Monday, June 30, 2008
What's more ... it has managed these figures in the US ... which has no shortage of strong, respected online news sources. Unlike Australia, the respected mastheads such as the Washington Post and NY Times haven't diluted their online offerings to simply be the source of funny zingers office people talk about around the dishwasher.
Wired summed up Huffington Post very well ...
"More important from the point of view of the miscellaneous, the Huffington Post has an abundance of bloggers and commentators, representing a wide range of progressive interests, who provide an infrastructure of ideas, facts and opinions that adds context to any story. "
Traffic for Huffingtonpost is available here --> http://www.quantcast.com/huffingtonpost.com
In AU online news is limited mainly to 3 players - Fairfax, News and ninemsn - and I think there's scope for more choice in the market and there is the potential to create a niche for credible, respected news online.
What makes Huffington Post strong is it has a very robust group of contributors - from all areas. The style of journalism is more akin to blogging than traditional newspaper writing ... it doesn't rely on feeds and its content is exclusive. It moreso breaks stories and starts debate rather than reacting.
These are generally things that ALL good news sources have ... it's just locally the style of journalism has gone down the quick, easy, disposable route.
Yes, this has a place - a definite place - but it can't be the be all and end all. And right now it is. With the exception of The Australian, masthead news titles online are swimming dangerously close to tabloid waters.
I believe advertisers are looking for an alternative. Agencies and their clients are looking for great, respected titles online to reach the right audience in the right, trusted environment. And with the phenomenal amount of options available online, and the massive surfing habits of consumers (who are looking at hundreds and thousands of pages each) high end environments which allow brands to connect with users are a scarce resource. I am not saying the current options aren't strong, they are, it's just there is room for others.
Huffington Post is a win for users and advertisers.
Users like it as it brings diversity of opinion, news commentary AND coverage across politics, sport, environment, current affairs, world, media, business and lifestyle. It is not a brand people are impartial about - they either love it or they don't ... which is what you're after as an advertiser.
Advertisers like it as it has a great audience - educated, wealthy, discerning and loyal. It has a clean interface and some interesting ad executions.
So could something that follows the Huffington model work in AU. Absolutely. A merger of 5-6 online publications in AU (across news, current affairs, sport, fashion, technology, business could create something that would really challenge the industry and provide something advertisers are screaming for if they slightly amended their editorial model to create more of a dialogue/discussion than just 1 way editorial.
The next challenge to this hypothetical group would be pitching their offering to both consumers and advertisers - and if this was nailed - anything would be possible. My feeling is if the group could generate around 700k-1m unique users per month it would become a much powerful force than if the titles continued to work independently.
The model is nice - it allows more choice than the mastheads ... but it gives this huge pile of news a sense of order. It's a mix of RSS and Blogs (which can offer too many options for the regular user and can become chaotic) and masthead online efforts (which often offer not enough options and generally offer reporting only)
It'd be a great opportunity.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This is an exciting time as it marks the first time the IAB locally seem to have taken their role particularly seriously. Having a part time leader for more than 2 years was a joke and I think the inaction of the IAB locally to date will make it tough for the next incarnation.
However, I want to see the IAB work. By work, I mean add value to all stakeholders ...
- other media (FTA, STA, radio, OOH etc)
What are the key areas the IAB needs to address to become relevant?
1. Tell us what you are about
What is the IAB about locally? Who does it represent and what role does it play? What is its purpose and goals? Right now, I don't think anyone knows the answer to this ... and it's the first thing that needs to be determined.
2. Set proper guidelines around specs and reporting
The IAB high fived eachother back in 2005 when they came out saying they had nailed standardised ad units ... erm ... only across the major 5 portals ... erm, but not really as there's still loads of special ad units on each and some don't accept tracking on certain areas of the site and there's still anomolies around mute buttons, close buttons, borders, frame rates etc. So in reality it's no easier now than it was then to place campaigns across a variety of sites.
We also have some publishers on audited external reporting platforms, some not, and a lot of audience tweaking to agencies and marketers. Add to this no publicised standards across Mobile, Video, Podcasts etc voiced by the IAB and it's clear there's a fair bit of work to do here.
3. Offer real insights and research
Right now Insights and Research are limited to the IAB PWC report ... which is, in all honesty, completely useless for 99% of those it's intended for. It helps those who need to, say, forecast revenue growth (ie biz dev guys, sales directors, business directors), but it provides no analysis as to WHY certain things are happening or future predictions. Yes, it's a nice reflection of the spend to date ... but it doesn't help anyone.
The IAB current has no position on anything - they don't even have an active blog. Why aren't they offering a voice ... a leadership voice? In terms of measurement evolution ... we aren't seeing anything from the IAB to show how digital impacts on metrics such as PURCHASE and INTENT. Why? How areas like Social Media help solve problems, what video offers, how search and display work together ... the best research right now is coming out of agencies - through necessity. Insights and research are being driven again by agencies.
4. Lobby the wider marketing community
One key task of the IAB is to create a FreeTV type body that lobbies on behalf of the industry - accumulates case studies, works with other lobby groups to share knowledge and insight. It needs to do what is needed to have big marketers as advocates of the medium. It needs to break down the notion that digital media is some sort of acronym heavy confusing vortex and show simply how it can be used to meet objectives. And what can be done to help this ...
