Friday, August 10, 2007

Paint-By-Numbers: Why Newspapers Are Screwed

From Silicon Alley Insider - It's easy to say that the New York Times and other newspaper companies are screwed, but sometimes it helps to actually run the numbers. Do you know why they're screwed? It's actually not the cost of paper, ink, trucks, printing plants, and other physical distribution expenses. Rather, it's the cost of content creation.

Senior New York Times reporters believe they are underpaid, and, relative to other highly educated folks at the peak of their professions, they sure are. But relative to the online revenue they generate, those talented reporters, columnists, editors, and researchers actually cost a fortune.

Newspaper content generates way more revenue in the physical world than it does online, because offline it can be packaged with classifieds and display ads and actually sold. In the online world, meanwhile, it has to be given away, and because classified ads are now run by classified sites and newspaper sites are only one of dozens of places where people get news, the advertising opportunity is comparatively tiny. | Read full article

Video Downloads… Suck

From NewTeeVee - All those companies sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into video downloading business, wait up, and listen to what people are saying and what they really want. A survey by Parks Associates shows that only 16% of US consumers who downloaded videos say the selection of videos available online is good, and only 13% say video downloads are sold at a reasonable price. In other words, the majority think downloads are too expensive and they suck. | Read full article

Musicians aim to create virtual choir

From CNN - Pop music icon Elton John complained to a British newspaper this week that the Internet was destroying music.

The self-confessed technophobe told The Sun that: "The Internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff... Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the Internet."

But John is part of a shrinking number of people who steadfastly refuse to accept the changing nature of not only how music is consumed in the 21st century, but also how collaboration across continents is redefining how music is made and performed, linking musicians and audiences in extraordinary ways.

The appetite for digital music is growing exponentially. | Read full article

Game focuses on immigration issues

From CNN - A Japanese computer science student fails to take a full load of university classes and loses his student visa. A 10th-grade Indian girl is detained because of a high school essay she wrote on the Department of Homeland Security.

These are two of the characters in "ICED!" -- a new video game that invites players to step into the shoes of foreigners who run afoul of the U.S. immigration system.

It is part of a burgeoning genre of video games that examine major social and policy issues such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the situation in Darfur and the Electoral College.

"The game allows you to get into the body of a person, so you can experience what they are going through. There are very few opportunities to get that perspective," said Mallika Dutt, head of the nonprofit Breakthrough, which produced the game and uses new media to highlight social issues around the world.

"ICED!" -- a play on the acronym for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement office -- is scheduled to be available for free download next month. It differs greatly from games like "Border Patrol," which popped up on the Internet last year and exhorted players to kill illegal immigrants as they entered the country. | Read full article

Left-leaning bloggers debate forming labor union

From CNN - Do bloggers need their own Norma Rae?

In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards. | Read full article

DVD Formats Square Off for Holidays

From The Washington Post - People who own an HD DVD player can forget about watching "Spider-Man 3" in high definition when it goes on sale during the holiday season. The movie from Sony Pictures will only be available in the Blu-ray DVD format.

Likewise, people with Blu-ray players won't be able to enjoy the action-thriller "The Bourne Ultimatum," which Universal Pictures will release only in HD DVD.

These exclusive arrangements, plus aggressive price cuts for high-def DVD players, are designed to persuade consumers to finally embrace one format or the other. | Read full article

Google Isn't Always The Best Search Choice

From The Washington Post - Google has turned into a household verb, but that doesn't make it the last word in Web search.

On one level, it can't be: Web searching isn't even 15 years old, and there's no reason to think that somebody couldn't do it better than Google.

On another level, it shouldn't be: The technology used to figure out what pages people want to see also helps companies calculate what products people might want to buy, and therefore what ads to display for them. Do you really want one company controlling that show? | Read full article

Universal Music Will Sell Songs Without Copy Protection

From The New York Times - Signaling another departure from the music industry’s longtime antipiracy strategy, the Universal Music Group will sell a significant portion of its catalog without the customary copy protection software for at least the next few months, the company announced yesterday.

Universal, the world’s biggest music conglomerate, said it would offer albums and songs without the software, known as digital rights management, through existing digital music retail services like RealNetworks and Wal-Mart, nascent services from and Google, and some artists’ Web sites.

But the music will not be offered D.R.M.-free through Apple’s iTunes, the leading music service. The use of copy protection software has become a major bone of contention in the digital music business, where iTunes accounts for the vast majority of download sales. The record labels generally have required that retailers place electronic locks to limit copying of music files. | Read full article

Wizzard Media Adds Two Comedy Podcast Deals

From Online Media Daily - PODCAST HOSTING NETWORK WIZZARD MEDIA has entered into exclusive advertising partnerships with two popular comedy podcasts: Tiki Bar TV and Keith and The Girl. Wizzard Media will secure advertising campaigns from national brands appropriate to each show's content. | Read full article

Thursday, August 9, 2007

NewCo: No Name and $100 million in the bank

From NewTeeVee - It’s a testament to both the madness in the private equity markets and the hype around online video taking place right now that a company without a name, a website or even a clear exit strategy has been able to raise $100 million dollars at a market valuation of $1 billion.

