Friday, March 30, 2007

Mobile and Gaming Lagging Search and E-mail

A recent Forrester research report as reported by Adage notes that interactive budgets are skewed toward measurable means like email marketing and search marketing. The report notes that mobile and gaming are falling behind while social media advertising has risen 40%. Mobile is claimed to fall behind because of the lack of any proof of performance and gaming is skewed to younger sophisticated crowds.

It's so strange that the study notes that mobile is having a tough time growing roots. All around us are examples of successful mobile campaigns. Text messaging your favorite Idol in, guessing which briefcase has all of the Deal or No Deal money, and so on. The key with mobile is point of purchase. The phone is with you at ALL times, more so than even your wallet and/or keys. (And if you forget your wallet you can PAY with your phone via PayPal Mobile). So there it is marketers, your examples of successful campaigns. Then comes the second argument of cost. Well the great thing is that you don't need a graphic designer, a brand name director, or recognizable faces. It's TEXT! It's simple, it's cheap, it's 160 characters including spaces. Once you've decided what your campaign is, whether its polling, driving to web, or simple message push, you just need to rent space on a short code and there you have it - your own text messaging campaign.

Sure, you're going to need to promote it. After all how are people going to find out about your keyword and short code, but if you have a consumer facing brand you have tons of real estate to do so. I think that all marketers should be in the mobile space because its cheap, easy, and quick to roll out. You'll be able to collect the king of all data points, the cell phone number, the most sacred closely kept piece of information guarded by all consumers. (Maybe second to your credit card number, but definitely ahead of your social since you can find that online already).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Advertising via RSS

So you thought that you could get around banner ads, Google ads, and other types of ads by subscribing to your favorite blogs or websites via RSS? Wrong! Feedburner's ad service embeds the ads in feed readers now such as Google Reader. The CPM's are relatively inexpensive at $5 or so on average. I think its a great service, and it will take time for Feedburner to build an advertising base as large as Google since I've seen this implemented on TechCrunch and Mashable and there is a clear rotation of a RedHat ad and a Microsoft ad (and when I went back the Microsoft ad disappeared!).

So this is a clear indication of the power shifting (albeit slowly) from mainstream media to bloggers (although only certain well trafficked blogs are eligible). However, aggregators like My.Yahoo still won't display these ads and since they are a majority of the RSS readers out there, although to read the content you must click through.

While this is an interesting addition to the world of blogging, I still think that integration into content is key. While initially folks will think that the ad is part of the post and might be more inclined to click on it, eventually the ad will become a banner ad, one that is easily dismissed and ignored. We shall see!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Second Coming of the Infomerical

By now we've all seen the "Will it Blend?" demos on YouTube. If you haven't, its a series of demonstrations where the CEO of Blendtec, a blender company, blends unlikely items, like iPods, golf balls, a rake, cell phones, and well, you get it. The videos are done in a 60's science show manner and have made the rounds on YouTube. AdWeek reports that these videos have caused a tripling in Blendtec blender sales. (By the way, everything on the show, thus far, has blended.)

The videos are pure genius. They're taking a common household product and giving it the oomph to become viral amongst the YouTube generation. I'll be honest, they are extremely addictive to watch. So for smaller companies out there that want to finally have a low cost commercial out there? Now is the time! The production costs are extremely low, however, for an Internet video to work, it has to be fun, engaging, shocking or all of the above. No more 30 minute Ab Roller infomercials, or Bowflex demonstrations. Nike has one of the most watched videos of all time with a quick clip of soccer great Ronaldinho hitting the goal post 4 times in a row while wearing new Nike sneakers (shocking). Eepybird's duo proved that Diet Coke and Mentos mix well together, which spawned thousands of videos in response (fun). Dove's evolution video exposed the techniques of graphic designers and the modeling process (engaging and shocking).

It's not easy, but online video has opened up another world of infomercial production and a cheaper way to distribute your product's message to the world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stock Market Predictions

We've covered stock picking social networks like Stockpickr, Bullpoo, and other communities regarding investing. However, TechCrunch broke an interesting tidbit about how a fairly mainstream finance website, Marketwatch, is allowing for the masses to determine whether or not a stock is going to go up or down.

