Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins: Advertising with Viral Videos

Will Video for Food offers the seven deadly sins of trying to use viral video for advertising.

From the post:
  1. Make a white and brown cow.
  2. Pretend you’re not advertising.
  3. Spend a fortune on production.
  4. Tell consumers instead of engage them.
  5. Do a video contest because everyone else is.
  6. Set unrealstic conversion metrics.
  7. Throw in the towel and decide to just advertise around viral videos.
"There’s going to be a huge market for individual directors that can shoot viral videos for around $20-$50K, and it makes it much easier to get an ROI on viral video when you’re not having to recoup a big fixed-cost investment in production.

Of course an advertising agency will probably mark up the director’s fees by 500%."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Levels of Influence

David Armano shares his view of bloggers and the influence they have.

From the post:

"Rather then view bloggers as "micro celebrities" with an "A list" etc. I view bloggers as influencers not just in pop culture as celebrities often do but as influencers in somewhat specialized areas. It could be technology, art, marketing, design, PR, advertising, business, parenthood—or multiple combinations of these areas with cross overs.

The bigger point that I want to make is that bloggers at each level command a “sphere of influence”. The higher the “level”, the more people are exposed to a blogger’s influence. The degree of influence is mainly related to the quantity (and quality) of the blogs and sites that link back to them.

What’s interesting about this is that in a way, it does represent a “human pyramid”. As much as the social media network acts as a great equalizer—you can only influence as many people as you have access to."


Life2Life: Amazon in Second Life

From the Amazon Web Services Blog:

"At Amazon we characterize the shopping experience using the terms find, discover, and buy. The Life2Life product supports all three of these elements. Let's look at each of them in turn.

Finding implies searching through the catalog. I'll step over to the search region and "speak" my search term. In Second Life this means that I use the "say" command, and I type "/1 say Harry Potter". The search results are displayed in an embedded QuickTime panel, so I had to click the Play button on the Movie control first. Here's what I see:

And there you have it. The virtual world reaches out and pulls in data from the real world, and the virtual world provides an efficient and compelling way to find, discover, and buy.

I hope that you've enjoyed this little photo tour! One thing I should point out is that Second Life is a real platform, just like Windows or Linux, with a scripting language and a very rich set of APIs and events. Perhaps you've got some ideas for Second Life applications of your own. Build something cool using our services and I'll be happy to pay you a visit and write another blog post."


Office Pirates: Not a New Art Form

Office Pirates gets canned.

From MediaPost:

"Ned Desmond, president of Time Inc. Interactive, informed employees of the move Friday. Desmond said Time decided to devote its resources to other projects, including an upcoming online humor initiative with Sports Illustrated. "Office Pirates was off to a good start--and it is likely to reach nearly 11 million page views this month--but the business still faced a long road," stated Desmond in a memo to employees. "It was a hard decision, but we decided to shift Office Pirates' resources elsewhere."

The site was designed to appeal to young online males, with links to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models and features like "Women Walking Around at Lunchtime," showcasing young women photographed on the street. But, while Office Pirates tried very hard to be funny, the jokes often fell flat."


"Office Pirates is set to sink on September 1, roughly six months after its launch in February. Measured against other humor sites, the site never rose above a rank of 115, according to Hitwise. Viacom's Comedy Central ranks eighth, and Heavy.com holds the largest market share, with 17.8 percent of traffic in the online humor space. Blogs like Wall Street Folly and Deal Breaker began predicting the site's demise earlier this month."

New York Post:

It launched with some word-of-mouth fanfare in late February when it spiked up to 13 million viewers a day in its first month, according to the Web trafficking monitor Alexa.com.

Ironically, after slumping below 5 million page views, it was suddenly surging back to its early heights in the normally slow-traffic month of August. But it still ranked at 19,767 among all Web sites monitored, according to Alexa. That put it behind sites such as Gawker.com, ranked 3,031 or Wonkette, ranked 8,617."

Henry Jenkins Gets Lost

Author Henry Jenkins goes into great detail about the TV show Lost and its following. See the below comment as it relates to "new art forms."

From the post:

"The relations between contemporary media producers and fans are more complicated still because of this elaborate courtship dance that is taking place at the moment around relationship marketing, user-generated content, and audience participation. The result may be a broad array of different relationships between consumers and producers, some oppositional, some collaborative, and typically there are shifts in that relationship over time."


Lonelygirl15 Makes the NY Times

The Times predicts Lonelygirl15 is the birth of a new art form.

From the article:

"From her first video, posted June 16, she’s doled out new chapters in two-­minute chunks, each with an alluring title such as “Boy Problems,” “Dad ‘Talks’ to Daniel,” and “What Did Daniel and Dad Talk About?” And lots of viewers are caught up in her micro-soap; her videos have totaled almost 2 million views, her “channel” is the fourth most popular on YouTube, and the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan recently lobbied for her to get her own TV show.

The best scenario is that she’s a sleeper agent in the employ of MTV, or VH1, or some as-yet-unidentified entity, and that others will follow her fictional lead. Imagine how much fun J. J. Abrams of Lost could have with a YouTube-based conspiracy story. Or forget that—imagine what fun you could have with a camera, a computer, and a catchy idea. Of course, as a necessary side effect, YouTube will be flooded with crap. (Or even more flooded with crap.)

