'Brain Dumps Float All Boats'
Vin's preparing an essay that's turned into a 20,000 word "treatise" on the state of the newspaper industry. Notwistanding my previous post, I think he'll say something that's a little bit more glum than the E&P article saying print isn't dead.
OK, Print's Not Dead -- But What're the Financials
So, yes, it's a time of foment and ferment and it's kind of exciting to watch the dailies sprout and the big newspapers try to eat their own lunch with free dailies before it's eaten for them.
But the Editor and Publisher story doesn't address the economics in any meaningful way. What timelines are these papers on? What are their metrics for financial success? How many ads do they need to sustain their operations? Can an individual daily hope to compete with a multi-city player like Metro? Can Metro compete with more localized publications like Newsday's AM-NY? (Can Newsday continue to sustain AM-NY without the Newsday infrastructure behind it?)
And what of the Web? The economics there are just as stark as for paid pubs. Ads just don't command the same rates, and the push to heavier apps -- video, Flash, etc. -- is costing more money per user. E&P, if you get this, would like a little more info from the "P" side of your name.
Future of Business Media Conference
I'd expect there'll also be a fair amount of interesting info and conversation coming not just from the stages and the sessions, but also in hallways at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where it's being held.
Congdon Mainstreams Herself (to Oblivion?)
And this doesn't even confront the ethical issues Jeff Jarvis and Radar have explored, of being a journalist and a schill at the same time.
Twitter Is, Isn't, Funding. Spam
One other possibility I see when we get fancier about mapping and remapping and re-configuring data, in multiple dimensions and with overlays and semantic parsing: We'll see not just the most popular "twits" but also get a real cloud-formed look at what our zeitgeist is, where our consciousness is going that may be richer than any Yahoo "buzz index". (It's kind of a 21st-Century Megatrends that's a more real read of society than indexing newspaper headlines can ever be, because it indexes real-time data from lots and lots of people -- even if the sample is skewed toward whatever demographic or type would use the technology and share on it.)
This is all predicated, of course, on the assumption that those trying to Twitter with automated twits, and so on, will not end up killing the system by overloading it with spam.
Search Changes Will Rock the Content World
Gone, he said, will be the days of typical search engine optimization via not only key words but also headlines, image tags and so on, and instead will be a requirement that you feed .xml into the Google algorithm in a way it demands. Wil Reynolds of ThinkSEER seemed more firmly rooted in the present but said something we should know: If you do what you're supposed to, make your page as relevant as possible to your core audience, you'll get better results. It's spoofing and faking and all that that will get you into trouble. Whatever hold you find in the search engine capability will eventually get plugged, and you'll be bumped waaaay to the bottom of results.Was also an intriguing presentation from a company called Hakia doing "semantic search" -- which they claim is much more intelligent and natural than the indexing methods of Google, Yahoo, Ask and others. More on them next week.
Heavy, Medium and Light Users
Hard to see how this can be a bad thing. Not sure that's true of Nielsen's move to go to "time spent on site" though objections over people keeping browsers open for hours without viewing will be taken care of. For example, they can stop counting (and already do) if a page has been open for more than an hour, and say they'll also soon only count whatever page is on top. So if you hide something, or minimize it, it's not counted as being consumed.
Joost Hits 1 Million. "Big Whoop"?
AlleyInsider, which Rafat Ali of PaidContent (for whom I'm helping put together an October conference) turned me on to yesterday, questions what the 1 million user number really means (what DOES it mean in a world where rapid scaling brings usership to 10 times that in no time?) and whether anything that's really more of a marketing want than a user desire will be popular.
This is the classic dilemma for publishers and content producers: balancing the desire for control vs. the need to have uptake. Either you've got to produce content that's SO great that people will forge through a lot to get it – pay for a movie ticket, buy a DVD, put up with difficult technology – OR make it easy to see and share it in multiple ways in multiple places, let the users be your distributors and PR mouthpieces.
