Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Charles Leadbeater: We Think

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Turn On, Tune Out, Click Here

Source: Wall Street Journal


October 3, 2008

Kenny Johnson, a senior credit analyst for Fox Home Entertainment in Garden Grove, Calif., recently took a hard look at his finances -- and canceled his c-television subscription.

With a newborn child at home and growing household expenses, he says the decision saved him and his wife more than $40 a month -- or roughly the increase he is paying at the gas pump every month for his commute to work. The couple held onto their DSL Internet connection, which costs about $38 a month.

Now the Johnsons access most of their television shows online, through Web sites like Hulu.com, in addition to the free broadcasts they pick up over the airwaves. They also bought a set-top box that allows them to stream shows via Netflix.com to their television set, including episodes of NBC's "The Office" and Showtime's "Weeds."

"To me, it looks just like my cable," Mr. Johnson says.

In the past two years, nearly every major network show and many of the biggest cable programs have become available on the Internet. The virtual library of content includes everything from "Desperate Housewives" and "CSI" to "The Colbert Report" and "Mad Men."

Some of the biggest hits online are memorable TV moments. More than half of the people who saw recent "Saturday Night Live" skits featuring comedian Tina Fey as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin watched the skits over the Internet, according to a survey of 500 viewers on Monday by Solutions Research Group. Nearly a quarter saw them on YouTube and 21% saw them on NBC.com or Hulu.com.

Many shows can be viewed for free and are accompanied by a dollop of ads that's small when compared with the number of commercial breaks on television. As a result, some cost-conscious consumers are ditching their cable subscriptions altogether.

Brian Stauffer"I'm saving a lot of money," says Tony Leach, a product manager at an online stock brokerage firm in the Bay Area. Mr. Leach canceled his $60-a-month cable subscription two years ago and has watched all of his favorite television shows on the Internet ever since.

The online television bonanza reflects a scramble by networks and cable stations to avoid the fate of the music business, which is still reeling from the effects of piracy and early missed opportunities to capitalize on the Internet.

Complete episodes of about 90% of prime-time network television shows and roughly 20% of cable shows are now available online, according to Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. There are still notable holdouts, such as Fox's "American Idol" and current seasons of HBO series like "Entourage."

But by aggressively seeking to stay ahead of consumer behavior, content providers are also fueling the growth of this new form of distribution, and that could undermine the economics of the television business, critics say. More than 80% of U.S. households pay an average of $70 a month to get programming piped into their homes via cable, satellite or telephone companies. Most of the remaining households watch advertising-supported shows on their TVs -- programs that are broadcast the old-fashioned way, over the public airwaves.

The number of people watching all of their programs online is still small; some estimates put the number at just 1% of the total television audience. In part, that's because watching online isn't as easy as channel surfing on the couch, TV remote in hand. Viewers must either watch shows on their personal computers, or use a device like Apple TV, which allows them to download shows from the Internet onto their television sets.

Within the next several years, however, media and technology executives say that a host of new technologies will make television access to online video a mainstream phenomenon. Vudu Inc. already sells a $299 set-top box with a remote control that allows users to download television shows for $1.99 per episode. Microsoft and Sony both sell television shows that users of their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 videogame consoles can download over the Internet for viewing on television sets.

Netflix subscribers can buy a $99 set-top box from Roku Inc. that streams videos on their television sets. The service is included at no extra charge in the monthly Netflix fee for renting DVDs.

Stephen Webster/ Wonderful MachinePatrick Crowley, a 35-year-old free-lance Web designer who lives and works in a loft in downtown San Diego, has configured his computer and his space so he can shift easily between work and play. His Macintosh has a 24-inch monitor and sits on a desk on one side of his living room, where he spends most of the day working on projects for clients. After hours, the Mac serves as his entertainment center, which explains the couch, lounge chair and coffee table positioned across from it on the other side of room.

Seated at his computer, Mr. Crowley types Hulu.com into the Web browser. (The site is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Fox, whose owner, News Corp., also owns The Wall Street Journal.) That's where he goes to watch many of his favorite shows, such as the Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." He also downloads programs from iTunes, where advertising-free episodes sell for $1.99 each. His library has about 100 episodes, including installments of Showtime's "Weeds " and NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." He's even installed an application onto his iPhone that turns the device into a remote control for his iTunes video downloads, so he can change clips without getting up from his couch.

It takes about 10 minutes to download a half-hour TV show on iTunes, though Mr. Crowley says he can usually start watching it a few seconds after the download begins. Shows on Hulu and the television networks' own Web sites are "streamed," a method that allows videos to begin playing instantly but leaves no permanent copy on users' computers.

Since canceling his cable television service from Cox a year and a half ago, while maintaining his high-speed Internet connection through the company, his monthly service bill has gone to about $60 a month from $160. "It's a much more efficient way of watching TV," says Mr. Crowley. He figures he spends about $8 a month at the iTunes video store, and watches about as much television as he did before he cut the cable cord.

A survey of NBC.com users in the second quarter of 2008 showed that 83% of respondents watched a show on the network's Web site because they missed its original airing. "We see no evidence of a substantial number of people choosing to watch online instead of on television," says Alan Wurtzel, president of research for NBC Universal.

Most television shows are available online only after a delay from their original air date, anywhere from a day to months later. Televisions networks take down many older episodes after a while, so users don't have a permanent library of some shows.

The online selection of live sports games is spotty as well. This season, for example, the National Football League will make Sunday night games available live on the Net, but those amount to only about 7% of all regular-season NFL match-ups. Cable and broadcast news shows typically aren't streamed live on the Internet, unless there's a major breaking news event like Hurricane Katrina.

Still, research firm Nielsen Online estimates that in June, 3.2 million Internet users watched more than 106 million video streams on Hulu.com, a site that wasn't available to the public until March. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC.com delivered nearly 27 million streams to 2.9 million viewers that same month, according to Nielsen. The data include everything from behind-the-scenes clips and segments of shows to complete episodes.

