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To Network or Not to Network? November 29, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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NBC digital chief Beth Comstock tells AdAge that NBC doesn’t want to build an online portal. MTV is doing “hyper-programmed” vertical channels. Yahoo is rolling out a brand universe of solar systems of content around popular consumer brands like Nintendo’s Wii.

Apparently, the MTV channels will have their own URLs; it’s unclear whether they’ll be linked or otherwise connected — either back to other MTV properties or to each other. Viacom doesn’t have a general-purpose network, but NBC does, so it should appreciate the value of connecting branded properties via a visible network, even if it’s loosely. I betcha Yahoo gets it right.

Visible networks still work online (see Fig. 1), and they may be even more important in a world of deconstructed Websites (see Fig. 10).

Holiday Christmas Nostalgia November 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Remember when Amuhrican pop culture could be religious, but not offensively so? And Mel Gibson and torture weren’t involved?

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Tune in tonight. I’d link to the proper page, but ABC is giving me a “server not found” message. Good grief. We’re writing about network sites this month.

Advertisers Can Save your Brain November 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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According to some German mad scientist, “strong” brands — whatever that means — provoke more pronounced brain activities than do weak ones.

    What surprised Dr. (Christine Born, the German radiologist who who specializes in the use of MRI to study neurological questions at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich) is how little either logo activated the decision-making part of the brain, even though the subjects were required — purely for purposes of ensuring concentration — to answer a question about each image…But the bigger surprise was that under examination by MRI, brains respond just as powerfully to strong insurance brands as to strong automotive brands, says Dr. Born. The result surprised her, she adds, because “cars are a status symbol. Insurance is an abstraction.”

This “study” tested 20 people and four brands, unless I’m getting the details wrong.

    This may be, as Dr. Born says, the first study of consumer brains. (!!??) But previous studies have shown that shopping can alter blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, says Mr. Silverstein. “We know that a woman’s pulse increases in a Victoria’s Secret store,” he says.

A woman’s? What about a man’s?

    Dr. Born’s previous work included the examination of brain reaction to stimuli among people with and without dementia.

Why am I writing about this? More important, why is the Journal?

    But of the 2,000 or so studies being presented at the radiology meeting — billed as the largest medical conference in the world — the branding study is one of only 16 deemed unusual or newsworthy enough to warrant a press conference.

Jimmy Iovine Hearts Music Subs, Communities November 26, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Buried deep in a very standard-issue profile in the LA Times, Universal/Interscope honcho Jimmy Iovine sings the praises of subscription music services, and suggests iTunes should be a community:

    “Until now, the record industry has thought primarily in terms of defense ‘How do we stop the leak?’ ” Iovine says, referring to finding ways to combat what he brands as the “stealing” of music through file sharing, piracy and other means. “We have to get into more of the revenue stream. The eventual answer may be a flat fee that enables you to listen to all the music you want. Sites like iTunes need to become a more fulfilling experience besides music, they should allow you to communicate with other fans, buy concert tickets, T-shirts, maybe even get unreleased recordings by your favorite artists.”

Jupiter likes subscriptions, too, but not quite as much as we did last year. We’ll be slightly lowering our forecast, based on a better understanding of paying subscribers — a pretty rarefied breed — 2005 and 2006 results, the continuing difficulty of delivering a seamless device experience and compatibility, and the potential for ad-based services. New forecast imminent.

Don’t Look a Geek Gift in the Mouth November 25, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Michael, you need to get out more. Or maybe out less. Yahoo has more or less been doing your idea for a geek makeover show for over six months now.

Wise Words on Corporate Blogging November 21, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Organic has a sensible editorial policy for their corporate blog. Seems logical to me. (Of course, I do obits and movie reviews sometimes.)

    …if you wouldn’t be comfortable sitting around a dinner table discussing the content of your blog posting with your mother, your largest client, your best friend, your boss, and your mentor, then you probably shouldn’t post it. So far, this has been a great filter.

The blog is worth a regular look.

A Great One Passes November 21, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Dammit, another favorite down. Nashville is in my top 10 of all time list. Even when he was bad, Robert Altman was interesting. Kansas City is cut to the music, not the other way around. Whew. And did anybody do el Lay better than Short Cuts or the “modern” version of The Long Goodbye?

    Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind “M-A-S-H,” “Nashville” and “The Player” who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his Sandcastle 5 Productions Company said today. He was 81.

Peanut Butter Isn’t Yahoo’s Problem November 20, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m puzzled by the Peanut Butter manifesto. Apparently, the notorious memo that criticizes Yahoo of lacking vision, discipline, and accountability was leaked quite widely. I’m not paranoid enough to say it was leaked from the top — either to run up a flag and see who salutes, or to manipulate media and Wall Street opinion into thinking heads are about to roll. But what is being leaked?

I’m sure Yahoo has redundancies and some conflicting chains of command, or places where everyone can veto, but no one can champion effectively. Ever seen a big company that didn’t? Ever seen former entrepreneurs not bitch about it? And what bureaucracy couldn’t cut 15% of its fat?

But is the core problem really peanut butter?

    We lack a focused, cohesive vision for our company. We want to do everything and be everything — to everyone. We’ve known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out. We are reactive instead of charting an unwavering course…I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.

“We want to do everything and be everything — to everyone.” Heck, that’s what the Number One Internet portal should do. A portal aggregates a lot of content and services for a big audience. It sells that audience to advertisers. The bigger and broader it is, the more power the portal has to slice and dice that audience across a richer variety of contexts. That makes for a great advertising platform.

That seems like a vision to me. Peanut butter isn’t the problem. Too many redundant products that don’t necessarily work together, yeah, that’s a problem. Not having a search engine that converts click throughs as well as Google’s, yeah, that’s problem. Being an Internet-only media company, yeah that’s a problem (being worked on.) Not being able to convince Wall Street that you’ve got a better audience and a richer ad platform than Google, yeah, that’s a problem. But being the Number One Portal? Hurt me with that one, even if it is a little old-school.

Not So Much Music Phoning in Denmark November 20, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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About music phones in Denmark? I presented at a meeting of about 30-40 Danish music industry execs, and here are the results of my unscientific polling of them:

iPod penetration (of this group) – about 95%
other MP3 player penetration – about 10%
listen to music on mobiles – about 15%

Of course, they’re in the industry, and have bigger than average digital music collections.

New Chief at AOL November 16, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This strikes me as a little odd. While a broadcast TV network is a fair analogy of the role of an ad-driven online portal, it’s only an analogy. That Falco is a Time Warner outsider could go either way in the land of the many fiefdoms. That he has almost no online experience seems unnecessary at this stage of Internet media. If he really has deep advertising ties, that’s very very good. (I don’t know him.) From the Journal:

    In its effort to remake its AOL unit into an ad-driven Internet business, Time Warner Inc. named Randy Falco, a top executive at General Electric Co.’s NBC, to become the primary driver of that push.

    The early success of AOL’s recent strategy shift has made it easier to attract someone of Mr. Falco’s caliber to the online business, company insiders say. Mr. Falco, 52 years old, will succeed AOL Chief Executive Jonathan Miller, 50. Mr. Miller, who is leaving the company, had run AOL for more than four years, overseeing its rocky relationship with Time Warner and guiding the AOL ship through a period of upheaval in the rapidly changing digital world.

UPDATED:

The Journal also says Joanne Bradford is going to take over MSN. That’s a much easier connection to make, and would be a good move. Of course, who knows what MSN wants to be today?