Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hulu in Oz speaking with the locals

Paul McIntyre reports on the SMH that Hulu is in AU at the moment speaking with local broadcasters.

Interesting outtake - "the sticking point will be whether the US venture is prepared to enter a 50-50 equity venture with Australian broadcasters."

I'm unsure why Hulu would do this, given (and this is an assumption) US content is what will drive Hulu usage - and most of it is already owned by Fox or NBCU. I'd argue Hulu could enter the AU market without partnering with the local networks if they could structure their broadcast deals over here to allow this.

The AU FTA's could try and do their own video play like Hulu, but they'd be severely limited with the content they could place on there. Im not sure what the demand would be for reruns of Rove and Farmer Wants A Wife. The most compelling content would be ABC content - and thats already available en masse online through their site.

I, for one, would love to see Hulu come to AU. I think it's revolutionary.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cuil - what's the big deal?

Some media are getting excited about Cuil - even mX (a respected tech journal if ever there was one) ran it on the front page today.

It's been started by some ex GOOGers ... I gave it a spin today trying to see how our clients appeared and the interface sort of irked me.

When I went to the cuil page I instantly thought of searchme - but I am not sure why. Personally I think searchme has a better spin than what has been shown so far on Cuil. Visual search looks great (it's definitely better than IceRocket circa 2004) but I'm not sure how it really improves on Google.

To Cuil's defence ... they don't really seem to be indexing AU pages and that would be having some impact on its relevance to me. The press frenzy at least shows there's topical interest around the search business in the mainstream media.

Cuil -
Searchme -

John Packowski on Cuil -

Does Google have content ambitions?

I think they do, and I found this article from Weblogs founder and Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis that seems to think the same.

Is the potential Google evolution ... Organiser ---> Distributor ---> Creator.

Personally, I think they're moving along the phases as they realise outside of search there's limited dollars to be had purely being a facilitator of information. YouTube is great but what does it mean to users. Does it have a personality? I'd say no ... and advertisers want personalities in the brands they align their own assets to advertising wise.

NBCU's Digital Olympics - The Rundown

NBCU has an impressive array of digital content for their telecast of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as outlined by paid content here -

The summary will provide approximately 2,200 hours of live streaming broadband coverage of Olympic competition where users can choose from up to 20 concurrent streams encompassing 25 Olympic sports. In addition, the site will offer more than 3,000 hours of on-demand access to full-event replays and extensive highlights, including daily recaps of key events, best-of montages, commentator analysis and athlete-specific clips. (By comparison, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, NBC streamed two hours of live footage.)

Yahoo!7 - it'd be great if you could let us know how much footage Yahoo!7 has of the Olympics in terms of live and on demand so we can see what we are getting compared to our US allies. I'm sure someone from Yahoo! reads this - it appears on my logs ;)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Facebook adds MSN Search as a friend

MSN search has given Facebook a firm 'thanks for the add' after the Social Media giant allows MS to provide "web search services and associated advertisements by the end of the year on the American portion of the popular social network"

Full article -

Financial terms haven't been disclosed - probably a good move on both sides given the discussion around the $850m Google/Myspace and Google CEO Eric Schmidt's comments that "MySpace did not monetize as well as we thought."

From Valleywag in May: Eric Schmidt: "We have a lot of traffic, a lot of page views, but it is harder than we thought to get our ad network to work with social networks. When you are in social network, it is not likely that you'll buy a washing machine. It is not a long term problem but it is taking us longer than we thought."

For the search providers these two deals are very different. Google was looking for revenue first and foremost - direct revenue - from the tens of millions of myspace users that were glued to the site and the tens of millions who were joining every month. Google wasn't looking for visibility - it already had a monster portion of the search market.

Also, remember it was 2006. Facebook was only a blip and myspace was a mystery as was most of the Social Networking space. I think a lot of this deal was a 'suck it and see' type play ... an expensive experiment. The funny thing about the Google/Myspace deal is that despite the fact both parties admit that it's not really executing as expected - nothing has really been done to fix it.

Now it's 2008 and personally I think the core motivation behind MSN doing this deal with Facebook is visibility. Search is something MSN seem determined to compete in (hence their attempted courting of Yahoo! in its entirety then Yahoo! Search division) and an issue they face is that the market knowledge of their search offering is minimal or non-existant.

Facebook gives them a huge increase in distribution - and will expose them to a market who are probably not aware of the MSN search offering. For Facebook it's win/win - they have a robust search offering on their site (whereas previously people would need to leave Facebook to search) and they would have negotiated a strong deal financially. I can't imagine it propelling MSN into the search stratosphere ... but in a game as big as the search game any incremental benefit is incredibly valuable.

The deal is limited to the US right now but one would assume (like the FB display deal MSN have) that it will roll out globally. Locally Facebook's 3.2m users would be something ninemsn would love to have access to search wise. Only 33% of Facebook users used ninemsn search in May 2008. Locally, this deal could really help ninemsn at least enhance their distribution and 'opportunity to search' presence by supplying some fresh eyeballs.

It would also create a pretty significant gap between ninemsn search and Yahoo! search in this market ... a gap that is already pretty large (ninemsn at 2.8m search users, Yahoo! at 1.6m)

Misunderstandings ...

