Saturday, July 27, 2013

Social Media and Stakeholder Engagement in Healthcare – Moving Beyond The Patient

It is not news that social media can be leveraged for effective marketing and communications programs at the corporate and brand level alike.  Social media has been around for years (more than ten considering Wikipedia was launched in 2001), and has been deployed with success by many pharmaceutical brands.  Examples include the myriad pharmaceutical corporate and brand sponsored online patient communities, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook and YouTube pages.  While some of these programs have focused on healthcare professionals, the majority has been designed to address patients or patient related issues.

So what’s next for pharmaceutical companies and brands that want to leverage social media in productive and unique ways to help grow their business?  Well, an opportunity exists to use social media more broadly as a vehicle for better understanding, reaching and engaging a wider spectrum of stakeholders beyond the old standbys of patients and healthcare professionals.  For instance, engaging critical pharmaceutical constituents such as providers, payers and distributors will be more important than ever as the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act begin to impact the healthcare marketplace.  Social media can and should be a powerful tool to reach, engage and sustain strong relationships with these valuable stakeholders.

This might not sound like an exciting or creative use of social media.  It is proposed, however, that if approached in a deliberate and strategic manner, using social media to deepen relationships with these important stakeholder groups can have a meaningful impact on business growth, whether measured against financial or brand equity performance indicators.  It could also make pharmaceutical companies more valuable, and responsible, contributors to the healthcare value chain.

Why the Time is Right for Broader Stakeholder Engagement Programs
It’s been over fifty years since Theodore Levitt’s seminal article “Marketing Myopia” was published in Harvard Business Review in 1960.  In that article, Levitt criticized the practice of marketing that was prevalent at that time in that it heavily focused on selling products rather than meeting the needs of customers.  This, Levitt argued, resulted in strategies that were overly product focused and, in many instances, out of alignment with the demands of the marketplace.  Needless to say, the publishing of “Marketing Myopia” was a watershed event that changed the nature of marketing to this day.

Some might question whether pharmaceutical marketing as a whole has fully realized the lessons of Levitt’s message (I’m sure we have all see our share of go-to-market strategies that are more product focused then necessary).  However, several trends have been evolving in recent years that seem to make this question beside the point. 

There is a growing chorus among several leading marketing academics and practitioners that cautions marketers to avoid what they call the “new marketing myopia.”  This new concept was first articulated in an article in the Spring 2010 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.  The authors of that article defined this new marketing myopia as the failure of marketers to “…see the broader societal context of business decision making,” that can sometimes lead to less than optimum business and societal results. 

This cautionary crowd is not alone.  For instance, the principles of this new marketing myopia concept are inherent in the American Marketing Association’s current definition of marketing, which refers to marketing as “…creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers…, and society at large [emphasis added].”

Using Social Media for Broader Stakeholder Engagement
Social media can be a powerful tool throughout the multiple phases of an ongoing stakeholder engagement program.  For instance, pharmaceutical companies can leverage social media to better understand, engage and deepen relationships with key stakeholder groups.  In this way pharmaceutical brands can become more attuned to the needs of these important constituents, and be a more responsive, and accountable, member of the broader healthcare delivery system.

The pharmaceutical industry has clearly embraced the principles espoused by this new marketing myopia concept.  Plenty of evidence can be found in the greater priority pharmaceutical companies are putting on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.  This has resulted in countless corporate good works of which there are no shortage of examples:  From pharmaceutical company involvement with health related community groups, to their greater emphasis on more environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices, to their increased enforcement of codes of corporate conduct. 

Stakeholder management, likewise, is not a new idea. Social media-based stakeholder management programs that further CSR goals across a broader sweep of pharmaceutical constituents is not, however, an idea that is widely practiced today. Adding this important strategy to the marketing and communications mix could be an opportunity for brands to differentiate and grow their business by creating new stakeholder value propositions in unique and uncontested ways.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Keep it simple stupid

There has been a steady stream of tweets and blog posts from the intelligentsia attending this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  One of the better ones comes from Chris Zook (head of strategy at the Bain & Company consultancy) about the importance of simplicity in business.

