Tag Archives: content

2011: The Rise of a New Breed of Blogger

I am LOVING the term “Lifestyle Blogger”. Have I found my calling?

Dec 27, 2010Let’s face it: blogging is big business. I predict that in 2011, there will be a rise of Lifestyle Bloggers. This new breed of business-savvy blogger not only writes, but also handles business development and prioritizes having a fulfilling life NOW. Cash flow positive with a happy, small and flexible team, this type of blogger has a balanced, sustainable new business model.

As creating content gets easier, we are faced with more noise online than ever before and more data than people are willing or able to parse. Curation was the inevitable trend of 2010 — everyone from huge corporations to small businesses to college kids uses platforms like Tumblr and Twitter to distribute content and create influence. In 2011, we’ll need people to curate the curators to find a more refined signal.

This is where the Lifestyle Blogger comes in. Are you a Lifestyle Blogger? Do you want to be? If not, does your business know how to best work with and benefit from this rising group?

Read more at www247.americanexpress.com

 

A Modest Proposal for the Future of Online Magazines

Can a daily online-only magazine featuring quality writing and journalism survive without losing money?

Amplify’d from gawker.com

A Modest Proposal for the Future of Online MagazinesFor well over a decade, Salon.com has tried to solve the puzzle of how to put out a daily online-only magazine featuring quality writing and journalism without losing money. They’ve failed. We have just one decent idea for their survival.

Daily journalism—even Salon’s version, with a handful of superstar writers, a small stable of workhorses, and a bunch of freelancers—is expensive. The most comparable operation is Slate, which is nestled sweetly in the sheltering bosom of the Washington Post Company. This is what Salon itself now hopes to find: a large media company patron that will pick up Salon, cover its losses, and let it continue to operate, figuring that its prestige and opportunities for synergy are worth the (relatively small, by big media company standards) red ink it accumulates on a yearly basis.

It’s fair, now, to say that this particular format simply isn’t profitable. No amount of better content would make this particular format profitable. To become profitable in its current format, Salon would have to slash expenses to the point that their quality would suffer severely. Online ad money—even supplemented with subscriptions, which Salon’s tried—just won’t support the level of staff and expense necessary to produce that kind of content on an independent site. (Sorry, all you other startups who had the same idea!)

Gawker Media is a lean, mean stable of diversified blogs that can cross-sell. The Huffington Post is a bare-bones operation that takes much of its content wholesale from other news organizations, and gets another chunk donated for free by aspiring writers. Politico has print ads to bring in cash. Drudge, Perez Hilton, and other successful blogs are tiny operations with nowhere near the staff expenses of Salon. Media models that have proven to be profitable online tend to be cheap, or to have alternate revenue streams to supplement them. For Salon, and others who bring a print-style cost structure to an internet-style ad revenue stream, disappointment is almost inevitable.

And the dream of simply being scooped up by a bigger media company isn’t a sound one. Sure, it still might happen, but for how long? Big media companies have their own problems—namely, that many of their traditional properties are losing revenue to online interlopers. Like Salon! Even Slate’s parent company makes its money off test prep services, not off its namesake newspaper. Big tech companies like Yahoo that want to get into the content business are a better bet in the near term for journalism operations looking to find a new home, but they, too, will inevitably want those content businesses to prove profitable eventually; there is no free lunch at public companies. Only at Conde Nast.

Read more at gawker.com

This Is a Click to Action

In the end, we’re measured by who we reach, the experiences we create, and the actions we inspire. This is a call for a renewed focus on people and the value they seek tied to the outcomes that impact our business. A click to action is not a transaction, it is a form of currency where individuals on all sides benefit from each and every social exchange.

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com
Actions speak louder than words. And as such, we have the responsibility to lead desirable and mutually beneficial actions through meaningful engagement. It’s difficult to do so however, when we focus our efforts on cultivating communities where success is derived by their respective populations. From views and impressions to Likes and Retweets to the count of our Friends, Fans and Followers (3F’s), we miss sight of what’s truly important, connections, outcomes, and the experiences we define and nurture.

Focusing on numbers is only part of the story in this intricate production we call social media. In the world of storytelling and audience engagement, the audience is represented by not only the people we draw into the theater, but also those we do not. And for those we attract, we must define the intended experiences and desirable outcomes we wish to produce. Doing so will set the stage for consumers to take action and also share experiences across their social and interest graphs. We’re then introduced to important social touchpoints and the metrics that ultimately reveal the effect of our engagement and also how we can improve experiences and outcomes over time.

