Friday, March 2, 2007

What Frustrates Users About Web Video

Wave of the future though it might be, the online video revolution might experience blips on its way to content nirvana, as detailed in this eMarketer article.

Of course, commercials within videos is the #1 annoyance, since despite the well-established commercial nature of online, people still expect content for free, without commercial sponsorship (or interruption, depending on your POV). But check out what trails closely behind:

I find it very interesting that #2, #3 and #4 are all related to the ability to find decent stuff to watch, on a consistent and predictable basis. People are conditioned by their TV-watching training to be able to find exactly what they're looking for in the same fashion, all the time. Why wouldn't they want that in online video as well?

I think people will get used to the advertising aspect over time and its prominence on this list will diminish as online video matures as a platform. But the desire of users to consistently and reliably find good quality videos to watch creates a business opportunity for someone with good coding and marketing skills, I believe.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Google to offer more click fraud protection

As reported in CNET today.

This is pretty good news if you're used to paying $100+ per click for mortgage- and health-related keywords. This is also good for Google because it shifts the onus of responsibility from Google to the advertiser, since it requires the advertiser to identify which IP addresses they want to block. As a paid search advertiser of Google's, my response would be to call my account manager, give her a list of companies I want to block, and let her figure out what those IP addresses are.

Van Halen Was Right

Panama rocks!

Jump back, what's that sound?
Here she comes, full blast and top down.
Hot shoe, burnin' down the avenue.
Model citizen zero discipline
Don't you know she's coming home with me?
You'll lose her in the turn.
I'll get her!
Panama, panama
Panama, panama

OK, the lyrics have absolutely nothing to with the early successes that advertisers are experiencing with Yahoo's new Panama paid search system, but I never let that stand in the way of a good non-sequiter.

+5% increase in clicks overall for week of 2/11, +9% week of 2/18. Google and their investors were so nervous about Yahoo's success that their stock dropped all the way from $466.19 at cob February 5th (launch date) to $463.75 cob February 26 (day before the "crash"). That's a drop more than one-half of one percent. Scary, huh?

Banner Advertising 2.0

This is ultimately a CNN Money story about how display advertising is evolving into a algorithmically-oriented exercise in exactitude in general, but the most compelling part to me is the first part that discusses how agencies are using such algorithms to make creative adjustments to banners on the fly, meaning elements like colors and copy. The article doesn't talk about the format of the banners that can be changed in this manner -- I assume it's a rich Flash-based format -- but it sure is a lot different from the days of begging and negotiating for creative and IT resources to set aside a few hours here and there and make simple changes to your banners for testing purposes.

Many senior management types believe that online marketing success boils down to negotiating ever lower rates for the media purchased as the path to lower CPAs and higher revenue margins. But until you get to a certain spend level -- at least two commas of spend per month -- online media is generally a transparent marketplace where you know whether you negotiated a rate that's too low -- in such case, your ads simply won't run. Yahoo might write Class 2 IOs for 10¢ CPMs -- the inventory simply won't clear unless no other advertiser is purchasing the allotted salable inventory for higher rates.

One thing that leaped out at me in this story: Yahoo digests about 12 terabytes of data from user interaction every day. That adds up to almost 4.4 petabytes a year.

Did you even know what a petabyte was before today? Neither did I.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

XM = More AM and FM? Siriusly?

This Adweek article provides for terrestrial broadcasts -- those with antennas here on earth -- hope for the future as satellite radio gains more of a foothold in listening share: those who listen to satellite radio actually spend more time listening to AM/FM and Internet radio than non-satellite customers. In fact, the claim is that these people listen to more AM/FM (14 hours) than satellite (10 hours and 45 minutes), with Internet not far behind (8 hours and 15 minutes).

Huh? Really? I happen to have both Sirius and XM in the car (both units were free to me, and I don't mind paying the $25/month), and i gotta tell ya: I rarely switch the unit over to AM or FM. If I had to put a frequency on it, I'd say I listen to satellite radio 100% of my car rides, AM maybe 5% of car rides, and FM less than that. As a listener, I have no interest in terrestrial because it seems that every time I flip it to either band, there's a commercial on. Plus, the sound of music on Sirius is so good, and the connection so stable, that there's no quality advantage to FM at all. (My XM XT Roady unit sucks for music -- I only listen to comedy, baseball games and old-time radio on it.)

Honestly, I would like to meet one of those people with satellite radio who listen more to AM/FM instead. I won't to know what the thought process is there. Seriously -- I can't imagine.

VCs Are Like the Mob

At least in Silicon Valley. This blog post on the Business 2.0 site says it's not about getting funded in order to survive -- it's about connections and introductions, and protection from competition and the big bad established online companies.

The cost? Well, just wait until you hit the big time. Then you'll pay the cost.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another Category iKiller for Apple?

Even though this Business Week article attempts half-heartedly to focus on the delay in delivery of Apple's iTV device, the fact that the device is even coming is the real story. Revealed late last year and officially announce on January 9, the iTV was due to have arrived in by now (i.e., late February 2007). now Apple is claiming a delivery date of mid-March, although they've declined to provide an exact date.

The cachet that Apple has that allows them to whip up tremendous excitement in this type of personal technology cannot be underestimated, nor is it, I think. Indeed, the iTV is blithely referred to in the title of this article as a "TV Revolution." Apple already essentially owns personal music transport systems with their iPod; they're also waiting in the wings to take over multimedia telephonic devices with their June-arriving iPhone. No reason to doubt they can own this category, too

Remember when Apple was were just a computer company? Yeah, I barely do, myself.

YouTube vs. Big Content: Who Needs Whom?

Story in BizReport tells us that despite Viacom pulling hundreds of thousands of its copyrighted ivdeos off its site, traffic to YouTube has actually gone up since the first of the year, and in fact, the top-rated video site gets more traffic than all TV, cable and broadcast network web sites combined.

The lesson for Big Content is that people are probably not coming to YouTube and other video sites primarily for content produced by big studios. If it's there, great -- if not there's plenty of other things to watch. That seems to be the message video site users are sending to Big Content. Question is, are Big Content smart enough to hear the message?

You know, this YouTube thingy might work out after all.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Broadband's Commentary on Net Neutrality

Read with interest this commentary (free registration required) by Scott Cleland, who heads up an organization called, in which he characterizes the battle of net neutrality as being between the "online giants" like Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon, and IAC that want net neutrality regulation of broadband companies, and the broadband companies like Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and Comcast, who "obviously don't want to be regulated".

Cleland provides three "bottom-line" reasons why advertisers should oppose net neutrality -- quoted from the article:

  1. The companies that advertise very little want to regulate some of the advertising sector's best corporate clients.
  2. Net neutrality will only strengthen the online giants' ability to dis-intermediate advertisers from their corporate clients.
  3. Net neutrality would effectively outlaw broadband from evolving into a two-sided market paid for by both consumer subscriptions AND advertising revenues--the way newspapers, magazines and cable currently operate.
It's no accident that Cleland is himself self-interested -- is described as being funded by the broadband companies themselves.

Missing in this debate, as you might expect, is the potential of broadband companies using their stewardship of this public utility to grant unto itself exclusive content and platform rights, thus squeezing out content players small and large from having a platform on which offer their wares to the public. Without net neutrality, we might not see any more Youtubes sprouting up in the future, which of course would serve the major broadband companies just fine. But the overarching industry problem might also be the stifling of innovation as small players get locked out of the opportunity for distribution, while the pipe-cum-content owners rest on their laurels and maximize profits to increase bonuses for executives rather than plowing them into new content and technological innovations that would improve the Internet experience for users.