Posts tagged ‘money’

nab 2010

It’s the same old story
Same old song and dance, my friend
It’s the same old story
Same old song and dance, my friend

I love NAB, it is a great place to catch up with colleagues, see the new developments and occasionally stumble upon a seismic shift… but where is the really cool new stuff that is going to drive the industry back into high growth?

Is it 3D?

I don’t know, the jury is out, but the marketing folks and just about every booth rendered the 3D story in some respect. What I do know, is that there is only one company that I saw, that actually converted 2D to 3D – and it was good. It was in real-time, and it provides a really interesting path to monetizing ‘old, really long tail content’ and making it a new experience. I don’t promote companies or technologies in this blog, not my style, but if anyone is interested, drop me a line…

Is it ATSC M/H?

On April 9, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) threw its hat into the mobile TV broadcast ring with word that it has begun developing ATSC-M/H, an ATSC-backwards-compatible transmission system to reach mobile viewers via broadcast DTV transmissions. With ATSC-M/H, broadcasters can use their excess DTV broadcast bandwidth to provide new services directly to small hand-held receivers, laptop computers and moving vehicles. It all sounds great, and it will be – if a couple of things happen:

  1. Where are the handsets to drag a compelling business model? Can I get them at my local cell-phone store?
  2. Where is the content to drag the manufacturers to make the handsets to drag a compelling business model? Will the consumer really care about “yet another video service”…?
  3. How do you hand off from one broadcaster to another (like a mega cell)? Well, this problem has been solved technically and that is a seismic shift… problem, who gets the money in this multicast model?
  4. Will the telco’s have enough incentive to let this happen i.e. support a multi-protocol handset, with the vision that this will save precious unicast bandwidth from multicast-affinity content e.g. real-time news/sports?

It’s the economy?

Personally I perceived attendance was down. Floor-space was certainly down, with large curtained-off sections, and the registration are moved to fill hall space in a veiled attempt to prevent booths from rattling around in otherwise less than occupied halls. However, business activity was up… my friends and colleagues told me of a more qualified attendee, with a higher likelihood of decision-making authority, and there was certainly many discussions covering pent-up demand and a perceived relaxation of previously frozen budgetary constraints.

It was a good show. Tiring as usual, but as is so often the case, the same stuff re-packaged differently.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 15, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

simplify and go back to paper

I won’t tell your secrets
Your secrets are safe with me
I will keep your secrets
Just think of me as the pages in your diary

Everyone has a Luddite moment. Be honest with yourself, even you.

How many business plans have been sketched out on a napkin? Have not some of the most powerful and personal presentations you’ve ever witnessed been done on a whiteboard?

Why is that?

With all of the rumors about a new mac iTablet, the releases of Kindles, new Nooks etc. one would naturally expect that we’ll all soon be sporting communications tablets that have all of our media, our documents, our communications in one simple form factor. As long as we keep them charged up, we’ll have access to our data. As long as we back them up, and keep those backups up-to-date, we’ll have access to that ever-growing personally duplicated library of stuff forever.

Yet somehow paper and pens do not seem to go away.

Surely everyone has an electronic diary? …and surely all our diaries talk to each other and help schedules our daily lives in perfect digital harmony and sync with our other devices and personal variables and variabilities?

PIC-0012How many of you still jot stuff down on good old-fashioned, environmentally unfriendly paper pulp? You know, the kind that uses less power and employs the most humanly evolved stream of consciousness indexing system? The kind that if stored reasonably well, will last hundreds of years without power, and will retain that memory as it was produced and laid-out by the original author cum publisher?

How many hard drives, flash drives, CDs and DVDs will last that long? How many software packages will last that long? And more importantly, how many will be compatible with future technologies? To be a little more specific, how many of you can still read your original WordStar documents? Or those original MSMail messages? Or…? My guess is that most has been tossed away (or lost) years ago. At some point we inevitably, intentionally or accidentally, de-clutter our lives. Much like an evolutionary process for information brought about by external environmental factors.