So far from what I've seen it seems that Marketwatch users are more bullish than bearish today (3/27). I guess we should wait to see what happens in the market.
However, more importantly, while some Marketwatch users could game the system (by disabling cookies), the sentiment tracker could actually be a self fulfilling prophecy with people flocking to the stocks that are predicted to rise. While its an interesting concept if we were talking about sports, I think with so many people in the stock market, Marketwatch needs to find a way to keep the results somewhat fair (by forcing people to register before they vote). Then again, it probably only matters who is coming to the site.

At this point, the data is probably meaningless. However, just like the social networks, this new Marketwatch feature is an opportunity to watch to see if your stock is getting bashed or being pumped. Only over time will we be able to determine its accuracy as a secondary market.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Video Ads More Effective than Images

Doubleclick issued a research release about how inline video ads are clicked on more than twice that of banners and images. The report also says that the overall interaction rate is 8 percent! 8 percent! That's a huge number. A number that includes mouseovers, expansions, clicks etc. That number could also be pretty misleading. I've run into a ton of video ads that pop up right when you get to the webpage and you might have "interactions" with it when looking for that hidden "close" button. Unfair you might say. Well, I think that after hearing about this next statistic, which is 0.32 percent press the play button, you'd think otherwise. While this 0.32 percent is double a banner ads click through rate, this is a huge drop off from 8 percent. If the video isn't playing then what? Most likely you're trying to close it, or find the "stop" button. Then Doubleclick says that most videos on average are played 2/3 of the way through. OK, not bad. It could take anywhere from 10-20 seconds to find the close/stop/destroy button. Doubleclick's overall message: Video is twice as effective as Images....

But images aren't really effective. We know that. Whenever we go to a page, we automatically tune out those banners on the top and the skyscrapers along the sides. (Google Adsense speak there.) So what should you do? I've said it once, but I'll say it again, and even Mashable echoes me on this one. Embed your message within your content! A UK boxing promoter is suing YouTube for $1 million. (Rounding error for the Google guys, and a tenth of a percent of what Viacom wants.) The promoter was selling PayPerView subscriptions through his website. But as Mashable states"[the industry] need[s] to adopt a model that provides unlimited syndication, with watermarking and embedded ads, so the business model remains while users still get access to the content. This model would also solve the issue of unauthorized fan footage: rather than keep your version locked up and fight an endless battle to keep cameraphones and video cameras away from sporting events, just offer a higher quality version for free with an ad attached."

People don't want to be sold, but they do want to buy. Advertisements are an opportunity to sell. Embedded content makes them want to buy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

NBC and News Corp's Vaporware

By now you've already heard about NBC and News Corp's venture to take on YouTube. The conference call really goes into the details. Not! In summary, they stressed copyright protection with help from their distribution partners (probably a majority of that being MySpace), some paid, but mostly free content, and being the world's largest advertising platform. Doesn't say much does it? Does this product even exist?

On the surface, this new company appears incredible. Copy protection for content creators and a great revenue split (90-10), and a way for distribution platforms to share in getting this content to the consumer. Further from all reports on the advertiser front, something their sales team is saying is making the ads fly off the shelf. But in all of this, the most important piece of the puzzle is being ignored. THE USER. The user is what made YouTube become YouTube. The user has made MySpace the #1 social network in the world. The user was the Person of the Year! And all this talk about advertising? Yesterday I talked about Burger King and how successful it was because the advertising was integrated with the game and in previous posts I'd written about the whole product placement phenomenon. When is big media going to realize that instead of being able to see The Office a few hours after Hawaii gets to see it on my computer screen with commercials, I'd rather TV it, or worse yet, watch the pirated YouTube version with no commercials? Love it or hate it, we have to face the facts. If the user experience is horrible, there will be no more users. Just ask Friendster.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

BK Got it Their Way

I've been talking about product placement in online video as exemplified by Diggnation and other such shows. I think that these unobtrusive ads are going to work best in our new tivo like society. The advertiser pays these content creators a sum to interact with their brands while potential customers watch the characters interact with a brand and possibly drive themselves to want that same product. This works with some products obviously not with all... (How are you going to sell a lawn mower? cleaning products? class action legal services? you get the point.)