For those working in a professional services industry this advice is timeless.  Don't assume your clients know what you're talking about when you come in to present a strategy deck, a research readout, an analytics report or what have you.  Give them context, extract key insights, make it simple and actionable, clarify and elucidate and put the data and detail in the appendix.  Ask yourself, if I had to explain this to a 10 year old how would I do it?  Whether your clients agree with your conclusions and recommendations is another matter, but at least they will understand what you are saying.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

YouTube's niche content play

I like the direction that YouTube is taking as it becomes a platform for delivering niche content to users.  This approach aligns with user needs and expectations when they come to the digital medium to fill their informational or entertainment needs.  And, it promises to deliver a better and more value-add experience than broadcast TV's hackneyed one-to-many/uni-directional content delivery model.

While this is just another thread in the paradigm shift away from traditional to non-traditional media platforms, this development will really begin to gain traction as more sponsors realize that :30 TV spots should be treated as just the starting point of the experience that consumers have with their brands.  That requires a change in thinking from brand communications and experiences as reductive/disruptive devices to persuade or sell, to brand comms being narrative-based and on-demand based the needs and wants of the user/viewer.  That change will take some time.  Ultimately, part of the responsibility to drive that change lies with ad agencies - the problem is that too many of the big ad shops make too much money under the traditional TV/advertising model but that will change, slowly, but surely. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

P&G layoff - harbinger of the decline of traditional media?

P&G (the world’s largest marketer) plans to reduce marketing budgets after it was becoming increasingly clear that rising ad costs were adversely effecting margins and that they can deliver more effective and efficient marketing programs through lower cost mediums such as digital.  

To quote P&G CEO Robert McDonald:

There are just so many different media available today and we're quickly moving more and more of our businesses into digital…[i]n the digital space, with things like Facebook and Google and others, we find that the return on investment of the advertising, when properly designed, when the big idea is there, can be much more efficient.

Could this be the event that finally breaks the 50+ year hegemony of the TV and traditional media advertising model?  We’ll see.  As I have posted previously the budgets of most marketers are significantly out of alignment with the media consumption habits of consumers.  

That said, paradigm shifts can take time but once they occur the rules of the game can change pretty swiftly.  A move by a market leader like P&G might be the finally push needed to reach the tipping point.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The march of digitally driven creative destruction continues

No new news here but a good article on on how Barnes and Noble and the publishing industry are still struggling to adapt to the incredible disruption brought about by and the e-reader revolution.

Personally, I am rooting for B&N - I like retail bookstores and I enjoy reading print books. Hopefully the book industry can crack the code but based on what we have seen with other industries it may just be a matter of time before retail bookstores are a thing of the past. While the notion of creative destruction comes with the promise of economic innovation (at least according to Schumpeter), sometimes the upside of that innovation is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marketers who want to Improve ROI Need to Better Align Ad Budgets with Consumer Media Habits

There’s no doubt that traditional advertising tactics will continue to be a critical part of the mix for many marketers for years to come. That said, whether this practice is based on the efficacy of these tactics (and by that I mean old standbys such as TV, radio, direct mail, etc, but also some of the more aggressive forms of banner ads such as pop-ups and page takeovers), or the fact that the interruptive based advertising model has become so habitual among marketers that it is self perpetuating, is subject to debate.

But what I find ironic is that despite the incredible growth of the Social Web and the dramatic increases in the amount of time consumers spend with digital media, a significant share of ad dollars are still being devoted to traditional formats. Of course, there is plenty proof that these traditional formats are effective at getting messages out. What we don’t know is how effective they are (if at all) at influencing people - but that’s a topic for another post.

The problem is that people do not appreciate the intrusive nature of these traditional tactics and will do anything they can to avoid them. Whether it be putting their name on a do not call registry, adding ad filtering technology to their browser or using a DVR to record TV programming as a way to avoid ads during playback.