The digital archiving dilemma ensures that we’ll be forced to keep converting our ever-increasing digital content to constantly changing new technologies. Each iteration of such new technology will consume new resources and energy to be manufactured, but to also to convert bits to new formats, only to repeat the cycle again and again. Brings a whole new meaning to recycling doesn’t it? Meanwhile, paper and film still stay the same, in the same underground limestone vaults, stored without laying claim to increased resource utilization.

Are old analog formats less convenient? Usually, they take more time to handle and search. Are they less accessible? Generally. Are they more personal or authentic? Always. Are they more secure? Generally so, because it takes more work to copy millions until they’re digitized.

And the quality, generational loss etc… perhaps it’s not worth saving giving the resources it will waste over its lifetime?

I think I’ll start investigating the comparison of archival costs for documents on paper vs. electronic for say the next 250 years. No, I do not hope to live that long…! My guess is that paper (and its analog cohorts) will still win.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t need a touch tablet to draw and write freehand. Paper works for that too.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening!

November 19, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

who killed the radio star?

So, Radio, Radio
Tell me what i wanna know, wanna know
I’ve been wide awake, staying up all night
Waiting for a song that will make me feel alright.

According to a Nielsen analysis of a media study conducted by the Council for Research Excellence, 77% of adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, second only to television at 95%. The study found that Web/Internet (excluding email) reached 64%, newspaper 35%, and magazines 27%.

And, in a deeper analysis of audio media titled “How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio,” Nielsen found that:

  • 90% of consumers listen to some form of audio media per day
  • The 77% who listen to broadcast radio surpass the 37% who listen to CDs and tapes and the 12% who listen to portable audio devices.
  • Almost 80% of those aged 18 to 34 listening to broadcast radio in an average day.

In an earlier post, technology creates media businesses, I made the point that new technologies create new businesses. And they do. It does not mean that they always create them at the expense of other businesses. Although they eventually do. What it does mean, is that the money within an industry gets redistributed. And that is the current problem with media.

The iPod has not seemingly killed radio, but it has impact even in this demographic. As I have intimated in generational differences and graphed in technology creates media businesses there are probably more significant changes yet to occur. These differences cannot be measured (or readily considered) by surveys, such as those that introduced this blog.

We are seeing less money per listener in radio. Just as we are seeing less money per subscriber in newspapers. These were early forms of mass media. Is this because the nature of society is changing? That the mediums are becoming more efficient? That new forms of media are competing for the same dollar? Or, all of the above?

I say it is all of the above. Media is evolving. The problem is that we don’t know the end-state. If we did, we’d know what business model to develop. Until we do, enjoy the book and stop trying to flip to the last page. There is no last page. Never has been in media, and likely never will be.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

November 12, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

the seven pillars of media

And I see things
That no one would ever glimpse
As your eyes roll back
And the real party begins
And I feel things
That I’m not supposed to feel
As I reassure myself
That I’m nothing but a jewel upon your crown

This week I discuss a new tool that I have developed in exploring mediums. It enables classification of mediums from both the perspective of consumers as well as that of the business and marketplace. I have called it the 7 pillars, because I am unashamedly trading off T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the themes of change, challenge and sustainability contained therein.

This framework contains seven pillars which support the media business and is weighted to look at things from a consumer perspective. Why? In the end, media is about the consumer, the audiences, demographics and psychometrics to which the consumer belongs, to their purchasing power and their consequent aggregated ability to endorse or demote marketplace media preferences.

Back in April, 2009 in why target, I made reference to the fact that consumers have three things to trade with a media company:

  1. Privacy (P) – by identifying their attributes, consumers add value by enabling the medium to build monetization cases by clearly measuring and demonstrating value to purchasers of advertising and sellers of content.
  2. Money ($) – either directly through paid subscriptions or subsidies, or indirectly through purchasing advertised content, goods and services.
  3. Time (T) – the amount of time that they spend with the medium and thus building equity in the audiences that are subsequently monetized.

