AP Going With Attributor to Track its Content

One of the toughest jobs for one of the oldest "distributed content" companies -- especially in the digital age -- is to track where the stuff it produces ends up.

Now The Associated Press is going with "fingerprinting technology" from a company named Attributor (which I wrote about for Jack Myers Media Business Report last week). Attributor ingests text (and will later ingest images, video and sound, its execs says) and compares the material, or pieces of it, to the billions of website and pages it constantly scans on the Internet to see if folks are using anything without authorization.

Attributor then allows the AP (or other clients) to send a message to the site that's picked up the content, requesting that it be, say, taken down, or used appropriately, that revenue be shared -- various combinations and permutations.

There had been hint that AP was going to go with Attributor, which is still in what Attributor is calling private Beta. Attributor put out a press release last night:

Attributor Is Tapped by The Associated Press to Track Use of AP Content Across the Internet

Attributor to identify unauthorized use of AP text content.

Redwood City, Calif. – May 31, 2007 – Attributor Corporation announced today it will provide web-wide monitoring and analysis of the online use of Associated Press content.

Attributor technology will be used to fingerprint AP copy and to identify and document its display wherever it appears across the Internet. The arrangement with Attributor is part of a larger strategic initiative at AP to safeguard intellectual property rights to its content and to enable new licensing and distribution models.

“Our agreement with Attributor will enable AP to safeguard its investment in creating and distributing news reports, while assuring licensees that unauthorized use will not diminish the value of their licenses,” said AP General Counsel Srinandan Kasi. “These services are part of the next-generation licensing and enforcement services we plan to provide to our global network of members and subscribers.”

“Attributor aims to bring transparency and accountability to the online content economy. As one of the largest producers and distributors of online content, AP is a perfect first implementation for our highly scalable platform,” said Attributor CEO Jim Brock. “In addition to helping publishers of all kinds protect the value of content assets for authorized licensees, we will also help them capture additional editorial and advertising value.”

The Attributor platform will continuously monitor billions of pages on the Internet and perform comparison analysis against AP content to provide a customized view of content usage, including a context sensitive understanding of compliance with applicable licensing and legal requirements. The arrangement will initially cover AP text, which represents one of the largest daily sources of original content in the world. AP content in other media formats will also be tested with Attributor’s comparison technology.

Attributor's services also will be used with organizations that exchange or distribute editorial content or information through AP. Attributor and AP also intend to explore the development and distribution of potential editorial, licensing and advertising applications based on the Attributor platform and AP’s content distribution systems.

Why is Nielsen Really Doing Away With Pageview?

OK, Nielsen is doing away with the pageview because of all the AJAX and Flash and RSS and everything else that lets users aggregate or interact with content without generating a page for that content producer's Web site.

Is the ad industry happy about this? I don't konw, but I will check. I do know that advertisers, or at least media buyers a) tend to be a little behind in getting technology and b) have relied on audited and machine-counted ad numbers in the digital realm, unlike the print and broadcast realm where they buy assertions based on surveys and statistical modeling and suppositions.

If Nielsen gives us some sort of metric for "engagement" such as repeat visits or time spent on site, that's more vague (and easier to spin as a positive) than the pageview metric. Publishers have been arguing this for years, and it's interesting that Nielsen is going along.

True, pageviews are easy to game - you can jack up your pageviews without serving more real content. Then, again, if someone's looking and sees and ad, they've seen the ad.

On Jarvis' Distributed World

I thought BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis was going to do the "every page is the homepage" spiel – something that's been around for years. Instead he wrote about how the concept of the website as a destination is essentially over – that it's now about distributed content, in any number of feeds and combinations among different media. Perhaps it all appears on one page, assembled by the publisher/provider OR the user.

Seems like Jeff's talking about what could be a next generation of NetVibes or PageFlakes. Or perhaps a publisher-controlled version, such as ItsMyNews, which comes pre-loaded with whatever content strain the publisher wants, and then allows user control (and whose creators claim was around before NetVibes).

