Mac’s display ad campaign


Just stumbled across some of the new online display ads for the Mac vs. PC Guy campaign on They talk to each other from different ad placements on the same page. Very well done. I wonder what Seinfeld has up his sleeve for the folks in Redmond?I was talking to an ad exec recently who mentioned that the agency behind the upcoming Microsoft/Seinfeld campaign Crispin Porter + Bogusky almost exclusively use Macs in their office. When an agency lands a big client they usually begin using their products religiously, but apparently the folks at Crispin Porter + Bogusky have no intention of switching to PCs until they can convince themselves through their own marketing efforts that they should. Think they’ll switch to PC? Me neither.

TV migrating to the Net

As an update to my previous post on CBC’s assertion that “Traditional TV and radio usage is not being displaced by the Internet” and “The trend is towards personalizing and controlling media, not developing new ways to consume it” comes yet another study that seems to debunk the CBC’s hypothesis. Again, I’ll preface this by saying that I do recognize Canada and the U.S. markets are not interchangeable when it comes to data. However, I do think when evaluating media consumption patterns and trends, there is much to learn from U.S. data as a loose barometer for present and future Canadian behaviour.845657-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagescharttvgif_aqgsyGGDxFnslob

New data from recent months show online television viewers are using the web not just as fill-in or catch-up, but as TV replacement. IMMI finds more than 20 percent of panel members watch some prime time programming online, and the largest segment of online television viewers are white, affluent, well educated, working women aged 25-44.

A few quick notes worthy of mention. The 25-44 age demographic is older than some might think when it comes to viewing TV programming on the web. The other stat that jumps out is the 50% using the internet as a ‘TV replacement’. While that number may not be indicative of the entire market nor indicative of what is currently happening in Canada, even with a grain of salt, it’s a clear sign that there is a migration taking place. Suggesting that the internet is not displacing TV usage in any meaningful way seems akin to burying your head in the sand. You can download the full Integrated Media Measurement report in PDF form, over here.

UGV gets a bad rap

User-generated video (UGV) gets a bad rap. Here are three reasons why user-generated video is king…845654-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagesugvjpg_ytDEEivsxAbpAmo

#1 – UGV: Many people continue to make broad-sweeping generalizations about user-generated videos as though they are all equal. That’s a big mistake because UGV is the deepest and widest bucket of online video content, and it also garners the most attention. UGV cuts across every demographic line, has many tiers of varying production values and quality, and hits on every topic or category imaginable. While many big-brand advertisers don’t want their brands next to all UGV, I believe many big-brand advertisers want their brands next to some of it. That is a technology problem, and like all technology problems, nobody should sweat them because eventually they always get solved.

In fact, as UGV continues to evolve and mature, more of it will begin to look a lot more like semi-professional and professional video content. While talent is not universal, it is incredibly widespread, and as the tools to create high-quality video continue to proliferate, get better and cheaper, the volume of ‘better quality’ UGV will continue to rise.

#2 – Attention, attention, attention: UGV tallied 22 billion views in 2007, up 70% over 2006. Where there is mass attention, there inevitably are ways to monetize it. If urinals can have ads, so too will some of the lowest forms of UGV. Technology and time will solve this. Similar to blog content, which when it first began to gather momentum had the same knock against it. In the early days of blogging, many pundits thought nobody would make money from it because advertisers wouldn’t want their ads next to some random person’s diatribes. Technology solved that problem and will do so for UGV. Ironically, it’s unscripted video blogging that scares mainstream media execs more than any other form of online video. Why? Because people love watching it, and mainstream media can’t do it.

#3 – 3rd Party advertising blinders: If you’re constantly thinking about 3rd-party advertising when it comes to monetizing online video, you are not seeing the big picture, or the future of online video. As an addendum to point #2, attention can and will always be monetizable and YouTube as well as many other online video distributors will eventually make a good portion of revenues indirectly from the attention that UGV garners. This revenue won’t come from serving 3rd-party ads. Gotta think outside the box a little, but soon you will begin to see some very interesting monetization strategies play out in the online video space that have absolutely nothing to do with serving 3rd-party ads.

