Posts from April 28, 2005

Old opinions never die

Old opinions never die

: This reader once said I was too tough on The Dukes of Hazard.

I think I’m proud of that. No, I know I am.

Talk OD

Talk OD

: Radio ratings in Washington indicate an OD on political talk radio.

Now: YOURadio… Next: OURadio

Now: YOURadio… Next: OURadio

: Infinity Broadcasting’s announcement that it is turning over a transmitter to the people is big, big news: great news, gratifying news, inevitable news. But it’s still just one milemarker on the road to the future of citizens’ media. And no, kids, we’re not there yet.

This is still a big company handing over its time and using the second-person plural: YOURadio.

We’ll know we’ve arrived when the people take over that station for real and change the name to OURadio.

At YOURadio, there are still executives picking what goes onto THEIR air.

At OURadio, WE the audience will pick what goes on OUR radio from what WE the producers make; there will be no difference between audience and producer, there will be no THEM: It’s all OURs.

That is where this road is going. And we’re still driving.

Still, I’m delighted by YOURadio.

Now we have a newspaper made totally from citizens’ content: NorthwestVoice. We will have a radio station made totally from citizens’ content: YOURadio.com. We will have a TV network made almost completely from citizens’ content: Al Gore’s Current.tv. (And last night on MSNBC’s Connected, I joked that blog TV is next and when we get there, I said, we’ll invite Ron and Monica on.)

But ultimately, they’re all still networks. They’re all still one-way pipes (but with a new way to dive into the pool that feeds them). They’re media.

This is why — I think — Doc Searls and David Weinberger and the other visionaries behind this thing we have here refuse to call it media. Doc says it’s speech. This, I believe, is why David got cold sweats at becoming part of media at MSNBC (see here and here as well): He said, ‘I’m not media, I’m something else.’ I call it conversation. (But I also am of the old “media.” And I call this new thing “citizens’ media” because this is like the English language and “snow:” We don’t have as many words for that fozen stuff as the Inuit have. We don’t have a word for this thing we’re doing. So until sombody invents a new word — something more sonorous than “blog,” please — I’ll keep calling it citizens’ media.)

So anyway, we’re creating new things:

Google is the new library… and network… and ad agency (see the post below).

Blogs are new newspapers, right?

Podcasts are new radio then.

Vlogs will be the new TV, yes?

But then again, no, they’re not. They’re none of that. They’re new, they’re different, and they’re not done yet.

And for that matter, old media aren’t done yet, either… if they know what’s good for them.

So each is trying to figure out the other, how to dance and who’s leading — and that’s good. That’s what the blog segments on MSNBC are about. That’s what YOURadio is about. They are process.

Now having said all that, I’ll repeat that YOURadio is big news and good news for a few reasons:

First, it is big media recognizing that it’s time to listen — and do more than listen: Let the people speak. It is big media recognizing the value of citizens’ media.

Second, it is an admission that the old, one-size-fits-all, top-down, one-way models of programming are broken and the audience can do it better.

Third, it an admission that the old business models are soon to break and that the people can provide more talent for less than the old talent could. It’s nothing less than the economic salvation of old media… if old media is smart enough to financially support citizens’ media and not just exploit it.

What’s important is that a big media company knew it was time to stick some dynamite up the alimentary canal and push the plunger.

It is the tipping point.

: I’ve been saying that we’re at the tipping point. Glenn Reynolds is tipping, too.

Jay Rosen says:

It has been pointed out that tipping point talk is cheap. But Infinity Broadcasting actually tipped over today.

: See Rex Hammock on top of YOURadio. That’s the frequency, Kenneth.

: Now let’s tune in for a big, honking reality check from young MasterMaq, whom I last quoted on why he can’t stand newspapers. Now here’s his reaction to YOURadio:

You’d think I would be excited about the launch of the world’s first “all-podcast radio station,” but instead I’m disappointed. San Francisco’s 1550 KYCY will now become KYOURadio and will feature content submitted by listeners. The problem? It’s not podcasting at all:
In part because of licensing requirements, which usually cover only broadcast and streaming, the company has no plans to provide downloadable program archives.

More and more, individuals and organizations are attaching the term “podcast” to their audio endeavours, trying to jump on the bandwagon. This is very clearly one such example, and it’s disappointing. KYOURadio is not a podcast radio station – they simply play content submitted by listeners.

He’s a tough master, Maq.

Engadget agrees.

: Doc, the original radio geek, geeks out on the signal.

: LATER: Mark Glaser sums up the efforts of new services serving our video (and audio).

