I’ve taken quite a bit of time off from posting any thoughts, but the media business is changing so rapidly that I just had to put a few thoughts down for kicks.
*Ken Sonenclar, managing director of DeSilva+Phillips, opened the media investment bank’s Future of Celebrity Media conference, by pointing out that entertainment mags are down 18 percent, not as bad as magazines in general. And as more bloggers create their one celeb-focused sites and media stars like Ashton Kutcher and Martha Stewart are reaching to fans directly via Twitter, bypassing the traditional avenues. It’s getting so bad, Sonenclar said, “Even paparazzi aren’t being paid well anymore. They’re competing with too many so-called amateurs.”
As for online, Yahoo’s OMG leads by far when it comes to uniques, Sonenclar said, showing a bar chart of celeb sites. OMG is distantly followed by TMZ and People, and Microsoft’s Wonderwall, which has come out of nowhere. However, 90 percent of Wonderwall’s traffic comes from people clicking on the “celebrity” channel on MSN’s homepage. The same is true for OMG’s success. While that may skew those sites popularity, versus celeb mag sites run by People and Entertainment Weekly, advertisers don’t really care, Sonenclar said. Still, whether those sites can create brands as well known as People and EW, remains a very open question. Ultimately, the power of celebrity brands still make it possible for established media to hold their own in terms of attracting users and sponsors.
A Studio head that gets it:
*Less than a week after the announcement that Disney (NYSE: DIS) was taking an equity stake in the News Corp-NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) joint venture. Iger told analysts: “We believe that broader distribution of our content makes sense given the growth in online viewing,” adding, “New media isn’t going away.
“We absolutely must be where our consumers are going.” One reason: if Disney and others don’t make programming available on a well-timed, well-priced basis, consumers will find it anyway. Iger said going with a service like Hulu helps fight piracy by offering better alternatives.
But avoiding piracy isn’t the only rationale. Iger wants to be where the audience is and, so far, the demographics for Hulu are younger than those for broadcast television. Just as he has with iTunes sales and ABC.com VOD, Iger stressed that cannibalization isn’t a concern. Instead, Disney sees a way to expand its reach to views.
Search Engines –2 NEW TYPES:
# 1- Systemic Knowledge – meaning its not searching but computing the answer (think Spock from Star Trek). Visit : http://www.wolframalpha.com/
# 2- And Real-Time search – is the second. They are: one from OneRiot and one from Tweetmeme . Real-time search also can be found here: Twitter Search, , FriendFeed and the recently launched Scoopler. But for the most part, oneriot, tweetmeme and scoopler all are designed from the get-go as ‘real-time’ engines.
*Wolfram Alpha is a search engine that you can use to compute systematic knowledge immediately. You can put in anything you would like to know and you can compare multiple results with each other. There is no need to know how to search; just type in what you want to know.
This is significant in that real-time search s now becoming more important from a ‘social’ perspective than before. First and foremost what emerges out of this is a new metaphor — think streams vs. pages. John Bothwick describes it like this:
“In the initial design of the web reading and writing (editing) were given equal consideration – yet for fifteen years the primary metaphor of the web has been pages and reading. The metaphors we used to circumscribe this possibility set were mostly drawn from books and architecture (pages, browser, sites etc.). Most of these metaphors were static and one way. The steam metaphor is fundamentally different. It’s dynamic, it doesn’t live very well within a page and still very much evolving.