There's bound to be a battle here, though, among publisher/providers' desire to control and the perfect universe where we can assemble all we want from anywhere, at any time. I'm not calling for regulation – far from it – but there are not going to be true feed standards for awhile, if ever. Yes, .xml is easy and can be used universally, but the different flavors of it, even of RSS, are not adopted by all. In other words, some portion of what you want won't be available to assemble on your perfect page. Just as you can't get every feature on any single cell phone or cellular network, or every show or channel on any cable TV or satellite service.

So, I predict we're back at a cable TV model, albeit on steroids. Instead of getting the channels you want – in this case the content you want, which is a glorious salad of of video, audio, text, scrolls, maps, visuals, whatever – you get the content that's available for whatever aggregation tool you're using. And, inevitably, those whose desired consumption isn't part of the fatter or taller parts of the long tail will tend to get left out – as those who have particular interests now get left out of any given cable service (or aggregator, for that matter). Yes, you can cobble together all your podcasts and audio feeds, and get a scraper and and and – but who has the time, let alone the acumen, for that?

Jarvis said he was blowing our minds with these descriptions of the ultimate future – and asked how long it would be to come. Here's a further mind-blow, when the device we use is 1. a flexible piece of paper-like substance, that you can fold and put in your pocket and gets wireless reception from anywhere and you can type on, etc etc. 2. a projection from a pen like the photos of the supposed prototype that's made the rounds. A few pens in your pocket, one projects a keyboard, another a "screen" on a wall, and voila. 3. eyeglasses and ear plugs and gloves, so you're in a virtual environment even as you move through the real world 4. a biochip implant that obviates the need for any external device or screen, let alone the need to learn any computer commands. The computer learns you.

The Internet Has Taken Over

From outside a thrift store in Greenport, Long Island, on Memorial Day weekend.

In Video, Newspapers Will Win

"In the online video syndication space, the largest video owners will not be the broadcasters. It's going to be the newspapers." That prediction from Critical Mention CEO Sean Morgan at this morning's NYMIEG breakfast (full disclosure: I'll be moderating a breakfast in June on career change in media for NYMIEG). Morgan mentioned how a local TV station in San Jose produces, maybe, five or six videos a day, but the San Jose Mercury newspaper produces 60.

"When we see these newspapers turn the corner by adopting new technologies that allow them to put a braodcast voice on their text news, the market is going to erupt."

Takes the "get ready for a video ad explosion led by the the NY Times" idea a big step further. And quite a prediction from a guy whose bread and butter today is from the broadcast affiliates -- putting their conent up behind a paid wall that others pay to access, search (via closed captioning), tag, organize, import, etc. (It's basically a video clip and syndication service much like the older one that employs people watching hours of video and transcribing it, then shipping it around the country).

Morgan also took the wraps off a free version of Critical Mention called Clip Syndicate that he said will offer clips for free that the stations (and others?) want to distribute without the wall in front if it. It won't, he said, eat Critical Mention's lunch. He made an analogy to Google vs. LexisNexis. Nexis, he noted after the event, has more sophisticated search and manipulation and organization tools.

More on Business for Journalists

I wrote over on Rebuilding Media and here about WSJ.com's Bill Grueskin's (and my) urgings that editors understand the business imperatives of digital media. An editor, and all working in these kinds of media, need to be omnivorously interested -- in everything and anything that touches on what we do, from the technology to the financials and the deals. Managing, people, focus, etc, all that goes with it, as well -- that's always been good business.

Editors no longer have the luxury of being only, say, in magazines, or newspapers, or even "print" or "TV guys." Poor would be the mechanic who knew only how to work on a Model T. Sure, some people are better at one medium than the others. But just as writers have for 25 years I'm aware of been told to learn how to shoot at least a basic photo to illustrate a story, so, too, should all digital content producers know something of the basics of the various ways to put material up on the Web, or in other digital formats. It all adds up to a sh--load to learn, but you have to be omnivorous. For me, that spells survival, perhaps prosperity.

This week, along comes "Independent Publisher" Mac Slocum, whom I know of from Poynter, nicely elucidating and expanding on Grueskin's business imperatives for the digital journalist. See what he has to say here.