But the weak story lines will wither and the smartly crafted ones will blossom, just as Lonely­girl’s have. And maybe this, and not some NBC shows for sale on iTunes, is the future of television—or the promised land of a new narrative form. If so, we might look back at Lonelygirl15 as Moses with a monkey puppet."

I tried to get the good looking girl to front for my new art form experiment. Note to self - less Sony nightcam.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making Money with Blogs

So, everyone is talking about the article but I wanted to pull this for future reference.

From CNN Money:

"At the same time, advertisers - shunning old-line media in favor of the Web - are discovering the unique power of blogs. Blogs have become our guides to a content-saturated world. As such, their recommendations are highly valued by readers - which naturally has made advertisers take notice.

In recent months, big-name companies like Banana Republic and Coca-Cola (Charts) have for the first time run ad campaigns on blogs, in the belief that blog communities often consist of concentrated numbers of the passionate and influential people all marketers want to reach. Intel bought its first blog ad in March; now all its ads run on blogs as well as traditional outlets. Says Thom Campbell, head of media strategy for Intel (Charts), "The audience on blogs is the cream of the crop."

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Stephen Colbert: Freaking Brilliant

Stephen Colbert makes a greenscreen video dancing around wiht a light saber and invited viewers to make their own mashups.

From Huffington Post:

"The people behind "The Colbert Report" may be the smartest minds in televison: While everyone else frets about YouTube, web TV, and platform integration Stephen Colbert & Co are already galvanizing the online to action and integrating fan content into the show, to hilarious effect. It is, in a word, freaking brilliant.

Last week, Colbert did a hilarious rendition of a Jedi knight, whipping a lightsaber around in front of a greenscreen (see it here). Last night, Colbert announced the "Stephen Colbert Greenscreen Challenge" where members of the Colbert Nation (a website as well as a movement) were invited to try their hand at filling in the rest. Said Colbert:
"A week ago I showed off some of my light saber skills in front of a green screen. Well, all over the internets, you heroes took that footage and added in backgrounds and action. Well, Nation, in order to honor your efforts, we're going to start showing your bold depictionism of my heroic fight. "

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TV's Greenhouse

Broadcasting & Cable has an article about another UGC star getting picked up by the majors and the overall climate for online video creators.

From the article:

"Andrew Mathas’ spoof—essentially stick figures he created with $100 editing software—drew nearly 1 million streams in just a few weeks on Google Video and other sites, and landed him a production deal with MTV’s broadband site Overdrive when the network’s short-form development chief hunted him down through e-mails.

At a time when broadband penetration has never been higher and advertisers are demanding content on digital platforms, TV networks are rapidly launching broadband channels, and they are desperate for fresh voices to fill them. At the same time, the price of powerful video-editing software has dropped to below $50, giving wannabe TV producers across America the tools to craft their stuff.

“As we start to develop more of these, it’s our hope and goal to get linear-TV plays out of our short-form content,” says Tim Healy, the MTV VP of production who discovered Mathas."

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Anheuser-Busch Creates In House New Media Studio

From Ad Age:

"The country's largest brewer is launching its own in-house film and TV production company that will make humorous shorts and sitcom-type programs to be broadcast over the internet and to cellphones, according to four people familiar with the matter, and could branch into full-length films.

Marketers' march into content creation has not gone unnoticed by the $5 billion-plus production industry. "Too many marketers view production as a commodity, when the expertise to do it well isn't easily learned," said Matt Miller, president-CEO of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. "Agencies and marketers have always run into limitation when it comes to the creative product. The expertise and talent suffers."

"Making movies is always a great idea for an alcohol company," said Don Faust Jr., a Miller and Coors distributor based in Houston. "Just look how great it was for the Bronfmans."


Yahoo Mobile Search Better than Google

MocoNews has a huge post about the new Yahoo mobile search.

From the post:

"In fact, a closer examination of Yahoo’s recent raft of mobile services and search deals, shows Yahoo is not only more focussed than Google, but potentially much better positioned.

Connect the dots and mobile search has come out of nowhere to be the centerpiece of operators’ content monetization strategies.

Put simply, there is also the growing concern in the industry that mobile search may degenerate into a showcase for advertising and other distractive content. The only way around this dilemma is to move full-speed towards personalization and personalized search."

BKI Media:

"Mobile operators need to push the search engine first and let technology ensure that consumers finally find what they are looking for. This will increase uptake. Once search engines deliver – then and only then – is it time to introduce paid advertising. Consumers at present are searching for services to find what “they” are looking for and NOT what advertisers “want” them to see."

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Adidas and Toyota in Second Life

Two companies annouced new presence in Second Life at the Second Life Community Convention this past weekend.

From GigaOm:

"First out the gate was an announcement from UK branding agency Rivers Run Red that they’d be creating a permanent presence for Adidas, with more than a couple dozen shoe models for your avatar to wear. (More details here. )

Not to be outdone, new metaverse developer Millions of Us (a sponsor of my SL blog, so take with a rock of sodium) announced they had an agreement with Toyota to offer an official, virtual edition of the Scion xB to Second Life residents."

