- Youtube is launching new channels with heavyweights of the media industry (Endemol, Lagardère, BBC, Wall Street Journal) to increase the quality of content available. What Youtube proposes is a cheaper access to audiences for channels that would otherwise have to go through the complicated and expensive process of obtaining a broadcast licence via the traditional system.
- Youtube is doing this to attract more eyeballs, which in turn will allow for more ads.
- Established channels are ignoring these developments as they are reluctant to work with Youtube, because it would force them to share their revenues with Google.
- Still, some financially challenged channels might migrate exclusively to Youtube, just like Newsweek went completely digital. But overall I expect these new channels to complement the existing TV offering, not replace it.
- TV is still way ahead of other media in terms of usage. In the US in 2011, 32 hours a week are spent in front of TV, 4 hours in front of online videos. The reason is that TV is a passive media, one you can leave in the background while doing something else. The web is different, you have to click every other minute, scroll, search. It is a “lean forward” media that requires attention, while TV is “lean back”.
- Television revenues are still up a) because of these 32h a week b) because of the fact that 25% of the time spent watching TV is spent in front of ads (it’s only 1.3% for online video) c) because how much people really watch ads on television can not be measured. Every single person I have seen watching TV changes channel during the ads. But this is not what is reported to advertisers (and everybody seems very happy with that system).
- Television is here to stay because it fills a certain need. TV is social (we watch it together), TV is in the background (you can watch it while tweeting), TV is public (which is useful when you have kids, you can know what they are watching). Rumors of TV’s death are greatly exaggerated.
- Youtube is making money but still searching for an advertising model. At first they tried to do online what was happening offline, i.e. pre-roll ads. But it it not working. Nobody wants to sit and watch a 30 seconds ad to see a 2 minutes clip. So a new model needs to be found, and in that sense Youtube is similar to Facebook: it attracts a lot of attention but still hasn’t fully cracked the code on how to effectively monetize it.
- Internet is not an enemy of media. In fact, internet is the reason why media consumption has increased greatly in the past years. I have never seen that many people consuming media since smartphones. If internet is not a positive force in the media industry, it is because of the lack of innovation of the industry. Let’s take TV shows, the channels had an absurd and long process to bring them to the market: release the episodes in the US, sell them to foreign broadcasters who put them on the market 2-3 years later. With the internet and the emergence of a global culture, users simply wanted their shows, and were left for years with no legal way to download them. Illegal downloads developed because of the lack of innovation, not because people are pirates. It is a huge missed opportunity. Blaming technologies for your own lack of innovation is stupid. Sending the lawyers to crack down on your clients is even worse.
- Fighting innovation is typical of large companies. The big media has everything to lead their own future – money, network, experience – but they started to become arrogant and ignore weak signals that their markets was changing. Reminds me of what Tim O’Reilly was saying, that we must always chose between protecting the past from the future, or protecting the future from the past. Through the internet revolution, most large companies have tried to protect the past from the future.
- The smart television is not working. The industry does not get it and is trying to push it down the throats of customers because it would force people to buy new TVs and generate more profits. Nobody needs a connected television. The screen is too far to read. Entering text with a remote is a nightmare, and nobody wants a floating keyboard in his living room. Connected TV already exists, but in another form. It is in our palms, smartphones and tablets, that we are using while watching our shows (26% of people report using their tablet in front of the TV several times each day).
- Connected TV reminds me of MMS back in the days, a technology the telecommunication industry loved but that never took off because it was expensive and not user friendly.
- Where is the media headed? I think that we are coming back to the expert era, with a new meaning behind the term “expert”. From being fascinated by having the most information possible, we are now seeking the most relevant information. It’s a good news for journalists, whose filtering role is taking a huge importance again. It’s also a good news for the industry, because a clearer role will be easier to monetize. It might be a less good news for users, as good media will have to be paid somehow, soon.
- From TripAdvisor we are moving to systems like ChefsFeed, where there is less information but more qualitative, with an identity behind every comment. Experts are coming back, but they are not necessarily what they used to be. They don’t have to come out of the academic system, and could be a user that was promoted by the community.
Big news in the media industry: Newsweek is going all digital. It was only a matter of time until such a thing would happen. Now we’ll see how much paper was really worth. How many readers will they lose? How many people accidentally reading the magazine at the dentist?