A Click to Action

Design the preferred outcome and experience and reverse engineer it in order to bring it to life. To do so, we have to realize that not all friends, followers, fans or views are created equally. And, we must also recognize that the prevailing cultures and supporting behaviors in each network dictate very different results. To trigger the social effect, an understanding of network performance is fundamentally essential to the architecture of discreet initiatives within each engagement strategy.

For example, let’s take a look at Facebook Likes. The average “liker” has 2.4x the amount of friends than that of a typical Facebook user, showing the tremendous opportunity to reach “trend setters” aka tastemakers who can help achieve the greatest reach and distribution of content and more importantly, your story. According to Facebook, the Likers are more engaged, active, and connected than the general population of the global social network. At the same time, they’re genuinely interested in exploring new content. As a result, they click on 5.3x the links than that of the typical Facebook user.

Social Commerce

In the world of social commerce, the connected consumer is at the center of influence. Ensuring beneficial experiences and empowering them with sharing mechanisms ensure that their reach is maximized. Again, networks and the people who populate them, engender varying results. Online ticketing provider Eventbrite released the results of a recent survey that found Facebook sharing to outperform Twitter by as much as 6x.

 

According to Eventbrite, Facebook shares led the pack, generating an average of $2.52 from 11 referrals. Just behind Facebook, sharing via email came in second at $2.34. However, the delta between Facebook and email and the rest of the referring sources is vast. LinkedIn shares were valued at $0.90 and Tweets were worth only $0.43.

Media

Likers form an “always on” audience. The average Liker on a news site, for instance, is 34 whereas the media age of a newspaper subscriber is 54. If we examine the effects of Likers on the media industry, we can get a clearer picture of their influence. In fact, many publishers are reporting overwhelming results after introducing the social sharing buttons, empowering viewers to share stories across their social graph with one click.

Sample reports according to Facebook:

ABC News is up over 190% as a result of adding social plugins
Gawker claims an surge of over 200%
TypePad reports increases over 200%
Sporting News is up by 500%
NBA.com states that Facebook is now the number 2 referral source

Publishes also report that increased engagement is an organic byproduct of a social referral ecosystem. At NHL.com, Facebook visitors are reading 92% more articles, spending 85% more time on-site, viewing 86% more videos, and generating 36% more visits than visitors from other sites.

What are the best ways to reach these people? According to Facebook, it starts with …

1. Implement social plugins, beginning with the Like button. When a person clicks Like, it (1) publishes a story to their friends with a link back to your content, (2) adds the article to the reader’s profile, and (3) makes the article discoverable through search on Facebook.

2. Optimize the Like button. By showing friends’ faces and placing the button near engaging content (but avoiding visual clutter with plenty of white space), clickthrough rates improve by 3-5x according to Facebook.

3. Publish back. Publishing engaging stories or status updates (things that are emotional, provocative, related to sporting events or even simple questions) increase on-Page engagement by 1.3-3x.

4. Integrate the Activity Feed or Recommendations plugins. Highlighting most popular content on your site leads people to view more articles. Those who click on the Activity Feed plugin in particular generate 4x as many page views as the average media site viewer. Place it above the fold on your home page and at the bottom of each article for maximum engagement.

5. Use the Live Stream to engage users during live events. The live stream box can serve as a way to reach your audience, facilitate sharing of your content, and get them involved in what you’re streaming, be it an interview, conference, or other type of event.

A Tweet to Action

One of the greatest challenges any brand will experience in Twitter is the very thing that makes it so special, the ability to earn attention in real-time. Twitter, by intention, is fleeting. We are constantly sharing, engaging, and consuming micro-sized portions at a constant pace. To connect here, requires creativity, relevance, value, and a sense of reward.

Social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos studied over 1.2 billion tweets over the course of two months and found that Twitter is indeed a broadcast system rather than a social network. As part of its Engagement Report,

 

When examining the idea of triggering a click to action, Sysomos discovered that only 29% of Tweets generate a reaction, usually in the form of a reply or ReTweet, which was the overwhelming majority of all replies at 19.3% or 72 million. Of those RTs, 92.4% happen within the first hour dropping to 1.63% in the second hour and almost cease completely in the third hour with .94%. On Twitter, we are competing for the moment.

 

Like RTs, the bulk of replies occur within the first hour as well. In the first hour, the average replies numbered at 96.9% within hour one and only .88% in hour two.

Sysomos also reviewed the depth of conversation threads on Twitter. The data fueled the idea of Twitter serving the role of broadcast network over a conversational platform. The extent of dialog is measured at three levels deep. Of all of the Tweets that generated a reply, 85% received one reply and 10.7% witnessed a reply to the original reply. Only 1.53% of Tweets experienced a reply to the reply of an original Tweet.

