Archives for February 2009

Borrell "revisiting" his position on banners

Gordon Borrell was in Dallas this morning for a meeting with local advertising agencies sponsored by Pegasus News. He told me that new information provided to him by Yahoo and the targeted ad technology being used by the Newspaper Consortium is causing him to re-examine the data about the efficacy of banner advertising.

We also talked about the task of bringing local advertising agencies into the realities that the Web offers local businesses. This is a big opportunity that agencies have been ceding to pureplay agencies, similar to the way local media companies have responded to the disruption of the web.

In addition to being one of my favorite people, Gordon Borrell is out there on the cutting edge of what’s happening in local media. It’s a good idea to listen when he talks.

Losing newspapers is sad, but not "the end"

I, for one, am growing increasingly weary of what seems to be an endless stream of “woe is me” that is coming from the American institution known as “the press.” Despite decades of warnings that it had lost the faith of the people (the end of which should have been obvious to even the most self-deceived), there seems to be no end to the “save us at any cost” whining that is spewing from this elitist, modern institution. “The press,” of course, is the newspaper business; they long ago decided that broadcast journalists didn’t really belong to the club.

It reminds me of the last verse of the classic Luddite song/poem, General Ludd’s Triumph:

Let the wise and the great lend their aid and advice
Nor e’er their assistance withdraw
Till full fashioned work at the old fashioned price
Is established by Custom and Law
Then the Trade when this arduous contest is o’er
Shall raise in full splendour its head
And colting and cutting and squaring no more
Shall deprive honest workmen of bread.

We toss the term “Luddite” around these days as representing a person or group that resists technology, but this was a violent, destructive group in England that fought the industrial revolution with fire, axes and ultimately murder.

Even when the pieces are extremely thoughtful — such as Paul Starr’s New Republic piece, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)” — they drip and ooze with special kind of self-righteousness that is more soppy nostalgia than anything constructive.

Meanwhile, it takes a little entertainment website like to unveil the opulent doings of a bailed out bank in playing “host” to last week’s PGA tournament in Los Angeles, the independent online media service Crikey to uncover the facts about online censorship in Australia, and a group of bloggers in New Zealand to take action regarding an insane new copyright law.

As Lisa Williams, founder H2otown, said so beautifully, “Journalism will survive the death of its institutions.”

Unhappiness in an amazing age

I got this wonderful video from Kevin Kelly’s blog. It’s apparently being passed around this week. The exchange between Conan O’Brien and comedian Louis CK a great example of what’s known as the paradox of prosperity — that discontent increases with opportunities for acting on it. We humans are never satisfied. It may drive us forward, but we can look awfully stupid in the process. Enjoy.

If I'm an ABC affiliate, I'm feeling pretty good

ESPN dropped a bombshell on local media today with the announcement that it is launching a local sports portal in Chicago. If it’s successful (it will be), they’ll expand the idea to other markets. The real beauty of the arrangement is that it includes local partners, the ABC affiliate and the ESPN radio affiliate in the market. This is smart on so many levels, I can’t begin to state them.

So if I’m an ABC affiliate in another market, I’m thinking that this is a very good thing for me. Likewise, if I run the local ESPN radio franchise, I’m a happy camper. The signal that ESPN is willing to work with local ABC affiliates also bodes well for the local affiliate to tap ESPN content for Mobile Digital Television, which I believe is a potential windfall for local affiliates and any content providers.

Oh, and, MillerCoors is already on board as a sponsor.

I’ve got to say that if you really couldn’t see this coming, you haven’t been paying attention. Local media is giving up franchise after franchise in efforts to be all things to all people, the mass marketing way. Local niches are where it’s at, and I salute ESPN for its vision.

We Don't Need No Stage!

Here is the latest in the ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

We Don’t Need No Stage!

The decision last week by to pull its “partner’s” videos from Boxee and is an example of the conundrum that content companies are experiencing in a world where the value of their programs is not linked to any particular stage. The stage is what produces value in the mass marketing world, not the content itself, and that isn’t the case online. You can argue, for example, that Slumdog Millionaire is a valuable content property, but even its ability to create revenue is tied to the various stages that are now and will be delivering it to audiences. At best in the mass marketing world, the relationship between content and presentation is symbiotic, but make no mistake; the money comes from the presentation, and this is what’s backwards in the horizontally-connected world of the Web. Until we find a way to build a scalable economy based on attaching value directly to content, the Web will be a serious problem for the industries whose bottom lines are connected to various forms of presentation, because the two are separate functions online.

This is textbook unbundled media, and it’s the one thing that traditional content creators and media companies seem unable to grasp – much less exploit – in expanding their businesses to the Web.

I posted a comment to this effect last week on Fred Wilson’s blog. Fred’s company helps finance Boxee, so he has some pretty strong opinions about the matter. This essay continues the thought stream that originated with Fred.

Advertising Loses Its Balance

Here is the latest in the ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World. This report is about one of the key issues behind the disruption to advertising that is challenging all media companies today.

As audiences for media shift to the Web, the mass in mass marketing dissipates, and this is a real problem for businesses and industries trying to reach consumers with their messages. Madison Avenue’s response has been to pour its old wine into new wineskins, but it hasn’t worked. The advertising industry is more concerned about maintaining its place in the business hierarchy than adapting to the changing culture, and this is its Achilles’ Heel. Nothing is top-down online, and that is a problem for advertisers even moreso than it is for media companies, who are nourished by the money advertisers spend in their quest to grow (or sustain) their businesses.

The media challenge of tomorrow is the enabling of commerce in the communities we serve, not just the placement of advertising messages in a mass-market medium. New advertising is our new business, and we need to be paying attention to what’s happening in this world.

Advertising Loses Its Balance