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Jan 4 2006
Let the Announcements Begin
We�re bracing ourselves for a torrent of announcements to come out of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas over the next few days. Device convergence will be a major theme and IPTV will get a lot of attention.

PaidContent reports that IPTV content aggregator and service provider Akimbo has struck a deal with Thomson (RCA) to launch a co-branded Akimbo video player (set-top box) that will interface with the broadband delivery of video content from Movielink. Akimbo had previously marketed its own set-top box but recently announced that it will seek hardware partners and focus more on being a content aggregator and service provider.

News Corp. subsidiary NDS has also launched a service called XSpace, which allows users to access online video content on their television. This is basically a technology play that brings Web video clips (news, sports and entertainment already available online) to your television. So there is no content aggregation involved�just a form factor issue. The technology supports the ad delivery that comes with the content, as well as subscription-based content.

IPTV start-up and content aggregator DaveTV (similar model as Akimbo) is expected to announce a new IPTV delivery platform this week that will include content partnerships for Hollywood movies. We�ll be watching closely for that announcement and others.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:41 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Jan 2 2006
Ford Rolls Out VOD Advertising
Lost Remote reports today that Ford Motor Co. has recently launched a video on demand advertising campaign. It will run on Cablevision and Charter Communications cable systems and will reach about 4.5 million digital subscribers.

So what is it exactly? It will be available with other on-demand programming (by clicking on a Ford icon in that will be placed in the on-demand menu) and will include branded entertainment, 30-second ads, car reviews by Edmunds and video tours of some cars. The branded entertainment will include things like the Ironman competition, which is sponsored by Ford�s Explorer.

Ford will pay the cable operators for leads generated, which include viewers who select options to receive more information and give permission to be contacted. The cable operators will also be able to track user behavior and offer the data to Ford for marketing purposes, which will be interesting to measure the success of delivering ads this way.

�We�ll be able to find the features viewers focused on, what they didn�t find interesting or even if an edit has too slow a pace,� Ford�s ad agent Brian Bos told Mediaweek. �We�ll be able to adjust as we better understand what the consumer is trying to get out of the various segments.�

The rest of us will have to wait and see how successful ad-supported VOD will be, but it represents an interesting area where advertising could play in the VOD space, which is heating up as cable operators begin to strengthen their offerings to compete with forthcoming IPTV services from telecoms.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:40 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 29 2005
YouTube Blindsides the Video Search Marketplace
Danny Sullivan over at SEW points to YouTube, an entrant in the red-hot video search space. Think of it as the Flickr of video. Users can upload video and search its library of user-generated content. And like Flickr, users can tag and add editorial layers of content to video.

Hitwise (linked through SEW), meanwhile, reports on the growth of the site and of the broader video search space, as well as some demographic data. Interestingly, YouTube has grown the most (in market share) over the past three months compared with Yahoo! video search, Google video search and AOL�s Singingfish (the only one that isn�t growing at all, which is surprising given that AOL has the greatest content assets of the four, and Singingfish has been around the longest).

Look for others�especially Yahoo! which knows the power of user tagging�to consider folksonomy strategies in their video search offerings. And keep an eye on YouTube, as it seems to have come out of nowhere and attracted a young and powerful demographic, among which viral marketing can spread like wildfire. Sound familiar? It might be too soon to tell, but so far it�s reminiscent of another runaway success among this demo: MySpace.

YouTube will certainly remain on our radar screens for the video search space, given its advertising implications as it fits into the broader IPTV ecosystem. Rupert Murdoch and a handful of other acquisition suitors are no doubt intently watching as well.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  12:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 27 2005
IPTV Fails to Steal Cable Market Share...For Now
Many have expected that the IPTV rollouts by major telecom companies, including Verizon and AT&T, would begin to harm cable companies in 2005. But that hasn�t happened yet, according to this Red Herring article.

Cable companies have in fact been able to maintain core business revenues while taking voice customers away from telecoms with a strong marketing push for Voice over IP services bundled with cable and Internet service (triple-play bundle). At the end of the third quarter, cable company voice service was available to 48.6 million households, a 27 million increase over the year before, according to the article.