Does this information from Sysomos lead us to assume that Twitter’s role in our click to action programs is less important than expected? Not at all.

Influence on decisions, actions, referrals, and referring sources are dramatically leaning toward social. When it comes to click-through rates, Twitter crushes Facebook according to SocialTwist, makers of the Tell-a-Friend widget that lets users share content through social media. The company found that click-through rates via social networks outperformed links shared in email and blogs.

As we reviewed earlier, Facebook is by far, the preferred service for sharing representing over 78% of all SocialTwist shares.

However, here’s the promise for Twitter. Of all social networks, Twitter is the most effective tool for triggering coveted click-throughs. Whether Tweets are organic or Promoted, Twitter believes that it has “cracked the code on a new form of advertising.” At the same time, it has also cracked the code on a new type of interaction and engagement. Click-through rates on Twitter averaged 1904% while Facebook yielded 287%.

Read more at www.fastcompany.com

 

The Future of Television and the Digital Living Room

The future of TV & Film will be as different as the transition from radio to TV was. As is widely known “many of the earliest TV programs were modified versions of well-established radio shows.” Why wouldn’t we think that 50 years from now our initial Internet meets TV shows won’t seem just as quaint?

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com

TV

Nobody can predict 100% what the future of television will be so I won’t pretend that I know the answers. But I do know that it will form a huge basis of the future of the Internet, how we consume media, how we communicate with friends, how we play games, and how we shop. Video will be inextricably linked to the future of the Internet and consumption between PCs, mobile devices, and TVs will merge. Note that I didn’t say there will be total “convergence”–but I believe the services will inter-operate.

The digital living room battle will take place over the next 5-10 years, not just the next 1-2. But with the introduction of Apple TV, Google TV, the Boxee Box, and other initiatives it’s clear that this battle will heat up in 2011. The following is not meant to be a deep dive but rather a framework for understanding the issues. This is where the digital media puck is going.

While we won’t get through all of this, here are some of the issues in the industry that I plan to bring up and ones I hope we’ll discuss tomorrow:

1. “Over the Top” video distribution–Apple TV is brand new and is priced at $99. Given how Apple’s products are normally delivered to near perfection it is likely to be a huge holiday hit this year. While their past efforts at Apple TV have been mediocre it seems clear that this time they’re really trying to get it right. That said, Apple will remain a closed system designed to drive media consumption through a closed iTunes system and a take a toll for media distribution.

apple tv The device itself will have no storage. So without my weighing into the pro’s / con’s of this I can say that I believe it will capture a large segment of the market but leave room for “open platforms” to play a big role.

Just as in the mobile battle when Apple goes closed it creates an opportunity for somebody that is substantively open. Enter Google. If you’re an OEM who wants to move more hardware but you don’t have the muscle to create an entire media ecosystem then you’re best off finding a partner who can build a software OS, app platform, and search capabilities.

So it is unsurprising to see companies like Sony, Logitech, and Intel partner with Google. Google balances the universe and helps all of the hardware, software and media companies ensure it isn’t a “one horse race.”

That said, it would be an understatement to say that traditional media is skeptical about Google’s benevolence and many fear a world in which video content margins are crushed in the way that print & music have been with the primary beneficiary having been Google. So while they enjoy a race with two major brands competing they also have three other strategies they’ll pursue.

  • they’ll try to “move up the stack” and provide some of these services themselves. Thus you see television manufacturers rushing to create content ecosystems, app platforms, TV OS’s and Internet offerings.
  • they’ll continue to partner with the MSO’s: tradition cable & satellite providers as well as the new FiOS offerings from Telcos. The MSO’s are today’s distribution platforms and they still have a lot of muscle in the ensuing years.
  • they’ll continue to look for independent technology partners. They will find the Hobbesian power relationship more palatable than strengthening what they consider their “frenemies” (Apple & Google) and as a result will work with independent players like Boxee.

I have always thought there was room for an independent success story like Boxee or someone similar. I’ve always believed that such a player would only succeed if they could capture an enthusiastic user base that feels compelled to use their platform to discover and consume content. Clearly Boxee captured the imagination of this early-mover user base 2 years ago. The launch of their new Boxee Box in November and the user acceptance of that will be telling for their future development.

