There is a lot of talk about bubbles floating around out there in the blogosphere these days.
The latest item to spark a debate is the reported $1 million made by Anshe Chung - a Second Life character whose name is Ailin Graef. In a press release, she claims to have become the virtual world's first millionaire.
Vallywag's Nick Denton is sceptical of the whole thing, and I tend to agree:
The press coverage is embarrassingly breathless, but that's because it suits everybody involved.
Here is my reply to his post: If there is a bubble (and I think there is - it is just a much more selective bubble this time) Second Life will be the poster child when it bursts. They will be the Boo.com of the over-hyped side of Web 2.0 ... and they won't be alone.
You can quote me on that.
I've never written about Second Life, and that's mainly becase I think so little of it.
AKQA just opened an office in Second Life "in an attempt to hire new talent and attract ideas from the world's online inhabitants. The Brand Republic article continues, it will also host "AKQA Insight" seminars, allowing anyone in the world with a computer and broadband connection who is signed up to Second Life to contribute branding ideas." BBH, Leo Burnett and Arc are already there.
Please hit me on the head with something very heavy the day I suggest opening an agency in Second Life. An avatar-based virtual community? Were any of you around in the late 1990's? This is smoke and mirrors at it's best. Pure hype and VC dreams. Get out while you can.
I think there are plenty of more meaningful and real ways to reach out to trend setters, early adopters and other "influencers." Please help me understand why I'm wrong, because for now, I just don't get it.
CBS is loving YouTube and claims that the video network is helping build their TV viewership. So, downloading = more watching right? Not so fast. A new ICM survey done for the BBC suggests that 43% of Britons who watch video from the internet or on a mobile device at least once a week said they watched less normal TV as a result.
So, which is it?
In the survey, one in five people who watched online or mobile video at least once a week said they watched a lot less TV as a result. Another 23% said they watched a bit less, while just over half said their TV viewing was unchanged. Some 3% said online video inspired them to watch more TV.
Here's my take:
TV viewership is in decline: I don't think that the fact that the internet is eroding TV viewership is up for debate. It is pretty clear that internet use competes directly with other media for "share of attention." What is up for debate is what these numbers mean.
Ask the right questions: Of course people who watch more online video will watch less TV. There are only 24 hours in a day. But, what TV do those folks choose to watch? Are they influenced by what they've seen on the internet? Are they more likely to check out a show that they've seen/previewed online? Do they tell other people about what they've seen.
Video networks create value: Video platforms like YouTube and Revver work, and they drive viewership. Clips for shows work better than ads, and the social networking and viral distribution aspects only serve to amplify their effect. Look at the CBS numbers. Look at the buzz. It adds up.
It is inevitable: The worst thing networks could do at this point is bury their collective heads in the sand - like the music industry did - and watch their business slowly evaporate. For a while, it looked like that was happening. Today, with CBS's Innertube and YouTube efforts, the platforms launched by FOX, ABC, NBC, and numerous other efforts, I'm cautiously optimistic, at least in the US.
It is all about control: So much of what is happening in today's media landscape is about control. It started with the remote, was accentuated by the VCR, has caught fire with Tivo and now is exploding: Those who were watching are now creating. Networks must keep some control of their content: The streaming platforms being launched by the networks will be incredibly valuable to all involved, if kept under control. ABC lets folks watch Lost and other shows once they've been broadcast on TV, but you can't access the shows from outside the US. That's a good thing. A few Championship football games will be simulcast here in the UK in 2007. You can download a few free shows for your iPod. And so on. I've a lot more to say on this - and a ton of examples - but I just don't have time today.
Networks must lose control of some of their content: I think hackers represent a very marginal risk. Will some people find a way to hack and download the shows? Sure. Will a few of them turn up on some P2P networks or other places the networks would prefer not to see happening? Of course. Is it the end of the world? Hardly. It is almost a good thing. Call it digital hacker flattery or something. There is no shortage of examples of free content leading to massive popularity and resulting in sales. Learn to harness that power, and you win.
