Posts about Ad

A big deal

Microsoft just bid big bucks to buy ad company aQuantive. The net of this:

Content is not king. Distribution is not king. Money is king.

Microsoft has tried to go into the content business and the distribution business and has failed at both.

Google went into the advertising business. It has won. So now others are trying to catch up: WPP buying 24/7 and Microsoft buying aQuantive. With Razorfish in its stable, this is also a service company that builds platforms for media companies. The great need now is to enable the commercial infrastructure that supports the activities of this world.

The wages of vlogging

At a panel I moderated today at Streaming Media East, Robert Scoble says he is being paid “six figures every quarter” — that is, something above 400k — for his online video efforts.

: Robert adds, importantly, that his company gets paid that much by advertisers. Sadly for him, it doesn’t all go into his pocket. Cost of sale, as we say.

Smartest media quote of the year

“We can’t expect consumers to come to us. It’s arrogant for any media company to assume that.”

Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said that in today’s Wall Street Journal explaining CBS’ smarter-than-most strategy for a distributed media economy.

This is the way all media executives should be thinking: Go to the people, don’t make the people come to you. That’s expensive for you and inconvenient for them and it’s just not going to happen — or, it’s no way to build a media business model anymore. Says the Journal:

A year ago, CBS Corp. announced the creation of Innertube, an entertainment channel on CBS.com designed to make the company a player in online video. It streams video of sporting events, news reports and reruns of shows such as the hit comedy “How I Met Your Mother.”

CBS’s new chief Internet strategist now jokes that the Web address for Innertube should be “CBS.com/nobodycomeshere.”

CBS, after a year of experimenting with various Web initiatives, says that forcing consumers to come to one site — its own — to view video hasn’t worked. Instead, the company plans to pursue a drastically revised strategy that involves syndicating its entertainment, news and sports video to as much of the Web as possible. It represents a stark departure for the TV industry. . . .

Starting this week, an expanded menu of CBS’s video content will be available for free to consumers on as many as 10 different Web sites ranging from Time Warner Inc.’s AOL to Joost Inc., a buzzy online video service that is just rolling out. The company calls its new venture the CBS Interactive Audience Network.

Importantly, they’re also going through services that let us embed and distribute their stuff. That’s the greatest win of all. Why not encourage your audience to recommend and distribute your good stuff. It’s free marketing. It’s the endorsement that matters most. It’s only wise. But media has always been about control, about selling scarcity. So it’s damned hard for these guys to shift their mental map of the world and realize that they are not at center, we are. What they defined as inside is outside. This requires them to turn their world inside out. CBS is doing that.

Meanwhile, see the Stuart Elliott column in today’s Times all about networks trying harder to keep viewers in, how to keep them from changing the channel or TiVoing. What they should be asking is how they can take their stuff out. Think distributed.

Note also that NBC is shifting an inch by airing one of the Law & Orders on USA first, then on NBC. That says that NBC isn’t the center of the universe. But this doesn’t go quite far enough. Why not air it online first? If you don’t, NBC, Dick Wolf will someday. That’s what the studios of the future are doing now.

Oh-oh ads

I often watch the video podcast version of Australian Broadcasting’s Media Watch mainly because I’m amazed that the format works. Who’d think that media criticism, especially of print and even of online, could work on video? But it does, thanks to the tough attitude of the host, Monica Attard — I expect to see her come out in leather and studs some week — and to their entertaining conceit of having different people voice the clips they’re talking about, with attitude. Even its slogan is cheeky: “everyone loves it until they’re on it.” ABC Radio, too, has pretty good criticism and reporting in the Media Report, which is also available as a podcast. I have Aussie media on the mind because I’m talking at Murdoch’s Carmel confab of his worldwide editors this week. But even aside from that, I enjoy checking in with Australian media — as I do UK media, of course, on the Media Guardian podcast — because it’s interesting to see our parallel issues around the globe.

This week’s Media Watch has a great segment — with the best collection of examples I’ve ever seen — on unfortunate adjacencies of content and ads on TV and especially online. I pulled put two segments together here:

Note, too, that this is one of the inherent problems with contextual advertising. No machine will ever truly understand the context. Better to talk to people than around content, eh?

