Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Aggregating and Re-Packaging Print Online

Scott Karp wrote an extraordinary piece in Digital Media Wire about how the web forces publishes to unbundle content and allow readers to search for the content they want.

He discusses how Advanstar has consolidated its content to allow its readers to search for content in one portal site.

Karp writes:

Publishing was a great business because you could sell the WHOLE package
(title) even though readers only valued PART of the package (articles), and you
could get readers to buy multiple packages even though what would really serve
them best was a single package with exactly the content they wanted.

On the web, of course, all that has changed.

Publishing online has become much more reader-centric, where smart publishers are now unbundling the old content packages that were defined by print titles, pouring all the content into one big bucket, and allowing readers to access that content by topic or through search. These publishers are not throwing out the print brands, as they still have great value (e.g. trust, authority), but they are allowing each article to stand on its own and be part of many different content packages.
In short, to quote David Weinberger, these niche publishers are finding that all of their content is miscellaneous.

Here’s a great video that dramatizes the new realities of
digital content: For example, Advanstar recently announced that it had
integrated all of its health care industry journal sites into a single portal
site (via Folio): Existing Web sites for Advanstar’s five primary care publications—including Medical Economics—and seven specialty care publications will be integrated into The portal will also offer article summaries from 300 peer reviewed journals, coding and reimbursement tools, formulary status tools, a library of CME programs, customized patient education, and coverage of more than 80 medical conferences. Content is free but access requires registration and Advanstar expects more than 100,000 registered users in 2008.

“At a time when pharma is challenged, this allows you to have a revenue
stream beyond just pharma,” says Steve Morris, executive vice president of
Advanstar’s Life Science Group. “We don’t want to make this just another CME
site. This really broadens the idea of what a portal site should be.”
That broader business focus includes partnering with traditional competitors,
including CMP, which is offering its Search Medica search tool to, as well as Quadrant, which is offering a CME planning tool.

“People recognize they may not have the assets to build something this big but
maybe they can partner with us and get a revenue share,” says Morris.
There two are notable elements about First, users can
browse content by TOPIC, rather than by publication title. These topics are
organized into a Resource Centers:

For example, here is a list of articles from the Diabetes
Resource Center
— notice how the print brands are still highlighted, but the
content has been completely repackaged by topical focus.

Here’s another example from the Family
Medicine Resource Center

Of course, users are not limited to these fixed Resource Center topics — they can
easily search across all of the content by any keyword, e.g. diabetes
. The second notable element is the aggregation of content
summaries from other medical journals NOT published by Advanstar:

The inclusion of third-party content is a radical step from a traditional publishing
perspective but makes perfect sense from this new user-centric perspective.
Here’s how it’s framed for users:

Rather than asking users to subscribe to every publication, Advanstar is wisely asking them to register only once and then leverage that user data across the the
entire site. What’s really striking is how much more user-friendly this
approach is, particularly for a general title like Patient Care, which is
probably relevant to all physicians but only some of the time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Universal McCann Forecasts Paltry Ad Spending Growth

As reported in Crains New York, Universal McCann, a widely respected forecaster of advertiser spending, reduced its estimate of 2007 spending growth to 0.7 %. This is down significantly from the 4.8% growth projected for 2007 twelve months ago.

Back in September, Crains reported figures from Nielsen that showed television, radio and newspaper advertising was dropping while internet advertising rose 23.6%.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, with advertiser spending remaining somewhat flat with a redistribution toward the internet.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Convert Web Traffic to Customers

There are a number of ways that web businesses can increase their conversion rate of website visitors to customers.

Web analytic programs can tell you where the visitors go and when they leave. High rates of drop off on a shopping cart page can alert you to problems. You can test different web designs or "paths" you would like visitors to take to see which configurations are most friendly to converting customers. Points of "friction" where people jump off the path and leave before becoming a buyer can be identified and hopefully eliminated.

But on a more fundamental level, one should focus on content and lead generation.

Educational webinars are outstanding lead generators because - like a white paper - people willingly exchange their contact information for access to the content.

Webinars offer a visual and audio experience that is more engaging than a white paper, and the content gives people a reason to linger on the website. Unlike a white paper, at the end of a webcast the viewer is put back on the site – perhaps on a shopping cart page with a call to action.

Every business has a story to tell. Webinars are the perfect platform to educate visitors to your site about the business issues your customers face, why a customer needs a product or service like yours, the consequences of not addressing the needs met by a product or service like yours, and why your product or service is better than other competing solutions.

If you do not provide your potential customers with factual, objective information about your value proposition and are simply relying on them to understand the relevant business drivers on their own, you are certainly not converting as high a percentage as you could be.

All this information may already be on the website, but 60% of communication is non-verbal and people do not like to read.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mobile Video is Here

According to Infonetics Research, only a few million people subscribe to mobile video service but that number will grow to 58.6 million people by 2010.

Sales of video phones are projected to increase from $58 billion last year to $125 billion by 2010.

Jeff Heynen, analyst at Infonetics, said:

Despite some concerns around the business plan and subscriber take rates,
major service providers continue to move forward with their mobile video network
rollouts. In addition, governments are very quickly lining up behind various
mobile video technologies to help facilitate deployments, with the EU's
endorsement of DVB-H and the Chinese government's sponsorship of CMMB being the two most visible efforts

If these projections are correct, video on the third screen will be ubiquitous by the end of this decade.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lead Generation

ATT acquired Ingenio, a pay per call technology that allows advertisers to track responses to specific ads by providing unique phone numbers.

Ingenio was founded in 1999 and has raised a total of $109 million in venture capital money, according to the article in Digital Media Wire.

This technology will be a nice additional to ATT's mobile advertising service. It also illustrates how important it is to be able to track who is watching ads and taking action - a need that webcasting meets.

Webcasting is an unsurpassed lead generation tool.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sports Networks Join the Fray

ESPN and TNT have acquired the rights to stream live NBA games, reports Last100.

Earlier this year, the NFL struck a deal with DirectTV - even though it is limited to DirectTV customers.

MLB.TV has been streaming for some time.

The content is compelling and the audience is attractive. That is a successful formula for profitable internet broadcasting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On a Clear Day You Can Hear General Motors

Chrysler has a new chief executive, a fact that is not particularly important for the purposes of this narrative. What is more relevant is that he webcast his comments about the future of Chrysler.

This little tidbit appears in paragraph 6 of the New York Times article:
Mr. Nardelli also said in the speech, which was broadcast online, that car
shoppers want gadgets. “It has to have the latest technologies on board. It has
to provide the comfort, it has to be kind of self-tutorial, on the education of
Hearing a chief executive describe his or her vision for the future is no revelation; quarterly earnings calls have been going on for more than a decade. The noteworthy part here is that the speech to which the article refers does not seem to be mandated by federal regulations - as quarterly earnings calls are.

