Posts tagged ‘multimedia’

old school

So why don’t you meet me, down behind the old school
We’ll waste away the weekend, with perfect regard for how
Cavalier we used to be, that beautiful insanity
The apathy’s surrounding me
Don’t close your eyes or we’ll fade away

A funny thing about the digital age — the more information we have access to, the more misinformation we embrace into our zeitgeist. In the not-so-long ago days when the Internet was mainly for e-mail, and facebooks were made of paper, items were mostly advertised in newspaper ads or classifieds.

It turns out that there was a well-known shorthand language in the newspapers. While we didn’t read OMG or ROFL, we did understand that TLC meant you needed to be handyman and that “efficient layout” meant you’d better like living in small spaces.

I once read an article about how we’ll inevitably catalog our lives with documents, audio, chat logs, blogs and video. Then along came MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  The thesis was, that, taken to the extreme, there would be more hours of content created per person than we lived. Add in video surveillance from several angles etc. Clearly, we need to summarize, else the person reviewing our lives in gruesome detail would require too much time and possibly waste their own lives trawling through the mass of digital data that we elect to store on cloud storage farms. But what do you leave out, and what do you keep for posterity?

Does this mean that we all need to develop some editing skills, and apply them to our new way of living, else we’ll forever be hoarding irrelevant digital fodder?

Coincidentally, this theme recently emerged in President Obama’s commencement speech at Hampton University where he relayed,

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

When is too much of something irrelevant? And, by what measure?

I agree with the President.

My digital colleagues smile at my usage of an old school gold fountain pen complete with blue Sheaffer Script ink and my Moleskine notebook. Want to really interact with your thoughts in the most intimate way possible? You don’t need an iPad and a finger. Here’s a thought, focus on what takes real effort to craft before committing it in writing. It provides clarity of thought. The distractions of digital immediacy and it’s associated ADHD vanish into deep thoughtful consideration.

Yes my friends smile and joke about my retro-technology quirks, but when I lend them my pen, and give them a precious piece of acid free paper, they just love the smooth feel of the nib and watch the ink flow…

I just sit back, watch and think that some of the old school stuff makes sense, at least to me.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

May 13, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

computing gets consumerized

Oh, oh, oh
Spending all my time buying stuff
When I’ve more than enough
More than enough
Cough, cough
Neo consumer
Neo consumer

Consumerized – sounds like a badly made up word, reminiscent of a presidential past.

The wordplay is only for effect, the idea is real…

Previously, in computing utilities cometh I discussed the inevitable move to utility-focused computing. A large, simple, ubiquitous and all encompassing information utility.

Well, what use is a ‘grid’ or ‘network’ without appliances? You may well argue that the PC, smartphone, small business datacentre of today are ‘appliances’ for just such a utility. Its job is to provide a common information infrastructure for sharing, backup and transfer – instead of moving current, it moves bits. Probably not far from the truth.


When I was growing up, washing machines, although they had an electric motor, were beastly devices. They agitated the clothes, but to ‘wring’ those newly washed clothes, you swung the rollers into action, disengaged the agitator motor, and fed the clothes ‘through the wringer’. These appliances did the job, but they required skill on the part of the operator. The process was manually integrated. This skill was eventually replaced with mechanical, then electrical, and subsequently computer-controlled timers. Not to mention, pre-defined wash cycles (or workflows). How many of us cherish those halcyon wash days, where you intimately got involved in the process of making clothes clean?

Today’s washers do all manner of things, even steam clean clothes. What they don’t really allow is for dad or his friend to get a wrench and start into fixin’ the darn thing when it breaks, like they used to.

And so it is with the iPad.

I have been observing the pre-launch rumors, launch critiques and release reviews, along with a whole array of comments across that same time continuum. Interestingly, this is a highly polarizing device, even more so than its Apple product brethren. And I think I know why…

Every commenter who hates the iPad is religiously attached to:

  1. It is an Apple product and therefore is sex without substance
  2. Has no screws, heck, cannot even change the battery, and therefore as a technical person, this is bad engineering
  3. Lacks features – e.g. flash, usb, not e-ink etc. Therefore it is technically inept.

Most interestingly, these observations have been made in the absence of ‘actual product’, and are highly reminiscent of those strange people in NYC who bear tacky, grammatically challenged signs implying that the ‘end is near’. Seemingly warning us of the impending doom about to befall modern computerdom.