The article opens with a spoof want-ad, and goes on to look at the shifting landscape at the top of big media.
WANTED Digital media genius to guide a nimble — or at least we like to think we are — media giant through transformation from analog to digital in all its gory glory.
JOB DESCRIPTION To take all the stuff we produce for other formats, like TV or print or film, and figure out how to shovel it onto the Internet in a way that makes money.
QUALIFICATIONS The ideal candidate might also have ideas for ways to make a few dollars online that don’t directly stem from our so-called traditional media businesses. (You know — like that whole user-generated thing that the kids are doing. P.S., loved the video clips about how Mentos and Diet Coke mixed together create a chemical reaction — maybe we can turn it into a prime-time special or a theme park ride financed by these brands?)
COMPENSATION Pretty sweet for as long as you last.
RETIREMENT BENEFITS Well, don’t plan on it.
There has been several major leadership changes recently at AOL, News Corp, CBS, Viacom and others. If you've missed anything, this is a good way to catch up.
Now we must decide whether to put our faith in Ajaxified snakeoil or to look beyond the interface to distributed systems, scalable solutions and a network architecture that will support the needs and aspirations of the next five billion users.
My problem is not with the idea of questionning this whole 2.0 thing - I think there are very valid points being raised about just what this moment we're in is all about, and what it is not. However, Thompson makes repeated reference to the use of Ajax, open APIs and other of-the-moment technologies, and I think he is missing the point.
It isn't about technology.
What we are seeing today is about building participation, social collaboration and connectivity. It is about a decentralized architecture that spreads control. Ajax and co. are just a few of the cool tools in the shed. For a truly eloquent techie reply to Thompson's piece, visit Shelly Power's blog.
Web 2.0's a whole lot of ways to put up stuff on the web.
The rest is hype. And the hype is dangerous. We are not looking at the wired world of the future. Anybody believing we are has been suckered by New Age Tech++. Web 2.0, as it's touted by small companies trying to make names for themselves and fat profits for their owners, is a non-starter. It will not fly.
Above all the other good news, what’s most exciting here is the extent to which CBS is learning about its audience as never before. YouTube users are clearly being entertained by the CBS programming they’re watching as evidenced by the sheer number of video views. Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialogue between established media players and a new set of viewers. We believe this inflection point is the precursor to many exciting developments as we continue to build bridges rather than construct walls.
And he backs up his newfound affection for the video network with numbers. As Pete Cashmore puts it, "Analysts have long been saying that YouTube is a gift for the TV networks: now we have the stats to prove it."
Ratings for the network’s late night programs, in particular, have shown notable increases. CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” has added 200,000 (+5%) new viewers while “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” is up 100,000 viewers (+7%) since the YouTube postings started. Although the success of these shows on YouTube is not the sole cause of the rise in television ratings, both companies believe that YouTube has brought a significant new audience of viewers to each broadcast.
They haven't got it all figured out, however, as this comment on the Lost Remote blog points out:
So, let me get this straight CBS…
You post video all over Youtube.. INCLUDING Letterman…
But, on OUR local CBS affiliate web site, we still have to live with your RIDICULOUS limitations in posting Letterman video?
(Currently limited to be posted for only 24 hours after it runs…)
Hmmmm… I guess I’ll just start embedding CBS/Youtube video in my site…
Seems as if there is a penalty for being an affiliate (other than the wonderful Katie ratings these days…)
Delivering value to the affiliates will be critical to the long-term, but they'd be silly to ignore the potential of YouTube today.
A new CBS poll indicates that people who download shows sample more TV, not less, and become fans of more series.
A poll taken by CBS shows that over half of the users who have streamed CBS shows on the Web had never seen the shows before on TV. The network says that the new users then became fans of those shows.
"We're looking at this as a key change in direction for us now and looking at our programming as dual distribution programming--over the air and on the Internet," CBS Corp. research chief David Poltrack told reporters today.