Other research indicates that online video-watching is cannibalizing television audiences. According to a spring survey by Integrated Media Measurement Inc., a research firm that tracks media consumption, more than 20% of viewers in the firm's 3,200-person panel watched some prime-time network television online, up from roughly 6% in the fall. Half of those online viewers said they were no longer watching those shows on television.

"What this study is showing is that the long-vaunted convergence of the TV and the computer is happening faster than anybody thought it was happening," says Tom Zito, Integrated Media's company's CEO.

Craig Moffett, a cable-industry analyst at Sanford Bernstein, says he believes television and cable companies are recklessly pursuing Web viewers to avoid seeming like "Luddites," without considering the long-term consequences if too many customers pull the plug on their service in favor of free Web video.

A typical half-hour television show contains about eight minutes of advertising, while that same show online contains about two minutes of ads, or about a quarter of the "ad load," Mr. Moffett says.

Cable channels, meanwhile, may be taking an especially big risk because they typically get half or more of their revenue from subscriber fees shared by cable and satellite operators -- a business that could be jeopardized if people start canceling their pay-TV subscriptions. (Broadcasters like ABC, Fox, NBC and CBS don't get a cut of subscriber fees from cable carriers, since the networks' channels are also available free.)

Tensions are beginning to heat up between cable operators and cable channels over free Web video. Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable Inc., has been one of the most outspoken people on the topic, telling cable program executives to not expect to continue sharing subscription revenue if they keep giving their top shows away for free online. When asked how programmers have been responding to such comments, Mr. Britt says, "Not well."

Executives at several cable channels were reluctant to discuss the topic, at the risk of further straining discussions about Internet television with their cable-operator partners. "We can't just cut the cable companies out," says one of those executives.

Of course, Web watchers will still need fast Internet connections to get all that video, a potential boon for the broadband Internet businesses at cable and telecommunications companies.

Consumers' sympathy for the cable operators is in short supply after years of rate increases. Between 1995 and this year, cable and satellite prices have increased by 79%, almost double the level of inflation during that period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total U.S. cable-industry revenue from television subscriptions hit roughly $53 billion in 2007, plus an additional $23 billion when Internet access and telephone fees are included, according to Bernstein Research.

And while cable operators say that the industry has provided far more value over the years, with everything from more channels to video-on-demand, most consumers actually use only a small portion of the cable-television offerings they pay for. Last year, the average home received 118.6 cable channels but only tuned into about 16 of them, or 13% of the total available to them, according to the Nielsen Co.

Jeff Pulver, founder of PrimetimeRewind.tv Inc., which makes it easier to locate Web television shows, says he believes the Facebook and Google generation won't look askance at getting television shows from the Internet.

Still, adds Mr. Pulver, who also co-founded the Internet phone company Vonage, "Some people will [continue] to subscribe to cable, the way their grandparents did."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Streams of Thought: H.264 Wins—Now What?

With Microsoft's announcement that it's adding H.264 playback to Silverlight, some would argue that H.264 has emerged triumphant in the codec wars. So what does that mean for the future of online video?

by Tim Siglin
September 9, 2008

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This column originally appeared in the European edition of Streaming Media magazine. Click here for subscription information.

H.264 set the stage for dominance a few years ago for a common live, on-demand, and broadcast format. Compared to MPEG-2 (the format of traditional digital television and DVDs), H.264 offers two to three times greater compression, making it much more attractive for network delivery as well as for HD video.

The need was simple: a common decoding format that could be used across the streaming, videoconferencing, and IPTV segments. H.264 enables content created for one type of device to be easily delivered or adapted to another, at least in theory. The European-embraced ideal that a standardised open format drives competition and reduces the cost of devices, thereby expanding the addressable market, also means that devices as dissimilar as home computers (Windows, Macintosh, and Linux), the leading mobile devices (iPods and iPhones from Apple or handsets from Nokia and Sony Ericsson), and DVRs and IP set-top boxes all use H.264 at their core.

Also, with a common format consumers and businesses are encouraged to create and share more media, as they know that broad distribution is possible. Because of this, consumers, media companies, and vendors alike all benefit from increased growth, innovation, and choice.

True, there are still other formats out there: Microsoft has VC-1 and On2 Technologies has VP6. But even these two powerhouses are embracing H.264: Microsoft’s IIS 7 server component supports H.264, and it has just announced it will demonstrate H.264 in Silverlight later this week at the International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) 2008 in Amsterdam. It will be available in 2009. For its part, On2 owns Hantro, a European company that uses H.264 for embedded video delivery. There are more announcements to come from both of these players, one suspects, as the H.264 juggernaut continues to roll forward.

Now what? Will the streaming, broadcast, videoconferencing, and on-demand video worlds all suddenly stop innovating, having been conquered by H.264, an analogue of Alexander? Not exactly. We are entering another round of Pax Romana (to mix metaphors), yet big challenges lie on two fronts. First, the player. This is a large issue, as the format wars have given way to a player war. Since H.264 can be encoded in any way a developer sees fit but must meet a particular decode standard to qualify as H.264 video, the decoders in players are very important.

Consider, for instance, Sanyo’s H.264 camera. The Xacti HD1000 camcorder is an H.264 1080i camera that captures full 1920x1080 (1080i) at 60 frames per second using a newer CMOS sensor. It captures on an SD or SD High Capacity (SDHC) chip and looks rather good. In tests with this camera right after its release, the files could be dropped into QuickTime Player for immediate playback, as they were .mp4 files.

Unfortunately for Sanyo and its customers, Apple “fixed” something in QuickTime that suddenly made all video clips shot on the Xacti HD 1000 unreadable in QuickTime Player, iTunes, and almost every other third-party application that relied on the underlying QuickTime engine. This is just one example of what’s happened several times across both the Macintosh and Windows platforms as H.264 encodes are written not to spec but to fit a particular player.

That issue, writing H.264 to spec, is the second—and bigger—challenge we now face.