On the other hand we've probably all seen those Burger King commercials with the creepy king in it. I think what Burger King did however with their XBox promotion took the best of the product placement world and the ever growing video game world. Burger King created three versions of BK character driven games through a partnership with XBox and actually SOLD these games at their restaurants, with the qualified value meal purchase. For the consumer that's great. Instead of paying $50 or more for an XBox game I can now get one for about $4 and get a fast food meal. Good deal. For BK, they obviously subsidized the cost of the game a bit but now have somehow manipulated it so that you want to PAY to receive their advertising! It's brilliant. According to Business 2.0, the games sold more than 2 million copies in four weeks, and placed them on the top 10 selling games of 2006.

Stay tuned as the Geico Caveman starts working out for his debut series this fall!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pay Per Action

As reported in Techcrunch this morning, Google's Pay Per Action engine is no longer a myth. It's a great thing for an industry that is plagued with click fraud, but it also drives more power into Google as other affiliate marketing programs will likely be raided. Further, Google is allowing ads to appear in line with blogs. As from Google's blog, :"These Javascript-based ads will display like regular hyperlinks and allow publishers to embed these links inline with other text to promote your product or service."

So Pay per Action huh? I think its good news for advertisers out there. Of course, each action will be more expensive than a click but now you are basically sharing your margin with Google. Affiliate marketing essentially. No click fraud. It's win /win for both. Will it put a dent into Google's treasure chest? I think in the short term it will. But as more advertisers realize that this model provides them with incremental revenue that they wouldn't have received anyway, more advertisers will sign up growing Google even larger. You know who loses here? Small affiliate players and to some extent SEM firms that work on optimizing your ad for maximum click through.

Now the second point. How are these inline ads going to change the blogosphere?
Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. Remember the controversy regarding Pay per Post where bloggers got paid to tout products. While the company advises a disclosure, I don't think its required. Is Google going to have some type of disclosure policy? Although the text links will say Ads by Google most people probably won't see this as they are already clicking on the link. And will it be annoying? Google says that the ads will appear on Mouseover, which probably means more Ajax and more pages cached and more and more memory needed.

All in all today's announcement by Google will change the way we as advertisers and as consumers utilize the Internet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

E-mail marketing Becoming Less Effective?

I opened up my email box this morning and while my Bulk or Spam folder had the typical 100's of messages, ones that I empty out everyday, my inbox had a few messages from people that looked like my friends or colleagues. They had real names, some that I thought could even be familiar. They even had real subject lines, lines that I would use, some were replies, some were forwards, but they were REAL. Or so I thought. Upon opening them I noticed the hocking of the latest penny stock, a Nigerian refugee in need, pharmaceutical drugs that I could get for dirt cheap, or getting a free Ipod in exchange for answering a few surveys. The latest spammers have gotten good, they've mixed and matched my friend's first and last names (or real names that look like my friends), they've been able to come up with subject lines that are fairly common (like "Hey!"), and somehow they've been able to penetrate my inbox (I don't know if its that gibberish that combines Charles Dickens with Webster's Dictionary.)

I'd say that 8 out of every 10 messages I receive are spam. In fact spam takes up so much of my time, that newsletters I actually subscribe to have become victim to the spam attack. If the newsletter doesn't have a compelling subject line, I'll simply check it off with the rest of the spam and zap it as Spam. Now unfortunately, the spam comes back since they just create another meaningless email but the newsletter's legitimate email now gets filtered.

So, what does this mean? I think that there is so much content out there now that pushing content is tougher than ever. Sure, very few people unsubscribe, but then again, very few people check their spam folders. Pulling content however, could possibly be a better option. I think because of spam the newsletter is falling away in favor of the blog. Readers are more forgiving if a few posts are not relevant to them because they can just skip over them, as opposed to being construed as intrusive in their email boxes. Unfortunately on my little Motorola non PDA phone, I can't pull up my RSS reader there, but then again, who wants to sort through Viagara, Nigerian, and Free MacBook Pro emails on your 3 inch cell phone screen?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Google Phone

Sorry for focusing so much on Google products but the latest rumor of Google Phone has really got me worried. Google's been a true hero of the Internet adhering to its free mantra and finding some innovative ways to make money on it. Lots of money. In the same light, and I'm just speculating, but how do you think the new Google phone is going to work?