5. Events and Training
The only real event we get now is the IAB Awards - which in 2008 was an expensive meal with bad drinks waiters and a cranky newsreader host where some of the industry got together and caught up. There is tremendous opportunity for the IAB to take a leadership role in offering training and demistifying things like analytics, brand v performance, measurement etc ... like Randal Rothenberg and his team does in the US. It could have forums around emerging technologies and issues - measurement, mobile, DM, UGC etc
6. Sort out our reporting issues
The tools we have available to us to measure how people are using the net are stuck in the 90's. We can't measure ..
- search volume
- video streams
- mobile site usage
- any site that has <50k users
... amongst other things. So, whilst the users have evolved, the measurement hasn't. And it's causing issues in agency land - as it makes getting audited data on high quality, lower audience properties very difficult. The new measurement system needs to be similar to a Quantcast than anything Nielsen has thrown out in this market to date, we need a tool we can use that will offer value, insight and direction to decisions.
The IAB also needs to lobby Roy Morgan HARD as their measurement of digital channels is beyond embarassing. For the largest panel in AU to measure online the way they do is crazy. We shouldn't have to settle for dated, flawed measurement systems in digital and for the industry to grow and prosper this needs to improve now.
7. Represent the interests of all publishers
... not just the big 5. I predict within 3 years the big 5 will be lucky to occupy over 35% of the display market. What will drive the category will be sites outside of the main publishers. This is not to say they are niche - they are moreso specialty plays that focus on one area and have a strong audience. The IAB needs to be careful it represents these sites as equally as it does the big 5 as, again, this is what will drive industry growth. Clients I speak to - over 50% of them - are requesting placements outside of the portals ... they are beginning to understand the value of an engaged audience and really understanding that reach isn't everything, especially on the web.
Good luck Fish, lets see IAB drive the dialogue instead of being a silent body.
Initially seen via Ben Barren's blog (see recommended). This article sums up some great points regarding the Social Media landscape, written by Jason Heller
A great quote I heard recently was "maybe consumers don't want to be friends with your toilet paper brand" when pressed about why EVERYONE wasn't rushing into social media.
Don't get me wrong - I am an advocate of the world of social media and what it entails ... I just think there need to more commercial realities applied to it and a clearer picture of how it can address business issues and tasks. This will allow it to move from where it is now (nice to have) to a need to have.
From the article: "The purpose of all marketing investments is the same. To sell stuff. The only difference between disciplines is where in the influence and decision cycle the investment impacts consumers and how easy or difficult it is to measure the potential impact. No marketing investment is made for fun, whether branding, direct response, relationship marketing, research, PR, social media or otherwise."
Link - http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp?OPERATION_TYPE=CHECK_COOKIE&referer=/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp&productId=R0807H&TRUE=TRUE&reason=freeContent&FALSE=FALSE&ml_subscriber=true&_requestid=252556&ml_action=get-article&ml_issueid=BR0807&articleID=R0807H&pageNumber=1 -
They pulled data from Rhapsody (which Anderson used in 06) and interestingly AU DVD rental by mail company Quickflix which suggested that is was "highly disputable that much money can be made in the tail" and "In sales of both videos and recorded music—in many ways the perfect products to test the long-tail theory—we see that hits are and probably will remain dominant."
Interestingly Anderson has weighed into the debate as well, claiming that the differences truly lie in a differing interpretation of 'head' and 'tail'. Anderson: "My point is not to suggest that Elberse is wrong and that I'm right, it's only to point out that different definitions of what the Long Tail is, from "head" to "tail", will generate wildly different results."
It's a good debate to keep your eye on. It would also be interesting to see a 'Long Tail' type modelling of media consumption - ie media publishers, how this is evolving and how marketers need to evolve their comms strategies to do so. I, for one, think there is WAY TOO MUCH talk about the evolution of social media by those in advertising/marketing agencies - but minimal to no demonstration by them of how it can be used to solve business problems.
He is the Director of Wine Library - hosts and produces Wine Library TV, is an author and is an in demand speaker at Web events in the US. He has also appeared on Ellen, Conan O Brian, Internet Superstar and more.
I caught him at AdTech SF alongside Kevin Rose and the Askaninja.com guys and he blew the crowd away.
More about Gary - http://garyvaynerchuk.com/about/
Anyway - Gary has kindly agreed to answer a heap of questions I am going to fling at him about all things digital and wine.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"Ansearch Media has secured the exclusive Australian ad sales rights to video search engine blinkx. blinkx allows advertisers to target key word search results with pre-roll video and display advertisements as well as customised advertising and sponsorship based around video search.
"David Burden, Ansearch CEO, said clients "constantly lament the shortage of inventory for video advertising, and there's a good reason such opportunities are in hot demand". "Video delivers the audience at the point of peak engagement and makes for highly effective, measurable campaigns," Burden said. "
A shortage of video inventory in AU is news to me and I'd imagine most people. If video advertising in AU is at a level higher than 30% sell through I'd be surprised. Good spin though.
"An embarrassing technical glitch in realestate.com.au's email servers meant real-estate agents did not receive queries from prospective home buyers for up to two months.
"The glitch was discovered on Thursday last week after agents received a slew of email queries from realestate.com.au that were up to eight weeks old.
"Real Estate Australia (REA) CEO Simon Baker said the glitch delayed 16.6 per cent of all email leads."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Since launching its forum - over a month ago - it has the following stats.
