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June 11 2013

17:52

How media companies can step up their ad sales game

A Swedish media consultant Otto Sjöberg writes for INMA about Amazon’s quick rise up the rungs of the ad sales business. CEO Jeff Bezos is apparently hyper-attuned to the value of the data Amazon owns about shoppers.

“Key to further growth will be the plethora of consumer purchasing data Amazon gathers through its core business, retail sales. Ad-selling competitors such as Google and Facebook lack such data — and therefore its targeting potential,” eMarketer concludes.

The key takeaway from the story of Amazon is for news media companies to be experts at gathering not only information but data, and to use that data to venture into new revenue streams.

May 22 2013

14:59

Amazon finds a way to monetize fan fiction

Fan fiction — fan-written stories featuring characters drawn from pop culture properties, like a tale in which Chewbacca and Boba Fett become star-crossed lovers in 1950s New Jersey — is a huge phenomenon. On one end of the scale, the Fifty Shades of Grey books started out as fan fiction and became the publishing success of 2012; on the other, hundreds of thousands of people put their favorite characters into unusual situations in stories posted free on hubs like Archive of Our Own and FanFiction.Net.

The problem with fan fiction as a publishing business is that it’s of questionable legality. The creators of those characters — the writers of movies, TV shows, and books, or the corporate entities that control their rights — don’t want people selling new stories involving them. (Chewbacca’s love for Boba Fett was always a forbidden love.) And making the licensing arrangements necessarily to publish fan fiction for a profit was generally too much of a bother for anyone to pursue. The result was that turning fan fiction into a business has been somewhere between impractical and impossible.

Amazon took a big step toward slicing that Gordian Knot today by announcing it had made licensing agreements with three fanfic-popular properties — Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries — that will allow fics for those properties to be published for the Kindle, with revenue split between the author and the rightsholder. More deals are on the way.

The new Kindle Worlds platform will enable any author to publish stories based on these characters and then make them available for purchase through the Kindle Store. Amazon will then pay royalties both to the author of the fan fiction and the original rights holder. The standard author’s royalty rate — for fiction that is at least 10,000 words in length — will be just over a third (35 percent) of net revenue.

This has major monetization potential — if fan fiction communities used to getting their fix for free (and in an open, episodic environment) buy into the idea of paying for it.

Family self-promotion alert: If you’re interested in the subject of fan fiction, you should look into Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World by University of Utah professor Anne Jamison, which will be published later this year. (And edited by my wife, Leah Wilson.)

April 04 2013

12:52

April 02 2013

12:06

March 29 2013

12:50

August 30 2012

10:33

Amazon Appstore rollout across the EU: U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain

Amazon :: Amazon.com :: today announced the launch of its Amazon Appstore in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, giving European customers access to Amazon’s broad selection of Android apps with the convenience of shopping on Amazon from their Android phones and tablets. Customers can get the Amazon Appstore for their Android phones and tablets by visiting www.amazon.com/getappstore.

Announced here: press release, phx.corporate-ir.net

HT: Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Tags: Amazon Android
08:38

August 29 2012

18:13

Amazon NY signs deal to sell its ebooks through other retailers

paidContent :: Amazon’s New York-based imprint has signed a deal with Ingram to distribute its ebooks to other retailers, paidContent has learned. The deal will make the ebooks available to Amazon competitors like Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.

A report by Laura Hazard Owen, paidcontent.org

Tags: Amazon
05:07

Amazon Researchers: Pinterest doesn't generate a lot of sales. Facebook? Twitter?

Business Insider :: A post on Twitter generated far more revenue—$33.66 an order—than Facebook, at $2.08 an order, or Pinterest, at 75 cents an order.

Zappos' study - A summary of a Bloomberg article Owen Thomas, www.businessinsider.com

HT: Sam Decker, here:

Wow...Amazon Researchers Say a Twitter post drives 16x More Revenue vs Facebook.read.bi/OI055m via @sai

— Sam Decker (@samdecker) August 29, 2012

August 24 2012

14:48

More streaming video for Amazon Prime: Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica

paidContent :: Amazon Prime Instant Video and NBCUniversal expanded their content licensing agreement to include new shows like “Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

A report by Laura Hazard Owen, paidcontent.org

Tags: Amazon Video

August 17 2012

14:53

Twitter's Clockwork Raven: Crowdsourced analytics

GigaOM :: Twitter says its Clockwork Raven web app will make it easier for even non-technical people to post job requests to Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing job site. The app is now available for download from Github.