I've been working on a certain client for about 5 months - in that time have attended about 8 meetings, worked on 3 strategies, 2 campaigns etc ... anyway, I was in a meeting with a member of our team and said client talking about an upcoming campaign involving digital. All seemed to be going pretty well until right at the end when we stood up she said ...

'You guys are pretty tall for I.T guys. The I.T guys here are generally short and pale.'

I wonder how many marketers still think people who work in digital are I.T guys. I don't have enough fingers to count how many times I've been asked to fix someone's hard drive or projector in a meeting. Trouble is - I don't know anything about I.T and the connection is almost like assuming those who work on TV strategies and buying are producers or cameramen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gary Vaynerchuk interview - "Passion is the backbone to success"

I first came across Gary Vaynerchuk earlier in the year in the States, when he was part of a live taping of Revision 3's Internet Superstar at AdTech SF.

His passion for digital (and wine) and enthusiasm were infectious. Since I have followed his efforts across his Wine Library TV web show - - as well as TV appearances all over the US (inc. Conan o'Brien, Ellen, Fox News, Jim Kramer) - and his new book '101 Wines Designed to Inspire, Delight and Bring Thunder to Your World' -

His background makes for interesting reading -

Gary's Wine Library TV show has in excess of 80,000 viewers daily - and makes for compelling viewing. I hope, in time and if scale allows, AU can generate web based video content this strong ... similar to the Revision3 model (however it would need to be broader content wise to work in AU than Rev3)

I wanted to get Gary on my blog as he's a smart guy who is passionate about what he loves. Somehow in between travelling around the US, media appearances, tapings etc he found time to answer some of my questions.

Gary, for those unfamiliar with you here in AU, sum up what you do in 25 words

I put out a wine show on the internet that is interested in changing the wine culture in the world.

How did Wine Library TV come about? How did you refine your palatte and gain such an incredible understanding of wine and all its complexities ... and how did you go about translating this passon into the emerging platform of web TV?

It came about because I turned 30 and freaked out and wanted to do something new. I learned by growing up in a family business, which allowed me the opportunity to taste a lot of wine at a very young age.

How does Wine Library TV go in terms of usage and related metrics, and how do you go about monetising this engaged audience?

Monetizing the audience is not a priority in any shape or form for me so it's not something I really think about.

Can you tell us a little about your recent deal with Revision3? What does it entail and how does it feel to be working with the Rev3 guys (I noticed your brother is doing an internship with them and you're mates with Kevin Rose so it seemed like a logical fit)

I'm very excited to be in a deal with Rev3 because I respect them a ton. It's basically a situation where they are distributing Wine Library TV through their network but also and more exciting for me they are creating a 5 minute condensed version called Wine Library Reserve and that is something I'm very excited about.

I have to say I love your attitude to your audience and the respect you show them. I love how you use digital channels to essentially allow people into your life - through forums, twitter, AIM, your blog, show etc ... you are short on time but you always find time to give something back to people who find time to give it to you. How important is this to you and how do you manage to do it

It is fundamentally the most important thing to me--my community. The way I find time is by making it my #1 priority. That’s it!

Where do you see Web TV in the next 5 years? What are the factors that will drive it and are there any factors that can stand in its way?

Immensely important and competing with mainstream tv for eyeballs. The factors are the realities of the marketplace and the fact that people keep becoming more comfortable with the medium.

You seem like a person who needs challenges to stay inspired. What are the key challenges you face in the next 12 months ... and do you have any plans to take WLTV and bring the thunder to a more global audience?

I don't anticipate challenges, I react to them. So I have no idea what they are going to be! WLTV is already global.

Social Media is a big buzzword in the advertising strategy world. You have called yourself the 'social media sommerlier'. What advice do you have for companies looking to use - or even understand - social media ... and how do you try and bring back your social media activities to ROI type metrics?

#1 Companies have to not be afraid of it. #2 They must recognize that it is the future. #3 Quickly embrace and execute because it is the most opportunistic way to reach a new audience.

I think the example of GV raises a really great ideal - if you're passionate about something and you can channel that passion effectively nothing can stop you. And in doing that it makes what you do inimitable. This also seems to ring true in the wider digital world - most groundbreaking digital tools (like Google, Netscape, Paypal etc) have come from a passion to make something great ... not a drive to extract revenue from a successful sector. What are your thoughts around this?

Passion is the backbone to success. To win on a global scale is so difficult and takes so much effort--if you don't love what you’re doing all the way through and it's not part of your DNA you really have no chance.

Friday, July 25, 2008

There's the truth ... and there's the truth

The Oz has an expose about websites stretching the truth about traffic numbers.,25197,24068103-26077,00.html

Overall not bad, and an issue that is something of concern.

A few interesting points however ...

"Simon Van Wyck, founder of web advertising company Hothouse, says a number of web publishers and portals count visitors to allied sites, but do not necessarily have the right to claim such traffic.

"I think you can look at other things, such as claiming traffic that is not theirs," Van Wyck says.
Examples include Ninemsn, which claims Hotmail and Yahoo. "

Hrm ... ninemsn claims Yahoo! traffic. Might want a fact check on that one.

"Recently the Internet Advertising Bureau began looking at the issue of automatic refreshes of pages -- a common element used by news publishers to keep late-breaking stories at the top of lists.

"Keegan says the problem occurs when ads are refreshed along with the stories, creating the impression of more traffic."

