Memory Bank Monday (10.19-10.25)

1. Do you want to be the new editor of Newsweek? Watch this, then apply:

2. The Greater Manchester Police force used Twitter for one whole day to give citizens an insight into its daily activities:

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Cable Attempts to Thwart Google TV (and this article would have helped me answer at least one question on the exam)

Gizmodo does a great job in this article giving readers the lowdown on the problems that are arising with newly unveiled Google Tv. And it all comes down to one thing: advertisements.

Here’s the thing: Web advertising is worth a lot less than regular TV advertising. The ads for 30 Rock on Hulu or NBC.com dump a lot less change into NBC’s pocket than the ones that run when 30 Rock airs on the network. So if you’re watching broadcast content on your television, broadcasters want you to watch TV ads, not web ads.

These new developments just exacerbate the already tangled ties between advertisers and media outlets. Right now cable companies are blocking Google TV access to their sites in order to preserve a few things:

1. Ad revenue. The dollar-dime rule is totally applicable in this case.
2. Content QUALITY. Another huge worry is that the ease of internet access will take away from the hard work broadcasters put into creating shows/works. A viral youtube or vimeo video will be just as easily accessible as a 60 Minutes episode. A blurring of highbrow/lowbrow video culture, perhaps?

I’m really eager to see how this all pans out.

Further Reading (I highly recommend):
Networks Block Web Programs From Being Viewed on Google TV
Google in talks to unblock access to TV websites
The problem with Hulu, the iPad, and Cheap TV

Starbucks to Offer Free Online Content

image via gizmodo

Starbucks is partnering up with Yahoo to offer free online content to customers. As you already know, the coffeehouse already offers free wifi, but what is even more interesting about this is that:

…The site will also allow unfettered access to some services that are pay-only outside of the store—notably, the entire Wall Street Journal website, famous for their iron pay wall.

This move is designed to keep customers from converting to other fast-food chains (namely, McD’s) that are unveiling fancy new coffee drinks at a cheaper price. McDonald’s rolled out McCafe in 2009, and now includes seven high-end coffee drinks.

So, not only does this new “free” stuff allow you to justify spending at minimum ~$3 for a cuppa java (because let’s be real here: I am the only person I know who will actually order a tall coffee-of-the-day coffee. Black. No sugar. But $3 is already half the cost of a bag of decent whole/ground beans from the grocery store… and an entire bag of ground coffee yields more than 20 cups of coffee. So when it comes to the nitty-gritty truth why the hell do we choose to spend so much money on one cup of coffee that should really only cost half of what it does? The world of marketing is so fascinating.), but it allows Starbucks to rake in the dough from the advertisements of other non-coffee related products.

So what’s the catch?

The free content can only be viewed in “small doses” at a time, meaning a customer will be able to read an e-book for about 20 minutes before access is restricted.

…People either want to buy the content outright to take with them, or return to Starbucks again. The sites were designed to remember where people leave off in a book or a movie, so picking it back up is seamless.

Looking at it from both a business and consumer perspective, this actually seems like a good idea. So let’s assume you go to Starbucks, you buy your $3 coffee, sit down, pull out your iPad and start reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. 20 minutes goes by too fast. You’re lazy. You don’t want to leave the establishment and come back for another allotted 20 minutes of juicy novel time. The place is packed and you’ll lose your cozy seat, anyway. You buy the novel and download it for $9 (I don’t know how much the ebooks will cost..I’m just guesstimating here). At the end of the day, you’ve already spent $12 when you normally would have spent $3.

Just goes to show there’s “no such thing as a free lunch.”

Also, and you know I’ve got to get my coffee snobbery in here, the announcement comes at a time when cafes and other elitist coffeehouses are trying to abolish the use of cell phones and laptops, in order to create a more… intimate experience between every customer and the espresso he’s just ordered. (NYT article here) The displaced gadgets-for-appendages customers will potentially succumb to the Starbucks universe, which is looking pretty welcoming to everyone right now.

Sources:
Starbucks Rolling Out Free Content to Keep You Loitering in Stores
Starbucks hopes online content from Apple, Yahoo, others lures customers

Memory Bank Monday (10.12-10.18)

*Weekly roundup of things I’m reading but am too lazy to blog about*

1. This reminded me of Everyblock, but ten times worse. It’s MURDERMAP, and it indicates locations where murders took place in London. (via downloadsquad)

2. Social gaming sites to knock Facebook’s dominance?

3. ffflourish.com: Social networking for “natural health” enthusiasts? I didn’t make a profile, but it seems interesting.

4. Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel to give out “scholarships,” aka pay students to quit college.

5. The NYT iPad app is free until 2011.

Memory Bank Monday (10.5-10.11)

(via xkcd)

1. Man Who Tries Social Networking On Subway Gets Fired Solomon Lederer tried to connect to people in the real world via his subway commute, but was fired from Morgan Stanley after his story was picked up by the WSJ. You can see the WSJ piece and read more about “The Underground Connection” at his blog, here.
2. Speaking of broadband, Why Broadband Service in the U.S. is So Awful. Turns out it’s all due to two words: information service.
3. The UK is planning to roll out “superfast” broadband. The first step is mandating BT (UK’s largest ISP) to allow rival ISPs to use its underground ducts and telegraph poles to set up their own fibre networks.
4. Magazines complain to iPad for subscriptions, rather than per-issue payment.

