Stumbling with me.

Sam's place to rant, rave and recover from his so-called digital life. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to send him a note: sam at Learn more about Sam here.

Don’t drink coffee in the morning? You’ve got to be kidding me!

According to Fast Company’s article, our body is naturally caffeinated in the morning and afternoon by a hormone called cortisol. And caffeine consumption has a negative effect on the body’s ability to naturally energize with this hormone. To boot, cortisol levels peak around 8 - 9AM—exactly when I crave coffee! Ugh. 

Looks like I’ll be optimizing my caffeine intake along with the lead conversions I’m responsible for as a marketer. :/

A unique perspective on what it takes to succeed in life.

7 Reasons Why You Will Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life

This post over at Medium is getting a LOT of people thinking. And for good reason. It’s not everyday someone calls us out on our bullshit. Our capacity for risking to fail is diminishing because we strive for comfort in mediocrity. Allowing ourselves to take risks means we’re inviting the potential to feel pain. A feeling no one enjoys or welcomes. But with pain comes experience. And with experience, wisdom is possible.

This is a great article for each of us to read and reflect on. Grab a bullet point or two to tuck away for daily reflection and fan the fires of inspiration. Never be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions that this post pose. We only live one life. Let’s make the most of it.

One year later; My heart belongs to Boston.

From CBS Boston, “A day of tributes is underway to mark the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, honoring the three people who died, the more than 260 people who were injured, and the first responders, doctors and nurses who helped them.”

I can’t believe it’s been a year already. One year ago today, chaos and tragedy enveloped my beloved city. But amidst the confusion and sadness, strength emerged victorious.

Remembering all of those affected… 

Daring Fireball on web-based vs. apps

We shouldn’t think of “the web” as only what renders in web browsers. We should think of the web as anything transmitted using HTTP and HTTPS. Apps and websites are peers, not competitors. They’re all just clients to the same services.”

I completely agree with Gruber’s statement. The question is one for publishers/developers and what delivery mechanism they provide to access their content, browser or app.

I love this track and video.

ta voix, tes yeux, tes mains, tes levres, le regard, la parole, et le fait que je taime…”
"your voice, your eyes, your hands, your lips, eyes, speech, and the fact that I love you …"

Cover the Night: Invisible Children’s Awareness and Advocacy Program


I do my best thinking while running. I cherish the quiet time. I find peace in the moments shared with the road as I traverse the countryside of my quaint state of New Hampshire. There are no distractions, which means I have plenty of mental bandwidth to ponder new ideas and think-through existing ones with deeper analysis.

During a recent run, a bright red poster caught my eye (above). I immediately recognized the poster from the Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 campaign, more specifically, the campaign’s Cover the Night initiative. Cover the Night was a night of action. It was a climatic call to arms of supporters to take to the streets and put up KONY stickers and posters on anything and everything in sight. Its purpose, to call attention to the atrocities to children in Africa that Inivisble Children passionately advocate against. Amazed by the campaign’s success of reaching far into rural America, my thoughts fixed on the demonstrable power of social media in this scenario. Not only did the KONY 2012 campaign video achieve platinum status on YouTube, acquiring over 40 million views in a week’s time, it did something much more important with regard to advocacy and awareness programs, it motivated its audience to take action.

So how was a relatively unknown nonprofit organization so successful in building awareness and motivating its base? Most importantly, they had a convincing story to tell. Nothing resonates with an audience like a story that evokes strong emotional reaction. The Invisible Children serve a valiant cause. Yes, they’ve made a couple of well-documented mistakes handling their operation, but the fact remains, they stand against an important societal issue. This cause served as the catalyst to inspire and motivate action. But it’s not just about the story.

Invisible Children’s program highlights an important formula: awareness + impact + resonance = action/outcomes. Awareness generated through a YouTube video instilled a strong sense of empathy in viewers and a strong call to action. The call to action was a call to advocacy. And rather than finish the video with a plea to donate, viewers of the video were instead compelled to get involved and become a part of the cause. Invisible Children did not treat their audience as prospective donors, instead they channeled their effort toward advocacy.

So, it wasn’t just a compelling story that Invisible Children had to tell. It was a compelling advocacy program. And it was all accomplished through social media.

P&G honors moms across the globe with this great, new campaign. Beautifully done.