Often, as was the case with AVCHD, the format isn’t quite up to H.264 spec, so it’s couched in terms like “based on H.264” or other marketing speak. AVCHD is a format that was jointly created by JVC and Sony in an attempt to get a tapeless format that is approximately 25% better than HDV in terms of recording bitrate. Unfortunately, AVCHD isn’t H.264 and, as such, requires conversion into another format for video editing. The conversion that Apple does creates image quality loss, and Adobe has yet, as of the time of this writing, to come out with a native AVCHD solution (the third-party solutions they recommend are only single-platform fixes).

Enterprising companies such as Blackmagic Design have figured out that they can capture directly off the HDMI output from an AVCHD camera and encode it to another format, but that in itself creates issues for editing (no timecode via HDMI) or streaming (an uncompressed stream that needs to be compressed).

So today we’re finally at a point where the pieces of the H.264 ecosystem have come together to form a common platform of acquisition and delivery. That deserves a celebration, but it’s also a reminder to all the players in the various segments to make sure their interoperability and adherence to the H.264 spec is of paramount importance.

Otherwise the frustration of “almost being there” will create as many problems as we had during the format wars.

The power of the audience

If you've taken a look at this blog you'll notice that the role of the audience (consumer) is underlined many times. Be it Peter Hirshberg, or Marshall McLuhan, Charles Leadbeater or Yokai Benkler- even John Cleese's blog and Seth Godin's comments on white bread, the audience/ consumer is recognized as being an integral part of the processes surrounding mass media.

What's my point? I guess I'm saying that New Media is a mass medium like TV or anything else and that understanding how the end user functions and feels is crucial in the creation of the communication loop.

It's not the Web it's us, it's not TV, it's us, it's not the film fest, it's us. How is this important? In designing any campaign of any sort- or even understanding and implementing copyright laws for the Internet for that matter- using the tools available to us today, you must engage an audience of consumers and there are many ways to do that.

Engaging an audience requires that we understand some of underlying dynamics of the various sub-cultures making up the audience. The speakers posted in this blog certainly address this very well. The most important thing to walk away with though is providing the audience with something to do, as Marshall McLuhan would have said. The reason the Internet is far more interesting to most people than Television is that it has been created to allow the users to decide for themselves where to go and what to see. It is the ultimate source of instant gratification to date. It provides the audience with New Improved TV!!!

Having said that, understanding what that means is crucial. Marshall McLuhan describing the advent of new mediums would say that the older medium is the content of the new medium. What he meant was in their beginnings Film’s content was the narrative- the novel, TVs content was the Film, to extend that idea the Internet’s content is TV. But we know, that’s only scratching the surface.

What McLuhan was talking about is the creator’s of these mediums initially impose a certain way of using a medium and that lasts until the audience takes control by creating there own content for these media. Sounds like what I call Technological Determinism and the power of the audience. Marginal enthusiasts take a medium and create content that suits there needs and desires- we call this cultural appropriation. Then, thought leaders and aesthetic leaders pull this re-appropriation into the center where it becomes a major new trend and best of all, copyright and legal ownership is imposed.

Back to the Internet: Web 2.0 is only the beginning, don’t believe the hype, don’t invest in any big ideas just yet, watch the those sub-cultures on the margins of the larger audience (i.e. consumer pool), and always try to engage your target audience by providing them a sense of empowerment. People need to connect- let’s help them do that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Le multiplateforme pour gérer tout le cycle de vie d’une production audiovisuelle: Entrevue avec Philippe Pelletier

Charles Prémont,
vol. 14 no 37 - 8 septembre 2008

Si les majors américains ont fait le passage vers la déclinaison sur plusieurs plateformes de leurs productions, il y a encore un bon bout de chemin à faire au Québec. Philippe Pelletier, Chef de service Nouveaux Médias chez Technicolor, met beaucoup d’énergie pour promouvoir l’idée que l’avenir n’est plus dans le DVD, mais bien dans le format numérique. « Il est temps de se demander comment le consommateur veut recevoir son produit. Autrement dit, il faut se mettre à gérer tout le cycle de vie d’un produit », dit-il. Une façon de penser les affaires qui, selon lui, pourrait être une réponse au P2P.

«Si on fait un modèle qui anticipe les capacités de chaque plateforme et qui mise sur ce que veut le consommateur tant en qualité de service et de prix, il n’y a pas de raison pour que les
gens continuent à aller sur des sites pour télécharger des torrents», dit Philippe Pelletier. Le problème réside selon lui dans le fait que l’offre qui se trouve présentement sur le Web n’arrive pas à la cheville de celle des sites de pirates. «Oui, aller télécharger des torrents, c’est long, mais tout est là. Si j’ai une boutique en ligne qui me permet d’acheter n’importe quel film pour trois dollars et m’offre du contenu exclusif en plus, pourquoi irais-je risquer d’attraper un virus sur un site de P2P», demande-t-il. Pour y arriver, il faut changer quelque peu la façon de penser son projet. «On peut vouloir faire un film, ce qui est très correct, mais on peut aussi vouloir faire un projet. Chaque plateforme a ses particularités et il faut savoir s’adapter à chacune d’elle si on veut en tirer le maximum. Aussi, l’ordre dans lequel on pense notre projet n’est pas nécessairement le même. On peut commencer par le film pour dériver vers le Web et le mobile, mais on peut aussi commencer par le mobile pour se rendre sur le Web et, éventuellement, à la télévision», explique Philippe Pelletier. Un bon exemple, selon lui, est Le Cas Roberge qui a profité de ses capsules Web pour promouvoir le film.

L’intérêt d’une déclinaison sur plusieurs plateformes réside dans la promotion de la marque. «Il faut faire ce que j’appelle du “brand streaming ”, c’est-à-dire qu’il faut reprendre la marque le plus souvent possible sur le plus de plateformes possible. Le but, c’est que l’idée circule pour diriger les gens vers les plateformes qui sont payantes. Quand on pense à une mise en marché de cette façon, il ne faut pas s’imaginer que toutes les plateformes seront rentables, mais bien que toutes les plateformes qu’on utilise contribueront à mousser les ventes de celles qui le sont», explique Philippe Pelletier.