From 3pointD:

"The company plans to reach out to SL residents with products in the virtual world, and by getting feedback on what the Adidas and Reebok brands mean to them. The Adidas catchphrase “Impossible is Nothing,” for instance, will become a means of finding out just what “impossible” means to the SL market segment — where the word has an entirely different meaning from anywhere else. That’s according to a media agency executive involved in the project. Prototype shoes may also be released in the virtual world, and it’s possible that residents may even be able to alter these designs as part of the feedback loop."

From 3pointD:

"The move would make sense for Scion, which aims at a younger set and already has a “build your own” feature on its Web site. As far as I know, this would be the first real-world auto model to come into SL. No word yet on who created the virtual version of the car, or which models will be involved, but chances are it was Francis Chung, currently SL’s hottest carmaker, whose Dominus Shadow fetched a pretty penny at auction to benefit the American Cancer Society recently."


WPP: Sir Martin Sorrell

Things are not looking good for traditional media.

From the Guardian:

"Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of marketing group WPP, will warn today that the UK advertising market is likely to stay weak compared with the rest of western Europe for the remainder of the year, describing the outlook as "mucky".

While perhaps not capturing the market's prospects as memorably as some of his previous pronouncements - such as his 2003 declaration that it was facing a "bath-shaped recovery" - his comments will be cold comfort for traditional media firms such as ITV which are feeling the effects of tight marketing budgets.

Consumption of traditional media such as newspapers is on the wane and TV audiences are increasingly fragmented by the wealth of choice on digital. The internet and new media channels are taking traffic from TV and print, but advertising spending on new platforms is not keeping pace. In the past Sir Martin has accused the British business community of being too cautious when it comes to marketing and experimenting with new channels."


The Daily Reel

From the Hollywood Reporter:

"Carson Daly has signed on as a contributor to TheDailyReel.com, a new online video publication from film producer Jamie Patricof and publishing exec Jeffrey Stern designed to help entertainment professionals narrow their Web video searches for undiscovered talent.

"Half Nelson" producer Patricof and former Details magazine president and publisher Stern will oversee the site, which uses a team of editors to distill the best content from more than 250 video sites, including YouTube, Google Video, iFilm and Atom Entertainment. It also provides detailed production notes and filmmaker contact information."

From The Daily Reel site:

"At this moment, there are nearly 200 online video sites; one of those sites, YouTube, purports to upload 35,000 new videos each day. Therein lies the problem. Anybody with a video camera can upload his or her latest “masterpiece.” And each of these sites – YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo’s “The 9” – can show you what’s popular through their respective ranking systems. But how can you-the-viewer ferret out what is worth watching?

We started The Daily Reel to showcase the best in online video. TDR’s mission is to sift through the nipple-slipping lip-synchers, find the good stuff, and show you what you need to watch. We devote all of our time and resources to finding the quality content among the hundreds of thousands, even millions of videos that are out there. TDR believes that a handful of these creators represent the future of the medium; we don’t want tomorrow’s filmmakers to go unnoticed today. "

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Research on Social Networks

danah boyd provides a list of people researching social networks and gives the network they focus on and the topic they cover.

Like this:


Publications and Presentations

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2.0 Shakeout

Umair Haque reacts to recent talk of a 2.0 shakeout.

Point 5.5)

"This is not a bubble (=inflow of capital dependent on irrational expectations, or the like). This is a Long Boom. There's a big difference: Long Booms are characterized by an ongoing and fairly ruthless winnowing of winners from losers. They are marked, in other words, by the opposite of what happens in bubbles: relative market efficiency. Think railways in the 1800s, and then consider that P&G getting 2.0 and making real money from doing so is vastly more Long Boom than bubble.

To the 2.0 crowd, because no correction has happened for a year or two, it looks like a bubble. Of course, they're ignoring the massive, persistent, and thoroughly rational transfer of value from traditional media/IT/entertainment to new media."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Seth Godin's Alexaholic

This is pretty good - Seth created a traffic site.

From the post:

"There are literally thousands of "web 2.0" companies, and until now, there's been no easy way to compare which ones are getting traffic. The list of 937 sites below was inspired by the list started by Bob Stumpel and then added to by many others.

Order 6-mo Ago Website (click for graph) Alexa Rank 6-mo Rank Change
1 no change myspace.com 6 no change
2 no change ebay.com 10 down from 8
3 4 youtube.com 16 up from 40
4 3 en.wikipedia.org 17 no change
5 6 orkut.com 24 up from 51"

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Barry Diller Buying Spree

With the recent purchase of CollegeHumor.com, IAC is still looking for more.

From The Red Herring:

"“You’re going to see us doing more along those lines,” Moshe Koyfman, vice president of IAC Programming said of the CollegeHumor.com deal. “We believe that the opportunity has finally arrived for advertising-supported, branded online content."

Mr. Koyfman said IAC will look for "branded vertical content properties that will leverage the growth in online advertising.” Translation: sites that can grab ad dollars. The right content might help IAC turn all its traffic into ad dollars. IAC’s Ask.com, for example, ranks just behind AOL in terms of users. “We’ve never forced synergy, but we’ve fostered it,” said Mr. Koyfman.

But Mr. Koyfman says that unlike those media companies, IAC wants to build a stable of small niche sites targeting diverse interests. “Certainly MySpace has done a tremendous job in attracting a phenomenal audience and is looking to do a lot of interesting things with that, but we want to make our mark more with brands that speak to coherent audiences,” he said."