Maybe they'll change their minds and reconsider pulling all those clips off of YouTube. As TechDirt writes, "while the networks obviously have the right to demand this content get taken down, it's good to see them starting to realize that exercising that right often is a bad long-term business decision."
An internal document by Brad Garlinghouse, a Yahoo senior vice president, says Yahoo is spreading its resources too thinly, like peanut butter on a slice of bread.
My guess is that given Yahoo!'s current situation, CEO Terry Semel and SVP Brad Garlinghouse cannot coexist at the company. The WSJ also reported that COO Dan Rosensweig has put Garlinghouse in charge of a working group to review how the points in the memo can be put into action. That's not exactly a vote of confidence in Semel's ability to lead the company.
The memo is a fascinating read, especially as Fred Wilson puts it, "if you do business with Yahoo!, work for them, own their stock, or care about competition at the top of the Internet pyramid."
We end up with competing (or redundant) initiatives and synergistic opportunities living in the different silos of our company.
• YME vs. Musicmatch • Flickr vs. Photos • YMG video vs. Search video • Deli.cio.us vs. myweb • Messenger and plug-ins vs. Sidebar and widgets • Social media vs. 360 and Groups • Front page vs. YMG • Global strategy from BU’vs. Global strategy from Int’l
Kill the redundancies. Align a set of new BU's so that they are not competing against each other. Search focuses on search. Social media aligns with community and communications. No competing owners for Video, Photos, etc. And Front Page becomes Switzerland. This will be a delicate exercise -- decentralization can create inefficiencies, but I believe we can find the right balance.
There is a ton of conversation/writing out there in the blogosphere about it as well. Here are a few that you might want to check out:
Levinsohn leaves Fox. Calacanis leaving AOL. Everyone is sure of the former and wondering about the latter.
One Levinsohn out. Another Levinsohn in. Ross Levinsohn President of Fox Interactive, has resigned, according to a press release that is "going around." He led the MySpace acquisition and has been on a speaking tour ever since. He's also become a darling of the VC community in the process, and no doubt that is a major factor as to why he would leave Fox now. He's leaving at the top. Smart move. Fox vet Peter Levinsohn will take his place. Sources: GigaOM and Mashable.
Whilst still unverified, it looks like the other departure is over at AOL. Rumor has it that Jason Calacanis, who sold Weblogs Inc. to AOL last year for $25M and has been running the new Netscape service, is going to leave. It would appear that Jon Miller's departure has fueled his decision. Ted's GigaOM puts it this way:
On the ouster of Miller, we are as confounded as you are. Falco, despite his resume, isn’t the kind of executive you would put in charge when your main rival is someone as nimble as Google, or as cash rich as Microsoft or as dogmatic as Yahoo. Sudden executive changes when a company is in transition to a new free model can cause anxiety amongst rank-and-file.
Falco’s appointment is another proof of the bumbling ways of Time Warner, a company known to have the uncanny ability to turn a pot of gold into a bucket of mud water.
After trying several times, I've always been happy that he was able to sell a business while it was still worth something, even if he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I think most of them are just jealous of what he's accomplished.
I went to NMK's 6th Beers Innovation session Social by Design on Tuesday evening. It was my second time to B and I think it is a nice event. Not the goodie-bag crap discussions of days gone by. It is a refreshing scene, and I'm looking forward to the January session : Do Agencies Innovate?
It was the first time I had a chance to see Meg Pickard speak. She was as articulate in person as she is on her blog. AOL is lucky to have her. The other two members of the panel were Tim Morgan of Mint (creators of the Islandoo site for Channel 4) and Philip Wilkinson of Crowdstorm, the social shopping site. The event was chaired by The Guardian's Neil McIntosh, who I thought did an excellent job.
The event was sold-out and there were a bunch of passionate people in attendance: Sam and Mike from TechCrunch UK and Tom Coates who blogs at Plastic Bag and works at Yahoo!.
After a professor asked the crowd to describe their tagging habits (low point of the evening), I decided to stir things up by suggesting that there is no design to social media (actually, I said most of it is shit) and, later, asked why there is no focus on value creation.
