"Streaming online video is entering the media mainstream, offering alternative means of distributing video content to consumers of the traditional channels,"IDC said in a recent report. Akamai highlights the same idea.
U.S. consumers will spend more than $9 billion on online video content in 2010, up from about $1.2 billion in 2008. Meanwhile, advertisers will spend about $3.3 billion on online video in 2012, up from less than $1 billion last year.
In terms of number of users, in the next three years it is expected a rise of third to about 160 million. More than 85 million households will have broadband access by 2012, up from about 70 million this year.
It is obvious that consumers with higher Internet capacity access a wider range of film and television content over the Web. And a result of it, online video revenue is surging dramatically. It is a good news for Internet businesses.
A growing number of people are watching movies and television online, and some of them have even decided to bypass their cable subscription.
Seeing this trend, the U.S. cable industry is reacting setting up streaming video sites. Industry's obvious goal is to ensure that people stay connected to cable programming, even if they watch the programs on their computers. This initiative is called "TV Everywhere".
Comcast is the first major cable operator to introduce its streaming site. The new service, branded as "Fancast Xfiniy TV", allows watching thousand of television episodes online that were previously unavailable.
Comcast customers log in to the service via Comcast.net or Fancast.com and will have to install a program before using it. Nonsubscribers are blocked.
Partners in the service include A&E, AMC, Discovery Channel, History, TLC and TNT — cable channels that have been generally reluctant to place their shows online for fear of cannibalizing. Also Xfinity will include premium shows that aren't on Hulu.
"There's an astounding amount of content that has not been online before,", explained Comcast.
Overall, this is another big step toward anytime, anywhere media.
There is a kind of link shortening mania out there.
There was a time when TinyURL was the only one. Now YouTube, Google, and Facebook are getting into this business.
It is understable. With so many web pages being shared across social networks, e-mail and micro-blogs, shortened links have become an esential need when managing monster-sized URLs.
I have collected some of them:
YouTube has chosen http://youtu.be (a Belgium top-level domain). They announced it in their blog. To use youtu.be manually just replace a big portion of the youtube.com url. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdeioVndUhs would be http://youtu.be/FdeioVndUhs
Bit.ly, which is the official link shortening service for Twitter, is the most extended. Now they have launched a 'pro' version for websites, bloggers and news organizations. The New York Times, for example, would appear as nyti.ms
Google has launched Goo.gl for its Google Toolbar and Feedburner users. So it is not available for broader consumer use.
Facebook has created fb.me as shortening service. So just type fb.me and you will be automatically redirect to Facebook.com
Another application for live streaming on iPhone has arrived this week: Qik.
It follows the heels of Ustream and Bambuser (I blogged about it), but, in my view, it is the best in its category.
The Qik's app works over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks, has social features, it allows to alert your friends, and it is GPS location-enabled.
In addition, it has two unique features:
- It works on all iPhones, including 2G and 3G versions.
- It allows users to mark their video streams as private, enabling them to choose who can view their broadcasts. When a video is marked private, it can be viewed only by users who have received an email or MMS.
This is a funny interactive campaign. Organizing For America, an organization associated with Obama's election campaign, has been sending out millions of holiday videos that show the President, as well as ordinary Democrats, thanking supporters for their dedication. The extraordinary thing is that video is cleverly personalized.
Videos feature the recipient's name in varios places of the clip; even Obama himself signs up a holiday card in this office.
Recipients are encouraged to send personalized versions of the card to their friend.
An Organizing for America spokesperson said that at least a million people have received this video.
See here the video I got. Notice that my name is wrongly writen up. Impossible to hide that this is pure marketing.
Mobile phones are becoming an essential tool for this holiday shopping season in the U.S.
This is an opportunity and a challenge for retailers. For users, the new mobile technology avoid spending hours on Internet search.
A Deloitte's annual survey says: 1 in 5 shoppers intent to use their cellphone to shop. Of those, 45 percent will use their phone to research prices; 32 percent will use it to find coupons or read reviews; and 25 percent will purchase from their phones.
Therefore, online retailers are revamping their mobile websites -most of the sites are nos customized for a mobile's tiny screen. Meanwhile, offline retailers are sending users electronic coupons.