If this is the case, then Chrysler CHOSE to broadcast this via the internet and that carries some interesting implications.

The television is as expensive as it is effective for spreading a message; ask politicians and televangelists. A company like Chrysler probably has to continue spending millions on advertisements to maintain "brand awareness" in the zeitgeist, but would it not be interesting if Chrysler started spending thousands on webinars targeting "car enthusiasts" -- much like a politician forgoing a big television buy in an urban market to target "likely voters" with webcasts.

Of course, that would force the Chrysler guy to up the quality of his message from people want cupholders and gadgets [read the article and you will see that is an accurate paraphrase].

Monday, October 29, 2007

Streaming Media West

Streaming Media West is an important conference to those in the business of internet broadcasting. I will be attending the show and will share as much as I can.

Here are a few words about the conference from the organizers:

Attended by more than 2,500 executives last year, Streaming Media West is the
only show that covers both the business of online video and the technology of
streaming, downloading, Webcasting, Internet TV, IPTV, and mobile video.

Covering both corporate and consumer business, technology, and content issues in
the enterprise, advertising, media and entertainment, broadcast, and education
markets, Streaming Media West is about more than just streaming!

This year at Streaming Media West, you can attend the new “demo” sessions and learn firsthand how to apply these technologies in your business immediately. Learn how to choose a software-based media encoder, how to create compelling online video ads, learn the costs for outsourced hosting and video delivery, get a crash
course on the new Adobe Media Player, see some of the latest P2P networks in
action, and hear directly from the analyst and banking communities on what the
outlook is for investment in the online video sector.

Streaming Media West 2007 combines cutting-edge exhibitors and intensive conference sessions with more than 100 speakers, giving you the chance to hear and see the best and the brightest minds in the online video industry—at the podium, in the Exhibit Hall, and among the attendees. We look forward to seeing you at the show!

Business executives can hear speakers talking about the latest issues including Online Video Advertising, Successful Models for Consumer-Based Content, The Future for Portable Wireless Content, IPTV & Video On-Demand Cable Services, Broadband Video Advertising, The Business of Podcasting And Video Blogging, Using Video For Viral Marketing to Teenagers, and Rich Media and The Road to Convergence, plus others.

Technology executives can focus on sessions such as Selecting the Right Hardware Software For Webcasting, IP-Based Conferencing and Collaborative Applications, Protecting Digital Assets, Choosing the Best Video Codec, Using Streaming and Videoconferencing In Healthcare, Unique Challenges to Enterprise Streaming, Tools And Strategies For Content Creation and Encoding, IPTV Deployment, Best Practices For Windows Media Video Encoding, and Creating Content with Macromedia Flash Video -- all planned to bring you to speed on the latest technical challenges and solutions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Online Advertising Revenue Hits $10 Billion Mark

As reported in Crain's new york,

Internet advertising revenue reached a record $10 billion during the first half of 2007, marking a 27% increase over the same period last year, according to a report released Thursday by The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The article quotes IAB Chief Executive Randall Rothenberg, who says:

Internet advertising revenue reached a record $10 billion during the first half of 2007, marking a 27% increase over the same period last year, according to a report released Thursday by The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Microsoft Poked: Facebook Hits the Jackpot

Microsoft and Facebook announced that Microsoft will take a $240 million stake in Facebook. This round of financing values Facebook at $15 billion.

Facebook is interesting and all... but after Google had to write off $1.4 billion on Skype, I am not sure if Microsoft got poked or punked.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Original Internet Programming

As reported on Online Video Watch, the good people at MySpaceTV are getting into the business of delivering original entertainment programming.

"Roommates" is an episodic reality series tracking the lives of eight comely young women who have recently graduated college. Four live together and four will be contributing remote video blogs. MySpaceTV will broadcast 45 three minute episodes, and they were able to attract Ford as a sponsor.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An 87% Drop in Net Income

Dow Jones announced an 87% drop in net income for Q3 versus the prior year. That number is skewed by last year's gains due to the sale of several local newspapers and a tax benefit. Nonetheless, print advertising continued its decline.

In its last earnings statement before it is absorbed by News Corp, the only growing operations were its digital businesses.

The results illustrate why Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal,
has beefed up its electronic businesses as its traditional publishing operations

Friday, October 12, 2007

Five New Rules for Management

The Gallup Management Journal released an article titled: "Five New Rules for Management: Lessons From Some of the World's Best Companies."

Rule 1: You can't measure and manage the employee and customer
experiences as separate entities.

"...this means that you cannot separate the responsibility for the quality of a company's employee relationships from the responsibility for the quality of its customer relationships."

Rule 2: Emotion frames the employee-customer encounter.

"The measurement and management of the employee-customer encounter must acknowledge and incorporate the crucial emotional infrastructure of human behavior and decision making, yielding a concept that extends beyond traditional considerations of employee and customer satisfaction..."

Rule 3: You must measure and manage the employee-customer encounter at a local level.

"Though companies can manage many kinds of organizational activities effectively from the top down, the employee-customer encounter is an intensely local phenomenon..."

Rule 4: We can quantify and summarize the effectiveness of the
employee-customer encounter in a single performance measure

"The interactive effects of employee and customer engagement at the local
level exponentially drive operational and financial performance and

Essentially, Gallup makes the point that an employee who has a good "relationship" with his or her employer and feels a part of a broader corporate culture is more likely to create positive experiences for customers at the point of contact.

How to create such a relationship and establish a culture of service? See Rule 5.

Rule 5: Improvement in local HumanSigma performance requires deliberate and active intervention through attention to a combination of transactional and transformational intervention activities.

"Transactional activities, such as action planning, training, and other aggressive interventions, are cyclical interventions that tend to be topical and short-term in focus and to recur regularly. They are designed to help your company do what it already does -- but do it better."
Rule five is a mouthful, but they are saying there are two ways to create the positive employee relationships that lead to positive customer interactions and one of them is to focus on training.

Employees cannot believe in their company if they do not understand what the company stands for. Employees cannot create successful customer experiences if they do not understand the desired customer experience.

McDonalds thrives because they can replicate their customer experience to the smallest detail anywhere in the United States. The food is not gourmet, but they execute it extremely well; it always tastes exactly the same.

Webcasting is an efficient and effective way to deliver the type of training and employee communications that build the consistency and esprit de corps that leads to consistently great interactions with customers.