38 registered users
These guys were out for "user generated content and consumer engagement" and this was the spin to advertisers. Are they succeeding? The above figures suggest not. Lets also not forget these forums have 12 - yes 12 - admins!
I'm not so sure this was a good bet for the parent - when you think their users in June are only spending 2m, 13s on the site and most only visiting just over once (1.13 to be precise) a month. When you work out their total pageviews right now with an 100% sell through at $30cpm the monthly revenue would struggle to hit $18k
Search is getting very close as a category to being twice as large as display advertising. Display advertising for the 12 months preceeding March 2008 generated 386,500,000 in revenues. Search, for the same period, brought in 665,750,000
We all know the benefits of search. Accountable, contextually relevant, nimble.
It also has the huge advantages of low barriers to entry AND exit. That is important - the costs and procedure associated with pushing a campaign onto Google/Overture are minimal, and you can take it down if it stops working for you.
Can you do this with display? No. That is not how those publishers work. Generally, once the money is in it's not coming out.
I saw yesterday Michael Arrington was trying to value social networks by using a hybrid model of how many users each network had in a particular territory and factoring in the average revenue generated per user from advertising. Problem was, for AU he used the total figure of search, classifieds, directories and display.
If you drill this down further it becomes interesting.
According to Nielsen Netview there are 11,895,000 Internet users in Australia.
On this number, the average user in a display sense is worth $32.49
Using the same number, the average user in a search sense is worth $55.96
Interestingly, the Display revenues are shared amongst countless publishers - up to 100 - who are competing for revenue.
Search revenues are shared by 2 publishers. Google and Overture. I would estimate conservatively that Google is taking around 90% of the search category revenue. This would put Google's revenue at a figure higher than the total display advertising pie. (upwards of $386m)
So - what can the display publishers do to start to even up the game? How can they continue to compete and increase growth and show the value of the medium against its more accountable, performance based text option?
sources: Neilsen Netview, May 2008, PWC - IAB Online Expenditure Report - March 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
It involves looking closer at where each of the main networks has usage numbers and looking at the average Internet advertising spend per user in each of those territories (ie a valuation based on where your numbers are strong and if the market is bouyant in those areas)
He does admit the model is somewhat flawed as the modelling is based on some one dimensional data ... but he still pushes it through.
Personally I think he has ballsed this one up. I love Arrington and read his work religiously ... but this is way off mark.
1) Social Networks are an effective place to place display advertising. (unproven)
2) It assumes advertisers value eyeballs over anything else (they don't)
3) It doesn't take into consideration how people are using each network and the advertising contexts each offers (ie Linked In is fantastic for a higher yield C suite target in a relevant environment, whereas myspace has a load of 14-17 males which can be reached elsewhere)
4) Unique audience (ie eyeballs they have that are tough to find elsewhere)
5) Engagement (Unique Browsers combined with page views combined with time spent and repeat traffic)
6) Growth (where is it coming from - what areas, what demos?)
Personally, neither myspace or Facebook are doing a particularly good job of bringing in money. They are both probably the largest single sellers of remnant cheap inventory and in doing so are doing a great job of devaluing their audience. I don't think this is just limited to Australia either, as the consensus amongst the marketers at Ad:Tech SF seemed to be the same. Yes they have shedloads of users, but that offers them minimal advantage because this doesn't alone appeal to advertisers.
These hypothetical valuations are nice and make for interesting reading - but they completely miss the mark. The challenge for FB and myspace isn't just finding the killer application, it's finding the killer spin that brings in the advertising dollars they want more than anything.
Anthill have called on experts"from a range of fields to help prepare an article on all the many small but necessary steps a startup company must take in order to stage a successful launch."
So far it's very good reading. 158 replies already and some great, succinct gems for those who are looking at starting their own thing.
What a great idea - tap into your audience - people who are actually living and breathing the life of a start up - and in the process generate some highly engaging content and even better, a discussion.
Thanks to Zac from Lost at E Minor (http://www.lostateminor.com) and The Roar (http://www.theroar.com.au/) for the heads up.
It stemmed from me making a comment that online there are, effectively, too many versions of the same product in numerous areas. Do we need 112 weather sites? Probably not. Do we need 400 sites that have sports scores? Absolutely not.
I am of the belief a slimming down of most publishers offerings would be beneficial to all involved - the user, the publisher and their advertisers.
I noticed this has been a recurring theme on the Brand Autopsy blog - http://brandautopsy.typepad.com/brandautopsy/2008/05/would-you-mis-1.html
So ... what are those web sites/areas that if they vanished, users would quite easily get the same experience elsewhere?
I can only speak for myself - so what are the five sites I would miss if I woke up tomorrow and they were gone ...
I encourage you to add your own comments. Then each week we'll go through a variety of online offerings and ask the question 'Would you miss [x]?'
My 5 essentials
1. Google. It organises information. Keeps me connected. Without the GOOG I'd feel helpless. Search, maps, video, images ... handy for work and home.
2. MSN Messenger. I use it for work, play, transferring files, talking to friends ... it is a huge time saver for me and it's been a daily staple for 10 years.
3. Techcrunch. Keeps me updated on my profession. I would miss a lot if it disappeared.
4. ebay. Has revolutionised selling and buying. I am comfortable with the interface. I have picked up heaps of cool things from there. I love how it empowers both buyers and sellers.