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VC Talk: ClearStone's David Stern

Everyone wants some MySpace.

David Stern:

"As a result, I'm very cautious about any company that is playing off its success or plan to siphon off 1-4M MySpace users, but VERY receptive to anyone who along with that, has tactically proven in the past that they have the online marketing chops to use MySpace as one arrow in their quiver of online marketing tactics along with many others, e.g. leveraging affiliate networks, creating viral campaigns, etc. If you are one of those trying to build a global consumer internet company on the back of some battle-hardened tactical marketing talent, I'd love to hear your vision."



From TechCrunch:

"Today PopSugar is actually four distinct network sites. PopSugar itself, the largest site, is a blog about celebrity news and gossip. DearSugar is an “advice site dedicated to helping readers solve issues revolving around guys, job, money, sex, friends, and family”. FabSugar is a blog discussing “all must-have-now fashion and beauty products”. TeamSugar is what ties everything together - it’s a Myspace-type social network where readers can join, add their profile and interact with eachother. There are a lot more sites in the works - Brian told me about twelve of them that are in the planning stage when we spoke earlier this week.

The group of sites is serving over 13 million monthly page views and 1.5 million unique visitors. To get an idea of how rabid PopSugar readers are, check out this page that shows new comments being submitted in real time. This is an incredibly active community."

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Stardom via the Web

Terry Heaton reads The Guardian's David Fickling.

Terry Heaton:

"The point of the article is that the web is producing a new genre of mass media stars, people who cross over into the mainstream by virtue of the sheer volume of visitors or views they generate. The mainstream likes them, because they drag their fans with them (hopefully).

It's really important that traditional media people keep up with all these new "discoveries," because every community has them. This is the real story of the personal media revolution and one that will baffle top-down media types forever."

David Fickling:

"If you're hoping that it's all Arctic Monkeys up there, prepare to be disappointed: the most popular profile on MySpace (barring the ubiquitous founder Tom Anderson, who is on every profile on the site) is a Vietnamese-American glamour model called Tila Tequila whose songs include such masterpieces of the underground as "Playgirl Central".

She has 1.3 million friends - equivalent to the population of Estonia - and her latest MySpace track, Fuck Ya Man, has been downloaded nearly 2.8m times - equivalent to the population of Jamaica. So Tila Tequila, we reluctantly salute you: the most popular internet star we've never heard of."

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Top Ten Video Sharing Sites Compared

Light Reading has a comparison of the top ten video sites, as well as all the rest.

From the article:

"Since popular opinion does matter online – where the consumer experience is hugely important – we thought it'd be useful to rank some of the Internet's most popular video sharing sites by how they performed from the point of view of someone wanting to post videos rather than just look at someone else's.

Without further ado, here's our list of the Top Ten Video Sharing Sites

1) Blip.tv
2) VideoEgg
3) Dailymotion
4) YouTube
5) Veoh
6) Google Video
7) Grouper
8) Jumpcut
9) AOL
10) Eyespot

They have write ups for each and then rate them all in a table here. Blip.tv got a score of 95 and this comment: "Does everything imaginable with uploaded videos. Doesn't have editing features yet, though."

The Philter's Video Site Cheat Sheet
The Philter's Video Site Cheat Sheet II
Video Sharing Websites: Burning Questions
By the Numbers: Light Reading's Top 10 Video Sharing Sites
Top US Online Video Sites, Week Ending August 5, 2006
Top UK Online Video Sites, Week Ending August 5, 2006

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Social Networks Influence Purchase Decisions

TechWeb has a story today on the influence social networks like blogs, wikis and forums have on purchase decisions.

From the story:

"The growing phenomenon of consumer-generated content has become disruptive to online businesses, but many are studying the reviews, finding ways to use the content to their advantage, the report says.

The research found 77 percent of online shoppers read consumer product reviews and ratings. Viewers were found to be increasingly loyal to the stores that featured product feedback. Another survey determined that 22 percent of online consumers who posted feedback on forums tend to purchase more online.

Content created through the voice of the consumer is reinventing advertising. "It's shifting the power away from Madison Avenue and into consumers' hands," said Neil Sequeira, principal at General Catalysts Partners, a one billion dollar early stage venture capital firm. "Users create content they are passionate about. If there's a surfboard you love, why not create some content around it."


Nintendo American President: Reginald Fils-Aime

From USA Today:

"Fils-Aime (pronounced FEES-oe-MEY) knows pop culture. Prior to joining the company in 2003, he worked at Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut and MTV. He spoke to USA TODAY's Byron Acohido about why he believes Nintendo, the top maker of handheld video game players, can retake top dog status in the billion dollar industry it helped create 20 years ago.

Q: How do you extend your online strategy to Wii?

A: It's the same premise. We will offer online-enabled games that the consumers will not have to pay a subscription fee for. They'll be able to enjoy that right out of the box. The Wii console is going to be Wi-Fi enabled, so essentially, you'll be able to plug it in and go. It won't have hidden fees or costs.

Q: How do you handicap your competitors; what worries you most about them?

A: Our competitors are both going down the same path. Both believe that more and more performance with a higher and higher price tag are their keys to success. So what do I see? I think our two competitors will trade share between them, while we go off and grab share in a completely different way."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Comcast: Online Video Aggregator

Ad Age reviews Comcast's latest plan to monopolize online video content.

