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!








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