5. Trip Advisor. Before this travel was a mess online. Another great example of shared knowledged through an engaged community.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Do Telstra get the new media landscape? The answer is, unfortunately, no. What was Justin Milne thinking ...
"User generated content was a really big deal six months ago but it's doesn't seem to knock people crazy. The idea six months ago was that the days of newspapers and journalists had ended and that this was the age of user empowerment and everything was going to be built around blogs and so on. Wrong.
"It turns out people appreciate expertise, which is what journalists are about, and they appreciate editing. We appreciate filmmakers' skills, which are incredibly difficult, and we want someone to tell a story the right way. Seeing a whole bunch of crappy home movies that people have made is not the same as seeing a well-made documentary."
To borrow from comic book guy, there is no emoticon for what I am feeling. For a media company bigwig to say this proves our number 1 telco doesn't have any understanding of the Internet and what makes it great. It also implies professional and amateur content can't really co-exist nor influence eachother.
Justin, just because Telstra's UGC plays have failed doesn't mean the category isn't valid and bouyant.
Thanks to The Age - http://business.smh.com.au/death-of-media-companies-is-greatly-exaggerated-20080618-2svt.html
Over 50 have jumped since January 2007. 11 have left in the past 45 days.
Thanks to Techcrunch
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Pretty significant - http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/06/17/linkedin-raises-53-million-at-billion-dollar-valuation/
Validates that LinkedIn were thinking smart when looking for quality not quantity of eyeballs.
In Au LinkedIn has 221,000 users
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What would be especially pleasing to the Y7 powerbrokers is the growth in products such as Answers, Homepage, Mail and News. Yahoo's search product was up month on month to 1.44m users, but down year on year by 83,000 users.
When you look closely at the number, it is the Answers product that is really driving increased usage
Numbers are below for May 2008 (source: Netview)
Yahoo!7 (total audience) - 5.6m (up from 5.15m in May 07)
Answers - 2.34m (up from 1.02m in May 07)
Homepage - 1.96m (up from 1.84m in May 07)
Mail - 1.49m (up from 1.36m in May 07)
News - 1.11m (up from 961k in May 07)
Search - 1.45m (down from 1.52m in May 07)
I think the key for continued Yahoo! growth is moving the Answers audience into other areas of the network. Right now - this isn't happening.
Only 24% of Answers users use the Yahoo homepage, 19.4% use Mail, 17.8% use News and 20.5% use search,
Another challenge is to make Answers 'stickier' ... users are only viewing 7 pages per person, visiting 1.87 times a month and spending 3 and a half minutes on the site. These metrics are far lower than those for the homepage, mail, news etc ... and suggest that most of Answers traffic is coming via search. Ie - in and out traffic ... not pursuing the rest of the network, merely getting an answer and leaving.
Still - it seems to be providing a steam of new network users which the group has needed.
I have been discussing this for the past few months - of when cross media plays would start offering makegood/optimisation across their channels ... as opposed to keeping the practice confined to online/offline silos.
It works well. It allows ABC to have TV brand advertisers trial the medium utilising inventory that would have gone unsold and evaluate the benefits (ie interactivity, less clutter) whilst helping ABC keep their TV inventory (scarce) open.
Some media execs didn't seem to be impressed. ""What have we come to?" asks one disgruntled executive. "How can this beat full-screen television? We don't even know if they can measure the Internet properly, let alone giving us a demographic breakdown."
The above shows the industry has a bit of work to do to start migrating TV dollars online - whilst the above comment is wrong, it does show some habits will die hard.
The other question is ... what is ABC trying to really achieve here ... solve a short term problem (ie makegoods due to the Writers Strike) or a longer term one (displaying the benefits of digital video)
Monday, June 16, 2008
I finished it today on the flight to Perth - so thought I'd throw a bit of a review together for anyone who was interested and is maybe considering buying the book.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Lacy is a great writer and structures the book in a way that makes it hard to put down, and it's a good resource for those who pay attention to the Valley/SF Web scene and also for those with only a passing interest ... the core theme of the book seems (to me anyway) to be the underlying motivations of the leading Web 2.0 entrepreneurs and what drives them.
What drives them appears to be making the next shit hot product ... not VC or going public ... they want to create something that makes a difference to users. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the book mainly focusses on the development side of things rather than the real world, business element. Huge valuations are thrown around ($8b for Facebook, $200m+ for Digg, $500m+ for Slide) with no real justification of why these companies are valued in the way they are.
For someone on the business side, this was frustrating ... they talked about the YouTube valuation of $1.5b back in 06 but there is minimal explanation that right now YouTube is still struggling to monetise its audience and content.
The book revolves around a few main characters.
- Max Levchin. Slide CEO, paypal founder, angel investor ... all round Silicon Valley key player
- Marc Andreesen. Netscape co-founder, Mosaic founder, Opsware founder and now Ning
- Jay Adelson. Revision3 Chairman, Digg CEO, Equinix
- Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook CEO and founder
- Kevin Rose. Digg Chief Architect, Pownce, Revision 3 - Diggnation.tv
- Reid Hoffman. LinkedIn Chairman
- Sean Parker. Napster, Facebook
- Ben and Mena Trott. Six Apart
- Peter Thiel. Paypal Co-Founder, VC, Angel Investor
- David Sze. VC
- Evan Williams. Blogger founder, Twitter
Those familiar with the above list will know it's a mix of initial dot com guys who had successes and new blood. The theme that links them is that right now in the Valley things have changed - there is a contempt (or at least cynicism) around venture capital ... and there isn't a single minded goal/desire to take the company public.