People, instead, want control over the content and information they consume. And they want it from sources they can trust; hence the growth of the Social Web.

The good news is that marketers finally appear to be catching on. Earlier this month Forrester published their 2009 – 2014 US Interactive Marketing Forecast. The report predicts that interactive marketing will represent 21% of all marketing spend in 2014 (up from 12% in 2009), which nets out to a CAGR of 17%.

Why? Because they have learned that interactive marketing tactics are incredibly efficient and effective. For example, when Forrester asked over 200 marketers to rank the effectiveness of various marketing tactics over the next three years interactive tactics such as social media and online video topped the list.

What is shocking, though, is that despite this gradual shift of budgets to the digital channel there will still be a significant disparity between the percentage of ad budgets directed to digital (7% in 2009), and the percentage of media time people spend with digital media (34% in 2009). Apparently old habits, even those with significant financial implications, die hard. With that said, I’m going to go watch last night’s Daily Show on my DVR - sans commercials.

Friday, June 26, 2009

McKinsey’s Lesson for Marketers – Focus Less on Push and More on Pull

For years marketers have used the metaphor of the “funnel” to explain the process consumers go through when making purchase decisions. The theory being that consumers begin their journey towards purchasing a product at the top of a funnel where they have several, if not more, brands on their short list.

As they proceed down the funnel, so the theory goes, consumers become more familiar with the features and benefits of each brand. Ultimately, the funnel narrows and those brands deemed less desirable are rationally and deliberately eliminated by consumers save for the one that best meets their needs and requirements. At least, so the theory goes.

For better or worse, this framework has been at the core of many a marketing plan for a good part of the last half century. The result - marketing plans that almost exclusively focus on pushing messages (or offers, discounts, etc) at consumers at each stage of the funnel with the intent of moving them towards a purchase.

The Consumer Decision Making Process in the Digital Age
Not surprisingly, many have questioned the validity of this model on grounds that it’s overly simplistic, too rational, or that it fails to account for the increasing media fragmentation of the digital era. Now, a new study and report from McKinsey validates these skeptics.

The report, “The Consumer Decision Journey,” issued earlier this week was the output of a study McKinsey fielded that examined the purchase decisions of nearly 20,000 consumers across five industries: automotive, auto insurance, cellular carriers, personal computers and skin care. The key finding: the Internet, the rise of consumerism and a marketplace marked by an increasing array of product options have made push based marketing less relevant and, in many instances, less effective.

The study partially discredits the funnel metaphor and makes the case for a consumer decision making process that is less linear and more bi-directional where the consumer has increasing control over where, when and how they engage with a brand.

But what I find really interesting about the study was the finding that, incredibly, two-thirds of purchase influences during what McKinsey calls the active-evaluation phase involve consumer-driven activities such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family.

Two-Thirds of Purchase Influences are Driven by Consumer-Driven Activities

In the Digital Age Consumer Outreach to Marketers is More Important
If anything, the study confirms the urgent need for brands to invest less in push-based advertising campaigns, and more in pull-based experiences that deliver relevant and informative brand-to-consumer interactions where decisions are being made.

The obvious places to start would be by delivering more engaging and usable Web and point-of-sale experiences. It’s also clear that leveraging the word-of-mouth power of the social Web should also be at the top of the list.

While there is clearly a continuing place for push-based marketing, an over emphasis on these types of tactics will not only prove ineffective, they might also indicate that a brand is out of touch with its consumers. In an industry where perception is reality what can be worse?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who says Twitter doesn't have a business model?

Is it possible Twitter may have finally stumbled into a way to monetize its business? Well, maybe.

According to Reuters, over the past two years Twitter reportedly helped Dell sell over $3MM in products to its Twitter followers who were directed to Dell e-commerce sites from posts they placed on Twitter. Dell, apparently, posts on Twitter several times a week and offers up coupons and promotions to its followers (all 600,000+ of them).

