How Can Publishers Charge For Content?

28 02 2010

In my first blog post at Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers, I talked about the “content is king” myth. We already have a content glut and it’s only going to get worse.

In the picture at left, publishing is wearing the red jacket. The lady in the blue dress? That’s you and me, and we have every intention of skipping out on the check.

In the face of this, publishers have to try as many pay options as they can, as fast as they can.

So how many different models are being tested right now? The answer may surprise you. Take a  look at this brilliant presentation prepared by Alastair Bruce at Microsoft.

Hugely enlightening and interesting, whether you’re a publisher or just somebody who wonders what the future of media might be.





Are You Selling Cave Swiftlet Saliva Or Kraft Cheese?

18 02 2010

What publishers must learn from CPG:  my latest blogpost at Jack Myers MediaBizBloggers. A brief preview:

We can ask, “how can publishers stop content from being commoditized?” but it won’t help.

I think it’s time for a weirder but more productive question.

Are You Selling Cave Swiftlet Saliva Or Kraft Cheese?

Cave Swiftlet saliva is the main ingredient in bird’s nest soup. It’s so rare and so differentiated that a bowl of soup made from it goes for about $30. Nice business. But the other 99% of what people consume are essentially commodities. Salt. Coffee. Cheese. Publishers can learn a lot from consumer packaged goods companies. Especially food marketers.

How would a food company look at the problem of commoditized content?

Read more here.





The Real Time, Mashed-Up Future Of TV?

26 06 2009

What do you do with a medium that’s fragmentized and atomized, whose antique analog economics have been flung out the window into a digital hurricane, and is rapidly becoming a great big mess?

If you ask Shelly Palmer, the answer is to stop fighting fragmentation and start harnessing it.

I love this idea. How much more fun would TV be — even old shows we’ve seen a million times — if all the production elements were given to the world to mashup in real time?

honeymashup

Radical Common Sense

This might sound insane at first.  But the more you think about it, the more it sounds like radical common sense. Pay close attention to what Shelly Palmer is saying:

“We have entered the super-digital age and now all television is digital. So why are we still broadcasting combined, fully finished, masters in real time? We don’t have to. It would be much, much better to (…) break the data down to its component parts and broadcast them separately. So, text, graphics, music, script, metadata, voice-over, picture elements would all be packaged as individual data streams and made available in real time.”

Wow. As I’ve written before, everything is an ingredient. This takes things to an entirely new level. And it works whether your passion is to produce content, or sell it.

As a creative person, I’m excited by Shelly’s idea because it opens possibilities.  I believe all creative thinking is basically mashing up existing ideas in a way that reveals something previously unseen.  To borrow a line from U2’s song “The Fly”, “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.”  Mashups just make that process explicit, and part of the fun is spotting the purloined bits. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go download the Kleptones “Night At The Hip-Hopera”.  It explains everything.)

As a businessman, I’m intrigued because it means you can do insane experiments with re-thinking TV without having to kill it in the process.  Old and new can co-exist, until new finds the place where it stops seeming crazy and starts making money.

Is It Time To Stop Fighting The Future?

Digital makes mashing things up easy — in fact everything in this blog post is mashed up from somewhere else, from the Honeymooners pictures and script, to the quote from Shelly Palmer.

What great things can happen if we stop trying to fight the future and  just let digital do what digital wants to do?  Who knows where it can lead us?





Inattentional Blindness, aka “I Know Why The Banner Alien Dances”

22 06 2009

A brief history of advertising.

Stage I: “The Boredom Is Killing Me. I’ll Look At Anything.” It’s the early 20th century. Newspapers are a critical defense against the ennui of living in our one-horse towns. We’ll give our attention to anything.  Even if it’s just a baldness-fighting Hygienic Vacuum Cap.

baldness

Stage II: “I’m Beat. I Can’t Wait To Relax With Some TV.” It’s the midpoint of the 20th century. We’ve suffered two world wars and a Great Depression.  We’re sick of death, of dancing_cigarettescrisis, of worry. We don’t want the media to stimulate us anymore.

What do we want?

Escapism, entertainment, fantasy. Part of that is looking at ads for the good life, now that it’s here.