Most publishers do this ...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Freudenstein on the spin trail

Richard Freudenstein, chief executive officer at News Digital Media, said: “Our audience spends twice as long online as the average Australian - and they spend more time engaged with the internet than with any other medium.


"Respondents to the survey carried out by Research Now shows they spent 28 hours online each week,"

According to Nielsen Netview's May 2008 figures, NDM network users spend on average 35 minutes on their sites a month.

According to the same source News rates last when comparing ninemsn, Yahoo and Fairfax in terms of time spent per month on their respective networks.

So what are they doing with the other 27 and a half hours they spend online?

From AdNews: "In a thinly veiled reference to portal's such as ninemsn and Yahoo!7, Freudenstein said sites with large audiences typically have "low engagement", but that NDM's 10 million monthly unique browsers were "highly engaged" with its "deep, quality content"."

"Asked if he was aware whether audiences of competing publishers such as Fairfax Digital also over-indexed on time spent online, Freudenstein said he was unsure."

Had to have a chuckle ...

Oops Patrol - Yahoo7: Put Your Foot Down

Mega Oops Patrol!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

iPhone finally in my hands - early impressions

Got my iPhone today and have been test driving it ever since. I like it - I always was going to like it ... and I like the experience.

As a phone it's good. I had a 1 hour phone call from London and the sound was good - crisp, clear.

Camera is okay - good enough for a phone. I took a few pics of the dogs - cute. Photo album is good as well.

Applications - installed a few. Facebook - solid. Myspace - not bad. NY Times - sloooow. Remote - very cool. Google - awkward ... not as good as I thought. I actually prefer G Talk on the Blackberry. More to come tomorrow. Google Maps - awesome ... far superior to Blackberry Google Maps.

Safari - the browser is nice. Most sites look okay - those designed for mobile look amazing. Really wanted to check out the ninemsn iphone site but it defaulted to the normal one. The age looked great on mobile, as did twitter and blogger.

WiFi - very good. Works fantastic at home ... work also has Wi Fi so enabled it there as well. Handy feature - will save data.

Email. I use Lotus Notes at work and we don't have iPhone support as yet ... so I am using a gmail account with auto forward. It's not push and it doesn't sync with my calender/diary but it is good enough. Soon enough we will have iPhone support for Domino/Blackberry exchange. The keyboard isn't as easy to use as the Blackberry but good enough for quick 5-6 word responses.

iPod - easy sync.

Battery - a little sluggish but not bad considering I have caned it this evening.

Bragging rights - huge. Making the most of being a smug wanker whilst I can.

How will it alter media consumption? I am not sure but will get around to thinking about it after I've given it a good flogging.

Interesting usage data around Brisbane

According to neilsen Market Intelligence for June 2008, Brisbane had 624k users.

But when you do a duplication analysis some interesting data appears.

Of these 624k, 373k also read ... and 316k also read The

I wonder how many of Brisbane Times readers are actually NEW users of Fairfax's News services ... or whether a load of the users are SMH and Age readers being funelled into the BrisbaneTimes site. Either that or they like reading multiple mastheads that report the same news.

There is minimal overlay between the BrisbaneTimes and Courier Mail audiences as well - only 132k users.

It would be an interesting stat to work out how many Brisbane Times readers live in Brisbane as well.

Hugh Martin touched on a similar topic here -

Facebook ads appealing to fat loss cures, engagement ring companies and debt consolidators

I discovered this little gem today - the Facebook Ad Board ...

It grabs all those painful, irrelevant text and image ads Facebook runs on the left hand side of the screen (right hand side with the redesign) and places them on one handy page.

Snoring cures, uni preference changes, punk bands, Roger David are all irrelevant to me ... Aussie Rules, Golf, Surfing, Fat Loss ... maybe more relevant.

The killer ad model is a little way off I am thinking

Great quote from Last FM founder

"Our attitude has always been, if we can’t get a person to the website, we can get the website to them."

Google to buy DiggDigg not to be purchased by Google (updated 27/7)

Edit: Reports as of 27/7 suggest this deal is not happening and Google is not purchasing Digg.


Techcrunch has reported in the last hour that Google is in the final stages of finalising an acquisition of Digg.

Digg locally has around 200k users and hasn't really experienced much local growth in the past 12 months (<10%)

Google plans to roll Digg into its Google News property. Makes sense. I wouldn't be surprised if they start to use Digg like functionality in normal search results (which according to searchblog they were bucket testing to selected US people)

In the US Digg has 10.3m users.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LinkedIn and NY Times distro alliance

I like this - makes sense and gives Linked In a good way to generate distribution but in a relevant, valuable way.

A deal like this locally could be done with a Crikey/Business Spectator - or a Plugger - or even Fairfax. Makes total sense

Could work for a Last FM with Music content too.

Myspace local shake up

B&T is reporting that myspace local VP Rebekah Horne has been given the big task of heading up Myspace's UK and Europe operations.

Congrats to Rebekah. It's great to see local operators being recognised and moved into larger markets. Best of luck.

One really interesting piece I took from the article (aside Horne's move) is the importance of mobile to myspace.

From B&T: "MySpace European executives have forecast that within five years around half of all its traffic will come via the mobile."