2. Attempts at “moving up the stack”–In 1997 I led a project to help senior management at British Telecom define its Internet strategy. I did some market sizing analysis and wrote a strategy paper called, “It’s about the meat & potatoes, not the sex & sizzle.” I argued that if BT was focused there would be a large business in access services (dial up, ISDN and the equivalent of T1′s), hosting services and other infrastructure related products that would be very profitable and they had a great chance to corner the market on a high-market growth business.

samsung tv app storeMy paper warned of the dangers of trying to “move up the stack” and become a content company. At the time all telco’s were envious of Yahoo! and Excite in particular as well as all of the Internet companies with grandiose stock market valuations. The attitude was “I’ll be damned if those young kids are going to get rich off of our infrastructure.” Needless to say BT didn’t follow the advice of my paper and it went bananas for content deals signing a string of money-losing content partnerships. I guess shareholders would have probably punished them for being boring and prudent.

Fast forward nearly a decade and it was unsurprising to me to see the death grip that global mobile operators placed over the handsets. They threatened any hardware manufacturer with not putting anything but operator approved software on the phones. In this way they locked down the device (they controlled the phone distribution market through owning retail stores and subsidizing handset costs). The mobile operators were run largely by the same people who ran the wireline telcos a decade early and still felt screwed by the tech industry. The created a hegemony that delayed innovation until January 2007 when the iPhone was introduced.

The iPhone broke the hegemony with hardware and software that had no telco software on it–thus the Faustian AT&T / Apple iPhone deal. They both gained. They both lost. But ultimately we all won because consumers finally had enough of locked down, crappy software from telcos. Imagine how much mobile telco money still exists in meat & potatoes. Imagine if one of them had created a Skype competitor.

So entering 2011 why does this matter? I see a repeat from television manufacturers and MSO’s. They know that the world is changing and they’re shit scared of what that means for hardware and pipeline providers. The hardware manufacturers are on razor-thin margins and see that having apps on TVs will be a way to build direct relationships with consumers and built higher margin businesses. It’s hard to blame them. But none of this will stick. Not because they are bad companies–but because software is not a core competency.

They will never succeed in these businesses. And I think the smartest hardware providers & MSOs are the ones that will sign unique and daring partnerships with startup technology firms. But the whole market will develop more slowly as we watch this bum fight take place. Get your seats ringside–it will take place over the next 2-3 years.

3. The “second screen”–One of the most exciting developments in television & media to me will be “second screen” technologies built initially on iPads and extended to the plethora of devices we’ll see over the next 3-5 years. And this will be real innovation and revolutionary in the way that the iPad is, rather than just being incremental. It will involve 3D (see Nintendo’s moves, for example). You’ll likely see applications that draw you into interactive experiences, connect you to your social networks, help you browse your TV better, and create a richer media experience overall.

ipad iphone couchI think we’re in the 1st inning of second screen technologies and applications, and this movement will create whole new experiences that the 50+ crowd will lament as “ruining the TV experience.” The 15-30 crowd will feel like this is what TV was meant to be–social. In my opinion this will replicate what most of us 40+ year olds already experienced when we were in our 20′s. We’ll have the post show water cooler effect that was popular in the Seinfeld era. We’ll have simultaneous viewing parties like we did for Friends or Melrose Place. But most of it will be virtual.

4. Content bundling–When there was one pipe capable of broadband delivery leading into our house the person who controlled this could control what we saw and it was delivered in a linear timeframe. As a result it became popular to bundle content together and get us to pay for “packages” when all we really wanted was The Sopranos or ESPN. We all saw what happened when technology let us buy singles on iTunes rather than whole albums pushed by record labels. No prizes for guessing what the future holds for video. The idea of forced bundles will seem archaic. Smart companies will figure this out early. The “Innovator’s Dilemma” will hold others back. The bundle is the walking dead. Only question is how long it survives.

5. Torso TV – Television was designed for a mass audience in a single country. One of the things that has fascinated me over the past couple of years is the rise of global content and its ability to develop a “niche” global audience that is relevant. Think of about the rise of Japanese Anime, Spanish Novelas, Korean Drama, or the rise of Bollywood entertainment from India. It’s not a mass, mainstream audience but I would argue that it’s “global torso” content that will be meaningful at scale. Websites like ViiKii, which have been launched to create realtime translations of shows by fan-subbers, have huge followings already. And I’m sure that this is what popularized the SlingBox in the first place. British, India & Pakistani ex-pats on a global scale want to watch cricket.

