Online advertising in Canada is booming

Post ImageThe numbers are in, and it appears that 2006 was an incredibly impressive year for online advertising in the great north. Forget about all the action happening south of the border, Canada is where it’s at! From 901am:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB) announced that 2006 Canadian Online Advertising Revenues surged to an unprecedented $1.01 billion dollars for the year. The 2006 actuals represent a 26% increase over the $801 million originally estimated by the IAB for 2006; and an 80% increase over the 2005 actuals of $562 million.

Projections for 2007 look really positive too. Mark Evans says:

Still, if you do some back-of-the-napkin calculations, the Canadian market is still only two-thirds that of the U.S. market if you use the traditional 10:1 ratio formula.

I assume by the “10:1 ratio formula” he is normalizing the two markets for comparison purposes. So it’s not as big as the US, but it’s getting damn close.

Read: 901am

Review: Predictions for 2006

Post ImageLike a lot of people, I had some fun a year ago and made some predictions for 2006. Now that the year is pretty much over, I guess I should see how I did:

  1. SORTA RIGHT: Canada did indeed win the World Juniors, but we didn’t win the Olympic gold medal.
  2. SORTA RIGHT: In March, RIM settled its lawsuit with NTP, but it was later sued by Visto. I don’t think that has been solved yet. On the consumer front, the BlackBerry Pearl is off to a great start!
  3. WRONG: Ah not even close. The Steelers won the Superbowl.
  4. WRONG: Well we did get the Zune which has wi-fi, but I guess I was a little early on this one.
  5. MOSTLY WRONG: Apparently Toyota is still #2 in the world, but GM continues to have financial troubles.
  6. MOSTLY RIGHT: The PS3 did in fact launch, and it was in fact really expensive. Too early to tell what level of success it will have.
  7. WRONG: Man, who would have thought the Oilers would get so close! I don’t know why I picked Ottawa, they always choke.
  8. WRONG: Vista RTM’d in November, not September. I am sure the usual suspects made their usual claims.
  9. WRONG: Wishful thinking I’m afraid, but we did see Gears of War!
  10. WRONG: I think the iTunes/iPod combo still has a firm grip on the market, despite a (disputed) report that iTunes sales fell drastically in 2006.
  11. SORTA RIGHT: Apple launched their Intel-based machines very successfully, but I haven’t found anything that says their market share has increased. Some say it has decreased.
  12. SORTA RIGHT: Michael Schumacher did retire, but unfortunately didn’t win an 8th championship.
  13. RIGHT: I don’t have a link, but I seem to recall reading about Symantec suing Microsoft over security stuff in Vista.
  14. MOSTLY RIGHT: Not sure about big numbers, but TV shows made a splash on iTunes, and there are now dozens of online video stores. And for Americans, TV shows and movies are available on Xbox Live. And in general it was a huge year for video, thanks to YouTube.
  15. WRONG: No one bought TiVo.
  16. WRONG: The Liberals didn’t win the election.
  17. WRONG: Hard to say if Google stumbled in 2006. There wasn’t a big mistake, but maybe the little ones will add up.
  18. RIGHT: Looks like The Da Vinci Code was #2 at the box office this year!
  19. GLADLY WRONG: Thank goodness, the US did not invade Iran. The UN did recently impose sanctions however.
  20. RIGHT: I think lots of podcasting companies (pluggd, Podcast Ready, etc.) found success in 2006, ourselves included!

On January 7th I posted about multi-core processors. While it wasn’t in my list of predictions, it could have been:

Perhaps a year from now you won’t ask someone how fast their computer is. Instead, you might ask, how many cores do you have?

I think I almost nailed that one! Except that for the moment, the question is usually “do you have a dual core?” Close enough 🙂

I’ll probably come up with some predictions for 2007 later, and hopefully I do better next year!

Read: Predictions for 2006

A Lesson From 2006

Post ImageLooking back I’d say I learned a lot in the last year. I guess that’s not surprising, as the saying “you learn something new every day” is usually pretty accurate. With business plan competitions, conferences, and of course school, I had lots of opportunities to learn new things this year. Instead of making a big list of the things I learned however, I’m going to share with you just one lesson:

I learned that running a business requires balance.