It’s far too easy to get caught in the moment of ‘now’ when it comes to online video. These are early days still. What seems difficult to monetize today, may be the cash cow of tomorrow. Stay tuned, and don’t get caught in the echo chamber when it comes to UGV.

image cred abbyladybug

Professional Sports and Fantasy Sports – the line continues to blur

As a self-professed fantasy sports junkie for over 20 years, I’ve always followed the fantasy industry and have marveled at how something that was a fringe, little-known hobby in the late 1980’s has now blossomed into a multi-billion dollar annual industry. I remember being a young teenager and waking up at 5:30am on Monday mornings to greet the paperboy so I could anxiously get access to the boxscores and statistics that were only available in the daily newspapers. Today, you can have just about every statistic imaginable at your fingertips the moment it happens 24/7, thanks to the internet. The internet is ‘the’ reason fantasy sports has reached such widespread popularity. How serious are fantasy sports players about managing their teams? Very serious. The Wall Street Journal recently covered a stats venture called Inside Edge that has helped Major League Baseball teams win the world series, and are now focused on giving fantasy players access to the same ‘insider’ information the professional teams use.

Inside Edge would also contribute to the next four World Series champions – the Yankees from 1998 to 2000 and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who signed up before the 2001 season. Now they hope the general public will also pay for their services. As an example, they point to their “well-hit average” statistic charting how often a hitter hits the ball hard (whether he reaches base or not). “The average hitter has a batting average of .262 and a well-hit average of .230,” according to says Kenny Kendrena, Inside Edge’s product and marketing director. Examining batters with a lower batting average and a higher well-hit average should lead the fantasy owner to some players who are just getting unlucky and due for a breakout. According to Inside Edge’s numbers, this season’s least lucky players are the Orioles’ Ramon Hernandez (.240 BA, .302 WHA), the Pirates’ Adam LaRoche (.221 BA, .269 WHA) and Jim Thome of the White Sox (.227 BA, .261 WHA).

The company couldn’t have its stats without its scouting. Inside Edge employs 30 to 35 former professional baseball players, mostly guys who never made it out of the minors. (“Chad Curtis’s brother works for us,” says Mr. Istre.) They chart every pitch and every swing of every big-league game. That sounds easy, but it can be maddeningly complicated. Imagine Barry Zito pitching to Jason Bay. Say Mr. Zito throws a curveball out of the strike zone with his first pitch, Mr. Bay makes good enough contact for it to be a hit, but Omar Vizquel makes a great play and throws Mr. Bay out. For a scorekeeper, it’s recorded as a simple out. But an Inside Edge scout has to note that Mr. Zito threw a curveball, that it was the first pitch, that Mr. Bay swung at a pitch outside of the zone (which ups his overall “chase percentage” while counting as a pitch out of the zone for Mr. Zito), that it was well-hit (upping Mr. Bay’s “well-hit average”) and that it was recorded as an out. And all of this has to be noted before Mr. Zito throws his next pitch.

Full article: WSJ

Yes, the Wall Street Journal now has a ‘Fantasy Sports Expert’ on staff.


Firefox 3 Rox

845651-media_httpwwwjamescogancomimagesfirefoxjpg_EHdvuwBkhdvDktzWhile Firefox may have stumbled in their effort to set a Guinness record for downloads in one day, it shouldn’t take anything away from what is a stellar browser update. I am a browser whore, no doubt about it. Truth be told, I left Firefox behind about a year ago in favour of OmniWeb which is a beautiful browser for the Mac that I have used on and off for about 5 years. However, as of yesterday I am back on the Firefox bandwagon big time. Firefox 3 is a major leap forward in overall speed and polish. But if you’re looking for one killer reason to download/use Firefox 3 – you must check out PicLens. It is beyond cool, and borderline addictive.

Where’s The Beef in Online Video?

We are still very much in the nascent stages of online video, that much we know. While the online video space is still very immature, three tiers of online video have clearly emerged. Which one tier will be the most profitable? Which tier will yield the most traction? Which tier will fade? Which tier will ultimately win? In this post, I will attempt to break down the online video space and describe some of the pros, cons and outlook for each sector.Let’s start with a diagram. Hamburger, anyone?


There are 3 distinct tiers of online video as I see it. I’ve divided up the online video space into Professional Video, Semi-Professional Video and User-Generated Video.

