Content Ascending

February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

The few blog posts in this space over the past couple of weeks have been mostly concerned with the Huffington Post/Aol deal (here and here) and the debut of new subscription models for publishers courtesy of iPad and Google’s One Pass (here). There is a common thread to them and it is content.

At other times, posts have been made here spearing content mills, Aol’s included. Demand Media’s IPO in the last few weeks was, nevertheless, another story about content – whether quasi, or not.

Content, and its material importance to the online media business, seems to be ascending. That would be an important sign of progress after the years it has spent living under the roof of technology.

Along these lines Ad Age interviews Michael Wolf, who, with Anil Dash, started Activate, a digital consulting firm which sounds like it is helping media companies save their content from drowning in the torrent of new media technology. They quote Michael at the end, saying:

“Media companies do well when you have competition between platforms. We aren’t sure what platforms are going to work and what consumers will buy. We’ve gone from this free and open web where everything is available back to a point where things are closed. We are now back to a place that works very well for media, and that is scarcity. The idea that somehow a media company could be back in the position that they create scarcity and therefore create value it totally turns on its head the way things have been going until now. This is the moment of revaluing content.”

It is hard to say on the basis of a few paywall models that we’ve gone from open to closed. But it does appear this is the moment of revaluing content. In which case it should lead to alignment with other media platforms making it easier for advertisers to answer the question, “How do I use new media?”

The answer won’t surprise them. Use it the same way consumers use it: for content.

Twitter Shares a Few Secrets with Advertisers – and Explains Everything

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Twitter has produced an instructional video for advertisers to help them chart its waters and, presumably, lead them to spend more money on the social network. The news and a link to the 40 minute video were shared by Peter Kafka in his MediaMemo at All Things Digital.

I won’t be watching the video. But Kafka reports that at the end Twitter producers warn advertisers they may be subject to negative feedback from users objecting to the commercialization. Don’t panic, they reportedly say: this segment of the population is “an extremely marginal percentage of the total.”

Undoubtedly true. But don’t be fooled, because it is probably comparable to the extremely marginal percentage of total Twitter users that they estimate will be engaged with the advertising, which is only one to three percent, according to Kafka’s story.

Thus, Twitter’s teaching video explains everything, successfully describing the state of advertising play online. It is isolated on the fringes – an extremely marginal group of advertising performance metrics making the case against an extremely marginal group of antagonists, by shooting over the heads of a vast, commercially unengaged population of users.

To embrace the comfort offered by Twitter is to accept the fact that the marginal groups just don’t make much of a difference.

Paywalls? There’s an App for that.

February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

It seems like so long ago that Rupert Murdoch was out there stumping for paywalls and attracting the derision of the New Media proletariat. Then came iPad, which deflected the conversation away from the issue of content and towards the issue of apps. Now, today, the buzz is about Apple’s 30% cut on publisher subscription prices within its app and Google’s new One Pass paid content system.


Super Bowl Gets Social Media into the Big Game

February 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

A headline in today’s SmartBrief Social Media newsletter reads, “How Social Media Saved the Super Bowl,” which causes one to think, no wonder traditional media hates the internet.

The article itself, which appears in and is written by Optimedia US CEO, Antony Young, is not so cocky. The title reads, “Why Social Media Hasn’t Killed the Super Bowl For Advertisers”, which at least acknowledges in some form that Super Bowl ad spots on Fox have been sold-out since October at $3 million per 30 seconds thank you very much. So, tweet that.

Antony Young’s point is that marketers are finding ways to use social media to extend the value of their expensive Super Bowl campaigns. This year, for instance, they are releasing Super Bowl spots early into social media channels in order to build buzz for their campaigns, clearly a good idea. Antony certainly seems to think so. He also thinks the Super Bowl will remain a very good partner to other media – social media included – and a “super marketing and media event for advertisers.”

Someone at the new, digitally enhanced and enthused probably wrote the title for Young’s piece on the site, and when it left there it must have been one of SmartBrief’s social media revisionists that, in a stretch, interpreted social media as Super Bowl rescuer. A better, more accurate description of the piece might have been “Super Bowl Gets Social Media into the Big Game.”

In which case, just a little “Thanks, Mean Joe,” would do.


February 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bloomberg reported that Google received 75,000 job applications from around the world during the last week of January, a new record for the company that gives it a significant head start on its plans to hire 6,000 new employees this year.

Many of them may have been attracted by the chance to work on a car that will drive by itself. According to the Bloomberg piece, Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering and Research, Alan Eustace, blogged:

“We’ll hire as many smart, creative people as we can to tackle some of the toughest challenges in computer science: like building a Web-based operating system from scratch, instantly searching an index of more than 100 million gigabytes and even developing cars that drive themselves.”

A Google car? It is at least the sort of remark that should not be allowed to slip through the cracks. Google may insist that it is a technology company, but it makes most of its money selling ads, on the web, based on search results. In which case, which of these things is not like the other?

1. Web-based operating system

2. Searchable index of more than 100 million gigabytes

3. Cars that drive by themselves

If you said web-based operating system, don’t be boring. It is simply interesting that Google would anticipate a business development trajectory that would lead it into the self-driven automotive category. Meaning, an end game for Google Maps.


I have a friend who is a nut about smart roads and cars that drive themselves at one hundred miles an hour, inches from each other, with no traffic jams and no wrong turns. And now, instead of tolls, infrastructure will support itself with advertising. In-Car advertising to compete with the radio.

GoogleWagons. iCars.

By then, hopefully, it will be time to retire.

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