While $3MM for a company the size of Dell isn’t exactly a groundswell, it’s something. And although Twitter is not charging Dell for these referrals it hasn’t ruled it out as something they might consider in the future.

Maybe this is the beginning of a vertical application strategy for Twitter where developers using the Twitter API build apps for companies to hawk their wares in a way that generates Twitter fees (e.g., either on a licensing or per transaction basis).

Another strategy that has been kicked around has Twitter monetizing itself by selling its platform as a tool to track public sentiment about a brand (a product, service, politician, or what have you) or other topics of interest to researchers. The problem, at least as I see it, is that the very free nature of Twitter seems at odds with this approach.

Finally, others have suggested that Twitter be used as a vehicle for delivering targeted ad messages to its users. Whether these would be served up in the context of tweets (which seems problematic) or in custom applications built using their API (which seems more promising) is anyone’s guess.

Whatever the approach, the enormous number of people who use Twitter and the passion in which they monitor their messages makes it an incredibly value platform. Now all it needs is a strategy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Forrester’s Lofty Vision for the Social Web

Wondering what social networking will look like a few years hence, or how it will impact your business or brand? Then look no further than the recently published Forrester Research report: “The Future of the Social Web.”

The report, penned by social media guru Jeremiah Owyang and team, provides an ambitious vision for the social Web and lays out a roadmap for its evolution starting with the birth of the commercial Internet in the mid-90s.,7211,46970,00.html

After reading the report I’m convinced that if even half of what Forrester predicts is true, it portends dramatic changes for both how people will experience the Web in the near future and how they will choose to engage (or not) with brands online.

According to Forrester, the social Web has grown (and will continue to grow) through five “eras” of evolution:

  1. The era of social relationships – starting in the mid-1990s this era involved basic community sites like AOL and social tools such as forums, discussion boards, blogs, etc.
  2. The era of social functionality – the period in which we currently reside where our social experiences are moving beyond just “friending” to include richer sharing experiences and interactive applications (like Facebook apps), but with the inherent limitation that peoples’ social experiences are, for the most part, limited to the sites they are visiting at any given time.
  3. The era of social colonization – starting later this year as a result of the growing adoption of universal authentication technologies like OpenID, individuals will be able to surf the Web without leaving their preferred social networking platform in a way that will allow them to bring their network along for the ride.
  4. The era of social context – starting sometime next year as these new authentication technologies become universally adopted, sites will begin to recognize people’s personal identities and their social networks. This will enable much more robust and personalized social experiences and will result in the social Web becoming the core of most people’s Web experience.
  5. The era of social commerce - here’s when, at least according to Forrester, things will get interesting. As a result of the increasing personalization that social destinations will offer, people will be more willing to share personal information with sites in exchange for more valuable and relevant experiences. The result – a self-fulfilling virtuous cycle that will further expand the influence and scope of the social Web as it becomes more meaningful and useful.

Implications for Brands and the Traditional Advertising Model
This evolution will have deep and lasting effects on brand management and advertising as we know it. Already, numerous studies show that advertising is not considered credible and that the opinions of friends and peers are far more important in terms of informing and influencing consumer attitudes towards companies and brands.

By putting even more power in the hands of consumers in terms of when, and under what circumstances, they chose to have brand interactions, it’s hard to see how this trend won’t continue the declining credibility of advertising. Brands, in response, will be forced to shift their focus to building and managing online communities and advocates as a way to get their message out and build equity with consumers.

For brand and advertising managers the message is clear – start thinking now about how you’re going to cultivate these communities and advocates in the future because it’s nearer than you think.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pandora’s Geo-targeted Ads Latest Example of Online Advertising Beyond the Banner

There’s been quite a lot of talk lately on how some Web publishers are moving beyond standard banner ad formats in favor of customized units as a way to increase viewer engagement and clicks. And no wonder with click-through rates for standard IAB banner formats on the decline across many properties.

One big shift, especially among social media sites, is to integrate ads squarely into page content as opposed to on the periphery of a page like most banner units. For example, social news site Digg just recently began flowing ads into the stream of its page content as a way to increase subscriber interaction.

