Archive: video platform

The Future of (web) TV

Reflecting on the current discussions, last at the Delphi Executive conference in Bonn, and at CeBIT which I both attended as a speaker, I recalled the very lively panel at DLD 09 around online video and social media. If you are interested in the topic, the video gives you insights with Brightcove, Endemol, sevenload and Termor Media and a great moderator, David Kirkpatrick from Fortune Magazine.

About the specifics of how we perceive the value of recurring WebTV Content, please check my Interview at ETRE in Stockholm:

ETRE 2008: Axel Schmiegelow describes the sevenload community and “The Future of TV” from curtis newton gmbh on Vimeo.

IPTV, Digital TV, and Web 2.0: Power to the Audience [German]

Die technischen, wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Entwicklungen, die mit IPTV, Web TV, Digitales Spartenfernsehen und Web 2.0 nur ungenügend beschrieben werden, leiten einen fundamentalen Strukturwandel im Verhältnis von Konsumenten /Zuschauern zu Anbietern.

Bislang war die Wertschöpfung des Fernsehens darauf ausgerichtet, Inhalte anzubieten, um die Aufmerksamkeit eines möglichst hohen Anteils der Zuschauer zu gewinnen, und einen Teil dieser Aufmerksamkeit werblich zu vermarkten. In der Zeit nur weniger Sender war dies sogar ein erfolgreiches Geschäftsmodell.

Heute entscheidet der Zuschauer viel differenzierter, was er wann medial konsumiert. Er blendet auch aktiv die werbliche Vermarktung aus. Gleichzeitig bieten die technischen Möglichkeiten

- zur Suche,

- zum Angebot On-Demand,

- und zur Interaktivität

dem Zuschauer und Konsumenten eine völlig neue Dimension der Relevanz von Inhalten. Die Zukunft gehört dem

“Long Tail” spezialisierter, On-Demand angebotener, mit Zusatzservices und relevanten interaktiven Werbeformaten

angereicherter “Programmformate”, die überdies von den Nutzern in immer differenzierteren Clustern mitbestimmt werden. Das ist das Prinzip, das die unterschiedlichsten neuen Ansätze, von YouTube über Joost bis sevenload, vereint.

Viral Social Commerce

These past months have, in a way that I would not have thought possible, created a start-up market situation closely resembling a certain period in time that we had in 1999. A number of new start-ups have sprung up that stem from what I call “feature-itis”, that is: their main business idea is not the creation of a value that addresses a particular market in a way that is commercially feasible, but much more the “hey- wouldn’t it be cool if it were possible to do this or that on the web” impulse.

If you sift through the business history of the first and second wave of the internet and try to analyze which companies ended up being successful, which companies were moped up as additional features to Yahoo! and bought out, and which companies simply failed, you find out that at the end of the day it’s not at all about a new economy, it’s about very old principles of

– servicing viable markets
- with a viable market proposition/value proposition
- and at an affordable price

in the widest sense of price, that is: convenience, access, time, budget and eventually price in dollars.

If we now look at what I like to call Web 3.0, that is, the commercial maturity of the social phenomena that we are observing with Web 2.0, then remembering that business history and applying the method of identifying customers for a market that are prepared to pay a given price, is a healthy mental exercise.

You’ll allow me to refer to myself and my earlier Blog entry about the distinction between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 and briefly describe Web 2.0 as the discovery that the internet is not only a repository for information and data, and a network through which e-mail and chat communication can happen, but has become a medium where

the human source of information

and human source of opinion and entertainment becomes as accessible as the data that he/she has created, that is at the core of the Web 2.0 social revolution. And as any revolution, it creates a whole new set of social behavioural changes, business opportunities, political implications and essentially an entirely new medium- which incidentally is not only confined to the Blog or Social Network phenomenon.

Stating these now commonplace insights into Web 2.0 leads me to reflect upon the Web 3.0 phenomenon, that is the commercial viability of all of these changes. As described in my Blog entry, I believe strongly that this will be the era where the source of data and information, and essentially this means the

human individual as a source of expertise,

can more and more market that expertise in many different ways- either

- by being accessible as an expert or
- by offering more in depth information or
- services related to the information
- transactions / products related to the information

for any kind of currency (this may be a social reward or a commercial reward/payment) in a variety of models that can range from subscription to micro-payments or even other forms of transaction that we may not yet even imagine (my informed hunch is “subscription” will mean many different rental models that are being imagined right now). As of now, the main focus of business endeavour in the Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 transition era, is to create and monetize exactly these kinds of platforms- much in the way that sevenload is doing for the video world.

In the future, business focus will be to harness the technologies, communication methods and social behaviour of Web 3.0 to create new value and new markets, thereby disrupting existing business structures. Increasingly, this will be achieved by individuals and small companies rather than larger companies.

The challenge is to identify these markets beyond advertising. If we look at what is happening right now in the Web 2.0 sphere, it is essentially one giant cannibalization of the editorial market, trying to supplement old media and replace them with “Facebook-”, “MySpace-”, and “YouTube-” (new) models of broad- and selfcasting and interaction with the user. That will, of course, be successful, but it is hardly imaginable that more than a productivity or effiency increase of more than 25-35% (maybe even 40% or 50% through better targeting) with relation to the advertising market can be sustained.

Even more market volume may be created by opening the advertising market to new segments that, until now, had a high cost barrier towards advertising, for example in the Long Tail of smaller and mid-sized companies, or in niche markets which had to rely on direct marketing because there was no medium for them to address at sales efficient cost on a large scale.

