Posts about opa

Me vs NYT at OPA re WWGD

Rafat Ali just put up this video of a discussion from the Online Publishers Association in London last week: me v. Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times Company. Unfortunately, it starts a little late (missing my start to the discussion). and ends a little early (just as Larry Kramer, ex of CBS, is talking about Dan Rather).

At the start, I reacted to a presentation by Jeffrey Rayport, high-IQ industry consultant, who tried to present a new architecture of media that on the one hand I endorse but on the other hand wanted to turn inside-out. Rayport talked about owning audiences still and I gave the predictable if obnoxious blogger argument (joking that I was daring to speak for all mankind) that we’re not an audience and we don’t want to be owned.

Rayport set up boundaries and talked about going over those boundaries — inside out, from media to us; outside in, from us to the media — and I argued against that architecture, saying that he was making the mistake of still putting media at the center when, in fact, the public is at the center and media should see itself at the edge, serving us.

I talked about Yahoo as the last old media company to look at the world this way (along with all the older media companies): ‘We control content. We market to get you to come to us. Then we feed you as much advertising as we can, until you leave.’ That’s the centralized model of media. I contrasted this with the decentralized, distributed model embodied by nobody better than Google: ‘We go to where you are and put service and advertising there. Your pageview is then our pageview. And we have enabled you to do what you want to do. And we can all do more of it.’ I argued that media companies should ask WWGD — ‘what would Google do?’ (and, yes, Google is the new God).

That’s when Martin objected; the videotape picks up there. Raftat says:

This was at the OPA Global Forum last week in London…I was sitting behind Martin Nisenholtz, the CEO of New York Times Digital, and recorded this with my Nokia N80. It is a nuanced argument, something which doesn’t really come out in this video, or Martin’s argument there. Here is my read on it: Martin thinks Jeff Jarvis is the extreme in this journalism vs bloggers debate–especially when it comes to mainstream news sites working with bloggers and aggregating and pointing to them, working with them, and bringing them onboard–and was trying to point to a middle ground, something which he thinks NYT is doing, when in fact Jarvis is that middle ground, if you peel the layers behind some of his hyperbole. Either way, it is an important argument, though some of it is pure theater, done for the sake of it.

Yes, it was theater. But Martin and I agreed (via Treo-to-Blackberry exchange right afterward) that we were also disagreeing about something more fundamental or at least refreshingly different from the old blogger-v-msm debate. We were arguing about the centralized-v-distributed architecture of media. Martin is arguing that some media brands — yes, the Times — are worth coming to. He supports the outside-in model and sees The Times as ‘in’. I say that they all — yes, even the Times — must look at new ways in which we can do more. Yes, I do think mine is the middleground for it’s about working together in new ways that were never possible before to do more than we ever could before. (And, yes, I just ignored the blogger slaps. I say on the tape that I dream of the day when I can go to a conference and not have that old spat; it’s so tired.)

: Howard Owens responds.

In it, you get to hear Martin Neisenholtz reveal just how little he understands blogs, and how trapped he remains in Big-J thinking about what blogging is and its role in the mediascape. It’s a little surprising that a major media leader would still hold those views. Martin seems fully invested in the false dichotomy that there is a bloggers vs. journalist competition, rather than seeing the ecosystem as it exists. The telling point is his comment to Jeff Jarvis that “there is absolutely no check on you.” At least Carolyn Little gets it. “Bloggers help keep us honest,” she says. And the message Neisenholtz needs to hear from that is that bloggers keep each other honest, too. In distributed media, there is no us and them; it’s all we.

: Oh, and I will respond to Martin’s stock insult in the video that I’m a blogger not a journalist and so I don’t do journalism here, only opinion. Well, while I was in London for that conference, I went out and reported this piece about the Conservative leader’s web strategy and this one about a new online talk channel and this one about big changes at the Guardian (exclusive, as we used to say, meaninglessly) and this one about innovation at the Economist and this one about the new Telegraph newsroom and structure (for the first time on video, we used to brag, in big old media).

It’s conferences that are about only opinions, often wrong.

OPA: Jeff Rayport and video

I’m at the Online Publishers Association confab in London and Jeff Rayport is leading off. He is a former Harvard Business School genius (former HBS, still a genius) now leading a consultancy called Marketspace. I’m taking extensive notes because he’s sure to be provocative and this will be on the final. From his Powerpoint and spiel:

He says the challenge for online publishers is to “build volume through aggregation and margin through engagement.” Trends:

* “Community is the new engine of content creation,” his PowerPoint says. I’d day that content is the gas of the community engine.

* “Social networks are the new distribution channels.”

* “Social intelligence is the new source of editorial filters.”

* Tools and applications are the new editorial bundles.”

