Monthly Archives: September 2011

Does Home Work for Paramount?

Paramount just announced a restructuring, with a number of divisions coming together under one name to more readily respond to the growing forms of distribution for content under the name Worldwide Home Media Distribution.  There are a couple of key components that make it interesting; the formalization of bringing digital distribution under Home Entertainment (which probably should have been done a few years ago) and moving the command of their global or non-US business from London to Los Angeles.

While the digital distribution numbers have been slowly ticking upward, as larger pipeline broadband penetration increases and users become more comfortable with digital distribution (see Netflix), this segment is ripe for explosion. Any home entertainment company that does not smartly fold digital into their Home Entertainment divisions is doing a disservice to shareholders.

Only time will tell how the global shift in Paramount’s global operations will work out.  Home Media Magazine quotes Paramount Studio Chairman and CEO, Brad Grey:

“This new structure will allow us to more effectively take advantage of worldwide opportunities, adjust to the changing marketplace and propel us forward on a unified, global basis,” Grey said. “Our international operations can now be more closely aligned with our strategic operations at our Los Angeles headquarters.”

Hopefully, the international business does not just become obtuse as domestic initiatives and executions are effectively forced upon the markets without consideration of the international nuances.

If this was done for the right reasons and with the right considerations of what it really means, it could work out.  If short-sightedness and ego prevail, it could cause trouble.

Lastly, the interesting thing to me is that they are positioning themselves as forward-thinking with the global and inclusion of digital distribution.  if that is the case, couldn’t they have come up with a better fitting name than HOME Media?  As we move further into an anytime/anywhere marketplace, isn’t Home too limiting? I realize its not easy to come up with a name other than Home, but couldn’t they have been really forward-thinking and come up with a name that will not seem dated in six month?  I don’t believe Worldwide Anywhere But The Cinema Media works.  How about Worldwide Remote Media or Worldwide Connected Media – oh well, it’s a start…

The Mobile Race and The Legacy of The Hare

The OS race is running neck and neck with Android Smartphones nearing the 50% point.  Certainly, the iOS platform is sexier and more consistent for developers of apps, but the adoption of Android and iOS has highlighted what a huge mistake RIM made. Due to meetings and travel, this post is essentially just a repost of Steve Smith’s MediaPost blog entry.  The numbers are good to know and we will see what happens when iPhone 5 comes out – supposedly in a few weeks.  What can’t be dismissed is that all of Android is across multiple handset and manufacturers, while all iOS is on Apple manufactured phones.  The market share of Apple with both phones and tablets will continue to grow as no other tablet products have gained any traction as of yet.  Perhaps the biggest challenge emanating from Android OS growth is just how much more complicated app developers’ work will be as the Android OS display is far from standardized.  All phones running Android are certainly not equal – while most iPhone and iPad users would say all iOS units are equal only amongst themselves, ahead in the race – and working to keep it that way. Certainly, we can all learn a thing or two from the distant follower in this pack, RIM.  Read on…

If raw reach was the strategy, then Google’s open-platform mobile OS running across multiple OEM hardware and carriers is performing according to plan. The latest Nielsen survey of U.S. consumers shows that the Android may be a friendly monster robot, but it is eating the market. Among those polled, 43% now own a phone based on the Google mobile OS. And the momentum is with the platform. Among those who have purchased a smartphone in the last three months, 56% bought an Android model.

Android-On-Iphone

Apple continues to hold its market share by strategically expanding its base with new carriers and major hardware launches. Nielsen pegs the iPhone with 28% of the market right now, and also 28% of those who recently purchased phones.

Of course if you look at the Apple market share more in terms of iOS and its reach across millions of iPads and iPod Touches, then the perspective changes and Apple has a tremendous growth story.

The smartphone march continues as well. We are fast approaching the 50% tipping point, with 43% of current phone owners having a smartphone and 56% of last-quarter buyers getting these models.

The big loser in this two-OS race is the usual suspect, beleaguered Research in Motion, whose once-dominant BlackBerry OS is now down to an 18% share. The trending for BlackBerry is just atrocious; nabbing only 9% of recent buyers.

In decades to come, there will be reverse case studies written about RIM. From dismissing the importance of the touch screen early on to mistaking its email dominance with enterprise IT its ace in the hole, few companies in modern corporate history have blown a lead so thoroughly and quickly as these guys. 