This is a courageous move, with one company taking the lead in beta testing the future business model of an entire industry. From there, Newsweek will either learn before all its competitors, greatly benefit from that knowledge, secure first mover advantage and function in the correct way ahead of everybody else. Or they will hit unexpected walls, make wrong assumptions about the market, get in trouble, and basically save their smartest competitors the pain of making costly mistakes.
The question is whether the Newsweek management really has a choice. There are risks involved, but this is very likely where the industry is heading. And the earlier you confront yourself to the future reality, the better. Newsweek is now aligned to the way people consume media in the 21st century. What can go wrong?
I have a small quote in a recent Swissinfo article written by long-time Lift friend Michèle Laird, on the crucial need to make artists and technologists work together.
By introducing a better understanding of the social potential of technology to people from all walks of life interested in anticipating trends, and not just geeks, the objective is to “turn change into opportunity”. Many new partnerships have blossomed out of Lift.
“Working with artists is crucial,” Laurent Haug, founder and editorial chair of Lift, told swissinfo.ch. “It is a sign of maturity when we turn to them to help develop our ideas. Their greater mental flexibility can enlarge horizons,” he observed.
Embedly has an interesting story on how Psy’s hit video got viral. What is especially interesting is the fact that spikes in views were observed after events on social media (like Katy Perry tweeting about the video), but appearances on major TV shows don’t seem to have changed the popularity of the video.
The first spike can be related to Reddit deciding the video was awesome. This in turn spun off a Gawker article.
Katy Perry shared the video on Twitter, the next day we saw a big jump in shares. Gangnam Style was also the #1 song on iTunes for the first time.
PSY’s appearance on Ellen, SNL and The Today Show cause zero noticeable spikes. The transition from TV to the internet seems to be a fickle one.
How to analyze this? Audiences of TV and internet videos are probably diverging more and more every day, two populations with different habits and tastes, from different generations. If this is true the frontier between both worlds is more permeable than I previously thought. Will artists soon snob TV shows that do not create online traffic? If I am a TV producer I research this a little bit more…
My contribution to this month’s Wired UK: “How to keep a secret from the press?”. The wisdom comes from Valérie Gorin, a sociologist from the University of Geneva. Her advices: overshare to beat idle speculation, be way too boring for gossip, make it too big to be believable, trade privileges for silence.
Overshare to beat idle speculation
“What else can the media say about Lady Gaga when she constantly bombards the world with status updates and pictures?” asks Gorin. When you flood the market with information, its value tends to drop, and people stop speculating. “A good way to keep a secret is to bury it inside megabytes of data.”
Be way too boring for gossip
Have you ever wondered why nobody gossips about Clint Eastwood or Bono? The reason is pretty simple: “They live what appear to be very boring lives,” Gorin says. “Keeping their secrets is simple, because even their secrets, you think, can’t be that interesting.”
Make it too big to be believable
“When journalists find information, they often have no witness to back their claims. This principle can hold information for a while, but expect a wave of negative press once it breaks.” Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a good example: once he was accused of rape, disclosing his use of escorts was no longer risky.
Trade privileges for silence
“Politicians make it costly for journalists to cross certain lines, cutting the troublemakers from exclusives. François Mitterrand managed to hide the existence of his daughter for 20 years.” Presidential authority helped, but he likely obtained silence in exchange for privileges and small scoops.
While exploring Michael Degusta’s The Undestatement, found this image that is worth a thousand articles on the newspaper business transformation.
What strikes me:
• The revenue of online advertising is unchanged since 2003. Seven years of looking for a business model in an industry that moves at light speed. Terrible! How come nobody is cracking the code of on screen ads? What are you doing media entrepreneurs?
• If only the media had invested in online classified back in the nineties, they would be the ones pocketing the money that goes to craigslist and company.
• “Half a century ago revenues were basically the same as today, despite the country being just over half the size.” Ouch.
I continue the exploration of the Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies report by the McKinsey Global Institute. This evolution of media consumption and time spent communicating across the past 110 years is extremely valuable. It shows how much digital technologies are taking an important role in the mix in only 10 years (not a surprise) but mostly puts a number on the decline of face to face interactions.
I was recently interviewed by the monthly magazine of my alma mater on what I do, and what my studies did for me. In the end, I tried to add a few encouragements for entrepreneurs who could be having a hard time with learning business sitting on a chair rather than doing things on the field.