Selon lui, le Québec est un microcosme idéal pour ce genre de modèle de mise en marché. «Les plateformes comme le Web ou le mobile se prêtent très bien aux productions à très petit budget. Il faut aussi penser que les plateformes sont accessibles à la grande majorité des gens. Faire que son film soit disponible sur le Web en format HD peut toucher plus de gens que d’en faire un disque Blu-Ray», dit-il. Les coûts pour décliner son produit sur plusieurs plateformes sont loin d’être prohibitifs à son avis.

Des obstacles technologiques et industriels importants restent cependant à franchir avant qu’un modèle d’affaires basé sur les multiples plateformes remplace celui qui est en place présentement. «L’important, c’est d’avoir une bonne boutique en ligne, une qui soit capable de soutenir un grand achalandage. Si on y offre des prix alléchants et des avantages, les gens vont se diriger vers le Web pour consommer leurs produits culturels. Le magasin iTunes est déjà un des plus grands magasins de produits culturels au monde. Ils s’attaquent directement au marché du DVD et je ne serais pas surpris qu’ils réussissent à le dépasser », dit Philippe Pelletier.

Selon Philippe Pelletier, la déclinaison sur plusieurs plateformes offre beaucoup de potentiel, tant dans les formats grands publics que dans les productions spécialisées. «Il faut arrêter de penser qu’il n’y a qu’une plateforme légitime pour son produit. Le Web et le mobile sont des modes de consommation faciles. Les gens de l’industrie se plaignent de la perte de revenu engendrée par l’Internet, mais ce n’est pas dire toute l’histoire. Quand des milliers d’admirateurs bloguent et mettent des extraits de notre produit sur YouTube, ce n’est certainement pas que négatif. Les humains veulent faire partie de quelque chose, ils veulent être au courant et vivre des trucs ensemble: on ne peut pas aller contre ça», explique-t-il.

Peter Hirshberg: The Web and TV, a sibling rivalry!!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nothing to do with New Media: John Cleese on his career in advertising



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Aha I wish I had said it this way...

Technological Determinism debunked: Professional Amateurs Stimulating Innovation!!!

It's not the INTERNET- it's us after all...


Social Participation

Again Technological Determinism got it wrong...

Technological Determinism and New Media

In '93, I completed the requirements for my MA at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) in Communication Studies and wrote a thesis on Aesthetic Innovation. It was a little controversial as I freely referred to any school of thought I wanted to in order to prove my point. The main theme of my argument is that no one can really predict anything in regards to culture and innovation. Sure we can identify groups and dynamics but saying this or that is the next big thing is almost impossible.

As for dynamics, cultural appropriation of a technology or aesthetic movement is difficult at best to define but many sociologists have identified processes that have effectively been used by marketers for some time now.

I think one of the guys who best sums up this view is Charles Leadbeater- http://www.charlesleadbeater.net/- however research into this has been going on for at least 40 years.

So basically the idea is this: contrary to what a lot of Web Gurus and Companies might like to believe and certainly evangelize, it's not the technology that determines the socially accepted consensus on it's use...

Rather, it's social groups consciously or unconsciously working together in creating a fashion/trend/fad/cultural norm.

No one can pinpoint how a certain trend will begin, no company can say we will design this and this is how it will be used. Obviously, I'm talking about technology that's meant to be used by the "general public"- I'm not talking specifically about electron microscopes although you never know...

Who would have predicted Mountain Bikes (large clunky bikes), MP3 over CDs, Rap Music, Punk Music, EMO (I mean really?), social networking, social participation (Wikipedia is something humanity as a whole should be proud of...) P2P, SMS - Really I have a cell phone but feel compelled to type a message why???

No major corporation as we know it would have said - guys we're going to build a bike much heavier than anything you've ever seen- not very attractive- and it's going to be for riding through the woods at top speed...

Skateboards another great example... Kite boarding...

A small group of users define a concept work together to create something and eventually this trickles into society as a larger whole and can become a social norm.

This how most of all technology has been developped including flight! The Wright Bros we can recall we're working out of they're bike store as "amateurs"...

So as I sit here and wish that we'll all be streaming TV and Film in future from the web, it's anybody's bet...

Customer adoption processes work the same way, the truth is we can define social groups as consumers groups, all social groups consume hence to be a punk- buy the T-shirt, buy the ticket to the show.

Clever marketers have always looked to these small groups of "consumers" who share aesthetic affinities to provide the mass with innovation...

Companies are always very quickly prepared to exploit the next big thing as long as there's all ready a market for it... AND THEN claim exclusive ownership of this NEW intellectual propriety!!!!!!!!



Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brandstreaming: What Is It & Who's Doing It?

Written by Richard MacManus / July 28, 2008 2:43 AM / 30 Comments

If there's a hot new social media trend happening, you can bet that companies are trying to find a way to use it too. It happened of course with blogging, it happened with Twitter, and it is now happening with FriendFeed and other lifestreaming apps.

Indeed RSS vendor Pheedo has coined a neat term for this: brandstreaming [Update: Brian Solis notes in the comments that Pheedo probably didn't coin it]. Pheedo defines a brandstream as "a consistent flow of content created by a brand".

To back up its case for brands using lifestreaming tools, Pheedo points to a recent Universal McCann report stating that content consumption outside of websites has increased 153% in the last 9 months. Overall, 53% of online users are consuming content outside of a publisher's site - through the use of widgets, RSS readers, social networks and mobile devices.

Those are incredible stats, which put into stark focus the need for companies to engage with users outside of their own website. As our own Alex Iskold wrote last week, companies should do this not just by using APIs, but making use of all the major consumer web platforms.
Can Companies Really Use Lifestreaming?