More Competition Wins!

Last night in New York City, the OMMA Awards were presented.  We won two of them!

HOME PAGE TAKEOVER
 Predators – Home Entertainment Release | Agency: Think Jam | Client: 20th Century Fox – Home Ent

Think Jam 20th Century
There’s nothing subtle about Think Jam’s takeover promoting the DVD and Blu-ray release of Predators – it’s kill or be killed. That’s because the ad turns into a shooter game in which a user gets to choose from a selection of high-powered weapons to take down an alien marauding across the home page. It’s not every day you get to see green blood splattered on the screen. The creative “gameification” employed is well-suited to the subject and its young-skewing audience.

  • This execution was conceived by me and its execution and media planning was overseen by me working with Think Jam, Moxie (US Media) and Vizeum/PHD (Global Media).  My idea was to approximate what happens in the film – where people are taken out of their normal lives and dropped right in the middle of the action.  We were able to execute this creative in 5 markets around the world.

VIDEO: CAMPAIGN

 Fox Home Entertainment, Fight Club Spoof | Agency: Break Media | Client: Fox Home Entertainment

Fight Club Spoof

I am Jack’s funny bone. Tickle me and Jack may buy your movies on Blu-ray. If senior citizens performing the “I want you to hit me as hard as you can” scene from Fight Club make Jack laugh, well, then he very well may go around clicking through to watch a high schooler’s video rendition of the dog-fighting scene from There’s Something About Mary and any of the other five videos Fox Home Entertainment and Break Media made to promote Fox’s back catalog of films. Just remember: Don’t Mess With The Originals.

  • I was the Executive Producer on this working with the Fox Home Entertainment brand and media teams, Break and Moxie to guide the direction of this series of videos to best drive interest in the original catalog titles on Blu-ray.
Now we look forward to the Key Art Awards as the next major award opportunity for previous projects…

The Well-Designed Signs of Exploration and Innovation

Throughout London last week and through the weekend, red and yellow signs were standing outside of stores, galleries, warehouses and even construction sites.  The signs were confirmations that you correctly read the map while following the London Design Festival or the ICON Design Trail guides.  There are not many chances one has to walk “aimlessly” through a city and catch so much design, sights and inspiration, and in its 9th year of existence, the London Design Festival is truly one of those gems.

Where arts or culture festivals oft-times go wrong in not allowing broader participation by presenters or visitors or trying to keep the events too centralized, this festival truly captured the breadth of the design community – ranging from the institutions like the Victoria & Albert Museum, to the design retail establishment like Conran’s Shop and, fortunately, to the various pop-up groups that appeared sometimes in sub-basements with only one of those red or yellow signs to signify that the location is even there.  Some of the most fascinating, or memorable, items were discovered in those “found” locations.  Another welcome byproduct of spreading it out is that hundreds of thousands of visitors can work there way through without much clutter.

While the V&A was the the official hub of the festival, the more compelling “counter-hub” was placed on the East side at TENT London.  Where I ended my festival experience there during last year’s festival, I began it there this time.  The existence of this other major location fits nicely with the seeming concept that the city is in it together – as seen by the fact that each location had two signs and also two books to track the locations.  There was both the official design festival book and the ICON Design Trail book that was published by the design magazine, ICON.  What that alternate source provided was a different perspective on the festivities that was a little hipper and more welcoming of a crowd that might not have otherwise cared.

Of course, if the design talent was not prevalent in the city, this festival would be weak.  After spending just a few minutes on the trail, or more specifically within TENT, it is clear that there is far too much good stuff to be able to take in properly.  While it could be as daunting as attending an auto show or even Comic-Con, it is much more rewarding – especially due to the sheer sense of discovery.  All forms and executions of design were represented and there was surprisingly little duplication. As suggested before, there were many places you might not have thought to go before nor were allowed to see, that was reward enough for traversing the city.  On of those places was in the Southwest Tower at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Architect, John Pawson, teamed with Swarofsky for an installation called “Perspectives.”  It was a rare chance for people to even visit within the towers with the dramatic spiral staircases.  Photos were not allowed, but I was able to sneak this one to give an idea, though it in no way captures how cool it was…