I believe that NetFlix has won the battle for the “head end” of content from films. They have such a strong base of subscribers and their strategy of “Netflix everywhere” is brilliant. We watch it on the iPad. We pause. We turn on our TV and get it streamed through the Wii. And it’s available also on the Apple TV. It’s on Boxee. It’s effen awesome. Game over. IMO. But the torso? It’s up for grabs. And I think players like Boxee understand this is a juicy and valuable market. As does ViiKii and countless others racing to serve fragmented audiences the good stuff.

6. YouTube meets the television–It was funny to me to hear people say for years that “YouTube had no business model.” It made me laugh because it is so obvious when you capture an entire market of passionate consumers in any market–especially in video–that in the long-run it becomes a huge business. So many people are stuck in the mindset that YouTube is UGC (as defined as people uploading silly videos or watching Coke and Mentos explode) and that brands don’t want to advertise on UGC.

And meanwhile I’ve seen several L.A. startups focus on creating low-cost video production & distribution houses. They are quietly accumulating audiences in the same way that Zynga did on Facebook. And if you think that these guys can’t monetize then I’ll refer you to everybody’s arguments about games–that free-to-play would never work in the U.S. And meanwhile Zynga is one of the fastest growing companies in U.S. history.

kassem gWhat Zynga understood is that you need to go where the consumers are, capture those audiences, build a direct relationship and then diversify channel partners. This is happening in spades now on YouTube as a new generation of viewers is being served up by a new generation of TV production houses that are currently under the radar screen of many people. This will change in the next 2 years.

And as they explode and become bigger companies YouTube becomes even more of a Juggernaut. And don’t forget that as the Internet meets TV, YouTube will continue to be a brand to be reckoned with served up by Google TVs.

7. Content discovery–new metaphors–Anybody who tries to search for a program to watch on TV on an EPG (electronic programming guide) knows just how bad they are for finding “the good stuff.” And for a long time the Internet has been that way, too. The best online video search tool (in terms of usability) that I’ve seen is Clicker. By a long shot. Do a little test yourself. Trying searching for something on Hulu. Then try the same search on Clicker. Try it first for content that is on Hulu and then for content that is not. And Hulu’s search is actually reasonable.

Much of web video search is bad at finding “the good stuff” including YouTube itself. Try searching “Dora the Explorer” in YouTube and then try it on Clicker. And then try it on Hulu. I feel confident that any user trying this will not go back from Clicker (no, I’m not an investor).

But as the Internet & TV merge it will be a major fight for how you find the good stuff. Google isn’t that good at video search today. Will this change in a world of Google TV’s? Boxee prides itself on social TV & content discovery. Will their next version blow us away and be the way we search our TVs? Will the MSO / EPG world improve (answer: not likely)? What about discovering content on our TVs via Twitter or Facebook? Or some unforeseen technology? Will we discover stuff through second-screen apps?

Technology such as that being created by Matt Mireles over at SpeakerText is trying to make video transcriptions and make video more searchable and discoverable. Imagine that world. I’m sure others are focused on solving this great problem.

The amazing thing about content discovery is that it can alter what is actually viewed and thus becomes a powerful broker in the new TV era where pipes don’t have a stranglehold on eyeballs.

I have no idea who will win. I only know who won’t.

Read more at www.fastcompany.com

If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em. Time Warner Decides To Join Forces With Google

A staggering stat (from Google) indicated that YouTube (owned by Google) has more content uploaded in 60 days then the three major TV networks broadcast in 60 years. It would stand to reason then that the networks would want to become play ball with Google. This is exactly what Time Warner Inc. is doing by playing ball with Google Inc. Not to be outdone, NBC Universal’s CNBC network and the NBA also announced they would build Google TV software applications. The plan for Google world domination continues.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com
The chief executive of Time Warner Inc. said he is turning to Google Inc. as an ally in his push to bring cable shows to users across various devices and that the Web giant’s new service for accessing and searching Internet programming on TVs isn’t the threat many television distributors fear.

Jeffrey Bewkes, who oversees a company that includes the TNT, TBS and HBO cable networks, also predicted a “massive amount of competition” for Netflix Inc. and Hulu LLC as more content owners make their TV shows available through operators on demand and online and as cable and satellite companies improve their experiences.

“When all of the content on the big screen works like the content on the little screen what will happen? The programming will trump the interface,” he said.

[BEWKES] Bloomberg NewsTime Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, shown in May, says content is still key.

Mr. Bewkes’s comments come as media executives are agonizing over which new Internet distributors to supply shows to and whether to pursue new digital distribution methods on their own. Hulu and Netflix had no comment.

Time Warner has been championing a model it calls “TV Everywhere,” allowing cable and satellite subscribers to watch the TV shows they pay for in their traditional TV bundles online, free.