Most content falls in between. It's good stuff a lot of people want to see, but not so much that they'll pay a lot or fight through barriers. At the same time, publishers don't want to give up complete control of something that has value. I recommend giving up some control. But that's another story.
What If Cable Followed Satellite (Radio) Pricing Plan?
Shelly Palmer Comes to His Senses
I'm still waiting for my Sony Jogman Mini-Microwave Thermonuclear Reactor. (The very few of you who may have read my op eds in The Stanford Daily 1,000 years ago will remember that joke.) Or at least a device that does lots of great stuff without tons of limitations.
From Digital News to Tabletop Printout
Grabbed a cup of coffee today at a Manhattan supermarket. This printout of Yahoo's news page was under the table's glass. How's that for new media to old? ('Course, would be even more interesting to have the tabletop be an interactive, live version…). Sorry about the photo. Cameraphone, y'know.
mediabistro.com Sold to Jupiter Media
Barriers to Entry
- Inability to type
- Inability to use a camera (video cam)
- Lack of access to technology
though, on that last one, I was quite happily surprised today when my daughter told me that all the kids in her theater class of about 40 kids ages 10-11, many of whom seem to be poverty level (it's a full scholarship program), have Internet access at home. Teacher assigned them all to watch tap dancing videos on YouTube. They all are able, daughter said.
Content and Distribution: A Royal Couple
David Carr in the NY Times today sardonically points out the panel at
Today Rafat Ali on PaidContent.org (disclosure: I'm working with him on his Oct. 30 conference on the Future of Business Media) reveals results of a survey of his users. One stat (other than that eight percent are from the
Amid all the media disrupted by digital technology, radio seems to get the least notice. But a panel yesterday morning for Bill Sobel's New York Media Information Exchange Group showed the upheaval. Already under assault from consolidation, radio broadcasters find their bread & butter-- news, information, traffic and weather -- nibbled away by an on-demand digital universe of Web, mobile and even phone reports.
The smart radio folks realize the Internet is simply an extension, and a way to solidify the communities they've created. Joel Smernoff of Paltalk told of video chat rooms that let Opie & Anthony fans not only interact with and see each other, but that have also led to meat-space meetups. How's that for creating 'brand loyalty'?
Meanwhile, moderator and radio personality Paul Harris of
And consultant Denise Oliver sounded the death knell for radio by noting that young people no longer need to "listen to radio to find out what's popular," as they did when she was in her teens more than 20 years ago.
But then he points out that the day when it's wireless Internet connection that goes into cars (connected perhaps to WiMax) isn't too far off. "The propagation of RF signals in the AM and FM bands will die. What will replace it? Nothing. Consumers will have alternative means of consuming the very same content on, what they perceive to be, very similar devices," he writes. I agree.
It also will bring a change in programming as niches get deepened and broadened, and every program gains national and international reach.
Addendum: The whole discussion struck me as oddly "old media," in many ways. I have trouble thinking in one medium. To have panels about "radio" or "TV" or "newspapers" seems archaic, perhaps arcane in a world when a simple blog has all three. OK, a "blog", this blog, is a medium. But it's got text, video, audio, links, photos, widgets, ads, and more. I have created video, Podcasts & Flash applications. To compete today, you need to be conversant in all of it, I believe.
Revenue from Widgets
Yesterday, at WidgetCon , there wasn't agreement on what a widget is (Must it be a distributed application, or can it reside on a desktop? Must it be fully interactive, and forwardable?). But a common strain was that publishers are struggling to find revenue models that work even as marketers struggle to figure out the new technology.
There was lots of talk about how typical reach and frequency measures don't work.
"With traditional media, whether you're buying a piece of print or a homepage takeover on MySpace or whatever it is, it's very static, it's somewhat linear, it's got a beginning, and you buy an audience you buy impressions," said Chad Stoller, Executive Director, Emerging Platforms, for Organic.
