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We’re All Professionals Here, Part XXIII February 20, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, typos and malapropisms on the front page can’t possibly be good for your cred. For a while now, we’ve been saying, based on consumer surveys, that users think they trust professional content more than consumer-created stuff. See Figures 1 and 2 in this report, for instance. But you can always erode that trust:

– Sparta’s good King Leonidas’ name misspelled on Yahoo Movies.
This was on the front page of NFL.com this weekend.
– I can’t find it now, but again, this weekend, a front-page Weather.com video link mentioned “astroids,” which may indeed refer to a mathematical function, but not what falls out of the nighttime sky.

And there’s some fly-by-night analyst firm out there that mis-uses an indoor sports metaphor and a Latinism within 50 words. (Of course it’s in a blog, so I guess it doesn’t count.)

C’mon, gang, what is it, intern season? That’s what spell-checkers and Google are for, not to mention IMDB and Wikipedia…

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“Saving” Newspapers February 15, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Shafer vs. Rattner on the bidness of newspapers. I’m with Shafer, who says of Rattner:

    Rather than telling his patient to take some very strong medicine or change its rotten business habits, he concludes that the case is hopeless and that “perhaps it’s time to think about new models for the news business.”

    …So, please, let’s call off pledge weeks for newspapers…If dailies can’t make it on their own, they deserve death.

However, I’m still worried about who’s going to pay for long (-ish) form investigative journalism. It sure isn’t TeeVee or the Internetz.

Apple Does Some Artist Marketing February 14, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Wow. Apple actually does some music promotion. I can’t say I’ve seen this kind of thing from them before. This is from the weekly iTunes Music Store New Music Tuesday e-mail newsletter (which I still get on Wednesday, east coast time):

    If you like Coldplay and Snow Patrol, we think you’ll love Borne. Led by vocalist Cameron Tapp, the Aussie indie band Borne explores rugged emotional terrain via melancholy piano lines and euphoric guitar rock. Last year, the band sent a demo CD to our Sydney office that went on to become the most successful free single in the history of iTunes Australia. To give Borne the chance to be heard by a wider audience, we’ve chosen “The Guide” from their new album Loss of Signal as our first-ever worldwide free Single of the Week. If you like them as much as we do, you can pick up their whole album for an incredible $5.99.

This is pure, editorial merchandising. That is, it isn’t generated by any recommendation robots. At least I don’t think so — I don’t like Coldplay or Snow Patrol and Apple has no reason to think I do.

Who Knew Pepsi Was So Ironic? February 13, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m sorry, when I see the Pepsi bouncing ping-pong ball ad with Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi” as the soundtrack, all I can think of is Elton Motello’s version — “Jet Boy, Jet Girl.” Fair warning, depending on how hip your office is, if you play the clip, it may not be office-friendly. I just know someone at the ad agency is laughing his head off at the Suits’ expense.

Download Harry Potter Here February 12, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Note to Google: Don’t you know that when Hollywood says “Jump!” the correct response is “How high?”

    At the core of the media companies’ dispute with Google, which isn’t a defendant in the piracy case, is their claim that Google deliberately directed traffic to Web sites that were engaged in fostering piracy. Although people familiar with the situation say the incident doesn’t involve large sums of money, several media executives say it has led them to question Google’s internal controls. Google told the studios on Friday it would implement new procedures to prevent recurrences….

    The defendants in the case, Brandon Drury and Luke Sample, said in sworn statements that Google representatives offered them credit to buy advertising on Google’s search engine. They also said Google supplied them with keywords, including terms such as “bootleg movie download,” “pirated,” and “download harry potter movie,” which boosted traffic to their sites, according to people familiar with the case. In court filings, both men deny any wrongdoing.

That last bit is a howler. I love the idea of Google reps working so hard for their money ($800K in two years’ worth of ad spending, according to the story).

But don’t you just love rights negotiations that are carried out in public? I’m kinda hoping Google sticks to its guns on this one. Just to see some more veins pop — metaphorically, if not completely disingenuously — before the deals are ultimately signed.

AOL’s Got the Best Grammy Awards Site February 11, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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There’s nothing like an awards show to bring out the best in Internet programming. While the Grammy Awards aren’t in the same league as the Oscars, the three portals and CBS, the network carrying the broadcast tonight, all do creditable jobs in support.

The Grammys site itself is weak, but cross-linked to CBS and Yahoo, who are doing the heavy lifting. CBS’s site is also lighter than those of the portals, but it’s streaming live from the red carpet. Its video jukebox is very thinly populated, and its only voting is for favorite Grammy show moments, a good idea but with too little video in support. Well, that and My Grammy Moment (run by Yahoo) that’s the sole nod to consumer — well, amateur — content from either one: vote in a duet partner for Justin Timberlake.

Yahoo’s own site is richer, and laid out to emphasize the actual contests. Its got tons of music videos, and streaming samples of the nominated songs when it doesn’t have a video. Nice. You can also stream a compilation album.