Some ideas and smart initiatives:
Using ShopSavvy iPhone's free app you can quickly scan of the bar code on any product and know who is the cheapest retailer.
Other useful mobile apps and sites to compare prices are RedLaser, TheFind, ShopSyle and PriceGrabber.com
At MyCoupons.com you can get exclusive savings.
The iPhone app for the Tommy Hilfiger online store shows products based on what shoppers are looking for, so you don't have to scroll through pages of clothes. If you are registered on their Website, you only need to enter your e-mail address and password to check out.
EBay's iPhone app sends people notifications if they are outbid in an auction and lets people check out with just a few clicks if they have a PayPal account.
If buying books, use Amazon app on your iPhone or BlackBerry. You can save a bunch of money.
Innovative applications like Yowza use the GPS location information in cellphones to send shoppers coupons for stores withing walking distance of where they're standing.
The NYT writes an interesting article about the mobile shopping phenomenon. (My opening picture is taken from them.)
Having a multiplatform strategy in the sports business pays off. It boosts viewership, engagement, traffic and revenues.
Major League Baseball pioneered multiplatform distribution with its MLB.tv online video product and the release of its MLB.com At Bat application. Also in 2008, NBC’s strategy for the Olympics was incredibly successful.
Now the NBA (National Basketball Association) is having a record year in terms of web video traffic and overall TV viewership. For example, video views online are up 50 percent over this time last year, with 215 million streams from around the world.
This multiplatform strategy, according to NewTeeVee site, includes broader TV distribution, more-in-depth online coverage in NBA.com, and the availability of hundreds of mobile apps.
Only in mobile, the NBA has introduced over 100 apps across the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry’s app stores. Its NBA League Pass Mobile app, which costs $39.99 and it is made with MobiTV, enables fans to watch live video from their devices. Also the league has issued a paid Game Time app ($9.99) and apps for each individual team ($3.99 each).
The frame rate for captures is only three frames per second (which is 10 times less than the 3GS’ 30-frames-per-second capability). In addition, videos are limited to one minute in length and resolution for the capture is only 160 x 213.
A number of people including me, have consider this issue aggravating, since Apple could have easily resolved it time ago. Then they refused to admit that shooting video in older devices was just a software limitation. Instead of that, Apple made the video capability the main selling point of the new 3GS iPhone. Just with a simple upgrade would have been enough.
Optimistics say that at least Apple didn’t kill this app from the start.
Successful web design means keeping visitors engaged. Eye-tracking and psychological studies agree on a number of ideas that drive results. I have read a report of Newhall Klein Inc. and extracted some of them.
Readers follow the F-shaped pattern. They peruse horizontally across the uppermost content first. Next, further down in another horizontal line. Then, they scan the far left verically searching for relevant to them.
Visitors don't read word-for-word the web content like a book. They scan for pertinent material. They see first graphics than text.
Navigation tools work best at the top a webpage.
White space works. Visitors spend more time in the Website.
Blues, greens, almonds, lighter purples, and other passive colors are calming to the eyes.
Using lists, bullets and numbers to break up paragraphs and long content keep people's concentration.
The first two words of a section are critical for the reader. Use powerful and informative wording.
The OSMF provides a preintegrated stack of components for building a streaming video player that runs on top of Adobe's Flash brower plugin. It includes stream loading functionality, user interface classes, and other parts that are needed to build a video player.
Developers can take the components of the OSMF and add or modify it as needed to include additional functionality or give it custom look and feel. It eliminates the need to manually assemble the streaming functionaly when implementing custom players.
Open framework, propietary plugin
The source code is available under the terms of the open source Mozilla Public License (MPL). Adobe says that it intends to accept patches from third-party developers, meaning that the project is open to independent contributors.
Although OSMF is open source, the Flash player itself—the browser plugin that is used to run and display the content—still remains proprietary.
"For the most part, the advertising model for online video is not working, and publishers will need to find new ways to monetize assets."
This is what Murali Nemani, Cisco's Director of Service Provider thinks.
There you go. Cisco System predicts tha online video will move to a paid/subscription model.