Of course you have to balance the business with friends, family, etc. That’s not what I am talking about though. When you are starting a business, you wear a lot of different hats. Sometimes you wear the programmer hat, sometimes the accountant hat, and other times the salesman hat. What I learned this year is that you need to find a balance between all the different hats! It sounds like common sense, but when you’re in the middle of things, it doesn’t come naturally.

I don’t know why, but for the longest time I figured that if we got the code for Podcast Spot done, everything else would fall into place. I focused only on the programmer hat, and ignored the rest. VenturePrize was the turning point for me. Before the competition, I pretty much focused on the programmer hat. During the competition, I ignored the programmer hat altogether. And now, I am doing my best to find balance.

It was an important lesson for me to learn, that’s for sure. To see what other people learned this year, check out Ben Yoskovitz’s excellent group writing project.

Read: Instigator Blog

Bright Nights 2006

Post ImageLast night I went with Sharon to check out the Bright Nights festival in Hawrelak Park. The event is always described as an “Edmonton tradition” and since I had never been before, I figured I should check it out. I came away less than impressed.

In general I’m short on patience, and it definitely wore thin waiting in the line of cars to drive through. It seemed to take much longer than it should have to get to the toll booth. So that was my first problem with event. My second problem was the advertising! Everywhere you looked – advertising. They tell you turn the radio to 98.3 so you can hear about the displays, but they lied. All you hear is advertising…”thanks to our sponsors” and crap. With all that advertising one would think they could lower the entry price, but no! Fortunately Sharon had a coupon, so it only cost us $10 as opposed to $15. That doesn’t take into account the wasted gas, however.

And finally, the displays weren’t that spectacular. Maybe I just had unrealistic expectations or something, but I didn’t ooh and ahhh at any of them. I did like the penguins on a snowmobile though, because penguins rock! Overall, I’d have to say that Candy Cane Lane has better displays!

I could think of better ways to spend $10 and over an hour of my time. I can now say I’ve been to Bright Nights, but I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon.

Xmas Shopping on Saturday the 23rd

I watched the evening news at 6 tonight, and their lead story was on the holiday shopping rush. They had cameras around the city throughout the day filming the madness. I too went shopping today, but not until about 7 PM this evening (no I didn’t just start, I was picking up some of the last items on my list). And actually, I think that might be the best time to go!

Traffic was light, the lines were very short, and everyone was surprisingly friendly during my time shopping this evening. I guess if you weren’t sure what you were looking for, waiting until the 23rd isn’t the best idea. If you know exactly what you’re after however, as I was, then perhaps it is the best time to go!

Apparently today (the last Saturday before Christmas, or December 23rd, this year it happens to be both) is the busiest shopping day of the year!

Thirsty for Podcasting News in 2006

Post ImageGoogle released their annual zeitgeist for 2006 recently, and the top searches proved to be quite different than those found on Yahoo’s annual listing. Google’s top ten terms are mostly technology-related, while Yahoo’s are entertainment-related.

Also different were the news searches. Coming in at number four on the top searches for Google News is podcasting! Who knew so many people were interested in learning about what is happening in the podcasting industry!

Here are my favorite podcasting news sites:

I also subscribe to a bunch of search feeds, and news feeds from individual companies too. And every now and then you get some news from more general sites like TechCrunch or Digg. I thought this list would have been longer though. Perhaps there is room in the news space for podcasting?

Read: Google Zeitgeist

Time Person of the Year for 2006: You

Post ImageI guess the fine people at Time still haven’t learned that the word “person” refers to a single, individual human being. Last year they named Bill & Melinda Gates and Bono the “person of the year” and this year, it’s you. That’s right, Time says you are the person of the year for 2006:

The “Great Man” theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men.” He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

All joking aside, there’s a certain appeal to naming “you” the person of the year. I mean, it was a big year for that dreaded phrase – user generated content. And like it or not, some of the biggest stories of the year were a result of individuals expressing themselves on the web. Everything from videos at YouTube, to profiles at MySpace, citizen news around the web, podcasting, and of course, blogging.

