The Kelsey Group Blog Local Media Blog 2006-03-22T18:25:41-05:00 Copyright 2004-2005 Ublog Reload 1.0.5 Mike Boland <![CDATA[Broadband Growth in 2005]]> 2006-03-02T13:35:33-05:00 2006-03-02T13:35:33-05:00 2006-03-02T13:35:33-05:00 Om Malik. We'll get into this further in an upcoming advisory on triple- and quad-play offerings of cable and telecom providers. We'll also hold a related session at the upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference. Hope to see you there:

The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?
High-speed Internet access is the backbone of the new consumer paradigm. It took a decade for broadband to reach critical mass in the U.S. Now we are witnessing the disruptive effects for traditional media and potentially for some newer technologies as well. While some predict broadband is slowing, others believe competition and new initiatives (e.g., municipal Wi-Fi) and technologies could drive high-speed access to nearly 100 percent penetration in the next several years. Which version of the future is correct? This panel will debate the potential scenarios and look outside the U.S. to higher-speed markets to see what the future might hold. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[LocalConnect Launches]]> 2006-03-02T13:15:14-05:00 2006-03-02T13:15:14-05:00 2006-03-02T13:15:14-05:00 reports on a new product from that is basically a branded search engine that publishers can plant on their sites. This eliminates the need for publishers to invest in the development of search functionality on their sites, and it integrates advertisers with publishers' ad listings. It could be an attractive tool for any local site or blog publisher that wants to integrate a paid local search advertising. We'll write more on this later.]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[InfoSpace Interview]]> 2006-03-02T12:47:40-05:00 2006-03-02T12:47:40-05:00 2006-03-02T12:47:40-05:00 here and listen to it here. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[Viacom Gets Social]]> 2006-03-02T12:38:55-05:00 2006-03-02T12:38:55-05:00 2006-03-02T12:38:55-05:00
In doing this, the company can leverage other assets in its media empire such as MTV and have a natural advantage in appealing to younger generations (at least more so than one might think Fox could). But it could be a day late.

Read about it here. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Social Networking Bubble?]]> 2006-03-02T07:37:30-05:00 2006-03-02T07:37:30-05:00 2006-03-02T07:37:30-05:00 BusinessWeek brings up the possibility that were in a social networking bubble that is reaching saturation while ad models remain somewhat shaky.

From the article:

For many sites, the challenge begins with persuading advertisers that their investment will be rewarded with sufficient views by users. What's more, with so many social networks vying for attention, retaining users can be problematic. Amid these difficulties, some observers anticipate a brighter future for smaller niche networks that bring together users with common interests.

Chris Charron, a vice-president at Forrester Research, says some advertisers aren't all that interested in social networks. User-generated content, which dominates these sites, is a tough sell to companies that can't control the material with which their brand is associated. That's all the more the case when content is racy, as personal profiles often are.

Though the page view and retention issues may not apply to MySpace (yet), the sites average user age is 18 and it largely appeals to a teenage demographic that can be somewhat fickle and swayed easily by effective viral marketing:

... members have little loyalty to any given social network and will switch if something better comes along, or when pals jump ship, the article says.

This statement has some truth but forgets the fact that social networks do have some degree of stickiness, as users have a sunken time investment in having set up their personal, pages, preferences and networks among which their username and other attributes are known by their friends. In other words, the name of the game for competitors of MySpace such as the newly launched Tagged is not to attract each user away from MySpace, but to attract a critical mass of networked users that will create a domino effect of others that will follow. It is after all a social network.

The article brings up the potential of more niche-oriented networks such as TripConnect, which brings social networking and user-generated content to the travel vertical. The business case here is that it is easier to attract advertising and easier to contextualize it around user conversations:

Raj Kapoor, a managing director at Mayfield Fund, which led a $7 million investment in teen-focused Tagged, concedes that no one has developed an ideal way to target ads around user-generated content. "At the end of the day advertisers want to find a way to do it," since teens spend so much time browsing their peers' profiles, blogs, and other dispatches.

But with something more niche-oriented like TripConnect:

The site uses social networking in such a way that users are "directly influencing each other's purchase decisions," he notes. That's "not something you find when people are chatting about bands."

So are vertically oriented social networks better off than broader ones? The same question faces search, online shopping and even classifieds. The question is still being hammered out in those more mature industries where lots of factors weigh in, so it will be a while before a clear answer is discerned about social networking models. But if we are in a social networking bubble, an impending shakeout will get us closer to an answer.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Video Game Advertising Takes a Step Forward III]]> 2006-03-02T07:05:28-05:00 2006-03-02T07:05:28-05:00 2006-03-02T07:05:28-05:00 here and here, this could be an interesting area to watch because of the repeated exposure that ads could receive, the attractive demographic of gamers, and the IP targeting capabilities of online games that could eventually follow the success of local online advertising.

San Jose Mercury News Tech reporter Dean Takahashi reported yesterday on the latest development in the field. Two former executives of mega gaming company Sega, will join the executive ranks of new video game ad company Adscape (think of it as a tech-savvy ad agency for video games).

It will split ad revenues with game publishers and it promises to weave advertising into both video game landscapes and their embedded communications.

From the article:

For instance, Gilbert said, in a game in which a player goes to a cell phone store, the store could have real-world models of cell phones on display. If the player likes the phone, he could click a button and order one on the spot or step out of the game and go to a Web site for more information.

In another example, he said players could communicate with friends from inside the game using the game's own messaging system, or conduct online financial transactions while they're still in a game.

The advantage of video game ads is that they can be well integrated and even involve products used within game play, as opposed to just being displayed somewhere. For example, Splinter Cell, a popular action game, has Sobe vending machines from which game characters can power up.

And with online gaming and Internet-connected consoles growing in use, it could create a fertile situation for delivering targeted ads and even bring in e-commerce capability for an immediate conversion. A great deal is yet to be developed (technologies and business models) in this space, but well keep an eye on it.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[A Conversation With]]> 2006-02-28T15:08:59-05:00 2006-02-28T15:08:59-05:00 2006-02-28T15:08:59-05:00
The site upon first glance appears to have some appealing aesthetic changes, but after a test drive (and a demo from Read, and Massie), it is much more than that. We will review the site and include a more in-depth look at the conversation in an upcoming Advisory, and a piece in next weeks Local Media Journal.

For now, if you are looking for one example of an enhancement from a user perspective, check out the new mapping engine. This is fresh on my mind as weve recently completed an Advisory that compares the user experiences of the major mapping engines (not including Ask, as the release fell outside our production timeline). The Ajax-based functionality first made popular by the dynamic panning (dragable maps) in Google Maps initial launch is taken to a new level by Ask.

Users can escape the once requisite address boxes to the left and move address locations by clicking and dragging. New points on a map can be added by right clicking, and up to 10 points can be marked and directions given (both walking and driving) between them all. Now-standard satellite maps are also included, along with closer aerial images taken from airplanes (more on the new mapping features from Greg's post earlier).

Its this kind of functionality that is a hallmark of the portal wars in gaining market share. Asks main goal in essence is to change its image from a niche search engine where people go to ask questions every once in a while to a general engine where users go every day. In other words, it's becoming more like Google and Yahoo! (while maintaining enough differentiated qualities to keep it unique). Jeeves forced resignation is part of that re-branding.

It will be an uphill battle to gain search market share from the sectors current giants. But this is a good start.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on Google Click-to-Call]]> 2006-02-27T18:15:09-05:00 2006-02-27T18:15:09-05:00 2006-02-27T18:15:09-05:00 piece today on Google's click-to-call offering, and that of smaller companies such as eStara and Ingenio, that have offered pay-per-phone-call marketing products (the ad model built around the underlying click-to-call technology) for some time. What Google currently offers is not PPCall (it's not charging for it yet), but it is rather testing the click-to-call functionality on which a PPCall advertising model will be based - likely integrated with AdWords. We blogged about this two weeks ago, and wrote about it in the current issue of Local Media Journal.

PPCall as an ad model is attractive because of the large segment of SMEs that don't have a Web site, and those that prefer calls to clicks.

From the NYT article:

About 70 percent of those businesses do not have Web sites, so pay-per-click advertising makes no sense for them. But even those who do have sites often lack the sophistication or the time to manage a pay-per-click campaign, which can require considerable tweaking to outbid competitors without spending too much.

Pay-per-call advertisers must still manage campaigns, but the approach appears so effective that for many it is worth the effort. Judson Brady, the owner of Broad Street Flowers, an Atlanta-based floral service, said he paid Yahoo about $1.25 for each prospect who clicked on his search page advertisement, and 5 percent of those prospects ordered.

By contrast, Mr. Brady said he paid Ingenio around $4.15 for each call from a prospect most of whom see the ads on AOL, which introduced its pay-per-call service last year. More than a third of the callers place an order. "We're lucky to break even on the pay-per-clicks, but with pay-per-call we'll make $25 profit per order," he said. "My only complaint is there's not more of it."

Google's entrance to the click-to-call world will vastly accelerate the adoption curve of the technology among SMEs as the company's reach, influence and brand recognition will help spread the message that pay-per-call marketing can be an attractive option for some businesses, as outlined above.

More importantly the tool will allow Google to tap into the segment of SMEs that don't advertise with AdWords, or don't even have a Web site (thus not being sold on the value of clicks). Combine this with Google's strategy to drive small business Web site development through its new free Web development and hosting service, and it becomes clear that Google is attempting to penetrate much further into local and SME markets.

It will be interesting to see how well it pulls this off.]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Monday News Roundup]]> 2006-02-27T17:50:05-05:00 2006-02-27T17:50:05-05:00 2006-02-27T17:50:05-05:00
Quarterly revenue increases for Internet search companies are outlined here. has announced the acquisition of, which it will consolidate with Homestore, HomeBuilder and Rentnet under the new name It will launch in the next few months as a "full service search and moving solution to consumers." More here.

SEW reports that MSN adCenter will increase ad impressions served on MSN search results by 70 percent.

Search Engine Journal reports that new site Digglicious combines social search driven news aggregator Digg with Yahoo!'s social bookmarking engine It looks like an interesting model that combines the social search aspects of bookmarking and news content. We'll report more on this in an upcoming White Paper on social search.

Search Engine Journal also speculates on flash-based animated ads in Google's AdSense publisher network and the effect it could have on conversions. Elsewhere, Google is adding payments and selling tools to Google Base.

Om Malik reports on the launch of Edgeio, which uses tagging to aggregate classified ads that are published by individuals throughout the Web on their own blogs or sites. We wrote about the company earlier this month here, and more on the launch can be found in ZDNet's coverage here.

