Friday, August 29, 2008

YouTube to offer PDAs on homepage?

Techcrunch is reporting ( that YouTube will be "leveraging its homepage for profit by selling large format ads that expand to fill the whole page."

In the US it has experimented with click to expand PDAs for Pineapple Express, and this move brings the YouTube homepage in line with other prominent high traffic homepage placements in terms of impactful ad units available to advertisers.

The homepage for YouTube is key as it doesn't include any potential copyright infringements - so it is clear to monetise it as it pleases. It's not so easy with user uploaded videos - unless YouTube has a partner distribution arrangement with them.

The YouTube homepage locally does around 1m impressions a day, which would put it behind ninemsn, the Fairfax mastheads, myspace, and Yahoo!7 for sheer volume. One would imagine it would be difficult to charge more than $40k for this placement (given that is the ballpark myspace charge for a full homepage reskin).

Still - one of these per month would generate around half a mil. annually for YouTube - which isn't exactly chump change, but probably doesn't start to scratch the surface on how much the channel wants to make.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing 2008 over: Yahoo!7 release audience data

Yahoo!7 today released some figures on the popularity of their Olympics presence this year.

The topline ...

- 1.2m unique users for Week 1. 1.15m unique users for Week 2
- 32m pageviews
- 4m video streams

What we don't know ...

- engagement stats (time spent, repeat visits)
- most popular time of day
- how many of the users were AU based (you'd estimate around 80%)

Yahoo! would be happy with these numbers. And they'd be happy with the way they utilised the TV coverage to push to web - which they did very well.

For next time (well, next big event as 9 has the next Olympics) they would probably want to add search capabilities to the online video, as this is the only area I think may have fallen short.

4m streams isn't bad, don't get me wrong. But on a site that was claiming around or above 300k users every day it's not great. 4m streams over the 16 days of the games equals 250,000 streams a day. Personally, I think these numbers would have been greater with a search function as finding some videos was very difficult. Also remember, they had some very strong content (all the good content) which would have been in demand from users - if they could find it easily. I also think they could have integrated video search for Olympic content into their own search engine - if you searched for Usain Bolt the day after the 100m there was no reference to watching the video on Yahoo!

However, the AU streams hold up well when compared with the stream data for the NBC Olympics site in the US (which had a load more content).

The US NBC site had around 75m streams (I am basing this number on 56m streams after day 12, extrapolating the number out to 16 days -

The US has 223.1m Internet users ... which works out at .29 video streams per total ppl online (US).

AU has 11.65m Internet users ... which works out at .34 video streams per total ppl online (AU)

If you apply a $60cpm to the 4m streams and assume a 90% sell through, if the Olympics were sold on normal CPM (which they weren't) it would have meant a $216,000 pay day for Yahoo!7 - which still means online video is small potatoes when compared to its broadcast cousin.

Still, Yahoo!7 held their own during the Beijing Olympics and no doubt surprised many on how well they delivered. Now we wait to see just how much incremental traffic the Olympics delivered for them, and whether they can hold onto them and push them across the network into their key areas of News, Mail, Search, Answers and Entertainment.

Excessive: AU Homepages Ad Count

I have voiced my concern with the volume of ads appearing on publisher homepages in the past, and today I thought it'd be an interesting time to see whether ad messages are dominating publisher homepages still.

As an agency guy, I think the less ad units a publisher has on their homepage the better. I think as an advertiser if you're forking out between 50-130k for a homepage execution, it devalues the placement for it to be surrounded by countless text ads for credit cards and debt consolidation.

Plus, I think the user deserves the frontpage to be clean and easy to navigate.

So, effectively, the publishers are failing both their stakeholders.

And you would never see the front page of a newspaper filled with ads.

Anyway - lets look at the totals for Monday 25 August.

Yahoo!7 - 16 total ads
Excessive ad units add more clutter to an already cluttered experience. Overwhelming.

ninemsn - 14 total ads
Biggest positive is that the area above the fold is pretty clean - still, a lot of text placements here. - 16 total ads
Admittedly, 8 of these placements are Sponsored Links ... and the page is pretty long ... but Fairfax are squeezing every penny out of their eyeballs and advertisers. - 17 total ads
We have a winner! Optus have a med rec + OTP ... as well as the Sponsored Links placements and the awesome bottom leaderboard. More finance sales pitches than a bank manager. - 8 total ads
Good effort. Marks deducted for news still considering the 468x60 banner to be acceptable as well as two display ad units above the fold.