Those that gush over the product are equally religious (particularly those who believe without having seen!), wanting stuff that ‘just works’… and prepared to wait in line for hours to do just that.

Funny how we’d expect consumers not wanting stuff that ‘just works’. Vertically integrated appliances enable consumers of all ages to focus on what they want to do, without fear that they may get their hand stuck in the ‘clothes wringer’. For those that want to tinker with technology, there are plenty of things to play with… I for one, one who works in this business, am not threatened by the impending ‘lack of technical sophistication’.

I think that the iPad is really the consumer marketplace bellweather for the information appliance of the future. Yes, computing is getting consumerized – at both ends of the spectrum, the utility and the appliance.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 8, 2010 at 1:00 am 1 comment

digital asset management

Talent is an asset
You’ve got to understand that
Talent is an asset
And little Albert has it
Talent is an asset
And Albert surely has it

In my wanderings across the media landscape I have encountered, “Digital Asset Management”, “Media Asset Management”, “Content Management”, “Asset Management” etc. All terms which each of you have similarly faced. But, why so many terms for the inflection from tape to digital?

I believe the confusion arises out of workflow, product functionality and the need for vendor differentiation. Obfuscation is a remarkable sales tool, and perhaps this taxonomic confusion exemplifies the case of “those who cannot do – sell.”

On a much kinder note, perhaps the confusion is a natural response to a nascent technology, one born out of digital abstraction of a physical entity. You see, when you can touch something, as a human, your perception is that it has some innate value. When you cannot touch it, the value is diminished. Unless we actually have equity in the content, we lose the connection between perceived financial value and the invisible bits which ultimately express the value. In fact, we ascribe value to the infrastructure which enables those bits to be expressed i.e. network, PC, iPod, Plasma TV, STB etc. My theory for why even seemingly upstanding citizens engage in dubious ‘pirate’ activities. I also encountered this mindset in China in the mid 90’s when the value of a CD was in the medium i.e. the plastic, more so that what was on it. Similarly when couriering software and data mag-tapes across continents, customs officials always wanted to know the value of the tapes, not really understanding the value of their contents.

For the record, I gravitate to the term digital asset management. The core of understanding lies in understanding Assets themselves. First a little definition.

Assets have three essential characteristics:

  • The probable present benefit involves a capacity, singly or in combination with other assets, in the case of profit oriented enterprises, to contribute directly or indirectly to future net cash flows, and, in the case of not-for-profit organizations, to provide services;
  • The entity can control access to the benefit;
  • The transaction or event giving rise to the entity’s right to, or control of, the benefit has already occurred.

In normal speak, this is an ability to

  • make money or provide services
  • maintain control or access
  • leverage transactions

This seems intuitively complete for our understanding of the things we need to do to digital content regardless of type. Yet how many digital asset management systems have financial interfaces? Furthermore, how many effectively enable their content with the aforementioned characteristics? How many are just plain digital ‘libraries’ or ‘content management’ repositories?

In the financial accounting sense of the term, it is not necessary to be able to legally enforce the asset’s benefit for qualifying a resource as being an asset, provided the entity can control its use by other means.

This raises another interesting encounter with a recent customer. As a very large content creator, they were not so much interested in protecting their content with DRM as their main customers were Service Providers like broadcasters, cable companies and telcos. They distributed their content via the web, in most cases with FTP, and fully expected their business partner to abide by contractual usage provisions. In fact, if the content were ‘over-utilized’, then in a sense, that is fine by my customer – more exposure. However, their prime concern was ‘editing’ of the content, i.e. changing the creative content, or the storyline, or the brand. As long as the content was edited in compliance with regulations that was OK, but if it was edited to allow more commercial content, then that was not OK.

By extension, media asset management expands my definition of digital asset management, to include the tracking of physical copies of the content i.e. tapes, CDs, manuscripts etc. Hence the usage of the word media, implying all manifestations of content instantiation.

So, when you use the phrase ‘asset’, it is important to understand that the digital content has a ‘value’, and that this value needs to be wrapped with rights to ensure that the maximum equity is extracted for the minimum liability, financial or otherwise.  Failure to do so, in my mind implies that you are only addressing one part of the business, the technical operations.

Without an appreciation of the valuation of their digital inventory, how is a business ever going to evolve to a new digital business model?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

February 18, 2010 at 1:00 am 2 comments

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

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

who, or what is the target?

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

Today, a target audience largely depends upon the capabilities, processes and systems employed by the medium doing the targeting. The following summarizes the primary marketing (targeting) approaches.