Om also reports on the possible upcoming launch of Google Calendars here.

Lastly, digital product placement on television is an interesting concept that will have some possible targeting opportunities on IPTV. It has already been used on some sitcoms, and related technologies are under development, according to the Lost Remote blog.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Why Do We Care So Much About IPTV? II]]> 2006-02-24T15:00:53-05:00 2006-02-24T15:00:53-05:00 2006-02-24T15:00:53-05:00 Here is another good introductory article (with quite a headline). This one is about some of the killer apps we can expect out of IPTV. It's an interesting (albeit long) read, with a fun list of possibilities.

Elsewere, Comcast reported that video-on-demand orders increased 71 percent in 2005 showing that demand for VOD is on the rise. The implications for IPTV are clear, as it will be based on the concept of VOD.

VOD in fact seems to be getting a lot of attention. Most recently DirecTV announced the launch of a broadband-based VOD service this week.

A roundup of broadband TV news is here
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on MySpace]]> 2006-02-24T14:35:46-05:00 2006-02-24T14:35:46-05:00 2006-02-24T14:35:46-05:00 launching a film section of its site in partnership with Sundance.

It will host independent filmmakers' profiles and short films and serve as distribution point. This is hoped to drive traffic and distinguish MySpace with a new demographic, the same way its music channel tapped into the world of independent and underground bands with much success.

We'll see if it works the same for the underground film world. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Why Do We Care So Much About IPTV?]]> 2006-02-23T12:47:03-05:00 2006-02-23T12:47:03-05:00 2006-02-23T12:47:03-05:00 Here is a great introductory article on the nuts and bolts of IPTV technology. Why is this important or relevant to local? The architecture of IPTV systems will allow for a two way street of communication between users and servers much like the IP architecture of the web which makes it much more interactive than television today as we know it. And that interactivity or pull of information and content will enable the geographic and contextually relevant advertising opportunities that weve seen flourish on the web.

From the article;

This speaks to the basic difference between IPTV and the QAM system that has dominated cable and satellite TV to date. With QAM, all channels are sent into the home, where the set-top box or boxes decide which channel to watch.

If 250 channels are being broadcast into your home, Graczyk said, "the set-top ignores the 249 you're not watching and displays the one you are. But those extra 249 take up a huge amount of bandwidth."

With IPTV, each set-top box in the home sends a request to a server located at the service provider, and the server sends back just the channel requested. Regardless of the number of channels available, even if many are HD, the amount of capacity into the home need only be enough to handle one channel per set-top box plus enough for data and voice.

One channel being called up at a time - instead of 250 channels always available to channel surf - is technically much like the way we web surf. Each time a channel is chosen, the server knows it. How service providers of IPTV systems (mostly telcos) use this valuable information to serve up contextually relevant ads (or partner with those who can) is the question. How the fragmented universe of local and small businesses will be addressed by a sales channel is also an important question. As weve said in the past, telco-owned directory businesses could utilize existing feet on the street to do the heavy lifting, and offer IPTV to SMEs as part of a cross platform sales strategy. The ability or willingness of SME's to create video ads (creative, rather than directional) will also be an important area to address, which is why Spot Runner is so intriguing.

I recently attended VenturWire's Network Ventures conference in San Jose where there was a great session entitled Tune into the Network Getting Ready for IPTV. Shawn Carolan, Managing Director of Menlo Ventures had some interesting things to say;

What will make IPTV take off are services that are compelling. VOD is pretty compelling, but one that is very interesting that still isnt ready from a software infrastructure standpoint, is really targeted advertising. It has some privacy concerns, but look at what Google has done on the web. If you search for keyword youll get organic search results surrounded by sponsored results. Well it turns out that people click more on the sponsored results than the organic results by 25 percent. Why is that? The reason is because it is very well selected and targeted ads, and I think well targeted ads become content to the user.

From a user standpoint, IPTV is also starting to get a great deal of attention with recent studies done on user awareness and interest by Jupiter Research, Points North Group, and Harris Interactive.

The San Francisco Chronicle also came out with a good introductory piece this week on IPTV business models, and the service rollouts underway by telecoms. And the Rocky Mountain News has a piece on the legal battle around franchise laws and content regulation of IPTV (does it fall under the guidelines of the Web, or that of cable television).

Thats enough to keep you busy for now. But in addition to continuing editorial coverage, well be talking about IPTV (upcoming shameless plug warning) at our upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference during the following panel. Hope to see you there.

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer video consumption model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million Waynes Worlds and the potential Tower of Babel effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?
Mike Boland <![CDATA[LiveDeal Launches Free Rental Listings]]> 2006-02-22T22:38:51-05:00 2006-02-22T22:38:51-05:00 2006-02-22T22:38:51-05:00 here and here. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[PreFound Joins 'Social Web']]> 2006-02-22T13:17:42-05:00 2006-02-22T13:17:42-05:00 2006-02-22T13:17:42-05:00 reports on a social search engine that has launched called PreFound. Like others in this growing space led most notably by Yahoo! (Flickr, MyWeb, etc.) its success will depend on gaining a critical mass of users to do all the tagging and indexing on which a social search model is based.

The challenge is that such users are currently made up of a small early adopter crowd, and there are only so many of them to go around among the growing numbers of start-ups in the space. Competition from a Web giant such as Yahoo! exacerbates this challenge.

From the article:

In an interview last week, PreFounds CEO Steve Mansfield said the site was looking for experts to become featured finders on the site. To do this, these experts must upload groups of links on a topic that theyve tagged and organized on the web.

It sounds like this means it will rely less on the "masses" of users than on a smaller segment of experts on certain topics (sounds a lot like, which isn't necessarily social search). This means it could be less under the pressure of gaining the critical mass of content contributors mentioned above because it will be more of a niche offering of knowledge and info in certain categories.

Unlike some of Yahoo!'s efforts in the social search space that will rely on users' intrinsic desire to share and tag content, PreFound will incentivize contributions by sharing AdSense-generated revenues. So it will come down to a question of whether or not the company is effective at attracting these contributors and if it's a compelling enough experience for users of the site.

We'll take a closer look at PreFound and the social search space in an upcoming White Paper. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Search Portal Rankings Rundown]]> 2006-02-22T12:42:48-05:00 2006-02-22T12:42:48-05:00 2006-02-22T12:42:48-05:00 Search Engine Watch) found Google has the most loyalty among its users. Here is how the rest of the search engines stacked up:

* Google: 71.0%
* Yahoo!: 48.1%
* MSN: 27.8%
* Excite: 23.4%
* AOL: 23.2%
* Ask: 21.6%
* AltaVista: 16.6%
* Clusty: 10.3%
* A9: 6.4%
* Lycos: 5.8%

Meanwhile, a separate study by BIGresearch reports that Yahoo! leads in overall purchase influence. The study broke down purchasing decisions by category, including electronics, apparel and automotive. Google came out on top in electronics, while Yahoo! led most other categories. Read the release and breakdown of scoring here.

And finally, the top Web sites for overall traffic in January were reported by Nielsen/NetRatings. Yahoo! came out on top, and four of the top five sites were portals. Google came in fourth.

These studies aren't directly related, but they all involve search engines and portals and continue to paint a picture of the battle for usage and market share. Local is a large and very important piece of that market share, although it was not specifically broken out in any of these studies. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Online Auto Ads On the Rise]]> 2006-02-22T12:16:26-05:00 2006-02-22T12:16:26-05:00 2006-02-22T12:16:26-05:00
Other notable facts cited by eMarketer:

* 70 percent of auto buyers use the Web at some point in the buying cycle.

* Despite online growth, overall ad budgets will remain flat this year (GM has cut $200 million out of its $1.5 billion budget).

* Through November 2005 online auto ad spending increased 12.1 percent, while traditional media spends went down 2.5 percent.

Though we're talking about national ad campaigns, the numbers are rooted largely in local buying activity and online usage growth among all consumers. Read more here. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on the Olympics and Online]]> 2006-02-17T16:34:37-05:00 2006-02-17T16:34:37-05:00 2006-02-17T16:34:37-05:00 post yesterday about online vs. traditional broadcasting of the Olympic games. Read them here and here.]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[Video Launch Roundup]]> 2006-02-16T17:41:20-05:00 2006-02-16T17:41:20-05:00 2006-02-16T17:41:20-05:00 Here is yet another roundup of broadband video channel launches. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[Will The Olympics Go the Way of Live 8?]]> 2006-02-16T16:51:05-05:00 2006-02-16T16:51:05-05:00 2006-02-16T16:51:05-05:00 This USA Today piece explains that Olympics video content is perfect for online distribution. Much like the Live 8 event that AOL covered online to much acclaim, the Olympic games are filled with simultaneous events that happen sometimes on the other side of the globe. Some events only appeal to niche audiences like the biathlon and some viewers want to watch entire events rather than chopped-up retrospectives of each days events interspersed with montages, inspirational segments and Bob Costas.

So with the recent explosion in demand and media coverage of Web-delivered video, why don't we have all the Olympic events streamed Live 8 style to our desktops? (Some clips and highlights are currently available on, and live streaming video is available only in France and the U.K.) Well, NBC's broadcast rights compel the network to protect its television advertising. Remember, Live 8 rights were divided between AOL and MTV. And AOL had no conflict or worry of cannibalizing an offline channel or business model only that of MTV, which of course belongs to a different media empire.

As an aside, CBS has made an interesting move along these lines by announcing it will webcast NCAA tournament games (perfect content for Internet distribution because of simultaneous games and all the other reasons stated above), despite the fact that it is the very network that will carry (and always has) the television rights. We blogged about it here.

Back to the Olympics: Comprehensive online coverage would have to happen with either NBC deciding the benefits will outweigh the loss in television viewers/ad dollars (fear of cannibalization) or the rights being restructured to include online and offline channels a la Live 8. The latter is more likely, as it could bring the Olympics more money in rights distribution, but it won't happen until 2012 when NBC's current contract expires.

When that day comes, all the curling and biathlon fans out there can look forward to watching their events in their entirety and on demand. The pull aspect to this kind of viewing will also allow for better targeting and local advertising opportunities than is available from an NBC broadcast.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[IPTV News Roundup]]> 2006-02-14T13:40:27-05:00 2006-02-14T13:40:27-05:00 2006-02-14T13:40:27-05:00
--"Punk'd" and "Beauty and the Geek" creators Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg will team up with AOL to deliver five new programs exclusively on

-- ZDNet has an interesting piece on what John Nicol will do for MSN's video and multimedia efforts.