Do you have to listen to an advertisement before you make a call?
Will you be served up an ad on restaurant choices when you are trying to make dinner plans?
Or a combination of both, based on GPS, voice recognition software, and probably something in Google Labs called the Mind Reader?

Well if this happens there's no where that's safe from advertisements, product placements, and other unwanted spam messages. But at least the beauty of the Google phone is that its so simplistic that all you have to do is talk into it or let it read your mind.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blogging Trends

Yesterday I spoke at a NIRI conference. The other panelists included Henry Blodget, David Vinjamuri, Paul Blalock, and myself, Roger Wu. I think most of us believed that the blog is a great way to communicate with shareholders in terms of receiving honest and open feedback. Many IRO's in the audience were afraid of opening up the blog to detractors and "hecklers," but Paul reassured the audience by saying that commenting could be fully moderated. We went on about some of the tools available in the blogosphere and how blogs are becoming integrated via search and some of the popular finance portals out there. I concluded the panel by mentioning that while we focused on the text based blog, blogs can also include any type of ongoing communication which can also include audio and video.

I am still honestly surprised that there are so few corporate blogs out there. I think a big part of this still has to do with Regulation FD and if the SEC allows blogs to be included in FD well, I'm sure more companies will do so. Still, the blog is such a great way to get honest feedback about ideas, strategies, etc that it surprises me that not more companies do so. Sure, there are strategies and ideas that are proprietary but I think that companies can harness the collective intellect of its constituents through the blog. While some ideas would be off the wall, the company is still the one to make the final decision. Mark Cuban did this in his blog a while back. He offered a job to anyone that could come up with a model that would lower the volatility and risk of feature film production and distribution. He knows that himself and his legion of minions wouldn't be able to come close to a fraction of the ideas that potentially the entire world could come up with.

Linux, Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, the Human Genome Project, Second Life etc were all built collectively. Further, I think that people would offer in their opinions not because they would want some kind of monetary compensation but because in this new Web 2.0 - everyone wants to be recognized.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Viacom vs Google

I guess I'm late to add my thoughts on this, since yesterday's $1 billion dollar lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube for copyright. Viacom, the huge conglomerate that owns Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and MTV, claims that over 160,000 clips have been uploaded with views totaling 1.5 billion. Wow! That's a lot of views. And I think that Viacom feels (and rightfully so) that they should have been paid for them. YouTubers speak out:

History repeats itself all the time. Not only with music but now also with film. Television and Radio came in the middle of the century and both the labels and studios opposed these heavily. Then came recorded media. The VHS tape ran into heavy opposition in the early 80's. Yet it became an incredible stream of revenue for the studios (including DVDs). Early this century the RIAA went after students that were downloading music via Napster and Kazaa. Downloaded music is the fastest growing medium by which consumers receive their music. Other revenue streams like satellite and Internet radio are waiting to be monetized as well. Movie studios see some of the benefit to the digital revolution and have embraced Amazon's Movie download service, MovieLink and other digital download services. So....this quick history lesson is showing that these new forms of interaction are GOOD for business and will not cannibalize profits ... as long as new ways of monetization are thought of.

CBS reported a spike in viewership after posting their clips to YouTube. But that's what they are ... clips. I believe that the online audience is still very different from the television viewing audience. Look at Vuguru and Lonelygirl and other successful serialized video. Would you ever see this content on television? I think that the studios should work together with this new medium instead of against it. There still will be a place for 3 hour Lord of the Rings type films, 46 minute Law and Order Episodes, and NOW there will be a home for the 90-300 second serialized show.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Eisner's New Playground

Well, Michael Eisner never ceases to amaze. After buying Topps baseball cards and securing a seat on YouTube competitor Veoh, he's launching a new web platform, You're probably sighing and asking why we need another YouTube, Revver, MetaCafe, Blip, and a whole other slew of video hosting platforms out there. Vuguru however is more than just a video hosting platform. It's a web content production company and will use the existing distribution that Veoh and YouTube have. And...they have signed up advertisers! ELLEGirl, FIJI Water, POM Wonderful, and are among the first sponsors of Prom Queen, the first show that Vuguru is producing. Prom Queen comes from the pioneers of video podcasting, the team that brought you Sam Has 7 Friends.