Hey look, there’s Milton Berle in a dress!  There’s a dancing Old Gold cigarette pack!

We’re not as eager to give away our attention, but advertisers can still grab us if they dance well.

Stage III: “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Doing Something.” It’s the early part of the 21st century. Unlike past media, the Internet is not just a “view” medium. It’s a “do” medium.

We can find anything, whether it’s how to install a floating modular water-resistant polyethylene subfloor system or the video of Auto-Tune the News where they sing about lettuce regulation.

dancing_alienI Know Why The Banner Alien Dances

This is why I find the dancing banner alien such a poignant figure. He’s the digital descendent of the dancing cigarette pack, begging for our attention.

But he has a sad, existential  fate.  The people he’s dancing for aren’t ignoring him. They literally can’t see him.

They have Inattentional Blindness.

Isn’t This Just A New Term For The Same Old Stuff?

Nope. This isn’t about advertising clutter (which apparently dates back to 1759)  or Steve Rubel’s Attention Crash.

Inattentional Blindness is a very real phenomenon discovered by psychologists Arien Mack, PhD, of the New School for Social Research, and the late Irvin Rock, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley.  Mack and Rock’s experiments proved that people whose attention was focused on one thing often failed to notice an unexpected object, even when it appeared in the center of their field of vision.

“I came away from our studies convinced that there is no conscious perception without attention,” Mack says.

I believe Inattentional Blindness is a major factor in why ad clickthrough rates have plummeted near zero.  When we’re focused on finding something specific, we’re blind to everything else. And it doesn’t help that we all know exactly where the useless stuff (aka “banner ads”) lies on the page. The ads are — in every sense — peripheral to the task the user is trying to accomplish.

In that case you can forget “engagement” as a metric, kids. You can’t measure something that doesn’t exist.

Three Prescriptions To Fight Inattentional Blindness.

If Inattentional Blindness is indeed the problem, then IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg’s call for an Interactive Creative Revolution can get us only part of the way to where we need to be.  We’ll be doing far superior dances for an audience that remains stone blind.

Here are my three prescriptions:

1) Get In The Attentional Pathway In The Right Way: Quit Dancing And Help Somebody. If someone is focused on getting the latest sports score and you’re trying to advertise to him, dancing to get his attention won’t work. He’s blind, remember?

Instead, find ways to help him do what he’s trying to do. A simple logo next to the score he’s focused on is better than a complicated ad he’s blind to. Or sponsor enhanced stats. Get creative about how to help.

2) Advertise Where There’s FAB.  Marketing is choking on a glut of acronyms. But I can’t resist the urge to invent one more: FAB.

It stands for “Farting-Around Behavior”, and it’s a silly name for an important concept. Namely, it’s much easier to attract someone’s attention when they’re not doing anything important.

This, by the way, may explain why TV refuses to stay buried no matter how many headstones we put up, or books we write.  Maybe the reason TV isn’t dead is that it’s a nearly 100% FAB medium.

While there’s lots of highly-directed behavior online (see Google’s market cap if you doubt this), there’s also a ton of Farting Around Behavior. This is more politely known by its old name: web surfing: clicking around looking around for fun.

One of the most brilliant ideas for attracting FAB is my friend Jaffer Ali’s company, VidSense.  He offers an irresistable tray of possible video snacks to web surfers, and when they click they get the free snack plus an ad. When VidSense users click, they’re volunteering their attention. That’s unbelievably rare today, and worth checking out.

3) Remember That People Are Rarely Blind To Their Friends.  There’s a real role for Social Media in marketing. But, it’s part of the opportunity, not the whole thing. If a Social Media “expert” tells you TV is dead and Social Media is your only hope, put your hand on your wallet and back slowly away. You’re talking to someone who has Inattentional Blindness about how marketing really works.

Three Things To Think About

  1. A whole lot of the people you’re trying to attract online are suffering from Inattentional Blindness. They can’t see you, no matter how frantically you dance.
  2. To succeed, you’ve got to help them do what they’re doing, or find them when they’re not doing anything.
  3. If you can find them when they’re not anything, great.  But to Randall Rothenberg’s point, you’d better dance a whole lot better than you do today.