Superior customer experiences are essential to maintaining differentiation and justifying margins.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leverage Your VCU Investment

Companies that have embraced video conferencing will be happy to know that they can leverage that investment to facilitate webcasting. The video conferencing rooms they have outfitted can be used as "studios" to create video content for internet broadcast.

Instead of sending the signal to another receiving video conference room, a webcasting company can take the video signal from the video conferencing unit (VCU) and encode it for real time or on demand streaming over the internet.

Video conferencing and webcasting are different tools with different purposes. A webcast streams content directly to the viewers' computers and the content is viewed with a common media player like Windows Media Player or Real Player. The audio is heard over the computer speakers.

Using this tool, a top ten pharmaceutical company produced the following ROI:

- Reduced Investigator Meeting Costs by over 67%
- Reduced Sales Training Costs by $130k-$200k versus off site (65%)
- Reduced Medical Education costs by over $300 per physician (70%)
- Reduced Direct to Physician (DTP) marketing costs by over 40%
- Rep calls increased over 3x and physician touch increased from 3 to 8 minutes.

One company replaced a sales teleconference that cost $40 per attendee with a web-conference that cost $3.75 per attendee, reducing costs from $32,500 to $3,000.

Monday, October 8, 2007

News Flash: Email Can Be Misunderstood!

The New York Times printed an article by Daniel Goleman in which he discusses the inability of email to communicate emotion effectively.

This is not news to anyone who has used an emoticon to re-assure that the snarky observation in their email is sarcastic, but Goleman adds a scientific component.

We have all heard the statistic that 80% of communication is non-verbal. Email is bereft of any visual cues or body language, so there is a significant opportunity for misinterpretation. Goleman suggests that email promotes misunderstanding:

This is becoming more apparent with the emergence of social neuroscience, the study of what happens in the brains of people as they interact. New findings have uncovered a design flaw at the interface where the brain encounters a computer screen: there are no online channels for the multiple signals the brain uses to calibrate emotions.

Face-to-face interaction, by contrast, is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us not only from their tone and facial expressions, but also from their body
language and pacing, as well as their synchronization with what we do and say.

Every form of communication has its place. Email is a killer app. The telephone is a staple. Face to face meetings are the best way to communicate but also the most expensive. A relatively inexpensive way to get the full visual experience to accompany an important message is a video webcast.

When a face to face meeting is not an option, like for a message delivered to a global enterprise, there are some messages that can only be entrusted to a video internet broadcast.

Goleman quotes Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in New York University’s interactive telecommunications program:

“When you communicate with a group you only know through electronic channels, it’s like having functional Asperger’s Syndrome — you are very logical and rational, but emotionally brittle,” Professor Shirky said.

“I’m part of a far-flung distributed network that at one point was designing a piece of software for sharing medical data; we worked mostly by conference calls and e-mail, and it was going nowhere. So we finally said we’d all fly to Boston and get together for two days, just sit in a room and hash it out.”

During that meeting, the team got an enormous amount of work done. And, Professor Shirky recalls, “because the synchronization by e-mail was so much better after the face-to-face piece, we actually hit the launch date.”

Video conferencing has its place, but that is still a point to point technology. The most efficient and cost effective way to deliver an effective message across a large enterprise is to use the video conferencing room as a "studio" to create a video webcast and stream it to the entire organization - time shifting if necessary to manage bandwidth usage.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Online Video Ad Sales to Cross Half-Billion Dollar Mark in 2008

Mike Abundo writes in his blog, Inside Online Video, that advertisers are projected to spend $560 million in 2008, according to Brian Wieser, SVP of Magna Global.

That may not seem like a huge slice of the $4.9 billion spent on online
advertising just in the first quarter of 2007, but consider this: while online
ad revenues are growing 26% per year, online video ad revenues are growing 55.5%
per year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blurred Lines Between Blogs and Traditional News Outlets

The moment often comes when an upstart organization is so successful battling the established Goliath that they have to start emulating the structures against which they have been fighting.

Such an organization needs to evolve, and the struggle then becomes how to preserve what made them so unique while changing the way they manage themselves to accommodate more volume.

That is not to say that bloggers are "fighting" against traditional news outlets. But it is fair to say that when a blog reaches a certain level of success it starts measuring its progress in more sophisticated ways than counting the number of daily hits.

The Huffington Post has succeeded in this way, and in the process has significantly blurred the lines between traditional news outlets and blogs. They hired Betsy Morgan, who was the general manager of, as their chief executive.

Bill Carter wrote in the New York Times:

“Getting somebody like this to come to our site says a boatload about where
the industry is going,” said Kenneth Lerer, who has been acting as the chief
executive of The Huffington Post and will move up to chairman. He founded the
site along with Arianna Huffington, the political commentator.

I agree with Mr. Lerer.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Peer-to-Peer Television

The founders of Skype have thrown their hat into the ring and brought us Joost, a peer-to-peer television network.

As Brad Stone mentions in the New York Times, an eclectic collection of content and the memory demands of the sharing software is an impediment. Nonetheless, the field is more crowded. Stone writes:

Joost offers an odd and incomplete mix of new shows (“CSI”, clips from “the Late Show,”) old ones (“Lassie”, “Babylon 5”), music videos and a truly random movie selection, among other stuff.

On Friday, I asked Joost CEO Mike Volpi, a former Cisco executive, where Joost fits into this crowded world of online video. “The reason to get Joost, is that, first of all you get a great visual experience. It’s high quality video, better than it was even six months ago,” he said.“We also have good content and an increasingly larger library. If you showed up as user six months ago, you saw a couple music videos and some old movies. Now we have a lot of good stuff and we are adding new content every day.”

Later in the conversation, he again referenced the state of the service six months ago, when addressing why a quality Internet TV experience needed to be separated from the rest of the Web. “I think it is certainly fair to say the application started with content being completely separate, but over the last six months, we have brought the Web and Joost closer and closer. And what you’ll see in next six months is the distinctions wearing even further. We can have a quality video experience because of the peer to peer network, and at the same time be nicely and tightly integrated with the rest of the Internet.”

This is not the Joost you saw in spring, Mr. Volpi seems to be saying. My guess: the company saw a wave of users trying out the service back then, many of whom, like me, didn’t stick around. They’ll have to bring us back if Joost is ever going roost.

Another Broadcast Network Puts TV Content on Web

CBS has joined the fray and will be putting television content on the web with its new unit, EyeLab. The twist is that they will re-purpose the content into smaller clips instead of simply making full-length episodes available online.