This disruption of the advertising marjet is of course fueled by the radically changed cost-dynamics of Web 2.0 platforms and the possibility to address the long-tail of content and offering highly specific audiences to as specific advertisers.

This opening of niche markets for advertising may one day – probably soon to come – come as far as user groups and communities centered around exotic topics such as the nuts and bolts of drilling joints (or something similar).

But by and all, if advertising is the only focus of what is happening right now, there will inevitably be a crunch at the moment of realization that there is just not enough money in these markets to create hundreds of new billion dollar companies. Even though a return to the Nuclear Winter of The Internet of 2001-2003 seems unlikely, it is highly probable that we will have a structurally similar shake-down and that just one or two more Yahoo!(s) or Google(s) will crop up, having found the holy grail of

on-demand fully trackable horizontal niche long tail CPA advertising

By the way, addressing that advertising market will also have to overcome a formidable opponent which is very well positioned to address the long-tail of advertising, and that is Google.

My point in this Blog post is that there have to be, and there will be business models beyond advertising and they are starting to emerge. Essentially these will be transaction based and will be centered either around the handling of goods in an e-commerce sense (that is already being seen in a number of start-ups) for example, by itravel, but there will also more and more be transaction platforms centered around services, much in the sourcing logic mentioned above.

The sum of these developments is what I call “viral social commerce”. It is viral in the sense that its dynamics of growth/expansion are very much word-of-mouth and very much based on the social phenomena of Web 2.0.

*I might add, that these phenomena are not new, word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful marketing instrument, it’s just that technology has enabled it to travel at light-speed, where before it was at a horse carriage pace.

It is social in the sense that, not only communication, but also increasingly parts of the production process and the definition of the product/service offered will be defined not by an entity that is producing it, but rather by a group of people or a community that adds a significant part of the value that is being created. An example for that is again itravel, where the travel community creates a lot of the product knowledge and even product sourcing that is necessary to create its catalogue of once-in-a-lifetime-experiences. Another example is ChariTees, where the community sources not only the designs, but also decides which designs will appear on t-shirts and also decides which institution would benefit from that part of the proceeds of ChariTees that is being spent on charity.

The commerce part of the “viral social commerce” idiom, reflects on what I was describing at the beginning of my post, namely that this is more than a social communication phenomenon and it is also more than pure interaction, it is in essence a whole new commercial dimension to what happens in our increasingly web-enabled society.

Viral social commerce is, for me, the essence of what will happen with Web 3.0. In my next post, I will describe how companies can confront this development and attain competitive advantages by harnessing them.

The YouTube Problem

As the winter of discontent of content owners and YouTube begins, a certain rumbling is growing. If you look back at the first Blog posts describing the Web 2.0 phenomenon, they often called it an illusion, overrated or a bubble. Very often it is pointed out that while YouTube was sold for $1.6 Billion, it in effect only had $15 Million in revenue last year and now a host of other problems (if you count all litigation issues and tech issues, the costs of YouTube may well be above $1 Billion or so). That is assuming, of course, that Viacom and Co. will manage to convince the courts of their point of view.

However exaggerated this view may be – it has, on a fundamental level, one merit. The YouTube Business Model, as far as it is now established, is based on an unjust usage of copyright and the equity of copyright.

Now I would be the first proponent of the theory that the internet, as John Perry Barlow put it, is “the end of copyright”. In the sense that transmitting, copying and distributing knowledge and information has become so easy through the internet that an author who wants to earn the fruits of his labor is well advised to find new ways of establishing himself as a person and establishing derivative business models off the content he produces, rather than relying on licensing fees alone. Nevertheless, YouTube does not even give that to content producers and content owners. It is like a giant attention lottery, where the very few motivate the very many, through their success stories of 15 minute world fame, to copy their endeavour and try to achieve that kind of world wide recognition. However, who of those authors, even of those who have achieved that kind of short-lived fame, has actually managed to earn money off it?

That is why YouTube lacks the value chain one needs for a viable business model. That is not to say that YouTube did not achieve something very important. It created a platform for ubiquity of video content and facilitated the exchange, commenting and sharing of that kind of content. It taught users an important lesson- that broadcasting is not the prerogative of a few publishers. From there, to a viable business model is a different step.

Google may use the YouTube technology to create Google video ads and to create a platform for viral marketing (which actually may be a sound business from the position that Google has) but, anyone trying to copy the YouTube model must fail if he does not devise a value chain, a sound and profitable value argumentation, and defines what his market is.

In essence, the markets the emerging video platforms target is the advertising market or the market for sharing and licensing content- the latter being a very difficult one. The key to monetizing that kind of tool and achieving success in that kind of market will be to define the value chain and to make it track-able, so as to be able to calculate an operating margin and to devise ways of building a business.

None of the me too(s) and copycat models of YouTube has achieved that yet.

None, except one- sevenload.

sevenload is one of the most exciting business ventures I have ever been a part of, by defining a value chain which, because of its self-reinforcing nature, we call the “value mill”. By devising a technology to track not only usage of content, but also the revenue generated by the individual video stream and by devising a way to create specific audiences that add a lot to the advertising value that a video can have, sevenload has in effect solved the 3 main problems of any video business model.

For now I don’t want to describe, in too much detail, what sevenload does as we still have to establish our market leadership. But stay tuned to see how the first viable video business model on the net will continue to be established.

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