Tuesday Mr. Bewkes said that Time Warner, which already has deals to enable Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. subscribers to watch shows from its cable networks online, has or is close to finalizing similar deals with Dish Network Corp., DirecTV Group Inc., AT&T Inc. and other cable operators as well.

Monday, the company also endorsed the Google TV technology, saying it would optimize some of its television websites, including those of TNT, TBS and CNN, for viewing on TVs carrying Google TV. It said it would do the same with its HBO GO website, through which some viewers who subscribe to the premium cable channel can watch its shows online. The arrangement isn’t a business deal.

Google is working with several partners to build televisions and boxes carrying its software. Logitech International SA plans to discuss its set-top box running Google’s new software Wednesday.

NBC Universal’s CNBC network and the NBA also announced they would build Google TV software applications that provide access to content like financial news and sports scores. Other television networks—including the major broadcast networks—have largely been mum about whether they plan to work with Google’s service.

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

 

How an App Store Could Revolutionize the TV Industry

Did I get out of the television industry just in time or could my two worlds… that of new media and traditional media… be coming together in an Apple App Store? I’ll be watching the development of Apple TV very closely but in the meantime, I’ll stand by one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote “content is King” (or as someone pointed out… Queen… or Emperor… or whatever dictator name you feel appropriate to insert)

Amplify’d from theappleblog.com

This week’s media event could finally confirm (or scuttle) rumors of a new Apple TV device. If it’s based on iOS 4, like many pundits believe, there’s strong potential for this device to feature its own App Store. If such a future came to fruition, Apple could be facing another round of tough negotiations with content producers like it faced when it introduced the world to digital music and movie downloads. If it’s successful though, Apple could revolutionize the television content marketplace.

The Current Marketplace

Consider how you currently watch TV, which could be through broadcast or cable television. If you watch cable, you pay a fee to a provider (like AT&T), which allows you to see certain channels based on your subscription (though that model doesn’t seem to be panning out so well anymore). The providers pay a portion of your subscription fees directly to the networks (an average of about 26 cents per channel). Networks make additional money with the ads they run on their channels as well. If a network doesn’t show ads, you can expect they charge the cable provider substantially more than 26 cents per channel, and the opposite is true if they show an average amount of ads. This is all relative and pretty much a standard business model.

How Apple Could Shake Things Up

With the introduction of the App Store, we’re starting to see how some industries are shaking up the status quo. For instance, consider the magazine industry. Wired now provides its app directly to consumers, and can sell a digital version of its magazine at a comparable price (per issue) to the newsstand price. Yet, without having to incur the printing costs behind it, and even while giving Apple 30 percent of the revenue, Wired pockets a lucrative profit.

Can the same model work for the television industry? Network providers already provide their content through iTunes, and, through negotiation, have arranged to sell content at $2-$3 per episode. Rumors of 99-cent TV shows have been rampant but unfulfilled, simply because of the tough negotiations required to make it happen. Could the solution be to simply bring an App Store directly to the TV? If so, similar to the Hulu or Netflix app, a network provider like HGTV (s sni) could provide its own app for free and charge within for in-app content, like episodes of a show. If it wanted to provide streaming content of the past few episodes for free, it could do so. As long as it approves of the 70/30 profit split with Apple, it would maintain a lot more control over its content and pricing. The networks would be happy, and Apple would be happy. Networks could still run ads as they wished and earn even more profit.

Who would stand to lose from this? At the outset, nobody, but if such a solution were to become mainstream, then cable providers could begin to see a dip in subscriptions. Why would most consumers pay a monthly fee of $30 to over $100 if they only want to watch a certain show or a certain network? Instead of paying for needless extra content that consumers never watch (based on their own viewing habits), they can pay for content that matters to them. The providers are aware of this, which is why many of them also provide internet service (think about Verizon, Comcast (c cmcsa) and AT&T).

Read more at theappleblog.com

Can You MAKE Content Go Viral? The Science Behind Viral Brand Marketing

I always hate it when a client says, “I want to do this, that and the other and then I want to make it go viral”. I shoot back you can’t make anything go viral. You sneeze and you may or may not pass on the virus. It’s the same on the Internet. You post good content and it may or may not catch on. Apparently I am incorrect and there is a science to sharing with platforms that inject data into the “art of going viral”.

Amplify’d from www.adweek.com
In 2001, grad student Jonah Peretti accidentally created an Internet sensation when e-mails of his attempts to put “sweatshop” on sneakers customized with Nike ID went viral. In 2005, he set out to repeat his unexpected success with far different content: Black People Love Us, a parody site of a quintessentially white couple’s efforts to ingratiate themselves with African Americans. It also became a viral hit.