The NBC/Fox gigadeal on video

Just as it was to be announced, I learned about what could be an extraordinary deal between NBC and Fox to go a different way from Viacom in their relationship with online video.

The two networks/studios are creating a new company to distribute TV on the sites where large audiences already are: AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, MSN. All their entertainment video and some of their movies will be available there for people to embed in their own pages. This means that a MySpace user who’s an Office fan could put up a widget allowing her readers to watch the clips and even the shows on her page. The joint venture will create a destination site for all this, but this isn’t a portal play; it’s about finding a tolerable — for them — way to distribute content via fans’ sites.

I’m told that it’s likely this video also may be made available for embedding on lowly blogs such as this — and obviously, I think that will be key. You make the popcorn, and let’s get together to watch American Idol on IdolCritic, eh? I doubt that will come on the first day (and that first day, by the way, is about 100 days away).

The new company will also sell ads and will share revenue with the producers and with the distribution sites (whether that will trickle down to the actual users/distributors, I have no idea; I would imagine that would be up to each of the sites and if they are smart enough to share, then the distribution of this video will only expand and explode).

There’s no reason this arrangement cannot include other producers, networks, and studios. And there is no reason this cannot include other distribution points (read: Google/Yahoo and such). And though this starts with entertainment, I don’t see why it can’t expand to include news and sports. It should.

What’s smart about this is that it potentially provides an infrastructure for the viral, audience-controlled recommendation and distribution of video with the two elements the producers demand — control and monetization (mantras I heard from the big guys at the Video on the Net conference). If this makes this kind of viral distribution profitable, it will cut off objections to it. And that, I believe, will leave Viacom out there dangling naked on Main Street.

At first, the big guys will pick their own clips. I think they have to get quickly past and let us pick the clips, the moments we want to recommend and comment on. Every moment in a show should thus have a permalink that makes it a linkable part of conversations. At VON, I saw a company called Gotoit that enables just this: you can send people directly to that moment you want to talk about. That is vital: We, the people — not the producers, prorammers, and network execs — need to be the recommenders, not the producers; that’s the point of viral distribution

At first, this will also be about just the big guys’ shows and movies. As you can predict, I argue that if they want this to succeed, it also must include small TV, our TV, the TV we are reinventing. That doesn’t mean that they should air all the flaming farts. But the smart things to do will be to find the great new talent and give it a means of distribution and control and monetization — which the little guys want, like the big guys, a point made at the end of my VON spiel. And then the networks will like networks.

I don’t know what this means for NBBC, the very tightly controlled venture NBC started to distribute video. I suspect it will be involved.

If this is done right, it makes viral distribution of video a noninfringing activity. It will legitimize, enable, and exploit what we already want to do: recommend and watch their shows. That would only be smart.

If it is done wrong — if the networks try to maintain too much control and still tell us what to llike and where we can watch TV — then it will fail miserably. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

From the Wall Street Journal story:

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” News Corp. President Peter Chernin said in a statement announcing the venture. “We’ll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch.”

The venture will also start its own site, with a name that is yet to be announced, which will go up in the summer. The two companies said “full episodes and clips from current hit shows,” including NBC’s “Heroes,” “My Name is Earl,” “Saturday Night Live” and Fox’s “24,” “House,” “Prison Break” and “The Simpson”s will be available as well as programs from the companies’ TV libraries. Movies will also be available, including “Borat” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Here’s the LA Times report.

: LATER: I think some reporters are missing a key part of the story. I think this is less NBC/Fox v. Google in business and more NBC/Fox v. Viacom in philosophy. These guys, unlike Viacom, recognize the power — and the necessity — of the recommendation engine (aka us) as the new means of marketing and distribution. They are trying to do that in a way that feels safer to them and that they can make money on — echoing, once again, the themes I kept hearing from the big guys at VON: control and monetization. If they crack the monetization, then these guys will care (a bit) less about control.

They will succeed if they enable us to recommend, share, and talk about (positively or negatively) their good stuff.

They will blow it if they try to maintain too much control: if they give us only their shows, if they insist on which clips we can embed, if they don’t open up to more programming, if they don’t open up to our putting this stuff in our space (not just Rupert’s MySpace). So we’ll see.

But it’s all about the recommendation engine as the new network.