There were a couple of specifics that were quirky or worth noting for the festival:

  • The City subsidized a large portion of the festival and much of that went to large public installations.  The benefit of those being all over the city enabled more people to be drawn in.  No matter what part of town you were in, there were opportunities to participate.
  • While many galleries and institutions participated, it was interesting that the Tate Modern didn’t even have a show going.  It was a missed opportunity of sorts.
  • In something I’ve never seen before, Designersblock ran an auction where every part of the auction from the gavel to the lighting was auctioned off.  But, you couldn’t give money for it.  Everything was bid on with barter.  The artists would then decide what they wanted.  I could not make it to the auction, so I put a nice bid in for Paul Bishop’s Made In China set.  Unfortunately, I lost to someone who was there…
  • There were some locations that left me wondering whether they would have been able to get approval from a US city to be able to exhibit as the footing in some was sketchy at best with broken tile, minimal headroom, weird scaffolding and other sundry challenges that effectively added to the fun.
  • At the V&A, there was a grand hall that was filled with a synthetic meadow made of cushioned fabric panels.  The lights were low, people were hanging out and kids were frolicking all around.  It was a little bizarre to have something of this scale in a space like this.  I walked across it and snapped some pictures.  When I had walked across the easily 50 meter pitch and was walking out the door, a security guy came up and told me I was an idiot for not realizing that we were supposed to take off our shoes to experience it.  It was funny only because he was telling me so long after I was already off of it.  And when I checked, there weren’t a lot of shoes on the sides, there were no signs and it was so dark, it wasn’t even clear that people weren’t wearing shoes.
  • There really were no instances of misguided employees, volunteers or visitors.  It was surprising how simple and clear everything was.  If there was anything that was a drag, it was the POWER OF MAKING exhibit at the V&A.  The exhibit layout was such that it had no easy flow and was claustrophobic.  perhaps they never thought they would get that many people to go through it.  It’s too bad as it seemed like it could have been interesting if there were a chance to read everything.
  • One of the coolest exhibits in a weird place was ARCO OKAY.  The site doesn’t really do justice to the whole vibe and interplay with some of the pieces, but it was one of the highlights.
It was certainly a festival that was packed with opportunity to explore and be inspired.  Definitely something I’m eager to repeat in the future.

Facebook Uses F8 to Lead Others To Cry “Uncle!”

The news coming out of Facebook’s F8 conference in San Francisco is promising with much of the buzz surrounding the well-protected announcement of the new timeline feature. With the new feature that places all the information users have entered into Facebook over the years into an interactive timeline, it actually makes me sort of wish that I had been putting more information on Facebook over the years… for a second.  I still am wary of what I put up on Facebook due to privacy concerns and their extension of open graph to provide updates on what users are doing automatically is interesting, exciting and a whole lot of scary.  The expanded feature will now share that you are listening to a specific song on Spotify so that others could listen too, or that you’re running through the park using Nike+, or cooking, or watching, or reading… you get the picture.  Even with all the selectors of privacy levels for sharing, it is a LOT of information that Facebook has and they are smart in building more opportunities to become a larger part of people’s lives.

Facebook Timeline Video

Facebook Open Graph Video

Another thing to come out of F8, but certainly without the spin that I’m putting on it, is that MySpace (or whatever is left of it) has got to be exasperated and crying “Uncle!”  After deciding to change direction in the face of Facebook’s command of the social sharing space, MySpace shifted to become an “entertainment hub” around 18 months ago.  Even then, it was sort of confusing as a media planner to understand what they meant by that.  They have still not really clarified what they meant nor gained gained a real foothold and now Facebook has primed itself to blow them further out of the water by further usurping that entertainment hub concept.  With Facebook’s deeper tie-ins with Spotify and Hulu, they have completely placed themselves as the social portal for entertainment.  Had MySpace formed agreements like this a while ago, many would have taken it seriously as an entertainment hub – with people spending more time on the pages.  Instead, this development allows Facebook to further decimate MySpace.  Too bad MySpace didn’t leverage its familial (News Corp) ties with Hulu to make this deal…

As a continuation to the post a few days ago about Facebook’s revenue, the timeline and open graph could lead to many more forms of revenue.  By getting users to ingest more historical photos and documents to build out their timelines, there is an opportunity to leverage the information to discern more about users’ tastes. But, on perhaps a more incremental scale, they likely will be able to offer more services like photo books of the timelines (a great gift for family members) that Apple and Kodak have derived a solid incremental business from.