Mirror Award Finalists Announced

First ever media Mirror awards for media about media. mediabistro.com's up for one (yes, I submitted it), as are names you'd expect: Auletta, Carr, Kurtz, Andersen. No Wolff, though.

Here's the release:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Wendy S. Loughlin

Monday, May 21, 2007 Phone: (315) 443-2785


Finalists announced in Mirror Awards competition

Awards honoring excellence in media industry reporting to be presented June 14

Twenty-three finalists have been announced in seven categories in the first ever Mirror Awards competition honoring excellence in media industry reporting. The competition drew 140 entries. The media’s top writers, readers and leaders will gather June 14 at 11:45 a.m. at W New York (541 Lexington Ave., New York City) to fete the winners.

Finalists include:


Best Single Article

  • “Al Jazeera’s Global Mission,” Linda Tischler, Fast Company
  • “Blogs to Riches,” Clive Thompson, New York Magazine
  • “The Day the News Left Town,” Katherine Seelye, The New York Times
  • “Google’s China Problem (And China’s Google Problem),” Clive Thompson, The New York Times Magazine
  • “Dividing Lines: Why Book Industry Sees the World Split Still by Race,” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal

Best Commentary

  • “The Imperial City,” Kurt Andersen, New York Magazine
  • “The Media Equation,” David Carr, The New York Times
  • “Media Misfires,” Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post


Mirror Awards Finalists—2

Best Coverage of Breaking Industry News

  • “Why Journalists Risk Their Lives to Cover Iraq,” John M. Higgins and Allison Romano, Broadcasting & Cable
  • “Critics Question Reporter’s Airing of Personal Views,” David Folkenflik, National Public Radio
  • “A Local Newspaper Endures a Story Backlash,” Dean Miller, Neiman Reports

Best Profile

  • “Life With Brian,” Rachel Smolkin, American Journalism Review
  • “Mad as Hell: Lou Dobbs’s Populist Crusade,” Ken Auletta, The New Yorker
  • “A Guy Named Craig,” Philip Weiss, New York Magazine

Best Subject-Related Series

  • “Among the Audience: A Survey of New Media,” Andreas Kluth, The Economist
  • “Mixing, Matching and Multi-Media,” Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher
  • “Viacom Coverage,” Brooks Barnes and Matthew Karnitschnig, The Wall Street Journal


Excellence in Media Information Services

  • Benton’s Communication-related Headlines, Benton Foundation
  • Mediabistro.com
  • HealthNewsReview.org, University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communications

Overall Excellence

  • Three issues of American Journalism Review
  • “Reliable Sources - Turning a Critical Lens on the Media 2006,” CNN
  • America’s Investigative Reports,” Thirteen/WNET New York

The Mirror Awards, established by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, are the first of their kind. Meredith Vieira, co-anchor of NBC’s morning news program “Today,” will serve as MC of the awards luncheon. Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety, will receive the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

Luncheon committee co-chairs for the event include Rob Light, partner, Creative Artists; Judy McGrath, chairman and CEO, MTV Networks; Ron Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios; Aaron Sorkin, writer; and Jeff Zucker, president and CEO, NBC Universal.


Mirror Awards Finalists—3

For more information about the Mirror Awards or to reserve a table at the June 14 luncheon, see mirrorawards.syr.edu or contact Catherine Gay Communications at (212) 501-7231 or mirror@cgcomgroup.com.

For press information, contact Wendy Loughlin at (315) 443-2785 or wsloughl@syr.edu.

Business Imperatives for the Digital Editor

I sometimes feel like an unpopular proselyte in arguing that today's digital journalists – at least at a senior editorial level – need to understand the business imperatives while also understanding the usual journalistic ones (double sourcing, verifiable accuracy, fairness, disclosure, etc).

WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin seems to feel the same way, and has kindly sent me a list of things that today's editors in digital media must keep in their head, along with all the usual editorial duties.

In no particular order here they are. My additions in parens:

- Differentials in online/print ad rates

- Paid vs. free models (ie, subscription or micropayment vs. ad-supported)

- Role of search engines in driving traffic and revenue (SEO /SEM)

- (Corollary of above:) Tailoring content to appeal to search and other third party sites

- Tailoring content to maximize page views and thus ad impressions

Sree Sreenivasan of Columbia U frequently points out that journalists at The New York Times compete to get on the Most Read/Most Emailed/Most Blogged page, which also shows the most common search terms on the NYTimes.com site.