According to the Wall Street Journal,

CBS says the inspiration for EyeLab came from a video posted on YouTube last year called "Endless Caruso One Liners." The clip, posted by a 27-year-old British man under the screen name "stewmurray47," is a montage of scenes from "CSI: Miami," showing star David Caruso uttering his characteristically pat catchphrases from the scene of the crime. The clip, just over seven minutes long, has been viewed more than a million times, according to YouTube.

CBS executive Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, said in the WSJ article:
preliminary network research shows that less than a third of CBS's Web audience
is interested in watching full-length episodes of shows online.

They are hoping that in addition to finding these re-purposed clips entertaining enough to sustain a model where advertisements are embedded, the content will also promote the network broadcasts.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Politics is Local

Tip O'Neill is reputed to have coined the phrase: "All Politics is Local." Tip himself gave the credit to his father.

John Edwards held a campaign event at the University of New Hampshire with MTV and MySpace, where he fielded live questions submitted through an IM system and audience members responded to live polls. Edwards then got the chance to react to the poll results in real time with the audience.

Scott Goldberg writes:

Real-time polling allowed the audience to give feedback during the forum,
and judging from the results, Edwards fared well.

Sixty-nine percent responded to the question "What do you think
about Senator Edwards' response(s) to ALL of the questions in this Presidential
dialogue?" by saying he had “good ideas.” One percent said he was “out of
touch,” and 5% said he has “the wrong ideas.”

National candidates SHOULD be leveraging the internet to reach and interact with voters in every community. Not everyone gets the retail politics that Iowans do.

Those of us who live in major cities get major television buys of terrible 30 second commercials. Regular internet broadcasts would be a more effective and significantly less-expensive way to reach voters, not as a complete replacement to television but as a new and extremely effective channel. And, needless to say, anyone willing to log in and interact with a candidate live for an hour on the internet is a likely voter.

Candidate X does 45 minutes on health care and takes 15 minutes of questions.

The next night, or the next week, Candidate X tackles Social Security. Then the next webcast is about foreign policy.

All the while, the candidate is building a library of sticky and informative content for the website.

Your candidate does not like the filter of the news programs and the talking heads selectively choosing sound bites? Go directly to the people!

Don't have the money to compete with the front-runner's media machine? Go directly to the people!

Local, retail politics engaging voters in smaller chunks of thousands via live, interactive webcasts.

I think Tip O'Neill would have approved.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time Shifting for the Enterprise

Time shifting has a number of meanings. For most people, the primary meaning relates to recording television programming and watching it at a more convenient date.

There were some pioneers, those who actually knew how to stop that annoying blinking 12:00 on the VCR, for whom time shifting is old news. But the advent of Tivo and digital video recorders has brought television time shifting to the masses.

In the workplace, time shifting can take a meaning that combines flex hours with hot-bunking to have multiple employees sharing the same work station by working in different shifts.

But in webcasting, time shifting involves recording a live event and then re-broadcasting the event at specific times.

What is the significance of that?

Webcasting allows an organization to broadcast a single, uniform, and correct message across its entire enterprise.

Any organization that wants to maintain a single standard for quality, a single message, a clearly-defined culture but faces the challenge of multiple channels, partners, re-sellers, distributors - often comprised of diverse cultures in numerous countries - can immediately appreciate the benefits of webcasting.

60% of communication is visual; video communication is simply more effective than a teleconference.

But what is the benefit of streaming live video to Japan when it is 10:00 PM there, and 1:00 AM in New Zealand, and 6:00 AM in California?

A much better way to send the message in a manner that is both convenient to viewers and allows the IT folks to manage the impact on their networks is to schedule broadcasts of the video content at intervals.

Stream the event live at 9:00 AM in New York. Then schedule a broadcast just for the San Francisco office at 9:00 AM Pacific. Then schedule an Asia broadcast for 9:00 AM their time (which, for them, is the following day).

Enterprise wide communications does not require simultaneous viewing of the content.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Real Estate Obsession

There was a time not so long ago when people were content to get their stock quotes from the newspaper. Back then it was good to be a stock broker: brokers held a monopoly over information about public companies and they held a monopoly over the ability to execute a trade.

If you wanted to buy or sell a stock, you had to engage a stockbroker; the low cost competition was Charles Schwabb.

24 hour cable news channels and internet trading changed that forever. Access to information and online trading made the financial markets more egalitarian. Regular people were invading the domain of the three piece suits and tracking their retirement savings in real time.

As a former financial consultant, I lived through this revolution. And I am starting to see it happen again.

For most people, their home is their greatest asset. If people will continue to obsess about the value of a 401(k) from which they cannot even withdraw funds for 15 years, they will just as readily consume information about the value of their homes and the homes in surrounding neighborhoods even though they are not planning to sell in the near term.

Real Estate professionals have been shielded by their monopoly over the local MLS services. But web sites like Zillow and Trulia are providing people with the comparable pricing data that used to be the preserve of the real estate broker.

The difference between real estate and the stock market is that there is not a ticker that tells you the value of your home from minute to minute. But that is coming....

For example, a New York cable outlet runs a television show that displays pictures of homes and lists prices. They are claiming the average viewing time is 20 minutes.

20 Minutes! And no Maria Bartiromo!

Real estate listings as entertainment.

It is just a mater of time before someone is regularly webcasting local real estate information, opinion, and commentary to local real estate markets.

People will always choose more information. A real estate brokerage that wants to continue justifying a 6% real estate commission and establish itself as the thought leader in a given community can leverage the internet to inexpensively deliver valuable educational content to serve its market place and position itself as the dominant brand.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Microsoft In Talks to Buy Facebook Stake

According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is in talks with Facebook about acquiring a stake of up to 5% in the social-networking site.

Microsoft's investments could could value Facebook at $10 billion or more, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google has also expressed strong interest in a possible Facebook investment, and the talks could set up a face-off between the tech titans.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Online Advertising and Reluctance

Scott Karp discusses in his blog, Publishing 2.0, a new report from McKinsey & Co. about advertiser behavior. The report concludes that advertisers are reluctant to spend ad dollars online because of the "absence of meaningful metrics and adequate capabilities."

As Karp notes, the metrics excuse is unfounded. It is only when advertisers rely on models designed for other mediums that the metrics are unreliable. When a platform like Google Gadget ads is used, the metrics are extremely accurate.

Karp writes: "The reality is that the attitudes expressed in the McKinsey report are all a smoke screen, intended to protect vested interests and organizations adapted to static media models, which went unchanged for decades, and not the dynamic innovation of the web. But they can’t deny that the future of advertising and marketing is online."

With a webcast, we can tell you who registered, who watched, for how long did they watch, what questions did they ask, how did they respond to live polls, how did they respond to post-event surveys, what browser they used, what player they used, was it Windows Media 9 or Windows Media 10, etc.