Each of these are shown in the table below…

Consumer Dimensions

Business Attributes

I have started mapping these attributes across clusters of similar mediums, and present TV mediums as the first in this series.

The Lounge room TV experience

Clearly displayed is the technical dominance of and consumer potential that IPTV promises as a medium. However, being better does not count too much if you don’t have market share, and this is where the traditional players of cable, satellite and terrestrial TV shine. Note that IPTV encapsulates my thinking on both walled-garden as well as Over The Top, but in all cases, this is the ‘lounge-room’ experience.

Each of these mediums displays a footprint that broadly reflects the ongoing business model viability ‘at present’. It shows comparative capabilities and offers a quick visual to suggest potential areas of competitive improvement.

It is not perfect, but it does provide a very useful discussion tool, a common language for dialog and a real way to connect with the customer who is now driving the business.

I have analyzed all mediums in greater detail, and explained my justification for the scoring. These scores will be updated each quarter with new observations, press coverage and anecdotal information.

Change is certain, but guessing the future is still very precarious – especially in the media business. As stated by Edgar R. Fiedler “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.”

Nonetheless, it is a tool that hopefully you’ll find useful.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

October 29, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

net neutrality

This web is mine man
This web is yours man
We like to surf it
Whenever we can
So just remember
To keep it wild and free
Preserve our Net Neutrality

I’ve stayed out of this debate, mainly because it has been largely ill-defined and characterized by wild assertions, emotional counter-claims etc. However, recently, the FCC’s Chair Julius Genachowski started firming up the positions, and the battle between government and industry for the connected future officially began. I think I’ll still stay out for a while longer… but I do want to table a few things.

I am not even sure it is about government and ‘the industry’. That is too simplistic a headline. And who is ‘the industry’? They’re almost as mysterious as the oft cited ‘they’. Is this not really about money for traffic i.e. who pays for the bandwidth, who uses the bandwidth and who regulates it?

All of this activity costs money. So, once again, it’s about the business model for the ‘media’ industry…

Can someone explain to me why a service provider should continually invest in infrastructure to provide connectivity for traffic capacity to subsidize businesses that leverage that connection to make money…? Surely there has to be equity in pricing and usage for both users and value added content providers? And surely there has to be investment in infrastructure to enhance that pricing and usage for new applications?

So how do ‘we’, as powerless outside observers, reconcile the two?

The four principles that serve as guidelines to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Public Internet, commonly referred to as, Net Neutrality are:

  1. Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice
  2. Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement
  3. Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network
  4. Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

As a consumer, they sound pretty good. But this is all about consumers.

I am a consumer, but I also understand the need for businesses to have margins and incentive to invest. Ultimately that benefits me as well. Perhaps we all need to overcome skepticism of government regulation per the Wall Street Journal: “Government’s role here, properly understood, is not to tell Comcast how to manage its network. Rather, it is to make sure consumers have alternatives to Comcast if they are unhappy with their Internet service.”

Clearly there are more dimensions to this debate, in politics, in social and economic impacts and in technological implications. Perhaps we should learn how other countries have faced this dilemma? After all, aren’t we supposed to be globally connected?

And why do other countries have better bandwidth for cheaper prices than we have here in the US? Web Survey Finds Speed Is Quickest Overseas Is competition for net service as useful as having 42 brands of cornflakes in the cereal aisle, knowing full well that they are manufactured by only a handful of companies?

Maybe I’m still not looking at this in the right way…

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

October 15, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

content begets data begets bland

A billion people died on the news tonight
But not so many cried at the terrible sight
Well mama said
It’s just make believe
You can’t believe everything you see
So baby close your eyes to the lullabies
On the news tonight

Many in the business still distinguish between long-form and short form content; between ads, advertorial, editorial and content; and between scheduled, non-linear and live. There are differences. However on a few levels I would suggest that they have become the same, specifically intent and technology.