-- Business Week reports on Cisco's move into the IPTV space through this interview with senior vice-president Mike Volpi.

-- This interesting piece from Media Daily News explores the cultural differences that exist between traditional television ad sales, and the new IPTV paradigms emerging.

-- Disney spin-off MovieBeam announced (reg req.) an on-demand service that will make movies available through a special set top box the same day they're released on DVD.

-- Comcast has announced it will add geographically targeted ads to some of its video on demand content.

-- Olympic winning runs and highlights can be seen on the games' official site here.

-- Lastly, A Harris interactive study came out with some interesting numbers on how IPTV is being recognized and anticipated as an attractive alternative to cable and satellite. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[A Whole New Kind of Speed Dating II]]> 2006-02-14T13:24:38-05:00 2006-02-14T13:24:38-05:00 2006-02-14T13:24:38-05:00 Friday, here is coverage from Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection.]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[First Signs of Google Click-to-Call]]> 2006-02-13T23:58:42-05:00 2006-02-13T23:58:42-05:00 2006-02-13T23:58:42-05:00 Seth Godin (found via SEW) reports on a Google click-to-call option that is being served up with some sponsored links. He gives an example of sponsored search results that instead of links, include a small phone icon (same icon used to place calls in Google Talk) which can be clicked to open a small Ajax-based window for initiating a call between the user and a business.

A phone number must be entered the first time it is used, but it offers the ability to save that number so subsequent uses are easier (and truer to the term "click-to-call"). To see this in action, note that Godin's says to do a search for "Artisan Hotel" (without geographic modifier). I assume he did this from New York, because when I did this search from San Francisco, I ended up with different search results. The way around this if you are in a location that gives you geographically relevant links that don't include these click-to-call examples, just add a New York zip code, or the words "New York" (or just follow this link). Then you'll see what he's talking about and be able to give it a whirl.

Google appears to be testing it on a limited basis (which we already knew it was doing), but this is the first sign of it. It could be an intriguing cross-platform offering to entice existing AdWords customers, and more notably the large segment of SME advertisers that prefer calls to clicks and currently aren't "sold" on AdWords. On another level it extends Google's growing list of options and platforms offered to local and national advertisers that now include print magazines and radio, and will likely soon involve television or video (look for the company to acquire or develop something similar to Spot Runner soon). From a consumer facing standpoint, the user experience could likewise be groundbreaking given the sheer mass of Google users.

There will be a consumer adoption learning curve however, as there is with most new technologies, and which there certainly is with internet telephony. But it's important to note that this isnt VoIP, as the click-to-call tool were talking about initiates a call between a business and a phone number that a user provides. But its certainly a step towards VoIP.

That little green phone icon that signifies click-to-call in these new search results is the very same one that represents a PC-to-PC call when it appears in Google Talk. The search click-to-call could evolve into something similar where instead of a call initiated between a business and a consumer land line, an outbound call is made directly from the users computer building on the technology currently available in Gtalk.

Search as a point of entry into the whole Google experience, could therefore push along the mainstream adoption of VoIP overall because it will show mainstream consumers that VoIP isnt so scary. This is the very strategy behind introducing VoIP in an IM context, as we pointed out in a recent advisory. Once it becomes mainstream, it can be fully leveraged and monetized across IM, email, search, local, and mapping products. And the advertising models built around click-to-call will be the monetization lever.

In the meantime look for those little green phone icons to start to multiply across the Googleverse. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[IPTV Quick Hits]]> 2006-02-10T12:10:35-05:00 2006-02-10T12:10:35-05:00 2006-02-10T12:10:35-05:00 Drilling Down on Local Conference in March in this panel;

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer video consumption model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million Waynes Worlds and the potential Tower of Babel effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?

But for now, here are a few news bits from across the industry.

-- SlingShot Media was founded by former Yahoo! execs to act as a sort of Hollywood talent agency that will bring together talent and content for online and mobile distribution. The company's contacts in both Hollywood, and in the online world are hoped to create value in bringing the right content to the right online distribution channels. Given that content aggregation is an ongoing challenge with IPTV, this middleman or agent type of model could be one that grows (apart from the self published long tail type of content that will have a separate place among the Google Video-type offerings).

-- has launched with an interesting model that is similar to the online news site, which places aggregated news items (without human editors) in order of popularity, or hits. The site hasn't been monetized yet but will likely be ad supported in the future.

-- NBC Universal has formed a content partnership with Aeon Digital which has an entirely new model for IPTV delivery. The service requires a one time fee of $299 for a set top box that connects to a broadband line. Users can then access on demand music, television, and movies for an additional fee. It also comes with a built in DVR.

This is somewhat similar to offerings by DaveTV and Akimbo, and like them it will face challenges to survive in IPTV's next generation. When telcos launch their IPTV services later this year, the IPTV world will be divided between their closed system service offerings (video watched on your television with a set top box and a range of channel choices), and video viewed on your computer screen that will encompass most of the long tail content out there.

Services such as Aeon fall somewhere in between, and have deficiencies when stacked up against Telecos and the online aggregators. Their revenue models also aren't as flexible, having only fee based content. Telecos and online aggregators by comparison have existing channels for ad delivery (including targeted and local ad delivery which will be an important attribute of IPTV), and fee based video on demand. As we've said in the past, this flexibility in charging customers will be important in experimenting with revenue models and consumer preferences.

--Lastly, Disney has expanded the video content available by making full episodes of some kids programming available for free. It will be ad supported and allow advertisers the ability to stream full-length or customized spots next to content. More here ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[A Whole New Kind of Speed Dating]]> 2006-02-10T11:08:46-05:00 2006-02-10T11:08:46-05:00 2006-02-10T11:08:46-05:00 promotional event on Monday (close enough to Valentines day), that mixes speed dating and well, TiVo.

The event will match San Francisco singles with "their perfect TV compatable Valentine". Basically this means that they'll wear name tags that list favorite shows, and work the room with a list in hand that indicates who would be a good match for them.

So the idea is that the speed daters can "fast forward" through the crowd to find their TiVo-suggested match. Clever TiVo.

And don't worry, other TiVo trademarks have been worked in for maximum promotional bang for their buck, such as thumbs up and thumbs down stickers that singles can use to privately rate those they meet.

This likely isn't something that will take the dating vertical by storm, but it's a quirky item that's good enough for a laugh on a Friday.

And who knows, television for some is a central part of life and looking for a match that likes the same shows could prove an effective way to meet that special someone. But probably not. We'll see...]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[MyWeb 2.0.2]]> 2006-02-09T15:38:25-05:00 2006-02-09T15:38:25-05:00 2006-02-09T15:38:25-05:00 John Battelle reported today that Yahoo! has upgraded MyWeb 2.0. Users can now search "everybody's tabs," which basically expands the social search aspect of the service. MyWeb along with Yahoo!-owned could be central elements to Yahoo!'s overall "folksonomy" strategy that relies on the power of people to tag content (rather than the more Google-esque approach of using lots of computing power to index the Web).

BUT, there are still very few users of MyWeb, and Yahoo! hasn't done much to market it (the company doesn't disclose how many users it has, but there are 709,927 saved pages as of today I alone account for 350 of those). This could change soon, as enhancements to the service are a good sign that it's getting closer to prime time (remember, it's still in beta), and a possible marketing push.

The point is that social search can only be as good as the amount of people using it, and there's definitely a critical mass to make it work on a large scale. We'll explore MyWeb and the dynamics of social search in an upcoming White Paper. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Bright Spots for The New York Times Co.]]> 2006-02-09T12:20:18-05:00 2006-02-09T12:20:18-05:00 2006-02-09T12:20:18-05:00 Local Media Journal, we break down the Q4 earnings announcements of major U.S. newspaper publishers. You probably know the story; circulation and revenues are in decline, while online assets continue to show growth.

To add to this, yesterday The New York Times Co. announced some numbers for January that showed a 3.4 percent ad revenue increase for (which it purchased last year) while the company's overall revenues slipped 3.2 percent.

From Paid Content:

--"Outstanding growth" in cost-per-click advertising drove's growth to $7.1 million in ad revenues; the unit's ad revenues increased 124 percent compared to january '05, when it was still owned by Primedia. (This January included four more reporting days than the previous year.) also reported display growth.

Online ad revenue was up 22 percent across the News Media Groups with "strong growth" in display and classified advertising.

Despite the strength of Craigslist and other classified competitors, real-estate classified rose 15.3 percent.

TimesSelect: The Times' groundbreaking premium service continues to grow. As of Jan. 31, TimesSelect had approximately 410,000 subscribers about 62 percent get the service as part of their print subscription and about 38 percent are online only.

The New York Times also just struck a deal with fast moving Internet video start-up Brightcove (the company offers large and small video producers a platform to distribute their content and generate ad or sales revenues). Under the multiyear arrangement, Brightcove will distribute and syndicate broadband video across NYtimes properties. This gives Brightcove more ad inventory (and valuable inventory it seems) in its network, and it gives the Times a branded platform for distributing video on its sites something that is becoming very high in demand in online news and that The Times certainly couldn't have done on its own.

We expect to see more deals between advertiser and publisher facing video networks, and traditional media companies that wish to differentiate themselves (or stay competitive) with video capability. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Murdoch Stresses Targeting]]> 2006-02-09T11:32:04-05:00 2006-02-09T11:32:04-05:00 2006-02-09T11:32:04-05:00 earnings yesterday. During the earnings call Rupert Murdoch stressed the value of its Internet properties, which has yet to be shown in reported financials. To read into this, the value of MySpace's 50 million dedicated users hasn't been monetized anywhere near its potential.

Our mandate now is clear: to monetize this vast audience with targeted advertising made possible by the wealth of information we have from our engaged, passionate users. The revenue and profit potential from monetizing this audience, even a fraction of it, is significant, he said.

A few questions arise from this: what is the best way to integrate advertising into a user experience that a dedicated, yet possibly fickle (teenage) demographic has gotten very accustomed to? There is a dangerous risk in inferiorating (made-up word) the user experience, while infuriating the user base.

MySpace has proved to be extremely sticky and the barriers to compete are high (users have established networks of friends and sunken investments in their time to create their content-rich MySpace home pages). But anything can happen with a demographic for which viral marketing resonates so well. And new challengers continue to enter the social networking space to share the wealth. It's MySpace's game to lose.

