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 business.com,

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 CBSNews.com, 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.