"I don't envy the position of a sort of junior media buyer who has to figure out how to force fit [a widget] into a flow chart or into an I/O," he said. "It doesn't have an explicit end to it, it doesn't have a specific beginning to it. It just grows like a weed, and marketers aren't used to having things that are undefined and that are very blurry and aren't entirely accountable."
Some, though, are trying to fit widgets into typical ad models. Widgetbox CEO Ed Anuff proudly showed off a suite of Forbes.com widgets with ads embedded that both partners announced Tuesday. Anuff said the ads were not only dynamically generated, but also tracked through ad servers.
And along with the ads, there was discussion about tracking. As the prominence of the pageview is lessened in favor of "user engagement," Web traffic trackers like Nielsen/NetRatings and comScore have been looking for other means to take applications like widgets into account. ComScore, which was at the conference, began compiling widget data this spring, and today privately shared information that showed widgets are exploding, growing from 170 million views in April to 220 million in May. In May, comScore says, there were 80.8 million widget viewers in the U.S., and widgets they reached 45.5 percent of Web users.
Making Widgets Work
Attended WidgetCon today, said to be the first-ever conference devoted solely to Web widgets. Was fun to see Steve Rubel (above) show a picture of a T-shirt that said "Every time you say Web 3.0 a startup dies :( ", and also fun to ask him what he thought about whether PC mag should have widgets. (He graciously laughed, and then said they do well with that kind of technology but need to be more open, more of a vertical portal, showing others' relevant content, too.) He also gave tips for what widgets, or distributed content, has to be in this day and age, including open, shared, fitting into any platform or device users want, and so on. Pretty standard. More guidance here, and on widgets for the Nokia cellphone. Also on new Web page-making WYSIWIG technology from Freewebs, which hosted WidgetCon.
I asked Chris Cunningham, head of sales for Freewebs, why the heck we even need a conference for widgets, which he, himself, noted are far from well-known in a joking video of himself on the streets of New York asking confused people about the Web apps while supposedly trying to find his way to the conference. (Widgets, if you need to know, are generally little applications you can use to paste into your Web page that sort of form a Web page within your page. They can display videos, or calendars, or voting applications, or thousands of other things. Very big on Facebook right now, as well as iGoogle and being experimented with on Yahoo.) Chris talked about how all the excitement last year at this time was about video, especially YouTube, but that media buyers are still wondering how to buy ads on YouTube. So, he wanted to be "ahead of the curve" for widgets, and work now to get revenue models and sales ideas in place.
There was lots of talk about whether and how widgets can make money. (Forbes.com yesterday announced widgets with ads. They were created by Widgetbox, which was at the conferene.) There will probably be more on this for Jack Myers Media Business report on MediaVillage.com, and perhaps on PaidContent.org.
Media Buyers, the Pageview and Video Scheming.
A few weeks ago, I noted for
Ultimately, media buyers are going to have to do something they may not be comfortable with: Using their intelligence, instead of straight metrics. For example, 20 minutes per page may make little sense for a video site, when users tend to like videos of less than 3-4 minutes, but may make big sense for a gaming site, and the people there are very engaged. Then, again, do those gamers want to interrupt their engagement to view or absorb an ad?
Like I said, media buyers need to have thinking caps on. Maybe this can't be relegated to the most junior person, anymore.
Disney's Indian Ethics
Job description here.
An Eye for an iPhone
To: Shelly Palmer and everyone else who's in love with the iPhone.
OK, you love your iPhone. But my old, clunky HP iPaq:
- is quad band, so I can use it in Europe & Asia, and I can install a SIM card (it's not locked) that will let me tap into other networks at lower rates
- Can send, receive and edit Word, Excel & PowerPoint docs, as well as view PDFs and other stuff.
- Has a slot for an SD Card, on which I can put whatever -- including MP3s. Current SD cards are good up to about 4 gigs, though I only use 1 gig at the moment.
- Shoots video
- Has an attachable thumb keyboard.