Ad Age:

"Online ad spending is expected to grow 15.2% compounded annually to $25.5 billion in 2010, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Spending on Comcast's core internet business -- broadband access -- is expected to rise 9.6% compounded annually to $30.8 billion.

"For us to be successful online, you have to believe that people will still want to come to a single source for much of their online-video entertainment," said Warren Schlichting, VP-new business strategies at Comcast. "That's the basic underlying philosophy. We think there's a role for somebody to work with many content providers."

"It's smart to look to build an entertainment portal online to complement what they're doing on the TV set," said Greg Verdino, director-emerging media, Digitas. "But the members-only cable model flies in the face of the history of the internet. Trying to import the walled-garden approach from TV to the internet is a mistake."


Activision CEO Bobby Kotick

Mr Kotick , CEO of Activision, addresses In-Game advertising in a recent analyst call.

From Vedrashko via Seeking Alpha:

"...We look at the amount of hours that are consumed by consumers and let's take 18 to 35-year-old males in the U.S. in front of a video game screen. So last year that was roughly 30 billion hours. Then you compare that to television watching which was to the same demographic roughly 30 billion hours. There was $8.5 billion spent on television advertising to 18 to 34-year-old males and there was less than $50 million spent in-game advertising last year. So it's somewhere between $50 million and $8.5 billion."

"...What we've said all along is the biggest limiter right now in establishing a rate card and generating any kind of reasonable revenues is that you don't have a big enough installed base of next-generation hardware that you can use for measurement purposes. That will not change until you have 20 or 30 million units of always-on Internet capable next-generation consoles in the installed base. So you won't start to see it have an impact on our business until, let's say, two or three years from now."


Google Map Coupons

Everyone weighs in.

"Google has partnered with Valpak, the top U.S. supplier of coupon advertising, to provide more than 20,000 coupons from current Valpak advertisers when consumers search for relevant stores using its Google Maps map and local directory service.

"One of the challenges small businesses face today is the lack of an ability to contend with online users," said Shailesh Rao, Google's director of local search. "We know it's a practical fact ... Small businesses rely on coupons," he said."

Red Herring:

"By offering its Google Base listing and its Google Maps location and coupon services for free, Google is forcing local radio stations and other traditional media outlets to find new wrinkles for wooing advertisers.

Google is pushing the coupon service as a new way for small businesses to attract customers—the kind of customers that spend more time online than listening to local radio or reading the local paper."


"Apparently users will print the coupons on paper. It would be nice if there was a mobile tie in like Cellfire offers. The primary problem with Cellfire is the relatively limited coupons available, presumably this won’t be an issue with Google. An Adsense tie in appears to be the next move on the way, with ads being sold that point to coupons."

Terry Heaton:

"Of course the real aim is, again, to pull money from local advertisers into the Google coffers, and this is another slap in the face of local media companies and local ad agencies who continue to try and force their reach/frequency model on everybody (and insist that the earth is flat).

Google continues to prove that they don't need the blessing of the status-quo to suck cash out of local markets, and this will be the downfall of those who view internet pure play companies as a nuisance instead of a threat."


"My first reaction to this is - where’s the mobile element? Google Maps already offer the facility to send driving directions to your phone, so why not get the coupons sent there too? You could simply show the phone at the point of sale and that’s it."

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Microsoft Makes Creating Game Easyer

All around the blog today, Microsoft is making creating games easyer.


"The company is coming out with a new software development program meant to let technology hobbyists, students and others with relatively basic skills create their own games for Windows and Xbox 360. The company is due to announce the program, XNA Game Studio Express, today at a Microsoft game conference in Seattle.

It's a set of software development tools that will be free for Windows and cost $99 a year for the Xbox 360 console. The tools will be released in stages in the coming months.

"Ultimately, long term, ... I think that there's the ability here to create the YouTube of games," said Peter Moore, Microsoft's corporate vice president of interactive entertainment, referring to the popular Web site where users upload videos for anyone to see."

NY Times:

"For Microsoft, the goal is to inspire amateurs to share or sell relatively simple games on the company’s Xbox Live network. (Microsoft will not own any rights to products created with these tools.) Programs created with XNA Game Studio Express will not look as good as most packaged titles. But at a time when gamers seem tired of sequels and genre standards, the company says it believes that some kind of independent games business could provide a breath of fresh air."


"With the hobbyist release, the software giant is hoping to lay the groundwork for what one day will be a thriving network of enthusiasts developing for one another, something akin to a YouTube for games. The company, however, is pretty far from that goal."

Rick Segal:

"I generally view this as good news for people wanting to get into this biz. It is especially good news to see Scott Henson driving this process at Microsoft. Scott was one of the original Developer Relations Evangelists from the good old days and knows the value of an ecosystem as good as anybody in Microsoft today."

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Monday, August 14, 2006

How Many SL Residents are there?

From 3pointD:

“Tony Walsh over at Clickable Culture flags a post on the new official blog of Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, that talks about the way LL reports the number of SL “residents,” i.e., people who are members of the service. This number has generated no small amount of contention in the past, and it turns out that much of the criticism has been well placed.

