Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gone Fishin'

We'll see all of you in the New Year, bigger and better than ever! Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Alec Baldwin Busts a New Media Move

Today's New York Times reports an interesting marketing move by NBC, starring Alec Baldwin.

Tens of thousands of fans of the NBC show “30 Rock” (or their friends or colleagues) have had the unusual experience over the last week of picking up their phones to hear the voice of Alec Baldwin addressing them by name and wishing them a happy holiday.

The messages are recorded, but the recipients can hear Baldwin wish them a happy holiday while revealing personal information about things like hobbies, jobs, homes, and their personal appearance (e.g. "I am not above telling you that you have a nice behind.")

The Times likens the experience to a good ole game of Mad-Libs where those visiting the 30 Rock website are offered a variety of sound choices previously recorded by Baldwin (he recorded about 500 first names in a recording session).

The company behind this is Varitalk, and if the campaign sounds familiar, Samuel L. Jackson used it to promote this summer's film "Snakes on a Plane." Tyra Banks also recorded a similar campaign for the CW network. It also brings to mind the Ari Gold experience on HBO's Entourage web site.

Flipping Out

An interesting article in today's WSJ chronicles Conde Nast's efforts to get serious online. It focuses on the company's efforts to launch, a web site for teenage girls. The site will encourage girls to create "flip books," scrap books containing pictures, videos, music and more. Flip has apparently co-opted a group of girls to advise on what's cool, and the so-called "flip squad" has been meeting every other week with CondeNet executives.

The site is being seen by Conde as a complement to MySpace. Interestingly, Nielsen/NetRatings estimates that 5,719,000 girls, ages 12-17, visited MySpace in November. I think that roughly equates with visits to this blog. How to latch on successfully to this demo has had traditional media brands questioning everything. Earlier this year Teen People and ELLEgirl actually ceased offering printed versions of the publications.

Advertisers and sponsors are obviously being courted. There will be an "image bin" where advertiser logos will be available for inclusion in individual flip books. Of course, there's always a potential disaster on every page where brand images collide with user generated content. But it's a risk that brands appear willing to take on this site, which will be heavily monitored. Johnson & Johnson is interested in using the site because it will permit them to make use of user generated content under the umbrella of a tried and true media brand.

A Year End List Worth Checking.... The Bivings Report does a nice year ender of sites which you really should check out. Cool stuff.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yours, Mine and Ours

In case you missed the drumroll and all of the excitement, YOU have been named Time's Person of the Year. Well, not YOU as in you, but really all of us. Time's editors decided that it has been the year of people powered media, and that all of us should give ourselves a collective pat on the back. Well, well done. Congratulations. If you ask me, it's a cop out, too clever by half.

Digg Video

In a major reconfiguration, Digg will be reformatted to accommodate serious video sharing. Viewers will be able to watch videos from YouTube, Google and Metacafe without leaving the Digg site.

FCC to Morse Code: See Ya'

In a late breaking development the FCC has determined that competency in morse code will no longer be a require to obtain an amateur radio technicians license. Boys, the pressure is off.


As the year comes to an end, things have been getting a little hectic on the personal and professional fronts. The last entry for this year will be Thursday's. Then after a bit of R&R, we will come out swinging with original material, new info about companies, etc. Promise, New Year's resolution and all. Please pass the word about your media home away from home.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Future is a Japanese Schoolgirl

Basically, just a few quick jottings tonight.... Per the WSJ, the average high school girl in Japan sends about 200 SMS messages a day. The source for that is quoted as Hiromitsu Sakuma, group director of 141 World Wide, a divison of Ogilvy that helps firms brand themselves in Japan. meanwhile cites a Gartner study saying that worldwide SMS volume will double by 2008. The research shows that an estimated 936 billion SMS messages were sent worldwide in 2005. Gartner predicts this will reach 2.3 trillion by 2010. The highest growth will be in North America, where high school girls are now sending considerably fewer than 200 messages a day.

Newspapers Turn to Local Video

This month's issue of OMMA reports on the trend of local newspapers (very local, in some cases) adopting video strategies. This multi-platform initiative is often done on a shoestring and shows some great initiative. Florida's Naples Daily News is cited as slick, well produced and ahead of the curve.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Newspapers, The Next Frontier?

