Summary:  The Tribune Company just launched Tribune 365 (www.trb365.com) that claims to provide integrated marketing campaigns—that is, ads across multiple platforms available within the Tribune media—newspapers (e.g., The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times), other print outlets and television stations.  In fact—and probably more important—it represents integrated ad sales:  one team to sell ad inventory across all of their platforms (and, with hope, others, as well).  We think this is a brilliant step—and long, long overdue.

The Details.

It is pretty straightforward—and both astonishing and understandable (OK, OK, so it’s a contradiction:  Call it a paradox)—that a major, and heavily indebted, media company has finally figured out one of their biggest assets:  multiple platforms.  The Tribune Company’s initiative is called Tribune 365 (www.trb365.com).

Selling ads across these platforms to an advertiser in what the ad industry calls “integrated ad campaigns” becomes a lot more attractive.  More to the point, they overcame one of the biggest obstacles, which is the silo-like ad sales structures of newspaper ad teams selling their ads, TV station ad sales teams selling their inventory, and so on.  Media reports point to a recent campaign for Target, with ads in newspapers, on Tribune TV stations and Tribune websites.

So What?

“Integrated ad campaigns” are not that new but what is new is that they are now available where they count:  where the inventory resides.  This makes it likely that we will see them with more frequency.  Moreover, think about it for a bit:  What the Tribune is doing is a classic case of the model that like very much, which is “audience integration.”  That’s what diversified media companies do best.  They bring audiences to advertisers.  The more diversified they are then the more audiences they can aggregate.

Aggregation recognizes that audiences get their content from multiple sources.  While there may be some overlap (someone who reads “The Trib” and watches a Tribune TV station), there are many people who use one medium and not another.  If those media happen to be owned by one media company, why not place ads across all of them?  That’s audience aggregation.

It’s not always so simple.  We have often seen civil war break out in media companies among the ad sales teams.  The sales team responsible for TV ad sales rebels when the website sales team for the TV station calls on the same clients for their inventory.  It can get ugly.

And it is understandable, because you are dealing with the livelihood of salespeople.  Someone who has cultivated the ad agency (or internal ad buyer) of a large advertiser for years relies upon the sales commission to pay the mortgage .  Why should he or she let a competitor—even someone in the same corporate family—put the saleperson in financial jeopardy?

And (we hope) that’s what the Tribune Company has figured out.  We hope that the integrated sales team means that commissions are not limited to one medium because that is the only way that you can (and should) change the ad sales culture.  After all, ad revenues amount to the lifeblood of most media companies.  And selling ad inventory makes that lifeblood pump.  And earning those commissions is what enables the sale of that inventory.

Advertisements

Summary:  With congressional and administrative attention now on the online advertising industry, the industry is responding with “principles” to continue self-regulation.  Whatever the outcome of the debate now underway, TOUs and EULAs will change.  To the business side of digital companies, these are boilerplate:  To the lawyers, they should be seen as what they are–binding agreements with end users and that have serious consequences if they are too one-sided.  You can read the entire report atwww.iab.net/behavioral-advertisingprinciples.

The online advertising industry has responded to the February 2009 FTC Staff Report on the topic (which is called “behavioral advertising”).  That industry created a report on “principles” for managing these data.  These principles represent an attempt to maintain the self-regulation structure now in effect–something that has not made regulators happy (rightly or wrongly).

You can read the report at the URL above.  Here is our take on the principles:

  • Ad Industry Mobilization–the mere fact that disparate industry associations have gotten together is good news, because these people have great experience and expertise to apply to a topic that is really pretty nuanced.
  • No More Fine Print–well, everyone can dream.  It is not so much that the industry will eliminate dense legalese in TOUs, but that the language is supposed to be drafted to be transparent–providing genuine guidance that end users can understand.
  • Actual Innovation–The report includes one innovation:  an “approval” toolbar on browsers.
  • De-identification of data–this is the one we like the most.  Finally, the ad industry is beginning to recognize that the data can be extremely valuable in their aggregate form, without recourse to knowing about the actual individuals.  Pay attention to this one.
  • Sensitivity–This principles recognizes that not all data are created equal and some are more sensitive than others.  Think of medical records.
  • Material Changes–gone will be the days of unilateral retroactive changes to TOUs.  Actually, this is just a recognition that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will win on this point and that courts are moving in that direction, as well (See blog on Blockbuster case).