I would say those metrics lead to a straight-forward calculation of ROI.

Total Ad Spending Down 0.5%; Internet Ad Spending Up 23.6%

Mark Hefflinger reports in digitalmediawire that:

"U.S. advertising spending across all sectors was down 0.5% in the first half of 2007, compared with the same period a year ago, while Internet spending showed the strongest performance with a 23.6% increase..."

Network television ad spending was down 3.8%, network radio fell 8.5%, national newspaper ad spending was down 5.9%, while local newspaper ad spending was down 8%.

The ad dollars follow the eyeballs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reminder: The Real ROI of Webcasting will be hosting a webinar titled "The Real ROI of Webcasting" tomorrow, Thursday, September 20 at 2:00 pm EDT.

The webinar will feature Dan Rayburn and Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen from Streaming Media. "They will explore hot trends for webcasting and the event will feature live audience polls with results shared in real time."

If you want to attend the webinar, click this link:

Since this blog is devoted to discussing the ROI of webcasting, I will be interested to hear what Messieurs Rayburn and Schumacher-Rasmussen have to say.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yet Another Sign the Covergence is Upon Us - or Is That the Apocalypse?

If unsolicited employment inquiries for episodic original programming for the web merits a blog entry, then certainly Current TV's Emmy win deserves a mention.

About 25% of their programming is user-generated.

"Current TV was launched in 2005, after [Al] Gore and other investors paid a reported $70 million to Vivendi Universal to acquire the defunct Newsworld International cable network. "

I believe the fact that the television industry has acknowledged the internet as a entertainment broadcast channel and has blessed it with its own Emmy category is significant.

I will leave it to others to judge the impact - or calculate the odds - of Al Gore losing the 2000 presidential election and then winning an Oscar and an Emmy before his opponent left office.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I received this email this afternoon. I am not interested in or qualified for the job, but I am re-posting it here because it highlights so effectively how close we are to going beyond YouTube and really seeing the internet as a viable broadcast channel for original content.

This is just one recruiter working for one company looking for one project manager...

Product Manager/Innovator, Webisodic TV (Freelance, New York, NY)

Title: Product Manager/Innovator, Webisodic TV
Client: Leading Media Network
Location: New York, NY
Type: Freelance (strong potential for fulltime hire)

Yes, that's right. We're here. It's time. Almost every gig we've put out over the last 12 months has been leading us to this very gig alert -- an opportunity to define convergence as it should be.

So without further ado ...The Hired Guns are seeking a product manager with unbelievable web video chops for our client, a leading media network that is seeking to develop a platform for aggregating, distributing, promoting and monetizing episodic/serialized video programming created by independent show producers for the Web.

This is your chance to build an ecosystem for producers, audiences, and advertisers with the ultimate goal of moving the best series launched on your web platform to broadcast TV. The platform will allow show producers to upload their shows, distribute them simultaneously to their own site and a destination site that will be built by the network, and push them out to the Web.

Producers will monetize their content through advertising sold by the network. For consumers, differentiated product and user interface design will allow viewers to search for video content by show name, channel, or producer name. Through click-throughs, time spent viewing, other key tracking metrics and voting, users will be able to rank the good, the bad and the ugly. By allowing the audience to be the judge, the best content will rise to the top.

It is intended that the best of the web series will receive an on-air run on one of the network’s branded linear networks. In this way, the episodic video offering serves as a platform for low-cost talent evaluation and recruitment for the company’s linear television brands and terrific potential exposure for producers who don't want to go the typical Hollywood route. The best talent can go from relative obscurity to top of mind, all driven by the ultimate critic -- fans.(Note: if you're reading this and thinking, "Hey, I'm not a product manager, but I've got one hell of a web series that I'd like to get out there," send us your stuff! We'll get it over to our client in short order for evaluation.)

Your challenge as Product Manager will be to get this product to launch by year-end 2007 by bringing your brain, contacts and ingenuity, along with the full resources of the company, to bear on the effort -- from consumer research, technology and creative to sales and marketing.

Key Deliverables to Launch

Understand broad consumer, psychographic, competitive and video trends to determine number and type of channels (i.e. Sex, Business, Animated, etc) required at launch.

Work your Rolodex, your LinkedIn network and whatever else you've got to recruit short-form video shows and producers for launch.

Build pipeline of show producers through grass roots marketing and other viral recruitment efforts; sustain relationships with best-of-breed producers to develop brand as "preferred distribution partner."

Develop standard producer terms and contracts to facilitate rapid producer recruitment

Influence product design decisions and development to deliver differentiated user interface and experience.

Provide input to business model decisions (e.g. ad share, distribution relationships, promotion, etc.) to sustain long-term business model.

Build product requirements to achieve on-time and in-budget product launch

Develop and institute legal processes related to content/copyright infringement and standards-and-practices issues.

Institute system and processes to insure on-time royalty payments to producers


Email a cover letter (required) with your most recent resume attached to The cover letter should detail your experience relevant to this opportunity and include the reasons for your interest in the position. No phone calls or faxes, please.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Webcasting and the Local Internet

It is local search week on Search Engine Land . Locally focused web sites are gaining more and more popularity, and consumers are turning more and more to the web to find local information.

In other words, when the pipe bursts people are turning to their search engine instead of their yellow pages to find the plumber.

According to a recent study by Marchex, "...advertisers in local markets are projected to spend more than $100 billion on newspaper, television, radio, yellow pages, and other forms of local marketing exposure in 2007." 5% of those dollars will be spent on local internet advertising in 2007. That number is projected to increase to 25% by 2017.

The biggest threat to the local internet is that there is no "category killer" provider; information is fragmented. The closest thing to a killer app is Google maps, which part of the reason why traditional search engines get 75% of the local searches (according the Marchex). But there are also internet Yellow Page sites, local guides like Citysearch, online newspapers, and niche sites like Kudzu.

With the consensus being that the local advertising opportunity will be measured in the billions, and with mapping and GPS technologies fueling mobile search, it seems inevitable that we will see local information portals arrive to service this need. Where there are ad dollars and a market, there will surely be a portal.

And unlike the Yellow Pages, where you made a splash with color, the biggest impact will be made with video.

Once an audience is trained to access its local information from a portal, organizations will be designing video content for those eyeballs. Just as when cable television offered the consumer more channels and more choice - allowing for more local advertising - the internet will allow local businesses to develop content targeted for their market.

We usually discuss internet broadcasting, but in this context when we are comparing webcasting to other traditional broadcast methods we are really discussing narrowcasting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Speech Analytics - The Next Frontier in SEO?