Professional Video
Professional video has been the slowest tier to ‘legitimately’ form. Broadcasters and studios have been dipping toes in the online video water, but nobody seems to be getting completely immersed in it, yet. The vast majority of Professional video is still offline being broadcasted exclusively on television, in movie theaters, lying dormant in studio archives or distributed on physical media like DVDs. Much like the diagram shows, professional video is not the most dense tier by any means, but it is the most puffy and glossy of the three. As of today, the top half of the bun has not come close to finish baking. Professional video is still making a very slow migration to the web with vast repositories of professional video not yet being repurposed and repackaged for the web. Eventually, a tsunami of professional video will make its way to the web and will do so in two forms – original made-for-web professional video programming, and repackaged offline professional video. When I say ‘repackaged’, think along the lines of what Charlie Rose is now doing. He’s now slicing and dicing his vast array of interview footage into 600+ two-minute bite-sized video clips for online consumption. This is just one example, but over time many broadcasters and studios will dig into their massive archives of programming and begin the chore of repackaging their content to satisfy the insatiable appetite for online short-form video consumption. Made-for-web professional video will be the last component of this tier to gain momentum. We are likely still years away from seeing broadcasters/studios sink substantial money into original web video. The monetization of online video is currently far too immature to support the high costs of professional video production. I would argue that this will someday signal the end of television’s reign in the advertising spectrum. When major studios start creating original video programming for the web, you can be sure that the monetization of online video will have truly come of age.

Semi-Professional Video
Semi-professional video creators are one step above User-Generated video creators because they typically have more skills, more time and are prepared to spend some money to produce online video. A good example of Semi-Professional video are the ‘How To’ videos that can be seen on many video sharing sites these days. Guides to cities, biographies and some amateur episodic productions like Lonelygirl15 are also examples of Semi-Professional online video. Semi-Professional video will be the least dense tier of the online video spectrum as it can not compete with User-Generated video on volume, and over time Professional video’s ongoing migration to the web will dwarf the Semi-Professional tier. In many ways, Semi-Professional is filling a short-term ‘quality’ gap in the online video spectrum. Much of User-Generated video is considered ‘lower quality’ and Professional video is still sitting offline waiting for the monetization of online video to mature so it can justify a Professional-level investment. Hence the reason why ‘lower cost’ Semi-Professional video is gaining traction and eyeballs right now.

In many ways, Semi-Professional video is keeping the seat warm for Professional video and due to the present-day lack of ‘high quality’ online video, it is Semi-Professional video that is enjoying a siesta of popularity and demand.As the online video space matures, Semi-Professional video will be the most difficult tier to defend. The ‘quality’ gap I mentioned above will eventually be met by larger-budgeted Professional video that will be produced or repackaged for the web. Semi-Professional video will also begin to feel encroached upon by User-Generated video. As time marches forward User-Generated video will begin to look more and more like Semi-Pro. We know this because the software to make and produce consumer video is getting better and cheaper with each passing month, and while production/acting talent is not universal, it is incredibly widespread. Now you can begin to understand why the Semi-Pro tier is caught in the middle of a sandwich and will eventually feel squeezed from the two larger halves of the bun. Also, because it is the least dense and diverse of the three tiers, it will likely be the most prone to commoditization. If there are 250 Semi-Pro YouTube videos today on the sites, sounds and history of Chicago – how many will there be next year? In three years?

User-Generated Video
Far and away the most dense of all three video tiers, no other tier can compete with User-Generated video on volume – both in terms of production and viewership. But despite being the crowned-king of online video, it has become incredibly fashionable to slam User-Generated video and that is largely due to the assumption that this tier will be the most difficult to monetize. Critics of User-Generated video are quick to point out that advertisers are leery to put their brands next to random content offerings that are raw, have low production value or in its worst form, may be offensive.What User-Generated video has over Pro and Semi-Pro is not just volume. User-Generated video offers immediacy and access in ways that the other tiers can not compete with. Media consumers today clearly value immediacy and access over quality and accuracy. We know this because we’ve seen blogs take a chunk out of mainstream media for those exact reasons.

Online video viewers are constantly looking for community and for the ‘next big or new thing’ whatever that may be. It is the undeniable hunger for the unpolished, fresh and undiscovered that will continue to drive the growth and popularity of this tier long into the future.Can User-Generated video be monetized? That is the million-dollar question. This reminds me a lot of the trajectory of blogs and blog content. Many people were quick to slam blogs in 2003’ish because they believed that monetizing blogs was not doable. Who wanted ads next to some random person’s online diary or opinionated diatribe? Over time, as blog content began to fragment and separate into definable niches, niche content networks formed, ad networks formed and advertising technology matured to enable the monetization of blogs. In my view, it is both fallacy and short-sighted to say that advertisers dislike User-Generated video.