I say the NYTimes.com (and any) editors should also be aware of what the most-searched terms are on Google and Yahoo, and what those searches show on those sites, and what pages people land on after doing those searches and clicking through on the results.

From there they can get into funnel- and path-analysis, and more deep metrics. It becomes an organizational issue of who delves how much, into what; the bigger shops, like the journal, have the luxury of having someone(s) who does nothing but Web analytics – often a marketing team function, sometimes part of the technology department.

But today's top editor needs to know at least the basic, global issues Bill, Sree and I have stated just as much as a newspaper managing editor had better know the details of the print run.

Streaming Media East '07: Observations

- To justify video on the Web, don't look at direct "ROI," look also at replacement costs or savings. A few people pointed out that you can't say "how much money are we making with Web video," but rather should say, "what else did we used to do that we spend less on now because of the Web video" – anything from saving on travel costs, to satellite to mailing DVDs or videotapes. One person told me about a presenter who bought every person she taught in a seminar a video iPod, and loaded all the documents and what-not on there, saving herself hundreds of dollars in printing and binder costs.

- Streaming, as I said earlier, is a misnomer. Very seldom, really, is there a reason to watch live. Even so-called "live" national news at 6:30 is really packaged and highly produced, as is "live" TV such as talk shows or sketch comedy. Most everything is just fine on demand.

- People are starting to talk about "deep linking" into video the way they used to talk about deep linking into internal pages of Web sites. Meaning, in video's case, that instead of linking to a page and having to watch a video until it reaches the part you're interested in, you link right to the part – the sentence, the action – you're interested in. Search engines start to find material inside a portion of a video.

My assertion: assume that everything possible with text is going to be possible with video. It's all bits and bytes, just more of them. But it's coming.

- A few favorite quotes:

* From Tine Kirkegaard, Web manager for Carlsberg beer. She talked about a software coder whose friend almost died in a plane crash and who became very nervous about flying. So, he talked to the pilots, which made him feel better, because until then all the stuff going on in the cockpit had been a dark mystery. "Maybe our customers feel the same way about us," she quoted him as saying. And, thus, she said, Channel9 was born on the Microsoft Developer Network

* From Bart Feder, CEO of The Feedroom, on why you should, if you're a company, encourage all comments in your own venue and give up some control in the process: "Even if it's negative, they're going to do it anyway. How do you engage them in away that's productive."

* "Five years ago, no media company had a head of digital media. Now every media company has a head of digital media." Also by Feder.

* From NYTimes.com chief Martin Nisenholtz to kick of his keynote address: "The fact that an executive from a 156-year-old media company is the featured speaker say lot about how times are changing."

Streaming Media East '07: Learnings

A few things learned at the Streaming Media East conference, Tuesday and yesterday:

- Image stock houses like Corbis and Getty Images are increasingly getting requests for clips in Flash. Soon, we'll see a trade in Flash stock clips.

Lisa Larson of gotoGroup Inc. demonstrated the new CS3 Adobe Flash software which allows filtering and other manipulation of Flash video images that used to take considerable coding expertise.

- FinalCut Pro editors are easier to find than Avid editors. And Avid's more expensive. B-bye Avid?

- NBC is telling TV producers they also have to be editors. Or, as people there are snarking, making them into "preditors."

- Get ready for a video ad explosion, with The New York Times helping drive the demand. The Times is going to try to scale its video pageviews from the nearly 5 million streams per month now to as many as 100 million per month by 2010, with five times that in distributed networks with which it's building partnerships. That will be ad-supported, rather than the TimesSelect walled model, Times digital guru Martin Nisenholtz promised.

- Advertising is increasingly seen as a standalone product – something that's a "destination" for people to engage with rather than an interruptive medium that butts into whatever else you're doing.