Speech analytics is a relatively new technology. It allows an enterprise to sort all the "data" contained in telephone calls... What are common complaints? Why do customers buy? Why do they leave for the competition?

The first obvious use for the technology is for enterprises with big call centers. After data has been sorted (by keywords or by context), business can learn more about what their customers are communicating to them and identify trends.

One provider of such technology, Nexidia, claims in a press release that within 90 days of using the technology to sift through thousands of hours of recorded calls a client identified and implemented programs that would save them $3.1 million annually.

"In the past 12 months, Nexidia's applications have analyzed over 3.3 million hours of audio and video including more than 73.5 million contact center calls."

Search Engine Optimization is a significant issue for any enterprise on the web that wants people to see its content. It seems inevitable that speech analytics technology will allow search engine users to find audio and video webcasting content that suits their needs by searching the actual dialogue in the webcasts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Consistent Message Throughout the Enterprise

I was perusing the Question and Answer section of LinkedIn and saw the following answer written by Arthur Klein, Business and Marketing Consultant, to a question posted about marketing high end jewelry:

"...As a marketing consultant, my advice specific to your communication strategy would be as follows, and in a word - consistent:

1. Above all else, remember that the message has to work for everyone in the organization and be a part of their psyche. They have to believe, so give them something they can believe. If that works, then sought after customer will believe and accept attitude your selling

2. Appoint the right person as message consistency champion. There is nothing worse than inconsistent attitudes and interpretations of goods / services being sold, esp when speaking of luxury (disposable income items).

3. Train, train, train and share information. Don't bamboozle your staff with marketing-speak. Talk to them in real terms, because they're real people. Don't leave it to them. They don't get paid to be creative. You do.

4. In a larger company create a communications "manual" that lays down how messages should be interpreted and implemented across organization and market channels where these items are to be sold. Nothing fuzzy or BS.

5. Ensure that any tweaks or changes you make to marketing messages are properly and fully communicated to every department who needs to know--not just the marketing department."

Webcasting is extremely well-suited for creating that consistency across the enterprise. At minimum, it provides a vehicle for communicating a specific message to all employees. When a testing and certification module is added, it becomes an extremely powerful yet lightweight virtual training tool that requires no investment in hardware or software to implement.

Testing and Certification makes it possible for any organization to establish a minimum standard of product knowledge, brand awareness, and task competence specific to their business and measure all of its employees to ensure compliance.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"The Real ROI of Webcasting" is hosting a webinar titled "The Real ROI of Webcasting" on September 20, 2007 at 2:00 PM EDT.

This webinar event will feature Dan Rayburn and Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen from Streaming Media, two well-respected gurus of internet broadcasting. The release states: "They will explore hot trends for webcasting and the event will feature live audience polls with results shared in real time."

Click this link: to get more information and to register for the event.

Here They Come!

Warner Brothers has announced it is spending $3 million to develop its own original programming for broadcast on the internet.

This represents a shift from its prior strategy of having advertisers fund the cost of production. The advertisers were wanting some input into the content creation, since it was occurring on their dime, and Warner Brothers felt they were better suited developing content without the input.

How interesting that broadcast television is dominated by unscripted "reality" programming, and now the internet - which has been the bastion of home-grown content like Miss Teen South Carolina bemoaning the lack of maps in "the Iraq" - is now attracting the professional content.

Of course, the entry of the entertainment industry into the internet as a broadcast channel was inevitable. Just as inevitable as corporate America's adoption of the technology as a significant, scalable,and cost effective communications tool.

Friday, September 7, 2007

When The Tide Goes Out, You Can See Who Is Swimming Naked

Real Estate is an industry that is undergoing significant change. A historically unusual spike in home pricies and the number of listings over the past decade attracted a significant number of new agents to the business, resulting in widely varied levels of training and competence. At the same time, advances in technology have changed the behavior of buyers and sellers, challenged acceptance of the value real estate professionals add in exchange for their commission, and threatened to disintermediate traditional brokers from the transaction.

Katie Hafner writes in the 9/7 edition of The New York Times that "As Housing Market Cools, Far Fewer Become Agents." She cites statistics from the state of California that show the number of people taking the real estate sales exam in California went from "a little more than 2,000 a month in the late 1990s to a peak of nearly 20,000 in April 2005, according to the California Department of Real Estate. But by July 2007, the number had dropped to 8,000. Similar patterns are seen in other states."

She further explained that the agent's net commission typically comes to 1.5%, which is not a small number when average home values are $500,000. However, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates the average agent makes $49,000 per year. This is not poverty level, but it does illustrate that the average agent only closes a few transactions per year.

For a broker/owner, this is a recruiting and retention challange, a training and continuing education challenge, and a marketing challenge.

There are plenty of internet applications that can be the adversary of the traditional broker, from "A"to "Zillow," but webcasting can be the traditional broker's friend.

Using the internet as a broadcast tool to drive content to one's market, educate potential home buyers and sellers, and establish the realtor's brand as the thought-leader in that particular community is an inexpensive way, relative to other forms of marketing, to remain engaged with the market place and to give potential leads a reason to keep coming back to your web site.

The statistics say that up to 70% of people who begin looking on the internet at web sites do not yet have an agent. Over the many months of incubation until that person becomes a real prospective buyer, regular webcasts archived on your site will keep them engaged and increase your rates of conversion.

In addition, web based distance learning applications can help a broker maintain consistent agent training without requiring an investment of several thousand dollars per month in training room space in an office.

Friday, August 31, 2007

News Corp and NBC Universal Announce: Hulu.

News Corp and NBC Universal have annouced their new online video portal: Hulu.

Hulu will be distributing professional content from television networks and film studios on their own embeddable branded player.

I have enjoyed the option of going to the ABC website to watch episodes of "Lost" in order to keep current, so I can see how Hulu would be a valuable service. I missed the whole "Heroes" phenomenon, so I might use a service like Hulu to catch up and then start watching the shows on television when the Fall season resumes.

Providence Equity Partners obviously sees the potential, because Hulu raised $100 million in financing from them.

Hulu will not be competing directly with YouTube for user-generated content distribution. Indeed, a service like Hulu might accelerate the networks' fight against having its content on YouTube. But while the content may be coming from vastly different sources, YouTube and Hulu are obvious indicators that the internet is a significant distribution channel for video.

The time seems close when the long-predicted "convergence" happens and the line between television and the internet is erased; the living room is adorned with a flat screen monitor, a broadband connection bring in a digital IPTV signal, and people surf the web to access video content on demand.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Testing and Certification

Those familiar with webcasting already know that in addition to providing sharp video, clean audio and synchronized power point slides, a webinar also allows attendees to download documents intended to supplement the content, such as: white papers, the power point deck itself, etc.