Alex didn't mention FriendFeed in his post, perhaps because FriendFeed and other lifestreaming apps are relatively new to the Internet scene. But Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang, who follows how companies use social media more than most, has been looking into how brands will use FriendFeed. He discusses the concept of the "Social Media Press Release" (SMPR), which he defines as more than just a company announcement - it also "provides links and assets to social media: blogs, images, videos, tags, etc." He cites Ford's Social Media Press Release room called "Digital Snippets" as one example.

But let's step back a moment and look at brandstreaming from the user's point of view. It's fairly obvious why companies want to get their brand out into social media sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and then wrap it up into feeds. It's to get their brand out beyond their website, to engage users and entice them into discussions about their products. But what's the motivation for users to subscribe to those 'brandstreams'?

Realistically, brandstreaming is probably going to work best for consumer brands that have a high lifestyle appeal. Ford would fit into that category, although it's not a beloved consumer brand like say Apple or Sony. I did a search around FriendFeed tonight to see if I could find an official presence from Apple, Sony, Coca-Cola and a few other popular brands. But so far at least, those popular consumer brands aren't doing much brandstreaming.
Pandora Experimenting

One early adopter company though is the online music service Pandora. Lucia Willow, the Pandora Community Manager, has nabbed a presence for Pandora on many of the trendy social media places. She left this list in the comments to Jeremiah Owyang's post mentioned above:

http://twitter.com/pandora_radio (which Lucia says has been "a *fantastic* resource for us")





Pandora's FriendFeed site has about 70 people subscribed to it so far. Lucia admitted that Pandora is just testing it, and by the looks of the recent activity it's being used in much the same way that Pandora is successfully using Twitter - to communicate with its user base and encourage them to use Pandora.

Cisco's Advertising BrandStream

Another example of brandstreaming is Cisco. In the post linked above, Pheedo sings the virtues of brandstreaming as a way for companies to get their brands in front of consumers, but also as a new kind of advertising tool.

Pheedo ran an ad campaign for Cisco which, in their words, was "designed as an integrated Social Media ad network campaign with the goals of driving 1) traffic, 2) newsletter sign-ups, and 3) RSS subscriptions." The Cisco brandstream included video, press releases, customer stories and product updates. [disclosure: Pheedo has run some RSS ads for RWW, via FM Publishing. It's possible that the Cisco campaign was one of them, but I am not sure]


Clearly it's early days for this so-called brandstreaming. Whether people will want to subscribe to brands in lifestreaming apps like FriendFeed is a question still to be answered. I can see the attraction for consumer brands with a cult following, like Apple. Other brands, including the likes of Ford and Cisco, will probably struggle to interest consumers in highly social apps like FriendFeed.

Let us know in the comments any examples you've come across of companies 'brandstreaming'. Do you think it will work for most companies, or is it yet another social media trend that you'd prefer companies to keep their fingers out of?

PC-TV Connectivity Is a Moving Target

Written by Aditya Kishore

Monday, July 28. 2008 at 10:30 AM EDT Post a comment
Internet video must get to the TV -- it's been predicted as the key requirement for the successful adoption of Internet video almost from the day video began to be distributed online.
The vast majority of consumers view video on the TV, and for Internet video to target traditional pay and broadcast TV revenue, it must be able to get there.
One could argue that Internet video is growing dramatically even without the TV. YouTube Inc. streams and page views are growing steadily and there has been an explosion of video distribution sites.
In addition, 20-inch PC monitors are common now, and that used to be a TV-sized screen for those of us who grew up before 60-inch plasmas took over living rooms. So the viewing experience isn't being compromised by screen size, and what is a TV but a monitor?
However, revenues have proven hard to find, with Google finding it difficult to monetize YouTube's massive traffic. In order to drive significant advertising or pay revenue, online video must either change consumer behavior dramatically or cater to it.
The former is certainly possible, but risky, difficult, and slow. Consumers like the lean-back TV viewing experience. Plus, TV viewing is still largely a communal/social experience, though it is becoming less so. For now, however, getting to the TV is an important requirement to drive mass market revenues, if not mass market adoption.
A couple of announcements last week demonstrated progress in that direction, but also presented new, emerging challenges for PC-TV connectivity. The first came from a newly formed CE manufacturers consortium consisting of Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Sharp Electronics Corp. , and Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), which was created to develop an industry standard called WHDI, for Wireless Home Digital Interface. The standard will be based on technology from Israel-based Amimon Ltd.
Using this technology, any TV in the home will be able to access any video source in the home, including set-top boxes, gaming consoles, and DVD players, from anywhere in the home. TVs with Amimon's chips are expected to cost $100 more than equivalent, non-wireless TVs, and should reach the market next year. While the company is more focused on linking set tops to TVs without cables, this technology could have its greatest impact on PC-TV connectivity -- and as a result, on Internet video.
WHDI is not by any means the first technology to address this need. In fact, it's not even the first wireless approach. There are a number of others using various flavors of WiFi and ultra-wideband wireless in the home. However, none of them have as yet been sufficiently easy to set up, inexpensive, while offering a high-quality viewing experience. Still, this is a step to make high-definition video deliverable to the TV in a widely available, relatively inexpensive manner.
Unfortunately, video technology refuses to stand still in the meantime. Just as HD raised the bar for video quality and created a whole new set of bandwidth requirements, there appears to be another step up in video experiences coming down the pipe.
There are predictions that 3D video will become a mass market phenomenon within the next few years. Movie theaters, looking for a way to differentiate their experience from home theaters, have been exploring 3D movies actively for the last few years, and initial 3D releases have performed well. The 3-D Home Display Formats Task Force of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) is already developing standards for 3D video transmission across video distribution channels like cable, broadcast, DVDs, and the Internet. Some TV manufacturers have 3D TVs in the market today, and it might be only a matter of time before 3D becomes the next HD.
If it is successful on the TV, online video providers will also have to offer 3D video eventually. It's not clear what kind of bandwidth challenges and other quality of service (QOS) requirements will result from 3D video transmission, but it's likely that it will reset the bar for service providers, online video distributors, and home networking technologies all over again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pay-per-click Contextual Advertising- truly interesting to Ad Agencies?

