Friday, February 25, 2011

Comparing the different video on demand services

Thanks to clicker for putting together this initial overview about Netflix, Amazon and Hulu's offerings in the video-on-demand market. From personal experience i'd say Netflix is still by far the best but Amazon will give them a run for the money; if you're not signed up to Amazon Prime yet, it makes that even more attractive. Hulu Plus almost seems a distant third to me for now - let's see how their rights renegotiations with the studios work out this year.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

How Google could kick-start video monetization by applying the One Pass model to Youtube

There's a lot of buzz this week about Google's launch of One Pass, the content subscription service they've created to compete with Apple's new subscription service for the Ipad and the Iphone. Details on the services can be found here in a concise Apple Insider summary; the main difference between the two services is the fact that Apple is charging publishers a 30% fee to process a subscription vs Google being content with 10%.

Apple's position reminds me of the cellphone carries in the US who have effectively destroyed the ringtone, chat and other subscription businesses that relied on carrier billing by charging an average of 40% subscription fees. Such services are thriving in Europe, South America and Japan where carriers typically charge between 5% and 10% for billing services.

IMHO Apple is wide off the mark in terms of the revenue share they're looking for but that's not the topic of this post; As someone working in the online advertising and monetization space, I'd love it for Google to extend this approach to Youtube: instead of charging very high minimum rates for in-stream and overlay ads, why not charge content producers a low percentage (10% ideally, maybe more) in exchange for lettting them monetize their own inventory? I think this could kickstart revenue growth at Youtube because you would empower all publishers to make money on their inventory - not just a select few who can command the premium CPMs required to meet Google's minimum rates. 


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The Wright on the Upper East Side is a great restaurant discovery

The Mexican Chef Rodolfo Contreras and his crew served us a delicious meal last night; starting out with fresh Tuna Sashimi, an excellent rock shrimp amuse geule, a briny yet not too oily sardine piquillo and fresh olive rolls. The main courses were equally tasty - branzino, lobster and steak. I wouldn't repeat the deserts necessarily but the service was great and the price (also thanks to was fair. The space is very well designed, and blends right into the Guggenheim. It's a shame this restaurant isn't located downtown - if it was, this would be pumping every night. Instead, Upper East Siders get to enjoy fine dining in a modern ambiance, and we'll definitely make the trip back across the Park!

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Why TV Doesn't Matter For The Super Bowl Ripple Effect

Interesting summary of how the buzz about the superbowl ads arguably has higher value than the actual ads at this point.

via Influential Marketing by Rohit on 2/6/11

IMB_ExplodingTV The Super Bowl is the largest advertising event in the world. This year, brands will pay an average of $2.8 million to $3.0 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the Big Game - a resurgence after a rare decrease in rates for Super Bowl spots in 2010. Unlike last year, where slots were still available up to the week of the game, for this year's contest, every free slot was sold out by October ... a full 4 months before the game. The estimated live audience for the Super Bowl this year is 100 million - even more impressive considering media fragmentation has led to the demise of any other television event that could even come close in terms of reach.

Clearly the Super Bowl in 2011 will be bigger than ever. So why doesn't TV matter for the lasting effect? Mainly because most of the conversation and ongoing engagement around the advertising and brands will be related to the secondary conversation about the advertising that will be happening online. The first airing of a spot during the game is certainly the big bang that every advertiser is paying for. The effect, however, moves instantly from the TV to the web-enabled realm of social conversation. In 2011, it is the ripple effect of social media that contributes the most engagement to what would otherwise be a static 30 second piece of advertising. Here are a few ways that is already happening:

  1. Consumer generated advertising contests. Brands like Doritos (this year adding PepsiMax) using consumer generated ideas to create their Super Bowl spots extend the buzz of the Super Bowl many weeks and months before the game itself - generating potentially millions of branded impressions and hours of engagement prior to the game itself.
  2. Advertiser efforts to build pre-buzz. Aside from contests, some advertisers like Bridgestone are releasing teaser versions of highly anticipated ads designed to build excitement. Other advertisers are using the web to deliver a full preview of their ads so some fans can get an inside look.
  3. Branded engagement inspired by ads. A survey of Super Bowl consumer behaviour from ad agency Venables Bell & Partners (VB&P) found that 25% of young adults are likely to "like" a brand on Facebook during the game and 59% of young adults say they will use Facebook to share ads. Combined with moves like Audi's claim to be the first major brand to use a hashtag as a call to action in an ad show that the engagement inspired by Super Bowl ads are set to be a big metric this year.
  4. Real life discussions fueled by ads. Perhaps a non-digital conclusion, but one important to note is that the ads from the game create many real life discussions about the ads themselves. This will be at the game, but also the day after - and will be fueled by online conversations as well.


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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Comparing US states with countries: US equivalents | The Economist

Great interactive feature highlighting the absolute and relative size of the United States to other countries. Who would have thought that Italy is the equivalent GDP of California or Croatia about as big as Hawaii?