For telecom IPTV providers, the failure to begin taking cable customers has mostly been because of delays in laying down the infrastructure and dealing with legal issues such as franchise rights from state to state. But when this all comes together and IPTV is ready for prime time, cable companies will have something to worry about. This will slowly happen over the next two years and beyond, meaning that cable companies have this amount of lead time to develop interactive and personalization features to compete with IPTV�both to entice consumers and to attract advertisers with the acute targeting capabilities that IP-based technologies possess.

It will be an interesting area to watch.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  14:55 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 26 2005
The Online Video Audience Might Be Older Than You Think

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  22:37 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
Google Improves Personalized Search
Google is closing in on personalized search, a feature on the search horizon that will allow engines to better target users and optimize paid search. The carrot for users is a better way to organize their search history. It��s been slow to gain traction and be rolled out, however, because of general privacy concerns as well as normal adoption curve issues. The latest development from Google has been a ��trends�� feature that will give registered users a list of their top searches and patterns, such as most-visited Web sites and daily activity. The information is accessed through a link on registered users�� personalized search pages. For now the tool gives users a great deal more accessibility to search history than the history and bookmarks features of most browsers can offer, and it can be accessed from any computer. More ways to slice and dice this information will likely be coming soon from Google to further entice users. The more users catch on, the better Google can target them and deliver more relevant ads. Stay tuned for more developments.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:30 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
To Register or Not to Register
The debate over requiring users to register for access to news content rages on in the online news world. On the one hand, it can inhibit traffic by erecting a barrier for users to get content, and traffic is important for attracting advertisers. (Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing has some interesting thoughts on this.) On the other hand, the information gained in the registration process can be valuable in targeting users for advertisers and can actually drive traffic through opt-in e-mail newsletters. (Caroline Little, CEO and publisher of Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive expressed her thoughts on this at TKG��s recent ILM:05 conference.) Some fodder for this debate recently emerged, as reported by Paid Content:

Longtime proponents of registration, the New York Times Company, has seen registration work well for Now their own has reported more than one million registered users since the registration was put in place nine months ago. True, there is no way of knowing if the site traffic would be significantly greater if a registration barrier were not in place, but the site has been able to acquire valuable user data (i.e. 67 percent of users reside in New England, 54 percent are 25-44, and 29 percent have a household income greater than $100,000). The company has also announced that it is getting about 25 percent over the rate card for the behavioral and demographic targeted advertising that this data enables. Next the company plans on launching a subscription service for premium content a la TimesSelect. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star's removed its main site registration on Nov. 28 (although it still collects personal information for access to some parts of the site). "We believe that in order to be competitive in the online news and information space, growth of both audience and page impressions will be the cornerstone of our success,�� Publisher Michael Goldbloom told PaidContent. ��We believe that the key to that growth is through the removal of all barriers, including registration." The bottom line is that there isn��t an answer to the debate. If there is an answer, it is that ��it depends.�� Newspaper Web sites have to figure out what their advertising sales strategy is, who their users are, how savvy they are, and what their threshold for filling out personal information is. These factors will go a long way in devising the best site access strategy.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  13:28 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
Video Game Ad Placement Takes A Step Forward
Game Publisher THQ announced that it has joined the online game advertising network of Massive Inc., which places real-time ads within the gamescapes of many popular online games. In-game advertising is a concept that is starting to become a reality, and it represents a large opportunity for advertisers to address an attractive demographic (18-34 y.o. males). Ads for products can show up on billboards or other places within games and be changed and updated dynamically by Massive or other online game ad networks. Interestingly, the ads aren��t seen as intrusive by most gamers and actually add to the authenticity of the games (it mirrors the real world where there are ads). And unlike television or feature film ad placement, the repetitive nature of gaming activity ensures repeat exposure.

Ad rates are similar to those seen on cable television, according to Massive CEO Mitchell Davis. Nielsen expects the in-game advertising for static ads (those in non-online games that aren��t updated dynamically) to reach $75 million this year and about $1 billion by 2010. The main difference with online game ads is that they allow dynamic ad placement and better targeting, which has implications for local (given a geotargeting component). It could be a while before local ad placement reaches the online gaming world, but the pace of gaming advancement and adoption, and the endless virtual domain of ad inventory available there, suggest that it��s an intuitive place for it to happen. We will continue to follow this closely.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  11:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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