The movement to this paid model for online video will be accelerated later this month when Comcast introduce "TV Everywhere", a system which allow 14 million cable subscribers to view premium content of 24 cable channels on their computers at no additional cost.
“The game that Apple is playing is to become the Microsoft of the smartphone market,” has said in The New York Times a Mongan Stanley analyst.
It is true. The Apple Store’s apps are rapidly transforming mobile computing and telephony, and the Steve Job’s army is setting behaviour rules for the whole industry.
An Apple’s executive explains the fever around the app model (100,000 applications, over two billion downloads, a billion dollars a year in revenue; and a forecast of 300,000 apps by 2011): “The idea that anyone, all the way from an individual to a large company, can create software that is innovative and be carried around in a customer’s pocket is just exploding. It’s a breakthrough, and that is the future, and every software developer sees it.”
But there is a dark side, which is the frustration of many developers due to the Apple’s inscrutable and arbitrary process for accepting programs into the App Store.
(Apple says it receives more than 10,000 application submissions each week, and it need to make sure approved apps won’t crash the platform, steal personal information or contain illegal content. Critics argue there are apps that can compete with Apple’s current or future line of products.)
Tired of this opaque review process, many programmers have joined aroundjailbroken communities. (A jailbroken iPhone or iPhone is a modified device that allows anyone to upload a program onto it, which Apple says illegal; Rock Your Phone is one of the most popular communities.)
In this scenario, Google’s Android mobile operating system is evolving into the fiercest competitor to the iPhone. Unlike Apple, Google has eschewed a review process, allowing any developer to publish an application to the Android Marketplace. Around 14,000 applications are available for Android-powered smartphones.
This is a big step forward. For the first time, iPhone 3GS users can live-stream from their devices over 3G networks (and also over Wi-Fi, of course).
I personally tried it today, broacasting live from the Spanish Language Royal Academy, in Madrid, Spain, and it worked fine.
For that, you need to download the Ustream free app from Apple's Store.
In addition to live-streaming, the app has cool features that allow users to upload their videos to YouTube, MobileMe and Facebook. Ustream also makes it easy to send notices on Twitter when a user has started a live stream.
The release of the Ustream Broadcaster app comes just about a week after the Knocking Live Video app was approved by Apple, enabling viewers to share live video feeds on a one-to-one basis.
Now that the door is opened, expect more apps to include similar live broadcasting capabilities.
There are legions of self-proclaimed experts on social media who offer their services as consultants. In fact, according to Business Week, “over the past five years, an entire industry of consultants has arisen to help companies to navigate the world of social networks, blogs, and wikis.”
Many of these folks are just wannabes, refuges from the real state bust, last-minute consultants who have the ability to produce best-selling books and who cast themselves as triumphant case studies.
As Business Week warns, “Beware Social Media Snake Oil”. Most of these hype merchants has no Internet experience. They are just profiting from the buzz around social tools. Scrutinize them before hiring.
In the instant gratification world we are living, waiting a few seconds can make a difference. YouTube is testing video watch pages with the lowest latency possible. The project is called "Feather", and you can follow it here.
This "Feather" Beta limits the features available to the viewer, like comments and related videos, and it reduces the amount of bytes downloaded by the browser.
The result is a lightweight version, and therefore a page that loads and plays quickly. If you are in a low connection is great.
Browsing around I have detected an increasing number of free PDF e-books as a marketing tool.
To me, this is a powerful form of Web content that pays off. People appreciate the value of a product that looks like for-purchase but can actually be downloaded for free.
If you are a marketer you should incorporate them into your marketing-mix strategy.
Some quick advices when creating an e-book:
Add material people want to read. Don't write about your products and services. It is about spreading valuable ideas.
Make the content totally free, with no registration requirement at all. Put a Creative Commons license on the content, so people know they can freely share your copyrighted material.
Keep it short. David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, suggests to be as short as 10 or 12 pages or as long as 50 to 60 pages. If you have more than 30 pages consider breaking the content up into several e-books.
Include attractive graphics and images with the text. Have them professionally designed.
Use examples and stories throughout.
Promote it heavily. Offer it in your Website, in your blog, add a link to your employees' e-mail signatures, get partners to offer links. Always send a download link, not the PDF.