It has been proved by some (Google, Topix) that targeted ads, if targeted enough, aren't seen as intrusive but rather part of the content of a given page. So it will be interesting to see how and if MySpace pulls this off. The degree that local ads play a part in this strategy and what channels FIM will use to bring it all together are also important questions. The company is vague about its plans in this respect but it is interesting to extrapolate its strategy, given the sheer volume of the MySpace user base. We'll be watching this closely.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Video Game Ad Placement Takes a Step Forward II]]> 2006-02-07T12:56:26-05:00 2006-02-07T12:56:26-05:00 2006-02-07T12:56:26-05:00 been on our long-term radar screen. It will take a while before it has relevance to local, but it's an interesting area where a lot of development is happening, and where an ad revenue stream could offset faltering revenue growth in the video game industry.

The latest news from the field is that in-game ad placement firm IGA has raised $12 million in Series A funding. The company places ads in computer and video games using its own ad network. A great deal will be told from the successes and failures of such early entrants in this space, in terms of market dynamics and sustainable business models. We'll continue to watch them closely for any signs of local ad models. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[NBC Reaches Locally for Online Content]]> 2006-02-03T16:44:37-05:00 2006-02-03T16:44:37-05:00 2006-02-03T16:44:37-05:00 Yesterday we wrote about network-affiliated local television stations using their Web sites as distribution points for network content. NBC Universal has announced it will redesign all of its local station Web sites to handle multimedia content such as video and podcasts.

Each new site will feature a predominantly placed video player for news clips, as well as daily webcasts by station anchors. Each station will also create original health, entertainment, sports and consumer news content, and share it across the network.

They will also have access to NBCs programming, weather forecasts from NBCs digital weather service and downloadable coupons from Coupons Inc. Other local advertising will likely play a part, although little has been revealed.

The move gives NBC Universal better local penetration online, and each local station benefits from additional content and branding. Well see how it works. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Online News Gets Some Respect]]> 2006-02-03T16:12:23-05:00 2006-02-03T16:12:23-05:00 2006-02-03T16:12:23-05:00 on the rise, newspapers are increasingly putting more emphasis on their online news production. More specifically we're seeing an overhaul of many newspaper operations to change the mind-set that online is an afterthought. Its importance is gaining steam among users, and newspapers are trying to reflect that importance internally, starting with the news production.

Editor & Publisher takes a look at The Sacramento Bee's "continuous news desk," which was recently created to update its Web site 24 hours a day. The change showed immediate improvements in content and a mind-set change across the organization about how to cover and publish breaking news. An interesting read.

This is similar to changes we're seeing across the industry, such as The New York Times' and USA Today's (among other papers) moves to merge their online and print newsrooms. We expect to see more of this in the future. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[The MyWeb 2.0 of Video]]> 2006-02-02T17:07:26-05:00 2006-02-02T17:07:26-05:00 2006-02-02T17:07:26-05:00 YouTube.

Om Malik reports on a site called Dabble that is taking this concept to the next level. Like Yahoo!s MyWeb 2.0, and, the service lets users tag and bookmark video clips that will be displayed on personalized pages. From there users can do things such as create video playlists and share with friends.

The benefits of social search include the cost savings and effectiveness of having users do the heavy lifting of indexing content. This could apply especially well to video because there will be lots of it (user-generated and long-tail content on which sites like YouTube thrive kind of like Flickr), and because video content has proved difficult to tag and index using software. Advertiser benefits are also present, as more human participation enables better behavioral targeting.

Well further explore social search and its place within the emerging online video space in an upcoming White Paper.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Super Bowl Ads Aplenty]]> 2006-02-02T15:56:36-05:00 2006-02-02T15:56:36-05:00 2006-02-02T15:56:36-05:00
PaidContent has a roundup of where you can see the ads on-demand. Now you can actually get up to get a snack during commercial breaks without missing out.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Straight From the Source]]> 2006-02-02T15:44:53-05:00 2006-02-02T15:44:53-05:00 2006-02-02T15:44:53-05:00 Neal's comments earlier about direct distribution of content that could increasingly render middleman distribution channels unnecessary, CBS has done something similar with its famous "Survivor" reality show. Though CBS is a distribution channel itself, in this case it is cutting out the digital on-demand distribution channels that have recently formed for online content such as iTunes and the Google Video store.

Along those lines, NBC has announced that it will do the same thing with its new reality show an "American Idol"-like music competition called "StarTomorrow" by offering it exclusively on NBC's site.

This is a young industry, so expect a great deal of experimentation with distribution strategies such as this. PaidContent reports on another online distribution model that is beginning to gain attention, which mirrors that of the offline broadcast world in that it relies on local broadcast affiliates. In this setup, such affiliates would offer downloads and streams of network programming on their Web sites.

In the offline world, local affiliates make sense because they can provide local news and broadcast towers. But online, these things are less relevant. So local affiliate Web sites need to prove a value-add to networks if they are going to use their content and profit from it. Local advertising and increased distribution of content (with a revenue share model) might be the answer.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Notable VoIP Happenings]]> 2006-02-01T15:00:44-05:00 2006-02-01T15:00:44-05:00 2006-02-01T15:00:44-05:00 The San Jose Mercury News reported that Google is working with Florida-based VoIP Inc. to possibly add voice calling to its network of offerings, which can be seen as a step toward bolstering its search advertising with pay-per-phone-call.

Google currently offers PC-to-PC calling through its Google Talk IM client that was released in April. But adding PC to PSTN (land line) would bring it closer to click-to-call functionality, a key underpinning of a PPCall model. SEW reminds us that Google has been testing click-to-call since November.

Given that many small businesses prefer calls to clicks, this could be a powerful tool in leveraging the base of SME advertisers that already participate in its AdWords program and could appeal to the larger segment of SMEs that havent been enticed by the promise of clicks. It could also be more disruptive to directory publishers whose businesses thrive on such SMEs.

BusinessWeek meanwhile reported today that Microsoft has a similar plan up its sleeve to integrate PC-to-PSTN calling to its e-mail and IM clients. Also notable is the possible VoIP integration into its Windows Live Expo classifieds service that hasnt officially launched yet.

From BusinessWeek:

It will allow people to find buyers and sellers who are connected, even if distantly, to their social network of IM buddies or e-mail friends. For example, a user could see if a pal or member of another friend's social network has a sofa for sale.

Where VoIP comes in: In addition to e-mailing the sofa seller, the Live Expo user can lob a call directly from a PC. Currently in an internal trial, Expo will enable Microsoft to compete with classifieds services Google Base, currently in beta tests, and Craig's List, one of whose investors is eBay.

Indeed, this could be similar to eBays possible plan to integrate the VoIP platform of its recently acquired Skype to its auction and classifieds listings.

There are also mobile implications according to BusinessWeek:

Microsoft's VoIP plans even reach beyond the PC. The company is also angling for a piece of the mobile-search pie. Though it involves tiny screens consumers can use cell phones or personal digital assistants to search the Web this market has huge potential. It's expected to rise to $1.4 billion in 2010, from $90 million last year, according to consultancy Visiongain.

In other VoIP news, Om Malik reports that Time Warner (as announced in its quarterly earnings report) has added 246,000 VoIP subscribers for the fourth quarter and 880,000 for the entire year, which gives it a grand total of 1.1 million (this class of VoIP service doesnt involve an IM client or a computer at all, but rather a normal phone that is connected to a piece of hardware to make calls over the Internet. Competitors in this space include Verizon and Vonage). In a separate post, Om also provides some good stats on overall VoIP adoption and projections.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[My Yahoo! Reaches 30 Million Mark]]> 2006-01-30T12:11:39-05:00 2006-01-30T12:11:39-05:00 2006-01-30T12:11:39-05:00 Greg's post last week about My Yahoo!, there was an interesting article in The New York Times yesterday about the site's usage and strategy.

The Times reports that as of December, there were 30 million Americans that have created a My Yahoo! page. RSS is the main feature of My Yahoo!, but the site has marketed its advantages without ever using the term "RSS" (yet another tech acronym that has the potential of scaring away mainstream Internet users).

Making an easy way to create RSS feeds, and partnering with news and travel sites on which an "add to My Yahoo!" button is offered, has proved successful.

The company is now developing the next-generation RSS software called media RSS, in anticipation of the ramp up in demand for online video. As Yahoo! told us directly, this will be a powerful tool for users to create a personalized hub and launchpad for all their digital media.

The next step is to continue forming partnerships with travel, shopping, auto, jobs and other verticals to make it easy for users to set up feeds on their My Yahoo! pages for alerts that fit their predefined criteria (see our recent advisory RSS and Email Alerts: Shopping 2.0). This could prove to be a powerful tool for classifieds and other advertisers to get in front of users that have expressed a very specific interest.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Rich Media Ads on Google?]]> 2006-01-26T17:49:19-05:00 2006-01-26T17:49:19-05:00 2006-01-26T17:49:19-05:00 Jennifer Slegg uncovered today that Google is experimenting with rich media ads. The undisclosed plan will, according to Slegg's sources, involve site targeted campaigns (rather than contextual) and have interstitials (those that precede a link's destination), expanding ads and floating ads.

If true, this will be a major departure from Google's text-only ad setup and could provide a much different (read: inferior) user experience. Although there will be many advertiser benefits that Slegg does a good job of describing.

Along with Google's decision to censor certain content to enter the Chinese search market, the company is going down paths that many thought it never would. Little is known about the rich medi ad plan, but we'll follow it as closely as we can.]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[IPTV in 10 Million Homes in Five Years?]]> 2006-01-26T17:18:29-05:00 2006-01-26T17:18:29-05:00 2006-01-26T17:18:29-05:00
With so much tied up in IPTV, the company has a vested interest in making predictions about how the medium will change our lives and how quickly and seamlessly it will be deployed. Its latest public prediction is that IPTV will reach 10 million homes in the next five years. This could happen because of broadband penetration, anticipated demand and an increasingly digital culture. But consider that cable took 17 years to reach the same goal.

We will get more into this topic, and our predictions for IPTV ubiquity, business model sustainability, and the all-important advertising model in an upcoming Advisory. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[My Yahoo! Addendum]]> 2006-01-26T12:23:40-05:00 2006-01-26T12:23:40-05:00 2006-01-26T12:23:40-05:00 post earlier this month about Yahoo!'s expressed plans for the personal hub. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[March Madness: the Next Live 8?]]> 2006-01-25T15:58:33-05:00 2006-01-25T15:58:33-05:00 2006-01-25T15:58:33-05:00 PaidContent reports today that CBS Digital president Larry Kramer announced the network will offer all of its NCAA March Madness coverage online for free. The coverage will be ad supported, and Kramer likened it to AOLs Live 8 coverage which put its broadband video delivery on the map.