This convinced Peretti that the “mysterious” world of viral content can be broken down and made somewhat predictable. He went on to found content-sharing platform BuzzFeed in 2006 on the proposition that science can be applied to content creation to up the chances of viral appeal.

“There’s an underlying human impulse to share ideas and experiences,” said Peretti. “There are certain types of content that make you want to share them because they’ve put you in a social mind-set.”

Now, BuzzFeed and other Web-sharing platforms such as StumbleUpon, Digg and even Twitter and Facebook are providing advertisers with an entrée into the stream of shared content by posting brand content on their sites. On top of this, they’re then using the viral data to help ignite sharing that can meld paid impressions with earned media.

They’ve done just that for advertisers like National Geographic, AOL and DonQ.

Last week, Pepsi began a test with BuzzFeed to see if it could generate what PepsiCo Beverages head of digital Shiv Singh calls “impressions plus.” Pepsi already had a TV spot that recently proved popular on YouTube, with 100,000 views in under a week. BuzzFeed, knowing that content with lists is more often shared, used the spot in a content package called “Top 10 Most Iconic Pepsi Commercials of All Time.” It has proven only mildly popular, netting 946 viral views on top of 2,700 seeded views.

Singh said Pepsi would evaluate the best way to utilize BuzzFeed based on its performance so far.

There’s a persistent argument that if a brand’s content is good enough — think: the recent Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” social media response campaign — it doesn’t need advertising. But that’s mostly a myth, Peretti contends, pointing out that even Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” benefited from a national TV campaign promoting the site.

 

Can You MAKE Content Go Viral? The Science Behind Viral Brand Marketing

I always hate it when a client say, “I want to do this, that and the other and then I want to make it go viral”. I shoot back you can’t make anything go viral. You sneeze and you may or may not pass on the virus. It’s the same on the Internet. You post good content and it may or may not catch on. Apparently I am incorrect and there is a science to sharing with platforms that inject data into the “art of going viral”.

Amplify’d from www.adweek.com

adweek/photos/stylus/147458-socialnetillustration.jpg

In 2001, grad student Jonah Peretti accidentally created an
Internet sensation when e-mails of his attempts to put “sweatshop”
on sneakers customized with Nike ID went viral. In 2005, he set out
to repeat his unexpected success with far different content: Black
People Love Us, a parody site of a quintessentially white couple’s
efforts to ingratiate themselves with African Americans. It also
became a viral hit.

This convinced Peretti that the “mysterious” world of viral content
can be broken down and made somewhat predictable. He went on to
found content-sharing platform BuzzFeed in 2006 on the proposition
that science can be applied to content creation to up the chances
of viral appeal.

“There’s an underlying human impulse to share ideas and
experiences,” said Peretti. “There are certain types of content
that make you want to share them because they’ve put you in a
social mind-set.”

Now, BuzzFeed and other Web-sharing platforms such as StumbleUpon,
Digg and even Twitter and Facebook are providing advertisers with
an entrée into the stream of shared content by posting brand
content on their sites. On top of this, they’re then using the
viral data to help ignite sharing that can meld paid impressions
with earned media.

They’ve done just that for advertisers like National Geographic,
AOL and DonQ.

Last week, Pepsi began a test with BuzzFeed to see if it could
generate what PepsiCo Beverages head of digital Shiv Singh calls
“impressions plus.” Pepsi already had a TV spot that recently
proved popular on YouTube, with 100,000 views in under a week.
BuzzFeed, knowing that content with lists is more often shared,
used the spot in a content package called
“Top 10 Most Iconic Pepsi Commercials of All Time.”
It
has proven only mildly popular, netting 946 viral views on top of
2,700 seeded views.

Singh said Pepsi would evaluate the best way to utilize BuzzFeed
based on its performance so far.

There’s a persistent argument that if a brand’s content is good
enough — think: the recent Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell
Like” social media response campaign — it doesn’t need
advertising. But that’s mostly a myth, Peretti contends, pointing
out that even Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” benefited from a
national TV campaign promoting the site.Read more at www.adweek.com

 

Do “content mills” degrade the overall quality of content on the web?

We live in a fast paced, digital age. Does that mean we have to give up good quality writing and reporting to stay relevant on the web?

Amplify’d from news.cnet.com

Will we soon see blog posts labeled as though they were certified-organic fruits?