Yes, I know design is not only about the front-end, but I wanted to get a reaction and kick-start a debate. It worked. It got under Tom Coate's skin, and he almost came out of his seat. You can check out his post about the event here. I left a lenghtly reply, and I've decided to post some of it here ...
Regarding "design" ... No one designed Orkut to work in South America. Bebo wasn't designed to appeal to Irish kids. Etc. There is an incredible serendipity to the geographic popularity of a number of social networking and social media sites. When Michael Birch emailed a few hundred people in Canada about Bebo, do you really think he had grand plans (a "design") to corner the CA market?
I need to debunk your debunking of MySpace ... The biggest two things that distinguished MySpace from Friendster was the fact that, unlike Friendster, MySpace wasn't crashing all the time and MySpace let people have "Fakesters", something Friendster was totally against allowing.
MySpace (and others) only had a chance because Friendster blew it. Friendster suffered from bad design: both bad technical design and bad design in terms of how they wanted to let people develop the network.
Sure, MySpace had tons of email addresses and an interesting approach to music, but despite the fact that their user experience was crap (and still is in lots of places), people went to them in droves because the site didn't crash. Given Friendsters technical problems, MySpace was the only game in town in terms of large-scale, open, free social networks.
By the way, you're totally right that the missed mention of Wikipedia when the guy in the front row asked about social benefits was incredible. I said the same thing to the guy sitting next to me. Shame on you, Meg. ;)
As for the "value creation" comment/question, you suggest that we should "start refusing to take seriously questions about value." We'll, I'll keep asking about value until people start giving better answers. Two of the three people on the panel could not give a direct answer to the question. One guy said pageviews. Pageviews?!? Common, get real.
Value creation, however people define it, needs to be part of the conversation. Why is it that so many people assume that the idea of value creation can only be about cash? Social participation, collaboration, content generation, activism, increased advocacy, improved relationships, and yes, cold hard cash, are just a few ways to measure the ROI of a social media company.
Sure, I know you understand it. You even pointed out some excellent ways that it can be approached. Too many people and companies involved in the space, however, either assume that everyone "gets it" or just don't bother. If we want real participation (ie: investment and advertising), there is a need to be serious about questions of value creation.
I think if UK companies (and especially start-ups) want to participate in the absolute global boom that we are seeing these days, they shouldn't be afraid of things like value and ROI.
Technorati is now tracking more than 57 Million blogs.
Spam-, splog- and sping-fighting efforts at Technorati are paying dividends in terms of the reduction of garbage in our indexes, even if it does seem to impact overall growth rates.
Today, the blogosphere is doubling in size approximately every 230 days.
About 100,000 new weblogs were created each day, again down slightly quarter-over-quarter but probably due in part to spam fighting efforts.
About 4% of new splogs get past Technorati's filters, even if it is only for a few hours or days.
There is a strong correlation between the aging and post frequency of blogs and their authority and Technorati ranking.
The globalization of the blogosphere continues. Our data appears to show both English and Spanish languages are a more universal blog language than the other two most dominant language, Japanese and Chinese, which seem to be more regionally localized.
Coincident with a rise in blog posts about escalating Middle East tensions throughout the summer and fall, Farsi has moved into the top 10 languages of the blogosphere, indicating that blogging continues to play a critical role in debates about the important issues of our times.
There’s a Future of Television conference going on in New York this week. I’m not going. It’s filled with executives from old TV. I’ll bet that the Video on the Net conference with the leaders from the new TV will be more interesting. I was actually surprised at this week’s conference that I didn’t see keynotes from Andrew Baron or Ze Frank. That’s the future of TV, folks.
Here are some other TV-related links I've had stacking up in a pile:
The real story of Web 2.0 has little to do with the bells and whistles and everything to do with the stunning growth of online advertising. If you look there is a valley between the dotcom spending days (99/2000) and today, but the trend line would be fairly straight if you held a ruler over the 97 to 2006 points--which I do here with the black line.