Bigpond - 4 total ads
Bigpond only have 4 external advertisers on their homepage - not bad. Let down unfortunately by their horrendous Bigpond Shopping page dominant ad.

Google - 0 total ads
And this is Australia's most popular page ... which says to me users enjoy less clutter.

I would like to see a publisher look to place LESS ads on their homepage, but extract more yield from these placements. Both advertisers and users would value less ad clutter and advertisers would be prepared to pay more.

Right now the amount of ads on homepages makes the industry look amateur and greedy in the eyes of most. And excessive ad placements effectively devalue these "premium" placements in the long term.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yahoo!7 Olympics video frustrates ...

Why doesn't Yahoo!7's Olympic video content have video search functionality?
Try finding the video you're after - it's hard work ploughing through the pages when it would be easiest to tag everything and allow access via a simple search mechanism.

Better user experience and no doubt way more streams would have been generated.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Real Estate sites feeling it as interest rates start to bite

I saw this post on TC about selected US real estate sites bucking the downturn in the market and seeing strong usage increases.

It made me wonder what impact the continuing interest rate rises have had on the Real Estate category online in AU.

We bought a place last year in November, moving in in January and have been bombarded with rate rises since.

However when we were in the market it was white hot. The market for new homes up until the end of December 07 was incredibly competitive.
Take a look at the below graph (taken from Nielsen Netview, July 2008) ...

Real Estate as a category was peaking around January 2008 ... and since Jan has dropped over 15% of users (until July). The trend is evident - and across market leaders and Domain as well as the category
You have to wonder what impact interest rates and economic uncertainty has had on this.
I have noticed some real estate sites have been a lot more aggressive in market seeking display advertising - offering very low CPMs to try and woo non real estate/finance clients over to their sites - which might be a consequence of falling revenues for their bread and butter - real estate listings and finance tenancies.

Are Destra telling the truth re redundancies?

Destra CEO Perry Smith has told Ad News that Destra has not made any employees redundant in the process of restructuring its operations.

"I don't know where that rumour is coming from, there have been no redundancies at Destra Media," he told AdNews

However ... I was contacted by a former Destra staffer who says this is not the case and Destra has laid off employees.

From my source:

"In early April, nine employees of destra were made redundant -specifically, six from the development team, two from the destra mediateam and one from the destra music team.

"Basically, we were told there was a restructure and, as a result of'duplicate roles', our jobs had become redundant. We knew this to be a load, as we were the only people working on the sites (in a content capacity).

"Since then, most of the team has either taken a volunteer redundancy or left the place (across the whole division)."

Interesting ... Destra did tell AdNews they were 'streamlining operations' but as mentioned above, stated NO redundancies had been made.

Care to clarify Perry?

Jupiter: Pre-roll-phobia a thing of the past

Following on from yesterdays blog post about pre-roll acceptance - - Jupiter have just released some research which show that the pre-roll is perhaps more effective than many thought and that consumer resistance to the format isn't as intense as first thought.

"Half the people that leave because of the ad would have left because of the content anyway. It's like flicking through channels on TV." He calculates that on sites that do it well, only a 5% loss is directly attributable to advertising.

"It makes sense that in-stream ads are more popular, because everyone has broadband now and we expect to see richer content on the web," said Jeroen Matser, strategy director at Tribal DDB, London. "It's also a return to allowing people to sit back again. People can relax and be entertained, which might be refreshing in this cluttered, call-to-action environment."

Key quote from Nate Elliot of Jupiter - "Online video ads (if done poorly) can be horrendous for viewers."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Plugger redesigns

Can't say I'm a fan at all.

Looks nicer - but that's where the positives end for me.

Harder to navigate. Harder to find relevant information. Search results don't seem as relevant as before. Feels clunky.

I was a die hard Plugger devotee and would spruik it to anyone who'd listen. I'm not sure I'll be as vocal now.

Please Plugger - go back to the old interface!

The pre-roll effectiveness discussion continues ...

Interesting post at Silicon Valley Insider on pre-roll full play rates -

Talk pre-roll with someone involved in digital media and you'll generally get a robust discussion. Some absolutely loathe the format (mostly agencies and advertisers running of a sample size of 1 - 'I never click on those' etc) and some think it provides a legitimate alternative to Television (generally publishers or ad servers).