The number that is currently on our home page is a time-weighted average between “total number of signups ever” and “total number of logged in users over the last 60 days”,” writes LL employee Sally Linden. The problem has been that LL failed until now to indicate how the number was calculated anywhere on their Web site or within their world. Fortunately, the two numbers are being unwound. Starting sometime this week, LL plans to publish them separately on their Web site. As of last Friday, total signups ever stood at 493,563, and total log-ins over the last 60 days stood at 225,028."

From the Second Life website:

Residents: 404,571
Online Now: 5,265
US$ Spent Today: 79,689


Granahan McCourt Acquisition

Via Paid Content:

"The blank check companies are beginning to appear in the digital media sector: now a heavyweight, RCN founder David McCourt, has filed with SEC to create a publicly traded company, Granahan McCourt Acquisition, that will raise $125 million from investors to buy controlling stakes in companies that make or distribute media and communications services…The venture will be his 11th in 25 years.

The SEC filing for IPO is here.

The firm’s board of directors includes former CIA director George Tenet, former ESPN chief Roger Werner and Starwood Hotels and Resorts founder Barry Sternlicht.

McCourt wrote an editorial in FT last month, about his view on the video market..reposted on his firm’s site here."

From the FT article:

"The media companies face a similar predicament, but with a twist: by promoting downloadable entertainment, they are unwittingly greasing the skids for emerging rivals. The threat to the content distribution cartel is not from cable television, TiVo or video games but from anyone with a video camera and some creativity.

A battle is already under way among applications developers to create the most advanced interactive tools and features to view and manipulate online content. Hollywood pooh-bahs will discover that releasing television and film on the internet is not simply another channel for their studios. It is the path into a competitive world they have never faced."

TBS CEO Phil Kent

TBS has been experimenting with new media models from CNN's Pipeline to TNT's Dramavision. Phil Kent talks with the Hollywood Report.

From the interview:

THR: You just announced plans to expand TNT into the broadband arena with the launch of Dramavision on Tuesday. What do you think that will do for TNT?

Kent: It creates new capacity for both viewership and revenue. We're limited by the number of primetime hours we can program. This gives us a whole new primetime that we can populate with long- and shortform programming that people want to see. As our capacity increases, it allows us to sell advertisers viewership from both the Web and the linear service.

THR: Are there advantages for the Turner Broadcasting channels of being part of such a broader conglomerate as Time Warner or is synergy overrated, as some have recently suggested?

Kent: We call it the media value chain, from content creation to content aggregation to content distribution. We have a very powerful seat in every one of these chairs at this collective table, and there is an advantage to being able to sit around and have conversations with each other that is very hard to have with an external supplier or an external distributor.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Snow Crash to be Published in Second Life

I was a big William Gibson fan in the late 80's. Then came Snow Crash. Having spent some time thinking about VR, it was manna from heaven.

3pointD reports that Rivers Run Red and Penguin will create an in world version of the book by Neil Stephenson.

From 3pointD:

"Book publishing in Second Life, of course, has not been a smashing success. “Prim” books are unwieldy, hard to manipulate and often very difficult to read. But RRR and publisher Penguin seem savvy on this note, with the in-world version apparently offering only a sampler of portions of the text and excerpts from an audio version — with a special discount (presumably on paper-and-ink purchases) being offered to Second Life residents.

Second Life creator Philip Rosedale has said, “Snow Crash has the closest practical resemblance to Second Life as it exists now: a parallel, immersive world which simulates an alternate universe, which thousands of people inhabit simultaneously for communication, play, and work, at various levels and variations of role-playing with their avatars.”


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Second Life Flower Power

3pointD has a great post up today about telling a friend about Second Life.

From the post:

"Her reaction was interesting: “It sounds like you’re living through the 1960s of technology,” quoth she. This strikes me as pretty spot on.

If nothing else, the 60s saw a radical shift in the way we approach culture and its creation, with many of the “gatekeepers” being swept aside in a move toward a more democratized and inclusive process (though not a fully democratized and inclusive one, to be sure).

Philip Rosedale’s original vision of Second Life seems to be of that place where you can be anything or anyone and do anything you like, a fantasyscape of dreams realized (or at least, virtualized).

It’s a similar cultural shift, with technology now becoming a tool for personal expression in new and deeper modes, just as music, art and lifestyle were as a result of the changes of the 60s.

You can now log on, rez in, and, if you like, drop out. It’s anyone’s guess as to how far-reaching the cultural effects of virtual-world and metaversal technologies will be, but it’s worth remembering that long hair and rock music was at one time thought to be a passing fad as well. Welcome to the 60s of technology."

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dynamic Product Placement

Yahoo News has an article today about two internet start ups that are attempting to pair brands with content.

From the article:

"Two Web-based start-ups are trying to change the dynamics of product placement deal-making, up until now largely contained to the office suites of Hollywood and New York branded entertainment companies, producers and media agencies.

One venture, NextMedium's Embed, has created an e-commerce exchange for placements that includes an eBay-style auction process. It also offers clients the ability to gauge performance post-play through metrics jointly developed with Nielsen Media Research. The other new service, Media Matchmaker, brokers introductions between producers and marketers via the Internet.