A report by Barb Darrow, gigaom.com

August 15 2012

20:28

The newsonomics of breakthrough digital TV, from Aereo to Dyle and MundoFox to Google Fiber

In 1998, when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought the Los Angeles Dodgers, the storied franchise was worth $380 million. News Corp. sold the team in 2003 for $430 million. After winning the ability to negotiate a new multi-billion sports TV contract this fall, they sold earlier this year for $2 billion, blowing the lid off sports property values.

In 1994, the San Diego Padres were worth $80 million. After recently signing a 20-year deal with Fox Sports for $1.2 billion, they sold (pending league approval) for $800 million.

Meanwhile, in 2000, the Los Angeles Times was worth at least $1.5 billion when it was sold as part of Times Mirror to Tribune Company. Today, as it is newly readied for market out of the Tribune bankruptcy, it would go for something less than $250 million. The San Diego Union-Tribune, once valued near a billion dollars, sold for about $35 million in 2009 and about $110 million in 2011.

It’s a reversal of fortune: Newspaper franchises that once outvalued baseball teams by 3-1 or 5-1 or 10-1 now see the inverse of that ratio. Why?

Two letters: TV.

Those numbers tell us a lot about the continuing power of television, in worth, in value creation, and in the news business itself. If we look just at recent events in the ongoing transformation of broadcast and cable to digital, we now see multiple breakthroughs on their path to digital. They give us indications of what the news business, video and text, will look like in the coming years. While we can argue endlessly about the relative virtues and vices of print and TV news, we must acknowledge the relative ascendance of TV and think about what that means for the news business overall.

TV’s revenues are holding up far better than newspaper companies’, and TV is better positioned to survive the great digital disruption.

TV has continued to have great audience. Nearly three in four Americans tune in to local TV news at least weekly, surpassing newspaper penetration, even as Pew Research points out they mainly do it for three topics: breaking news, weather, and traffic. Further, it retains great ad strength — 42 percent of national ad spending, matching the actual number of minutes Americans spend with the medium and making it the only medium still ahead of digital spending as digital has surpassed print (newspapers + magazines this year, both in the U.S. and globally). Yes, TV remains a gorilla. While Netflix won headlines when it announced it had streamed one billion hours of TV and movies in a single month, that huge number compared to about 43 billion hours of U.S. TV consumption, according to Nielsen’s 4Q 2011 Cross-Platform report.

In a nutshell, that’s the difference between TV and video, circa 2012. Video is the next wave — incorporating TV perhaps, but still the very young kid on the block.

Today, TV is no longer a box. Sure, even with all the Rokus, Boxees, and Apple TVs, it seems like TV isn’t yet an out-of-the-box experience. But with Hulu, Netflix, and Comcast’s Xfinity, it’s emerging quickly, escaping our fixed idea of what it once was — the boob tube in the living room. If it’s not just a box anymore, it’s a platform. From that platform, we see both the disruptors and the incumbents doubling down their bets. As in most things digital, few of these launches will be huge winners — but some will drive big breakthroughs. Some of the iconic legacy companies we’ve long known will be absorbed in the woodwork as new brands supplant them. Consider the spate of recent innovation, as we quickly assess the newsonomics going forward:

  • NBC, bashed up and down Twitter, nonetheless proved out a new business model with its multi-platform approach to Olympics coverage. Whatever you think of the tape delays or the suspended reality of Bob Costas’ gaze, NBC made the economics work, surprising itself and others. Its live streaming has ratified the development of cable- and satellite-authenticated, all-access digital delivery. That reinforces cable/satellite value. Further, it whetted prime-time viewing appetites, boosting ratings and earning NBC more ad revenue than it had projected. That’s icing on the cake for NBC, which, under Comcast ownership, has rocketed forward in digital strategy. The network has made a number of moves to transform itself into a global, video-forward, digital news company, joining the Digital Dozen global news pack. Recently, it bought out Microsoft’s share of msnbc.com, a leading Internet news portal. It immediately rechristened it NBCNews.com. In short order, it appointed Patricia Fili-Krushel as the new head of NBCUniversal News Group, an entity made up of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, and the Weather Channel. A former president of ABC, with 10 years of experience at Time Warner, she heads a growing news operation. Earlier this year, NBC combined its sports properties into a unified NBC Sports Group, merging NBC’s broadcast sports unit and Comcast’s regional sports networks. NBC is growing out of its digital adolescence. (See “One year after she was hired, Vivian Schiller’s ‘wild ride’ at NBC is just beginning.”)
  • Aereo, the TV startup funded by media magnate Barry Diller, is expanding its footprint from its current New York City base, and starting to offer multiple promotional deals. Diller’s in-your-face challenge to over-the-air broadcasters (CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, CW, PBS) takes their signals and delivers that programming via the Internet. It charges consumers $12 a month, or as little as a dollar a day. They can then watch those TV stations on up to five devices; in addition, they can deliver these signals to a TV via Apple TV or Roku. Aereo also offers DVR capability, with 40 hours of storage. It’s classic disruption, with Aereo upping the pressure on the cable bundle and messing with the “retrans” fees that broadcasters get from cable companies to run their programming. Is it really legal, as a court recently found? It may be as legal as Google presenting snippets from every publisher and directory provider.
  • Local broadcasters — representing a broad swath of ownership groups organized in a newer company called Pearl — are bringing local TV to our mobile devices themselves. Just a week ago, Metro PCS started selling a Samsung Galaxy S phone with a TV receiver chip in 12 markets. That’s just the first push of Mobile Content Ventures, a collection of Pearl, NBC, Fox, and others. Expect mobile TV, marketed as Dyle, to be available for other phones and tablets, either with built-in chips or after-market accessories — although price points are an issue, with $100-plus premiums likely over the next year. So what does this innovation mean? Simply, that broadcasters are going direct to mobile consumers — no Internet needed, no data charges applying, and maybe providing more consistent video connectivity — with live programming; whatever is on TV at that moment is also on your phone or tablet. Broadcasters just use part of their digital signal to, uh, broadcast to us on our phones. It’s that antenna, and its cost, that’s the issue. Business questions abound. Given the timing of the launch, Dyle seems like an aspiring Aereo killer, and certainly broadcasters would like to see it do that, if further court action doesn’t. More deeply, though, broadcasters want to maintain their direct-to-consumer brand identity as they do a balancing act and try to keep those retrans fees from cable and satellite companies. They don’t want to be left out of the digital party.
  • Social TV pulls up a chair. First it was startup Second Screen, matching tablet ads to real-time TV viewing. Now ConnecTV, partnered with Pearl, is trying to corner the activity as it takes off. Its promise: “synchronization of local news, weather, sports, and entertainment programming along with social polls.” Ah, synchronicity, a Holy Grail of our digital aspirations. Last week, Cory Bergman (a man of at least three full-time digital lives, with MSNBC, Next Door Media, and Lost Remote) sold his Last Remote social-TV site to Mediabistro.
  • Then there’s the disruptor of everything on planet Earth, Google. The company recently announced it is putting another $200 million into YouTube Channels, building on its initial $150 million investment. The move emphasizes how quickly YouTube is growing beyond its homegrown, user-generated roots. Now partnering with dozens of prime video producers, creating more than 100 new channels, it is trying to establish itself in viewers’ lives as a go-to video aggregation source. Major video producers are still wary of Google getting between them and their customers, both ad and viewer, but many others are signed on. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Google Fiber TV (TV that’s healthier for you?) launches. It’s a rocket shot at the cable, telco, and satellite incumbents. It’s also a demonstration project: providing more, cheaper. The more: interactive search for TV that combs your DVR and third-party services such as Netflix. (Yes, The Singularity ["The newsonomics of Google ad singularity"] marches on.) Google Fiber TV combines DVR and third-party (Netflix-plus) search. Its DVR holds 500 hours of storage of shows in 1080p and the ability to record eight TV shows simultaneously. Bandwidthpalooza. Google’s goal: Toss a hand grenade among the TV-as-usual business models, and pick up some of the pieces, adding new significant revenue lines.
  • CNN moves to break out of its identity funk, figuring out what that powerful global brand means in this fast-changing digital news world. CNN President Jim Walton recently stepped down, clearly acknowledging that his 10-year run had reached an end. “CNN needs new thinking,” he said in a farewell note. On TV, CNN has been beaten up badly both both Fox News and MSNBC. In 2Q, CNN showed its worst numbers in 20 years, down 35 percent year-over-year. On the web, it’a a top-three news player. But overall, it’s become the Rodney Dangerfield of news entities, getting little respect. Its cable fees — the strength of its revenues — could be challenged by low ratings. Going forward and competing against other global news brands — many of which are transitioning their own businesses to gain far greater digital reader revenue — it is, at this moment, caught betwixt and between. How it brings together a single — and global — digital/TV identity is at the core of its continuing journalistic importance and financial performance.