So those are the facts. What does this mean? It's not quite clear yet how the sponsors are going to woven into the show OR if they will just sponsor each 90 second segment. (Similar to's streaming prime time shows). Will there be post/pre/in roll? Banner Ads? I'm still a strong believer in product placement as evidenced from shows like The Apprentice and Sex in the City.

Still this is a big step in terms of trying to monetize content on the web. Advertisers will know what they are getting into as opposed to random user generated content that can be served up next to your ad on YouTube. Hopefully the web will also keep production costs down as Prom Queen is not likely to get as many streams as an episode of CSI, but the demographic may be better defined. But who knows...Eisner's performed many miracles in the past...this may be his latest.

Coupled with Google TV this could be an interesting play. If users want to comment, suggest, interact, etc, they would have to register and then Google's TV advertising arm would be able to serve up the relevant ads. I see as a more viable alternative than logging in everytime you want to watch the local news.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Google TV

In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Google's new television ad vertical is profiled. In a nutshell, Google hopes to do to television advertising (a market that is 5 to 6 times larger than online) what it has done to online advertising, which is turn it on its head. Google hopes to serve up targeted advertising based on demographic information which viewers will provide in the hopes of seeing more ads that are relevant to them. (The example WSJ gives is that dog owners will see ads for dog food.)

It's an interesting concept, but its one that I'm sure will have some folks fairly unhappy with. First is the Tivo issue. That's great that you are showing me an ad for a truck that I might want to buy, but I've seen the ad already and to be honest, I only have 50 minutes to watch an hour long episode of Lost. So what's going to go? Well its surely not going to be the part where Locke reveals he's an "Other." It's going to be the commercials that YOU picked to see.

Secondly, and this could be a stretch, so I'm sure a lot of folks will disagree with me here, but isn't this a bit of tunnel vision? I mean, sure, you have a dog so you're interested in dog food, but what if all of a sudden you find yourself dog-sitting and you need to go out and get dog food? Do you just buy the cheapest one? Or do you buy Purina because the commercial looked so appealing? Seeing only the commercials that you want to see may close you off to other alternatives and options that may be better suited to you that you never knew about.

Finally, don't you think it would be kind of creepy when you login to your Google account, do a few searches for MacBook Pro, buy one with your Google Checkout account, then you login to your Google TV account to watch Wheel of Fortune and you see Justin Long (from DodgeBall) and the embodiment of the Mac telling you that its time to buy AppleCare! I think we still have a ways to go before this Orwellian drama plays out....

I think that targeted ads are a great thing, but I think that these are just some of the obstacles that Google faces in the competitive space of television advertising. But if they can do it....well, let's see what happens first...

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Answer to "If You Could Have Anything What Would You Want?"

"If You Could Have Anything What Would You Want?" Isn't that the question that we would like to know as marketers? What would you want if you could have anything? Answers to this question would really help us determine what consumers want before they know what they want. Well, I think that we are finally getting closer to an answer to that question.

If you haven't heard about it by now, Second Life, created by Linden Labs is a virtual reality world. The thing that sets Second Life apart from other VR worlds is that real money is transacted here. The currency of Second Life, Linden Dollars, can be converted to US Dollars (at a rate of L$267 to US$1). Also, anyone can create any objects in Second Life and OWN them. I'm not going to go into some of the specifics of Second Life since a lot has been written about it online. However, as I mentioned in the February 15th Marketing News since "the barrier to entry is almost nothing, and if the thing takes off it is nothing but upside to almost everyone," people can create anything in Second Life. And there's the answer to our question. If you could have anything what would you want? People are creating these things in Second Life. Sneakers, Clothing, Cars, Housing, etc.

