Friday, 8 March 2013

Facebook pushes News through news feeds re-launch today. Newspapers take heart. This is your future too.

Facebook has gone through another re-design just as elaborate as the "timeline" changes in 2011.

It has overhauled its "news feed" interestingly, with Zuckerberg calling it "a personalised newspaper" not just with text but with imagery. It features blogger images, mobile consistency and multiple feeds.

This is a radical departure. The focus on news stories is more visual, images are much larger (taking 50% of the feed) and more centre positioned with an 'Instagram' feel. Of course, the key here is the ability to 'share' news.

More feeds, and more control of those feeds gives users more options, which you chose to 'follow'. Could be a news feed from family, from friends, about music and so on. Niche news that you want.

Being heavily mobile enabled too, is a good answer to criticisms of Facebook

The continuing journey for Facebook into online news is interesting and another competitor to traditional news orgs. But the fundamental issue around news, the fundamental issue around 'citizen journalism' is trust. You have to trust the source and are these Facebook feeds trustworthy? Not always.

News is pure gold as a content commodity. It draws people in and it retains them. The people in Pole position to provide trusted news are newspapers. And they'll get there with a little belief in themselves and with a mindset change that realises, their newspaper futures are online.

The biggest asset newspapers have, is not on a printing press, it's their websites. And it'll take time for Press men to get their heads around that, but get that, they will.

Do not despair oh ye of little faith.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Dove Real Beauty Campaign gets a controversial online download. Ad Agencies not happy.

Dove, the Unilever brand, is extending its "real beauty" campaign which launched in 2004 and came to prominence in 2007 at The Cannes Festival.

It's a campaign aimed in part, at the true illustration of women in advertising and in editorial - campaigning against "air brushing". It also seemed to align itself with a campaign against young women identifying with those images and consequently leading to eating disorders amongst teenage girls.

What they've done is to distribute a piece of software ('Photoshop Action') on Social Media sites. Whilst downloading the software pretends to offer better filter images (in an 'Instagram' kind of way) for the photograph, in fact, it reverts the photograph to its original - warts and all.

It is aimed at Art Directors and creatives in Ad Agencies who create advertising featuring beautifully retouched women. And it makes a point.

Needless to say, Ad Agencies aren't happy with the download because it doesn't do what it promised to do. They've hit back at Unilever claiming that the original Dove campaign itself, was photoshopped and they also point to other Unilever campaigns (such as for 'Axe' and 'Fair&Lovely' brands) which features.....beautifully retouched women. Or so they say. Basically, you can't have it both ways....

But the idea of using a download in this way, is clever. Or controversial.
It depends on whatever way you look.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Why you'll see good Video content coming off YouTube. Low Advertising cpm rates.

Now there is no greater fan of Google's YouTube (bought for over 1.6 billion usd in 2006) than yours truly.

It has, and is, a fantastic platform for Video and a great resource used by publishers and public alike. It has actually allowed and fostered freedom of expression and especially in countries where there's no other free media outlet. 

However YouTube is, and wants, to move into the TV arena and I've always said that YouTube will be the biggest global TV player when it gets structure.

However, that's the problem - structure.

In particular, what will make YouTube a broadcaster, is good content as it moves more and more into that broadcasting space. Attracting good content is now the issue as it tries to shift from what's called its "experimental" stage.

Content makers get paid by YouTube from Advertising and a lot are unhappy about the revenue they're generating.

Firstly, the problem is supply and demand. Simply as YouTube has more and more and more Video by the second (literally), the amount of Ad money to share around is less and less. Too much supply outpacing Advertiser demands. 

Secondly, and the bigger issue, is Ad rates.

YouTube's "cut" on ad rates is too high. At the moment it's circa 45% but that leaves content providers with a cpm (cost-per-thousand-views) of about 2 Dollars. Which in turn means that if your Video is watched 1 million times (very high), you generate 2,000 Dollars (very low). If you generate a thousand views (which is more likely and considered "good"), you make 2 Dollars.

Most of those quality video makers aren't happy with that revenue and with other Video sharing sites like Vimeo, are looking at those options especially when it's about quality content. 

The likelihood therefore, is that you'll see good content disappearing from YouTube unless they re-consider their rates. And that's a pity because, as I said, they're pioneers but Video makers have to eat too.

If it remains as a site offering cat and dog videos, it will never be the TV type broadcaster it aspires to be. And it will leave room for other video sharing sites to fill the void.

The Video market is maturing.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Apple Valuation dips below 400 Billion Dollars Shock!

Apple's market cap has dropped below 400 Billion usd, Shock
That's right....Billion.

Or at least, that's how it's being reported - as a shocker.

This week's decline in share value comes after a court judge has cut back, by 450 million usd, their award against Samsung for copyright infringement of 1 billion usd. 