Is Bing copying Google search results?

Over the last couple of days, the drama surrounding Google’s accusation that Bing is copying its search results has begun to grow. Essentially, Google was trying to correct its suggestions for a misspelling in its index and noticed during testing that their synthetic manipulations of their query results were being shadowed over at Bing. After conducting a honeypot, Google felt that it had enough evidence to call Bing out.

While this may not seem important by some, it has to be remembered that search is Google’s pride and joy. It’s the core service that has solely allowed for such immense company growth. Google does not take the search game lightly. To come out and accuse it’s number one competitor of theft is a fairly substantial accusation and one that may have larger legal implications in the future. 

While it is neither here nor there who wins this fight, my larger interest is in the trifecta that is created once Facebook is brought into the mix. While just a spectator at this point, Facebook has partnered with Bing as its de facto search engine and has tightly integrated into their gigantic, social networking platform. While it is way too early to technically connect Facebook to any of this, it does make me begin to theorize on the greater implications. 

As an old classmate of mine, and a pretty smart guy to boot, has written on the threat Facebook advertising poses to Google, the battle between the two hasn’t really begun to make its way into public domain. Is this just a first glimpse of a much larger case against Microsoft and Facebook? No one knows at this point but this could get real interesting if it is. Stay tuned!

Is there such a thing as too big to rebrand?

imageNBC Universal is the latest in a series of corporate logo bungles. The decision to pull the peacock was just plain stupid. They could have done anything as long as they didn’t do what they ended up actually doing—removing the silly peacock! 

Chuck Ross’ latest post on TVWeek provides a coherent message straight to the corporate brass about the important considerations that must be adhered to when making branding decisions on logos. He offers a substantive dissection of branding theory from the industries two most famous figures, Saul Bass and Paul Rand. These two gentlemen are responsible for some of the most recognizable logos in history: Apple, IBM, UPS, the list goes on and on. 

Ross uses this Rand quote, which I especially love, “The world of business could function without benefit of art—but should it? I think not, if only for the simple reason that the world would be a poorer place if it did.”

Right on, sir. 

While I essentially agree with most of Ross’ argument against the new logo, I can’t endorse his idea of turning the exercise into an employee contest.

Ross opines,
"Fortunately, it’s not too late for Burke and Brian Roberts to correct this misstep. My suggestion? Send the new NBC Universal logo to the recycle bin. What to do then? Reinstate the old one? Not a bad choice, but not one Mssrs. Burke and Roberts may cotton to.

So how about this: Hold a contest among all the good folks at NBC Universal to design a new logo.”

Maybe if they needed a logo for the annual company picnic but for the corporate identity, really? Why don’t you just hire the CEO’s nephew who just entered art school? 

The problem companies are running into lately, is that they are allowing the media and the power of the online community to make their business decisions regarding logos for them. It seems that after the Tropicana debacle, every company is afraid to pull the trigger on a major rebrand. So what we’re left with is really “safe” decisions like removing the most iconic and recognizable part of the logo rather than successfully redesigning it. This leads to stagnation and unmemorable brands.

I know our government has reassured us to the fact that some companies are “too big to fail” but have we also reached a point where they are also too large to rebrand as well? I think this argument points to the importance of a company establishing a strong identity early on in their success. When you are a young and small company, you have the ability to strengthen your branding, massaging it into an emotionally magnetic symbol that creates a bind with your consumer and creates a platform to establish a strong corporate culture. Once you have that bond, like an Apple or IBM,  then stay true to it. You can modify as you see fit but do it sparingly, and make sure the essence of what made your logo special remains.

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity - where does all the time go?
via Fuchsia Macaree
This is a classic case of funny because it’s true. The question employers need to ask themselves at this juncture is, do I sacrifice an hour or two of productivity for a happy crew or rule with an iron-fist and potentially lose my positive leader role? 
I personally would prefer to have a happy, motivated bunch of creative thinkers than the alternative, and face the possibility of a coup. 

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity - where does all the time go?

via Fuchsia Macaree

This is a classic case of funny because it’s true. The question employers need to ask themselves at this juncture is, do I sacrifice an hour or two of productivity for a happy crew or rule with an iron-fist and potentially lose my positive leader role? 