I’m also happy I managed to convince them I was not a geek ;)
Entrepreneur, researcher, teacher, consultant, journalist and even ‘evangelist’, Laurent Haug is an expert at multi-tasking. Today, this French graduate of HEC Lausanne is a reference in the domain of innovation and its implications for society and business. Passionate about new technologies, but no geek, he is founder of the ‘Lift’ conferences and has been named by L’Hebdo magazine as one of the 100 most influential figures in French-speaking Switzerland. Here he reveals some of themes of his professional life.
You have so many jobs !
Indeed ! But they all have something in common: the desire to understand how innovation changes society in general, and business in particular. We are at a historical moment, comparable to the arrival of writing or of print, and the whole of society is being forced to re-examine itself. Our generation is the one currently defining the rules of this new world. My job is to understand these upheavals before they materialise, and to redistribute this knowledge in different forms: by organising conferences, teaching, through journalism, or as an advisor to companies. I help decision makers adapt their strategies to innovations, so that they can anticipate rather than be left by the wayside.
What do you do to be as well informed as possible ?
I use the web, of course, I use monitoring systems, I am active in many start-ups, I meet a lot of people. I get information using all possible means, although over the course of time I have become less stressed by the need to be exhaustive. What counts is not the quantity of information, but to filter out what is most useful.
Do companies need help to adapt to technological change ?
Enormously. To bring a company up to date is not the same as updating an application. Businesses have set models for processes, ways of working, tariff scales, marketing strategies; and it’s not easy to change all that in a world where an innovation can drastically alter everything in a few months. My job is to help my clients to take the right decisions: which innovation creates new possibilities ? What is happening in other markets ? How to adapt products and services ?
Furthermore, innovation is very frightening, because there is no manual. With social networks, for example, you have to accept that you will make mistakes, to be humble, to want to learn. Those who dare emerge as leaders, like Nestle which, after undergoing several crises, now has a very beneficial presence on Facebook and Twitter. There are, on the one hand, those companies which anticipate and emerge as winners, and on the other, those who react and are always behind.
And what about Switzerland ?
Between the two, like many others. Switzerland is generally too much on the reactive side, perfectionist, with very little culture of risk.
What did HEC Lausanne give you ?
I would say primarily a network. And that’s very important. Someone said to me one day : ‘a network is job security’. It’s true. What’s more, as you grow older, the people who are part of that network move from ‘junior’ positions up to CEO, and then it becomes much more interesting. HEC also gave me the flexibility to work during my studies – I was involved in start-ups right from the beginning of my course.
Any advice for students ?
Yes, to know who you are, to know your own limits and needs, so that you don’t set out in the wrong direction. Networking is also very important. And to all those who are entrepreneurs at heart and who do not always feel that they are in the right place in the world of academia: keep faith! It’s important to complete studies, but also to remember that not all the qualities that make an entrepreneur can be learned at school.
I am quoted in Libération about my memories of Minitel, the ancestor of the internet that only the French have known.
«Je garde l’image d’un objet futuriste, une boîte noire et magique que l’on avait envie de découvrir et d’apprivoiser. Mais en même temps, le Minitel cristallisait les craintes associées aux technologies : opaque, compliqué à utiliser, avec toutes ces légendes sur le Minitel rose et les factures hors de contrôle. J’ai choisi le nom “3615″ pour mon podcast, car j’aime ce côté rétrofuturiste. D’ailleurs, les moins de 30 ans ne comprennent pas du tout le nom de l’émission ! Je dois constamment leur expliquer. Pourquoi taper 3615 avant l’adresse ? J’explique que c’est comme “http”…»
Iterating on the concept of citizen journalism (that never really took of completely despite countless efforts), the Winnipeg Free Press is rethinking the boundaries between journalists and their readers, opening a café where the public can get a hot drink and engage in conversations with the writers who will work from there. Fantastic experiment, I can’t wait to see how this influences the news coverage.
Ever wanted to have a cup of coffee with your favourite journalist? Now’s your chance. The Winnipeg Free Press has signed an agreement with a local restaurant operator to open Canada’s first “News Cafe.”
Situated at the corner of McDermot Avenue and Arthur Street in the Exchange District, the News Cafe will be a community hub where people can get something to eat or drink and interact with journalists working there.