(Tremor Media) says only 20% of Web video watchers give up and leave when confronted with the pre-rolls it serves up. Or, as Tremor is putting it in a release later today, 80% watch the ads all the way through.

Not to be outdone, Break Media is claiming an even higher "completion rate" -- 87% -- for its pre-rolls, which includes a whole lot of user-generated video.

What explains their popularity? In part, it's because advertisers geniunely think they're the most effective format available. And in part, it's because pre-rolls look and feel just like the TV ads publishers and advertisers are already comfortable with. Who's going to come up with a better solution? There's a big pot of money waiting...

I don't mind the pre-roll but like all formats it needs to be right for the advertiser. When it's right it's amazing - solus ad unit, fantastic response, engaged audience - all things we're constantly looking for.

However, I do think the pre-roll has four core issues that need to be addressed ...

- generally pre-rolls are just TVCs compressed and do not in any way take advantage of the interactive elements of the medium OR even add start and end frames that push to a web destination.
- 15/30 seconds are probably too long as formats (especially if it's just a TVC). 10 seconds I think is the max.
- why do pre-rolls have to be moving pictures and audio? Why can't they be simple flash builds (like Rich Media Eyeblaster placements, pre-stitials etc)
- a lot of AU online video clips are 45s to 2m long ... extremely short form ... which means that if a 30s TVC runs prior the ratio between advertising content and actual content is a little out of whack.

And these 4 aren't getting any better. Publishers still position pre-roll as a no brainer for TV centric clients. I think this is wrong - very wrong. Most will also buckle and run 30s formats if advertisers kick up enough of a fuss.

Creative agencies still don't take pre-roll seriously either - so they rarely allocate budget to edit a TVC or recut something fresh for a pre-roll/online video placement. Another one for the too hard basket (which is often very full)

Personally in my pre-roll recommendations to our clients I am requesting 5-7s creative MAX. Do we receive this - rarely ... Eventually we will I am sure as there is client interest in the format, however right now this is limited to pro content ... not UGC ... which raises questions about those faciliators of video UGC and how they'll remain afloat. But that's probably worth another post entirely ...

It would be interesting to get audited data on peoples opinions on pre-rolls in Oz. Right now the only groups that have data are the publishers and I can't see them telling the story if it isn't incredibly positive. On a side note, I really hope Nielsen and the IAB are looking at measuring issues like this and putting some science behind it ... What we do know is the format has real potential and the publishers see it as their next cash cow.

Lets invest in some research then ...

Muxtape shuts down

.. albiet indefinitely ... citing an issue with the RIAA.

I wondered how Muxtape had done such a good job deflecting the music industries concerns here -

I guess it's caught up with them and they'll have to accept the same realities Pandora, Last and imeem are working with now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

WAToday - more interesting numbers ...

I took a look at the numbers for WAToday for last week (11/8-17/8) to see how the new FD site was performing.

Interestingly, a duplication check uncovers some curious figures.

How come 60% of WAToday's readers also visited last week? And how come 54% visited The AND ... how come 35% visited Brisbane Times?

*** All data sourced from Nielsen Market Intelligence, Market: Australia - News & Weather - Domestic > By Brand, Period: Weekly, 11/08/08 - 17/08/08

And how come less than 10% visited And just over 12% visited Perth Now? These are WA based publications with local news - why would Eastern Seaboard mastheads be more appealing?

And why would these WA eyeballs be visiting FD's other mastheads in such large volumes if WAToday was catering for this "highly engaged audience" and delivering them a "new perspective on news." (Jack Matthew's words, not mine)

I think there's a need for Fairfax to come out with numbers showing WA Today's WA audience - and also explain to market why there are such large audience duplication across their audience.

Battelle on Google Ad Planner

John Battelle has an interesting piece about Google Ad Planner on his blog -

"The strong bias toward Google network sites is suspicious."

The article is about inconsistencies between the Ad Planner data and Comscore data for the same sites, claiming that Google is potentially favouring sites on their own Ad Network.

"In short: If you were a media planner using Google Ad Planner, and you were looking for larger sites, you would be led to sites that are running Google AdSense, on average, over sites that do not. Net net: This data indicates that Google Ad Planner pushes ad dollars to Google sites over non-Google sites."