That’s a short list. We could easily add HuffPo’s streaming initiative and The Wall Street Journal’s wider video embrace. Or Les Moonves’ digital moves at CBS. And Fox’s new MundoFox, Spanish-language TV network, taking on Telemundo and Impremedia. The new network, at birth, offers a strong digital component, working at launch with advertisers along those lines. Let’s note some quick takeaways here, all of which we’ll be talking about in 2013:

  • Note how much you see the names News Corp. and Fox here. While segregating its text assets (and liabilities), News Corp. is investing greatly in the video future.
  • Cable bundling’s longevity is uncertain. There’s a lot of residual power here, but we know how quickly that can fade in legacy media. Yes, the unbundling of cable and satellite has been overestimated by some, as Peter Kafka pointed out recently. Yet, these multiple digital strategies may still push a tipping point. Clearly, legacy TV media, despite their public protestations, sees that potential and is acting in multiple ways to prepare for it.
  • Though broadcasters are making major digital pushes, they start from a lowly digital position. Many broadcasters can count no more than 5 percent of their total revenues coming from digital. That compares to 15-20 percent or more for newspaper companies. While there are other sources of revenue have been more stable than those of newspapers, they need to grow digital revenues quickly to make up for inevitable erosion of older money streams.
  • TV ≠ newspapers. Much of broadcasters’ revenues are made on non-news programming, as much as one-half to two-thirds for most local broadcasters. While learning from TV experience here is useful, given lots of differences, the learnings must be smartly applied. As news consumers and advertisers move increasingly digital, though, that thick line that separate local TV from local newspapers thins by the day.

The all-access, news-anywhere, entertainment-everywhere era has created a new massive business competition. Which brands will be top of mind? Who will consumers pay? How valuable is news itself in this contest?

Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T — pipes companies — are in one corner. CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, and other known-to-consumer brands in another. Aggregators like Netflix and Hulu over there. Media marketers like Amazon and Apple holding court. Google. The local broadcasters fighting for their place in this digital ring. This new battle of brands, in and around “TV,” is now joined.

August 09 2012

16:08

August 07 2012

05:33

Mat Honan: How Apple and Amazon security flaws led to my 'epic hacking'

It can take little to destroy a (digital) identity.

Mat Honan | Wired :: In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

In many ways, this was all my fault.

A report by Mat Honan, www.wired.com

August 06 2012

20:17

Google records show book scanning was aimed at Amazon

paidContent :: A court filing provides new details about how Google scanned 20 million books and its reasons for doing so. The new facts come at a time when the long running case between Google and the Authors Guild is heading to an end game.

A report by Jeff John Roberts, paidcontent.org

Tags: Amazon Google
20:05

For college students: Amazon now renting old-fashioned paper textbooks

Venture Beat :: Amazon now offers physical textbook rentals as a cheaper option for college students, a move designed to keep Amazon as a dominant player in textbooks. While Amazon has offered digital rentals of textbooks for more than a year, this new initiative will cater to students who feel more comfortable with old-fashioned paper books for studying.

A report by Sean Ludwig, venturebeat.com

Tags: Amazon

August 03 2012

06:02

A review of Amazon Instant Video for iPad

CNET Reviews :: Amazon's Instant Video for iPad offers a diverse library of pay-per-view TV shows and movies, plus an additional subset of "free" content for subscribers to the company's $79 per year Amazon Prime service. But it's important to note, that you can't purchase content from within the app and will need to visit the Amazon Web site to purchase or rent TV and movies.

A review by reviews.cnet.com

Tags: Amazon iPad

August 02 2012

14:41

Hate transcribing audio? Crowdsource it instead

For journalists who don't mind getting their hands dirty, Amazon's Mechanical Turk service can be a cost-effective way to avoid one of the least thrilling parts of the reporting process: transcribing. Read More »

August 01 2012

20:09

Y Combinator-backed Instacart wants to be Amazon with one-hour delivery

TechCrunch :: Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak said last week during the company’s second quarter earnings call that it “doesn’t see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad scale, economically.” If Amazon hesitates to admit that it’s possible, even as they rush to open new fulfillment centers, it can’t be easy. Of course, in the meantime, one startup wants to pick up Amazon’s slack and offering not just same-day delivery, but one-hour delivery. And naturally, it’s a product of one of their own.

A report by Rip Empson, techcrunch.com

July 30 2012

08:58

Amazon: Reshaping cities

Irish Times :: Back in May, Amazon made tentative steps into the world of content creation with a scheme to solicit film and TV scripts. And with the Kindle Fire tablet, Bezos is even staking out a position as the future of mobile computing takes shape. But it is distinctly possible that Bezos’ most significant disruption won’t be recorded in mounting quarterly losses posted by a rival retailer or media company. Instead, his legacy might be felt over the long term in the very shape of our cities.

A report by Davin O'Dwyer, www.irishtimes.com

Tags: Amazon Kindle
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