Yes, that’s right, we are talking about NewCo, a joint venture between NBC (GE) and News Corp. (NWS), and their partners that was unveiled back in March. | Read full article

Study: In-Game Ads Increase Purchase Consideration By 41%

From Online Media Daily - NEW RESEARCH FROM MICROSOFT'S MASSIVE reveals that in-game ads clearly have a positive impact on metrics like brand familiarity, ad recall and ad rating--even increasing purchase consideration by an average of 41%.

Massive partnered with Nielsen Entertainment on the study, which surveyed more than 600 Xbox 360 and PC players of Electronic Arts' Need for Speed Carbon.

Advertisers included in the research crossed the consumer packaged goods (CPG), automotive, technology tools and quick-service restaurant (QSR) categories, with campaigns that ran an average of 6-8 weeks. | Read full article Offers How-To Guidance For Online Advertisers

From Online Media Daily - ABOUT.COM HAS LAUNCHED ONLINEADVERTISING.ABOUT.COM, A new guide site to give users an overview of the fundamentals of online advertising.

Aiming to supplement--not eclipse--the wealth of sites that provide advertising and marketing professionals with industry insights, covers such topics as common metrics, the nuts and bolts of behavioral targeting, media-buying basics, mobile ads, streaming video, and even finding a job in online advertising. The site also includes a section directing users to top online advertising publications. | Read full article

HBO to Offer 26 HD Streams

From Wired News - If you've been waiting for HD content to catch up with playback technology, this may be your tipping point: HBO says it's getting ready to offer 26 channels of HD programming. The system will use MPEG-4 encoding technology developed by Motorola. HBO gave no word on projected rollout dates. | Read full article

AOL: A Mistake to Go Free? (NYT and DJ Take Note)

From Internet Outsider - With everyone speculating about what will happen when TimesSelect (NYT) and Wall Street Journal Online (DJ) go free, it makes sense to check in on the last major wall-removal story: Time Warner's (TWX) AOL. Was AOL's move a good one? Or should it have hung on and watched its subscriber base slowly dribble away?

Answer: It was a good move. AOL certainly sacrificed some near-term cash flow, but, critically, it has retained (or replaced) the lost subscribers in the form of unique users. If AOL hadn't made it's email available for free, meanwhile, it likely would have lost most of these subs forever. Also, even as AOL's subscription revenue plummeted, the company has preserved its cash flow, which is far more important.

What hasn't happened, which would have been nice, is that unique users and pageviews haven't swelled as the rest of the world learned that AOL is now free. This said, they also haven't collapsed, which was a distinct possibility. | Read full article

Navigating the Media Divide: Innovating and Enabling New Business Models

From IBM - The worlds of traditional and new media are already clashing, and it’s a conflict that continues to expand. However, a second type of conflict is brewing – one that could cause major rifts among traditional partners. For media companies, it’s time to pursue different and somewhat opposing business models… and navigate the media divide. | Read more and download the report

Fixing the Web

From Jeffrey Veen - The editors of recently invited me to participate in a series they're running titled Fixing the Web. In particular, they asked, "In your opinion, what parts of the Web need to be improved or fixed in order for the Web of today to evolve into the Web of the future?" | Read full article

Blockbuster Acquires Movielink

From The New York Times - The video rental chain Blockbuster said yesterday that it had acquired the Internet movie provider Movielink to offer video downloading services to customers.

Blockbuster is also acquiring rights to show the films of Movie- link’s owners, which include Warner Brothers Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount Pictures, it said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It immediately puts us in the digital download business,” Blockbuster’s chief executive, James W. Keyes, said. “Clearly, our customers have responded favorably to having other convenient ways to access movies and entertainment.” | Read full article

Cable TV Is Having Breakout Summer

From The New York Times - Cable television has always feasted on the summer audiences abandoned by the largely vacationing broadcast networks, but this season has been a spectacularly good one.

A host of cable channels have generated significant successes with original shows this summer, mainly hourlong dramas like “The Closer” and “Saving Grace” on TNT; “Army Wives” on Lifetime; “Burn Notice” on USA; “Damages” on FX; and “Mad Men” on the most unlikely channel, AMC.

All these shows, many of which have been critically acclaimed as well as popular with viewers, have emerged on basic cable, not a premium channel like HBO.

If that seems like a trend, some cable executives are bold enough to claim even more. “We’re at the tipping point,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment, which has the season’s most-watched dramas in “The Closer” and “Saving Grace.”

“It’s our belief that we and the other basic cable networks can begin matching the broadcast networks series for series,” he added. “It’s only a matter of time before we have as many big hits as they do.” | Read full article

NBC's Taps HIRO For Downloads

From Online Media Daily - "... The HIRO technology lets monetize its free-to-download programs through the inclusion of protected ads that play in-show, as with a standard television broadcast."

"While the programs can be viewed when online or offline, the HIRO technology allows NBC to dynamically change the ads each time viewers watch the show." | Read full article

Bridge Disaster Revives a Quiet Web Site, Making It a Source for Original Reporting

From The New York Times - The headquarters of Internet Broadcasting, a publisher of 70 local TV station Web sites, are located 10 miles from the site of Wednesday’s highway bridge collapse in Minneapolis. When word of the collapse came, the company sent reporters to the scene.