I have signed up to the Ad Planner beta in AU and plan to give it a solid test to see how it performs and whether it has potential for agencies. Right now I am suspicious ... a publisher (which Google is more of than not) running audience measurement doesn't sit too well ... but at the same time the Nielsen and Morgan tools are so bad I'm open to alternatives.

The online Olympics? Or is it ...

Many of us (including me) thought that the Beijing Olympics would be a huge shot in the arm for online.

It makes sense ... daytime events, people are at work and wanting immediate information. Online is the channel they turn to?


Well ... I'm not so sure after looking at last weeks Nielsen Market Intelligence data across the News and Sport categories.

Above are the Nielsen figures for the Sport category, Domestic browsers, 11/8-17/8

Foxsports is at number 1 at 654,834. SMH Sport and are at 2 and 3 respectively.

The interesting things about the above for me are ...

- The entire category sits at 3.5m UBs, only up 8.7% on the week prior. Last week was when the Olympics really heated up ... but it hasn't really brought any incremental traffic to the category

- Fairfax Digital's SMH Sport is up week on week 216% to 578k weekly users. Their The Age Sport is also up significantly, up 151% to 310k weekly users.

- ninemsn's WWOS is down 40% week on week, to 207k users

Now take a look at the News category ...

As a category, News is sitting at 5.8m domestic users a week for 11/8-16/8 ... a decrease week on week of 3.14%

Most Masthead News sections or web news sources are either flat traffic wise, or down. I personally expected News traffic to spike during the Olympics.

Interestingly, UB frequency is relatively flat, so are page views per person. Both key engagement metrics.

What does this mean? I'm not so sure ...

I would suggest a high proportion of Olympic traffic is going through to and also the beijing2008 site - both of which Nielsen does not have access to.

Yahoo!7 is claiming they had 1.2m unique visitors through to their Olympics site in week 1. Problem is these are internal figures and don't specify whether they are AU eyeballs only. I find it odd that Yahoo!7 chose not to put their Olympics site on Nielsen when it's 100% localised.

Yahoo! is also spruiking incremental traffic to their front page as well. Again, no audited data on this.

So ... maybe the Olympics isn't pulling in any NEW eyeballs for these providers. Already loyal users of sites like The Age, ninemsn etc are moreso visiting their Olympic sections as they navigate through the site as per usual.

Or maybe everyone is just watching it on TV in the office and at home?

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Telstra's mobile Olympics package a huge success ...

Justin Milne is out and claiming that the Bigpond streaming of the Olympics is a hit.

From the Oz -,25197,24176832-7582,00.html

The Olympics -- for which Telstra is the official mobile carrier -- would be a watershed moment in the development of the mobile as a content medium, BigPond group general manager Justin Milne predicted yesterday.

Paid Olympics packages on Telstra include live streams of Seven and SBS TV content and cost $9.95 for the Games, or $3.95 for a single day, while a one-off video is 50c to view.

"We don't give out numbers but we're 50 per cent over the targets that we set for ourselves," Mr Milne said.

"We've had huge take-up," he said. "It has the potential to be a bit of a watershed because the Olympics is so mainstream. "

Now, it's very easy to say how awesome and successful and over projections something is if you don't actually give out the numbers.

Problem is I, for one, think that maybe the mobile coverage isn't the big success they are claiming it is.

For one, Seven and Yahoo!7 have been very active in terms of disclosing ratings, traffic for their Olympic coverage. As have other online publishers such as ninemsn and Fairfax.

I wonder why Milne is so reluctant. If the numbers were so good and it was a watershed moment, surely he'd want to let us know how many people have signed up, full streams etc?

Maybe I am a cynic, but I'm dubious on these big claims. Show us the numbers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yahoo!7 COO gets zany

And Valleywag cover it.

They're running a caption contest. Noted AU blogger Duncan Riley chipped in with "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's failed Olympic streaming boy! "

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Great iPhone demo

For Commbank's new iphone app.

Really liking this ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To ad network or not to ad network?

That is the question ...

Two good articles of late that I think illustrate the benefits of selling your inventory via CPM and not giving into the short term revenue temptation of remnant networks

Conde Nast bucks Ad Network System, revamps Sales Strategy -

Good article on how Conde Nast is focusing on verticals within their sales teams. For a company like theirs, it makes sense. Conde Nast is about quality not quanity, to remain viable they can't play an eyeball numbers game, they need to extract yield from premium content and context.

""The brands that we do business with are used to buying content. They value the context and they understand the price; you have to pay for that."