A stream. A real time, flowing, dynamic stream of information — that we as users and participants can dip in and out of and whether we participate in them or simply observe we are a part of this flow. “
Umair Haque, the new Director of Havas’ Media lab had a great discussion about the value of brands which got me thinking about all of this over the weekend – and he’s on to something. The greatest and most popular brands in the world have been around for decades. Things that we almost take for granted; Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, GE, Nike, Toyota, Disney, McDonalds, and the list goes on. These are big companies that all have been around for many years, some for nearly 50 years. Each of these companies spend millions of advertising dollars every year to ‘promote’ their image. However, the world is changing and rapidly. Consumers are being bombarded and exposed to new and ever changing media on the web. When I think about any particular brand, what I believe I’m getting no matter what kind of material object I buy is an expectation of or a standard of quality. For instance, if I buy Nike sneakers, I know what I can expect or if I purchase a Coach wallet, I expect the wallet to last at least 2-3 years (or longer than most every other wallet) because its a Coach wallet. Coach leather is a brand I have come to know and the quality of their products are far superior to other manufacturers (at least that’s what I think). Its an expectation I have or a benefit I expect from a product or service. I know in advance what to expect. So, for years, we’d see advertising on TV or in magazines, on billboards or in newspapers about those brands. Not necessarily advertising the actual products, but big, full page ads proclaiming GE as the company that thinks about your future, etc. Big ads, big dollars and it reached most of us through the media mentioned above. It was and still is expensive, but it worked, that is until now. Enter the internet. The web has changed the game for these brands and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Think about this one – the biggest brand in the world has never spent a nickel to advertise itself. That brand is Google. Why? It doesn’t have to. But why and how did Google manage to become the top or if not the top, one of the top brands on the planet? Through the internet and its commonality of use and discussion among us. A huge, online community emerged that had something in common – they ‘googled’. Google has never spent any money on advertising itself. Its talked about, discussed, and in a short period of time has become a brand by doing nothing more than delivering what it suppose to deliver to us – results. No promises of this or that to listen to or read. The free ‘use’ and global access has created a brand with no advertising. Bigger than most firms over 40 years old that have spent millions every year to keep its ‘brand’ in front of all of us. Information does not need to be contained into slogans or cute commercials during the Superbowl. Its amazing to me that in less than 10 years, Google has built one of the worlds most best known brands without spending a dime on advertising on TV, newspapers, etc. Think about it…its really quite amazing.
Even Yahoo advertised. Maybe they shouldn’t have.
It’s Christmas time and more and more of those ever ‘elusive’ screeners are appearing now online each day (and other films too, not just screeners) . Just showing up last night and ALL in DVD Screener quality; I am Legend , Gone Baby Gone, Zodiac, Resident Evil Extinction, Stardust, The Simpsons Movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Eastern Promises, Underdog (what a waste of digital storage space), Once, The Kite Runner, 3:10 to Yuma, Atonement, The Bee Movie, No Country for Old Men, Alvin and The Chipmunks, August Rush, and The Perfect Holiday. Still MIA are (but I expect will rear their heads in a few days); Fred Claus, Enchanted, Michael Clayton, The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, Charlie Wilson’s War, Beowolf, P.S. I Love You and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
The DVD screeners are nearly all ‘poached’ from someone in each studio. The screener ‘log’ number (embedded in the digital copy near the bottom of the screen) has been digitally removed so it can’t be identified as to whose screener copy it actually was.
It appears that the crop of pictures are as robust as last years and that despite numerous anti-theft measures by each studio, films STILL make it out the door. Some are Region 5 copies, most are dvd screeners, internal to each studio. However, with the demise of Kazaa and Limewire in the past year and half, the distribution of these ‘pirated’ copies has diminished. The reason being that Kazaa and Limewire enabled the non-technical consumers to be able to download a copy of anything with only 1 click. Getting films such as the ones I’ve mentioned above now from newsgroups requires a pretty sophisticated and long process and some technical understanding and expertise. Most of this is well beyond the masses online. That’s the good news. But in truth, these ‘advance’ screeners end up being discussed and chatted about online much like topics you might discuss around the proverbial ‘water cooler’ at your office. These discussions (positive or negative) filter down into people’s blogs, messageboards, IM chats and eventually get swept up onto Google somewhere giving that film some additional exposure it never would of had through traditional channels. After all, isn’t that what each studio tries to do with all of their content when its released, ultimately promote it? Wouldn’t it be cool one day if someone at a studio realized all of this and made a film with 2 different endings (or additional scenes) to try and take advantage of this unregulated distribution ‘channel’. Purposely release the DVD screener of 1 version (ending) and then the other (the theatrical version) through normal channels. Think of the buzz and consumer demand (especially if the film was popular) to now find that other version and see the alternate ending. Of course, then they could release THAT version through traditional channels giving the studio’s perhaps a larger slice of DVD sales at retail.