Friday, January 19, 2007

Digital Breakfast NYC 2007

I am planning to launch a breakfast series this year called, for now, Digital Breakfast. The idea is to pull together people from the worlds of media, advertising, technology and finance who have a personal and professional interest in the future of media.

I am putting this together under the auspices of my new media marketing/pr firm, Gotham Media Ventures, and each month we plan to host an invite with a keynote or panel. The event is modeled after the First Amendment Breakfasts that I produced for many years for the Columbia School of Journalism.

There will be no charge for the events, but they will be by invitation. We plan to pull together a diverse group and generate some great conversation and presentations. I am in the process of pulling together a group of advisors and sponsors, and am soliciting the participation of anyone who wants in. I'm looking forward to this!

Fox Business
It looks like the Fox News business channel may finally become a reality. The holdup since the idea was first floated in 2004 was acquiring adequate distribution. That has now happened in the critical NYC market and Time Warner will be carrying the channel on its system, beginning probably beginning mid-year.

Crain's NY reports that it's part of a four point deal. Included are re-transmission of Fox owned and operated stations, carriage of the new business channel, carriage of Fox Reality Channel, and an extension of the Fox News contract. It's a great deal for Fox, apprently. They will receive 75 cents per subscriber, up from a current 25 cent per subscriber level. The new business channel will be priced at 15 cents.

The online finance space is getting extremely hot. News literally just came to me that Yahoo! will be offering a personal finance vertical on its site. That from Media Post. This seems like a vertical with lots of room for expansion.

Social Media News Releases
There's a lot of controversy in PR about what are being termed social media news releases. These seem essentially to be electronic press releases with lots of links, graphics, widgets, etc. I may be missing something, but I don't see what the big deal is. It seems like a useful tool, but hardly revolutionary.

In a related developed PRNewswire and Technorati announced an alliance of sorts this week. They have entered into an agreement whereby you will be able to connect directly from an electronic press release to the blogosphere to see what people are saying about the press release. It is a marriage of sorts between traditional pr and new media. Will it be a happy marriage? I guess it depends on what people are saying about you press release in blogland.

It seems a bit dangerous to me in that the company or firm issuing the release essentially loses control over the message. Granted, people can always look it up for themselves, but it's an extra step or two that you have to be willing (and know how) to take.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MobileTV: Darling or Deadbeat?

The media (me included) can't seem to figure out whether mobile tv is the next best thing since sliced bread or a disaster (betamax, anyone?) in the making. My opinion (not that you asked, but it's my pulpit) is that it will gain widespread acceptance once everyone figures out how and when to use it.

Here's where the chips fall today. The WSJ runs an extended take under the header "Banner Year: Companies Vie for Ad Dollars on Mobile Web." The article profiles the tremendous, initial success of AdMob. Third Screen also grabs its share of print.

Pamela Anderson : Virgin mobile commercial - kewego
Pamela Anderson : Virgin mobile commercial - kewego

Pamela Anderson : Virgin mobile commercial - kewego
What does Pamela Anderson always have by her side? Her new Lobster 700TV ! Discover the phone now...

The numbers are interesting, though I'm not sure what they mean at this point. In 2006, mobile ad spending reached an estimated $871 worldwide, most of it on text messages, according to the research firm (quoted by WSJ) Informa Telecoms and Media. Meanwhile Internet spending was around $24 billion, according to ZenithOptimedia.

Meanwhile, reports (quoting The Guardian) that Virgin Mobile TV has failed to gain traction in the UK, despite the considerable charms (?) of Pamela Anderson in its $4.9 million ad campaign. The paper reports that considerably fewer than 10,000 subscribers have tuned in thus far. The culprits? Delivery mechanisms, price points, limited service... take your pick. But stay tuned.

Fiction on Demand
The Washington Post reports that it will be publishing fiction for the first time on its website. The paper is serializing a novel written by biz section reporter David Hilzenrath. New serials will be available every Monday and Thursday. In a deal with Lulu, Inc. the book can also be printed on demand. The $18.95 revenue will be split among Lulu, Hilzenrath and the Post. The article comments that providing these ancillary services is another way for newspapers to lure readers in through non-traditional paths.

In related news Mediapost reports that newspaper blogs are catching on....

Now, however, there's some objective support showing that online newspaper readers have taken to the publications' blogs. Data released this morning by media measurement company Nielsen//NetRatings shows that blog pages within the top 10 online newspapers drew around 3.8 million unique visitors last month--more than triple December 2005's 1.2 million.

By contrast, total online readership at the top 10 newspapers during that time has only grown by 9%, from 27.3 million in December 2005 to 29.9 million last month.

These numbers also mean that the proportion of online newspaper readers that also visit the paper's blog has grown from around 4% at the end of 2005 to around 12% last month.

Nielsen//NetRatings also reported that newspapers' blog readers tend to skew male--even more so than online newspapers in general. Men accounted for 66% of visitors to blogs, and 60% of visitors to online newspapers last month.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mobile: Where are We Now?

Today's WSJ reports on social networking by cellphone. It reports on more companies rolling out GPS services that can locate anyone with the service. It profiles Loopt, a service available by wireless operator Boost Mobile which is owned by Sprint Nextel. I could see where it makes some sense, but, uh, can't you just call your friends and ask them where they are?

I wonder if the privacy concerns outweigh the utility. Sure you can make all the promises you want that the info is not retained. I would also be concerned about stalkers using the service. Also, to be somewhat serviceable a greater number of online providers are going to have to offer the service.

In any event, the numbers are interesting. According to Gartner, 63% of mobiles sold in North America in 2007 will have some GPS utility. That's up from 55% last year.

Speaking of mobile, Steve Smith has an interesting column today in Media Post's Mobile Insider, entitled "User Generated Crap." That should give you a pretty good idea of what it's about. His main point is that the tech now far ahead of the content available. The long and short of it is that content that looks OK or at least passable on the the web is often totally unviewable on the really small screen. Also, where you may tolerate a lot of crap on the web where you have a fast connection and pretty good visibility, we're a lot less forgiving on our mobile devices. He draws an analogy to what content providers went through when they started may making material available on the web.

Newsweeklies Cheat Death
At least they're trying, according to this week's Crain's New York Business. The article discusses how Time has been shifting gears with more commentary and features to become less dependent on breaking news. This in an effort to shake up a stagnant (at best) ad market. Newsweek is, however, staying the course and sees an opportunity to break out of Time's shadow. Crain's points out that Newsweek got a much earlier start on the web and that its owner Washington Post Co. is largely controlled by the Graham family, thus easing the pressures exerted on Time by Wall Street.

Non-Traditional Advertising
Yesterday's Times lamented the loss of ad free space. I'm not sure what the big deal is. Granted, I don't need to see Al Roker in the back seat of a cab, but 1) I don't have to look; 2) I can turn down the volume; 3) It's better than looking at whatever is usually on a seatback in a cab. I am not talking about plastering scenic vistas with billboards, but about the creative employment of advertising. It's sometimes a better use of time and space than what's typically sold as entertainment.

Ad Pages
An interesting development . The New York Times Sunday Magazine has for the first time ever beat out all other pubs in ad pages. In 2006, it boasted 3,965 ad pages, a 5% increase over the previous year.