 workers, employ about half of the workers in the private sector. In the Chamber's survey of 1,409 executives, conducted by Harris Interactive, small businesses were defined as firms with revenue of $25 million or less.
A Gallup/USA Today poll conducted in late April found that 55 percent of Americans considered it unlikely that children today would have better lives than their parents, while only 44 percent considered it likely. Those responses were the most negative, by far, over the last quarter-century, and they undercut a central tenet of American optimism.

And 39 percent of the respondents in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll characterized that decline as permanent, at least in economic terms. That was a marked increase from 28 percent who said so last fall.

The President talks a great deal about charting “the frontiers of innovation,” but his administration doesn’t seem to have a plan and maybe we shouldn’t leave it to the government to do it for us.

Our take: The U.S. space program was created not out of scientific curiosity but out of national security to keep pace with the Russian space program. Right now we have a different kind of threat and that’s economic threat of China, India and other fast developing economics. We need to have an economic/innovative version of NASA right now……education, starting companies and smart, efficient marketing.

3rd Wave for advertising

If you get a free moment, take a look at J. Brooke Aker’s piece from Online Media Daily about the maturity of display advertising. Aker also quotes Google’s Neal Mohan who’s argues we are just now entering the 3rd Wave of digital advertising maturation that futurist Alvin Toffler predicted in the 1980s. Apparently we have moved from media explosion (Internet, ubiquitous connectivity and multiple devices) to technology that makes ads efficient and makes media pay, to a user-centric 3rd wave.

Our take: We’re encouraged by this assessment because this is where consumers have much more say -- in the ads they skip, ads they replay or their preferences for ads. Amen to that.

Venture Capital on the Rise

Total capital raised by U.S. venture firms in the first half of this year hit $8.14 billion, that’s a 20 percent increase over the same period last year, according to Dow Jones. Meanwhile, the National Venture Capital Association said capital fundraising during the first half of 2011 totaled $10.2 billion from 76 funds, a 67 percent increase by dollars compared to the first half of 2010.
Next week we’ll look at how content marketing is challenging traditional advertising for smart B2B marketers.


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