- Could be used on T mobile or AT&T networks
- Allows text entry in a few ways: punch keys on a screen, writing style, straight drawing …
- Does 3-way call conferencing
- Can send MMS messages with video,audio or photos attached
And it does most of the stuff iPhone does (Calendar, WiFi, movie viewing, taking photos, screen keyboard, folders, etc.)
Granted, it's not sexy or the new new thing (it's hard to even get service anymore), and it freezes 1-to-3 times a day, sometimes at infuriating moments, requiring me to reboot. But why all the excitement over an iPhone that has less functionality? (Is it like the iPod -- an MP3 that is simply easier and more graceful than what came before?)
I, too, am an Apple and PC guy, and may become Apple, only. But I'm not going to buy an iPhone just yet.
The latest in viral ads. What's an "Impression" worth if a million people spread your ad relentlessly? Then again, what's it worth if the code doesn't work (as it's having trouble with right now).
Mirror Awards Lite
Sports, speeches, events, they should all come in an edited, easy to view version as this one is by MPA's Howard Polskin of the Mirror Awards ceremony in New York last month.
90 minutes awards ceremony boiled down to 4. No muss, no fuss, no chicken or salmon.
A Social Network Networker's Network
We've written before (and had a lively debate about) the benefits of outsourcing the nonessential activities in your life - housekeeping, lawn care, project management, bookkeeping, and so on. Now comes the news, via a BBC reporter, that some people are actually making real money blogging and networking on behalf of others. Actively social web workers know that it can take a tremendous amount of time and energy to maintain a compelling blog as well as a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pownce, and whatever the other network-of-the-week is. But would you consider paying someone else to take this load off your shoulders?And would you consider taking the load off someone else's? Is there a margin in it? Could we have a social network (or is there perhaps a Facebook group?) of people who are others' social networkers?
How to Fund Journalism
Not the editorial model. No one I've spoken to at the schools doubts the need for double sourcing, disclosure, transparency, identification of sources, the role of journalism in a democratic society — even where they might disagree on the nuances of how to accomplish all these aims in a disrupted age.
What is broken is the financial model. With Craigslist and others destroying the ad revenue of newspapers, with people migrating away from broadcast TV news, with margins thinning on cable TV, with the Web picking up steam but in no way matching the revenues of print, with all these dynamics in play people are debating how to pay for journalism, which can be very costly to produce.
Last week, Jeff Jarvis of City University of New York said he'd received a MacArthur Foundation grant to explore citizen journalism, or what he calls "networked journalism." Columbia University, Annenberg, Medill, Berkeley and to a lesser extent Harvard are participating in the foundation-funded News 21 initiative. Jay Rosen at NYU is exploring his own networked journalism through NewAssignment.net, with support from Wired.com, as well as grant money (I've participated). Meanwhile, multiple solo journalists are doing sites, putting up their own material, getting funding, trying ads and products.
NewAssignment.net's David Cohn, who has been a student at Columbia's J-School is now going to work for Jarvis' project, too.
All these initiatives indicate the start of a wave in a direction that often happens in business, where the flow goes from academic experimentation to research then to business.
For CNN, Multiple Media, but Not on One Page
The new CNN.com design claims to show all of a story's media on one page. That's not quite true. It's showing all the media in multiple tabs on one page. But if I want to watch a video relevant to the moment's stop story, U.K. doctor-terrorists, I have to click off the text page and watch the video separately.
Maybe from a code perspective, this is all one page. But users aren't interested in code. They're interested in being able to watch a video while reading the story and maybe clicking on a map or even voting as they go. They're also interested – and this is missing from the CNN story page – in leaving comments. The more sophisticated ones are interested in tags, customizable RSS, submitting their own videos, and more. There are a few blogs shown, at least.
I wonder, too, if the linear, top down, approach will serve CNN well, instead of a wider screen approach. Do their stats not show, as most others' do these days, that people are on 1200+ pixels-wide and above screens, rather than 800?
PC vs. Mac -- and a point about DRM
Meanwhile, this video says that it's only since the initiation of digital rights management, since 2003, that the maker of the music decides what devices we can (or rather can't) play it on.