The New York Times reports that ABC and Facebook have developed a plan to cover the US Presidential campaign debates that come just before the New Hampshire primaries. The January 5 event promises to allow Facebookers to participate very actively in the events, most notably interacting directly with reporters covering the candidates.
Despite some skepticism that Facebook users care much about politics, clearly this is another minor milestone in social networking and the effect of the online world …on the offline world.
Brightcove, a formerly “promising” video distribution startup has given up it’s lackluster battle to compete with YouTube in consumer video, though *it will remain open as a distribution point for high quality video. (High quality video? Isn’t that an oxymoron in modern media parlance?).
ReadWriteWeb has an unsatisfactory summary of this event, failing to note that the key challenge for anything related to online video is this: Video-related advertising doesn’t work. More importantly it’s not clear it will *ever* work. I’ve always been skeptical of how video would monetize, and still think YouTube may never justify it’s capitalization except as one more brick in Google’s massive wall of online dominance.
In fact it’s time to consider this interesting possibility – pay per click advertising may be a “one hit wonder”. I’m not prepared to make this case yet but it’s not really clear that online advertising techniques outside of PPC are working well for advertisers, and even PPC is showing signs of reaching some cost limits in term of advertiser ROI. Success for advertising agencies (Google is number one, with half the online ad take) should not be confused with success of the advertising itself. Clearly PPC is working for many, but part of what is happening is that offline advertising is finally recognized for what it is, which is an “emperor without any clothes”. I’d argue that as a general rule (ie more than 50% of the time) offline advertising campaigns have negative ROI. Watching in the Travel industry how negative ROI is spun by ad salesfolks as positive ROI and how failure is analyzed as “success” has been a real eye opener, and I think these mathematical misperceptions are pervasive in the industry.
Another powerful force is the impact of “free” social network marketing. Word of mouth has always trumped paid advertising, and social networking is ushering in a new era where consumers not only control what they buy, they are working to control the ads they are exposed to and are talking a lot about products independently and without advertising intervention. Facebook’s recent “beacon” fiasco tried to spin this backwards and has had very questionable results.
Pay per click has brought much better ROI measurement to mom and pops as well as large companies whose agencies are having increasing difficulty spinning failed “branding” campaigns as a big success.
Brightcove is not an exception: look for more failures in the video space and elsewhere as the 2.0 bubble slowly deflates into a balance with rational business practices.
February 2009 is the date for the mandatory transition to digital TV. Here is a great website to answer a lot of questions folks may have about this major transition in broadcasting and hardware technologies.
I’m still undecided about whether this will be a bang or a whimper. Marketing efforts, Cable and Satellite have made many households “digital already” so by 2009 there may not be enough old TVs to matter much – they can install the digital to analog boxes and will be off to the races.