From TechCrunch, which takes a look at Nielsen NetRatings numbers over the past few months. Andreessen was right, the strike is launching digital video into the mainstream. Add that to the cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards (the Oscars might be next) and NBC giving money back to advertisers, the Writers’ strike will go down as the turning point for video online.
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Josh Quittner’s latest Techland column at Fortune picks up on Marc Andreessen’s theory that the writers’ strike “is killing an entire season of TV shows. And quite possibly the next season as well. Which will drive even more people to the net, especially kids” to get their video entertainment.
I agree (and Josh quotes me in the piece, too):
Edwards says that, while the near-term effect of the writers’ strike is hard to parse, he believes that in the coming months and years, Net TV will pay off — mainly because advertising dollars will increasingly flow there. “Premium online video has always sold well,” he says. “Big brand advertisers for years haven’t been able to find enough video inventory that they consider ‘quality.’ I do think stumbling TV ratings (both from the Tivo effect and from the writers’ strike) will drive more video ad dollars online — it literally has to. Ratings that drop fast mean networks are giving advertisers part of their money back, and digital will benefit.”
At the time of the interview, I thought that last line was a tad hyperbolic. Usually under-performing networks “make good” to advertisers with a bunch of free spots, rather than actually giving money back. And then I saw this, NBC plans to give money back. Tough times in TV.
The people behind the curtain at iTunes are out with their “Best of 2007″ lists. Two of my favorites (and FM partners) made the cut — Boing Boing TV in the “New This Year: Video” category, and Ask A Ninja in the “Classics: Video” category.
“See the list of TV networks featured on iTunes at right? NBC used to be right after National Geographic. Its absence leaves a very noticeable hole, and is a marked reminder of how Apple is not able to dominate digital video to the same extent that it has digital music.”
I was on a panel this morning with Mary Hodder of Dabble and Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media, discussing revenue models for online video and audio. Stat from Mary: Each day 300,000 new video files are uploaded to the web. Stat from Ask A Ninja’s Kent Nichols: In August 07, there were 9.7 billion searches and 9.1 billion video views. Wow, that’s something to think about. Someone asked me how much money we’re all talking about; I said we should start by taking that $5 billion (3% of $162 billion in US TV spend) that Nielsen just announced is wasted because no one is watching. After that, we should take a look at the other $157 billion. Hey, maybe Nielsen is being generous to the networks.
In Diggnation Episode #116, Kevin Rose tells viewers that he will be giving away HP Blackbird 002, one of the 518 gaming systems that is part of HP’s limited release. HP sent them 002 as part of their sponsorship of Diggnation, and they’ll give it away on October 5 to one lucky visitor to blackbird.wikia.com.
In the first 48 hours after Episode #116 was made available, among thousands of visitors to HP’s Blackbird wiki site more than 120 of them submitted articles on what they’d do with a tricked out gaming box like that.
Over dinner last weekend with Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz, he told me some readers of the site have emailed the Boing Boing editors because they couldn’t view or access the voice post player (those who use Flash blockers), and given that the Boing Boing editors are using the technology to integrate complementary audio elements into stories, those readers were feeling short changed. So Boing Boing has begun to publish text-based instructions at the bottom of voice post stories:
[Browser-compatibility note: The audio link in this post appears as embedded Flash, and is brought to you by HP's iPaq 510 Voice Messenger. If your web reader doesn't allow you to access Flash, here's a direct MP3 Link. Enjoy!]
What a win for HP, the sponsor of the voice post series! I don’t think I’ve ever before seen editors publish a guide to help their readers turn off ad-blockers, let alone a guide that mentions the sponsor by name.
Every brand marketer, these days, wants his or her brand to be “part of the conversation.” Last monthâ€™s launch of editorial voice posts on a handful of FM sites, and HP’s sponsorship of the series, reminded me to review data from WebEx’s sponsorship of several editorial audiocasts earlier in Q2.
Sponsored editorial webcasts raise the same questions as does HPâ€™s un-meddling sponsorship of the voice posts: When it’s your advertising money, why fund editorial projects over which you have no influence? When there are ample opportunities for advertorials about your own company and products, why pay to sponsor content that isn’t a direct plug for you?
The WebEx experience provides one answer. As part of a paid sponsorship arrangement with several FM sites (John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing, John Battelle’s Searchblog, and others), WebEx asked authors if they’d host one thread of their conversations-in-progress — their on-going, organic, editorial conversations — on a live, webinar platform. In other words, WebEx was not involved in the content, just the format. WebEx provided the technology platform and bought co-branded ads on each site inviting readers to join the events. In John Jantsch’s case, he picked as a topic “Feeding the Small Business Ecosystem” and blogged an invitation to his readers to join the live discussion. Battelle invited his readers to help him pick the topic (fifteen of his readers volunteered ideas here), then reminded them to tune in,
and finally thanked them (and WebEx!) for making the event a success.
Why would WebEx do this, pony up sponsorship dollars but give up control of the message? Well, they recognized that itâ€™s easier to join an organic conversation than to create a new one, especially if your expertise is in software, not conversation-starting. So they tracked down their customers (business professionals) and found them already engaged in a variety of conversations — at sites like Duct Tape Marketing and Searchblog — on topics of their own choosing. When WebEx paid to sponsor a new technology platform on which to host those same conversations, they found themselves, obviously, sponsoring web events that their customers wanted to join, so the ad units promoting the events delivered click-through rates on the high end of the spectrum.
The campaign succeeded in another way, too. Since the authors of these sites signed up to host the events, they had skin — or at least some ego — in the game. Above and beyond the promotional units WebEx bought to promote the events, the authors used editorial real-estate to encourage their readers to tune in. To be clear, the authors were not obligated to talk about the WebEx brand or services. And these editorial plugs didnâ€™t say anything nice about WebEx or their products (other than “thanks, WebEx” in cases where the authors opted to say so) — that, or course, would jeopardize their journalistic cred — but they did drive more business professionals to the events, where each one gave the WebEx platform a test drive.
In the case of the Duct Tape Marketing webcast, in fact, 93% of the traffic to the registration page got there by way of the editorial promotions versus the ad units.
Update 9/19: Here’s a screenshot of Searchblog with a co-branded ad from WebEx.