Online would seem to be a great venue for the NCAA tournament because like Live 8, there will be simultaneous events (games) happening. CBS has traditionally dealt with this issue by showing different games in different regions -- using a combination of formulas and judgment, that never fails to irk a certain segment of transplanted basketball fans that want to see their alma-mater or favorite team from a different region. This is especially true during the first round of the tournament which has 64 teams playing in about 48 hours.

CBS is hoping that online coverage of such a high profile event will incite the same PR storm that AOL received post Live 8, in staking its claim as a new source of digital and interactive media.

There is a big difference here however. Live 8's smashing success was partially because there was a dependent variable with which to compare it; MTVs lackluster coverage of the event. But in the case of March Madness, the comparison is CBSs own television coverage. So the online coverage, if successful (as successful as Live 8), could in fact make its television coverage look bad.

Every year, there are qualms about CBSs March Madness coverage some involving the game choices as mentioned above; and others such as inane commentary during and between play, and the over dramatized segments about cinderella" teams or other inspiring stories surrounding the tournament. These are usually met with a fair share of grumblings from fans, but then are mostly forgotten until the next year. But with an online alternative that delivers just the good stuff (all games) without the fluff, CBS could be setting itself up for quite a conflict.

Indeed it was similarly overdone commentary, and choices of events to cover (i.e. cutting away from Pink Floyd mid-set) that were at the top of the long list of grievances of MTV live 8 viewers.

It will be interesting to see how CBS handles this, and what the media world can learn from broadband content delivery, and its effect on affiliated offline channels. We can only wait and see. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[What is News 2.0?]]> 2006-01-24T14:35:28-05:00 2006-01-24T14:35:28-05:00 2006-01-24T14:35:28-05:00 Om Malik has an interesting take on what constitutes the term "News 2.0" (the latest phrase within the Internet buzzword parlance that started with "Web 2.0").

There are many high-traffic news sites out there, he contends, that don't create any news at all -- they only aggregate. This has been a successful model for many news aggregators such as Topix, Google News (which came out of beta yesterday after four years) and others. But we must remind ourselves that these sites are nothing without the "News 1.0" (as Malik phrases it) that provides the content.

This concept applies to a broader argument of the necessity and longevity of print newspapers in a Web 2.0 world. As much as some bloggers will take the anti-establishment, free-content attitude that continues to be chic throughout Internet culture, it must be recognized that the source of all their information, and the generously supplied daily flow of fodder for their ruminations, is the work of newspaper and magazine reporters. And you can't have the newsroom without the newspaper.

Newspapers are facing unprecedented challenges, as shown by the ongoing woes of Knight Ridder and others. But their assets (original reporting, journalistic standards, established trust within their communities, etc.) are fueling the success of the medium that is in some cases slowly exacerbating their decline. An interesting paradox.

Some newspapers will always be around. But online is clearly where the growth is taking place, and established publishers need to find a way to compete with online distribution of both news and classifieds. Given the long-established business models and cultures of many publishers (and inertia), this might not happen without partnerships with online players, or some M&A activity (i.e., Classified Ventures). The latter is hard to execute in the face of falling margins. But we hope it does for the sake of quality news and its survival. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[MySpace Goes Mobile, Faces a New Challenger]]> 2006-01-24T13:54:16-05:00 2006-01-24T13:54:16-05:00 2006-01-24T13:54:16-05:00 PaidContent reports that a new social networking site for Teens called Tagged has received funding. Little is revealed about the business model, but it will be difficult for anyone entering the space to gain market share from MySpace.

The average age of MySpace users skews a bit older than a teenage user base (roughly 18), but it still has a great deal of users in their teens who arent likely to abandon the accounts they have set up and developed (and made known to friends in the network). This gets to the stickiness of social networking, and the advantages of being first to market. Although this clearly didnt work for Friendster, a combination of features, differentiation (MySpaces focus on music) and marketing are clearly important in this space.

Fox Interactive Media President Ross Levinsohn, meanwhile, announced at the NATPE show in Las Vegas that this is the year MySpace will go mobile.

You can see [users] interacting on their computer now want to extend that to the phone. We want to empower MySpace screen names to supplant mobile numbers, he said.

How this will be done isnt exactly clear. It could require hardware partnerships as well as carrier partnerships. It could be complicated. But all that aside, it could be a very powerful integration, given that the MySpace demographic also represents a large market of mobile users.

More importantly, they are also an attractive demographic for advertisers, especially when mobile and inclined to transact locally. Bring in the possibility of contextual and geotargeted advertising, and you start to get the picture. Well have to wait and see what FIM has up its sleeve.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[First the Web, Then IPTV, Next Radio]]> 2006-01-23T13:20:22-05:00 2006-01-23T13:20:22-05:00 2006-01-23T13:20:22-05:00 New York Times about HD radio. Better described as digital radio, the technology allows broadcasters to fit three additional channels in the space now occupied by just one.

A digital signal also allows for much better behavioral targeting for advertisers. Combine this with Googles recent move into radio advertising, and you have a new growth medium for targeted local advertising.

The move towards digital radio will largely be fueled by the new on-demand marketplace. There will be more content choices and more of a pull of content, rather than a broadcast push. The pull is also where targeting can be more acutely executed.

WIRED magazine wrote a great forward looking piece last March which speculated some of the possibilities of digital radio.

From the article:
As listeners select the programs they want to hear, they're instructing the radio about their interests. "Whenever you pull the dial like a piece of taffy and let more signals come through, you are of course going to get a lot more niches," Griffin says. As a broadcaster, "you make money [running a collection of niche stations] because targeted ad buys are so much more valuable than nontargeted. Traditional media isn't a great way to reach fly fishermen or people who are in quilting bees, but niches are."

In this TiVo-esque environment, Clear Channel-style mass broadcasting becomes less and less effective.

The technology is in an early adoption stage, and the pricing for necessary hardware reflects that. But the price will come down and it should follow a typical new technology life cycle. When it reaches wide scale adoption, we can expect to see many of the targeting abilities of the web, and of IPTV, manifest in radio.

There is a lot more to it, and we will continue to analyze this interesting area as it develops.]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[A New Strategy for Outdoor Advertising?]]> 2006-01-17T17:28:27-05:00 2006-01-17T17:28:27-05:00 2006-01-17T17:28:27-05:00 Heres an interesting concept that circumvents some of the challenges of integrating advertising in online maps. SEW points out that the rooftop ads probably arent for the sake of online mapping satellite imagery; they actually target commercial flights as they approach airports.

It still makes one wonder about the possibilities in online mapping. It probably wouldnt take off to a large degree; and if it did, mapping providers would likely blur out any ads that didnt pay for placement. But its an interesting anecdote that demonstrates the creativity of marketers finding every last nook and cranny of advertising space in the physical and online worlds.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Yahoo! Continues Toolbar Distribution Strategy]]> 2006-01-17T17:18:44-05:00 2006-01-17T17:18:44-05:00 2006-01-17T17:18:44-05:00 Mike Boland <![CDATA[News Corp. Plans to Compete for Broadband]]> 2006-01-17T16:57:01-05:00 2006-01-17T16:57:01-05:00 2006-01-17T16:57:01-05:00
This BusinessWeek article outlines his plans to compete with cable and telecom triple play bundles by updating News Corp.-owned satellite network DirecTV to carry data and voice into subscribers homes. The challenge? Updating the satellite network to carry faster data in two directions, as cable and DSL networks currently do (and satellite currently does not).

The alternative is to build a Wi-Max network from the ground up, which is cheaper than building a terrestrial broadband network. Murdoch is willing to earmark about a billion dollars for the cause, a necessary investment to fully leverage the Web properties he recently acquired, including MySpace, and the launch of Fox Interactive Media.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[A Whole New Kind of Local Ad Inventory]]> 2006-01-17T15:03:49-05:00 2006-01-17T15:03:49-05:00 2006-01-17T15:03:49-05:00 This just in from the bizarre item of the day department. A new trend in local advertising? Probably not, but good for a quick laugh on a Tuesday. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[MSN AdCenter's Ambitions]]> 2006-01-14T14:32:45-05:00 2006-01-14T14:32:45-05:00 2006-01-14T14:32:45-05:00 announced Friday that it will step up its adCenter online ad platform to handle all the paid search results that appear on MSN search.

Currently about 25 percent of sponsored links come from adCenter, and the rest are outsourced to Yahoo! (Overture). The contract with Yahoo! expires in June though.

So its in-house ad placement is hoped to bring in higher paid search revenues and provide some competition for Google and Yahoo!.

It also represents a step toward developing a platform for placing ads across multiple platforms, as search is beginning to seep across various devices and platforms (i.e. Yahoo! Go). The development work for this platform will mostly take place at Microsofts newly launched adLab, a marriage between its Redmond-based adCenter team and its Chinese research lab. adLab will work on ways to better target user demographics, behavior and device use.

Its a clear move to catch up to Google and Yahoo!, behind which it currently trails in paid search market share. As ad inventory will increase with more search happening across different platforms and devices, its a good time for Microsoft to make such a move.

It will have some catching up to do, however, as Yahoo! has already signed partnerships with Motorola and Nokia to bundle Yahoo! Go in new phones, and Google is beginning to make some moves of its own in the portable device market. These partnerships will cement Google and Yahoo! into the interfaces of these devices. Look for Microsoft to do the same, as this is where much of the new growth in search market share will come from.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[IPTV Article of the Day]]> 2006-01-12T15:18:47-05:00 2006-01-12T15:18:47-05:00 2006-01-12T15:18:47-05:00 piece today about IPTV.

From the article:

No single company put everything together into a magical product at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, but you didnt need much imagination to connect the booths and see the Internet TV networks of the 21st century struggling to be born. The unmistakable theme was how video is moving over the Internet onto home televisions and mobile devices in ways that will finally allow consumers to talk back to their TVs, much as they have been interacting with Web sites for the past decade.

This is a point we have continually raised about the benefits IPTV will bring to consumer targeting and advertising. The interaction or pulling in of on-demand content will not only serve users in innovative ways, but will also give networks, service providers and advertisers invaluable, detailed information about what viewers want and exactly where they are. The inherent advantages of IP technologies over cable and satellite will allow this trackingas they have done on the Webas Walker pointed out (and as we have in the past).

This point she makes is also intriguing:

Basically, IPTV allows multiple layers of video, pictures and text to be mixed with video feeds in ways viewers can control with their remotes. Its the old interactive TV visionpoint your remote at an actress on screen and up comes her name, prior credits and perhaps a buy me button for her blue sequined dress.