And because the barrier to entry is virtually nothing except for creativity you can really have anything that you want. Second Life could be a great place to start honing the collective imagination of its inhabitants. Sure, there are some limitations since you can't really die in the virtual world and you can't experience everything except for sight and sound, but its a great place to start. Imagine Second Life as a type of constantly morphing Wiki of creativity.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Wisdom of Crowds meets the Global Marketplace meets ASCAP

In Techcrunch's article on the new music revolution a small company named AmieStreet is rising to the forefront. It's almost a classic way of pricing music that will make consumers who complain about the high price of music (at least when purchasing $17 CDs) happy as well as artists who might turn off new listeners through the fixed price concept of iTunes AND those pesky record labels that are trying to stifle all of our new technology (just kidding...sort of). I know I keep harping on the wisdom of crowds but the Internet truly gives us a way for everyone's unique tastes to be measured. So, what is this new model and how does it help everyone? What other applications might it have to other digital content?

Remember economics class where we had supply and demand charts and based on demand the supply would increase or decrease and depending on where the two lines intersected that would be the price? (Don't worry if you don't, here's a handy chart for you). AmieStreet aims to do the same thing. For music tracks that sell well (i.e. Grammy winners, Billboard's Top 100, Soundtracks to Films, Tributes, Compilations, etc), demand increases. This in turn drives the price up from 0 cents to a maximum of 98 cents (still cheaper than iTunes!). Consumers can share in this phenomena by recommending music to their friends and if the music that they recommend experiences a huge jump in sales, they reap some of the benefits. Counterintuitive right? Go to any Walmart or Best Buy and see that the Top 10 albums are always on sale and that the more obscure CDs are $20 and up. From the retailers perspective this makes sense. Get people in the door by subsidizing their music listening. But with niche markets, we're not subsidizing anything! 99 cents for a track goes right to the music. No high ticket items are subsidizing my music. Enough rant, how does this impact the stakeholders?

Consumer Benefits: They have a chance to make money on music that they feel could become mainstream through the recommendation engine. And good music begats good music and is no longer in the hands of DJs and other promotional dollars. And for niche music they don't have to pay full price. It's great for them. This solves the problem of the $20 Milli Vanilli CD (do they still sell these?) at Walmart and even the 99 cents for Corey Hart's I Wear My Sunglasses at Night.

Artist Benefits: Many artists simply want to get their music heard. Look at the depth of music available on MySpace. Staggering volumes of music. Yet, if an artist really has 10,000 friends, why don't those friends put their money where the music is? The Recommendation system allows these friends/fans to really increase an artist's visibility. So a small unknown artist with a huge fan base can really come to prominence through this engine. Further, many artists feel priced out of the system. This engine will allow artists to sell at all price points from giving it away to 98 cents.

Label Benefits: Well, number one, they are going to get paid. Number two, its a chance to offload some of the music that they would not be getting $20 for at Walmart. And Number three, its a chance for them to locate trends in overall listening and see what areas of their own company they can beef up. This last concept is similar to all of the online betting sites out there. When money is involved the better outcome is usually dictated by the market. Labels will be able to determine if they should put more resources into their Urban A&R versus their country A&R or if they should cut back on Pop resources etc.

So that brings us to our final question which is how this model can be ported over to new industries. Could this work for an American Idol? Sure you could still get it for free on Television (just like you can get music for free on the radio), but if you wanted to see it ondemand would you pay up to $1.98 (with $1.99 being the iTunes price?). What about a show like Sunday's CW Beauty and the Geek (last place with 1.25 million viewers)? Would it still be profitable? How about online media? Would you pay $1.98 to see Justin Laipply's Evolution of Dance (the most viewed clip on YouTube)? Books (although Amazon's used books create some sort of inelastic marketplace)? Goods and services? You'd pay less for a haircut from a less reputable and less in demand barber than a barber to the stars right? In today's world where the consumer is king, anything is possible.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Organizing Online

We've heard of Web 2.0 which for some means Ajax based websites, but in my opinion, I think Web 2.0 really means the new two way communication of the Internet. Web 1.0 was standard push websites, like,, and other news and information sites. Web 2.0 started with the ability for the user to communicate back. Digg, Open Diary, Friendster, even eBay and, were among the first Web 2.0 properties. These Web sites allowed you, the user, to communicate with the rest of the world, whether through bookmarking and voting (digg), blogging (open diary), your friends (friendster), or ratings (eBay/Amazon).