* “Multiplatform is the new basis of online ‘publishing.’ ”

* “Video is the new lingua franca of online content”

Now to the strategies he recommends. Note how big-company-centric they are (I argue that you have to see yourself not at the center but at the edges, serving the community at the center, but more on that later). Powerpoint quotes:

* “Own the audience: Overwhlem the microcosm. Deliver shock and awe in content abundance by geography, interest, or identity.” Where do I start? We’re not an audience and you can’t own us. And you likely can’t awe us either. His example is Toyota’s launch of Scion because they are selling cars “designed to be completed by the owner.” Or I’d say, owned by the owner. He says this was the first major auto brand launched with no television but with web and interactive media. Online, his examples include the knot for “condition” (“it touched 85 percent of weddings” last year), femail for identity from the Daily Mail in the UK, (a Chinese Facebook, the second-largest social network in the world after MySpace) for location, bebo for interest (a MySpace up-and-comer in the UK). He says that online, “audience growth is often strongest where community is most palpable” — e.g., The Economist, The New Yorker. He’s not wrong but I still say he’s looking at this the wrong way. These things an help enable people to do what they want to do or to do what they already do better. Flip the model: You’re not at the center, we are.

* “Claim the community: Ensure membership has its rewards. Forge communities of conviction and reward loyalty.” His example is online travel and “gives us cause for great hope for claiming the relationship.” In content, he argues that free content “drives volume or traffic” while bundles of proprietary offerings “defy aggregation;” he uses Times Select as an example because it “drives pricing power.” Insert standard argument here.

* “Work the web: Let the outside in… and let the inside out. Adopt ‘open source’ thinking as an aggregator while exploiting network effects. This, he says, is the network effect. Letting the outside out is Progressive Insurance providing quotes from other insurers. Letting the outside in is Starbucks pushing into consumer environments (aka grocery stores) instead of just pulling them into destinations (the Starbucks store). Sure. This is about a newspaper providing links to the world and about going to where the people are. This is Google. Citizen journalism is letting the outside in. He says the more interesting story this year is citizen editing. Yup. Factoid: “up to 60 percent of YouTube’s streams are viewed on third-party websites.”

* “Design for occasion: Make each interaction a divine revelation. Customize online content interfaces for consumption contexts and occasions.” He says that Daily Candy is an example of form-factor optimization. Oh, my, that’s a fancy way to say it. But yes. Factoid: Daily Candy commands CPMs as high as $280 and is on track to generate $18 million in revenue in 2006 with margins over 60 percent.

* “Integrate the experience: mandate a unified field theory. Orchestrate multichannel delivery to establish best ecosystem.” Example: American Idol spreads internationally and into mobile and the internet and merchandise and concerts. Being a former business school academic, he draws a two-by-two martric: Amateurs acting like amateurs (e.g., Numa Numa guy), professionals acting like amateurs (e.g., LonelyGirl15), amateurs acting like professionals (ZeFrank, AskaNinja), professionals acting like professionals (e.g., OK Go, Beppe Grillo, and, surprise, me at PrezVid).

He has five strategies, “x factors” for online video (from Andrew Heyward).

* Extend content you have and bring it to online media.

* Expand video activities to make new and experimental forms of content.

* Expose (let the outside in; e.g., NY Times wedding videos, Le Monde user videos).

* Explode (let the inside out; syndication, in other words).

* Exhale (you don’t know what will work so relax).

There’s a lot of meat in this. I might grill some of what he fries, looking at things from a different perspective (ours v. theirs), but I think he brings together important observations, conclusions, and recommendations.


* * *

Next is a panel with Betsy Morgan of, George Kliavkoff of NBCU, Alberg Cheng of Disney-ABC, and Tony Ageh of BBC internet with Larry Kramer moderating.

Betsy says that they are sold out in video advertising and that’s why they are syndicating their content to get more inventory. Kliavkoff, who extolled the virtues of marketing by putting clips on YouTube (yea), says that CPMs are high for online video but there is a shortage of quality inventory. He argues against the dreaded “user-generated content” usage saying that Spielberg is a user, too. He says the lesson of YouTube is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s amateur or professional; quality wins (I agree in spirit but in specific, it’s hard to judge the quality of a flaming fart and so quality is what you have to seek and find).

Betsy tells the story of her sister-in-law, who got Direct TV and made an either-or decision: TV or internet. She chose internet and she’s now watching her TV via the internet, including paying for shows via iTunes etc. See yesterday’s post about the end of the remote control clickers.

George says that an SEO company trying out for a gig with NBCU made measurements on the sly, looking at blog talk about shows from five weeks before they launched and then compared the ratings five weeks later. No surprise (to us): We the people formelry known as the audience (now known as the programmers) predicted that Heroes was a hit and that other shows would not be hits.

I asked the group to give advice to the makers of new TV at the Video on the Net conference I’ll be attending in a week and a half. Betsy said they are seeing “microjournalists” who are expert and credible and they’d like a relationship (promotional and commercial) with them but also need a trust system to help determine who is good (a system used by the public, not the network). George advised focus (serve a topic and stay on topic) and scale (get distributed). Larry advised aggregation, putting together shows/sites in networks large enough to be worth advertisers’ effort.