I've seen a lot recently about the power of pay-per-click contextual advertising- that is paying a search engine like Google to put your site at the top of the stack for web queries.

While the truth is, I use this all the time when searching for stuff, it is however a very dangerous double edged sword.

The thing I really think most web evangelists miss today is that sure "Internet Telephone Books"- that's what google really is let's face it- work but we're losing out on 150 years of marketing expertise here...

THE BRAND, where is the brand? what is the brand?

How can you take anyone seriously today who rants and raves about Web 2.0 and not once stops to think about how an Ad Agency functions. Why are millions of dollars thrown at these agencies??? What is and Ad Agency providing that is very powerful?

Take a good listen to the Age of Persuasion on CBC and you'll get an interesting history of the marketing world...

Just take a look at your favorite records. Pop music is one of the best examples of brand marketing available to us. Were the Beatles or the Stones, U2 or REM, Public Enemy or Rage Against the Machine just a few songs? Pop is all about symbolism and the significance of this symbolism. This really is what branding is. Associating an idea with an image or sound that on it's own is insignificant. The object becomes a representation- a physical manifestation of an idea - a concept.

If I show you a flag with red and white stripes a blue square and white stars what pops into your mind? Ah it's a windy day??? No you think of the USA and all that it stands for, perhaps a recent headline- George Bush,Barack Obama, American foreign policy. Really that's a lot of ideas being projected by a piece of material on a flag pole.

Take a look at Nike, what is Nike, shoes? clothes? No Nike is the swoosh, it's the idea of getting up and going for a run, it's about being better than we are now...

The emotional link that is created between these ideas surrounding the simple product and the consumer is what drives purchase decisions and brand FIDELITY!!!
You can never never never never forget that-NEVER!!

This is branding, now how can pay-per click contextual advertising beat that?

It can't and sure it's great to help support an impulse buy, but if Google really wants to be clever about this in some way - advertisers will be able maintain their brand visibility in this environment.

Then of course, we get to noise, when is information to much information- when it's unsolicited. So I'd have to say Google has to come up with something soon if they are to maintain their edge. They'll have to figure out how branding and search engines can work together.

Amazon.com to stream entertainment to the living room

Amazon.com rolled out a new online store last week that lets a select group of users stream movies and television programs directly to their TVs, The New York Times reported July 17.
Amazon Video on Demand will eliminate the need for users to wait for downloads to complete before they begin watching, something that was not possible with the company’s initial foray into Web sales and distribution of entertainment.
According to the article, with the exception of Disney and ABC, which have a close distribution relationship with Apple, most studios and networks are onboard to distribute their content via Amazon Video on Demand.
Amazon has reached a deal with Sony to build access to the on-demand Internet video service into its Bravia line of HDTVs, the paper said. However, initially a stand-alone $300 Internet box from Sony that connects to existing Bravia HDTVs will be required, it reported. Amazon has expressed interest in striking similar deals with other HDTV makers.
The Amazon announcement follows an announcement in May that Netflix is making its online library available for streaming to television sets connected to the Netflix Player by Roku.
Amazon Video on Demand will be come available to a broader audience later in the summer, the paper reported.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Daily Video Entertainment in 2013 Will Be Less Than 50% Traditional TV

by Jack Loechner, Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008 8:15 AM ET

Daily Video Entertainment in 2013 Will Be Less Than 50% Traditional TV
According to the Multiplatform Video Report released by Solutions Research Group, an average American consumer aged 12 and older with Internet access now spends 6.1 hour daily with video-based entertainment, up from 4.6 in 1996. Of this 6.1 hours, 63.9% (nearly 4 hours per day) currently comes from traditional Television, including live, DVR and video-on-demand viewing. Video games, web and PC video, DVDs and video on mobile devices account for the balance.

TV accounted for a lower share of video-based entertainment among younger Americans, coming in at 42.4% among those 12-24 (vs. 63.9% total population average).

There was also a significant difference between men and women, with TV accounting for 70.4% of women's daily video-based entertainment diet, versus 57.7% for men. PC or online video use was similar, accounting for 10.1% of daily video time for men and 10.5% for women.

PC and web video achieved its highest share mid-day during the week (12.3% share) and it was lowest after 6 pm weekdays and weekends. Prime time for video gaming was Saturday mornings while mobile video peaked during weekday mornings.

Per capita time spent with PC, web and mobile video will increase from just under 1 hour per day currently to nearly 2.9 hours by early 2013, based on factors that include greater access to and use of web video, significantly increased penetration for laptops, mobile video devices and Internet-enabled devices such as the iPhone.

Total hours with video-based entertainment on all platforms is forecasted to expand nearly 35% to about 8 hours on average, as consumers use more screens in more places and video becomes ubiquitous on every screen at home and work and on-the-go. For context, this is close to the time spent sleeping nightly by an average American.

The report predicts that time spent with traditional TV will remain close to 4 hours per day, based on factors such as increasing DVR penetration, availability of more on-demand content, more live and event programming and changing demographics. The ratio of "linear" to "time-shifted" programming will continue to change in favor of time-shifting, however.

Finally, while daily time with TV will remain close to 4 hours, traditional TV's share of the total video entertainment pie is projected to shrink from 63.9% today to 47.1% by 2013, given the overall increase consumers' in total video-based entertainment consumption.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Netflix Goes to the Gamers With XBox 360 Deal

Netflix signs distribution deal with Microsoft
Written by Ryan Lawler

Monday, July 14. 2008 at 05:45 PM EDT 3 comments

With the DVD rental business expected to decline, Netflix Inc. is finding new ways to remain relevant as a digital distribution channel. By announcing a partnership with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), the company now has a whole new vehicle for delivering video to customer living rooms.
The companies announced today that they had entered a digital distribution agreement whereby Netflix subscribers will be able to stream movies and TV shows from Netflix on the Xbox 360 gaming console.
The deal expands on Netflix's digital streaming video service and will open up a whole new path into customer living rooms.
In May, the video rental site announced it would stream videos over a digital set-top box produced by Roku, which could be purchased for $99. But while Roku users will have to buy a new set-top box, with the Microsoft partnership, Netflix will have an installed base to stream movies.
In addition to the Netflix streaming news, Microsoft said it would be adding downloadable content from NBC Universal to its Xbox Live marketplace. With the deal, NBC joins ABC Inc. and Walt Disney Co. , which already offer content through the online marketplace.

