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Posts from the ‘digital media’ Category

Virtual Worlds as “Third Places” II

May 20, 2007


Last September I wrote about something which has intrigued me for quite a while — the notion of a virtual world as a “third place.”

Michael Arrington just wrote on MyMiniLife, which a great example of what I was thinking about then.

I am going to try reaching out to these guys and see what I can learn.

Will let you know what I find out.

Addendum: also check out this NYT article on the new Barbie-world.

In the Vortex — Emerging Video Ad Formats and Business Models

February 22, 2007


Dianne Mermigas of the Hollywood Reporter has a terrific article discussing the impact Google and metric driven web advertising will have on the still much larger TV advertising business. (Hat tip: Heavy founder Dave Carson).

Boiled down to its essence, the article makes a few elementary — but big — points.

Mermigas’s broad thesis is that “Internet-related practices and values are fast becoming common place, and altering old media’s business models and expectations. The rapid adoption of digital broadband media applications is bringing us to the tipping point. You don’t hear much, if anything, about advertising resisting the change, especially when the giant likes of Google and Yahoo! are tripping over each other to quantify and qualify every legal and ethical detail about the individual users they are delivering. ”

As traditional media practices and business models morph, expect changes to many tried and true media conventions.

First, the age old ritual of TV’s “up front” ad buy, in which media buyers and sellers converge on Madison Ave. to negotiate the following TV season’s ad buy en masse, is short for this world.  In its stead will be something along the lines of Google’s auction system, which attributes value not to a piece of content and its ratings but to the actual connection of relevant viewers to marketers.

Second, unlocking the value of this more direct and accountable connection will allow ad-based programming to replace the notion of paid access to content.

Finally, Mermigas predicts that advertisers and programmers alike ultimately will dissolve the dichotomy between the different platforms and evolve a set of formats across platforms.

“The nagging dichotomy between advertising form, function and price on traditional TV and on the Internet is in the process of rendering a new hybrid standard to extend across all media platforms. But this year, it is much more than an “either-or” ad spending proposition. It is about reinventing the effective and innovative ways advertisers and target customers interface in a global marketplace on fire with interactivity. Even if traditional media’s structural and psychological transformation don’t occur fast enough, advertisers now appear willing to break from convention to follow targeted consumers into customized, niche spaces. That’s the difference a year has made.”

“Shifting Media Sands”

January 18, 2007


This hulaballo over the transformation of the media business is becoming such a common refrain I suppose it is becoming trite.

But, even if the notion of the media business being transformed is trite, watching as the rubber meets the road, and trying to figure out where all this is heading and its real world implications, remains fascinating, and pretty damn important for anyone (like me) with a vested interest.

So, with no further apology, here is a link to a MediaPost article on the topic that I enjoyed.

Particularly interesting was the observation that while marketers are increasingly finding online campaigns to deliver better results than traditional campaigns, online players still generally capture only a fraction of the prices traditional media have captured. And, that part of the answer to narrowing this void is likely to be a more cost-effective market for media buys. Probably correct, but still lots of gold in them there hills, I think…

“Advertising is the [Internet’s] Killer App”

January 12, 2007



Well, maybe not, if this quote comes from a Fortune article written in 1994!

I just came across this quote, made by the ever prescient Avram Miller in the 1994 article, from a post Avram just put on his blog.  It is a fascinating read.

In addition to Avram’s crystall balling that advertising would be the web’s killer app, the article is a fascinating read that you might think came out of this year’s CES…

Did I Miss Anything at the Consumer Electronics Show?

January 12, 2007


This was the first year in a long time that I didn’t make the pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show this past week in Vegas.

I hate Las Vegas, particularly when the throngs are there for this show.

And, it now dawns on me that, with all the bloggers covering the show, I am not sure I really missed much…

Amongst all of the hullabaloo about the iPhone — I am sure I will buy one in a couple years — the thing that actually most intrigued me was Les Moonves’s announcement that CBS is creating a Star Wars world in Second Life.

As I have previously posted, I continue to believe that the looming intersection between virtual worlds and social networking is a fascinating, and potentially quite rewarding, opportunity.

Ad Sales’ Dirty Little Secret

December 15, 2006


I was chatting the other day with Mark Jung, former CEO of IGN, and former COO at Fox Interactive Media, who had a great line.

“The dirty little secret of ad sales is that it is really hard.”

This is something that I think lots of early stage ventures, as well as “consumer Internet” VCs, don’t give its full due.  Assuming that about 99% of the Internet ventures getting backed these days aspire to an advertising-based business model, it seems to me there are way, way more companies getting built than there are talented, experienced ad sales executives.  Even if all these companies succeeded in building an audience large enough to support a real advertising business, there just isn’t enough talent to go around.  And, because ad sales really is hard, companies who lack experienced senior ad sales execs are going to have a heck of a time building revenue.

Which leads me to believe that a trend we are already seeing will only increase — a growing gulf between the revenue haves and have nots in the consumer Internet.  Lots of sites are going to emerge over the next couple years that tap into great audience appeal and engagement.  But the vast majority of these won’t succeed in building substantial advertising businesses.

Which leads me also to conclude that this gulf will present great opportunity for the companies who DO have real ad sales teams and success — either by acquiring sites with large but unmonetized audiences, or by developing partnerships to sell otherwise unmonetized inventory.

Chris Pirillo Interviews Greg Spiridellis

October 22, 2006


Here is a really fun Chris Pirillo podcast with Greg Spiridellis on the history of JibJab, Goog-Tube, turning down a Hollywood movie deal and the promise of digital media.

Media 2.Uh-Oh!

October 18, 2006


I can’t tell you that I have a clue who this guy Andy Kessler is, but he has written a really good piece called “Media 2.Uh-oh.” I definitely recommend it.

Once again, hat-tip to my fellow Heavy board member Avram Miller, who on a near-daily basis is a veritable treasure trove of interesting tidbits.

YouTube sees “Heavy” Competition in October

October 17, 2006


So, yesterday I posted about the YouTube-MySpace competition heating up. Which it is.
But, apparently, I missed another YouTube rivalry from within my own portfolio!

According to the multinational media publisher VNU :

YouTube had to fend off strong competition in the video traffic space from during the week ending 8 October.

Website traffic analysis firm Hitwise reported that, the largest independent broadband network in the US, is the second largest entertainment video site on the web with a 17 per cent market share

This compares with YouTube’s 35 per cent market share for the same week in October. outranked MySpace, Google Video and Metacafe for video traffic based on visits.

I’ll try not to sandbag my own portfolio companies in the future! I’ve actually gotten ahold of the Hitwise data, and will post once I figure out how to…

Online Games/Virtual Worlds as “Third Place”

September 20, 2006


An idea that my partner Steve Arnold and I have been brewing for a while is the emerging opportunity for “virtual worlds.”

What the heck is a virtual world? Think MySpace meets World of Warcraft (or, in other words, a mix between a social network and a massively multiplayer online game, or MMOG).

The meteoric rise of social networks shows that a heck of a lot of people out there like to connect and commune online. And the MMOG phenomenon shows that there are some significant audiences out there who are willing to spend a ton of time immersed in online roleplaying games.

Where this seems to us to be pointing is the emergence of “virtual worlds” which on the one hand have the 3D representations of MMOGS,  but need not be “games” as typically conceived (ie, “men in tights” role playing/quest based games).  Rather they are online communities where people can interact in a much more graphically represented, real-world like environment than the static profiles of the current social networks.

A good example of this is Second Life.

“Tasty Research” has a good post on this, suggesting that MMOGs are, in effect, a “Third Place,” described as “somewhere besides home or work where people can socialize and feel comfortable.”