Mark Cuban has some thoughts about the future of the newspaper in this month's issue of Esquire, where he is identified as one of the Best and Brightest of 2006. He says, "So newspapers aren't dying; they're just undergoing an indentity crisis. They don't know who they want to be." He follows up, that the unique function of newspapers is to provide in-depth reporting and context. Breaking news can come from other places. Finally, he believes it's still a good business. "Newspapers aren't dying. Newspapers are making tons of money; they just aren't keeping their shareholders happy, they aren't meeting their expectations on Wall Street."

No Such Thing as Free Lunch Department

Skype announced today that they will begin charging a $30 annual fee for unlimited phone service. And a Merry Christmas to you too.

The Network Comes Calling
We're sure you've seen it, and read it, but in the words of The New York Times' Virginia Heffernan, Amanda Congdon, "a droll, blond Rosalind Russell for the digital generation — has at last landed at"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Next Big Thing

I continue to believe that mobile technologies will be the next big thing to hit the U.S. It might not even happen next year, but it will happen. The mobile wars continue in Asia, which is literally light years ahead of where we are in the US of A.

In a recent study the GSM, the global trade association for mobile operators, announced that multi-media messaging (MMS), the older, wiser brother to SMS has already become a popular service overseas and is poised to pop. Mobile email may have even greater potential, according to the poll.

“This comprehensive survey shows that there is considerable appetite for rich messaging services that broaden the range of communications options open to mobile phone users,” said Bill Gajda, Chief Marketing Officer of the GSMA. “After a slow start, MMS has gained a loyal following, while mobile email is clearly emerging as a must-have service for many people.”

Not surprising mobile email was the most popular usage in the U.S. In Europe and Asia, it was text messaging, followed by mobile email and MMS. The preference chart is interesting:

Text messaging (SMS)
Alerts via SMS/MMS
Instant messaging
Web browsing and searching
Location-based services
Mobile radio
Financial transactions
Downloading content
Mobile TV
Video calling
Video sharing

The Year Behind, The Year Ahead

It's getting to be that time of year when the Top 10 lists are compiled. Of course, my top trend of the year was the momentum picked up by multi-platform technology and content, but that comprises a great deal. Read/Write Web has compiled a great list of trends and developments, vintage 2006. Among other highlights, it notes 2006 as the Year of the Social Network. Also, the year that still is was the year that many tech applications were made consumer friendly (e.g. Skype, IM) or at least adopted in larger numbers by consumers. It has also been the year when VC money returned to the fore, though in amounts smaller than the Bubble years. Ironically, there are fewer startups needing, wanting or willing to take large cash infusions. It has also been a hot year for video on the web.

Interesting.... the site also points out that world Internet penetration is 16%, and that 3/4 of web traffic to the larger sites is international.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pop Up Mania

It is a story that has been floating around for a while, but today the New York Times reported that and several other publishing sites have been inflating their circ numbers (I'm shocked, shocked I tell you). The way it worked is that content (actual content, not ads) was popping up all over the place. The result was that the site's traffic more than tripled from about 2 million to 7.6 million according to the Times. That translates into some serious cash. Others busted in Pop Upgate include (the site belonging to Conde Nast Traveler), and says that the content was placed by third parties, without its knowledge.

NYT New Media Saga Continues

Speaking of the Times, John Cook of the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported that is linking to Facebook, Digg and Newsvine. Material on the Times' blogs and NYT Select will not be available for sharing. Thus, one wonders if the NYT is in the midst of making another online misstep, inviting the type of controversy that accompanied the introduction of the paper's select service.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Everything Old is New Again

There's been a lot written recently about how ads are being integrated into programming on television, films and even in books. A flurry of media accompanied Phillips' sole sponsorship of 60 Minutes earlier this fall. Recently, single sponsors have presented specials on CNN.