Other uncertainty about profit margins on products (notably in China) and a lack of innovation, has reduced the market cap from 650 Billion in September (when the new Iphone 5 launch was impending).

It's still a staggering, unbelievable, valuation.

Google is worth a mere 270 Billion and Microsoft, only a tiny 230 Billion. So Apple is still way, way ahead.

And the ongoing coverage of CEO Tim Cook is generally pretty negative. It seems that if Apple sneezes, commentators get a cold, because their talk of Apple ("in decline", "losing confidence") seems to be deliberate for a company so strong.

And we know Apple is sitting on a pile of cash (which in turn, becomes a criticism that "Apple doesn't know what to do next with its cash").

It seems to me that few can ever get their head around Apple being without Steve Jobs. He seems to have been so pivotal, that his death has really damaged the company even still.

Always an issue for companies that are inexorably linked to people. When something happens to the person, it reflects entirely on the company. But he left it strong and so it is.

Talk of Apple's demise are unfounded. 
Worse than that, with a 400 Billion valuation.... they're silly.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Online TV and Movie Content. It's killing Television. It's killing Cinema. It could kill Advertising because it's ad-free.

Internet-only film businesses, have really declared war on Television. Netflix have invested 100 million usd in the remake of the British series, 'House of cards' with Kevin Spacey, as you'll probably know. 

A 26 episode series that's not on Television.

Rather too, than asking people to wait week-by-week for each episode, it was all released at the same time to subscribers. Viewers could then schedule it as required, as it suited them - something which kills the rigidness of TV schedules.

Indeed they produced 6 trailers. Each one targeting the particular demographic of the Netflix subscriber. So female subscribers got the weepy trailer, young males the fight scenes - another thing you can't do on traditional TV.

Online content is also not beholden to advertisers...rather, is driven by subscriptions and subscribers on fixed monthly rates.

Consequently programme viewership fluctuations, is not the issue anymore for online broadcasters - another gaping hole in the way TV works and is funded. Netflix, with nearly 30 million subscribers, just needs to keep attracting those subscribers to stay or join the service, nothing more. Whereas, TV stations have to keep reaching out to audiences, to get them to watch, to generate Ads, when we know, through second screen viewing, their audiences are shrinking. No, Collapsing.

Netflix has already commissioned another feature, a horror called 'Hemlock Grove' and because they're not advertising dependent, they need to simply feature on quality broadcasting

But online broadcasters will force change too. Voice control is the future too, for Netflix rather than "gesture control" being considered by other online broadcasters (like the Xbox function). So you simply "call out" your movie and up it comes and online will eventually create too many features that will just force TV stations to close because they simply haven't the technology to match.

Online broadcasting is affecting traditional movie-making too and not just TV.

Profits in the traditional movie business are down. Between 2004-2011, the big 5 studios profits were down -40%. Time Warner for example, in generating 12 billion usd in 2012 from film, generated 14 billion usd from TV/Online. And that balance is quickly shifting away from traditional movie-making towards content making that has subscribers attached such as cable/online.

Fees to cable/subscriber channels are estimated to be in the US, about 32 billion usd a year and growing +7% annually. And it's this steady income that content makers want to chase, rather than traditional TV dependent on advertising swings and thereby, focused on shows being popular (or not). Cinema revenue for film is equally volatile with "hits" and "misses". Content makers want broadcasters with steady income.

Film Theatre/Cinema attendance is not a growth business with too many distractions, such as Netflix, at home on multiple devices. 

DVD/Blue Ray sales are obviously down too, about -46% in the past 6 years. DVD Pirating in Russia and China has become an issue too nevermind general illegal downloads. Actor and Director salaries are being cut, as are the number of projects. 

It is the likes of Netflix that has been the lifeline for Hollywood, with big talent like Spacey/Hoffman/Jeff Daniels moving away from movies into online content. 

Equally too, Netflix and Amazon's Love film are competing for broadcast rights against traditional broadcasters and have the cash war chests, to win. It's estimated that Netflix spent 5 billion usd in 2012 acquiring content.

In terms of 'connected devices' such as smartphones, games consoles, laptops, ipads and so on, Americans own 2.6 of them in each household. So the "theatrical window" of holding back online movie release is now becoming defunct to allow movies access this online market. 'Arbitrage' with Richard Gere, was released everywhere at once and understood to have made 3 times the money because it had a massive global audience at once.

But movie makers don't like it (because they'll lose the cinema premium) and theatre owners don't like it either.

So digital programme/content provision is winning time and time again meaning traditional movie makers will switch (as will talent) into creating online content. It also means traditional TV stations are getting more and more stuffed.

They're being outbid for content; they're losing audiences; they're losing money (180m+ euro a year in Ireland for RTE) every year; their content is poor; and their model has a doubtful future. 

Even their anchor product - news - is being covered better and quicker (much quicker) by national newspapers online.

This game is over.