With the already successful guys (Andreesen, Levchin, Williams) there is a desire to show their peers that their first success wasn't a fluke. For Levchin (who is probably the star of this book) there is almost a single goal to make sure Slide is more successful than Paypal. What Lacy misses is that potentially Slide is just a fad ... and that when you compare it to Paypal right now, it seems a little irrelevant. There are pages dedicated to Slides dedication to building Facebook apps like Top Friends and Horoscopes and 8 Balls ... which to me seem irrelevant when compared to a revolutionary payment platform. Maybe I'm missing something ... (edit: Lacy does mention within the book that perhaps Slide isn't the game changer PayPal was ... however in my opinion doesn't flesh this out near enough)
I really enjoyed reading about Digg and the Jay Adelson, Kevin Rose dynamic. Some of the best parts of the book are the two recounting the talks they'd had with other companies to acquire Digg - amongst them Yahoo, Newscorp and even Al Gore.
From reading this book, and being in San Fran earlier in the year, it is a very exciting time in the web world. Plenty of innovation, sure, but also realism. This book I think could do more to talk about the business reality of some of these Internet plays - I think at times Lacy seems to show a distaste for the 'blue shirt MBA guys' and admiration for the tech, coder types.
My thoughts are the two need to co-exist and great web businesses acknowledge this in all aspects of the business. Maybe I am missing what the general feeling is in the US right now ... but with the likes of Slide, Ning, Digg etc it seems the logic behind them is build a great product, generate a strong userbase and then monetise.
Problem is, there is no shortage of great web tools/properties with large audiences ... the problem that will force many of them out is not being able to properly monetise their audience. I think this is a valid challenge of Web 2.0 and one not being acknowledged ... especially if the new breed (or the old breed's new projects) are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
I would even argue that smart Biz Dev guys are more important than ever now - and in short supply.
Still, I recommend this book to anyone wanting not only an insight into these companies, but an insight into where the web is heading.
Top 5 moments ...
1. The conditions (alleged) Mark Zuckerberg places on his girlfriend in terms of dates per week and how much time he gets to himself. Zuckerberg actually comes across as a bit of a douche in the book I think.
2. Kevin Rose talking about buy out talks with Al Gore.
3. That Ross Levinsohn - former head of Fox Interactive Media - wanted to buy Digg ... the Digg guys met with Rupert and the Newscorp bigwigs, Digg wanted to sell, Levinsohn was dead keen on the concept ... but an offer never came. Weeks later Levinsohn bailed from FIM ... you have to wonder what could have come out of a Myspace/Digg product.
4. Jay Adelson's description of his days at Equinix are actually quite sad ... you don't really know if it was naive optimism or gritty determination that kept him at a company that seemed determined to burn him.
5. Reid Hoffman. Seems like a good guy and potentially is sitting on the most valuable product of them all in LinkedIn
Buy from Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592403824/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Friday, June 13, 2008
B&T article here - http://www.bandt.com.au/news/C9/0C0577C9.asp
No word on sales arrangements, whether Yahoo! will continue to represent the sites. Rumours circulated earlier in the year Pacific magazines were speaking to third part repping companies regarding sales arrangements.
Both are now sitting at 115m unique users worldwide.
The majority of Facebook's huge growth is coming from outside of the US - where myspace and Facebook are growing at a similar rate.
From the article: "Facebook added 75 million monthly uniques over the last twelve month, but just 13 million of those visitors are located in the U.S. MySpace added 5 million U.S. uniques during that period - at this rate it will take 4+ years for Facebook to catch up to MySpace in the U.S. market."
Myspace is fighting back with a redesign that is set to drop sometime soon, seeing the site remove a lot of the clutter and become a cleaner platform. They have also actively courted the developer community to bring some innovation to the site through third party apps ... a strategy well executed by Facebook.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Link - http://www.searchengineworld.com/google-search/3457669.htm
I haven't seen any evidence of this in AU - but it made me think ... if Google DID choose to roll this out what sort of revenue COULD they achieve.
Well - lets consider a $3cpm for the purposes of this hypothetical.
Google Image Search has 2.6m AU users - which makes it a top 20 site usage wise.
These 2.6m AU users on average visit 3.18 times per month, viewing 59 pages. So, collectively, they account for 153,896,000 page impressions. (to put this in perspective the ninemsn homepage does approx. 80m page impressions)
So - based on a 40% sell through (lets be realistic here), they would sell ads on 61,558,000 pages - which at a $3cpm works out at monthly revenue of $184,674. Not bad but I doubt worth Google's time.
But lets say within 18-24 months with better technology in terms of matching ads to search queries the CPM could increase to around $10 - and the sell through to around 80%
Then monthly revenues would be around $1.23m. Over the course of a year this works out at $14.77m.
These figures are far from definitive - but they are based on real usage data and realistic cpms. However, with minimal info on the ad model it's hard to go beyond anecdotal predictions.