- It costs Yahoo! 26 cents per gigabyte to stream video, according to Scott Rhodes of Veotag. At that price, he and others said, it's hard support the video with ads at a reasonable CPM. (Anyone care to do some math? Or just tell me how many gigs it takes to, say, stream one minute of video at a typical resolution for a host.)

Streaming Media East '07: Non-Media Companies Get Media

I thought I'd coined the term "every company is a media company," meaning that the accessibility of the tools and the imperative to touch customers directly makes every company -- whether Wal-Mart or HP or Sun Microsystems or GM or Caldwell Banker or the local New York ice cream shop with a website – a company that produces media for its customers, or "constituents," if you prefer.

Then I found out at Streaming Media East that The FeedRoom CEO Bart Feder has been going around saying the same thing. And he tells me Streaming Media honcho Dan Rayburn's been saying it, too. FeedRoom handles video in one form or another for all the companies mentioned above, and a bevy of others. FeedRoom's revenues from Enterprise clients has gone up 80% this year, compared to last, while their business from media clients is essentially flat, Feder said. And those companies are embracing many of the practices that some traditional media companies have been slow to adopt: encouraging consumer-generated content, trying viral video, reaching out directly to people over the heads of any mediators, creating communities of excited brand-loyal consumers, and using customers' input as marketing intelligence.

Feder also, in an interview, talked about "direct to constituent" video, meaning that companies reach out to their dealer networks, managers, consumers, the press, and so on, and target each of them separately, having either open or closed networks, with various levels of control. When someone on a panel Feder was on said companies were having trouble creating enough content, Feder suggested that every company should give its 250 smartest and most loyal employees video cameras, and get them each to produce one video. Voila, enough content to run one video a day for a year of business days. Cheap, too. (And, of course, more for The FeedRoom to run through its system, and charge for.)

Jeff Jarvis, who moderated a panel today, likes that there's no arguing at this conference about whether the way things are is right or wrong, that the way media is now is treated as a given. So does Steve Safran of LostRemote. (I was a fly on the wall -- well, a guy standing in the aisle - -when Safran was speaking to Jarvis.) Jarvis argued earlier th at media companies should encourage consumers to distribute their media, stop worrying about how to control it and instead start worrying how to get it into consumers' eyes and ears.

He pointed out in a conversation a the conference today that perhaps the reason corporate America is so happy to use media in all its flexible ways is that for them, it's a cost. Or, as I would put it, it's not what they make – it's just what they do, that they're happy to give away, or take a short-term "loss" on producing the media to get people to pay for whatever it is that they really do. And the better the cost-effectiveness, the better for them. They're certainly not worried about making people pay for subscriptions, or making ad revenue on whatever media they produce. And in that they have a luxury that the traditional media companies don't.

Streaming Media East '07: Scoble's Six Figures

Scobeleizer's Robert Scobel, on a Jeff Jarvis-hosted panel called "Creating the New Television" lets on that he earns six figures per quarter from his show on PodTech, which is basically geeks talking to geeks. He said he earned that much because sponsors want to reach that rarified geek audience, so even if it's only a few thousand, or tens of thousands of people it's the right 10,000.

Others on the panel sounded like they were still looking for a way to justify the cost -- save, perhaps, Adam Elend, who Executive Produces the Wall Street goof WallStrip.com,Blogger: MediaFlect - Create Post and says he spends $2,500 to produce each daily episode, uses a SAG actor as a host, and also has the kind of rarified audience advertisers love to reach.

Mary Matthews, producer of 39 Second Single, whom Jarvis has promoted mightily on his blog, referred to needing a day job, and J. Crowley's Black20.com is done on a shoestring, as well.

Watching the various videos -- other than Scoble -- especially Crowley's little comic vignettes, I couldn't help but think that, yes, this is interesting, new content, targeted, Crowley says, at a young male demographic ("We're in that demo, so why not have us call all the shots" instead of going through some media execs who would control it, he said) - but it's still just amusing stuff, that anyone with a good comic sensibility can produce. Cheaper, fun, funny, and a matter of taste. But still, basically, a video vignette -- could have been Saturday Night Live or any other sketch comedy show, really.