Television industry faces dark times

Television industry faces dark times

Jul 14, 2008 9:11 AM

Lehman Brothers cut the stock ratings of Walt Disney, Time Warner, CBS, News Corp. and Viacom last week over fear that “structural changes appear destined to impact the core revenue and profits of the entertainment business.”

Lehman Brothers thinks the television and film industry could suffer the same fate as the music business. “To be clear, our fear is that the damage that digital distribution inflicted on the music industry will replicate itself in the movie industry, and our fears are too great to justify keeping neutral or positive ratings on the creators and distributors of movie and TV content,” wrote Anthony DiClemente, an entertainment industry analyst, in a research note.

Lehman lowered its overall view of the industry to “negative” from “neutral.” Shares of all five companies were down in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

“In reality, while there are many obvious differences between music/audio and movie/video media forms, the core properties of video distribution and consumption are not different enough from music content to continue to justify why movie/TV content will be spared fragmentation,” DiClemente wrote.

He argued that as consumers shift to new types of media — movie downloads or TV video recorders that make it possible to skip commercials — the big entertainment companies will struggle to replace traditional sources of revenue.

“We believe fragmentation of media as a result of technological change is highly likely to disrupt the economics of traditional forms of movie and TV distribution,” he said. “Content may no longer be king in the entertainment business.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This never happened...

Very very funny- I couldn't help myself... It's funny 'cause it's true...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Seth Godin on sliced bread

Seth Godin points out in this awesome presentation that marketing to the masses today is not only risky- but really pointless.

He tends toward pushing a kind of evangelistic marketing that gets early adopters to speak out about new products and make them cool.

His ideas are rooted- sure in marketing and advertising- but in social science as well- more specifically British Social Studies from the early eighties.

What researchers discovered mostly by studying pop music is that music, culture and technology are adopted by marginalized groups who then re-appropriate the content and create they're own unique blend or uses.

This marginalized new content is then sucked into the main stream as culturally innovative.

There are so many examples: Rap and Hip Hop to Punk- Internet- finally new media platforms.

Should marketers try to get the main stream to download feature films????????

Complete waste of time - the idea is to convince early adopters that this technology speaks directly to them and ONLY them- then you have something.

The early adopters are the trend setters - the brand makers!!!!!!!!!!!!! Forget your high paid agency....

I really enjoy Seth Godin, please check out his books.

Finally, notice the super clean powerpoint and how effective it was???!!!???

To learn how to make powerpoints like that please check out one of my favorites: http://www.presentationzen.com

While you're at it... check out my favorite radio/podcast:
http://www.cbc.ca/ageofpersuasion with Terry O'Reilly


Friday, July 11, 2008

Internet TV passes cable in France

Welcome to my NüMediaNow blog. This space will be filled with rants, comments, observations, and other stuff regarding creation, distribution, and commercialization of new media products and on marketing in this "new environment".

My point of view will differ from many so called media gurus in that I actually have 15 years experience working in post-production for so-called old media. As well, I have a M.A. in Communications with a specialization in semiotics.

Yeah so what I hear your you say, well, often in development meetings the new VP of Interactive Media has less than zero experience with traditional media creation or distribution and is given the responsability to handle a new form of media (simply a vessel of content) and is called to commercialize this product as new within new consumer habits.

Well the truth is people have a few basic needs and you would probably be suprised that most new media or web 2.0 offerings simply fill the same void that consumers filled in different ways....

OH PLEASE.... Time shifting! Video on Demand? This has been around ever since you could slap in your VHS into your deck and watch the game after your in-laws have left.

I remember one meeting with a VP where he was suprised to find that he had after all been consuming media within so-called "new media paradigms": he rented the series of 24 and watched it at home at his convenience....

So I guess you can say this blog will be a reality check and influential in your business or daily decisions regarding new media...



Internet TV passes cable in France

ADSL viewers reach 8.5 million


MADRIDBroadband Internet TV has overtaken cable TV in France, according to audience measurement company Mediametrie.

In its latest MediaCabSat Gallic pay TV report, which includes IPTV data for the first time, Mediametrie estimates French ADSL TV viewers at 8.5 million for June 15.

Cable TV viewership dropped from 6.1 million Feb. 17 to 6 million June 15.

Stats do not include sub-cable feeds with fewer than 10-12 channels.

Results underscore France’s status as Europe’s most vibrant Internet TV market, energized by deep-pocketed aggressive IPTV operators such as France Telecom-Orange, Free and SFR-Neuf Cegetel.

"ADSL TV is free for broadband subscribers, and it will continue to grow. Cable will most probably stagnate," said Francois Godard, an analyst at London-based Enders Analysis.

Mediametrie’s report also highlights the continued erosion of broadcasters market share, even in a multi-channel universe. TF1 took a 23.4% share Jan. 1-June 15, down from 25.3% first half 2007. France 2 dropped from 13.5% to 13.3%, France 3 from 9.6% to 9.1%. Only M6 managed to claw back share, rising from 8.5% to 8.8%.

“The decrease of the share of historical broadcasters is not only a result of the launch of cable, satellite and Internet TV. It’s happening within the multi-channel universe as well,” Godard said.

Gaul’s share-challenged broadcasters can take some small comfort from two trends.

Fragmentation is beginning to hurt some of the original fragmenters: Weekly viewership at a clutch of star pay TV channels is leveling off or even declining as more pay TV rivals with a similar focus launch.

Eurosport has held out another four months as France’s premier niche pay TV channel, but weekly viewers stood at 6.7 million, down on February’s 6.8 million and way down on 7.5 million a year ago.