The big question is: How will all the moving parts come together, such as content creation and aggregation, hardware integration, service providers, monetization strategies, and advertising sales channels (or perhaps self provisioning).

An interesting read and a primer for many IPTV issues well raise at the upcoming Drilling Down on Local conference.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[MySpace Plans to Get More Interactive]]> 2006-01-11T08:00:17-05:00 2006-01-11T08:00:17-05:00 2006-01-11T08:00:17-05:00 announced the integration of downloadable video, VoIP and IM to MySpace, which News Corp. acquired for $580 million in July. These moves are intended to drive use of the wildly popular social networking site and boost ad revenues (its main revenue stream).

Murdoch announced the new services Monday at a Citigroup media conference in Phoenix. He also outlined plans to offer wireless broadband Internet service through News Corp.-owned DirecTV. The companys push into online media is evident through the launch of Fox Interactive Media (FIM) in July, not to mention Murdochs outspoken opinion on the maturation of newspaper and other brick-and-mortar media businesses.

Free video, IM and voice are hoped to create more stickiness among MySpace users, in addition to increasing traffic and driving ad revenues. The site has a total of 47 million users and is adding about a million per week. Its average user age is 20, a demographic projected to be heavy users of video, IM and voice. Indeed, MySpace users already have a proven interest in music content and social networking, which these new offerings will each address in some way.

The video content will likely come from News Corp. content assets including the Fox TV network, Fox News Channel and Twentieth Century Fox movie studio. Fox News Channel might not speak to the MySpace generation as much as the others. But well have to wait and see.

In fact, since News Corp. acquired MySpace, Ive been waiting to see what it will do to screw up the site. In other words, an arguably anticorporate MySpace generation could quickly sniff out any commercialization strategies put in front of them. FIM seems to be doing OK so far, and these new offerings, if they arent perceived as an advertising Trojan horse, should be well-accepted by the MySpace crowd.

But dont forget the sites name. Users have developed a strong and widespread affinity that it is their space. So if Murdoch & Co. wish to keep these users around, they should be careful what they do with it.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[IAC Launches Comparison Shopping Engine]]> 2006-01-10T21:01:11-05:00 2006-01-10T21:01:11-05:00 2006-01-10T21:01:11-05:00 SEW reports that IAC/InterActiveCorp has launched a comparison shopping service called Pronto. Check it out and let us know what you think. Well do the same.

More on this later.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[2006 Looks to be the Year of Web + TV II]]> 2006-01-09T13:08:11-05:00 2006-01-09T13:08:11-05:00 2006-01-09T13:08:11-05:00 exclusive interview with Marco Boerries, SVP-Connected Life, Yahoo!. With the recent media storm over content and online video (stepped up even further by last weeks CES conference and this weeks Macworld expo), an important question is: When will the moving parts come together to make online video become a pervasive medium? In other words, when will the hype turn into mainstream adoption reality. (In this discussion, its important to make the distinction between online video and IPTV.)

Boerries is emphatic that online video will reach a tipping point in 06:

I think were going to see the first critical mass in 06. I think with Intels Viiv, were going to see that. Were going to start seeing it happening; its going to need some ramp-up time. That was the reason we partnered with Intelsee what theyve done with Centrino, right? Five years ago, less than five percent of the notebooks had WiFi in them and it was not always working ... Now, 99 percent of the notebooks have WiFi and it works most of the time. Thats the leadership that Intel can provide to the industry ... in terms of technology, standardization and investment dollars in marketing and getting the digital home opened up ... We dont have a million users today in the U.S who connect the TV and the PC. This is to me always a critical threshold (one million) and were going to pass this threshold this year.

Read the rest here.

A good comparison chart of the current video offerings of the four main portals (and Apple) is here.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[Google and Monster?]]> 2006-01-06T14:41:57-05:00 2006-01-06T14:41:57-05:00 2006-01-06T14:41:57-05:00 Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on Google and Yahoo! Announcements Today]]> 2006-01-06T11:20:08-05:00 2006-01-06T11:20:08-05:00 2006-01-06T11:20:08-05:00 The New York Times (free reg. reqd) has more detail about the expected announcements from Terry Semel and Larry Page today. Semels keynote is going on right now, and Pages is later today. Well follow up with recap and analysis later, and you can read more in next weeks issue of Local Media Journal. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[2006 Tech Resolutions]]> 2006-01-05T15:13:33-05:00 2006-01-05T15:13:33-05:00 2006-01-05T15:13:33-05:00
Interestingly, Schonfelds recommendations for Yahoo! mirror our own thoughts on the companys trajectory, and the comments of Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo!s director of media and desktop search, when I spoke to him in the fall.

From Schonfeld:

Yahoo (Research) helped make 2005 the Year of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) by incorporating it into MyYahoo, Yahoo News and even Yahoo Mail. Yahoo also championed the Media RSS format for video, which helps video producers upload content into Yahoos video search engine. With those pieces in place, Yahoo should now take the next step and turn My Yahoo into a hub for Internet TV. Just like an RSS reader pulls together blogs and news feeds, My Yahoo could be a single place to find, subscribe to and watch video (or listen to audio podcasts) from anywhere on the Web, whether its the most-viewed clips on YouTube, Saturday Night Live skits or Yahoos own Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone.

Or as Horowitz put it to me:

You might have different categories on the page, so at the top of the page you might have Whats Hot kind of things that were bringing to you because they are general popular interest and most people want to watch them. You might also have My Subscription, so you might subscribe to various shows like Six Feet Under and you want to see when a new episode is available for viewing.

Sounds an awful lot like RSS and My Yahoo!, which Horowitz agreed with. This brings the personalization strategy that Yahoo! is pushing across its network to yet another place. Such a video hub for users will also create valuable ad inventory that can be tied to Yahoo!s already existing local ad network, and targeted acutely based on content pulled in and location.

Schonfeld agrees that a user-friendly video hubakin to My Yahoo!is what we need to ignite the Internet TV era. Yahoo! could be just the company to do it. But well hold off on that prediction until tomorrow, when we see what type of video product Googles Larry Page unveils during his CES keynote.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[Listen to Live CES Keynotes Online II]]> 2006-01-05T15:03:57-05:00 2006-01-05T15:03:57-05:00 2006-01-05T15:03:57-05:00 SEW has a link to listen to Terry Semels Keynote at CES tomorrow. They also cover Bill Gates keynote last night. A further roundup of keynote coverage and other CES news is posted below by my colleague Greg Sterling, and there will surely be lots more CES news to come has a link to listen to Terry Semels Keynote at CES tomorrow. They also cover Bill Gates keynote last night. A further roundup of keynote coverage and other CES news is posted below by my colleague Greg Sterling, and there will surely be lots more CES news to come ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[Listen to Live CES Keynotes Online]]> 2006-01-04T15:45:48-05:00 2006-01-04T15:45:48-05:00 2006-01-04T15:45:48-05:00 SEW points to a few places online where you will be able to listen to the live CES Keynote from Bill Gates tonight at 6:30 PST (If you arent watching the Rose Bowl). We expect that local search will play a part in some way in what he has to say. Yahoo!s Terry Semel, and Googles Larry Page speak on Friday and there will likely be live audio casts online somewhere, which SEW is committed to finding. Well keep our eyes open as well. ]]> Mike Boland <![CDATA[Let the Announcements Begin]]> 2006-01-04T12:41:45-05:00 2006-01-04T12:41:45-05:00 2006-01-04T12:41:45-05:00 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 involvedjust 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. Well be watching closely for that announcement and others.
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Ford Rolls Out VOD Advertising]]> 2006-01-02T13:40:03-05:00 2006-01-02T13:40:03-05:00 2006-01-02T13:40:03-05:00
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 Fords 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.

Well be able to find the features viewers focused on, what they didnt find interesting or even if an edit has too slow a pace, Fords ad agent Brian Bos told Mediaweek. Well 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.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[YouTube Blindsides the Video Search Marketplace]]> 2005-12-29T12:10:49-05:00 2005-12-29T12:10:49-05:00 2005-12-29T12:10:49-05:00 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 AOLs Singingfish (the only one that isnt 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 othersespecially Yahoo! which knows the power of user taggingto 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 its 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.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[IPTV Fails to Steal Cable Market Share...For Now]]> 2005-12-27T14:55:00-05:00 2005-12-27T14:55:00-05:00 2005-12-27T14:55:00-05:00
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 IPTVboth 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.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[The Online Video Audience Might Be Older Than You Think]]> 2005-12-26T22:37:10-05:00 2005-12-26T22:37:10-05:00 2005-12-26T22:37:10-05:00
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Google Improves Personalized Search]]> 2005-12-22T13:30:49-05:00 2005-12-22T13:30:49-05:00 2005-12-22T13:30:49-05:00 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.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[To Register or Not to Register]]> 2005-12-22T13:28:02-05:00 2005-12-22T13:28:02-05:00 2005-12-22T13:28:02-05:00 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. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Video Game Ad Placement Takes A Step Forward]]> 2005-12-22T11:10:31-05:00 2005-12-22T11:10:31-05:00 2005-12-22T11:10:31-05:00 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. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Yahoo! Launches Open Shortcuts]]> 2005-12-22T10:58:31-05:00 2005-12-22T10:58:31-05:00 2005-12-22T10:58:31-05:00 SEW, that allows users to create custom search commands. According to Yahoo!, this will let users: € Instantly navigate to any URL on the Internet € Easily recall common searches on Yahoo! € Quickly search favorite sites € Jump start frequently used Internet applications

The feature is basically an alternative to bookmarking, in which the Yahoo! search box becomes a command field for taking you directly to a site or completing any of the functions listed above. It requires some setting up, but savvy Web users and the Yahoo! faithful will find it useful. The tool basically falls into the category of creating stickiness among users and is designed to drive traffic and increase search market share. It also falls nicely into Yahoo!€s product strategy for personalized tools (i.e., My Web, Yahoo! Toolbar, My Yahoo!, etc.), which it hopes will attract and keep users after they€ve spent the time to set up, customize and get accustomed to them. We expect no abeyance of such product launches, and their integration into the larger Yahoo! machine, as the feature race among portals continues€]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[blinkx on the Go]]> 2005-12-22T10:49:36-05:00 2005-12-22T10:49:36-05:00 2005-12-22T10:49:36-05:00 funding and with the iPod video making it the newest sexy thing to cover in the media. The latest move comes from online video search service blinkx, which has debuted a service to port its Web search and delivery platform to portable media players such as the iPod video. Known as To Go, it will allow users to search for video content and video blogs (or €vlogs€ as they have recently been christened in Internet parlance buzz-wordage) and download them to portable media players.

