Teaching old dogs new tricks

Friday, 7 November 2008

We’ve talked about it before, a few times.

You can’t simply recreate the studio model for the Internet, check out all these internet video studios laying off people (60frames, Revision3, SpotRunner, Break, ManiaTV, and Heavy)

I heard some bloke on the LA subway talking yesterday saying, “Yeah the film was funded my Mirimax, but it was badly managed, they never gave enough time to create the hype so it didn’t do well”.

Exactly.  Your mothers TV and Movies were all about creating the “hype”.  It was about using marketing dominance to drive audience numbers.

It doesn’t work that way on the internet.  You can’t spend enough, consistently, over and over again.  There are too many choices, and no one looks at display ads anyway.

If you want to build an audience, quality matters.  You need to spend money on TALENT.  You need to build an audience, one fan at a time.  There’s no formula anymore.

So why continue to use the studio model and continue to take away creative freedom?  The internet and cheap production tools give an individual ultimate creative freedom.  They can drive their own destiny.  They don’t need the studios anymore.

Revolutionary new organisations built around new production tools and new types of content like Machinima.com are receiving funding in a financial market that is collapsing.

Let’s trust talent to be competent enough to create something compelling, to create their own stories.  We need to give them the tools to produce content, host content and build an audience.  And we need to give viewers an efficient way to discover and find this new content.

Let’s build a video infrastructure that actually provides benefit to the people that matter.  Storytellers and their fans.


Scott Kirsner hits it on the head

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Spot On

TV online, is not about repackagaing what we have already done with broadcast TV.

Online is a completely different environment.

The options for creativity are different.

The options for distribution and interaction are different.

The economics are completely different.

It’s cheaper and free to distribute.  Anyone can join the party.  There’s no hollywood hierarchy to work your way up.  With an audience, you can become the hottest producer, cinematographer, director or actor without spending years sucking up to the people with the money for production and marketing.

As Scott says, it is a really exciting time creatively.  But also cutulrally and socially.  You don’t need to deliver big hits to a have a viable long term career.  As Kevin Kelley would say, all you need is 1000 true fans.

New Marketing Architectures

Monday, 29 September 2008

Cory Doctorow presents a good discussion on storytelling (in Cinema and TV) and why it is formed and shaped the way it is (30 minute programs / 8 mins of ads).

I don’t know the detailed of history of how we struck up or evolved to this formula, but it is clear that the technology and economic models would have influenced this form.

With the Internet, do the options of storytelling change? Does the architecture change (check out Henry Jenkins‘ research of the architecture of storytelling)?

Of course storytelling changes. Cory points out 10 secs – 10 mins on YouTube clearly works, and no doubt the options for interactive formats and the direct and immediate influence of a community of viewers (or participants) can completey blow up the number of options available.

But, does the economic and technology architecture of advertising (and all marketing in fact) need to change in line with the storytelling? Ad formats, 8 mins of 30 second spots every 30 mins is the norm. Display ads on the internet are the norm. Does a non-inert platform like the internet blow up the number of options for advertising. Of course it does. Do the economics change when you have 100,000 people deeply interacting with your show vs 1,000,000 just watching? Of course it does.

So why on every video site out there, are we sticking with a fusion of the same 30 second spots and internet display advertising? Even shorter versions of spot ads running at 5 or 15 seconds are basically the same thing.

Although current broadcast formats show good CPMs, with sites like Hulu only showing 2 mins of ads every 30, the mistake producers and publishers are making is relying on previous marketing architectures. The model of distribution and thus the economics of internet video are not the same as broadcast TV. Relying on previous TV or Internet ad formats for new show formats is risky.

As the supply of video continues to explode (just adding YouTube increases Worldwide Video programming output by 1.4x)

Video Programming Output

Video Programming Output

we need to address the architecture of marketing to ensure we effectively and efficiently generate revenue from each viewer and participant.

SoundUnwound builds something…

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Amazon/IMDB just launched SoundUnwound and are opening up a deep set of music information to the public, and it is editable by the public.

It sounds good, and they are “mushing” together their own music info with MusicBrainz.  Some users at MusicBrainz are asking some pertinent questions about how contributions to the SU community will be reflected in the MB data.  MB data is maintained by the public and all factual data is dedicated to the Public Domain.  There’s no requirement on SU to push the data back, but will they?

Also boingboing and paidcontent reports the public can edit wiki-style, but this isn’t quite true.  Every edit a user makes goes through an approval process before being published.  This indicates to me an immediate untrust for community contribution.  In addition, if you make changes, and they are approved, the content copyright is owned by SU, not by the community.  Along with SU’s call to action on the home page and FAQs,

“See something wrong or missing? You can fix it! SoundUnwound pages are open for anyone to edit.”

“Go try some editing. It’s strangely addictive.”

this doesn’t seem like a very appealing social contract to me.  i.e.,

“Please, make changes, and if you do, we have the rights to profit from them”.

It is great that they have opened up a huge amount of information, but building a community around music this is not.  It simply feels like a front for sales on Amazon.

NB. I also had a look at their T&C’s which include a hyper linking guide that you must comply with, including the correct way of referencing the SU service.  Sorry, the correct way to reference the site just then should have been “Find out more about the Terms and Conditions of the service at SoundUnwound“.

Very strange, they seem a little over controlling with regards to their perception/branding.