I personally would prefer to have a happy, motivated bunch of creative thinkers than the alternative, and face the possibility of a coup. 

Attention to detail is apparently something overlooked by even the largest of brands. AT&T 3G on a Verizon phone? 

via Autoblog

Attention to detail is apparently something overlooked by even the largest of brands. AT&T 3G on a Verizon phone? 

via Autoblog

Online Advertising Design | The Rebirth of the Banner Ad?

The agency I work for just relaunched a new site and blog. I did not design the home site but did do the redesign for the blog and wrote the first content post on Google Images. Check out my post below…

Online Advertising Design | The Rebirth of the Banner Ad?
By Samuel Balsama

For those of you who regularly follow the world of online advertising, you may have noticed the speed at which Google has been making changes to its services and offerings. Not only has the company made substantial debuts and upgrades to its end-user services – e.g., Google Instant and Google Images – but it has also been steadily reinvigorating its Google Display Network (GDN), including new ad formats and updates to the tools used to position these ads. 

While Google offers many free services and platforms, let’s not forget that these efforts are not without purpose. Everything Google does has some sort of search component to it. It’s the classic example of getting something for free at the expense of advertising exposure. Expanding the reach of its search-based ad platform is the major reason Google is sitting atop $33 billion in cash and assets.

The July 2010 redesign of Google Images was just another case of the company strengthening its sponsored ad ecosystem. Alongside the new look was Google’s introduction of Image Search Ads, which enables an advertiser to serve up a thumbnail image alongside ad text in Images search results. Because of the positive feedback Google received from its ad partners, the company now allows rich media leaderboard units to appear above image search results.

Since its inception in 2001, Google Images has experienced massive growth in terms of deliverable content. The service now has over 10 billion images indexed. That is an extraordinary amount of content that your customers and prospects may be engaging with in their search processes. Since it can be assumed that their behavior has reached a certain amount of “comfort” with the Google Images interface, the fact that ads, and rich media ones at that, are now being presented means that this new space is more likely to be noticed by users. This sort of behavior disruption creates a substantial amount of opportunity for your advertising efforts. This may not necessarily be the rebirth of the leaderboard ad per se, but it does present an exciting, albeit temporary, new channel for a medium that has lost a great amount of favor amongst online advertisers—hence the development and deployment of page takeovers.

My suggestion is to jump onto this ad format as soon as possible and ride the wave while it lasts. As we know, user behavior adapts very quickly to the “clutterization” of the user experience and the window of opportunity for this attention grabbing ad space will soon become dormant. Seth Godin addresses the trend of advertisers destroying channels by over cluttering the user experience in his recent blog post, “The inevitable decline due to clutter”. While the length of effectiveness shall be debated, waiting for the results of this new ad possibility will only cost you potential ROI.

Maybe I’m being too much of an optimist on this revelation though. What do you guys think about Google’s new initiatives? Anyone experiencing any positive and/or negative effects to its GDN advertising efforts with these changes?

“But vitality is a sensation, and it requires a sensitivity to signals and surroundings—and the courage to stomp your feet in sync with the signals of life.”

Danielle LaPorte

Online Ad Spend Surpasses Newspapers - eMarketer

This is an exciting time to be involved in online marketing. Not only is the industry growing in ad spend but it is also providing creatives with a vehicle to innovation. Our ability to create interactivity through campaigns is seemingly boundless. Technology is our future of communications and at this moment the internet is paving a never ending highway to awesomeness. 

"2010 will mark the first time marketers put more money into online advertising than newspapers, eMarketer estimates.

Total newspaper spending, including advertising in print and online editions, will fall to $25.7 billion in 2010, a decline of 6.6%. Spending on print newspapers alone will fall more steeply to $22.8 billion. Meanwhile, a rise of 13.9% will push US online ad spending up to $25.8 billion by year’s end.”

via eMarketer

Niagara Falls All Dried Up: Photos & Video

 "It’s taken 41 years, but a previously unseen set of photos of the mighty Niagara Falls reduced to nothing more than a barren cliff-top have finally surfaced.

The stark images reveal North America’s iconic - and most powerful - waterfall to be almost as dry as a desert.”

Some really cool images of the falls. The video footage at the end of the post is the real gem. 

via DailyMail