The software boasts the ability to format the footage for a number of different devices and save certain search terms as €channels,€ which are updated automatically to mobile devices when they are connected to users€ computers. For iPod users (who represent a majority of the portable media device market), a good question is, what does this offer that the iTunes music store doesn€t? The answer is that blinkx claims to index a wider range of content that includes, most notably, vlogs and the long-tail video content throughout the Web that the comparatively limited iTunes video library has thus far excluded in favor of licensed professionally produced shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." iTunes monetizes licensed content by charging for downloads, while blinkx will likely integrate an ad-supported model that is more in line with its online strategy. Time will tell how it will do this on portable devices and if it has what it takes to survive an eventual shakeout in the online and mobile video space. So how does this relate to local? Search in this case takes place online, and results are then downloaded to a mobile device. But looking out further this could integrate with mobile local search when blinkx or someone else develops the search process for the mobile device itself. There are, of course, hardware restrictions and other challenges here, but the pulling in of video (VOD) and the geotargeting opportunities with mobile devices could create a powerful combination for contextualized local advertising to be delivered alongside video content. There are lots of moving parts to such a scenario (hardware, software, content aggregation, ad distribution) that could take a while to coalesce, but the local implications are there. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Well, It's Official]]> 2005-12-22T10:41:11-05:00 2005-12-22T10:41:11-05:00 2005-12-22T10:41:11-05:00
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on Google-AOL]]> 2005-12-22T10:33:19-05:00 2005-12-22T10:33:19-05:00 2005-12-22T10:33:19-05:00 Om Malik takes an interesting look at the Google-AOL deal, including its implications for Video. Among other things, the deal will give a boost in the arm to Google€s beleaguered content aggregation efforts for its video search. It has thus far trailed most other video search players (including blinkx, Yahoo! and AOL itself) in acquiring content. This deal gives it a backdoor into the content libraries of AOL€s corporate siblings that include HBO, CNN and New Line Cinema.

Or as Om put it: Google stands to make a lot of money from video advertising over the Internet... They have been fighting an uphill battle to find a toehold in Hollywood, and well there is no one more old school Beverly Hills than Time Warner. I think this will be the thing that helps the company get some traction for its Google Video business. IM integration with AOL€s pervasive AIM network is also a huge plus, and a key source of traction in competing with MSN-Yahoo! in the IM space. From Om: An interoperability between the two IM networks could soon be enhanced to facilitating between AIM and GTalk users. Add to the mix, other SIP based clients that can talk to GTalk, such as Gizmo Project, well there is an informal VoIM network that starts to form. Google is very ambitious about Gtalk, and I can bet they are working on developing a bigger ecosystem than most people realize. BusinessWeek€s Olga Kharif also points out that this could not only stimulate more Google Talk usage, but it could go a step further toward interoperability between other IM platforms. Until now, many Internet users might have hesitated to use Google's VoIP service for fear that they'd be left out of the communications loop since all of their friends used AOL Instant Messenger (IM). Now, they won't have to worry about that. Longer term, I believe that this agreement will push all VoIP industry heavyweights to make their IM-like VoIP services interoperable. Remember, years ago, if you were a Verizon Wireless customer, you could only send short text messages (SMS) to other Verizon customers. You couldn't send an SMS to Cingular customers. That hampered SMS adoption, and so, eventually, all wireless service providers got together and allowed for cross-carrier texting. An interesting concept indeed. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[New Year's Resolutions for Newspapers]]> 2005-12-20T15:58:54-05:00 2005-12-20T15:58:54-05:00 2005-12-20T15:58:54-05:00 here. It€s a good summary of many of the challenges facing the newspaper industry, and it echoes much of our own analysis and recommendations to the newspaper industry over the past year including;

--€Become the primary social-networking venues for their communities€ Not only do users benefit from such social networking, but the publisher gets to collect all sorts of useful information about its users' interests and preferences, a la MySpace. That can be mighty useful for targeted-advertising purposes.€ --€Add an open comments thread on top of all content published on your news Web site. That means that for every story you publish, there's an easy way for people to post their feedback, questions, etc. Add this to every article, every photo... If you can't even open up to the public enough to allow an open feedback mechanism, then I'd say you're still at odds with the basic tenets of the Internet.€ --€As Google so aptly demonstrates, the real future is in automating the advertising marketplace. I'm not saying to fire all the sales reps. But I do think there's much to be gained by automation used to attract new advertisers to the newspaper brand€Newspaper Web sites can be and have been used to attract advertisers who previously have had no relationship with the newspaper. Lower ad prices to reach audiences online have opened up the newspaper brand to local merchants who previously found newspaper advertising too expensive, or who only wanted to reach a small segment of the community.€ --€Publishers of daily newspapers may well keep some categories as fee-based advertising -- just as Craigslist is free but charges for job listings in a few cities. They will figure out how to get money from people who place free ads by offering paid "upsells" that improve a seller's chances of success, such as premium placement, enhanced photos (slide shows, larger images, etc.), video, etc. They will sell advertising around the classifieds "content"; for example, for classifieds search results on household appliances will be paid ads for appliance retailers and repair shops. And they will learn how to make money from the transaction itself between buyer and seller.€ --€We all know the "problem" with newspapers: Young people aren't picking up the habit of print readership, because they're too distracted by the Internet, cell phones, Playstations and whatnot. So let's resolve to reach them where they are: on the Web, on instant messenger services, on cell phones, on Playstation consoles, etc€ I think we've reached the point in the evolution of the news industry where online is equally as important as print.€ It€s an interesting list that will be the subject for discussion well into 2006. Look for more newspaper industry analysis at the Kelsey Group€s Drilling Down on Local Conference this March, and in an upcoming white paper. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Online Newsrooms Merge With Print]]> 2005-12-16T17:10:14-05:00 2005-12-16T17:10:14-05:00 2005-12-16T17:10:14-05:00 Following in the footsteps of The New York Times, USA Today announced that it will merge its print and online newsrooms. Both moves came out of a recognition that online news traffic is growing and that news distribution should be platform agnostic. Just one day earlier, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell brought up the opposing view in her weekly column, stating that her paper€s print and online operations cooperate but maintain very different voices, readerships, advertisers and competitors.

These are all true, although it can be argued that some of these factors shouldn€t have a direct impact on the actual production of news. And though online and offline news operations face different dynamics, timing is an issue on many stories for which Web distribution becomes a competitive advantage; parallel production of such stories online and in print might not be as efficient as a unified newsroom. However, The Washington Post is a unique case because it is a local paper whose online component is read widely and in much greater volume than print. Its daily circulation is 671,322, while the Web site's reach is 8 million unique visitors per month -- more than 6 million of whom are outside the D.C. area. If any paper could make a case for keeping the online and offline operations separate, it's the Post. Advertising becomes a challenge in such a situation because the paper€s content is read nationwide, but newspapers rely greatly on local advertising and classifieds. Caroline Little, CEO and publisher of Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), gave a keynote address at TKG€s ILM:05 conference that hit on this point. Eighty percent of the Web site€s traffic comes from outside the D.C. market, Little said, which is why it launched two homepages (one local and one national), user reviews, blogs and other personalization tools to get users involved. It also requires site registration, which is a perpetually thorny issue among online news sites. Little believes this drives repeat use through opt-in e-mail alerts for vertical content categories that link to WPNI content, as well as the all-important targeting it allows for advertisers. Whether to combine online and print newsrooms, divide online and offline operations further, or distinguish between local and national distribution will have a lot to do with reach -- national, local, online and off. The Washington Post is a rare case that excels at all of them. Determining this reach and how it plays into the ad targeting tools used by many newspapers, will help them form ad distribution strategies, which will in turn affect where they position their assets. Expect more newsroom, operational and distribution strategies to change at major papers, as online traffic continues to grow, targeting capabilities improve and online strategies evolve. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Brightcove CEO Predicts Future of IPTV]]> 2005-12-16T16:07:01-05:00 2005-12-16T16:07:01-05:00 2005-12-16T16:07:01-05:00 according to Jeremy Allaire, founder and president of online video distribution service Brightcove (which recently raised $16.2 million from AOL, IAC/InterActiveCorp and others). Allaire spoke at the Syndicate conference in San Francisco this week about the advertising and distribution environment that Internet-delivered video will bring. His thoughts mirrored many of the points raised in The Kelsey Group€s recent White Paper on IPTV. Allaire outlined the costs and challenges involved in airing video content with current cable and broadcast models. A new program, for example, costs about $100 million to create, distribute and market in a cable broadcast environment. Even after these costs, a channel can be buried within a 500-channel lineup.

He contrasted this with Web video distribution, which will leverage the medium€s already existing standards such as search engines and RSS (content could still be buried on the Web to use the above example, but it will be easier to find by the right people, i.e. those who are interested in finding it and whose explicit interest is valuable for ad targeting). There will also be cheaper and more attainable production technologies in the hands of independent producers and lower distribution costs when inventory is no longer scarce. €Today, the global video industry is by far the richest, most powerful cultural force of all media, and far larger than any other segment. But it's a business based on scarcity: There's a limited number of movie theaters, a limited amount of broadcast spectrum, a limited number of devices attached to the broadcast stream," said Allaire. He compared this with Web-delivered video, which will be €an open publishing and distribution model, where no content owner needs to get carriage to be available globally." In the meantime, many existing media companies are beginning to create Web channels to feed the demand for online, on-demand video. The combination of high production value news, entertainment and sports and the user-generated and "long tail" content made available by Brightcove and other content aggregators including AOL, Yahoo! and Google, will increase the available video ad inventory. The increased supply will not only decrease its cost -- bringing it in reach of local and SME advertisers -- but the inventory can also be highly targeted, given that it is being pulled in by users. Aggregate behavioral tracking will also create valuable opportunities for local and national advertisers, akin to the search marketing opportunities available to them on the Web. There are, of course, many moving parts to the above equation, including hardware, software, content aggregation, service providers and ad provisioning. When and how they will coalesce is the big question, which we€ll attempt to sort through in the coming months and years. Stay tuned.]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Comparison Shopping Engines Outpace Online Retailers]]> 2005-12-13T11:57:53-05:00 2005-12-13T11:57:53-05:00 2005-12-13T11:57:53-05:00 reported that traffic rose 61 percent at online comparison shopping sites in the week ended Nov. 27, compared with the week ended Oct. 30. Regular online retailers by comparison saw a 35 percent rise in traffic during the same period. Top comparison shopping sites, including, and Shopzilla, accounted for 0.3 percent of all Internet traffic -- a 24 percent increase over the same period last year, according to Hitwise. These three comparison engines were also ranked 12th, 13th and 14th, respectively, by Hitwise in the category of most-visited shopping and classified Web sites last week (EBay, and took the top three rankings in that order). Comparison shopping sites have traditionally received most of their traffic from search engines. The growth so far this holiday season suggests that they are either marketing more effectively with search engines, or they are gaining loyalty and exposure among some users who are navigating directly to them.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[Yahoo! vs. Skype]]> 2005-12-08T09:14:29-05:00 2005-12-08T09:14:29-05:00 2005-12-08T09:14:29-05:00 this story today about Yahoo! planning to launch a VoIP platform that will allow users to make PC-to-PSTN (landline) calls and receive calls from any telephone line around the world for a fee. Its previous free voice service, by comparison, was integrated with Yahoo! Messenger and allowed users to make PC-to-PC calls only. This puts Yahoo! in competition with Google Talk as well as Skype, as the service will be similar to the latter€s SkypeOut and SkypeIn paid services. Yahoo!'s service will reportedly undercut Skype on price, given the size of its user base and its ability to negotiate low rates for minutes with phone companies. Most notably, the ability to call PSTN lines from a PC gets Yahoo! a step closer to a pay-per-phone-call model, which it is known to be testing. A more in-depth analysis will follow in the next Local Media Journal.