Big numbers but they make sense. Personally, I think when mobile really starts to hum it will start to make things like and pandora make even more sense (check and move Social Networks from a PC based utility to something that can tap into location and also become like a portable attache.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Facebook and its impending redesign

So Facebook is redesigning the profile pages (check Techcrunch for more of users as a way of enhancing the service.

According to Yahoo! News US, it's a "new look to reflect changes in how its members communicate with each other and how they share photos and updates about their lives."

Now, Valleywag is reporting that the new redesign has seen ads disappear from user profile pages -

"Most of Facebook's inventory is junk. And Facebook's new design may help take out the trash. It's no surprise users don't click on ads on profile pages; there's too much else to do."

I wouldn't go that far, but I think over the past 2 months Facebook has definitely dropped its ad standards.

I am a fan of Facebook and its potential - engaged audience, large audience, strong targeting potential (I must stress that word, potential), the platform itself and the functionality. I have used it for campaigns, it generally works.

However I have a few gripes as well.

1. Ninemsn can only sell display inventory. You can't run expanding creative. Ninemsn cannot sell 'social ads'. Ninemsn should have access to all inventory on the site - I can't see the benefit of the current approach.

2. The text based with small image ads that run in place of the skyscraper sometimes are incredibly annoying. There is no quality control and 9 times out of 10 they are not at all relevant to me and I'd imagine most users. If I'm not getting ads for hip hop jackets, it's ads for singles services (despite checking In A Relationship on my profile), gay matchmaker companies or market research companies seeking 'Males aged 30-39 for awesome products'.

3. It is difficult to buy anything integrated on the network. A few AU repping houses claim to have access to FB ads, Facebook sort of have a US guy looking after the market but it's not ideal considering their audience size.

4. Facebook is already running low end performance ads - my belief is once you blanket your site end to end with credit cards ads, Dell ads etc you blow any chance you have of positioning yourself as anything but low CPM. Monetise at any cost ... even if it means annoying your users and scaring off the advertisers who could generate yield.

Hopefully this redesign is a step towards solving some of the above. Taking off rubbish ads from user profiles will probably have a minimal impact on revenue short term. But it does keep users from being annoyed and gives them time to maybe nail the right execution.

But developing a robust ad platform has to be priority 1 for Facebook. Without it, the ad dollars won't come and without that their $15b valuation doesn't really make much sense. There's no shortage of inventory online - it's not like we can't reach the same eyeballs elsewhere ... agencies and advertisers will start asking the tougher questions to publishers - why choose your network over the 100 others we have access to. And if the answers aren't smart, the dollars will move.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Olympics 2008 - the online battle

The Olympics will be with us in just over 2 weeks, and many are thinking that this will be the first Olympics that online perhaps becomes the most important media channel.

Main reason is most events are taking place during work hours (to coincide with US prime time). During these times of the day Internet is the dominant media - and it will provide people with real time updates, images, stories and reports from Beijing.

My feeling is people will be turning to Internet and Radio primarily during the big events, with TV functioning as the catch up mechanism in the evening. Raises the question - what role will Newspapers play given the event times? I'm not quite sure ... but I think free transit papers like MX will be more popular than normal during this time.

It will be an interesting battle online for the Olympic eyeballs. All the major publishers have been out in market this year selling their 'Olympic packages' ... some have been good, others not so much. Yahoo!7 has the "official" rights and is confident they will experience success with these Olympics and the content they have.

My thoughts are that the biggest benefits from the Olympics will go to Google.

Why? Well - Google search is where the majority of people will turn to find out information and results. And YouTube will undeniably be a first stop for people looking for video coverage of events.

Yes, I am aware that YouTube/Google have no streaming rights for Olympics ... but it doesn't matter ... clips will be uploaded to YouTube and will generate millions of views before they are taken down. It is difficult to compete against YouTube users and their ability to share/upload information - effectively they have a million strong editorial team. YouTube will enjoy a strong spike in usage during the Olympic period.

The main publishers could benefit from Google being the first stop for those wanting information - if they buy SEM terms around all key athletes and events. This will result in a strong payday for Google. Imagine the demand for search terms such as Grant Hackett, Eamon Sullivan, Hockeyroos etc as the news outlets frantically try and buy traffic.

The biggest site traffic wise will be This happened with the World Cup and will happen again for Olympics.

I think it will be difficult for Yahoo to generate big traffic from their official presence despite them having the best legal coverage. Their overall sports offering is weak traffic wise, which means they won't have the residual audience of a WWOS or Fairfax's masthead sports offerings. Personally I think it is imperative that 7 really push their online content during the Opening Ceremony ... like REALLY flog it ... because this will rate highly and is their best chance at pushing their TV audience to their web destination. I haven't seen Yahoo!7 nail this with Sports (or anything aside Dancing With The Stars) in their 2+ years of marriage so it will be interesting to see the execution. Remember too, Yahoo!7 had the official socceroos online presence during World Cup 2006 but were beaten by their rivals (the real winner being - which was a Yahoo! global property)

The one to watch will be ninemsn. They have 3 core things on their side. They have a huge sports audience already through WWOS. They have the biggest homepage in the country - hitting 1.4m people every day, and they have the Messenger product and it's MSN Today popup which reaches huge numbers and can drive massive volume to their key properties. Remember too that reaches 1m people per month as well. My bet is that ninemsn's Olympic presence will only trail in terms of usage during Beijing.