Media Matchmaker, which launched its site in March, said its process can save clients hundreds of hours of wasted time searching for qualified business prospects. In addition to prescreening prospects, the company's technology helps clients keep up with the exploding number of product integration offerings, said CEO Betsy Green.

That critical mass isn't there yet, said Guy McCarter, U.S. director, entertainment marketing for Omnicom's OMD. But he hopes it will be in the coming six months. "We're intrigued by the robustness of the [Embed] offer," he said, "both from the potential to identify integration opportunities for our clients and to research and evaluate on a post- analysis basis."

Nothing is on... Except You

I really like chartreuse's short attention span blogging. He has a great one up today.

From the post:

"Pay Attention Please.

Nothing is on.

Except you.

Old media has to grab your attention.

New media is already there.

Old media pushes.

New media is pulled by you."


Youthography on Teen Drama

The newest Youthography newsletter features a post about teen dramas Laguna Beach and The Hill.

From the post:

"But what’s so cool about Laguna Beach and The Hills is the format of the show. It’s technically a reality TV show – these aren’t actors and the show apparently highlights the real lives of these kids – but it’s shot in such a way that it feels like a written TV drama. With multiple camera angles, close-ups, great editing, even better directing, and a cool soundtrack, Laguna Beach and The Hills don’t feel like anything on Prime Time TV right now."

Also in the news, Laguna Beach is launching a There.com presence.

From 3pointD:

"A closed alpha of Virtual Laguna Beach has apparently just ended, and Michael Wilson, founder and CEO of Makena Technologies, the company behind There, posted an official announcement related to the project on the There forums, which was republished by The Voice of There an in-world newspaper."


5 Reasons US Media will Kill Broadcast

Siddiq had a great post yesterday on why US Media ( that's User Submitted Media) will over take broadcast.


"Vlogs may never replace watching TV and newspapers may not buckle under the weight of blogs, but as the abyss of choice gets deeper, the move away from main stream media (MSM) as the primary content source will only accelerate. The collective output of erstwhile media consumers on blogs, vlogs, social bookmarking and photo sharing sites, along with a host of new online services, will in the next 5 years replace MSM as the dominant media form.

US Media is the answer to most of the questions MSM is asking right now.
  • How will people consume media in 5 years?
  • Will they simply watch it or will they use it as part of some other product?
  • How will bittorrent effect not just what people what but how they watch?
  • What will they pay for and how much will they pay?”


Guy Kawasaki Interviews Seth Godin

Title says it all. Best answer:

What are the five things that enabled you to be successful?

If we define success as the ability to make a living doing what I do, I’d say the following:
  1. No ulterior motive. I rarely do A as a calculated tactic to get B. I do A because I believe in A, or it excites me or it’s the right thing to do. That’s it. No secret agendas.
  2. I don’t think my audience owes me anything. It’s always their turn.
  3. I’m in a hurry to make mistakes and get feedback and get that next idea out there. I’m not in a hurry, at all, to finish the “bigger” project, to get to the finish line.
  4. I do things where I actually think I’m right, as opposed to where I think succeeding will make me successful. When you think you’re right, it’s more fun and your passion shows through.
  5. I’ve tried to pare down my day so that the stuff I actually do is pretty well leveraged. That, and I show up. Showing up is underrated.

Bebo Bigger than MySpace in the UK

Mashable points out that Bebo has over taken MySpace for traffic in the UK.

From the post:

"For the week ending August 5th, Bebo was the most visited social network in the UK, and its market share of visits has grown 17% in the past two weeks. 1 in every 135 UK visits goes to Bebo, which is now the 11th most visited site on the Internet.

Another interesting tidbit: Bebo is the number one social network in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Xanga leads in Hong Kong, and Friendster leads in Singapore. MySpace maintains its lead in the US and Australia.

In related news, there are rumors circulating that Viacom is in talks to buy Bebo. But since we’ve already seen (inaccurate) rumors of a Bebo acquisition by BT, it’s probably best to treat this as speculation."

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Terry Heaton: TV News in a Postmodern World Part LIX

Terry has the next installment in his series up today.

From the post:

"In the end, if the Media 2.0 opportunities are targeted to what the advertisers want, then they will have value and great value. The quality of the targeted audiences is likely higher on line than it is in the broadcast world, but ad rates are much lower. This is the key to watch as the transparency marketplace evolves. Will it ever provide the same kinds of revenue levels to which mainstream players are accustomed through a methodical game of lay-ups and 2-point shots?"


First PR Firm with a Second Life Office

Had to happen sometime. And yes, its another Electric Sheep production.

From 3pointD:

"Text 100 claims to the first public relations agency to establish a presence inside Second Life. Among PR agencies with a RL presence, this may be true, but it’s important to note that there are already a handful of virtual PR agencies in existence, i.e., small firms and independent promoters who exist nowhere else but the virtual world. Text 100 is presumably shooting for real-world fish, though, and not the “local” businesses that virtual PR firms serve. What will be interesting will be to see whether an in-world presence helps Text 100 win real-world business."


What is Web 2.0

Here is a video about Web 2.0 from the point of view of CEOs of start ups.