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Friday, February 04, 2011

The Targeted TV Advertising Technology Landscape

The digerati at AlwaysOn seemed to be of two minds with respect to the future of television. One group believes that the increasingly large entertainment hearth in your house today will ultimately become just one more “monitor” – an IP-connected device – that you may soon access via any number of wirelessly linked entertainment devices. Another school –best articulated by David Morgan, CEO of – fervently believes that television, armed with Internet addressable ads, could well maintain both its audience and its advertising spending lead on Internet and mobile combined far into the future.

Morgan’s reasoning goes like this: after more than a decade of rapid growth, online display advertising still represents not much more than $8 billion-worth of the ad economy. Search constitutes the biggest single online marketing sector at $17 billion. Meanwhile, the television advertising technology landscape is a $70 billion market.

To put things into perspective, in October of 2010, Facebook represented a reach of 151 million unique viewers, while CBS Television – just one of the major networks – reached 240 million.  And, when compared with total time spent in minutes per month, Facebook drew 43 billion minutes, while CBS Television laid claim to more than 210 trillion, or nearly quadruple the time spent. Morgan said he asked CBS researcher David Poltrack how big a network Facebook would represent by audience size, and Poltrack likened it to PBS.

Morgan even put forth his own version of the “Display Advertising Technology Landscape” slide called the  f the same targeting infrastructure, buying platforms, data processing and metrics, and consumer data collectors can just as easily enhance audience targeting in television as they do the Internet. Television, in short, is no longer an “idiot box.” The rapid adoption of connected devices like Xbox, Roku and Boxee, combine with on-demand viewing services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to form what Morgan calls “virtual MSOs.”

In fact, I almost hate to say it, having covered both satellite and cable in the 80’s and witnessed the drawn-out debacle that was Time Warner’s Full Service Network experiment in Maitland, Fla., in the late ‘90’s, but the last 20 years of competition has had a very positive effect on video distribution and innovation. And, the layer of intelligent technology that’s now addressable (pun intended) by today’s television networks is as impressive as anything the “near Web” has to offer – maybe more so, because television still has a much more sizeable revenue stream to expend on applying that technology.

No surprise, Morgan has a dog in this hunt, and Time Warner, which bought his last business, Tacoda, has a minority stake in his new venture Simulmedia. By the company’s own definition, it aims to make TV ads smarter by binging Web-like ad targeting to television. Its a7 Platform™ — “leverages predictive technologies and anonymous viewing data from more than 15 million US households to help national advertisers and their agencies better reach their target audiences, and to better measure the results.” Those target audiences stretch across virtually all multichannel households in the U.S. in an effort to make more money for affiliates, and decrease waste for advertisers.

But don’t forget “the box” itself. Just last month, a German company called Junaio demonstrated how its augmented reality browser could enable a television audience to interact with TV shows using just their smartphones. A live science quiz show “Galileo” behaved for the user like having a TV with a touch screen. Pointing the smartphone camera at the answers displayed and clicking on one of the answers was followed by feedback on whether the choice was right and how the viewer’s answer compared to everyone else playing.

The obvious application to shows like “American Idol” was drawn, but we’re sure that’s not even the most clever application of such a technology. Being able to communicate via true, real-time, “biodiretional communication” could change the way future television shows are written, and of course how advertising is absorbed or acted upon.

Junaio, downloadable for free from Apple iTunes or the Android Marketplace, uses augmented reality digital image recognition to assure that only those actually seeing the show can participate. The scanned screen image triggers communication with the station’s server via the Internet, automating the station’s response with the user’s phone and the viewer’s television screen. (If you don’t buy it, watch this.)

Basing such a technology on the ratings effect on game shows would be an obvious, first generation mistake. Xbox, PlayStation and Wii have so far outstripped the ability of studio TV game shows for entertainment as to make the latter almost an anachronism. But because ratings points still pay in broadcast television, the incentive exists to find the next great application that will justify such a technology, either in this format or some other.

"Viewer polling is one thing", said Peter Meier, CTO of metaio, the developers of junaio, in a company release. "Another idea could be to offer films or documentaries based on the audience`s spontaneous choice, or to make additional information available, such as a chef`s recipe, and transmit it at a viewer`s request directly onto his smartphone. News networks can take an instant temperature check of viewer attitudes…. Breakthrough technologies such as junaio will provide the media industry with entirely new possibilities of user interaction."

In short, a whole new way of looking at “reality TV.”

Very interesting article about the continuing TV/ Internet evolution; I especially like the technology landscape chart provided by Dave Morgan. The biggest thing about this chart to me is: it's complicated - lots of small players, lots of technology solutions, low standardization, little scale. I'm a big believer in TVs becoming smarter and Google TV becoming a major force - but until one of the digital platforms has really established itself on TV, it will be unlikely to see any real revolutions happening.

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