What's really interesting about this "break through" is that it's not new at all. In the Golden Age of Television (I'm not sure if it was either Golden or an Age, but that's a rant for another day) shows were routinely presented by a single sponsor. Camel Cigarettes used to present the news ala the Camel News Caravan. Not only did John Cameron Swayze smoke while delivering the day's news, there was a placard on his desk. Although I gather from this picture, Plymouth got in on the act for a while. Similarly, Texaco was the name sponsor of Milton Berle's show, a show whose ratings the networks can only dream about. The Texaco singers were an integral part of that show. How about soap operas? They were called soap operas because they were sponsored by soap powder companies. But the biggest kick goes back to the earliest days of radio. Broadcast radio was originally founded as a media to air ads. The music was just to fill the dead air in between the ads.... Go figure.

Bond, James Bond

Just saw Casino Royale, a great film and a return to the true Bond genre. The product placement was pretty seamless. OK, a few too many shots of a Sony Vaio laptop, but generally pretty good. There was one exception, a major clunker, the over the top plug for the Omega watch. As I recall, there's close up or two of the watch. But the key moment comes when the woman of James life admires his timepiece and asks, "Is it a Rolex?" The ever debonair Bond replies, "No, it's an Omega." Well, OK then.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

PR Goes Multi-Platform

'Tis the season. A deluge of meetings and Christmas parties will keep today's entry short and sweet. I'd like to announce that the site will begin discussing, reviewing, dissecting products and services in the field, so any announcements, releases, etc. will be welcome. Just post them....

The topic of the day is social media press releases. Edelman has announced the premiere of the social media new release. It's a great concept, incorporating all the new media bells and whistles (e.g. tagging, links), but it's hardly a paradigm shift. It's a nice innovation, but let's keep things in perspective.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Newspapers, Stop Crying

For several years there has been much wailing from within the ranks of the newspaper industry. No one reads them, Craigs List has taken their ads away, consolidation within the retail ranks has contracted the ad market, etc. Well, guess what, no one promised an eternal annuity and newspapers gotta learn to adapt.

It's called the market economy, and by the way, newspapers are still making money. True the long term outlook isn't great for print, but they're still making money. What newspapers have are valuable brands, and they've got to learn how to diversify into other forms of media. The ones that do will not only survive but will thrive. A recent Bivings report on the use of the Internet by newspapers shows that there's a long way to go.

Those who do adapt are likely to see a good year next year according to Stuart Elliott's column in yesterday's Times. He reports that the Newspapaper Association of America predicts a rate of growth of 1.2 percent next year. The 2007 forecast for online is a bouncing baby 22 percent. Newspapers, delay online initiatives at your own peril.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Must See Product Placement

NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a bizarre, yet compelling example of product placement taken to the nth degree. The show itself is a huge product placement for NBC -- it's about a thinly veiled Saturday Night Live late night show. Within this show within a show, there's even more product placement for, you guessed it, NBC. Last week, Howie Mandel was the "guest host" plugging real life Deal or No Deal. Last night, Studio 60 did a take off on Dateline. Then there are the musical guests. A couple of weeks back, Sting played himself offering samples of tunes from his new album. It must have worked at some level. I went out and bought it. This week's musical guest represented a great cause, featuring musicians benefitting from the Tipitina's Foundation. The Foundation aids New Orleans musicians. You can actually catch the entire episode, product placement included on the Studio 60 site. In a nice example of multi-platforming, the tunes from the show are available free of charge on itunes.

A Great Cause
The extremely talented Forbes Magazine editor and author Paul Klebnikov was gunned down in a Moscow street in 2004. It was yet another stirring reminder that no journalist is safe in Russia. Project Klebnikov, a group of investigative journalists and media organizations, was formed about a year ago to shed light on the murder, to continue the kind of top-notch and probing investigative work that Paul was doing and also to work on improving the environment for journalists in Moscow and elsewhere. Investigative reporter, the indomitable Richard Behar, is at the helm of the group and I am doing what I can to help. I went to graduate school at the London School of Economics with Paul back in the day. We are now planning to hold a conference in Moscow next year. We are actively seeking conference sponsors and anyone with an interest in the group.