Though Time has been naming a “person of the year” since 1927, this year’s cover is sure to be one of the most interesting:

The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue, released on Monday, “because it literally reflects the idea that you, not us, are transforming the Information Age,” Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.

So congratulations to you!



Post ImageNormally when I listen to music, I listen to a playlist I have created, not a specific artist or album. This is primarily because I find there just aren’t many albums that are excellent from start to finish, or that I would want to listen to over and over again. Justin Timberlake’s new one titled FutureSex/LoveSounds however, is one such album.

I’m completely addicted to this album, and it kind of surprises me. The first time I heard “SexyBack” on the radio, I wasn’t that impressed. The song really grew on me though. Same for “My Love”. Actually I think you could say that about most of the album – the more you listen to it, the more you’ll like it. If I had to pick a least favorite track on the album, I’d say “Chop Me Up” which features Three 6 Mafia (and I don’t care for them). My favorites are the title track, “What Goes Around…”, and “Pose” which features Snoop Dogg.

It appears I am not the only one who likes the album either:

The album became the fastest in 2006 to hit 2X Platinum, making it after only a couple of weeks one of the biggest hits of the year. Timberlake will begin touring in January 2007 to support the album.

It has already set some records too:

The album debuted in the number one position on the Billboard chart, selling 684,000 copies its first week. The album is also the biggest album ever for pre-orders on iTunes, and beat Coldplay’s record for the biggest one-week sales of a digital album.

FutureSex/LoveSounds is Justin’s second studio album (Justified was released four years ago). All I can say is that I am glad he made it. And if his next album is anything like this one, I hope it comes sooner rather than later!

Read: Wikipedia

Why are there no Canadian brands in the top 100?

Post ImageBusinessWeek recently released the 100 Top Brands for 2006, using data provided by Interbrand. Of the 100 brands on the list, not a single one is Canadian and I found myself wondering, why not? First, let’s look at how the list is built:

To even qualify for the list, each brand must derive about a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizable outside of its base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data.

Interbrand doesn’t rank parent companies, which explains why Procter & Gamble doesn’t show up. And airlines are not ranked because it’s too hard to separate their brands’ impact on sales from factors such as routes and schedules.

Considerations include market leadership, stability, and global reach—or the ability to cross both geographic and cultural borders. That generates a discount rate, which is applied to brand earnings to get a net present value. BusinessWeek and Interbrand believe this figure comes closest to representing a brand’s true economic worth.

Are Canadian companies failing on each of these points? I set about to find out. The first thing I did was google top companies in canada. The first result is the website for Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies, and the second is the 50 best companies to work for in Canada. Maybe that’s a clue already! Do the same search for the United States and you get results like “North America Best Companies Lists”, “Top 200 companies in the United States”, and “World’s Best Companies”. Perhaps the stereotype is true and we’re too nice to each other, so we don’t have lists of top companies, but lists of people who we think are nice and just happen to run companies.

Anyway, I altered the search to be for the largest companies in Canada, and I found a Forbes list, compiled in November 2005. Here’s a rundown of the top ten:

  • Five of the companies are Canadian banks, which almost by definition (and no thanks to our government) fail to derive a third of their earnings outside the country.
  • Two are insurance and diversified financials, which I assume fall into the same trap as the banks.
  • Two are oil and gas companies, one of which is actually controlled by an American company (ExxonMobil owns around 70% of Imperial Oil’s stock). The other is EnCana, and I can only assume they focus mainly on Canada as well.
  • Which leaves us with BCE, a parent company, thus failing to be considered for the list.

The rest of the list is very similar – lots of financial and oil and gas companies, and most of the rest are firms I haven’t even heard of, which suggests to me they are parent companies or conglomerates. Perhaps the only three on the list that I think might have a chance are Bombardier, Nortel, and Research In Motion.

And yet, they aren’t on the list. Bombardier surely earns some coin outside the country – it’s even the subject of their latest ad campaign. I guess they don’t count as a market leader? Nortel was once a market leader, but perhaps cannot be considered one anymore. I guess they also fail on the “stability” requirement. And Research In Motion simply isn’t big enough.