FoxSports and Fairfax will enjoy usage increases as well. Fairfax have the massive homepage volumes of The Age and SMH to drive traffic to stories as they happen. I don't feel Bigpond will play much of a role online.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Four N Twenty Magic Salad Plate

Have seen these ads running throughout the footy tonight - I really like the idea

The plate is a cack. Take a look and have a laugh.

I think it's a clever way to bring personality to a pie and also have a well intended dig at the audience.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get excited: iphone app

Whoa! It's an exciting time right now with some white hot iphone apps becoming available.

This is my fave so far - - despite some reports of initial bugs.

Downside - not available in AU right now. I'm sure this will change.

What I would love to see is one of the local carriers getting behind an app like this, because this app (as well as the pandora iphone app) and the facebook app are already showing us the great potential the iphone has to truly blur the lines of media and devices. A portable device makes all the more powerful - this isn't just another iteration of the website, it brings the brand into a new dimension and it provides more value to the user.

According to Nielsen Netview, is currently at 191k users in AU, with YOY growth of 138%. I will chase site side data from the guys.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Yahoo paid search results

I am not sure when this dropped, but go to and type in 'Cathay Pacific'

In the results you will find what they are calling 'Partner Results'

What is in Partner Results? Well - 4 seperate textlinks, a blurb and a click to play video.

Problem is - the video is a TVC. If I am searching for Cathay Pacific I don't want to view a TVC. The four salesy textlinks seem to add a lot of clutter to the page in my opinion as does the search assist drop down. These can and will be ironed out I'm sure in time

Keen to hear others thoughts, but I think this could be improved. It feels to me like Yahoo is catering for advertisers here and not trying to improve the service for its users. This, in its current form, is not an enhancement borne out of wanting to make search better for users, it is about revenue extraction.

I think this could evolve into something good (ie, with video content tailored and relevant to the search term - ie, Ford Falcon review giving you a review of a Ford Falcon - giving the user a better value proposition that pure text) eventually but right now I think it needs work. Search works due to its incredible simplicity and relevance.
Side note: I also noticed Yahoo is running skyscrapers alongside its Video search results. Are they relevant to the search ... not from my experience (appears to be performance inventory).
Careful guys ...

$105 billion dollars ...

Interesting article ...

"... data indicates that companies (US) are expected to spend $105.3 billion online in 2008, which beats the $98.5 billion they’re projected to spend on TV, radio and movies. But that isn’t quite as much as the $147 billion they’re likely to spend on print media, up 12% from the previous year."

Ok, so the measurement is a little flawed.

"It counts the money companies spend on their own websites as part of their advertising budgets, because websites are ostensibly used for marketing"

I was surprised by this stat ...

"The 1,088 US-based companies surveyed will spend $61.5 billion, or 61.8% of their online advertising and marketing budgets, on their own sites, siphoning away money from other options, he said"

$61.5b on websites! It's interesting some companies are willing to bleed money on their clumsy, corporate website but don't feel comfortable enough to utilise media (be it display, search, whatever) to raise awareness of it. Maybe after forking out so much for the site there's no money left.

The research threw in website dev into the total investment cost because it's essentially a 'marketing tool' ... begs the question, how or why are many corporate sites marketing tools and what are they giving in value to the consumer?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Does this new Tivo ad look familiar

Seven rip off old Apple ipod ad.

Thanks to The Age for the tip.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The iphone isn't just the 'jesus phone' is BIGGER than Jesus!

Check the data -

Since mid 2007 there has consistently been more searches on Google for the iphone than Jesus, indicating that Google users may have perhaps found a new god in their music player/phone handset.

However both can't hold a candle to the almighty 'porn', which smashes both Jesus and the Jesus Phone. Good old porn, the backbone(r) of the Internet.

Interestingly, porn traffic (via search volume index) is rising (pun intended) each year.

Does Google have a problem with YouTube?

It's being reported YouTube is proving a slight thorn in the side of the search power, with estimates predicting the $200m USD in global revenue for the site for this year will be below expectations.

The WSJ covers it here -

It's interesting that this is proving a problem. It's good that Google's ad head honcho is digging around finding problems with the process that need to be solved.

Memo to local Google - the main problem is that you impose an above market minimum ad spend for brands to be on the site which is based on flawed logic. If you want a reason the local ad migration to YouTube is relatively slow - this is it.

In 06 when the GOOG acquired YouTube I think the industry let out a collective sigh of relief that the troublesome area of video content would be nailed by the company that could do no wrong. Trouble is, the billion dollar question of how to nail the 30 second spot for the online video environment hasn't been answered.

YouTube faces issues many of its local competitors doesn't. One is advertisers have a reluctance to appear on the site due to the amateur nature of the content. Many entertainment advertisers don't feel they need to advertise as their content is going great guns without any help. Some refuse as they're in the middle of legal action. Whilst YouTube makes up about 60+% of all video streams in AU, there's less resistance to ad placements on ninemsn or News as advertisers are more comfortable with editorial.

Personally I rate the channel and want to explore it more. I like the fact it's ad hoc and sometimes raw ... that's what makes it appealing and engaging. And the numbers don't lie - YouTube is still enjoying phenomenal growth and engagement - it is incredibly efficient at giving order to millions upon millions of videos and making them accessible. Trouble is - Google put obstacles in front of advertisers when they want to trial the medium.