One of the best examples is the free e-book of The New Rules of Viral Marketing, from David Meerman Scott. It was downloaded more than 400,000 times in one year. Download it from here.
The Tiger Woods animation video, in a Chinese-only soundtrack, has achieved global fame since it went online. There have been more than 1.7 million views on YouTube alone. The New York Times puts the story on the cover this Sunday. Many U.S. networks have re-broadcasted it.
Two things are amazing:
It is a guess work. It depicts events that no journalist witnessed, and that may not have been occurred. We are jumping in an dangerous world of Maybe-Journalism (Chinese style).
The minute-and-a-half long digitally animated piece with pretty good quality (although no Pixar) was created in days by a Hong Kong based company. In the U.S. this would be done within six months.
Animated stories done at such speed are a new and powerful genre in Journalism. Let's hope some accuracy there.
As you probably know, the mega-media deal of the year is the Comcast / NBC Universal joint venture valued at $37.25 billion. Comcast will have a 51 percent stake and GE's NBC Universal will hold a 49 percent stake.
Both companies have been among leaders in bringing premium video content online through
Fancast & Comcast.net andHulu. For now, nobody expects any change on them.
The purchase gives Comcast access to popular cable networks such as Telemundo, E! Online, USA Bravo and Golf Channel; web sites such as Hulu and iVillage; Universal Studios and a few theme parks; shows like The Office and 30 Rocks.
Below is a CNBC's interview to thearchitects of the deal.
The deal, however, will bring along with it some regulatory scrutiny. The approval will take 9 to 12 months, according to an NBC's internal memo.
This new site, Movieclips.com, has signed licensing agreements with six of the major Hollywood studios (Fox, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros), so that it can offer 12,000 two-minute clips from a diverse collection of movies.
It is a free, ad-supported site. The clips can be searched by title, genre, actor and dialogue. They are linked to third-party sites where consumers can rent or purchase each title.
The Movieclips.com player can be embedded in social networks such as Facebook and MySpace and shared on blogs, Twitter and personal sites, allowing viewers to exchange the clips.
Shopflick, the main video marketplace for independent boutiques.
Examining a bit closer Zappos, we detect how they use video for product demos, to open a window into the corporate culture, and as instructional guides.
Zappos has also started creating boutique sites with videos for customers like Nike.
It is also interesting to see how they are finding new ways to connect with its customers. For instance, on their corporate blog they feature anything from employees singing to a Pet Supply donation drive, or two women talk about trends for the holiday seasons.
To help reach its goal of 50,000 videos next year, Zappos is building out ten studios in both its Kentucky and Las Vegas offices, and will have three or four full-time staffers at each studio.
Zappos view is that "video is going to be huge for us in 2010".
To me, the key question is sales conversion is higher on products that have accompanying clips? My answer: no doubt given how cheap videos are now to produce. Zappos.com disclosed that videos' cost is anywhere from $17 to $50 per clip to create.
Retailers are using Twitter, Facebook and other social media means this holiday sesion to attract shoppers. About 47 percent of retailers are doing so, according to The New York Times.
This is America's first Twitter Christmas. How is that?
Basically, retailers and their customers are using this social networking site as a business tool to talk to one another about bargains, problems, purchases and shopping strategies. And for that, they are coming up with a Twitter plan. They designate tech-savvy employees to respond to the post, and sometimes they provide special deals and up-to-minute inventory information from a sales floor.
Why all this buzz around? Well, a Twitter post can be seen by millions, and that outperforms a e-mail message or a phone call to a store. It gives customers a practical way to ask questions or complain about something.
How does it work? From its password-protected page, each user searches for retailers to follow. Then, the chain's posts show up on the users' Twitter home page when they log in. And the systems allows users to send messages in other direction, so that a retailer's employees will see them.
To encourage usage, for instance, Gap Outlet offered 15 percent off purchases of $75 to those who decided to follow it.
Retailers also use Facebook to interact with their customers, despite this community tool, with its photo albums and various applications, does not have the same immediacy as Twitter. A good example here is Best Buy's interactive Secret Santa application on its Facebook page.