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Nobody (Under 50) Watches Network Nightly News Anyway August 30, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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You know what? Honestly? I hope Katie Couric kicks his smug, bronzed @ss.

    (NBC anchor Brian) Williams reached the end of the session and stood to leave. He pointed at the Peabody. His publicist hefted it for a better view. “Go ahead, touch it,” Mr. Williams insisted. The trophy was a rich bronze color, smooth and solid.

Katie’s got a Peabody, too. And at least CBS is trying something new. That is, besides hiring a warm, popular woman as anchor.

    CBS has also added a final segment to its broadcast called “Free Speech,” during which a different guest each night will sound off on a topic of his or her choosing. “I’m not keen on a whole lot of talk and commentary, because I’d have to kill a news piece out of my lineup to make room for it,” Mr. Williams said. “If I thought there was a shortage of talking and opinion out there these days,” he added, making a yammer-yammer motion with his hands, “I’d be a lot more prone to put in a regular commentary section at Nightly.”

Social Marketing, Social Networking, Community, Consumer-Created Content: Pick Your Buzzword, We’ve Got it Covered August 29, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Organic’s Mark Kingdon places YouTube squarely at the center of two hot trends — online video and social media — and talks about how to ride these waves. Notice how he calls YouTube “community, or social networking.” I’ll make the obvious ironic observation that the two rockstars of “social networking,” MySpace and YouTube, don’t actually make much use of the linked profiles or what you might think of as the six degrees of separation “trust” network that characterizes Friendster and LinkedIn, the original two poster children for the concept. That supports what Jupiter — Nate Elliott most loudly — has been saying for years: that is, that social networking is a feature, not a product.

That’s why we call it social media, and are launching a dedicated Social Marketing coverage area with new surveys, forecasts, and analysis that will help Jupiter clients determine how best to use the social media phenomenon for marketing and advertising. Feel the hype. Embrace it.

Nate has foolishly fallen off leapt off, and is trying to spike the axle of the MySpace bandwagon, but regular readers know that I have not. I’m finishing up a report for Online Media & Programming that, among other things, will assess MySpace’s chances of evolving into a youth portal.

Digital Music Cracks, and Croaks August 29, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Intriguing juxtaposition of digital music stories making the rounds today. Apparently, Microsoft’s DRM was hacked, making it possible to strip the copy protection, etc. off of both paid downloads and subscription “rentals.” And biggest-label-on-the-block Universal Music has announced it will support an ad-based music service from an unknown startup, SpiralFrog.

As Michael and Mark note, DRM will always be hacked, and people who want free music will always be able to steal it. Sadly, the only thing that can beat piracy is prosecution. DRM is to dissuade casual piracy (college students and crooks will never be stopped), but there are aren’t really any casual music subscribers. Engadget’s argument that signing up pirates at least gets you $15 (for one month) that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise is amusing, but ultimately pretty weak. Most that would do this will not spread the gospel of paid subscription services, although some might convert (see Figure 7) But that’s what free trials are for. (We have our new music survey results in and I’m working on updating the analysis as we speak.)

Reportedly, SpiralFrog will support PC-tethered (not portable, not burnable) downloads via advertising. The difference to a consumer of streaming on-demand vs. tethered dowloading is minimal, though real, and the highest royalties usually kick in for portability or burnability. Still, someone — either SpiralFrog, or Universal, guess which one — is taking the risk that it can generate $5-$7 a month in ad dollars per user. Rhapsody and Napster both have more restricted ad-supported services (that offer a pretty good experience), but they’re primarily for customer acquisition…at least for now.

Wishful Hollywood Thinking August 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD is far more likely to deepen the DVD sales slump than jump-start the market again. It’s too early for another format change, and neither technology has an advantage, so it’s likely to be bloody for a while. Standard definition DVDs look very nice on big screens for the moment. Can you say, “Laserdisc”?

Someone Needs to Jump in the Pool First for a Party to Get Really Great August 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Music industry regulars will find nothing shocking in this LA Times interview with Warner Music chief Lyor Cohen. But it’s a must-read for those who dabble in the industry, for insights into record label management.

    The digital revolution is baked into the very capillaries of our organization now, and we have to push experimentation every day….When Edgar meets [Chief Executive] Meg Whitman from EBay, he says: ‘Use us as your chief experimental partner.’ There’s going to be a lot of dead ends and embarrassing mistakes. But, we have to take risks if this industry is going to thrive.

Yahoo to Google: We’ve Got PhDs, Too! August 25, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Journal’s Page One story on Yahoo about its hiring of academics (groan) correctly identifies three things Yahoo needs to boost — return on paid search, social media, and video — but doesn’t connect the dots. Instead, it mostly talks about behavioral targeting, which Yahoo is pretty good at.

    (Yahoo data chief Usama) Fayyad (one of Revenue Science’s founders) and (science project leader Prabhakar) Raghavan agreed Yahoo Research would tackle just a handful of areas, including search, the interaction of users online and an artificial-intelligence field known as machine learning, which involves analyzing past data to learn about the future. “The intent isn’t to gaze at the skies,” says Mr. Raghavan, 45.

Or maybe it’s Yahoo that isn’t connecting the dots.

On the other hand, the story ends by touching on some potentially game-changing social interaction research that I’ve heard dribs and drabs about. Namely, fine-tuning reputation- and credibility-economies, the kind of thing that might actually make Yahoo Answers worth something.