(Credit:CC: Flickr user dlytle)

Walk through the produce aisles of any grocery store and on the outsides of avocados, pomegranates, mushrooms, and just about everything else you’ll see an astonishing number of stickers and labels advertising various kinds of quality standards: certified organic, fair-trade, all-natural, locally grown, and so forth.

Might we soon be seeing the same kinds of labels on digital content?

A small trade group called the Internet Content Syndication Council (ICSC) has been circulating a document since late May–highlighted Tuesday in an AdWeek article–to drum up industry concern about “content mills,” a fast-growing sector of the digital media business that publish loads of cheap, fast stories (mostly created by low-paid freelancers) that rank high in search engine results, and run ads against them. Content mills like Demand Media, AOL’s Seed.com, and Associated Content (freshly acquired by Yahoo) say they’re streamlining the creation of print and multimedia content up to the speed of the Digital Age, filling up holes in the Web with new, often very niche-oriented material. But they have also unleashed a bogeyman of a business model onto the Web, with many journalists and media outlets claiming that their craft is getting cheapened, perhaps fatally so.

“The rise of ‘content mills’ threatens to degrade the overall quality of content, thereby reducing the usefulness of the Internet for users seeking information–and also for the advertisers who want a good environment for their messages,” the ICSC document reads. “To counter this threat, the Internet Content Syndication Council believes the time has come to start an industry discussion about the best way to preserve standards of quality for informational content.”

Read more at news.cnet.com

Content Creators Cashing in on Blip.tv

Do you have video content… then you should be getting paid!

Amplify’d from mashable.com

Blip.tv is sending out more checks to its content providers than ever. The New York-based independent web shows platform has increased the number of payouts to its content creators by 77% between Q1 to Q2 of this year, Co-founder Dina Kaplan told Mashable in a recent interview.

Blip.tv, which aims to be “the next-generation television network,” recently celebrated its five-year anniversary. It has seen substantial growth in the last year, attracting 96 million video views a month and increasing its payouts by 119% from Q4 2009 to Q2 of 2010 with a 50/50 split for content creators.

“We’re seeing more shows making more than $10,000 a quarter more than ever before,” Kaplan said.

So what’s next for Blip? Kaplan said the company is focusing on design and functionality of the site. “We’re ramping up to do a lot more, all around,” Kaplan said. Some of this includes figuring out how to get Blip.tv in front of more eyeballs and making people aware of the site through strategic marketing, she said.

Read more at mashable.com

News Corp. Weighs an Exclusive Alliance With Bing – NYTimes.com

I read the story in the New York Times this morning and I was left with my mouth hanging open.  Not only because I can’t imagine any company would seriously go up against the search engine power of Google but because of the major move that is being proposed impacting content online.  I like to joke that Google is all about world domination.  But, to be honest, it’s hard to play the in digital space and NOT deal with Google let alone their monster of a search engine.  I know Microsoft is a major player but I’d bet good money Bing is NOT going win going up against  Google.  Still, you have to give them credit for attempting to make this move and in their attempts to change the way content is provided on the Internet.  Here’s the story….
Published: November 23, 2009

Microsoft has been in early discussions with the News Corporation, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, about a pact to pay the News Corporation to remove links to its news content from Google’s search engine and display them exclusively on Bing, from Microsoft, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke anonymously because of the confidential negotiations.

If such an arrangement came to pass, it would be a watershed moment in the history of the Internet, and set off a fierce debate over the future of content online.

The Web’s explosive growth has been driven, in part, by the open playing field it represents for consumers and businesses. These discussions could encourage major technology and media companies to start picking sides — essentially applying the cable TV model to the Web.

A deal on a large scale would create a new set of barriers for users to navigate and would represent an enormous risk for the News Corporation or any news site. More than 65 percent of all search inquiries in the United States are made on Google, and removing links from there would lead to a big drop in traffic. Bing handles 9.9 percent of domestic searches, according to comScore.

Steven A. Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft, said in a recent interview that Google handled about six times as many search queries as Microsoft, and that Google’s search ads generated more revenue per click. But Microsoft executives have been clear about their intentions to pursue bold measures to disrupt Google’s dominant position in the search market.

A broad deal with media companies would be Microsoft’s most drastic measure to date — one in which it would be running a high-stakes experiment against Google, which also has deep pockets.

The development, first reported by The Financial Times, comes as many content providers, including newspapers and other news media companies, are re-evaluating their Web strategy. The expected riches from online advertising have not materialized, and many outlets are considering charging for access to their online content, as some sites, including The Wall Street Journal, owned by the News Corporation, already do.

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