But there is a lesser known capability that has huge implications for the continuing education field: Testing and Certification.

A great deal of distance learning is still done using audio conference technology, with people huddling around speaker phones in "sites" in order to keep costs down. A fundamental advantage of webcasting - in any application - is that the telephone and its accompanying charges is unnecessary. Webcasting is scalable and typically priced with a flat fee, so the ROI increases with the size of the audience.

Besides the cost, another consequence of the old approach is that exam boards are required to manually assess, grade, and certify thousands of candidates one by one. This arduous process ties up significant resources that could be applied more productively elsewhere and requires candidates to wait as long as 30 days for their results. This has meant that board statistics have always been retrospective.

But webcasting technology puts an end to that. After viewing the webcast attendees can take their test online, have it graded immediately, and have a custom certificate printed with their names, etc. The necessary information is transmitted electronically to the accrediting body.

Attendees have a richer experience, there is less cost, and there is less administration.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Web 2.0 Myth Busting, Part 3

Jose Castillo's article "Giants Web 2.0 Lies" appears in the June/July edition of Streaming Media magazine.

In two prior posts I commented on 5 of the 7 myths cited by Castillo. Now I will take a stab at myths 6 and 7.

Myth # 6 We can't share our videos online; someone might pirate them!

Castillo talks about a company putting up video and then failing to do something as simple as allowing people to share the video. He attributed that to the company wanting to "hold on too tight to their asset."

Television executives balked when their content, like The SNL short videos or footage from programs like The Daily Show, when their content started appearing on YouTube. My first impression is the exposure can only help, but I must admit that I am no expert in intellectual property.

However, the type of information that would be included in any form of business marketing is not a secret. And while the television people may have very valid reasons to control the distribution of their content, a marketing organization does not.

Every business has a story to tell: their raison d'etre. The internet is simply another channel to tell that story. And if you can tell your story in such a clever way that your video becomes the next viral phenomenon, then so much the better.

Myth # 7 Online video is for web-savvy people and companies!

People who ten years ago had 12:00 AM blinking on their VCRs (if you understand the reference, you are in the same age group) now can video blog with a plug and play web cam. There are too many service providers and too many off-the-shelf solutions out there to simply write off the web as something only for geeks. Any organization with a marketing effort can easily and economically utilize the web.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

IBM Buys Web-Conferencing Company

IBM annouced today, 8/22/07, that it purchased WebDialogs, a privately-held company, so it can incorporate on-demand web conferencing services into its Lotus Sametime application.

Cisco bought WebEx in March for $3.2 billion.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Web 2.0 Myth Busting, Part 2

Jose Castillo's article "Giant Web 2.0 Lies" appears in the June/July edition of Streaming Media magazine. In it, he debunks seven "myths" surrounding web 2.0 and rich media.

Myth #3 I can't find relevant videos online.

Countering this myth, Castillo cites software from Podzinger that actually searches audio files and translates the data into searchable text.

This technology has extraordinary implications. One of webcasting's benefits is its ability to increase "circulation:" to bring a new audience to the publisher and/or the sponsors on the strength of the content. Search engines that are not limited to certain keywords, but can actually evaluate every word spoken during a webcast will bring the right people to your content, if your content has any merit.

Myth #4 99% of online videos are some kid swinging a lightsaber for five minutes!

There is a seemingly boundless supply of content, and the egalitarian nature of much of this content means most of it is worthless to a given viewer. But who cares? As long as the 1% that is relevant is enough to meet the viewers needs, who cares about the quality of the other 99%.

The internet is not like television, where one is trying to craft content that will appeal to millions of viewers. The internet and webcasting is about creating content that will appeal to thousands of the right viewers. See the example below - a success story that sounds perilously close to lightsabers. But this is not a national retailer; it is a small startup that knows its niche and how to market to it.

Myth #5 We should pay our ad agency a lot of money to do some viral videos!

Castillo offers the following priceless construct regarding the attempt to fake your own viral content: Spam + Viral + a rapidly spiraling descent with ugly consequences = Spiral Video.

Castillo says: "Spiral videos are an unfortunate and all-too-common appearance in the everyday landscape of online video. Greedy corporations view viral videos as another way for them to advertise their products, but in this new Web 2.0 era, any attempt to lie to consumers can have disastrous effects."

The lesson should be: you don't need an ad agency. You need to tell your story honestly and work hard to get qualified buyers to view your message.

Take the example of Attus Apparel, a clothing startup. They wanted to tap into the "distressed clothing" market - and create some publicity for themselves - so they gathered a group of friends and had them shoot up a bunch of polo shirts displayed on manequins. Pictures of the shirts being blasted with shotguns and magnum handguns appeared on the website and 40 minutes of film were edited down to a one minute video that appeared on You Tube.

Admittedly, this approach is not entirely dignified. But the strategy fits the company's culture and product lines. One of the attractions of their polo shirts is that they have replaced the iconic logo of the polo playing man with embroidered icons such as bottles of malt liquor ("The 40"), a toilet ("The Hangover"), etc.

These guys obviously have a strong point of view that they bring to their company and a clear understanding of exactly who comprises their target market. Why would they need an ad agency to gin up some fake viral video when they can come up with "Shot Up Shirts" on their own?

I will comment on myths 6 and 7 in my next post - part 3 of Myth Busting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Web 2.0 Myth Busting, Part 1

The June/July edition of Streaming Media magazine contains an article by Jose Castillo titled "Giant Web 2.o Lies."

Here is a quote: "Instead of a few large media giants pushing out information, we now have millions of individuals sharing information, video, audio, and photos via the internet. Not only is information being shared, but conversations are taking place around that information, and the power of participation is gradually overtaking the power of publishing."

That is the power of web 2.0 that manifests itself in webcasting: the ability to create one's own content relatively inexpensively and compete against any organization in the marketplace of ideas. Madison Avenue is losing its hegemony over corporate messages.

In this article he addresses what he calls "common myths"about web 2.0.

Myth #1 is that traditional businesses cannot make money using online video. To counter that claim, he cites a blender company that put video on YouTube of wacky stuff being put in its blender. Direct to consumer sales increased five-fold in six months.

Even without that evidence, I would say the following: what business concern out there doesn't believe deep in its gut that if people just knew about the product or service they offered and how it really worked, and why it was different than competitors, the market would embrace them?

What business doesn't have a story to tell?

Myth#2 is that Podcasting is dead. To counter that claim, he sites how one company scored a nice payday monetizing podcasts with conventional commercials.