There are no free searches

There are no free searches

: There is no free lunch. There are no free searches. At least not for media, there aren’t.

Media depend on Google. Without the search engine, no one would be found. Without GoogleNews, they’d all get less traffic. Without the ad programs, advertisers wouldn’t be advertising on plain old home pages; bloggers owe gratitude to Google for taking the cooties off citizens’ media. With the ad programs, big media sites and bloggers alike are getting checks from Google. All that is wonderful.

So is heroin. At first.

Now cautionary notes are being heard here and there:

: Ad Age reports this week (not online, damnit) that Google is beating the big boys:

:Yahoo and Google’s total ad revenues this year could rival the combined prime-time ad revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC — a stunning achievement for the companies and a watershed moment [read: tipping point -ed] for the Internet as an advertising medium.

In terms of revenue, Google’s estimated $3 billion and Yahoo’s $2.9 billion compare with $6.2 billion for the big nets’ prime time. And their market cap is up with the big boys: Google is No. 2 behind Time Warner; Yahoo is No. five behind Disney and News Corp. as well.

“The results from Google and Yahoo combined with softeness in traditional media, offer the strongest evidence yet of the dramatic changes occurring in the media and marketing landscape,” Tony Mastin, analyst at William Blair & Co. wrote.

In terms of measured media spending, the Internet was already bigger than outdoor, TV syndication and national newspapers, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

: Now turn to Simon Waldman, biz brains behind Guardian Online, who adds up Googles plans to serve banners and allow advertisers to pick sites (which means that Google can undersell media sales teams) and sell on CPM (rather than just clicks) and add ads to RSS and ad adds to maps and local… who knows what’s next.

You can look at the details of all this activity – the mind-boggling reach of the decentralised network, the efficiency of the (mostly) sales-team-free booking system, the instant creation of a major banner network (just as the market for search starts to plateau, of course) – all of which are exciting./petrifying depending on where you sit.

But the really striking thing here is the pace of it all. Blistering. Fuelled of course by an arms race with Yahoo! that seems to be bringing out the best in both players.

The point is – and letís be honest here – there is no way that traditional media organisations can compete at this pace. Or even at half this pace. This isnít an act of self-flagellation, itís just a matter of fact – for better or for worse….

But if we look around and want to retain our share of readersí attention and advertisersí wallets, itís going to take probably double the effort,imagination and, frankly luck that even the best of us have had over the last five years.

: Now here is Rich Gordan at Poynter looking at the same announcements and worrying:

From Google’s perspective, this is a natural evolution of AdSense — giving its advertisers more flexibility and better results, and allowing the company to sell brand advertising along with the direct-response variety. But if I put my online publisher hat on, I’m not sure I like what I’m hearing.

Most every Web publisher these days has signed on to AdSense because it offers real additional revenue with virtually no effort. But these new initiatives would turn Google into a full-fledged interactive media buying agency — and enable advertisers to go through Google to place pretty much the same kinds of ads that they now would have to buy directly from a site or from ad networks such as Doubleclick or 24/7 Real Media.

My guess is that many site managers will not want these new kinds of Google ads running on their sites — but the lure of “easy” revenue (or the fear of losing AdSense money) might cause them to come aboard….

I also think that Google will sell those ads for less than what publishers are selling equivalent ads for — just as the ad networks already do. Maybe this will be a good thing — enabling sites to grow ad revenue without having to add salespeople.

But the Trojan horse story does come to mind. Publishers have let AdSense inside the gates. What will Google do now?

: Follow the links in the posts above to many news stories on Google’s announcements. Then imagine where Google can go next, challenging not just media but media’s challengers: Watch out Monster… eBay… CraigsList….

Now ask whether Google is friend or foe… or both.

The answer, inevitably, must be both: Google helped explode the internet. Without its search, no one would find our content. Without the ads, Google wouldn’t make money. But then, that’s Google’s problem, isn’t it? And a not-very-big-problem it is.

It’s not a love/hate thing. I love Google; we all should. I don’t hate Google. But I think it’s time to consider fearing Google. Just to be safe.

So what should media sites be doing? And I don’t just mean the big guys. I mean you, humble blogger with your humble ads:

Will Google maximize your value? Will Google undersell you? Is Google being transparent with you and revealing what the ads on your pages are selling for and what share you’re getting? Will Google compete with you? Can Google put the stranglehold of a monopoly on you? Should you be making Google bigger or helping to create competitors to Google? Can you afford to? Can you afford not to?

Just asking.