What do you think of my Inattentional Blindness theory? Does it hold water? Or, is there something obvious that I’m being blind to?

As always, I welcome your comments.





The Day The Media Died

5 06 2009

Have you heard “Mad Ave Blues” yet?

OK, the lyrics don’t scan quite as well as they could. And, for comedy, it’s kind of a sad song.

But if you’re in advertising or marketing or media, this should really hit home with you.  It did for me.





The iGRP: Are We Apples To Apples Yet?

8 04 2009

Like pretty much everybody, I believe it’s only a matter of time before “TV” means pretty much any screen you can think of, anywhere.

Why wouldn’t it?

appleorangeFor now, there are some key obstacles, and they’re all interlinked. Some of the big ones are infrastructure and cost (particuarly in mobile), and — not insignificantly — the lack of an easy apples-to-apples comparison for media buyers.

Mediaweek reports that MindShare and online video ad network YuMe have taken a shot at creating a metric they call the “iGRP”. The idea is to have a comparable internet metric to the TV GRP.

You can get the YuMe iGRP whitepaper here. (PDF)

If this works even a little bit, I’d expect to see the same downward pressure on TV prices that’s happening to online publishers. Reckitt-Benckiser recently fired a $20M shot over the bow of the TV business, which is likely the opening salvo in a longer war.

This transition is not going to be quick and easy, and it’s certainly not likely to be painless. As Tom Friedman recently noted in his book about the changes in the energy business, “It’s not a revolution if nobody gets hurt”.

Still, I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be in the advertising and marketing business. So much of the talk is about the death of the old way of doing things, and I can understand that.

But the opportunities are all about what lies ahead. In fits and starts, we are witnessing the birth of something new.

Who could ask for more?

Photo Credit: Kharied





How To Save Brand Advertising Online

3 03 2009

It’s not unusual for people to complain about the depressing state of brand advertising online.

What IS unusual is when somebody actually has an idea about how to improve matters.

What’s HUGELY unusual is when somebody has a lot of ideas and they’re all really, really good.

worlds_apart

Troy Young, CMO at VideoEgg, has a bunch of really good ideas you need to know about. Read his post here and make sure you download the PDF. (Sorry, can’t direct link to the PDF.)

Way to go, Troy!





The Sh*tFacebook Problem

5 12 2008

Social media is a hot topic. But, how do you make it a real business? (Laurel Papworth has some interesting stuff on social media monetization strategies here.)

If social media is so hot, what’s wrong with this picture?

facebook_problem1

Maybe what’s wrong with this picture, is what’s wrong with this picture. It’s too real.

Call It “The Sh*tFacebook Problem”.

Social media is inescapably tied up in relationships and human nature. Both are, frankly, messy. They are full of the lust, drunkenness and questionable decision-making that’s part of being a young human being.

Isn’t that exactly the same stuff that’s on reality TV? Yes, but on TV the “reality” is carefully edited and molded into a sanitized media property.

The stars are uniformly attractive. We hear them vomit, but don’t see it. We know there’s sex, but it’s all airbrushed and perfumed and suggested. There’s gauze on the lens. The zits are blurred out. The sleight-of-hand we need as marketers — and as an audience — is working.

It’s the difference between putting a dead cow on your plate, and serving you a filet mignon. Yes, it’s the same stuff: but the presentation makes all the difference.

Real Reality Is Too Real

Most CMOs are old enough to be the Moms or Dads of the Smirnoff-soused Sweethearts of Sigma Chi pictured above. So while marketers want to use social media (27% of the top consumer and business-to-business marketing executives at 180 brands said they wanted social networking and word of mouth), often they can’t. The Sh*tFacebook Problem gets in the way.

“I’m Interested, But… I’m Not”.

According to a recent survey by Epsilon, 55% of CMOs at leading brands are not too interested (22%), or not interested at all (33%), in incorporating social networking sites into their marketing strategies. Steve Cone, Chief Marketing Officer of Epsilon, observes that “These sites narrowly appeal to college and high school students, providing a challenge as far as measuring results and yielding a limited amount of actionable data.”