  1. Demographic – This is traditional targeting of consumers based upon commonly accepted media currencies such as their age, gender, income and ethnicity.
  2. Geo-targetingTargets a consumer in a certain geographic area using location data mined from the ISP or IP address. This is a powerful tool for local businesses to leverage new rich-media ads. This approach enables the display of local product inventories to customers and is especially valuable for promotional and impulse type buys.
  3. BehavioralSometime called ‘profiling’ and it works by tracking the actions large numbers of users as they surf the web and aggregates their behavior for trends. These patterns signal behaviors that become the basis for targeting and often include purchase history. For example: A visit to an on-line car site can be the basis for serving an auto ad after a consumer moves onto a non-auto-related site. Behavioral targeting allows a Web publisher, for example, to charge premium rates for a luxury-car ad even on a lightly visited site about needlepoint, especially if the user’s previous Web activity shows an interest in buying an automobile.
  4. ContextualThis matches the ad to the content actually being consumed regardless of format. For example, an article about buying homes serves up an insurance ad or a documentary film on animals provides a good place to inject a public service ad for animal protection.
  5. AffinityThis is very similar to contextual but tends to match ad to the theme or genre of the published content. For example, a digital camera marketer may choose to advertise on sites or video channels dedicated to consumer electronics.
  6. DaypartThis is used to focuses on people’s work and lifestyle schedules. For example, serving ads for coffee to commuters between 7-10 a.m. This type of targeting also works well for impending product releases and roadblock campaigns, but is generally directed to an audience to increase the candidate consumer base as prospects for more refined future targeting. Alternatively, it may also me used in conjunction with other approaches to refine those consumers being targeted.
  7. Purchase-basedTracks the purchase history of users to establish trends, much like behavioral. People who bought one brand’s shoes might be interested in more of the same or of another brand.
  8. RetargetingAims to locate consumers who dropped off midway through the path to a purchase and serve them a new ad in the hopes they will complete the purchase. Called remarketing in the offline world and sometimes classified as part of behavioral targeting online.

Note that the above approaches, along with their highlighted examples make no mention of medium specific subtleties. Often these have been institutionalized by work practices or by consumer-medium interactions, but they have also been imposed by the constraints of the medium’s infrastructure capabilities. Consequently, the more different mediums consolidated by an organization’s business model, the more difficult it is to price, offer, deliver and measure multi-media advertising offerings to buyers. Even more difficult is to create meaningful cross-medium targeted buys.

Even more difficult is getting close enough to the consumer to be relevant at an affordable transaction cost. Today, the web is clearly most efficient. Why? Because the consumer’s web device does the targeting! IP is marketing magic. IPTV will become the way of the future, eventually surpassing broadcast in terms of cost/reach efficiency.

And for a change in humor, check out his video on the state of the media industry’s (in)ability to cope with this mess…

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

June 11, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

the disruption of IP

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin.

When an industry is undergoing substantial change, market leaders hoping to thrive must adapt their business models to the new industry’s realities. As simple as that may sound, most organizations are not flexible enough to meet such challenges. This is born out historically through the rise of new players as industries change.

In the current media landscape, the ability for a media organization to aggregate an audience is becoming an increasingly Quixotian task. As channels, mediums and entertainment opportunities proliferate, audience fragmentation disproportionately accelerates, exacerbated by the technology opportunities in the consumer’s arsenal of gadgetry. The consumer is increasingly dividing time across home media networks comprised of gaming consoles, personal computers, digital cameras, MP3 players, DVD players/recorders and media hub hardware in addition to the ‘traditional’ TV. All of these devices are becoming IP enabled and networked to the world at large. As they do, bits spill out, leaving a crumb trail behind the consumer. This trail reflects a decreasing span of attentiveness, with a correspondingly increased craving for the latest digital morsel recommended by their social network peers.

The key here is that all of these consumer devices are now IP enabled.

This drives networking of devices, people and content. People with devices, devices with devices, people with people and both devices and people with content.

That is what is driving the behavioral changes and the disruptive force behind the media industry – a standard, seamless way to plug into the world. And yet, over 70% of the world is still not connected. The natural consequence of this technology and behavioral change is that ads can be placed in the delivery channel far closer to the consumer more cost-effectively than ever before… and before long we’ll be inundated with ads specifically destined for our eyeballs.

Tell me it isn’t so…I’m listening.

April 2, 2009 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

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