Tim Armstrong: "The next five years of the Internet is about execution."

Obama and Twitter

Much has been said in the tech blogs/journals about Barack Obama using Twitter as a campaigning tool. Most of it has been positive - here is a politician utilising an emerging digital media channel as a way of communicating with those following him.

You can view Obama's Twitter here -

I think it's a good thing Obama is on Twitter. I do, however, think he could use it better.

Twitter, for those unfamiliar, is a "microblogging" platform. Users upload short, 140 odd character sentences up which show their followers (people who have opted in to receive updates) what they're doing. It could be as simple as 'At the pub' or 'queuing for an iphone' ... or it could be something with more depth.

Obama uses it to keep people aware of what he's doing ... 'Pleased with today's Supreme Court decision to bring terrorists to justice while also protecting our core values' and the like. It's benefit for him is it provides him with a way of delivering real time updates without the media adding their spin. Nice, simple, direct communication.

However, generally communication is a two way street.

Obama has been on Twitter since June 07 - and not once has he responded to any messages on there. For Obama, Twitter is a one way street ... not a 2 way dialogue. Twitter users generally preface direct messages with an @username ... and common courtesy is to respond to these.

I realise Obama is a busy guy - but he (or his campaigners) could at least respond to some direct messages.

I would really hope that eventually he starts to use it as a way of establishing a dialogue with people and getting an idea of their thoughts, concerns, ideas etc ... because right now it's just another channel to pump out a message AT people.

Misunderstanding the market

Why do a trade marketing campaign - prompting advertisers to 'Start Something Wonderful' on trade sites like AdNews - like Yahoo7 is currently doing - but then link through to a page that is off brand and offers no value or information into any of the areas you are promoting in the ads?

Yahoo7 - pushing potential prospects through to a page dedicated to digital ad specs is a massive waste of dollars and sends a signal to the market that potentially you are at a loss at how to use the channel. I cannot think of a worse possible landing page than this one - other than a page not found error.
Given the depth of resources Yahoo does have at its disposal globally - which give insight into net users and their motivations - why didn't they build an adequate trade marketing page which at least gives the user an idea of what is possible? Instead we get some irrelevant adops info useless to pretty much every marketer in the country.

Daft quote from Obermier re Next G ads

Remember those Next G ads with Bob Geldof, John McEnroe and Dustin Hoffman?

No ... ok.

Well anyway ... outgoing Telstra Marketing bigwig Bill Obermier has thrown in a reference to them when discussing how awesome the Next G network is with The Australian's media section.

I was a little befuddled at the rationale of using these international names, but according to Obermier Australians often don't value their own creations until they have achieved recognition overseas.

So as a result they used 3 celebrities to show the Australian public that the Next G network was robust and worth our time.

From the article:

"In an effort to gain that overseas validation, Telstra created the Next G campaign featuring the likes of Dustin Hoffman, John McEnroe and Bob Geldof -- all complaining that the mobile coverage they were getting was not as good as Telstra's. Obermeier says the ads actually tracked well with consumers, despite claims by critics that they were indulgent.

Even worse, the ads were attacked as false and misleading by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and had to be altered.

"My biggest disappointment is that whenever we tried to really tell people about the experience, we have been shot down by the ACCC," he says.

"But the reason we did that was that there tends to be a need to have international validation -- it was way before Next G was really understood -- and that is why we had them saying this would not happen in Australia."

Are Australian's are that dumb they will accept international validation from big name celebrities who have never used the service and are being paid to read off an ad script ... it's an interesting mindset. Personally I've never looked to McEnroe or Hoffman for validation on my purchases in the consumer tech arena.

Maybe The Oz is twisting his words ... or maybe this is what he thinks works in this market.,25197,24013493-7582,00.html

Yahoo and Turner form interesting alliance ...

From TV week in the US - "Turner Broadcasting System and Yahoo! have made a multiyear strategic content and advertising deal for sports-related content. Turner will exclusively represent online advertising sales, including display, sponsorship and video advertising, for Yahoo! Sports’ NBA, golf and NASCAR pages"

I think this sort of deal is an interesting one. In my opinion, it sees Yahoo! outsourcing selected sales duties to a company more equipped, skilled to sell this content to market. Turner handles as well as other sports properties as is a leader in this space in the US. As a result these Yahoo properties also get better access to premium content from, the PGA tour and Nascar.

This has potential locally I think. Given there's a shortage of sales talent could we see, as an example, a group like sportal sell sport content on a major portal, and in turn provide better content to these groups. Or Business Spectator do the same with a portal finance offering and also give them access to their content from Kohler etc. CNet/ZD or Gizmodo selling Tech/Gadget info etc.

I like the idea as it gives specialist sites the ability to further distribute their content and monetise their sales expertise ... for the larger site it allows them to focus their sales efforts in areas they have the skills to do so in.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Great AU online media brands

I was reading this great post from John Battelle on his blog -

"Consumer Brands Love Media Brands, and Media Brands are Changing Regardless of all the flux in how brand marketing might work online, here's one thing of which I am certain: Consumer brands love media brands. Why? Because the best media brands represent a passionate community who are deeply engaged around a subject of shared interest"

What are Australia's great online media brands. The ones that demonstrate those qualities Battelle exhibits above?