There hasn’t been enough time to really look deeply at the new developments from F8 – and they are still coming – but it just seems like Facebook is fully taking advantage of its reserves to ratchet up their online supremacy…

 

Nielsen’s Major Technology Goof

While the day played out in London ad:tech quite nicely with solid speakers, engaged audiences and varied exhibitors, it was somewhat of a shock to come back to the hotel to see that Nielsen’s technology might have led to a major goof that may lead to discrediting of technical advances.  The fact that the goof relates to established television tracking is a little bit understandable as they provide more information in their new nPower Platform – which tracks C3 or time shifted viewing.  Unfortunately, the major problem is that the problem could be from as long ago as January 31st.

Was it because of lax oversight in the system?  Will it cause networks to build back their research team so that they are not reliant on 3rd party providers?  With Nielsen trying to push their Facebook Panel and other metrics systems for online, the technical snafu and the extended time before the problem was solved certainly leads to some major concerns as Nielsen looks to push further toward being that 3rd party solution for all advertising platforms.

At ad:tech, we focused a great deal on the constantly changing technology and all that it will allow us to do in storytelling, growth, extension, reporting and more.  It would be a shame if these situations – both the original gaffes and the lack of safety mechanisms – forced the industries to be any more wary of technology than they already are…

Facebook’s Numbers Are Head-Spinning

Being spent after a flight from LA to London, there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to catch up on what’s going on, so it’s a good thing that eMarketer’s Facebook revenue projections caught my eye.  With a projection of more than doubling their worldwide revenue from year to year – 4.27 billion in 2011 after 2 billion in 2010 – my already exhausted head is spinning further.

The report highlighted that advertising will bring in the bulk of it at 3.8 billion.  The concern advertisers have with effectiveness of ads on Facebook has been brought up due to low click-through rates, with many brands choosing to rely solely on building their own Facebook pages and relying on people to like them.  That direction is cost-effective, but brands are still having to build in budgets for the constant updates to their sites or tabs in order to keep up with Facebook’s tinkering.  Perhaps the sales group will devise special upgrade components that allow for more dynamic updating of content as the site changes.  I had asked the team representing Facebook sales at ad:tech London last year and they didn’t know of any programs to do so – effectively providing more added value for your brand page if you engage in actual spend.

Certainly, Advertising revenue is a no brainer but the huge upswing in Facebook Credits is an eye opener – jumping from 140 million in 2010 to 480 million this year.  Facebook Credits is something that could end up taking on an entire life of its own and end up being much larger than the percentage of revenue from advertising.  Think about it.  People are constantly bringing up that Facebook would be one of the top economies in the world based on the active users and the money going through their system – again, 4.27 BILLION.  What to say that Facebook Credits will not become an accepted form of currency outside of the digital realm.  From a barter point of view, those credits have already jumped out of the computer.  Imagine if that much value – and it continues to grow – was being circulated as currency equivalent of Dollars, Pounds and Euros.  There would be quite a blip in our financial system.

Many people saw The Social Network and were amazed that advertising was essentially pushed aside at the onset of Facebook.  In hindsight, it might have only been the stop-gap measure that was either low-hanging fruit or effectively forced upon it to make the investors happy at the time.  Perhaps the beauty of their growth – whether it was intended or not – is that when you base a product on the people and just grow that community, the revenue streams can become just as organic.  That organic value can really enable you to not worry so much about focusing on one source of revenue, like advertising, but being open to anything and trying anything within reason.  As long as you don’t lose users because of anything you try, you’re in good shape.  Perhaps this is too much jetlagged altruism, but it is exciting and daunting to see where this all ends up.

After two consecutive years of projected doubling of revenue, could there be a third and a fourth doubling?  Could advertising revenue end up being a small percentage of the company’s worth as it continues to evolve?  Will Facebook ever release their own numbers? How fitting that I get to ask that very question to Gail Power, Facebook’s EMEA Director of Online Sales and Operations tomorrow during ad:tech London!