LA Times Readers Pooh-Pooh About News Ethics, But Choke On Own Word-Vomit (Hypocrits)


(left: fake, more interesting front page; right: real, more important front page)

So the big brouhaha over in Orange Peel land is the LA Times’ decision to make life more interesting for its readers by publicly announcing its support for NBC with a giant faux front page, hawking the new L&O show.

Imaginary Scenario:
Reader
: Holy shit! Smashed glass and grisly crime scene tape! Boy is this gonna be one juicy read!
*quickly buys paper and rifles through it, looking for story of mass disorder and devastation*
LA Times: JUST KIDDING! Now here’s your daily dose of boredom with the real headline: Brown and Whitman go head to head. Innuendo absolutely intended. Get it? This is juicy too, no?

Due to a massive negative reaction, the Times then ran a reader response section on its website, highlighting scathing comments from readers, who felt conned into buying the newspaper. I understand the outrage, really. If I, as an unsubscribed news consumer, picked up the LA Times solely for that article—then yes, I’d feel betrayed and “punk’d” too. But I don’t think it’s really necessary for people who already subscribe to the paper to feel shammed over it.

Yes, it’s low.
Yes, the paper has earned the title of “brown noser.”
Yes, it’s desperate.

But did the paper reduce anything? Did it replace any important stories for this ad?
No.

So subscribers are essentially getting one extra newspaper page to use for house-training their dogs or something. If anyone has a right to be in an uproar, it should be the environmentalists.

And honestly, what does that say about the people who ONLY bought the paper for that story? Would they have even bought the paper for the real news? You know, the stuff that actually affects our lives?

One reader wrote:

“Let me be one of the first to express my total support for ad revenue any way you can get it, including selling a cover of your front page, presumably for an unusually large sum of money. I hope all Times readers realize the financial pressures on all print media today and, like me, hope the day never comes when we have to get our Times on a digital reader.”

While “support ad revenue any way you can get” sounds a little too ambitious and sneaky, I think what most people are forgetting here is that not only is the print medium about to drown, but the LA Times is a member of the Tribune family, which is currently entangled in a two-year bankruptcy litigation.

Can you blame a brotha’ for being desperate??

What this incident proves is that obviously selling an ad spot that takes up the entire front page, an ad that happens to look identical to a real front page, is a big mistake. It’s a mistake that got people to buy the paper, but at the cost of the paper’s integrity. According to the outraged.

But what gets me even more than the upset of people who bought the paper only for the more interesting article is that this isn’t the first time the LA Times has run a full front page ad before!

The NYT wrote a little something about it back in March, and one quote from an LA Times reporter just about sums it all:

“People are worried about what it does with the brand, the paper’s name,” said one reporter who, like his colleagues, insisted on anonymity to speak critically of his employer. “On the other hand, it’s money that we badly need.”

Further Reading:
L.A. Times Replaces Front Page With Fake ‘Law & Order’ News; L.A. Times Readers Really Pissed

Twitter Trailblazer for New Ad Revenue? (And my extreme distaste for Dick Costolo’s overuse of the word “organic”)

Twitter Introduces New Types of Ads

Apparently, for a long time Twitter refused to talk about money, but now the company has revealed two strategies that, according to Twitter’s chief operating officer, Dick Costolo, advocate “a new kind of advertising—advertising that starts out as organic content.

Whoa, whoa. Let’s stop and analyze this for a sec.

Starts out as ORGANIC content?

What does ORGANIC content mean? Let’s take a gander at the organic advertisements on the market these days: organic milk. All natural Ben & Jerry’sOrganic cosmetics. Organic organic organic. It’s funny how most of those products have had to slash the “o” word from their titles, rendering it a meaningless adjective used to bloat up a product’s sellability.

So. With this premise in mind, what exactly are Twitter’s strategies?

1. Advertisers must pay to promote their accounts
2. Twitter advertising will eventually include small businesses who can use a self server to place ads

Advertisers pay when a user clicks on their post or trend topic, and also if a user retweets their message. Twitter will give priority spots for “suggested” promoted accounts that have been paid for. So it’s basically a competition for advertisers who use their free accounts to be suggested…

I’m wondering what the initial “promote me” price is, though. Because if Twitter allows any sum of money, companies with the biggest cache will come out on top while the smaller businesses suffer. However, if it all companies pay a flat promotion fee, then their popularity and suggestion status is determined by the Twitterverse. That totally seems more organic to me.

This model is pretty similar to the paid ads we see on websites everyday, but what I like about this—and what I think will make it more successful—is that the revenue will be completely user-generated. People will see ads not because the company reserved a specific spot, but because other users forwarded it through their own tweets. This, in turn, makes the ad more credible is people see that others promote it of their own volition.

There’s also a portion of small businesses that will use Twitter and are happy with organic followers and will build organically, and that’s fine with us,” Costolo also said.

Ohhhhh, so an “organic” twitterer is someone who gets his followers using his own charisma and tweeting skills *slaps forehead*.