Another good example of this is music service’s placement of ad units squarely into its music player. But Pandora is taking it a step further by adding geo-targeting to the matter.

For example, this morning while logged into Pandora an ad was served up by the Paper Mill Playhouse, which is several blocks from my house, for the musical play “The Full Monty.” Obviously I was targeted for this ad based on IP information from my browser.

I could only wonder if they are also using information about my music preferences (which as a subscriber is stored in their databases) as a way to serve up ads that would be of interest to me. For instance, knowing I like indy rock an ad for “The Full Monty” makes sense – but for "South Pacific," probably not. Some might think this is a little creepy – I don’t, just a way to deliver more relevant and useful information.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha - The Search Engine of Tomorrow?

It’s been 12 or so years since Google was introduced as the result of a Stanford University research project. In that time the world has gotten used to search results that are based on things like the relationships between multiple Web sites or the number of times a search term appears on a page - an approach that doesn’t always provide the most relevant or useful information.

Now, a company called Wolfram Research gives search users a reason to raise their expectations. Wolfram is working on a new type of search tool that they are calling a computation engine. The difference is that their tool will give users specific answers to natural language questions they submit by collecting, curating and organizing information from a variety of sources rather than directing them to other sites.

An alpha version of the tool was released last month. The illustration of a sample search results page below shows how much different computational based results will be from traditional search results. Whether this will be the next breakthrough in search technology, or just hype, remains to be seen.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

iPhone Continues to Help Apple/AT&T Profits – While Android Makes Inroads

On a day when both Apple and AT&T reported quarterly profits that exceeded expectations on the coattails of the iPhone, a recent AdMob Mobile Metrics Report shows that Google’s Android is slowly starting to chip away at iPhone’s dominant position.

Android, Google’s open source mobile operating system (OS), deputed this past November with the launch of the HTC Dream smartphone. According to AdMob’s March 2009 report, while growth of the Android over its first five months was impressive, it fell short of iPhone’s growth during its first five post launch months.

Other stats, however, show Android has had a considerable impact on the smartphone market since launch:

  • Captured 6% share of the smartphone OS market
  • Currently tied with Palm as the fourth largest OS
  • Reached the number 10 device in the US in terms of overall mobile ad server requests

See full report.

Do Apple and AT&T have reason to be concerned? I think so.

For starters, last month total requests to AdMob’s US ad servers by Android devices were more than 10% of iPhone device requests. That’s not insignificant.

And the much improved successor to the Dream, the HTC Magic, is due to arrive in stores in several weeks. The new device will include, among other bells and whistles, a 3.2 inch QVGA touch-screen display, a 3.2 mega pixel camera (with Auto Focus), high-speed connectivity and on-board GPS functionality. It looks really cool too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NYT's Dowd Does Battle with Twitter

The irreverent and sarcastic New York Time's op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a hilarious piece in today's Times about an interview she had with the inventors of Twitter to find out, to paraphrase Dowd, if they are as annoying as their invention.

Here are a few of the more comical exchanges between Dowd and Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter:

DOWD: Did you know you were designing a toy for bored celebrities and high-school girls?
BIZ: We definitely didn’t design it for that. If they want to use it for that, it’s great.

DOWD: If you were out with a girl and she started twittering about it in the middle, would that be a deal-breaker or a turn-on?

BIZ (dryly): In the middle of what?

DOWD: I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. Is there anything you can say to change my mind?

BIZ: Well, when you do find yourself in that position, you’re gonna want Twitter. You might want to type out the message “Help.”

Seems like Dowd has some issues to resolve with new technology - here's a link to the full column:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Digital Books and the Next Era of Innovation

Popular science author Steven Johnson wrote an interesting piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about digital books, how they will change what and how much people will read in the future and the impact those changes will have on innovation.