From the post:

"A couple of weeks ago Michael Arrington got together with a number of startup CEOs and executives to video a discussion about Web 2.0. Participating in the discussion were Aaron Cohen (Bolt), Scott Milener and Steven Lurie (Browster), Keith Teare (edgeio), Steven Marder (Eurekster), Joe Kraus (JotSpot), Jeremy Verbaa (Piczo), Auren Hoffman (Rapleaf), Chris Alden (Rojo), Gautam Godhwani (Simply Hired), Jonathan Abrams (Socializr), David Sifry (Technorati), Matt Sanchez (Video Egg) and Michael Tanne (Wink).

The topics discussed included:

  1. What is Web 2.0?
  2. Are we in a bubble?
  3. What are the business models that will work on the web today?
  4. What is the role of publishers in a user generated world?
  5. How important and how big is the early adopter crowd?


Monday, August 07, 2006

Aloft: Starwood in Second Life

3pointD points to another Electric Sheep project, building the Starwood Aloft Hotel in Second Life.

From the post:

"Starwood Hotels is building out a version of their new Aloft hotel brand in the virtual world of Second Life as a way to attract future customers and presumably get some feedback about the brand’s features before it hits the physical world. (It is not meant to be a functional hotel in SL, I’m told.) The SL project is being constructed by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), who are also blogging the process along with Aloft execs."

From Virtual Aloft:

"This September, Starwood Hotels will become the first company in history to open a new hotel brand inside of a virtual world. Prior to opening to the public in 2008, aloft hotels will offer a sneak preview inside of Second Life. As we build our virtual aloft hotel, this weblog will track the progress of the development, giving you an in depth insiders view of how a virtual hotel is created."


"Makaio is currently working on the scripting for the bridge, and I asked him to explain a little bit about this project-with-a-project:

"Im making a timed sensor cube that scans the area around the bridge. It detects if boats and/or people are present, then passes that data to the bridge itself. The bridge is going to have a tiered priority system based on its current status and the data, ie: if boats are present and no people are and its closed, it will open. If its already open, it will remain open if boats AND people are present. It will stay open if its already open for the boats, or if its closed, it'll stay closed until the people are gone."

And more:

"Anyway, back to the build. Once the measurements were worked out - each floor has 6 meter high walls, which is roomy enough for avatars to walk through - the actual construction of the outside went very fast. The repeating elements were created and then duplicated and moved into place. During his construction, I was sitting at the camera position taking photos of the hotel going up. Normally I've been taking photos every 30 minutes as I work on the island itself, but since this went so fast I found myself staying put and grabbing photos every 1-5 minutes, so we can create a smooth looking progression animation."


Thursday, August 03, 2006


Hopefully better late than never - I missed this bit from Chartreuse (BETA). He organized a team of citizen journalists to go report from New Orleans.

Team New Orleans:

"Though they will be mostly on their own there are already interviews set up with people in a 150 mile range. These are people who supposedly have first hand knowledge of some of the atrocities mentioned in the email I received.(They will have to do some travelling but this isn’t a vacation.)

The point of this trip is to find out the truth. And to give us a first hand view of what’s happening in the city and the outlying areas."

3pointD Reviews SL Business

3pointD was not totally impressed wiht the first issue of SL Business Magazine.

From the post:

"The content, however, leaves something to be desired, as it seems to be aimed mostly at new residents who don’t yet have a business presence on the Grid. That said, it’s interesting to see a wider range of content creators featured in a publication like this. The question is whether the current incarnation — both in terms of content and format — will be sustainable.

Part of the problem will be to sustain the tone and volume of the content. There are only so many tutorials one can publish. And producing 60 pages a month in an environment like SL will also be a strain, I’d imagine. Even the tutorials themselves could go a bit deeper; most of them hardly give any more information than SL itself provides.

I look forward to seeing what SL Business becomes. If it remains what it is now, I think it will be of limited usefulness — although it would definitely be a good place to discover the odd piece of new content. If it refines its focus somewhat, it could be really good."

Agency Explains

After creating a buzz in the small world of the advertising community, Agency keeps it going.

From Rolling Big:

"Famous or infamous people will debate. But you guys are making friggin T-shirts for them now. People are taking sides. Love it or hate it - (people are) passing it around. There's chatter (I'm guessing this is the longest comment string ever for a post), debate and passion. None of this was happening before they posted their video"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Agencydotcom, Subway and Youtube

On Monday Agencytocom posted a video on YouTube about a pitch they are doing for Sunway.

Take it away Robert Davis:

"I've always been of the opinion that we care far more about any of this stuff than our audiences do -- be they marketers, or eventual consumers of marketing. In a bid to look cool and current, Agency.com has gone ahead and confirmed that opinion with this overwrought, under-powered video tactic."


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

SL Business Magazine Launches Today

SL Business Magazine launched today. The PDF is here. Its 30 pages of good layout and thoughtful articles. Still reading but it seems like if they can keep it up this will be a great resources for both SL gurus and RL folks who haven't heard of it yet. Covering topics like how to get a job, build a better avatar and in depth articles on places, SL Business Magazine is helping flesh out the next phase of SL.

Review: MIT Advertising Blog

New Media: Do or Die

Terry Heaton takes some time out from unpacking boxes to point out something to the local broadcasters out there.

From the post:

"2007 is looking more and more like a desperation year for local broadcasters, a year when new media ventures begun this year need to begin producing fruit. Wherever I go and with whomever I speak, there is this growing sense that new media MUST be more aggressively pursued…or else."