Advertising’s big engine slows

A global study by WPP Group’s GroupM unit and reported in today’s MediaDailyNews confirms something I’ve suspected for several months — that the boom in comparatively cheap internet advertising is slowing the growth of advertising overall.

…the rapid expansion of supply of online advertising opportunities is helping to satiate demand from marketers, keeping media price inflation in check for the overall advertising economy, especially in major markets such as the U.S. “At this late stage of the economic cycle one would normally expect media growth to have run well ahead of GDP as healthy profits finance excess demand for diminishing media reach,” the GroupM report says, noting, “One thing stopping this is the growth of the Internet in developed economies. Its audience is growing even faster than its incoming tide of advertiser money, so it is actually getting cheaper. At the same time it is attracting cash from the big but fragmenting and hence inherently inflationary media, whose valuable reach is in shortening supply.”
This, of course, leads one to ask what happens to media companies whose lifeblood is the GROWTH of advertising?

The time to act is NOW

If 2006 is/has been the unbundled awakening, 2007 is looking more and more like a desperation year for local broadcasters, a year when new media ventures begun this year need to begin producing fruit. We won’t have the Olympics, although they didn’t perform up to snuff this year, and we won’t have elections, so political ad money will vanish. Wherever I go and with whomever I speak, there is this growing sense that new media MUST be more aggressively pursued…or else.

While this shouldn’t come as a bulletin to anybody who has been following my writing, the urgency I now sense is intense and palpable. Two items of interest today add to my concern.

One, the folks at WeatherBug have launched their own video sharing community, where anybody can upload their own forecasts, reports or storm video. The key word here is “community,” and while the site sucks so far, that’s not the point. It’s another play for the local weather niche by an outside internet company. Weather is THE local franchise for broadcasters, and they ought to be viewing this — and the effort by the Weather Channel to provide local weather applications — as very serious competition.

Two, take a look at BuffaloAtHome.com, a local information portal built by VertaSource, LLC. This company has a deal with CBS/Viacom and has already launched “at home” sites in Chicago, Philly, Baltimore, Detroit, Rochester, and Erie and has plans to launch 30 more — including Denver tomorrow — by year’s end. These are not stamped with the CBS brand, although it’s pretty easy to see the partnership.

Bob Gerow, General Manager of VertaSource told me that it’s been quite a challenge to get the local CBS affiliates to sign off on providing content, because they assume they already have a portal. In the end, though, revenue drives the deals, and while he won’t give me his “secret sauce,” Gerow is quick to point out that their model isn’t banners and page views. Keyword exclusivity and business search optimization are two areas where they make money, and isn’t that just like pure internet players? So while the broadcasters are still out there trying to make a buck off of reach/frequency methodologies, this company is growing revenue the internet way. How terribly smart!

Related to local media, “CBS asked themselves this question,” he said. “Do we want to be one of 25 sites in a market or one of two or three portals?” Who will these other portals be? Googles, Yahoos, YouTubes, or other internet pure plays?

So once again, we have very smart people coming into town and creating applications that could and should be done by the local stations (media companies) themselves. This is serious business, folks, and not to move TODAY to develop new businesses on the web is playing with the lives of your employees. 2007 is just a few months away.

I must be beautiful

A report from the London School of Economics — and reported in today’s London Telegraph — finds that beautiful people are 36% more likely to produce daughters than sons. It also notes that the world’s females are becoming better-looking than men as a result (Oh THAT’s why, eh?).

So while the children of aggressive, scientific parents tend to be boys, who can outwit their competitors when it comes to finding a mate, the children of beautiful, empathic parents tend to be girls, who can take their pick from the gene pool and then hang on to their man.
And since I have three daughters and no sons, then I must be one of the beautiful ones, right? Here’s Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, the evolutionary psychologist who led the research:
“We have shown that beautiful parents have more daughters than ugly parents because physical attractiveness is heritable and because daughters benefit from this more than sons.”
This will no doubt infuriate the anti-stereotypers, but, hey, it’s science, man, and science never gets anything wrong.

Right.

Boxes and more boxes

Surrounded by boxes in my new apartmentMy furniture — or should I say boxes arrived first thing this morning. Not bad, since I was expecting Allied to deliver the stuff next week. I counted this morning, and I’ve moved my whole household 18 times since 1970. That’s what happens with the news business, but I was a little extreme.

This one was/is the most difficult, because I’m doing it alone. Everything I unpack has a little story attached to it, and I find myself drifting emotionally. On the up side, it’s been a chance to clean out a bunch of old “stuff” and organize what’s left. I need that to make this truly a fresh start.

I’m writing tons of stuff, although it’s not for publication. I promise I’ll get back to serious writing here as soon as I get settled.

The benefits of apartment living

To the neighbor whose WiFi I’m currently stealing, I’d gladly pay you, if I knew who you were. My DSL line won’t be in until next week, and, well, you’re probably at work anyway.

The Godlike anchorman

I watched the PBS worship of Walter Cronkite last night with nostalgia, fondness and a whole lot of gratitude that there will never be another like him. Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times agrees in a column that basically trashes the whole breed.

But the thing about Walter that was different was that he wasn’t pumped as the most trusted guy in America; he simply was. There was no relentless stream of promos touting him as the greatest (although some did appear later in his career). He earned that position, largely, I think, because TV News was still in its relative infancy. Audience manipulation “rules” hadn’t been written yet, and network anchors were news people first and “talent” further down the line.

In today’s world, the “anchor-as-God” is over and done with — commoditized along with everything else in the TV world. Those who didn’t have the good fortune to be alive during the Cronkite years missed a truly remarkable person in the history of communications. We needed Walter. We needed gatekeepers, because access to information was limited to the few. That’s all changed now, and I believe that’s a good thing.

Nevertheless, Walter Cronkite was a big part of my early life, and I’m happy to have been there for the sense of security in “and that’s the way it is.”