The future of digital media

Here in the US, we are all getting ready for Thanksgiving which usually means eating so much you can barely stand up. So as not to fill up your heads, as well as your stomachs, here a few bite size observations for you to chew on over the weekend. (Have I beaten the metaphor into submission yet?)

1- Atlantic Records announced that for the first time in its history, more than half of its US music sales came from digital products like iTunes downloads and ringtones. Digital revenue now accounts for 18% of Atlantic’s parent company Warner Music Group’s total revenue. Atlantic is all by itself in this regard as physical CDs still make up two thirds of all music sales at the other labels. Digital revenue will not make up for the losses elsewhere, so they will have to continue to seek out other revenue streams, which is a lot easier to do once you remove your head from the sand.

2- New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority announced that it will begin offering customized e-mail or text message alerts to its riders on the subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North commuter lines. Now riders will be able to find out about service delays and at least know why they’ve been standing on the platform forever without a train coming. Hey, knowledge is power, right?

3- eMarketer predicts that the online video audience will surpass 88% of the internet user base by 2012 or, roughly, 190 million users. The production and distribution strategies are mirroring the traditional TV models and more ads are coming, folks. But, as it becomes easier to transfer that video on your computer to your TV in the living room, it will redefine the notion of “on demand.”

Just a few examples of how the digital world we live in is changing everyday and even the unsexiest organizations (that’s right, MTA, I’m looking at you) are figuring out new ways to stay in contact. Are you?

By the way, if you enjoy the content on this blog do me a favor and sign up for e-mail alerts in the  little box up there under my picture. Better yet, encourage your friends or co-workers to sign up, too. And thanks for your support lo these many months.

The Dos and Don’ts of Corporate Blogging

People love lists. Top 10 lists are typically among the most read blog posts out there. Heck, David Letterman developed a thriving industry based on lists.

So, as a follow up to our last post about whether or not corporations should blog, consider this: Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage had been on the receiving end of several e-mails over a period of months from a passionate   Browns fan. After the Browns eked out a 29-27 win over the Buffalo Bills this past Monday night, Savage responded to this fan, who had written a frustrated e-mail DURING the game when he feared his beloved Browns might lose another one, by dropping an f-bomb on him and suggesting he go and root for the Bills. And this is while the Browns were WINNING! (The full e-mail back and forth can be seen here. Hilarious that the FAN who was told where to go is the one who is contrite after the fact. If you have a few minutes, you really should read it.)

Naturally, the one who gets his name in the paper is the Browns GM for responding this way to a fan. Let me repeat this: a fan questions the sanity of the coach and management of his favorite NFL team and that team’s GM responds by telling him to perform a physically impossible act.

Are you seeing my top 10 list take shape yet?

If you’re going to be in the social media space, and yes, this means e-mail, too, here are your top ten things you need to do:

1 through 10- USE COMMON SENSE!

Tips 11-20 to be featured in an upcoming blog post. Have a good weekend, everyone. And Go, Browns!


Should corporations blog?

Instead of answering the question directly, let’s do a quick survey of some larger corporations in the space.

This incomplete list illustrates how each company takes a different approach to information, outreach and community building.

The GE Global Research blog is a peek into their industrial research labs and is targeted to the technology set. They have dozens of contributors so the content remains fresh and wide ranging, and they incorporate lots of video.

The Graco blog also has multiple contributors (always a good idea) and focuses primarily on parenting issues.

General Motors’ Fastlane blog is “a forum for GM executives to talk about GM’s current and future products and services.” GM has been in the space for some time, and their blog gets a lot of comments, particularly in the past day or two as the Big Three are all testifying on Capitol Hill in search of a bridge loan to keep them afloat.

Most social media consultants, and I include myself, will say that a corporate blogging no-no is to prattle on about your latest product or service. Instead, you should be attempting to build trust with your community and be a problem solver. These three companies attack this issue in different ways.

GE is speaking to a devoted and passionate audience of science and technology people. GE Research Labs does not really make consumer products so unless you’re planning on buying a multi-million dollar medical imaging machine or a pulsed detonation engine (I don’t know, either), I think they’re right to break this cardinal rule. Their blog is for those who wish to stay on top of new developments.