Monday, December 4, 2006

MySpace is Your Space

There are magazines out there looking for brand extensions. The latest maybe a trend of magazines starting branded MySpace pages. The Bivings Report recently cited a Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) website release with a mention of 36 magazines with a presence on MySpace. Here's the list...
ATV Rider

Bust Magazine
D Magazine
Drum Magazine
Free skier
Guitar Player Magazine
Metal Edge
Metal Maniacs
Mini truckin’
New York Magazine
Shojo beat
Street Trucks
Transworld snow
Transworld surf

Some of the pages have been attracting enormous traffic. Bivings points out that Cosmopolitan has attracted 20,000 friends. Maxim has gained 46,000. Naked (more or less) models will do that for ya.

Internet Photo Magazine

Newly minted JPG Magazine has an interesting take on the connection between user generated content and print. The magazine is solicited photos on its website and putting them to a vote. The best ones, or the ones with the most votes anyway will appear in the magazine. Some interesting stuff.

The Future is Britain

Today the New York Times reports that we are seeing the future of Internet ads in Britain. The share of all Internet advertising there has shot up tremendously in the last couple of years. The paper reports that this year 10.5 percent of British advertising dollars will be directed to the Internet. The percentage in the U.S. will be 5.6 percent. The big loser in Britain is television where ad dollars are being pulled. Critics are saying that it can't happen here. TV is too ingrained in our culture. Oh, it's gonna happen. Internet advertising can be targeted more directly and is much cheaper than television. Television is more ingrained here and it will take longer, but, rest assured, it will happen.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Hey, Save Some Trees

Before getting started.... I will be adding new features to the blog as time passes. I have just added an rss feature as well as an email subscription. It's fun. It's convenient, and you won't miss a word.

OK. I have to say at the outset that I have long been a fan of magazines. I think they're great and I tend to buy more than I can usually read, and I sometimes even buy them at newsstand rates. But I think that magazines are in danger of becoming an endangered species unless they get over the fixation on paper. Fewer people are buying magazines and they're becoming a harder sell to advertisers. Time Magazine recently announced that it's cutting its rate base and circulation, and Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine has some very interesting things to say about the future of magazines.

Magazines have to start thinking of themselves as media brands. I believe that there will always be a place for paper, perhaps not in the same format that we find them now, but many of the brands out there have tremendous credibility and history. People will read the content -- in print or online -- or watch it or listen to it in other formats.

The recent evidence out there is that magazines are not making the most of the other distribution models out there. Even newspapers are doing it better if you look at the chart.

The Bivings Group (via BuzzMachine and reports that magazines have a long way to go, and possibly not too much time, to save themselves from irrelevancy and/or bankruptcy. It's a report worth having a look at. There's money on the table. It's just not in paper.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

In The Beginning....

November 30, 2006

Well, it's about time! It's about time for me to start a blog and about time to get something going on the subject of multi-platform media. This blog is about the phenomenon of content as it appears in many guises, both as traditional and new media. My sense is that in this rapidly evolving landscape of media as we know it we're not going to be looking at media in isolation as much as media as it all fits together. You won't be looking at a TV show as much as a brand. For example, if you want to see The Office you can get it on TV, on DVD, on iPod, online, etc. and it will be slightly different in each form.

Anyway, they'll be time enough to sort all of that out. I'll send out posts on interesting developments out there in multi-platform land and my take on them. I also hope to hear from all of you out there.

About me.... Well, I am an attorney and was for many years a television producer for ABC News Nightline before I started my own production company. Just this past year I founded a company, Gotham Media Ventures, a strategic communications/pr company focused on developing content and campaigns across, you guessed it, multiple media platforms. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this in the days ahead.

Mobile is a platform that is right now at the cutting edge. The cutting edge here, but already well advanced in both Europe and Asia. Consider these numbers.... Apple has sold 60 million iPods, but there are now over two billion cell phone users in the world. One billion cell phones will have been shipped in 2006 alone.

Today's news about Vodafone could well shape the future of advertising on mobile. Starting in the UK, Vodafone is partnering with Yahoo! to target customers. There isn't a lot of info yet, but the cellphone company will be using customer information provided by to target consumers. Not to worry, users will have to opt in to the program.

That's it for now. It's only the beginning....