Pacific papers beware: YouTube is coming

November 7, 2008

GOOGLE is going to get bigger and more aggressive in the Pacific markets in the next 12 months. No surprises there, especially at Fairfax Media in Sydney where staff are watching the web firm’s new offices being built brick by metaphorical brick, writes Mark Hollands.

One of Google’s prized processions is YouTube. It should be. It cost them enough. $US1.65 billion in fact. And you’d be crazy if you did not think YouTube will be yet another media property in your market place, trying to cut your lunch, before 2009 is finished – recession or no recession.

But YouTube’s got some image problems with the big and medium-sized brands right now. Principally, who wants to have their product advertised alongside an illegal download of The OC or South Park? No, thank you. Not a good look if the client company takes the value of its own IP seriously.

It could be worse. A multi-million-dollar investment to bring a new car to market could pop up next to some street kid doing donuts in a hot car. Potential career suicide for a marketer. And let’s not get into the porn and kinky stuff.

All this is a hassle for YouTube right now.

But it’s an internet company – management don’t sit around all day trying to synchronise calendars to talk endlessly about the problem. They take action.

One of my favourite tech sites, TechRepublic, is going to get into how YouTube is responding to the challenge. Why should newspaper people care? Because YouTube will soon be a very real competitor. If you cannot conceive them being in your neighborhood, get your head out of the sand.

TechRepublic is about to webcast about what YouTube is doing to resolve the issue of illegal videos and better alignment of ads to appropriate videos. This should be great competitive information for you.

Here’s how TechRepublic spins it:

Two years ago, illegal use of professionally created video was rampant on the web, particularly on video sharing sites such as YouTube. Among those most visibly undercut were NBC Universal and Viacom, which filed a $1 billion suit against YouTube parent Google to stop illicit publishing of their content.

Now, a year after YouTube introduced its Video Identification tool to stem misuse, you can hear from and talk directly with Rick Cotton, the general counsel for NBC, on how automated systems for identifying and protecting professionally produced content are working, particularly at YouTube.

Click here to register for the live webcast next week.

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Google not beyond hiring freeze

November 5, 2008

AN interesting post has popped up on the CNBC website – the guys who produce the best financial shows on the planet (IMHO), writes Mark Hollands. Its reporter and anchor, David Faber, says that the icon of the modern media age, Google, has implemented a hiring freeze. Perhaps it’s not quite the doom and gloom message of other media but it illustrates that no firm is immune from the challenges of the media industry and the economy.

Even hiring at “secretarial level” had been stopped, according to unnamed executives to whom Faber spoke.

A company spokesman at Google dismissed suggestions there was any formal policy to stop hiring. In the US, Google has been one of the most aggressive hirers in the past five years with a workforce of that now stands at more than 20,000. Sounding like any other Mahogany Row under cost pressure, management said vacancies could be filled only with internal candidates, according to Faber.

Google’s YouTube is not going so flash, apparently. In many media reports, advertisers have expressed concerns about the sorts of videos their advertisements will be displayed alongside. Clearly, agencies and their clients are concerned about the potential impact on their brands should they advertise alongside pornography, violence and all manner of other activities captured on YouTube. So, for the moment at least, YouTube has some more selling to do.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt hinted at a slowdown in hiring during his Q3 fiscal report to the market. Google won’t be heading for the poor house any time soon. This morning, its stock finished north by more than $20 or 5.9 percent to stand at a shade under $US367. And the new building which will house the company in Sydney – just a stone-throw across a small park from Fairfax Media in Darling Harbour – is pretty much finished, too, with only an internal fit-out to be done. It is said by the construction company to be Sydney’s first “six-star” office building (whatever that means). For the full NBC story, go to http://www.cnbc.com/id/27539152

Deja video: different media, same storytelling

October 31, 2008

Some golden nuggets about online video that would be of value to any editor or journalist involved with their newspaper’s website came out of a Telstra Business event in Sydney last night, writes Brett Taylor.

Social networkers, broadcasters and businesses told how they are using online video in innovative ways at the Net Generation: The Future is Video event.

There were lessons for news publishers about how to best utilise this medium – with a strong focus on ‘audience first’ – amid the talk of monetising UBs and the usual technical hiccups with video (how ironic!).