There are probably many reasons that the top 100 brands don’t contain a single Canadian brand. Maybe we’re too focused on selling inside Canada and not abroad. Maybe Canadian companies simply can’t get big enough to get on the list due to our rather small population. Maybe most of the big companies in Canada are actually owned by foreign investors. I’m not sure, but if you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it. Regardless, it seems odd that we don’t make the list.

Here’s the “Nation’s Cup” final score for the top 100 brands:

  • 51 are from the United States
  • 9 are from Germany
  • 8 are from Japan
  • 8 are from France
  • 6 are from Britain
  • 5 are from Switzerland
  • 4 are from Italy
  • 3 are from South Korea
  • 2 are from the Netherlands
  • 1 is from Finland
  • 1 is from Bermuda
  • 1 is from Sweden
  • 1 is from Spain

Nothing against the fine people of Bermuda, but if they can get on the list (at number 49 no less), why can’t Canada?! Something isn’t right here. If you ignore the ever recovering and economically troubled Russia, Canada is the only G8 member to not make the list. That’s not the only surprise though – there’s more:

  • Of the top 10 countries by GDP (nominal), only Canada and China are not in the top 100 brands list. (Interesting how the brands list more or less follows the GDP list too, in terms of order). I’m fairly certain that China will be on the list in the next five years, but will Canada?
  • Canada is ranked higher in the 2006 World Competitiveness Yearbook than every country on the list except for the United States, yet we don’t have a top brand.
  • We’re behind only Finland and Sweden in the 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (pdf), yet we don’t make the top brands list.
  • Only Switzerland, the United States, and the Netherlands are ranked higher than Canada in the 2005 Globalization Index, yet we don’t crack the top 100 brands.

Maybe the problem is population density? Of the top ten countries by total area (so the largest in the world), the only country to appear on the top 100 brands list is the United States. Perhaps population density is really important in building a strong brand? The next country is France, which is the 48th largest country by area. In terms of population, Canada isn’t too bad. We’re larger than five of the countries in the top brands list. Maybe our geographical size is a detriment? It’s as good a guess as any at the moment.

I want to believe that Canada has some excellent, world-class companies, but lists like these make it hard to do so. I know we’ve got a lot of bright, talented business people here in the north, so why aren’t our companies making it on the world stage?

Wilson wins 2006 Grand Prix of Edmonton

Post ImageI am so glad I got to go to the race today – it was awesome! I only wish my Dad had been able to come (we always watch the F1 races early Sunday morning together, though virtually, as he lives in the north). Despite the heat, there was a packed crowd for the race today, and it was extremely entertaining. Bourdais led the first half of the race, but Wilson proved much quicker and eventually took the checkered flag, becoming the only driver besides Bourdais and Allmendinger to win a race this season (here’s the full story).

I have to say that watching a race in person is a much different experience than watching on television. Edmonton is probably unique too, in that you can see pretty much the entire track from your seat in the grandstands. In any case, I like that you see every car go by every lap, whereas on TV you are at the mercy of the producer and camera people. It makes it much easier to see visually who is gaining on whom, who is falling behind, and who is trying too hard. Sure the television has the times and stuff, but actually seeing it is pretty cool.

The race began with the parade of drivers, each in a Ford pickup. Some of the Edmonton Eskimos also took part, with their very yellow truck bringing up the rear. There were parachuters, CF-18s, Mayor Mandel, Premier Klein, and various other dignitaries to get things underway. Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish was the grand marshall, saying the famous words with a twist – “Katherine and gentlemen, start your engines!” (as Katherine Legge is the only woman driver in the series). It was neat to see MacT and Kelly Buchburger walking down the concourse with a couple other guys – everyone would walk past, and then stop and look at the foursome, wondering if they had really just seen MacT! He’s an Edmonton celebrity to be sure.

I’ve added a few more pictures to my photoset from today. I also have about ten minutes of video, just various clips that I recorded throughout the day, so I’ll post that at some point as well. You know, so you can hear the scream of the engines for yourself!

Anyway, great race, and I hope I can go again next year!