Mike Boland <![CDATA[Google Fatigued?]]> 2005-12-02T16:40:26-05:00 2005-12-02T16:40:26-05:00 2005-12-02T16:40:26-05:00 nice chart that summarizes its many products and (public) initiatives under way. Meanwhile, John Heilemann writes in his New York magazine column about the concept of Googlephobia: the growing fear and perception that Google is becoming a €tool of U.S. cultural imperialism.€

Mike Boland <![CDATA[Online Mapping Outpaces Overall Internet Growth]]> 2005-11-29T20:17:02-05:00 2005-11-29T20:17:02-05:00 2005-11-29T20:17:02-05:00 reported that, while Internet use grew 7 percent overall in 2004, online map site traffic increased 33 percent to 51.3 million. Mapquest held a 71 percent share of the market in September, according to comScore, while Yahoo! Maps followed with 32 percent, and Google Maps with 25 percent. The overlap in use across these sites accounts for the numbers not adding up to 100 percent. Google Maps has the most interactivity with the map itself and has recently fused the product with Google Local for more local and directory information. But it trails Yahoo! Maps, which has more local features and tie-ins with other products, and Mapquest simply because it has been around much longer. Mapping, like search, is a highly habitual online activity with which early entrants can have a signifigant edge. And, like search, gaining market share is a key part of the online mapping game because revenue potential is so closely tied to traffic. This explains the acceleration in feature development and integration over the past year.

But how to leverage these user bases in forming creative ways to monetize maps is also a key question for mapping providers. In the meantime, they want to have a solid base of users to hit the ground running when revenue models come to fruition -- both online and with wireless mapping and mobile directory applications, of which mapping will be a central component. These and other topics in mapping will be explored during the second day of ILM:05 (Thursday) in a panel titled "Maps, €Mashups€ and Monetization." ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Local Ad Placement Firm Launches]]> 2005-11-29T20:07:52-05:00 2005-11-29T20:07:52-05:00 2005-11-29T20:07:52-05:00 told Clickz News: "Search had SEM agencies that made search easy. We're trying to do for local what Overture did for search years ago."

The company has close to $10 million in advertising commitments for 2006, according to Clickz, from blue-chip national advertisers such as Allstate, American Airlines, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and State Farm. Competition for local advertising continues to heat up, making this a difficult field to enter. Centro will have competition from search giants as well as IYPs. The company hopes to differentiate itself by focusing on Web sites for local media, including newspapers, television and radio stations -- thus capturing a segment of the advertising market with a primary interest in these channels. The company€s success will hinge largely upon how this segment of advertisers values its service model in brokering local ad space. The good news for Centro is that online newspaper readership is on the rise, but competition from paid search won€t make it easy for the company -- or any other company that attempts to compete for local ad dollars. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More Newspaper Doom and Gloom]]> 2005-11-23T10:37:58-05:00 2005-11-23T10:37:58-05:00 2005-11-23T10:37:58-05:00 here.

Knight Ridder announced last week that it is putting itself up for sale because of poor stock performance and the bleak outlook for the newspaper publishing model in today€s media environment. Meanwhile, New York Times shares have declined 32 percent this year, while the Washington Post Co. stock has gone down 27 percent. Gannett and Tribune Co. stock have each declined 23 percent, and Belo Corp. is down 17 percent this year. Circulation, at the root of these valuation declines, has fallen 2.6 percent overall in the past six months, one of the biggest drops in 20 years. The good news for newspaper publishers is that newspaper-owned Web site traffic is growing 11 percent annually, according to Nielsen. That€s a faster pace than overall Internet growth. The takeaway for newspapers is that online is where the growth is. The advertising online may not yet scale to the degree of print publishing, but the traffic growth online can€t be ignored in light of record losses for print.]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Search via Camera Phone]]> 2005-11-23T10:18:53-05:00 2005-11-23T10:18:53-05:00 2005-11-23T10:18:53-05:00 this story about the advent of mobile visual search, a technology that lets consumers with camera phones use snapshots of products to receive various freebies as well as promotions and directional advertising. It is based on image recognition software that identifies specific patterns in images and has heretofore been used mostly in facial recognition applications for law enforcement and security. Now it has also found a home with mobile search, with cameras providing an extra tool for mobile phone users who are woefully trying to simulate Web search with 12 tiny buttons.

Like its facial recognition software forbearer, the mobile visual search application will be able to match object patterns with those scanned into a remote Internet-connected database and, in this case, send data back to the user who made a query, including music, videos, maps, etc. For example, the technology will allow a camera phone user to snap a shot of a movie billboard, which after it is sent to a database returns not only the film trailer but also locations of nearby theaters and promotions. The user can also buy movie tickets on the spot. This will have an adoption curve similar to any new technology, especially those associated with mobile directory applications and location-based services. But the application alleviates one of the problems foreseen with location-based services: users€ concerns of privacy and unsolicited advertising. Many models projected of location-based services involve sending users ads and promotions when they are near certain businesses in which they€ve either previously indicated an interest (opted in) or to which algorithmic behavioral tracking has targeted them. Both come with a degree of uncertainty. Mobile visual search on the other hand will serve up advertising (in conjunction with freebies such as movie trailers, ringtones, mp3s, etc.) to users who have indicated an explicit and immediate need that is more likely to result in a transaction. Such a transaction could be online or off, which will bring in different tracking metrics; but those will be figured out in time. The ubiquity of camera phones (expected to reach 90 percent penetration in the U.S. in the next three years, according to CNET) and imbedded GPS receivers will also affect the adoption curve. But this could be a powerful application in the mobile search and location-based services space, given that objects throughout the physical world can be used as links to directional advertising. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[More on the Yahoo!€TiVo Deal: The Local Angle]]> 2005-11-09T14:40:49-05:00 2005-11-09T14:40:49-05:00 2005-11-09T14:40:49-05:00 partnership between Yahoo! and TiVo will allow the latter's users to record programs from their PCs. This not only gives TiVo users an easier search and browse interface than their remote control offers, but it will also bring more users into the Yahoo! universe of offerings by introducing TiVo users to Yahoo!'s TV listings. The company hopes this will serve as a gateway to its other properties, as the name of the game for search portals these days is to attract users. Features are the carrot. TiVo already has a similar deal with AOL, so this isn€t anything groundbreaking. But a second part of the deal got my attention because of its implications for local: The partnership will be expanded in the next few months to have TiVo boxes store photos and other content from Yahoo! and call up local traffic and weather information through the television interface.

Traffic and weather aren€t the most easily monetized content, but it is a good first step to get users accustomed to using their televisions to search for local information. Yahoo! knows this and wants to get into the game early. Monetizable directional advertising could follow -- a point that is explored more in depth in the recent TKG White Paper, "From Reach to Targeting: The Transformation of TV in the Internet Age.€ TiVo currently has a feature where some ads for upcoming shows include an icon in the corner of the screen that signals users to push a button if they€d like to schedule a recording of that show. It€s not too much of a stretch to imagine this feature in the context of product ads, where a button is pressed to research or purchase a product. Furthermore, the expanded channel choices of television€s next generation (IPTV) is expected to open up vast advertising inventory. This will have a long-tail effect, which will give local and SME advertisers affordable and targeted advertising opportunities on television -- much like search engine marketing has given them on the Web. IPTV isn€t here yet, but TiVo is. Yahoo will be the first to migrate local search across the living room to TiVo box, and Microsoft has a television division hard at work developing the software that will run IPTV systems and search interfaces. Others will follow. ]]>
Mike Boland <![CDATA[Making VoIP a Household Name]]> 2005-11-07T20:56:02-05:00 2005-11-07T20:56:02-05:00 2005-11-07T20:56:02-05:00 poll by Harris Interactive. Overall, 80 percent of respondents got the answer wrong. Enter the latest industry consortium with lots of money earmarked to spread the message.

VoIP companies (or those with their hands in the VoIP pot in some way), including Skype, Earthlink, Level 3 and Google, announced earlier today the formation of a marketing campaign to bring VoIP to the masses. A suggestion to this industry group: Try to convey the benefits and cost savings of VoIP € but don€t mention VoIP. Mainstream consumers are naturally averse to technology acronyms, as shown by the Harris poll, and other technologies such as RSS. Eighty-three percent of RSS users are unaware that they are using it, according to an August study by Nielsen/NetRatings. We can mostly thank MyYahoo!, which has gained a leading (32 percent) share of the RSS readership market without mentioning the term RSS. Look at VoIP provider Vonage (not involved in today's announcement), which has assembled the largest individual VoIP subscriber base in the U.S., with a multi-platform advertising blitz that, you guessed it, never mentions VoIP. Vonage€s tagline is €The Broadband Phone Company.€ Google, Yahoo! and MSN have integrated VoIP into their IM products without using the term. IM is a logical point of entry for the technology to gain traction before it is integrated into Web search, where it can then be monetized using click-to-call for ads in search results. With PPC, SEO and SEM for SMEs, the last thing directories need when selling mulit-platform advertising to small businesses is another acronym. ]]>