From a technology perspective, the argument is quite simple, and yet with extremely profound implications. It’s all bits. Simple? Not quite so. The moment that every piece of content becomes a bit, a mysterious transformations occurs… Those bits become data. As such several things emerge:

  • You need data to describe data – metadata. If that is used effectively, then you can automate much of your process and scale incredibly.
  • With that data, you can automate how that content is consumed, and to whom it is directed.
  • Data, if used correctly, can provide information, which, if used correctly, can get you even smarter about how to use your content (data). Recursive.
  • Better get yourself a search engine. Indexed databases are just not enough – there’s a lot of unstructured stuff you need to now catalog.
  • Better connect to other data sources, because you cannot possibly type in all of the stuff you’ll need to manage this content going forward. Data begets data.
  • Content becomes less sensitive to its actual ‘content’, the differentiation between mediums blurs, and not longer matters (read Negroponte’s seminal ‘Being Digital’). The consumer’s client drives presentation.
  • Business and workflows necessarily change – this is not optional. Managing content is different – no discussion. Sorry video guys, face the change.

All of this brings me to my second point. As content becomes data, and data begets more data, it starts to become very abstract, almost ethereal. Add a piece of automation, throw in some analytics and before long you lose intimate knowledge of your content library and the look’n’feel of your medium. Strange things start to happen… content becomes its own entity. Attach some monetization to the process and you risk getting a very ‘corporate’ media complete with formulaic template radio channels, stock cable channels and bland programming. All of a sudden sterile data, drives correspondingly sterile intent. If that intent is just maximizing revenue and optimizing resources for which media computer systems are designed, you get “News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising.” – Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliff), publisher, Times of London.

Ask yourself, what is the intent of your media business? You may be surpised at the answer. The more digital your business becomes, the stranger the answer will become.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

August 20, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

lots of bits, not just bigs

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

The universe is composed of gas, dust, stars — billions upon billions of stars. At least that’s what Carl Sagan impressed upon me during the formative years of my scientific thinking.

Five years ago, Larry Light, McDonald’s chief marketing officer, stated at AdWatch:Outlook 2004, “We don’t need one big execution of a big idea.  We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way.” While he may not have been specifically talking about audience fragmentation, the point is still insightful and relevant to today’s marketplace.

Fragmentation should come as no surprise to anyone in this space, it is the inevitability of choice. But it does create operational difficulties for organizations that have not evolved as quickly as the market. Years ago it was important enough and cost-effective to hire one person to manage the ads in a particular program reel. Their job was to ensure that each expensive ad got to air, no matter what. Today, marketing it is not about one big expensive ad, but about many, many cheaper ads, which in aggregate garner the same audience and hopefully at least as much revenue as that single expensive ad of long ago.

The average cost of the transaction has been lowered over the years due to automation. And, correspondingly, the economics of advertising has changed as a result of technology. Pushing content closer to the customer leads to the following:

  • If you cannot place the ad, instruct it, and manage the content cheaply and effectively, then your margin erodes
  • Organizations have consolidated in the hope of getting bigger audiences and inventories. As a result, they have to handle more diverse ads. Unfortunately, during these acquisitions, they have inherited cost structures that are not conducive to delivering multi-media campaigns… the very reason for acquisition in the first place. The only way to drive efficiencies is to automate.
  • The only way to automate effectively across mediums is to have a common infrastructure. You cannot have different workflows for different mediums in a consolidated business: it simply costs too much.

Till now, the industry focus has largely been on solving the technical infrastructural problems that have emerged as a result of the digital transition and audience expectations. A quick look at most conference agendas confirms this reality.

Increasingly, the realization that sales organizations and research departments must evolve concurrently with multimedia content delivery models is coming to the fore.  These organizational disciplines must consider targeted marketing, ROI measurement, advertainment strategies, interactive television, pay-for-play and the effects of device proliferation on consumers. More than ever, media organizations must engage in the marketing and promotion of their own capabilities, and their own inventories, more than ever before in a bid to retain audiences.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

August 13, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

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