Again, even in the absence of that specific evidence I would offer the following comment: there is an absolute ton of video on the internet being efficiently distributed via RSS, and there are a number of aggregators out there helping people to find that content and get it onto their "third screen" so they can watch it at their convenience.

I would submit that podcasting is just getting started.

I will comment on the remaining myths in my next entry.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Engage, Educate, Exchange Information, and Empower

Publicly traded companies brief the investor community about their results and their strategy for the future every three months. How often do they communicate a consistent message to all of their employees?

A Thomson Financial white paper makes the following point:

"With the increase in global sourcing, remote working and virtual teams, important messages are increasingly being delivered electronically—competing for attention in already congested inboxes. As the adoption of broadband Internet continues to rise and the associated operation costs fall, the use of streaming media across the enterprise has reached a tipping point. Web-based platforms have introduced new channels that cut through the clutter and reach employees in ways that are more targeted and interactive."

The Thomson white paper cites 4 Es: engage; educate; exchange information; and empower.

Any organization with a dispersed workforce should be aware of how easy it is to leverage internet broadcasting to inexpensively keep everyone on the same page.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cisco Upbeat

David Bogoslaw from Business Week writes that Cisco is very upbeat about its future.

To quote his article: "It speaks to the "confidence Cisco has in the spending environment and trends in video going onto the network and the absolute imperative for operators to upgrade their networks to handle the load," said Jason Noah Ader, managing director at Thomas Weisel Partners LLC in Boston.

Cisco has invested heavily in enterprise communications, having bought WebEx and continuing to search for ways to add large group webcasting capabilities to the its small group collaborative offerings. And that makes sense.

The more companies invest in communications, the more they must upgrade their networks. For Cisco that equals a win-win.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Online Multimedia Marketing: Play To the Strengths of the Medium

Steve Vonder Haar wrote an article that appears in the August/September edition of Streaming Media Magazine called "Eyes on the Enterprise - Can't Start a Fire." In it he discusses corporate uses of internet broadcasting technology for marketing and advertising.

He makes the extremely good point that the internet should not be treated like a "...poor man's answer to television..." where video ads interrupt other activity with no real measurable ROI. Instead, the strengths of the internet should be leveraged to create the most qualified leads.

Here is a direct quote from the article:

"It just so happens that businesses are looking to capitalize on the strengths of online multimedia as well. In a survey of 1,200 corporate executives conducted by Interactive Media Strategies in the first quarter of this year, 88% of respondents said that they view online multimedia as an effective marketing tool.

"But not any ol’ online multimedia marketing will do for Corporate America. Only 20% of overall respondents reported that they would believe any form of online multimedia—including television-style commercials—to be effective.

"Rather, the emphasis of respondents is clearly on driving results via the avenue of online multimedia. Of those surveyed by Interactive Media Strategies, 68% reported that they view online multimedia as effective only when it is used to reach registered users. Essentially, this is a fancy way of saying businesses want to use online multimedia to generate tangible, identifiable sales leads.

"You’re not going to do that by plastering brand-building snippets of 15- and 30-second promotional spots in-between YouTube clips. A better alternative is developing worthwhile informational content related to your product and/or industry sector that encourages would-be customers provide their registration information in exchange for access to a company’s online multimedia presentation. Think of it as the multimedia equivalent to the time-honored B2B marketing tradition of publishing and distributing white papers to a targeted audience willing to share their contact information."

Friday, August 3, 2007

This Is Awesome... What Do We Do With It?

TechCrunch recently wrote about MadKast, a tool that allows you to easily syndicate your blog. The tool is a widget, a second generation interface that will soon be ubiquitous.

The MadKast people plan to make money by embedding contextual advertising with the blog content and sharing the revenue with the blogger.

There a number of companies trying to figure out how to make money with RSS. As with many new technologies, the appreciation for how "cool" it is comes immediately but the understanding of how to make money with it takes some time.

MadKast focuses on bloggers. FlyWheel, my company's RSS Consolidator, is a corporate tool, helping large organizations manage their enterprise-wide feeds easily and distribute them within portable cogs.

Thought leaders in any vertical distribute content that other web-sites and bloggers find valuable. Allowing these interested parties to enhance their sites by providing your content in a cog on their site is a win for everyone. The content distributor has its feed in front of an ever-growing number of eyeballs, a number growing both exponentially and virally since the cog can be replicated any number of times by anyone who wants to embed it on their site.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Web 2.0 ROI - Monetizing RSS Feeds

Forrester Research studied how businesses are using Web 2.0 technologies. Not surprisingly, they found that IT decision-makers were unable to quantify the ROI.

Here is a direct quote: "rather than point to hard facts, such as support center calls offset by a self-service rich Internet application or Web site traffic from an RSS feed, respondents more often pointed to softer benefits, such as business efficiency and competitive advantage as the true value of Web 2.0 in their companies."

As a result of this absence of meaningful metrics, Forrester Research concludes Web 2.0 adoption in the business world will be slow.

Here is a RSS feed application that offers obvious and easy to track metrics....

The problem with the standard RSS feed is that you have to click on the link in your aggregator to be taken to the web site. But what if instead of a headline and a link, you saw an actual window (a widget or a cog) that showed the actual content from the site?

How would you get such a window? The content provider would have the cog (the window or widget) available on its site. And if you are interested in the content, you can click a simple button and have that cog appear on your own web site. Now your site has the window and it is getting the exact same content that appears in the window of the content provider's site.

If this makes sense so far,then you are ready for the payoff...

Whatever is in that cog is exactly what is going to be seen every time that cog is embedded in a new web site. So, if a banner ad is included then that banner ad is going to be seen in every cog.

If 100 websites take a content provider's cog and put it on their own page, then the content provider gets the credit not just for the impressions on its own website, but also the impressions on 100 other websites on which the cog appears.

A corporation can make its RSS content available through these cogs and create its own advertising revenue streams. Or a trade magazine that already has the sponsorship infrastructure can take the corporation's RSS feed, display it in a cog on its website and invite others interested in the information to replicate the cog.

How hard would it be to measure the ROI of that model?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Behavioral Targeting

AOL announced its purchase of Tacoda, an online behavioral targeting advertising network.

According to the press release, Tacoda "employs advanced technology that enables advertisers to serve highly relevant ads based on consumers' online behaviors."

In other words, they track the sites you visit, build a profile, and push advertisements that should be attractive to the profile.

Very Orwellian.

There is no more profound behavior than self-selection when it comes to understanding a potential consumer's preferences. A webinar with a compelling message that is tailored to a desired audience will deliver the most accurate and definitive behavioral targeting data possible: they will register and watch.