On the other hand you have this article ...

Ad Nets Accounted For 30 Percent Of Publishers’ ‘07 Sales; Premium Price Erosion?: IAB, Bain -

In the past year, ad networks accounted for 30 percent of major publishers’ online sales, compared to five percent in 2006.

It also talks about how remnant inventory may account for 25% of inventory sold, but only 2% of revenue (due to the rock bottom prices). "Publishers’ desire to reduce their unsold inventory levels appear connected to greater use of ad networks and, therefore, to lower CPMs."

Here's the dilemma. Speak to local publishers about ad networks and they will tell you it's completely not a focus at all for their business and only accounts for <10% of their revenues. sure, it might only account for 10% of revenue but it accounts for a lot higher % of inventory - and that's what really hurts ... as not many premium advertisers want to be seen aside performance advertising. This then impacts the CPM you can charge ... which lowers your yield, increases your reliance on performance and so on.

It's not all bad news, as the article states that better targeting will lead to higher CPMs in future once/if rolled out. This may require consolidation though. And better targeting I'd imagine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Want to confuse a client?

Give him/her one of these .....

It's one of those diagrams that the intends to make things seem really easy but confuses the hell out of anyone not immersed in digital.

Found this at Ross Dawson's blog (which I read weekly and generally enjoy) - have to disagree with him that these are great. I think diagrams like this keep digital in the too hard basket for marketers struggling to keep on top of an already full workload.

Yes, I am aware that these potentially weren't intended for marketers ... but at the end of the day it's generally the marketers that make the decisions of where advertising money goes - be it into 'social media' channels or not.

Currently reading: Founders at Work

Picked this up from Amazon and am slowly going through each of the interviews. It's written by Jessica Livingstone, who is a partner at VC Y Combinator.

Have really enjoyed the Max Levchin (Paypal, Slide), Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) and Joe Kraus (Excite) stories.

Whilst most stories took place during the Web 1 chaos, most of the stories are still captivating - demonstrating the grit, confidence and patience required when building a web business.

Facebook's ad model in need of help

Judging by their latest initiative

This allows users to rate ads with a thumbs up/thumbs down - it also asks them questions as to why they liked/disliked the ads.

Problem is - as TC point out - generally (and I mean generally) click through is a good indicator of this.

Another problem is - ads on social networks generally receive around .01-.03% CTR ... which begs the question ... if users on these platforms aren't interested in clicking on the ads ... why would they be interested in submitting feedback on them. A feedback mechanism implies users are taking notice of the ads, which generally they are not.

Another problem - the system will (for those with the time to add ad feedback) will be skewed towards negative sentiment ... not lukewarm/neutral responses - which are also a problem for the site (as neutral ads generate a low CTR, low yield etc).

Seems there's increasing heat for FB to justify it's massive valuation with inroads into the ad market ... but the more they try and the more they're getting it wrong.

The digital Perth landgrab

Jack Matthews is out and about trumpeting WAToday's user numbers. The Oz is running a piece on it here -->,25197,24147236-26077,00.html

These numbers need a closer look I think.

1. They don't actually state how many of the users of WAToday are from WA
2. In terms of average daily UB's - WAToday is well behind the competition - PerthNow and TheWest.

Daily UB stats (August, source Nielsen Market Intelligence

PerthNow - 34,858
TheWest - 27,298
WAToday - 17,999

If we look at time spent per session

TheWest - 6m, 56s
WAToday - 4m, 4s
Perth Now - 3m, 52s

Matthews: "These results demonstrate that Western Australians were indeed ready for a new perspective on news and advertisers are reaping the benefits of our strong and highly engaged audience"

Problem is, thewest is still beating WAToday hands down for engagement. More repeat users, more time spent. And probably more WA eyeballs too ...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Freudenstein: The Way I See It

Richard Freudenstein has a short piece in the PWC Entertainment and Media Outlook and makes a good point that I hope signals that the wider industry are starting to understand that not all eyeballs are created equal.

"And just as not every ad break or page in a newspaper is created equal in the eyes of advertisers, the digital media industry has to do more to communicate the value of premium inventory on our sites. The space on the internet may be limitless, but premium inventory - and its ability to deliver engaged audiences - is not."

Edit: Now I guess we have to work out what is meant by the term 'premium'

PWC Aust Entertainment and Media Outlook Report 08-12

I'm going through the PWC Australian Entertainment and Media Report Outlook 2008-2012 to summarise for work.

