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44 posts from March 2007

Monetizing Video Search

Money2I think Aaron Goldman has it right in this MediaPost article.  Pre/post-roll ads probably aren't the right vehicle to monetize online video.  It's like applying the previous generation's solution to today's technology.

The scrolling ticker approach he mentions is a far better solution.  It still seems less than perfect, but it's definitely more effective in the "lean forward" online environment, as he characterizes it.  In fact, I like the ticker approach so much that I suggested it as a possible solution for DVR ad-skippers hereAnd again, who says TV shows have to remain 30 or 60 minutes long?  Why not have 3 in an hour, especially if 22 minutes of real content is all you normally get in a half-hour slot?

What "Brands" Would You Miss?

Brand_autopI love this recent series of posts John Moore has been running on his Brand Autopsy blog.  So far he's picked 4 well-known brands and asked if you'd miss them if they went away: Chili's, Subaru, Sears and Wells Fargo.

Is there any way he could have picked 4 more generic companies?!  Seriously, do any of these names really stand out from their competition as having some unique product or service?  If I were blindfolded and led into a restaurant, I'm not sure I could say whether it's a Chili's or any of 6 or 7 very similar competitors.  Subaru?  If I didn't have to drive past their enormous plant off I-65 every so often I probably would have forgotten they were still in the car business.  Sears?  Don't get me going on Sears...their quality has been awful for far too long.  It's amazing they're still in business.  Wells Fargo...maybe it's a geographic thing, but I rarely hear anything about them.

All 4 of these companies probably had much stronger brand recognition 10, 20 or more years ago.  It's yet another warning to anyone managing a brand that you need to figure out how to keep it current and relevant.

Borders: The Good News in the Results

BordersAlthough today's financial news from Borders wasn't exactly pleasant, I'm intrigued by some of the plans they're working on for their superstores.  This PW article by Jim Milliot provides some clues to what they have in mind.

The new "concept store" will apparently have a hi-tech feel to it, but I hope they don't just toss in technology for technology's sake.  I've always appreciated the fact that Borders has terminals throughout the store to let customers search to their heart's content; I wish they'd consider this suggestion I made last October though.  It sounds like they might actually implement one of the three ideas I included in this post almost two years ago (in-store kiosks), but it's unclear whether they'll use the sponsorship model I proposed.

And finally, hooray for a possible change to the Borders Rewards program!  I'm a member and I'm also in the B&N program.  The difference is that although the Borders program is free and the B&N one has an annual fee, I like the B&N one better because I see tangible results every time I make a purchase.  Borders, please rethink this and don't be afraid to charge an annual fee for discounts on member purchases!

Changing Revenue Model...#3: Margins & New Income Streams

MoneyOn to the third item from my earlier post about the changing revenue model in publishing: Time to talk about new income streams and the potentially less favorable margins they may represent.

If ever there was a great example of The Innovator's Dilemma in action (or should that be "inaction"?!), this is it.  It's so easy to look at your core business and think, "yeah, I've got it all figured out...I know there are people out there experimenting with "new technologies" and ways to "steal my business", but look at the money they're spending today and the low margins they're forced to live with!"  If that sounds familiar, it's gut check time because you're in denial.

The truth is someone will eventually create a better mousetrap than yours.  It may not be this year and it may not be next year, but it will happen at some point.  Experiment a little.  No, experiment a lot! (In fact, that was point #2.)  Accept the fact that the margins on many of these experiments will be lower than what you're accustomed to.  Deal with it.  They might improve with volume, or they might just be lower forever.  How long can you not experiment and cling to a business with acceptable margins but a shrinking customer/revenue base?  The newspaper industry is "Exhibit A".  Let's all try to learn as much as we can from their mistakes.

More Second Life Buzz

Creating_sl_2Publisher's Weekly ran a short article yesterday talking about the debate over which publisher was first to establish a presence on Second Life.  I'm not so sure being first will be as important as simply figuring out how best to truly leverage this emerging platform...but I'd like to think we accomplished the former and have a sound strategy for the latter!

The article also mentions our current hit, Second Life: The Official Guide, as well as two of our upcoming titles: Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Content Creation for Second Life and The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life: Making Money in the Metaverse.