As Johnson points out, we currently have unlimited access to terabytes of data and information courtesy of Google and other search engines. However, the nearly infinite repository of knowledge stored in the millions of books printed since the invention of the printing press are, for the most, outside the searchable Internet.

Game Changers - E-Books and Google’s Book Search Service
That’s about to change. The recent success of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, and the progress Google is making with their Book Search Service, are providing the tools and content needed to begin the next phase of the great migration of the written word to the digital format. This next phase, however, will be substantially more profound than earlier phases both in terms of the volume and, in many ways, the quality of the content being digitized.

Based on these developments, Johnson makes some excellent points (all of which I agree with) about the future of book reading:

  • Book content (like all searchable content) will be indexed, ranked and commented on by readers
  • Authors will likely write chapters (and even passages) in a way that are optimized for search engines
  • Books will be un-bundled and many will be sold by the chapter (much the same way people consume songs rather than full albums as a result of iTunes and file sharing)
  • Book reading will become social – book content will be tagged and annotated. As a result, people will share comments and insights on book passages (a chapter, a page or even a quote) much like they comment and dialogue on a blog post or newspaper article

Digital Books and the Innovation Revolution
But, to me, by far the most powerful outcome of these developments will be the influence over how people will learn and innovate in the future.

If you believe, like I do, that our economy and culture are becoming more idea and innovation driven, then a world where such an enormous amount of knowledge (book based and otherwise) is indexed, annotated and searchable is truly an exciting development.

So much was argued in Daniel Pink’s 2005 book “A Whole New Mind.” His premise: we are moving away from the information age into a conceptual age where ideas and innovation will be among the most valued currencies. This is a result of the abundance and commoditization of many products and services, the ability to outsource work to the lowest common denominator and the growth of automation. In this new conceptual age, according to Pink, creative right brain thinkers, as opposed to linear left brain thinkers, will be the heroes.

I have no doubt that creativity and innovation are going to be more highly valued as the U.S. and global economies evolve and become more competitive. The wide adoption of e-book readers and initiatives like Google’s Book Search Service, I think, will be very important enablers of that trend. Think of them as force multipliers.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pizza Hut "Twintern" Program - Who Says There are No Good Jobs Out There?

Who says there aren’t good jobs out there for college students? For instance, Pizza Hut is looking for a college student for their paid summer “twintership” program. According to the job description on, the “twinintern” will be responsible for:
  • Spreading the Pizza Hut message by collecting and sharing insights and experiences while working for Pizza Hut through social and interactive media: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, New and emerging media
  • Monitoring social media for pop culture news, off-the-wall stories or anything else quirky and fun that he or she thinks would be of interest to loyal Pizza Hut fans
  • Monitoring social media for any negative Pizza Hut brand mentions
  • Chronicling their experiences through video and posting to selected media

Key requirement – study closely last week’s Domino Pizza gross-out You Tube video calamity and get ready to play defense.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This Time it’s Volvo’s Turn to Experiment with Social Media

Major consumer brands are starting to explore ways to integrate social media into their advertising campaigns - last month it was Skittles, and this month it was Volvo.

In Volvo’s case they promoted their new XC60 crossover SUV with a one day only YouTube page takeover to coordinate with the New York Auto Show. To spice things up, the takeover included a live feed of XC60 Twitter updates from the auto show.

This is the first time YouTube ran such a prominent ad on its homepage. This is no doubt part of Google’s (YouTube’s owner) effort to generate more revenue from YouTube which, it has been widely reported, has been a serious drain on Google’s profitability.

While it’s too early to tell what kind of impact Volvo’s gambit will have on XC60 sales, to me this is a great way to raise awareness and create a dialogue with consumers.

It’s almost a certainty that more marketers will follow suit in the coming months with their own social media experiments. As with anything else, there will be fits and starts but it’s only a matter of time before social technologies become commercialized as a platform for highly targeted online advertising.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Universal Music / YouTube Deal Could Help Save the Music Industry

Wired magazine reported this week that Google’s YouTube and the Universal Music Group confirmed the launch of their music video collaboration,, for later this year. Think of it as a Hulu for music videos (which, it appears, was the inspiration for Vevo). Revenues will be shared between YouTube and Universal.