I noticed an interesting point in their 'outlook in brief'

Performance or activity based remuneration of website operators by advertisers has taken hold as marketers seek genuine engagement with audiences on the Internet. This has significant implications for advertising supported web businesses which have been traditionally compensated on page impressions or clicks.

Reading between the lines I think they are mistaking performance based advertising as genuine engagement.

In an era of seemingly endless abundance ...

.. what is truly valuable.

I came across this paper by a guy called Kevin Kelly written in February of this year. I think it's fantastic.

From the paper.

"Yet the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?

I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.

When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can't be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can't be copied. Consider "trust." Trust cannot be copied. You can't purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you'll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world. "

Digital advertising supply is super abundant - there is no shortage of supply and no shortage of vendors. So what is truly valuable to brands in this market when evaluating options?

Full article -

Blog for sale - $3117 USD

According to my blog has a valuation of $3117 USD.

May as well sell out whilst the market is hot ...

Have a play around with the tool - according to it ninemsn is only worth around $4m USD! Facebook $481m USD. Interesting.

According to websiteoutlook, my blog is worth more than Yahoo!7 - flattering stat but hardly accurate -

Any prospective buyers can email me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Myspace reaches new level of ad sophistication

Thanks to Tommy W. Is this hypertargeting in action?

The Internet joins mile high club

John Packowski is reporting on that US airline Delta will will offer wireless Internet on its entire domestic fleet by mid 09.

From the article

"Provided by Aircell’s Gogo, Delta’s (DAL) in-flight broadband will offer 3.1Mbps-connectivity for $9.95 on flights three hours or less, and $12.95 on flights of more than three hours. Not an unreasonable price. According to a 2007 survey by Forrester Research, 26 percent of leisure travelers would pay $10 for Internet access on a two- to four-hour flight and 45 percent would pay that on a flight longer than four hours. For business travelers, the percentage is quite a bit higher. "

Could we see Qantas and Virgin Blue offer this service on domestic routes in the near future?

Babblebaby launches in AU

Allure Media (local publisher of Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Defamer) has launched a new parenting site,

It's another addition to the burgeoning parenting space, which has seen rapid growth over the past 2 years locally with new offerings popping up and advertiser appetite for the space increasing.

Kidspot and Essential Baby are leaders in this space in terms of usage, with, bellybelly, Baby Centre, Bub Hub and Nestle Baby also visible.

Allure Sales and Marketing Director Ben Sharp feels the Babblebaby blog format fills a niche.

"The blog format - although commercially published - attracts an audience of media and technology savvy parents that tend to earn higher income levels, are highly educated and influential amongst their peers."

"Babblebaby will provide a non-judgemental discussion of though provoking and often controversial hot topics in parenting. "

Take a look.

Disclaimer: Ford Australia, a client of MindShare (my employer) are a launch sponsor of Babblebaby.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

6+ months of the blog - some reflection, some data

So it's been over 6 months I've been writing this and the response has been fantastic I think.

Originally I started this as a resource for the company I work for - to try and provide some structure to articles, opinion etc for the team. This became difficult when a publisher rang my national director having a whinge about me having an opinion and demanded it be taken down. My employer graciously gave me 2 options - take it down or make it a personal blog and keep on doing what I was doing.

The latter option appealed more ;)

I love writing this as it gives me a chance to sit down and think about issues I think are important. It's easy when you're flat out to sometimes become focused on task not thought ... and I felt I needed to consciously devote time to make sure I still gave time to the areas of digital I love discussing, debating and sharing.

I also felt there was a lack of digital blogs that covered media and the issues facing it in a way that offered value. I still think this is the case and would love to see more opinion around the digital media landscape and less straight linking or 'what do you think' murmurs.

Looking at my Google Analytics logs shows some encouraging traffic signs. Everything is increasing in terms of key metrics. In February I had 281 unique browsers, in July that figure was 833. Page Views during that time have almost tripled, Sessions have almost quadrupled. Either this means I am doing something right, or getting it so wrong people are sending it around. It could be a mix of both - who knows!
Anyway - big thanks to everyone who reads this, contributes, and gives me stuff to write about. I really appreciate it.
And apologies for the chest thump ...

Battelle launches Crowdfire

John Battelle's Federated Media has launched a new initiative,

Crowdfire seems to be inspired by Battelle's trip to the 2007 Bonaroo festival.