James Surowiecki's 2004 book "The Wisdom of Crowds" could not have predicted this revolution any better. Web 2.0 has exploded to include 7 of the top 10 most visited Web sites. The collaboration and communication between people all over the world is such a powerful tool. Barriers to entry have fallen down. With simply an Internet connection and a computer, anyone anywhere can add, comment, and broadcast their thoughts and ideas. The best of anything will rise to the top. The best videos, books, sellers, news stories, anything will be chosen by the users. Users are the new editors and the wisdom of crowds dictates that it will be the most interesting, compelling, useful ....

Recently the collaborative and connectedness of the Web has spawned another use: that of mass organization. and have allowed users to self-organize themselves into extremely niche special interest groups. The social aspect of the web has also moved into once thought of old economy industries like finance. With social networks like stockpickr and bullpoo, the best portfolio managers might not be located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles but perhaps in a remote village in India or in North Dakota. With the Internet, ideas matter but not geography (but that's another topic). The point that I was making was that self organization is slowly making its way into once locked down industries such as finance. The best example is Eric Jackson's blog in which he is trying to organize a group of Yahoo! shareholders that are unhappy with the performance of the company's shares - an idea he labels as Plan B. To date, he has had the committment of $58M of Yahoo! Shares - the total market cap of Yahoo! is $41.5B. He's still got a long way to go but I think that this is definitely the beginning of a true revolution where ideas rule!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The New New Media World – an Overview

The Long Tail has arrived. Sure we still have the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and American Idol, but niche content is thriving like it never has before. The line between advertising and entertainment is slowly becoming blurred. This past year we’ve seen quite a shakeup in the entertainment world. New talent is being cultivated from the YouTubes of the world (LisaNova, Barats and Bereta, Zefrank). Top musical acts have been getting less airplay than before, yet it doesn’t matter (OK Go, John Legend, Gnarls Barkley). Marketers have become content distributors ( or have cut out the middleman (Doritos, Butterfinger, Dove). How is this new entertainment landscape going to change things?

Well rest assured that television in the short term is not going away. High Definition televisions have had a great run the last few years with an estimated 71% increase in the coming years. Why watch something on screens that are continuously shrinking (i.e. mobile phones and laptops) when you can watch something on screens that are continuously growing? Further for all of the success of these new Internet celebrities, there main revenue source is from being able to cross over into the mainstream world. LisaNova was just cast in Fox’s MadTV. Amanda Congdon is now reporting for ABC’s online unit.

Back to the online world, now, since it is growing at such a rapid pace. What is preventing the online world from becoming the mainstream world? Gadgets like Apple’s ITV will soon bridge this gap. Joost, the television service started by Skype and Kazaa founders, will also bring the two worlds closer together. Both of these are aiming to bring the on demand characteristic of the web to your television. What is missing is a revenue model. Pre roll, post roll, even forced commercials are slowly being tuned out by today’s savvy TIVO using, banner ad ignoring, Netflix subscribing youth. We already see studio films incorporate massive amounts of product placement to reach this demographic.

Ad supported entertainment will soon become the norm. The first steps were taken a few years ago with BMW films. New steps are being taken with Nautica Jeans new flash website has exclusive music that Nautica has licensed directly from these unknown artists. New tools such as allow user generated content to have clickable areas in which products could be sold. The interactive element of the web brought to your television could provide a massive opportunity for content creators and marketers to bring a whole new dimension to the consumption of media. Active media, where you have a say in what happens, will soon be extremely popular. YOU the active viewer will be able to determine if Jack kills ‘the Others’ on ‘Lost’ or what Bauer’s next move is on ‘24’. Think it’s a bit far fetched? Just watch American Idol, where YOU can determine who is America’s next pop star.