MSN’s Grammy site is more bare-bones than Yahoo’s, with just the videos nominated (rather than videos of many of the songs) and a poll or two. Within articles, it links aggressively back to its digital music store.

As usual with awards shows, AOL’s got the best site. It has the most interactivity, in terms of quizzes and polls, and it’s designed to vote by each category, with vids presented as part of the voting process. It’s also got a bunch of the nominations available as free streaming CDs. AOL also has a big focus on consumer-created content, prominently promoting video uploads and message board posting. They’re right under videos of its own editors’ comments, which are presented YouTube fashion, on AOL’s “UnCut Video” knock-off, encouraging comment.

MTV has pretty much nothing in support of the Grammys, although VH1 is a little bit better. Rolling Stone has a CBS ad.

The “Wisdom” of “Crowds”? February 10, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Journal tracks down some of the folks that do most of the posting on sites like Digg and del.icio.us. Apparently, some lives are needed.

Le Mail Hot February 8, 2007

Posted by David Card in Marketing.
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Gotta disagree with some former colleagues. The only thing odd about calling the new, soon to be stage n beta (beta means never having to say you’re Google) Hotmail “Hotmail” is that it took Microsoft a year to make the decision. “Windows Live Mail” means nothing. Hotmail means 200 million plus users worldwide. It’s a huge brand in Europe. People don’t like to change their e-mail address, and, if you ask them to, they just might go elsewhere.

Yeah, “Hotmail” has a bit of baggage as a product that’s, um, a little long in the tooth. But the new implementation is as slick as anyone’s Webmail offering (as good as those of Yahoo, .mac, and AOL, which are currently the best). Way slicker than Gmail. It shouldn’t be hard to dispel any dated brand karma. Will Hotmail be cool again? Eh, maybe.

If new users want a better shot at their own name, or a favorite vanity address, they can opt for Live. I have no doubt that Microsoft will spend whatever it takes to make “Live” mean something, someday, but this is the right thing to do for Hotmail.

Yes, Virginia, there Is Good DRM: for On-Demand Services February 7, 2007

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I got clarification from RealNetworks on its stand on DRM. Yes, Real believes a la carte downloads should abandon it. Otherwise, they’re an inferior product to CDs. (Good point, and many consumers agree: See Figure 5.) Real is totally committed to unlocking new business models with DRM, just like we think they should be. You can’t build the jukebox in the sky without it.

Real believes that digital purchases, stimulated by compatible, unprotected music, would make Rhapsody an even better discovery vehicle and try-before-you-buy option. And Real is attempting to address the issue of portability — as in “mobility,” not Apple compatibility — via its own ecosystem and partners like SanDisk.

Jobs Says: Let My Music Free! February 6, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Apple CEO Steve Jobs finally says publicly what I’ve been telling reporters for years: the only reason iTunes has DRM is because the labels and publishers want it. Not because Apple does. Of course he’s only saying it now because he’s got a bunch of crazy Europeans some “consumer groups” — and maybe the EU — on his back.

“Lock-in?” Who needs lock-in when you have 70% market share? And there is no lock-in because only something like 6% to 20% of the songs on iPod users’ devices comes from the iTunes store (see Figure 5). Not the 3% Jobs gets from over-simplified arithmetic (a ton of iPods are upgrades, and only about half of device owners buy any digital music at all.)

Anyway, Jobs joins Yahoo Music’s David Goldberg among others in suggesting the music industry give up on DRM and distribute unprotected digital music. Just like they do on CDs. His main argument: it doesn’t work anyway. He’s right. We at Jupiter have long been saying no DRM is uncrackable. But it’s not quite that simple.

Our analysis, a lot of it based on consumer surveys, suggests that DRM could be valuable in unlocking new business models, rather than trying to lock down old ones. Things like legal sharing to encourage try-before-you buy (Zune’s best idea), pass-along affiliates (PassAlong Networks, as well as those anarchists at Weed), tapping into the existing P2P networks, and, gasp, my favorite, on-demand subscription music services like Real Rhapsody and Napster.

Apple doesn’t care about this stuff. It just wants to sell iPods. And it’s easy to say that consumers hate DRM when yours is relatively painless but no one else’s is. And you’re not willing to help that because secrets might “leak.” In fact, iPod users tell us they’d like to buy music from any store they choose.

But why Rob Glaser at Real seems to be endorsing DRM elimination is beyond me. Maybe he and Goldberg both mean “for music purchase,” rather than “rental.” How do these guys think they can make Rhapsody or Yahoo Unlimited work without some kind of DRM? I’m all ears.

I guess they could try it the eMusic way, and set limits to the number of downloads by time. But eMusic’s really a record club, not on-demand access to a jukebox in the sky. So maybe that jukebox can go back to streaming, rather than downloading. That might work, but not for mobility, at least not till we have some pretty awesome over-the-air bandwidth.

But for a la carte downloads? Sure. Nobody needs DRM. Ripping was always the bigger problem than file-sharing anyway. That, and pricing ;->