I am sure there are plenty. What I am not sure of is whether they position themselves to the ad market as great brands, or whether they present themselves as a mass of eyeballs and reach because that's what they think the digital ad space wants.

Battelle used the phrase "tonnage instead of brand engagement" and I think that is incredibly apt.

Two successful digital players that have emerged in the past year have defied this trend are KidSpot and Business Spectator. They are selling a mindset, an audience profile, not scale. And it's working - they generate strong yield and maintain editorial integrity.

Probably something for everyone to think about as we enter a new financial year and the players gear up to try and maintain the growth levels the investors are starting to expect.

I have always been vocal in saying that online publishers need to take a look at pricing and avoid the temptation to look at automation or performance. The hard work that needs to be done is getting insights and analysis into their audience which allows them to maintain differentiation.

As a media guy I don't want to to know anymore just how many users you have - I want to know more about them and how I can give them value. I am constantly amazed at the blank stares I get when I ask this question to salespeople.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Balls up: Vodafone iPhone pre-registration

So I pre-registered for the new iPhone 3G on June 17 through Vodafone, my carrier.

On June 20 I received the following ...

"Hi Ben,

Here at Vodafone, we’re eagerly counting down the days until the launch of the new iPhone 3G - and we bet you are too!

We are keen to make sure that we can give you the very best deals on your new iPhone 3G and we are putting the finishing touches to these offers.So, what next? Since you have taken the time to pre-register, you are now at the front of the line.

We will be rolling out these exciting offers very soon, so make sure to keep an eye on your inbox to stay ahead of the game.

Stocks will be limited so you will need to be quick.


The Vodafone Direct Deals Team"

Soooo ... the iPhone comes out tomorrow and since June 20 I have received NOTHING from Vodafone.

Maybe they're so busy "eagerly counting down the days until the launch" they have forgotten about the people who have pre-registered.

I have kept"an eye on (my) inbox to stay ahead of the game" to no avail. iPhone launches tomorrow and right now I have no idea whether I can get one.

I don't think Vodafone realises the magnitude of the situation. I work in advertising - to remain smug and self important I need to throw down on the table a 3G iPhone in every meeting, brainstorm, public event and interaction to show that I am, indeed, well versed in the digital space.

Quips aside - I think Vodafone could have handled it all a little better. Why ask people to pre-register and sell the dream of getting special treatment when in reality, you haven't been able to execute anything. I get that the iPhone launch is a big deal and there's probably 20,000 other smug, self important people who may or may not work in advertising that want to be able to strap it next to their belt buckle so catering for demand may be troubling logistically ... but cmon.

Or maybe I take along to my local Vodafone store the above email and demand that I go straight to the front of the line. According to that "you are now at the front of the line."


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Decreasing yield - causes ...

I've been thinking of late - what is causing the decrease in yield across some areas of digital media.

Namely sales and the agency world.

Is it an increase in supply that is to blame (commonly stated), or is a decrease in the skill level of those working in the industry the real issue?

I don't know ... but I do think that both are probably playing a role. People tend to move on price when they aren't confident in their offering or don't know how to position it adequately.

RSS didn't kill the homepage

So ... 4 years ago it was predicted that the humble homepage would start to die a slow death as aggregation technology allowed used to tailor their own experience, and thus ... their true 'home'. RSS was going to kill the homepage star.

Thing is - the homepage in AU isn't dying. It's more popular than ever.

All of the main homepages are up year on year - ninemsn, The Age, SMH, News and Yahoo!7. Note - this is more about a unique user figure deduplicated over a month period. I don't know whether they are spending more time or visiting more often.

Yahoo!7 has intentionally pushed people through to its homepage - if you watch a 7 show it generally pushes you to the domain and asks you to search for the show title you were watching. This doesn't sit well with me - it inflates their search numbers and seems a lazy way to increase numbers.

Of the RSS aggregators - My Yahoo is losing users year on year ... however iGoogle has grown 100% during the same period.

It surprises me that homepages are still strong. Maybe it's habitual or maybe AU net users like them being a cluttered mess or editorial, display ads and advertorial. Sure, they are good for reach for certain campaigns and generally they offer a solus display ad unit ... but contextually they offer nothing.

Will be interesting to see how the homepage is fairing in 4 years time.

Friday, July 4, 2008 and - a TV studio in your pocket

Minimal murmurings locally about these two services - but boy are they exciting

Both and allow you to stream cell phone video live to the Internet.

Bloggers such as Robert Scoble have integrated the service into his filmed content - conducting ad hoc interviews with VCs and tech big names, as well as streaming footage live from tours of places such as the early HP offices.

For advertisers, it means they have an option for instant web casting. Someone like Ford could conduct live video chats with engineers, Motorola could demo their brand new phone via live stream, a film company could livecast a tour with a big name talent.

Content providers could also use Kyte - to live stream breaking news on scene, events etc ... the platform is so nimble it allows publishers to create streaming content without as much resource and planning.

Sure, the quality isn't HD - but it's good enough to offer something compelling.

It's a really interesting space. Both Qik and Kyte are working on iphone too. The numbers are low now but the technology is worth following

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Seth McFarlane and Google?

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the commercials behind the Seth McFarlane/Google deal for Cavalcade?

The show is distributed via the Content Network within ad units, with placements targeted to McFarlane's target audience (16-24m would be the sweet spot I imagine).