Graco has a wide range of baby products they sell such as playpens, car seats and strollers. The blog, however, shares experiences and offers advice to the common problems that affect all parents. They do have a channel about their products, but the number of entries there is far outnumbered by those in the “Parenting” or “Babies” channels.

GM’s blog, on the other hand, is essentially a series of press releases or talking points posted by execs of the company. To their credit, though, most of the posts receive a LOT of comments and GM seems to let the community say whatever might be on their minds, and things sometimes get a little chippy. I don’t think people are feeling too warm and fuzzy towards any of the Big 3 right now, and if you don’t believe me, check the comments section.

There are tons of other big companies out there blogging (Coke, Molson, Intel, P&G and Wells Fargo, to name a few. There a good list here if you’re interested in seeing what the other guy is doing). The purpose of this post is not to hit you with a laundry list of who’s doing what. The point is to get you, your company or your clients seriously thinking about getting involved in the space, spy on your competition, learn from their mistakes and maybe even find something out about these companies you may not have known.

One of these days, “new media” will stop being new. That day is growing ever closer.

Not another Barack Obama/New Media blog post

Nope. This one is BETTER! At least, I thought so.

A 20-year old Dartmouth College junior named Vanessa Sievers ran for, and won, the treasurer’s seat in Grafton County, NH. The current county treasurer, 68-year old Carol Elliott, called her a “teenybopper,” and said the only reason she won was because of “brainwashed college kids.”

Ms. Sievers, not unexpectedly, had a slightly different take and attributed her success to other factors. According to the New York Times, her biggest investment was a $51 ad she placed on Facebook which she paid for with her own money. But here’s the killer quote from this rising political titan of New Hampshire politics: “I took advantage of new media and she [Ms. Elliott] did not.” The county Republican chairman, Ludlow Flower, was overheard muttering that neither college kids nor new media belonged in a county race.

Funny. That attitude seems to pervade the entire GOP.

Barack Obama and New Media

I am big fan of the blog Podcasting News. In the wake of the election, they posted their analysis of how Obama crushed McCain in terms of his masterful use of technology, new media and online communications tools.

The main takeaway is that Obama was always in control of his message where the McCain campaign, for lots of reasons, was often reacting to events and sometimes getting burned by new media.

The analysis does seem to leave out the benefit he derived from online media most central to his victory which was his fund raising prowess, much of which came from online donations and those solicited through e-mail, his website or the Obama iPhone app.

Nevertheless, it is a great recap of how to use online media to win friends and influence people. The stakes could not have been higher and the outcome was by no means assured. If the President-elect is committed to a new media strategy, there might be a lesson for every business or organization looking for a way to start a conversation.

Read the recap here.

Obama, McCain and online video

Whoever wins today’s US Presidential election, and recent history suggests there might be some dispute over the outcome, the UNDISPUTED winners were online video users.

A Cisco study found that online video viewers,who as we have pointed out in past posts include nearly 75% of all US internet users, were much more engaged in this year’s election than in 2004. Obviously, there is much more online video available than in 2004, so the results should be viewed as a harbinger for 2012 rather than a look back at 2004.

Some topline results:

  • 62% of online video users followed the election closely, compared to 37% of non-users
  • 84% gave “quite a lot of thought” to this year’s election, with 68% saying they were more interested in politics than in 2004
  • 75% felt that using online video helped them follow the election more closely

The ability to research and verify the candidates’ claims and counterclaims, the ability to time shift and examine their positions at one’s leisure, watch speeches and generally devote more time than cable or broadcast TV coverage permit are all contributing factors to this sea change. Undoubtedly, the Democratic ticket took much greater advantage of the internet in its imaginative use of online media and the web in general. But the study revealed no significant differences in either gender or income in terms of online video usage, so the playing field is open and level.

2012 and beyond will see vast increases in online media uses on the part of both parties, making 2008 look like 1908.

I’ve got a great idea: how about Twitter debates?

UPDATE: Apparently, we have an undisputed winner. No fighting about outcomes this time around.

Online video is no longer a choice, but a necessity

The online video audience has grown significantly in the past year, and the reasons for that are compelling ones.

Women and older internet users are closing the gender and age gap that might have once existed. Adam Wright from Ipsos MediaCT who conducted the study observed, “Television networks, movie studios and other video entertainment entities will need to recognize the growing demand among all consumers for digital distribution. Streaming video is no longer something just teens and twenty-something’s are enjoying, but rather it has become a fixture in mainstream America’s daily routines.”