And, in another recent report, “TV in the World: Continuity and Rupture,” Mediametrie claims that France is the major Euro territory “where established channels are holding on best to share.” New channels since 2000 have 17.5% share, as compared with 36.5% in the U.K.

Read the full article at:

Tech Players Push TV-Web Convergence

Role of Networks, Studios Evolving Slowly

Some of the biggest technology companies are placing their bets on convergence between the TV and the Web, providing the best indication yet as to how the TV business will work when flatscreens and laptops traffic in the same content.

Last month, both Sony and Google introduced new services that will send content to the television set via the Internet. Apple, Microsoft and Netflix also are in the game, investing early to develop technologies that will challenge traditional programming distribution businesses.

The question remains when will content zip between devices seamlessly. At stake is $64 billion in annual advertising revenue.

The business of serving up movies, television shows and Web programs will shift dramatically in the next five years, said Alex Lindsay, a technology expert and the chief architect at PixelCorps, a San Francisco-based consortium of new-media producers.

“It was one thing when it was CinemaNow and these little startups saying, ‘We can deliver movies,’” he said. “Now you have the biggest guys in the game going head-to-head and they know this is the new battlefield.”

Certainly, Sony and Google are a long way off from piping everything consumers want to watch to the TV. But for starters, Sony will begin offering a video download service later this summer through the Sony PlayStation 3 gaming console. Sony also plans to stream movies to the TV, starting with Sony Pictures’ Will Smith vehicle “Hancock.” The movie, released in theaters Wednesday, will be available on Sony Bravia TVs equipped with integrated Internet connections this fall, prior to its DVD release.

Google launched a software application that lets users stream videos from YouTube to a TV set. The caveat is the consumer needs a Sony PlayStation 3 and other gadgets to make the service work, limiting its reach for now to all but the very tech-savvy.

But Google’s efforts are significant because they follow other industry moves. Netflix makes its movies available immediately to consumers via a Roku set-top box. Apple introduced a new version of the AppleTV in January that includes TV shows and movies from all major studios. Microsoft already offers movies, in standard definition and hi-def, on its Xbox.

They’re all after the same payoff: the chance to extract more revenue through the digital delivery of content. But cable operators have their own plans for Web-to-TV migration. Comcast offers CBS, Hulu, Viacom, cable networks and other content for free on its Web video portal Fancast.com.

Later this summer, Comcast will offer download-to-own and download-to-rent movies and TV shows on Fancast, a la iTunes. Down the road, Fancast will add features for consumers to bookmark content online to watch later via VOD on the TV.

With both technology companies and traditional TV cable operators competing, innovation is likely to come quickly.

“There is a huge amount of energy being expended to connect broadband to the TV, and there are lots of players interested in making this happen,” said Will Richmond, an industry analyst with VideoNuze.com.

The big unknown is if consumers are interested in these new services and devices. In a study last year, 20% of consumers in homes with advanced services said they thought it was important to watch Web video on the TV, according to Paul Rule, president of Marquest Media & Entertainment Research, which conducted the study.

The number remained the same this year.

“It just seems like the home electronics industry is firing broadsides at the sweet spot in this market and missing it completely,” Mr. Rule said.

They’re missing because the user experience in Web-to-TV devices is lagging.

“It takes a little bit of engineering on the part of the consumer to get the computer near the TV, to find the plug-and-play devices that work,” said Bill Tancer, head of research at online audience measurement firm Hitwise. “It’s not a matter of flipping a switch.”

Other hurdles include how to find programming, formatting content for multiple media, ownership rights disputes, business models and device compatibility, Mr. Richmond said.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to replicate the TV experience,” he said.

Experts agree there won’t be one winning device. In fact, consumers are likely to still choose the device that is best for each task. That means if you want to write, you’ll still use a laptop. If you want to listen to music, you’ll still favor the iPod. If you want to watch TV, you’ll still turn on the TV set, even if that content is coming from Sony or Google or Microsoft, rather than Comcast, Time Warner or DirecTV.

Besides, Web video still needs its “iPhone moment,” said Kaan Yigit, analyst with Solutions Research Group. “[That means] a deal or a very large investment, a new service or a new technology introduction that will capture our imaginations and erase all doubt that the digital future for TV 3.0 is here. We don’t have that yet. What we have are a number of significant initiatives that are pointing in that general direction.”

Content Is Not King, Says Analyst

Written by Ryan Lawler

Monday, July 7. 2008 at 05:45 PM EDT 1 comment

Lehman Brothers analyst Anthony DiClemente issued a downright bearish and depressing report today saying that the advent of digital distribution could crush TV and movie companies.

DiClemente posits that "content may no longer be king," in the face of technological changes that are driving media distribution online. He writes that film and TV businesses are "on the verge of structural changes that appear destined to impact the core revenue and profits of Entertainment business models."

Due to these technological shifts, DiClemente lowered the sector rating to 3-Negative from 2-Neutral. At the same time, the analyst lowered ratings at Walt Disney Co. , News Corp. , Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), and CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), and lowered the price target of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA).

DiClemente notes that so far, the effect of digital distribution has been relatively small, with DVD sales and rentals falling "only" about 5 percent year-over-year from 2007. But the analyst believes that in the coming years, an accelerated decline for DVD sales is "more likely than not."

What's more, the digital business is nascent enough that it is unlikely to make up for lost packaged media sales in the short term. DiClemente writes:

When we analyze the movie business, we simply have not seen enough evidence that suggests that monetization of digital media can be profitable enough quickly enough to outpace the speed of decline in revenue/profits from traditional forms of media delivery such as ad-supported TV/radio broadcasting and packaged media (i.e., DVD sales).

That's bad news for content owners, particularly large content owners. There's even worse news, though. DiClemente posits that audio and video content is becoming commoditized, and that the entertainment landscape may be flattening or "fragmenting."

As a result, DiClemente writes that "being a mainstream Entertainment content creator and producer may not be as profitable in the long term as it once was for the six largest players in the traditional Hollywood oligopoly."