He writes in a blog post celebrating the launch:

"Everyone says the music business is in collapse, but that's not true at all. The old industry may be dying, but the connection between fans and bands is stronger than ever. Thanks to the web, more and more acts can find their audiences, more and more fans can find music they love, and together they are changing the world of entertainment forever. It's nearly impossible to make money as a musician using the old system of record labels and Top 50 hits. But if you tour, if you are smart about what festivals you play, and if you use the web to connect directly with your base, well, there's clearly a great living to be made, doing what you love to do. And new companies like Superfly and Red Light and Another Planet were springing up to help artists do exactly that. It felt a lot like what I was trying to do with FM, the only difference being the medium. One was live music, the other was the conversational web. "

"In essence, we wanted to create a place where folks could mix their love of music with all the potential of personal and cultural technology. And if we could find a company or companies that both lived in the space and were visionary enough to help underwrite it all, well that would tie it all together. (We did, thanks Microsoft!) "

"The idea is pretty simple, really: Live music has always been a major production from the stage out to the audience: one to many, in essence. But with CrowdFire, we hope to provide all of us music fans a platform for doing with the experience of music what we're already doing with the experience of the web: a place where all of us can share and produce our experiences: a many to many celebration of live music, in real time, as well as as an ongoing, living archive of what has happened, and what might happen next. "

I've had a quick play around - seems functional. Not much content on there but it's only been live about 12 hours.

What I can't work out is whether this is a media play for FM or a branded content play for Microsoft consumer marketing.

Another element is how they will deal with copyright issues. People uploading clips from concerts they perhaps don't have the legal right to.

A further question is whether a MSFT branded community can tap into the spirit of passionate music goers ... or whether they'll continue to upload cam phone videos from local concerts onto YouTube.

Street View launches in AU


Great technology and the launch is sure to be fuelling office conversations (or diminishing office productivity) today as everyone looks for their house ... but my question is ... what's the actual use of street view for Joe Public?

Personally I can't see how it fits into the Google manifesto.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Muxtape - deflecting the inevitable?

A few people have been talking up recently. My co-worker, Tyler, is always on the site.

The more I play with it the more I wonder - how is it legal?

Muxtape relies on people uploading mp3's to create a mixtape ... mp3's they generally (in most cases) wouldn't have the legal right to distribute (regardless of the fact you can only stream on muxtape, not download)

And we all know the music industry isn't the most digital friendly or literate ... and generally wheels out the cease and desist treatment to anyone doing anything online they don't understand.

Muxtape does a few things well. It's simple (too simple perhaps), and taps into the want of the hipster to create mixtapes that show off their musical depth. Yes, it has been done before ... Muxtape is just timed nicely. It also doesn't have to deal with the legal issues sites like imeem, last fm etc who have to be a little more conscientious/aware of the law.

That said, Muxtape founder Justin Ouellette had some interesting things to say when questioned on how the labels had reacted to the service when he spoke to Wired (back in April)

Wired: Have you been contacted by labels or other copyright concerns? If so, how is that going?

JO: I've heard from lots of interested parties, and it's actually been very encouraging. Labels big and small have told me that they're excited about Muxtape as a model for discovery and ultimately selling music, and I think that's extremely keen. Cassette mixtapes were such a great way to discover new music before the internet, and I think the lessons we learned from that era can be carried into this one. A concise mix with a personal touch is a powerful way to get someone to consider a song or artist in a way they might not just hearing it on the radio, and that's the kind of experience I'm trying to replicate on Muxtape.

imeem and last fm have label deals - right now muxtape does not. It will be interesting to see how the labels approach these deals and how they work out ways to generate revenue from these digital plays.

They need to - quickly. Check this local data on the Australian Record Industry sales by dollar value - down 1/3 in the past 4 years

Facebook ... when are you coming to Australia?

Am I the only one confused as to why Facebook hasn't launched local operations.

For one, they have 3.2m users here.

Two, they currently have a pretty sluggish ad business here and don't seem to be nailing the premium advertisers.

Three, there will be a need sooner or later for Facebook to localise some elements of the platform. Myspace has, relatively successfully, incorporated local content via it's music, fashion, music and impact channels which has given them column inches as well as held most of their audiences interest.