Upfront commitment provides zero risk

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Cameron Death, talking of brand advertising [product placement and pre-roll] says “We won’t greenlight until we have brands lined up who want to be in the show”.

Looking at comments on NBC’s Gemini Division, regardless if you think the “brand integration was seamless” and “not ham handed and inoffensive“, this economic approach does not scale and create a sustainable market.

Removing upfront risk does a number of things;

1) Stifles creativity.  The ad deal process is labourious, and doesn’t scale efficiently.  If traditional TV or even banner advertising on the web worked this way, we would see a fraction of the shows (sites) we see today.

2) Puts the control firmly in the hands of the advertisers.  The studios are simply passing the investment risk onto the advertisers.  If the show doesn’t do well, how are the producers going to replace the brand advertisers?  They can’t, and after feeling burned, the advertisers will be even harder to sell to next time.

3) Limits revenue innovation.  Product placement and pre-roll advertising is exactly the same as traditional TV.  Seriously, we are 10+ years after the first online TV show, and this is the best they can do with the most interactive platform in existence to date, the Internet.

I don’t have the answers, but replicating TV on the web is not viable in the long term.  With an abundance of choice (prosumer content, indies, micro-studios, bittorrent), TV producers will have trouble driving demand for shows.  Just look at what is happening with music.

If the TV industry doesn’t start being serious about revenue innovation, the internet wont be anything more than a very risky disribution pipe.


Update: A fantastic summary of the nuisance costs imposed on viewers through the advertising.  Also a great comment on the summary, “the whole series nonetheless feels like a giant marketing campaign for Intel.”

Revolution for online TV?  i don’t think so.

Topspin on the ball

Monday, 1 September 2008

What Topspin are doing sounds like the best idea I’ve seen in months.

Remember before I spoke about record labels not suffering from a shortage of talent.  Record labels suffer from a shortage of demandTopspin is all about providing a platform to enable artists to create demand.

Thinking about it some more, this is the only real idea I have seen in the media business all year.  Seriously.

Closed Viewing

Friday, 1 August 2008

Here’s the basic problem.  On the Internet exist Video Platforms.  Each one is primarily and end to end system, and there are many; provided by every studio of every size, every broadcaster, most social networks and a good measure of aggregators (acting like traditional pay tv operators without owning the distribution pipes).

Each Video Platform has a connection with each Viewer.  The Viewers experience video, and in doing so signal their desires and preferences (favourites, bookmarks, viewing behaviour), the intentions and needs (search and browsing), their feedback and opinion (comments, chat, reviews, ratings, blogs, interactivity), their desire to contribute to the original video (sharing, remixing, editing, adding subtitles); all of these things forming a profile of their viewing and thinking.

Viewer experiences are tied together in the end to end systems.  The video player that provides the viewing experience is tied to the video content that is made available.  On the surface this forms an ‘experience silo’, but it is much worse.

Each entire Video Platform is a silo.  Each one sits in isolation of one another.  They hoard and keep secret the data and information..  the data on the content, the profiles of the viewers, the interaction with the community.  Traditional TV platforms are exactly the same, and what you see on the Internet is no different.  This is Closed Viewing.

So what does this mean?

For the Viewer, this limits the value of the interaction and experience with each individual Video Platform to that platform only.  Watching ABC brings no value to my experience on Joost.  Watching BBC iPlayer brings zero value to my experience on YouTube.  Aggregators such as Joost go some way to ensuring choice by adding content all the time and not being a silo to a single source of [studio] content, but as the amount of video available on the internet increases (it costs next to $0 to add another video), the aggregator can’t possibly keep up, i.e., they can’t do enough content deals.

For Content Producers, the value of distributing through a single platform is limited.  The complexity of distributing to many platforms is high.  Understanding who is watching what, when, where and how is costly to achieve.  Working with a multitude of business models, with each platform being different is time consuming.

For Advertisers, the cost of managing multiple campaigns across many VIdeo Platforms grows with each new platform that is delivered to.  Each Video Platform has it’s own requirements and capabilities.  It’s own templates.  It’s own specifications.  It’s own measurements tools.

For all involved, these problems scale as the amount of content increases.

There must be solutions.

Solutions like Miro, are a good start, but really solutions to close viewing need to be more comprehensive, bringing more value for everyone, not just the Viewer…

Solutions that are open across the ecosystem.  That have the potential for becoming standards.  That help create a bigger pie for everyone involved.

(originally posted at openviewing)

Device-led programme formats

Friday, 1 August 2008

For a long time many have said Mobile==short form video and TV==long form.

Gerd picks up on the concept of how people viewing modes is bifurcating with the Internet clearly supporting both short and long form.
I’m inclined to agree on the concept that it is driven by the viewer’s situation.  Do different devices (based on screen size?) lend themselves to different length of programs?  Of course not.  It’s about;

a) location – where am I when I want to watch something – what devices are available to me?
b) display – what device suits my current desire for experience?

Looking beyond the last 50 years

Friday, 1 August 2008

Some thoughts on improving the online ad experience for Video.

It’s actually pretty simple.

Don’t copy TV, a 50 year old technology and medium.

The web is different.

Why is everyone trying to make the web feel like TV?


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Apologies for being quiet for a few months.  I have been busy relocating with my family to Southern California.

Expect me to be back shortly with some more commentary, analysis and ideas.