It’s Thursday, So it Must Be Time to Puzzle Over the Times’ Arts Coverage August 24, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Manohla Dargis never met a mind-numbingly lefty “cause” she didn’t espouse in the course of a movie review.

    Directed by Bob Dolman, who also wrote the fine adaptation, “How to Eat Fried Worms” is an easygoing entertainment in which a sensible message about growing up also rationalizes the abuse of power. However lightly played, this is, after all, a film in which children learn to stand up for themselves, and for one another, by killing animals.

    Yeah, yeah, we’re talking worms, sure. But the lesson remains the same, whether it’s an invertebrate squirming on the grill or a puppy. On the page Mr. Rockwell’s humor produces hoots. (“Tomorrow I’ll roll the crawler in cornmeal and fry it. Like a trout.”) But transposed to the big screen, yuck! No worms may have been harmed in the making of this film, but it’s unlikely the under-age audience will care.

    (“How to Eat Fried Worms” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). There is some talk about poop and lots of cooked worms.)

I dunno, is anybody else completely baffled by this no irony, totally ironic, it’s a good movie for kids, but they kill worms, baloney? I’m missing Elvis Mitchell, big time. I mean, come on, the book was written in 1973 — it must have been hippie friendly…

Microsoft Scores Facebook Ad Deal August 23, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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If you can’t get MySpace, Facebook ain’t half bad. Microsoft got the Facebook ad-selling deal, though it’s initially focused on banners, not paid search, according to the Journal. For comparison’s sake, in recent months Facebook has been getting around 14M unique visitors, vs. MySpace’s 50+M (and Yahoo’s 170+M); and Facebook has been showing 6B page views vs. MySpace’s 30B (and Yahoo’s 37-39B), according to comScore Media Metrix traffic data.

No talk of dollars, guaranteed or otherwise, or revenue-sharing rates. Or explicit mention of adCenter, for that matter, though I can’t imagine it’s not part of the deal.

Inexcusably Long Ramble on a CD-Digital Music Experience August 22, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Live by the Mac, die by the Mac. I’ve come out ahead of craptastic DRM experiences by being a Mac user before. So tonight I got my come-uppance.

It being New Music Tuesday, I bought the latest release from Razorlight, another one of those NME-anointed Next Big Things (and truthfully, I loved the first album). Brand new and $10 at my local Virgin Megastore — they will never lose my business! Though I fear I’m about to be going to miss Tower’s $10 bin as well. Both stores actually rotate the sale inventory aggressively, which brings a heavy buyer like me back weekly. I could have bought the import 4 weeks ago or so, but it would have cost me $25. The US release promised an extra downloadable single, too, woo hoo.

So, after ripping the CD into MP3s, I launched this nasty little app (took over my whole screen, made me shut down my “media player” etc.) from something called Digital Insert, and entered my name, birthday, gender, zip, (mobile number optional, and declined, you can be sure) so Mercury Records (under exclusive license to Universal Records) can spam me with Razorlight e-mails. I’m already on a Razorlight mailing list, btw, probably from the mgmt company rather than the label, but that wasn’t an option.

So far, so good. They also asked my preferred digital download source from the following list:

iTunes
Napster
Virgin Digital
HMV Digital
Peer 2 peer
allofmp3.com
band’s own site
(A veddy British list, I’m thinking)

And my preferred bonus material out of these:

remixes
live versions
B sides
cover versions
videos
ring tones
other

Cool. Great. Love the B-sides.

But then, after shutting down my media player as requested, I got:

    Now please download your music.

    The studio version of ‘Somewhere Else’ can be found below. Please Right Click and Save Target As.

    These downloads are provided as Windows Media files. If your computer will not play these, you can listen to ‘Somewher Else’ using the Real Audio stream here

    Thanks for using the Bonus Area.

    For information on Razorlight visit the offical Razorlight site HERE.

    Note to iTunes and iPod users: Mercury Records makes these free downloads available under the understanding that it reserves its right to protect the interest of its artists. To this end, the free music is available as either protected Windows Media files or as Real Media streams. We are afraid that we are unable to make the music available as iPod compatible downloads as the Apple Computer do not allow third parties access to their file protection programme called ‘Fairplay’.

Having previous bad experiences with WiMP files on Macs, I bailed. I’ll do this all on a PC, burn it, and rip it back to MP3. Just to show ’em.

The same album is $7.99 — no NY sales tax, either — on the iTunes store, complete with an extra single (a different one) that you can only get if you buy the whole album. But hey, all else being equal, I’ll generally pay the extra $2-$4 for the CD, depending on the band and album. So, only a slight feeling of being screwed.

But maybe this just means that in the UK, digital is normal. In contrast with the States, those crazy Brits have been selling singles, EPs, etc. all throughout the CD cycle. Completist fans have always been trained to buy, buy, and re-buy. US labels will have to re-learn these selling & packaging skills, as digital slowly but surely kills the album.

…and the Sky is Grey August 22, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Attention, East Coast and Silicon Valley readers, it’s still weird out there in el Lay. The LA Times’ most-read story is a 1,900 word piece on “LA’s dopest lawyer” who is described as “hot” in the 2nd graf, and says of herself “They called me the Dirty Librarian because I swore and wore glasses.” She’s only two for four in acquittals. We are told her workout habits, and that she has an orange-striped workout bra. It took a while for the LA Times to catch on to the phenomenon.

Here’s her blog. And her ad on YouTube. Incredibly, she doesn’t seem to have a MySpace page yet.

Sadly, we just don’t get enough of this kind of stuff back East.