The potential is there. I guess the key is getting data on what images people are searching for and whether there's advertiser demand around these areas. It could definitely work for commerce but would it be relevant to the areas that seem to be driving industry growth - finance, auto, IT, real estate etc? Plus, does Google want to experiment with something that isn't broken for what is a relatively a small amount of incremental revenue?
But check this Fairfax article in the SMH about their watoday.com.au launch.
Erm ... how is this piece of editorial of interest to anyone aside those who either work at News or Fairfax?
And why is the media - especially old media with digital plays - now thinking that Joe Public really cares about their own turf wars. Are FD and News journo's incentivised to talk up their employers efforts online?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Out of California a site called www.glassdoor.com has launched. It's getting attention so far as it gives the user an insight into what staff at companies such as Yahoo!, Google and Apple are getting paid - from Marketing Directors to Engineers, Adops etc ...
How does it work? Well - it relies on users to post their salaries, experiences, opinions on management and more. It is what Techcrunch has called a 'give to get' model ... ie, you can find out more info on salaries etc at other companies, but you must disclose your salary, employer etc.
The site has satisfaction ratings for companies as well - Google is currently at 4.2 ... and some of these ratings are substantiated with detailed reviews.
The revenue model is about targeted advertising around content (ie for job seekers) as well as compiling the data and selling it to HR types. Traffic wise the site is pretty low - now - but given the attention it's gotten through the tech blogs, twitter and digg this week this should change.
I think glassdoor starts to explore an interesting area - allowing potential employees to research their prospective employers.
Think about it - when you apply for a job the whole experience is reasonably one sided. You are asked to provide a detailed CV, go through an interview process and supply references. It makes sense - an employer wants to make sure you are the right candidate and needs to be diligent research wise to ensure they employ the right person.
Trouble is, the employee doesn't have the same opportunity. Sure, Google is good for research but it's not THAT GOOD that it will tell you anything particularly meaningful about your employer and specifically the environment/department you are about to enter. For the employee a lot of the decision making (beyond initial research about the company, clients etc) is based off a gut feeling. Rarely would you meet your co-workers, team ... get an idea of the management capabilities, internal feelings regarding the corporate direction ... or get an idea of a fair and accurate market rate for your skills.
Yet these are all areas the employer can research reasonably easily.
It could also help people when dealing with recruiters.
Glassdoor can help improve the balance. It is tapping into what the web does best - distributes information and sparks discussion. To borrow from the late Don Chipp - it could 'keep the bastards honest' and in doing so empower both employees and great employers.
Imagine seek.com.au with some of Glassdoor's functionality - powerful huh! Adds another dimension to the job hunting equation.
Glassdoor's pitch to employers: "With Glassdoor.com, your employees — as well as prospective recruits, investors, media, analysts and even customers — can see real-time feedback on employee satisfaction, compensation, and leadership. Although this might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, we think offering more transparency will have far-reaching benefits for everyone involved. "
Why? Everything from pricing to comparisons, brochure downloads, test drive requests, dealer locators, videos, blogs, articles, reviews, forums, insurance quotes - all can, and generally is, done online.
So why is it that none of the large auto sites have used the available technology to feed this information into their basic listings?
Case in point - carsguide's listing for the new Falcon - http://search.carsguide.news.com.au/news/find-a-car/power-search/search-results/car-details.do?vehicleId=20080331.11:39:24&eRecId=68552&eReturnUrl=w6.0-search-results.jsp%3FN%3D4294967257%2B416%2B%2B4294967256%2B%2B%2B4294967242&searchType=5&vehicleType=5
There is minimal info here aside Polk listings - which are generally irrelevant to 95% of the population. Ask yourself the question - would this compel me to take my research further? Doubtful. I would probably leave Carsguide and use Google to try and find information.
End result? Lost revenue to Carsguide. Can they afford to lose this? Probably not - of the main 3 (carsales, drive, carsguide) they have the lowest engagement metrics (pages viewed per person as well as time spent) as well as the lowest page impressions (which are sold at a premium to auto manufacturers)
Why is it that the Auto sites have been so slow to evolve their listings to give users the best possible experience? There is countless sources of data showing that people are using the web to research all elements - but little action to enhance the product which is the most vital in the process. Surely the by-product of a competitive market should be innovation?
Don't get me wrong - what the Auto sites do is okay. It is a far superior medium than newspapers for the user ... it's just a lot of them look like they were developed in 1999. They need to beef out content as well as give their audience the chance to contribute to the conversation.
The US is doing this very well - check out the Ford Mustang listing on automotive.com - http://www.automotive.com/2008/09/ford/mustang/index.html
Pricing, listings, images, 360 view, reviews, comparisons, finance calculators, blog links, forums links, ownership costs etc.
Carmax has user reviews, expert reviews, safety information, images etc - www.carmax.com
Autobytel.com (www.autobytel.com) is equally deep (Ford Crown example - http://www.autobytel.com/content/research/vir/index.cfm/vehicle_number_int/1019245/action/summary)
What's the incentive for the local car classified sites to do this?
Well - user experience for one. The users of these sites have value aside being revenue streams - they can provide content, advocacy and valuable information that can keep the product enhanced.
Secondly, revenue. I guarantee this would bring in more revenue from the auto manufacturers as well as finance and insurance providers and would generate more dealer leads.
Given the value of this category (especially to Fairfax and News who are losing print revenues from the category) you'd have to assume these suggestions aren't too far off. Surely.