The In-The-Flow Vs In-The Way Problem

Another problem is one I’ve written about before: the ads are not in-the-flow, they’re in-the-way. A recent IDC study of social networking site visitors shows that users are:

  • less tolerant of social network advertising than other forms of online advertising;
  • clicking on those ads less (on the Web at large, 79% of all users clicked on at least one ad on the Web in the past year, whereas only 57% of SNS users did);
  • not buying — those clicks led to fewer purchases (Web: 23%; SNS 11%).

The Who Gives a Sh*tFacebook Counter-Argument

While all this makes it difficult to monetize social networking sites, the very real counter-argument is this. However imperfect, our only chance to sell is by putting ads where our consumers go. If they’re on Facebook and not on TV, we may have no choice but to go there.

The Social Media Will Grow Up Counter-Argument

We may also see that the way people use social media will mature, and that people will become far more careful about how they present themselves online. If users — for their own sakes — ultimately decide to tone down the drama and present a more “edited” reality, social media networking sites could grow up right along with them.

What do you think? What does the future look like for social media networking sites? If you owned one, what would be your plan to monetize them?





TV: WIWWIWWIW or RIP

14 11 2008

Update 11/15/2008: Only a few days before the largest BitTorrent tracker will celebrate its 5th anniversary, the Pirate Bay reached a new milestone. The site now tracks 25 million peers, which is more than the entire populations of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark combined.

—-

We’re at an important inflection point for marketing. And, it’s going almost entirely unreported and unremarked upon.

Here’s the thing. With video, consumers want “What I want, where I want, when I want.”

If the TV industry gets it right (see Hulu as a good example), we’ll have an amazing future with lots of opportunities for marketers and everyone in that food chain to do very well indeed.

brokentvIf the TV industry gets it wrong, it’s very likely that consumers will cobble together their own infrastructure. They will use torrents, peer-to-peer networks, DVDs,and whatever else they can to get “What I want, where I want, when I want”. If that happens, people will be able to get what they want for free, without seeing any advertising at all.

if that sounds impossible, ask a friend in the music business how it’s going for them today.

The technical hurdles to putting your own infrastructure together are getting lower every year, and once people get used to it there’s no turning back.

The smartest guy on this subject bar none is Shelly Palmer. If part of your job is selling things to people, I suggest you start reading what Shelly is saying right away, starting with today’s article on Jack Myers.

You should also read Shelly’s book, “Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV“. This is important stuff, and these are important days.

Photo Credit: The Union Forever





Why TV Isn’t Dead: Addressability

11 11 2008

addressable

For all the buzz about social media, mobile, and other forms of interactive marketing, TV remains at the center of most marketing plans.

It’s not because marketers “don’t get it”, but because they do.

TV remains the most powerful mass reach medium in history, with the ability to sell through sight, sound and motion. And it’s about to get even more powerful.

“The goal” says Michael Kubin, executive vice president of Invidi “is to be a national digital network.”

An article in Media Post (more about the deal here) says Invidi has made a major step toward that goal today. They’re being deployed nationally on Dish Network.

It’s the start of a national infrastructure for addressable TV advertising, with reach of upwards of 4-5 million Dish Network households households at launch and 14M over time. This will bring internet-like targeting (including behavioral) to TV ads, making each individual spot much more powerful and smart.

The deal also takes a step toward easing one of the headaches of creating interactive TV ad campaigns: making deals with multiple operators to create a sizeable audience. Theoretically, this creates a one-stop opportunity.

But having now worked on two interactive TV campaigns, I can say that while that’s important, it only deals with part of the complexity. 14M is a good-sized audience, but it still may not be enough for some purposes. And, even within any one operator, there are lots of differences in the capabilities of set-top boxes, etc.

If you’re thinking about experimenting with interactive TV, I’d strongly recommend Brightline. Why climb Everest without some experienced sherpas to help?

There’s a lot of investment in the targeted TV space, and a serious battle brewing among some tough competitors. You can bet your rabbit ears there’s a lot of gold at the end of this RGB rainbow.

TV isn’t dead. It’s only just getting started. Stay tuned.








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