SBS has leveraged its TV content to grow online video views by 223 percent, up to 500,000 views per week, the Australian broadcaster’s director commercial affairs, Richard Finlayson, revealed.

His advice was:

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New Business Models for News Summit

October 24, 2008

This week in New York is the New Business Models for News Summit. It’s highly relevant to this group, and fortunately there is a lot of coverage available online.

Here’s the live video stream.

And here’s the Twitter feed.

It’s the second Networked Journalism Summit organised by Jeff Jarvis and David Cohn. Their stated aim is:

“finding, sharing, and creating new business for news is an urgent need in journalism – perhaps our most urgent need. We have called this summit to begin doing just that, bringing a diverse group of editorial and business executives, entrepreneurs, and academics to the school.”

Seeing the silver light

October 20, 2008

Of the myriad of technologies designed to improve web publishing, the ongoing improvements of Microsoft’s Silverlight software have caught the eye recently, writes Mark Hollands.

Our newspaper printers first stumbled on the tech a few months ago, fascinated by its capabilities for storage and retrieval of photographs. A Fairfax print executive found a video on YouTube and it instigated so much excitement that Microsoft evangelist Shane Morris presented on it at PANPA08. The original video is embedded below. It’s impressive.

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Online advertising at its smashing best

October 20, 2008

If you have a moment, have a look at this piece on the Sales and Marketing Blog about an ad for a new Nintendo Wii game, or go straight to the ad by clicking here.

This is a great example of the endless possibilities of the web as a medium to do something unique and outside the square, while working with the selling point of the product.

Submitting to the link economy

October 20, 2008

I’ve never understood why this idea has taken so long to cut through. It’s the web, right? Everything is only a click away, and keeping users on site is critical. So why wouldn’t online publishers link to the best of the web as a service to their users?

Because they assume that sending users away to read content on other sites is a bad thing.

But as Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 puts it, “linking drives content distribution and allocates attention and advertising wealth”. The New York Times is even making the leap:

“Embracing the hyperlink ethos of the Web to a degree not seen before, news organizations are becoming more comfortable linking to competitors — acting in effect like aggregators.”

This has been an on-again off-again argument at most Australian online news sites. But the logic in favour of it is compelling so we need to get over the fear of losing readers and instead focus on delivering the best user experience.

The economics of archives

October 17, 2008

Newspaper archives online are a useful source of long tail revenue … right? Well, maybe, once you’ve paid for the digitisation of older content. But does it ever wash its face? Not according to this article which claims the idea of charging for archives only encourages people to go elsewhere.

So along comes Google with a ‘friendly’ offer to digitise the world’s newspaper archives for any newspaper publisher willing to permit the stories to be shown for free on Google’s website.

And the catch is … ?

“The participating publishers will receive an unspecified portion of the revenue generated from the ads displayed next to the stories.”

A complete copy of the archives will revert to the publisher after two years, but Google keeps the rights to index the content on their search engine.

Make sense?

It does if you’re Google. And it’s also fairly compelling if you have a decaying library of original copies going back a 150 years or so. But is giving away the heritage of our newspapers to Google really what’s best for the industry?

Newspaper-produced video: quality vs. quantity?

October 16, 2008

The redoubtable Rob Curley formerly of the Lawrence World Journal, Washingtonpost.com and now of the Las Vegas Sun has a typically informative post about the balance between quality and quantity in newspaper produced web video.

It’s not strictly a digital business topic, but relevant nevertheless to the economics of online news publishing …

At the Sun, Curley says:

“We’ve hired skilled video shooters and editors with professional backgrounds. Our videos look great — as good, if not better than a lot of local television stations around the country, and probably better than almost any other newspaper out there … with the exception of The Washington Post and NY Times, who have basically gone with a pretty-dang polished documentary look.

One likely big difference between shooters at The Post and The Times is that all of our videographers here at Greenspun Interactive are basically expected to produce a piece a day. Everyday.”

Volume is critical, and the cost of doing original video is high. Is it paying off?

Online advertising holding steady

October 16, 2008

Amid the market turmoil online advertising is still predicted to grow, albeit at a reduced rate in 2009. To some it appears “online advertising has actually been benefiting from the economic uncertainty, as advertisers look at the Web as more measurable and effective”.

The message is, hold the line and continue to develop digital products and when the storm blows over online will have a larger share of the market. We need to make sure we are positioning our businesses for that eventuality.