Streaming Media East '07: It's Not Streaming

Am at the Streaming Media East conference and one thing immediately occurs to me: Streaming Media is a misnomer. Everyone here is talking about distributed media, getting it out to people on demand, at the least, and more likely via podcasts, or embedded Flash or other kinds of means that will make the video "viral."

More, shortly.

Google's Privacy Issue

Thanks to Jack Myers for inviting me to write a column for his Jack Myers Media Business Report. The first one went out last week, and today appears on Jack's Media Village Web site.

The nut of it: Google's got a looming issue over privacy, because of all the data it collects on people -- from Gmail to Blogger to Google Ads and Analytics -- and it had better be out front on this issue, or it could pay a high price in the long run.

The argument's been further bolstered by Google's new "Web history" initiative, which I learned about from Shelly Palmer, also in a column for Jack. The search engine will, if you let it, track not only all your Google searches, but if you download a toolbar, ALL your Internet surfing activity, and spit it back to you. I've allowed it to see only my Google searchess, and it's an intriguing peak at what I've used Google for in recent days (wow, do I use it a lot!). It's also a little creepy to think that someone could, some day, take a look and see everything I looked at -- be it business or personal, prurient or pure. I can imagine the picture someone could draw about me, or anyone, and am not sure it's a picture we'd like others to have access to.

My Halberstam Experience

'Halberstam'The David Halberstam I knew was all the things people have written about him since his death in a car accident this week: overbearing, a great reporter, quick-witted, pedantic, perhaps with a high opinion of himself. To me, he was also generous beyond reason.

While I was working for Newsweek's Japanese edition in 1987, we decided to do a Q&A with Halberstam, as he had just published The Reckoning, considered the definitive tome about the rise of Japanese automakers at the expense of Detroit. It wasn't hard to find him – he was in the Manhattan phone book. I called him up, and my bureau chief, Fukiko Aoki (Pete Hamill's wife, by the way), and I went over to his lovely high-ceilinged apartment, complete with an inside terrace and a floor-to-ceiling bay window, on west 67th Street. He was gracious and well-informed, and intelligent, and gave good sound bite answers. (I've scanned the interview as I submitted it to my editors -- there are 6 pages, you can get by swapping in the page number in the url. A piece of the way it appeared is in the image, above.) I remember him being extremely complimentary of Hideko Takayama, with whom I later worked in the Newsweek Tokyo bureau, for the tremendous help and research she had done for him on his book.

Halberstam and I kept marginally in touch, and a couple years later, when I was applying for a Fulbright fellowship, a good friend well-versed in academe asked if I knew any high-profile journalists with name recognition who could write a recommendation. I asked David, and much to my surprise, he most generously said he liked me, thought I was a "smart kid," and "yes." In person, he talked exactly the same way he did on air, droning in his deep, booming voice, seeming to lecture, talking in long sentences with lots of commas and few periods, and absolutely not liking to be interrupted. He took a recommendation I had written for him, rewrote it beautifully, and sent it in. I got the fellowship and went to study at Tokyo's Sophia University for a year.

While I was in Japan, David came over on a tour – he was something of a celebrity there – and while he didn't schedule me in, we did bump into each other at an event he was headlining. I said "hi," as he walked through the halls with a leading politician he was interviewing. He winked and nodded – odd gestures for him, I thought – and kept walking.

Throughout the years, I would occasionally do a little something for Daviod – send him a fact or a contact for something he was working on. A number of years after the Fulbright, I called to ask him something, and he very gruffly hung up the phone, very unfriendly. I wasn't sure what I had done to piss him off. Perhaps I had not done enough for him? Maybe he was just in a bad mood that day. I never knew, and never asked. I would occasionally see him walking around the neighborhood after 1997, when I joined ABC News, with offices on west 66th Street, but there was never a flash of recognition from him, and I never tried very hard to say "hi." I did see him in the building occasionally, when he was going for an interview on Nightline or one of the other shows. Even when he said "hi" in the ABC halls, I don't think he knew who I was.

What is most tangible to me, though, is his generosity in doing something for someone he didn't know very well and whom he didn't have to help. I’m not sure I would have gotten the fellowship – a wonderful experience, and chance to really learn Japanese – without his generosity.