More than any other tier of online video – it is impromptu, unscripted video blog content (ie, UGC) that scares broadcast media executives the most. Why? Because UGC gets the most online viewers, and broadcast media is not equipped to compete in this area. Advertisers may not want their brands next to ‘all’ User-Generated video, but I firmly believe that many advertisers would love their brand next to some of it. That folks, is called a technology problem. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my 10+ years as a web entrepreneur is that you don’t sweat technology problems. Inevitably, they all get solved. Essentially, all advertisers want attention and eyeballs, and in time, advertisers will be given the necessary controls and assurances they need to begin capitalizing on the huge traction that User-Generated video offers.

True Video Search Looms As The Ultimate Game-Changing Wild-Card
For all intents and purposes, video search does not exist today. Sure, you can search for videos on YouTube, Google, etc. but you are not searching the video itself. The video search of today is really a text-based search of the Title, Description or Tags that surround the videos.The video search of tomorrow, or next year or in ‘X’ years may not be a text-based search at all. Eventually, a true video search will search the actual ‘frame data’ of a video. What do I mean by this? Let’s suppose you are looking for a video of a ‘pink elephant’. Either by typing in the words ‘pink elephant’ or by providing a ‘base image’ the video search of the future will search the actual visual frame-by-frame data of videos. So a 5-minute animated video of a pink elephant which does not have the actual words ‘pink elephant’ anywhere in the Title, Description or Tags could some day be the #1 search result for ‘pink elephant’ simply because it contains 9000 video frames of a pink elephant.What impact would a true video search have on the online video spectrum? The easy answer is, density wins. All of those seemingly unmonetizable, undiscovered User-Generated videos are actually incredibly rich repositories of frame data waiting to be properly indexed and searched.

Canadian web is just getting started

It’s really easy to get caught in the echo chamber and think that everyone, every business has a web site. Truth be told, I was somewhat surprised when I read the latest internet report from Statistics Canada. While 87% of Canadian businesses ‘use’ the internet, only 41% have web sites. In addition, only 8% of private sector companies, and 16% of public sector companies are selling on the web. It’s no wonder that CIRA is projecting that .CA registrations will double over the next 3-4 years. Bottom line: there is a lot of room to grow!

Country-code domain map


For domainers, marketing execs or teachers – there is this cool map of the world that you can buy which displays 245 country-code domain extensions on a colour-coded global map. The sizing of the domain on the map is reflective of a country’s population, not the number of registrations. A neat map nonetheless. I now have one hanging in my office. Here is a list of country-codes that are currently a member of the ‘Million+ Domains Registered’ club:Argentina (.ar)Australia (.au)Brazil (.br)Canada (.ca)China (.cn)France (.fr)Germany (.de)Italy (.it)Japan (.jp)Netherlands (.nl)Russia (.ru)Switzerland (.ch)United Kingdom (.uk)United States (.us)

Will hardware save Blockbuster’s business?

In a follow-up to my previous post that touched on the major transformation from ‘store to web’ for big-box retailer Circuit City and their sagging offline sales, comes news today of a $1 Billion offer for Circuit City by Blockbuster. Much in the same way that Microsoft missed the boat on search which opened the door for Google, Blockbuster has similarly missed the boat on online video rentals and they’ve been chasing Netflix ever since.



Will merging with Circuit City save Blockbuster’s business / brand? Blockbuster appears to be moving toward a ‘hardware-based’ strategy that would likely see them launch a set-top content delivery box ie, think Apple TV. This strategy would explain the interest in merging with an electronics retailer.

“The combination of Blockbuster and Circuit City will result in an $18 billion retail enterprise uniquely positioned for the convergence of media content and electronic devices,” wrote Blockbuster’s Keyes this morning. “We would seek to differentiate products in both Blockbuster and Circuit City stores by offering exclusive content and content-enabled devices. Both companies would benefit from complementary products, marketing, management strengths, technology and distribution and the resulting synergies would significantly improve consolidated financial performance.”

In Canada, the online video rental business is suffering from a lack of competition and choice for consumers. It’s not a mature business yet by any means and over time that will change as new players, partnerships and brands enter the Canadian online video rental market.

via betanews