Yes, I am aware Facebook and myspace are pretty different plays (Facebook is a platform and a connector, myspace is becoming increasingly more of a content play), but it still doesn't remove the need to integrate with the locals.

Personally I believe to really cut through in this market publishers need a local edge or at least an angle. Utilities don't ... but the bigger ad dollars aren't in placing ads on anothers utility.

As well as this, I believe Facebook needs to drive a category education job for advertisers and agencies in regards to the best ways to use the platform. Yes, we know users are on it and they are using it regularly. The confusing element is how advertisers can use Facebook without either being cliched, annoying or heaven forbid, both. No one knows the Facebook platform better than Facebook.

Facebook growth has flattened somewhat in the past quarter so the timing seems pretty good to step into the local market and press the flesh. Google has had some success in the past 12 months establishing a deeper agency sales team and knowledge base - in terms of visibility, market service and no doubt revenues. It has also meant Google has taken a leadership position in spruiking the business benefits of search to advertisers - something Yahoo! hasn't done as well.

So, Facebook ... where the bloody hell are you?

Two interesting articles in The Oz today

Suspicion surrounds net advertising business,25197,24121648-7582,00.html

- "THE internet advertising industry is heading for a third year in which advertising networks will be among the fastest growing properties, but their new-found revenue clout does not appear to have dispelled the air of vague suspicion that continues to surround the sector."

*** Interestingly they haven't spoken to any advertisers - agencies/clients. Y'know - the people who actually SPEND the money. Good read regardless and an issue that is one of the toughest facing the industry.

Online ad firm trumpets its success,25197,24121652-7582,00.html

*** Hype piece on Adconion. Bit of chest thumping from Alex Littlejohn (tame compared to the chest shallacking Rohan Lund gave to AdNews earlier in the month mind you) and a weird quote from Lara Sinclair that seemed out of context ("That number, according to the comScore rankings, would have made Adconion the second biggest publisher in terms of Australian eyeballs, behind Ninemsn/MSN on 8.3 million." ... um, Adconion isn't a publisher hence so that figure is irrelevant).

Interesting these two articles ran on the same day. Good interesting. That said, although the performance 'industry' is topical at the moment (ie, most publishers are scared stiff that they are about to be commoditised into eyeball bulk sellers) it would be BETTER for the ad rags to talk about quality, respected digital publisher brands that are appearing online (cnet, lastfm, kidspot, carsales, business spectator, plugger, lost at e minor etc). I know as an advertiser I'm not spending my days looking for and researching the next mass remnant play ...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Richo inspires new domain

I bought a new domain today

In honour of the worlds best bloke, Richmond footballer Matthew Richardson and the blistering season he is having in the AFL this year.

Grazia gets it right

Have to say, the Grazia website - - is pretty strong.

Content and opinion with an editorial direction. This is not a half baked version of the print mag ... it is a compliment to the print mag.

Much more bite than either Marie Claire - or Vogue - - who have had years to improve their online sites but haven't seemed to manage to nail it. Marie Claire looks like every other page on Yahoo!7 ... and Vogue is desperately in need of a redesign as its clunky and difficult to navigate.

My feeling is Grazia will bring in new ad revenue from the Beauty/Fashion industry as well as take revenue off its competitors. Great execution from ninemsn/ACP on this one.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Oz points out parent companies hypocrisy

"JUST months after News Digital Media launched a low-cost performance advertising network, it is pitching its network of websites to advertisers as a high-engagement, high-quality medium that should attract premium advertising rates.",25197,24103435-17061,00.html


Borrell Associates: Grim times ahead for online advertising?

Found this recently published article from imedia connection whilst browsing that caught my attention.

It's based on research from Borrell Associates regarding the state of the online advertising market and predictions moving forward.

Article is here -->

The important bits (remember these are US figures) ...

- Spending on online display ads (web page banners, pop-ups, etc.) have been flat the past two years and are expected to top out at $12.6 billion in 2008, then decline more than 50 percent by 2012.
- Paid search advertising will peak at $16.9 billion by 2009 and start declining.
- Online promotions generated about $8 billion in 2007. This category will nearly triple by 2013 to $22.8 billion, exceeding all other online advertising categories, including paid search, banners, email and online audio/video advertising

So ... do we all instantly become experts in online promotions in order to sustain ourselves? Probably not ... in my experience, promotions need a lot of media (display and search) to generate viable traffic so I think some of the predictions are a little dramatic.

Interesting reading nonetheless.