The service will be advertising based and will serve up Universal’s music video assets (including artist interviews and concert footage) that will be of higher quality than the standard YouTube fare that is currently available. In addition, it’s likely that YouTube, and eventually AOL and Yahoo, will also have access to Vevo’s video library. Ultimately, the goal is to add other labels to the service as well.

If it works, Vevo would be a significant win for both parties. For YouTube it would mean the end of Universal’s licensing violation claims. And, as a premium YouTube property, Vevo would likely generate premium fees from advertisers. For Universal it would be a solution to their repeated efforts to monetize their music video business.

Music videos have been licensed to YouTube for several years now. But they have not generated the level of advertising revenues that either YouTube or the music companies had hoped for. This is most likely a result of the motley nature of music videos available on YouTube.

Ultimately, Universal (and the whole music industry for that matter) has nothing to lose by this venture. After years of declining record sales and profits caused by the rise of file-sharing, to say the music business is in dire need of new revenue streams is putting it mildly.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Will the Internet Surpass TV Next Year?

So predicts a research report just published by Microsoft. The study projects that time spent on the Internet by consumers will surpass traditional TV by June 2010. The report was based on research conducted in Europe but definitely has application to the US market.

Specifically, the study projects that by next summer Europeans on average will spend 14.2 hours per week on the Internet versus 11.5 hours on TV.

Other predictions include:

  • Over the next five years Internet use on PCs will decline from 95% to 50% as other Web enabled devices such as Smartphones and IPTVs become more widely adopted

  • Video capable mobile devices will grow from 31% today to 76% by 2013

  • "Connected entertainment” and time shifting will become the norm as three-screen (PC, mobile device and IPTV) integration improves allowing people to watch what they want, whenever and wherever they choose

  • Social connectivity will become commercialized and will enable more personalized and relevant online advertising and marketing

  • Mobile devices will become the primary point of access to the Internet

Some of these predictions are similar to those reported in a major research initiative by the Pew Internet Project that I posted about in February:

Of course, a good dose of skepticism is warranted with any report that predicts the future, especially one sponsored by a private enterprise like Microsoft that has a lot to gain if these predictions come true.

That said, I see little reason to doubt that most, if not all, of these projections won’t come to pass.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Are Fees for Online News Content in the Offing?

A couple of weeks back I posted about the challenges facing the newspaper industry as they deal with declining ad revenues and the migration of readers to free online sources.

Now, the New York Times is reporting that the industry is reconsidering its free content for all business model.

At an industry conference last week, newspaper execs explored various options to monetize their content on the Web. Some of the payment models under consideration include:
  • Subscription model (e.g.,
  • Micro-payments (e.g., iTunes)
  • Content licensing to third-party sites
Of course, in order for this to work, newspapers will to address a major, maybe even insurmountable, challenge: how to get readers to start paying for something that has been free for so long?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yahoo! TV Widgets – is Web/TV Integration Finally Becoming a Reality?

Several months ago Yahoo announced that it was developing widgets that will allow viewers to integrate Web services into their TV experience. Now it looks like those widgets will finally come to market.

Samsung is now selling the first TV that I am aware of that supports Yahoo’s widgets. The Samsung 7000 will come pre-loaded with four widgets: Flickr, Yahoo News, Weather and Finance and plans to offer up to 30 more widgets within the next few months and up to 100 by the end of the year. Sony, LG and Vizio are also working on widget ready models.

You can see how the widgets will work on Yahoo’s Connected TV site – while not a demo it’s somewhat illustrative:

The widgets look a lot like iPhone apps and will be readily available for free download. And like Apple’s approach, the Yahoo Widget Engine will be an open platform that anyone can develop on so the sky will be the limit in terms of the number and types of applications that can be created.

Samsung's 7000 and Yahoo Widget Engine will provide access to Web services like Flickr