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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The New New Media 

With yesterday's release of the Xbox 360, we take another small step into the future of media. That future will dominated by people who understand and live with MMOG games. People like my nephew, who in his spare time is studying to be an architect, but in real life is a level 60 World of Warcraft character, and a member of a global clan that gets together online to play and talk (using a VoIP connection). My nephew has friends in Australia, New Zealand and Europe--and he's never met them in person.

The Xbox 360, which seems to be a thunderous success, continues to feature online play as a key part of the system. And it looks as though the ability to spectate--to watch others play, and potentially bet on the outcome--will become another big part of the online experience. See this post from Russell Beattie (via Josh Greene) who ponders online soccer tournaments.

Grab: Probably what’s missing is what XBox Live has added above: The addition of virtual spectators. I think that could *really* change everything, no? “Broadcast” on your TV set, just like you normally watch soccer. Just the idea that these games can be seen by an outside viewer is incredible. Who knows if the matches will be that compelling at first, but I can imagine they’d get good pretty fast - especially with the graphics power of the next gen consoles. Then they’d be content their own right - the *ultimate* in User Generated Content. Think about it! Imagine recording the matches and providing them as downloads as video podcasts? I’ve already seen sites that have videos of World of Warcraft vids… Virtual soccer matches would be just as compelling. Maybe more so.

So we have a generation that plays online, that will probably watch sports and virtual battles online, that already reveres great online players, that's used to gaming tournaments with significant prizes.

We have marketers who understand that they need to reach this audience online, within the games themselves.

The implications are signicant: in less than a decade, my nephew will be specifying building materials. How will architectural media reach him? How will all of us in b2b reach a generation, coming sooner than we'd like, of buyers who don't interact with media the way we want them to?

I think it will be a small step for this generation to transition from massively multiplayer online gaming to massively multiuser business-to-business communities, but it's a big step for us to make that transition. Our metaphors just don't work--websites are going to be old media, blogs are going to be old media, print is definitely going to be old media, trade shows will be old media.

Virtual business communities and virtual business markets, using the MMOG metaphor, will be the new media.

Here's an ad for the Xbox 360 which you should watch. It's funny. And it shows, I think, our potential "readership" in about 10 years. Via Ad Jab.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Internet Advertising: +34% 

The Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers have released their 3rd quarter 2005 accounting of Internet advertising spend.

The summary: year-over-year advertising spending is up 34% for the quarter, and the year should end with Internet advertising clocking in at $12 billion.

Here are some benchmarks to compare that with. Note that business-to-business magazines should come in at $8.7 billion

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Visas: A US Competitive Disadvantage 

Asia Business Media: They still don't get it

Paul Woodward comments on the impact of the US' visa policies on the exhibition business for Asian visitors.

Grab:

Why bother with a US show when you can easily get to Germany or one of the world's other major trade fair centres? Heck, you're almost made to feel welcome there.

He also links to the Meeting Industry Soapbox, from VNU, which I'll also start following.

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VNU Business Media's EBITDA Margin 

Collapse of IMS Deal Takes Sale Focus Off VNU Business Media

Matt Kinsman's Folio: piece on the impact of the collapse of the VNU/IMS merger on VNU Business Media (linked above) contains some interesting numbers on the business:

Through the first half of 2005, VNU Business Media generated 331 million euros, or about $366.7 million, and EBITDA of approximately $69.1 million. VNU cited trade shows as the main growth driver and while it singled out specific titles such as AdWeek and The Hollywood Reporter as doing well, it says many b-to-b titles continue to struggle, particularly in the music category. [VNU Business Media president Michael] Marchesano says that expositions revenues are up 9.4 percent over last year, while print is up 5.4 percent and e-media is up 27 percent.

That's an EBITDA margin of 18.8%.

Here are some comparisons:

Penton's consolidated adjusted EBITDA margin is 23.5% (first 9 months of the year); Advanstar's EBITDA margin is 29.4% (first 9 months of the year).

All three companies note continuing declines in print ad revenues.

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Even More on e-Paper 

Check out Dave Newcorn's meditation on e-paper:

What if you could drop your printing, paper and postage costs from your bottom line? Yes, early on, that was the conventional wisdom about the first generation of Web sites, but a Web site is NOT a satisfactory replacement for a magazine.

But an e-paper magazine is.


Dave suggests two things which I strongly support:

1) Publishers should band together to fund the development of the technology.

and

2) Adobe and/or Quark should begin to develop a new 'page description language' (like html for web pages) for the new technology. As Dave says:

That has huge implications in and of itself--imagine, the same person who designs your print publication would also design your e-publication. No new tools to learn.

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