On Delicious, I often tag things as 2blog when I just don't have the time to blog. Well, recently, I've been off the radar and that list got quite long. So, I'm catching up. Here are a bunch of things that I've read or found over the past week and tagged as "2blog" ...
Jed did a great job helping me out, and I've got my fingers crossed that all works out as planned. It has been a bumpy ride the past few weeks, and I'm looking forward to returning to my regular posting habits.
Just wanted to let you all know that due to a few unforseen events, i-boy has been on an unexpected hiatus. i-boy will resume normally scheduled blogging, analysis and ranting soon. Thanks for your patience and support.
"The reason why YouTube will fail is because they are making all their money off of illegal copyrighted music and video material. Once media owners start suing and taking back what is theirs, YouTube is finished."
Why is that the critics don't see that it is the content being created by you and me that is what is driving the success of YouTube? Look at the "most popular" lists. They're not TV shows. They're not music videos ripped from MTV. They're videos and clips being produced by people with passion ... and sometimes talent.
Sure, there are a few popular "big media" videos, but not many. There are also a few popular ads (like the new Bravia spot), but I'm sure you won't hear Sony cry foul about those. The thing is, you could remove all the "big media" content from YouTube, and it would still be a smashing success. The quicker the folks in the towers realize that, the better off they'll be.
Stutter Frames is one example. Well at least half an example. I think the video is excellent (as are others on the momentshowing.net). The song "I Could Drive Forever" is by Smog.
I'm not sure if Jay Dedman got permission from Smog to use the song in the video. But here's the thing: I'd never heard of Smog before seeing Jay's video. (Please, no hate mail from the Smog posse.) I liked the track so much that I bought it on iTunes.
With not a penny of paid media and in less than a month, "Dove Evolution," a 75-second viral film created by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, for the Unilever brand has reaped more than 1.7 million views on YouTube and has gotten significant play on TV talk shows "Ellen" and "The View" as well as on "Entertainment Tonight."
It's also brought the biggest-ever traffic spike to CampaignForRealBeauty.com, three times more than Dove's Super Bowl ad and resulting publicity last year, according to Alexa.com.
To date, the reach of the Superbowl ad (90 million) has far outperformed the viewer numbers on YouTube (less than 2 million). There are other places than YouTube to see it online, but I doubt the viewer numbers are anywhere close to the Superbowl.
What is fantastic is that the traffic generated to Dove destination site (as well as several other metrics) indicate that the online viral campaign has been more effective. In other words, even though there have been less views, it the online campaign still generated more traffic and higher ROI at a fraction of the cost.
There's a lot of other good stuff happening here for Dove:
Awareness for Dove's brand and campaign
Massive traffic to destination site
Generation of social currency
Emotion and involvement with the brand
Creative execution is perfect for internet and target audience
Targeted messaging, but with broad appeal
Most reactiontothecampaignisextremely positive, but a few people are asking about the lack of conversion data being posted by Dove and parent company Unilever. But they're under no obligation whatsoever to disclose those numbers. Given their market segment and competition (P&amp;G and J&J), what marketer in their right mind would post them? Just so a bunch of self-described geeky techy newshounds and one pessimistic ZDNet reporter can validate or comment about how great/poor their campaign worked? No way.
There are, however, a few clues to the campaign's effectiveness in the AdAge piece:
Mr. Tillemans is convinced the emotional response the "Campaign for Real Beauty" has evoked from women has substantially strengthened brand loyalty, noting that two-thirds of brand sales now come from people buying more than one product, up from one-third three years ago.
If you stood only for function, people would assess the brand based only on one category," he said. While cross-marketing, new-product performance and other tactical appeals have helped build that number too, he said, "I'm convinced the real driver of it is that the brand has increased awareness of this mantra, this mission."
It hasn't hurt sales, either. Dove has gained share in the past year in four of its five major categories: personal wash (body wash and bar soap), hair care, deodorant and hand-and-body lotion.