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.