The shows also run on YouTube.

Pre-roll videos are placed on the content ... but revenue only comes (if I am reading this article properly - when someone clicks.

The revenue is shared through various parties - Google, McFarlane, McFarlanes representitives, the site owner.

I am unsure how this can make anyone money. I can understand pushing the content out - but I think what will happen is word of these will spread virally and YouTube will become the central point for people to obtain the clips.

As an agency guy the concept confuses me - and would confuse clients.

Wouldn't the easier model be to run the pre-rolls, charge them at a CPM and use the Content Network to drive the traffic to YouTube with co-branded ad units (that showcase the related advertiser)

Or push the content out to the main video sites and revenue share with them - Hulu, Yahoo! video, AOL etc - instead of limiting it to one network.

I think Google might be patting themselves on the back a little prematurely when saying they've 'recreated the mass media model'. Don't get me wrong - the idea of web only content from a big name is great ... but I think the commercials around it sound a little confusing once you scratch through the hype.

Fantastic 'Dark Knight' takeover on Myspace Au today

Looks awesome. I wondered what would happen with the homepage reskin with the redesign, however this is a big improvement over what was already a pretty cool ad option.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Seven announced Tivo pricing - $700,25197,23955607-30540,00.html

$700 + a broadband connection!

Yes, broadband penetration is pretty solid now ... but still, there will investment beyond just buying the unit in terms of either buying a wireless router or setting up another connection in the room with the unit.

TiVo will reportedly only support FTA content ... not Pay TV.

The question you have to ask is, when was the last time you really (and I mean $700 really) wanted to watch two shows at the same time on FTA? I know I generally don't lose sleep when choosing between watching the Big Brother Daily Show or Two and a Half Men reruns.

TiVo works well in the US because there is a heap of content available. I am not sure with 5 FTA stations (lets not pretend any of the HD stations really offer anything compelling as yet) such a device is needed.

I'm thinking Seven had to launch this before the Olympics as this will be the only time in the next 4 years when time shifting TV will be something people actually feel they need ... for the two weeks the Olympics are on that is.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The next 12 months in mobile ...

We've had some exciting developments this year within the mobile space in terms of advertising and marketing opportunities that look like the first steps in moving the device from the much maligned too hard basket (or spam tool) to being a device that offers exciting ways to meet marketing challenges.

Namely Telstra offering their content free to browse for their subscribers - which, whilst not ideal (reasonably priced datacaps would be the utopia - which allow users to use their mobile to access all content with no danger of bill shock) as well as the iPhone launching on July 11 and a stack of similar, multimedia devices entering the market in the next 6 months.

As an agency guy I have used mobile for about half a dozen campaigns this year and the results have been appealing. I liken it to the web 10 years ago - lots of users, minimal clutter, high response rates (all positives) but combined with carrier obstacles, slow connection speeds, inexperienced sales and no real standard o/s (all negatives). On a really positive side, clients are open and often proactive about the space and are willing to experiment on the medium ... this is great as it means ad dollars will arrive, and these ad dollars can fuel more refinement and innovation and investment.

I'm no mobile expert, but I do have an understanding of wider media, especially digital ... and I don't believe the device is a specialty area.

So, what are 5 key areas that I think will be a focus

1. Opening up the mobile Internet

The net didn't really tip in terms of becoming a mainstream channel until connection speeds increased and users could access these speeds at a reasonable price. Right now this isn't the case with the mobile Internet. Secondly, the concept of a walled garden Internet seems ludicrous (imagine iinet subscribers only being able to access iinet content with their connection, and if they wanted to look at myspace or facebook or espn they'd incur extra charges) ... however this is how the mobile Internet is forming. It needs to open up and the carriers need to focus on being carriers and not content providers.

2. Understanding the device is a utility

I really hope that the mobile Internet isn't sold as a spots and dots display medium. yes, this plays a part ... but the real value for brands is getting into the branded utility/content space - becoming the media. Given the space is such a blank canvas now, there is room for brands to develop wap sites/apps etc that offer real value to people. Cue cliche on moving from interuption to immersion.

3. Location based services

Imagine something like ... but on mobile ... that utilised location based services. It would be cool if you'd just seen a movie at the Kino, and a service could recommend you bars/places to eat nearby that were rated by a community you respect. The dominant voice when talking about location based services has been around ad spam - not utility - this needs to change

4. Maintaining web like functionality and feel on mobile web

How can we replicate or adapt the current web experience to the mobile? How can we make a site like as strong as an off deck wap site? Ditto for Hotmail etc. Google has done a great job with this already - maps, gtalk and gmail are pretty slick web apps. For mobile web to work the experience the user gets when they visit site x can't be a z-grade version of the web version.

5. Filtering through the mess

There are already 1865 apps that have been built by third parties for the iphone - - and loads seem kinda irrelevant. Filtering through the mess of apps, widgets etc will be something users will have to endure - just like with Facebook and all those Slide and Rockyou useless widgets ... iPhoners will be bomarded with an equal amount of inane things to add. Advertisers need to make sure they are not just creating more junk, but creating something of use.

A few other areas worth mentioning is the mobile as a DR channel - I believe it has great strength in this area in numerous ways. Add CRM to this as well - which some companies are already using in a limited capacity.