Disclaimer: Ford is a client of my employer.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
But Google Analytics might make it a reality.
Basically, you can overlay your TV buy with your overall analytics report to get a real idea of how TV activity impacts on web traffic.
Unfortunately right now - it's limited to TV spots bought using the AdWords platform in the US.
Imagine an interface (ie a nice, clean, friendly interface - not csv files) where you could overlay all of your media activity - TV, digital, radio, DM and see how they individually and collectively impacted on your website traffic.
And then imagine you could optimise across media - ie take money out of Channel 9 (which may not be performing) and allocate into MSDR or ninemsn?
Worth thinking about.
And the Google SEM is already live. Smart.
Chest thumping internal ego stroke here - http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/fairfax-launches-was-first-online-only-newspaper-20080609-2nvg.html
Will be interesting to see how it goes with actual WA based eyeballs. Also will be interesting to see thewest.com.au and Perth Now step up their act.
No word on pricing as yet. Right now in the US you can get the 3G iphone for $199 upfront on a 24 month contract.
Jobs keynote - http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc08/
Monday, June 9, 2008
If not, do it. It's an amazing resource and will only get better.
More info - http://www.plugger.com.au/about/
Why is it cool? Well - it organises information, indexes and provides analysis and trending.
I have no idea who is behind it (if you are, please email me) but it is awesome.
Link - http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/5/live_cnet_chief_neil_ashe_talks_to_goldman_sachs
Could this work in AU?
Google are trying this sort of strategy now. I can say from experience it's probably not working as well as it could be, but it's early days.
Yahoo! tried a similar approach with Key Account Manager in specific categories (Auto, Finance, Entertainment) back in 2005. Did it work? Well ... not really ... but I think there were factors beyond their control that hampered the effort.
It's an interesting debate. What's the most valuable for an agency or client - a generalist working across ALL categories ... or a specialist that has expertise in a chosen area? This goes for sales as well as sales strategy.
I would argue a specialist ... however does this exist within the digital sales teams in AU right now? Probably not ...
Why do I think this is better? Well ... agencies and clients are always looking for value (value BEYOND rates) in terms of insights, information, ideas and strategy. An industry expert can do this - and can essentially move the publisher close to the world of the 'trusted advisor'.
Think of it this way - no one knows the publishers users and site better than the publisher ... the problem is generally a lot of the ideas thrown forward don't really show much insight into either.
Personally, I would say right now is the time for the larger publishers to maybe look at this approach again. There are more players in the market, more sites, lower rates and higher expectations ... competing on eyeball mass isn't much of a strategy, and no matter how low you take your willingness to negotiate on ratecard there is generally always someone else who will better it. Add to this huge duplication of eyeballs across the web and the real and sustainable competitive advantage for the large guys may come from their ability to resource up in key categories and provide value outside of straight CPM transactions.
I am not saying this is 100% the answer ... there are loads of factors at play that would impact on an organisations ability to integrate this sort of structure ... but I think it's something worth looking at closer.
For instance, the digital industry keeps on asking itself when the FMCG dollars will flow online ... but is doing virtually nothing to make a case to FMCG marketers to allocate budget online aside showing audience numbers. More work is needed to show the VALUE of digital to these guys and potential activations.
Question to publisher side people - when was the last time your employer gave the market any real insights into their audience beyond the Morgan and Nielsen data we all have access to? Your users are your product - tell us more about them.
I think the term 'value' is key here. What is it? And how do you define it?
Thursday, June 5, 2008
A monster shipment from Amazon arrived today - contained within, Sarah Lacy's book, 'Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good' amongst 8 other titles.
I am pretty excited to read this - most reviews thus far have been excellent. "The captivating story of the mavericks who emerged from the dotcom rubble to found the multi-billion-dollar companies taking the Web into the 21st century."
Sarah Lacy - http://www.sarahlacy.com/
I will post a review once I have finished the book.
I found Wednesdays episode a little laboured to be honest. It feels at times the purpose of the show has shifted ... and now the aim is to be as funny as the rapid pace editing allows you to be with a quick one liner.
It also irks me that the host, Wil Anderson, seems to want to have the last say with a not so impromptu zinger.
There can be no denying that the ad execs featured know their stuff - but I don't feel Gruen is doing the industry justice.
Lets look at 'Gruens' initial pitch and see whether it's delivering on brief eh ...
"The Gruen Transfer (TGT) is a show about advertising, how it works, and how it works on us. Hosted by the inimitable Wil Anderson, TGT will decode and defuse the commercial messages that swirl through our lives, with the help of a panel of ad industry experts."
Are we seeing 'How advertising works' and 'how it works on us'. I'd say no ... Is Wil Anderson 'inimitable' ... well, I guess this is spin so it doesn't matter. Has it helped decode/defuse any commercial messages tone? Debateable.
Each week, Wil is joined by some of the best and brightest minds of the advertising industry, experts prepared to share the ideas and insights that drive them.
This is where it's disappointing. The level of insight is minimal at best. It makes advertising seem like a mix of guessing games and amateur stand up.
Guests on the program face a series of challenges designed to show the thought processes - and, often, the brilliance - of advertising, as well as its understanding of who we are and what we want. Each week we examine the tactics used to sell a particular product; it could be cars or chocolate or cleaning products.