Then staff members did something peculiar: they published their reports to a nearly defunct Web site,

When it began in 1996, was Internet Broadcasting’s first experiment in Web journalism. The site was produced for WCCO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis. Internet Broadcasting successfully repeated the model in other markets, but its partnership with WCCO ended in 2002. Since then, the site served weather news and sports scores to about 11,000 daily visitors. |

It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World

From The New York Times - It is only a matter of time until nearly all advertisements around the world are digital.

Or so says David W. Kenny, the chairman and chief executive of Digitas, the advertising agency in Boston that was acquired by the Publicis Groupe for $1.3 billion six months ago.

Now Mr. Kenny is reshaping the digital advertising strategy for the entire Publicis worldwide conglomerate, which includes agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and the Starcom MediaVest Group and the global accounts of companies like Procter & Gamble, American Express, Hewlett-Packard and General Motors.

The plan is to build a global digital ad network that uses offshore labor to create thousands of versions of ads. Then, using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the network will decide which advertising message to show at which moment to every person who turns on a computer, cellphone or — eventually — a television.

More simply put, the goal is to transform advertising from mass messages and 30-second commercials that people chat about around the water cooler into personalized messages for potential customer. |

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nothing to Watch on TV? Streaming Video Appeals to Niche Audiences

From The New York Times - Buffering ... buffering ... buffering.

Seeing these words blinking at the bottom the postage-stamp-size screen during a download of jerky video defines the annoying experience of entertainment on a computer monitor.

However, the potential of new streaming video services — fast, full screen and in sharp resolution — is unleashing a torrent of movies and television shows, much of it aimed at narrowly defined audiences that can’t find niche programming even on cable systems with 500 or more channels. | Read full article

The Highs and the Lows of Rankings on Amazon

From The New York Times - It may seem obsessive, but every day — sometimes hourly — Aaron Shepard checks the sales rankings for his 12 self-published books. He even created a Web site,, that lets authors check their Amazon rankings instantly.

“People want to know where their book stands, just for the thrill of that score,” says Mr. Shepard, whose top seller, “The Business of Writing for Children,” clocked in at 1,834th during one random check last week, and at 2,070th during another one. He says it sells 250 to 450 copies a month.

Mr. Shepard is not alone. Forget writer’s block — many authors put their manuscripts aside because they cannot stop checking their rankings. | Read full article

Please Don't Steal This Web Content

From CNET - Lorelle VanFossen is passionate. An author, travel writer and nature photographer, she also has a popular blog about, well, blogging. Her pet peeve is online plagiarism, which she encounters nearly every day.

"It's one of my favorite subjects," she said. "I make my living from my writing, and when people take it because they are ignorant of copyright laws--or think that because it's on the Internet, it's free--it makes me really mad. It's stealing content, in my mind."

VanFossen isn't referring to the kind of plagiarism in which a lazy college student copies sections of a book or another paper. This is automated digital plagiarism in which software bots can copy thousands of blog posts per hour and publish them verbatim onto Web sites on which contextual ads next to them can generate money for the site owner.

Such Web sites are known among Web publishers as "scraper sites" because they effectively scrape the content off blogs, usually through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and other feeds on which those blogs are sent. | Read full article

Red Hat Delays Release of Linux Software

From Reuters - Software maker Red Hat Inc said on Thursday it delayed its August release of a version of its Linux software for personal computers that would compete with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

Red Hat Global Desktop Linux will not be available until September, product manager Gerry Riveros told Reuters in an e-mail.

The product includes Linux operating system software and other compatible programs for desktop and laptop personal computers.

It is a niche market for Red Hat, which makes money servicing software it develops for server computers.

Red Hat had said in May it was working with Intel Corp. on the desktop software, which it said would have features comparable to Windows, include a wide range of programs and would be sold with a one-year subscription to security updates.

Red Hat Global Desktop Linux is targeted for sale in developing countries where government agencies and small businesses cannot afford to pay for Microsoft's Windows operating system. Its primary competitor will be Ubuntu Linux, a free version of the operating system. | Read full article

Internet Ad Spending Set To Overtake All Other Media By 2011: VSS

From Online Media Daily - SPENDING ON INTERNET ADVERTISING WILL reach $61.98 billion, and will surpass newspapers to become the nation's leading ad medium in 2011, projects private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson in its 21st Communications Industry Forecast released today.

"We are in the midst of a major shift in the media landscape that is being fueled by changes in technology, end-user behaviors and the response by brand marketers and communications companies," says James Rutherford, executive vice president and managing director at VSS.

At the same time, the consumer migration to digital media--which require less time investment than traditional media counterparts (think 3-minute YouTube clips versus 30-minute TV shows)--has spawned a year-over-year decline in the amount of time consumers spent with media, VSS researchers say. The tally came in at 3,530 hours in 2006, a per-capita decrease of 0.5%. It's the first time since 1997, researchers say, that such a behavior has occurred. | Read full article

Blog Archive