Think of your own internet habits, especially in this election year where videos are being uploaded, downloaded, forwarded and shared like crazy. There is no longer anything exotic about watching video online. On the contrary: those companies and organizations that eschew online media will find themselves left behind or, worse yet, having their story told by someone else.


Hybrid cars, sure. But hybrid dance clubs? Why not?

Energy is where you find it. Or something like that.

In Rotterdam in the Netherlands, a company called
Sustainable Dance Club has opened Club Watt, a huge performance space with a sustainable energy dance floor, rainwater-fed toilets, low waste bars (everything is recycled) and heat that is harvested from the amplifiers and other musical equipment.

The experimental dance floor harvests the energy created by people jumping around and converts it to electricity. The average person’s dancing creates about 20 watts, so two people could light a light bulb. It is the clubbing equivalent to driving a hybrid. Aryan Tielemen, the club’s owner, says energy use will be reduced by 30% and water use by 50% compared to the space’s previous tenant.

The costs of creating the dance floor will are not likely to be recouped since it is a first generation model and is not as efficient as it will be after some real world testing and modification, but think of the other possible permutations of this technology: gyms, fitness centers, railroad or subway platforms, sidewalks.

According to their website, “Doing your part for the environment doesn’t have to be boring, and you don’t have to stop doing the things you love.”

Social Media in the “real world”

I spend a lot of time talking and reading about social media. Trends in new media and social media as new methods of communication fascinate me, and I am completely immersed in all of it. I read tons of blogs, download tons of podcasts and do all I can to stay on top of what’s out there.

What happens sometimes, however, is that you end up in a kind of echo chamber where you forget that there are millions of people out there who have never heard of Twitter, might never download a podcast on purpose or venture onto Facebook, comment on a blog, etc. Some of the reasons might be generational or, more likely, that change is slow and incremental.

That’s why I found a recent encounter so encouraging. I was at a golf course near my house and when I went into the pro shop to pay for a token for some practice balls, all the TVs were turned off. Now, on any given weekend in every pro shop in America, all TVs are tuned to whatever tournament is being contested that weekend or, at the VERY least, the Golf Channel. Instead, the 50-something staffer was watching YouTube. He paused it when I came in and I could not QUITE make out what he had on, but where he paused it I was able to see that it was a documentary from the BBC about the Victorian era.

I LOVE that there was nothing on but this guy was not going to be deterred. For all of you out there who are wondering: the revolution is BEING televised.

Tina Fey, Sarah Palin, NBC and A change is gonna come

Historically, the fight over displaying network TV content on the internet has been about where,
when, who and how to exhibit it
AFTER it plays on television. Well, now Tina Fey/Liz Lemon/ Sarah Palin has turned that argument on its head.

Lately, Tina Fey has been everywhere between her AMEX commercials, Emmy awards for 30 Rock and, of course, her spot-on Sarah Palin impression. Unfortunately, what NBC WANTS her to be known for is the critically acclaimed, but ratings challenged, 30 Rock. The momentum she has built up is, quite literally, historic. Online and DVR viewership was twice what it was for the original showing on Saturday Night Live.

Among all the people who saw at least one of the three SNL sketches, 33% watched it on television during the original broadcast and a staggering 67% watched after the original broadcast either online or on a DVR. (By the way, 56% of those who saw the SNL spoof never actually watched the ACTUAL Biden-Palin debate. Insert wry comment here _______) (Source: Online Media Daily)

“This is the first time we’ve seen delayed viewing numbers this big,” said Amanda Welsh, head of research for San Mateo, Calif.-based IMMI. “Usually it’s the other way around, with the overwhelming majority of viewing occurring during the actual broadcast.”

Of course, NBC had no way of knowing all of this when they programmed their fall schedule, and 30 Rock is not slated to return to the airwaves until Ocotber 30. What to do? What to do?

Hey, how about that online video thingy? Yup- NBC will be premiering the first episode of the new season on on October 23, one week before its scheduled TV debut. Hulu has been an unqualified success, and NBC is showing some smarts by taking advantage of changing viewing habits.

(By the way, 30 Rock is really funny, and NBC announced that Salma Hayek will have a recurring role this year.)