Thought processes? Errrrm ... consumer understanding. Ermmmm ... Tactical executions ... errmm. I guess this doesn't rate as it's not being shown ... maybe it's on the cutting room floor?
In a segment called 'The Pitch', agencies compete to fulfill an impossible brief. For example, 'make Brendan Nelson a winner'. Elsewhere, 'Consumer's Revenge' allows our audience to participate in the show by making their own ads on this website. The best ads will be played during the show.
I find 'The Pitch' exciting viewing but can't say many of the responses have really been on brief. They are funny though, but generally humour isn't an indication of a successful campaign.
So what is Gruen missing? It's missing the art of consumer insight ... it paints advertising practicioners as wannabe comedians who rely on anecdotal insights and sample size of 1 decision making. There is also zero attention paid to the other elements of advertising communications. No reference to media, BTL ... only creative. And, most interestingly, the focus is still on TVCs ... and there's been zero comment so far about emerging mediums and executions, in particular digital.
Yes, I am aware that the Gruen Transfer could become the 'Insomnia cure' if it was bogged down by 15 min channel planning modelling and analytics ... but surely there's a happy medium. Gruen isn't decoding the Ad Industry - it's reinforcing every cliche that makes it the butt of jokes on The Simpsons (see Mr. Plow episode).
Plus activity has ran in the past 24 hours across news.com.au as well as masthead placements and AustralianIT.
Most pieces are more about creating a story than reporting it. Several anon sources have been cited and a lot of hearsay entered into. From my point of view I have to say I don't agree with most of the sentiment.
I put the question out there - is this reporting or is there an agenda behind the depth of coverage and the tone behind it?
What has News Ltd got to gain from reporting instability at a PBL company?
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Especially interesting to see competitors, Fairfax and News, sink the boots in. B&T and AdNews haven't been much better.
According to Lara Sinclair - ninemsn is on the "brink of collapse"
Witness the hard hitting coverage here - http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23806518-7582,00.html
Sinclair is quoting a topline audience decline and some 'analyst' expectations that ninemsn will miss their revenue targets.
I can say with some assurity I think most of the big 5 publishers will miss their initial FY08 rev. targets. Why? Well, to be honest, they were probably unrealistic to begin with.
But ... If we're talking topline audience declines it's probably worth taking a look at some others publishers traffic levels (source: Netview, April 08).
April 07 to April 08 ninemsn lost 4.9% of their audience
April 07 to April 08 Fairfax Digital lost 5.8% of their audience
April 07 to April 08 Yahoo!7 lost 5.3% of their audience
April 07 to April 08 News Digital Media gained 5.1% of their audience
Local media have been shitcanning ninemsn (especially their competitors funnily enough) for the past year citing Nielsen and Frost and Sullivan data generally out of context and claiming that News, Fairfax and Yahoo are catching up. I haven't seen the above figures rolled out for anyone BUT ninemsn. Funny that!
Interestingly, none actually ask clients or agencies ... those who are dealing with these companies. Funny that ... you have to ask ... are they really catching up? It only appears numbers wise News is catching up - FD and Yahoo have had larger losses than ninemsn ... but, to be honest, numbers aren't everything ... the ability to sell your audience is the key.
However, the worst coverage goes to Smart House - the online news source so respected Media Watch dedicated a whole episode to showcasing the way they source their content (article - http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Content_And_Downloads/Industry/Q4P5F9F8)
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Ask 5 people from 5 different elements (sales, creative, media, client, data) what it means and generally you will get a different answer.
A sales guy might think Integration is bringing in the offline sales guy to sell some mag space and throwing in a production line to build a competition page in the response.
A creative agency may feel integration is using the same strapline across media and the same images and core colours.
A media agency (not mine ... but some) may consider integration getting some online value add for free as part of an offline media buy.
A client may consider integration putting banners on AFL.com.au because they have a broadcast deal with a station that broadcasts the games.
What I do know is this ...
- it isn't mirroring
- it isn't a microsite
- it's not a competition
- it isn't advertorial
- it's not about a a media buy across a media group
- it's not about a url at the bottom of your TVC, mag ad, bus shelter
- it's not a hybrid of digital and broadcast media
- it doesn't mean reallocating spend from TV to digital
- it is not using digital mediums simply because there are eyeballs to be found
- it's not grabbing a TVC and streaming it in a banner
- it's not using the same images as your mag ad for your medium rectangle
- it is not limited to "marketing communications" ... it relates to your website, CRM, call centre and in store staff
- it is not simply about channel planning or "media neutral" strategy
- it's not about specialist silo's working to a compromised brief
- it is not about ignoring key metrics for success
- cut through/disrpution is not a metric
- real analytics are not a luxury, they are a neccessity. And I don't mean post view and CPA ... I mean Business Science
- it's not about being 'clever' or cute
Tone and purpose of communication are two elements that we need to considered more - especially across channels. A good old who/what/where/why is also valuable.
So - what exactly is integration? This was a question that came up at a brainstorm I was at on Friday. It's been on my mind since.
I'm going to throw the question out to a few people in the industry and see what they come back with ... whilst also throwing in my own 2 cents.
I will, however, not be going down the 'turmoil at ninemsn' route that I'm sure will be pedalled tomorrow in the media rags.
According to the man himself. "It was a tough decision to make, but in the end I didn’t feel like I was the right person to take the business through the next period, and that now was the right time to make that call.