So What?

From a legal perspective, this will add more pressure on companies to change their TOUs, but from a strategic perspective, it is one more piece of the evidence of the growing appreciation–not of the data themselves but of their complexity and vast value.  In other words, it is no longer an either/or debate:  either the industry gets to collect everything or nothing.

Therefore, think about what kinds of data your company wants about use (and not necessarily about each end user).

(See some TOUs, etc., we have drafted: www.npbn.com and www.photospin.com for some examples.)

Summary:  Taking a page from websites, networks and cable channels have introduced “TV in Context,” with ads that are “contextual” in the sense that they are tailored to a particular moment or scene in a given show.

Cable channels and networks have expanded their program, “TV in Context,” of placing ads in TV shows and movies that play off a particular scene in a scripted series of a movie.  For example, just after a crash scene in the Bourne Supremacy, an ad for the in-car service OnStar said “Are you counting on your cellphone to be your lifeline in a car crash?”  (See the New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/business/media/20adco.html?fta=y.

What is surprising is that it has taken networks (and cable channels) so long to get here.  For decades, advertisers have made sure that their ads are not placed in the wrong place—e.g., an ad for a Chevrolet just after a fatal car accident occurs in a TV series in which a GM car is involved.  And this is innovation?

Summary:  CW will launch an ad campaign that encourages viewers to communicate with each other through social networking—texting, Twitter, Facebook and the like.  Now, at least someone recognizes the value of multiple platforms.

Among the more interesting approaches to respond to advertisers’ demands on networks, CW will launch an ad campaign that acknowledges and embraces the viewers’ use of other platforms.  Called “TV to talk about,” the tagline will change with each ad to things like “TV to text about,” “blog about,” “chat about” and “tweet about.”  The New York Times published an interesting article on this point at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/business/media/21adco.html?emc=eta1

CW is probably better positioned than other networks because its programming attracts younger audiences who already interact across digital programs.  What was interesting (according to the NYT article) was that CW had to send researchers to the homes of viewers to find out that viewers do this.  Now that’s funny.  What are they reading?

So here’s an idea:  Let viewers opt in to a scroller that shows the most popular Tweets (or other feeds of comments of other viewers) during the show.  Of course, the scroller will be sponsored by an advertiser. . . .

Summary:  European newspapers are figuring out how to survive–even using an old concept.

We have posted quite a few blogs on newspapers (see others at digitaldumonde.wordpress.com where a different version of this entry is posted).  No, Chicken Little, the sky is not falling in the newspaper world, though it does look a bit cloudy.  Look around you.  Try Europe, for starters.

Premium Services, Not Premium News Access.

One approach is to provide premium services.  In Norway, you can pay a hefty price ($90) to join a weight-loss club that is part of a newspaper website.  Your profile on the site can be updated but only for another fee.

Now, paying to upgrade your profile may be a bit much (unless the weigh-loss membership has not been successful) because of the nearly ubiquitous networking sites, but the point is to offer other services for a fee.

US papers tried this approach but in a different manner:  They charged a premium for access to certain news.  (One site, about which we have written, http://www.globalpost.com, charges a premium for additional news AND access to the editorial meeting, of a sort, and access to the journalists themselves).  Think about other services.

The Old Horse of Repurposing Content

Axel Springer, a large player in the publishing space, revived an old concept, which makes perfect sense:  Write once, distribute many times.  Write the article and post it on multiple sites.  This is the old concept of “repurposing” content for different platforms and different audiences.

Data as a New Source of Revenue

Newspapers make money not be delivering news but by delivering audiences to advertisers.  Few things are better than granular data about audience interests.  The more platforms on which your news is available, the more granular those data.  Advertisers like that.  They will pay for that.

Perhaps losing weight through a club run by a newspapers does not sit well with your idea of reading weighty editorial pronouncements.  But something else might.  Newspapers thinking this way create what their advertisers want:  connections with their potential audiences.

And some of them may lose weight, too.

Oh, and if you want to think about the ramifications for licenses then go to globalgeneralcounsel.wordpress.com.

Summary:  Real life experience of data being collected for one purpose being used for other purposes–adding to the argument that data mining is just beginning.  And, when you can do something about it (like own it or get access to it through a license in your agreements) then you should.

Two articles in a recent issue of The Economist added (at least in my mind) to the thesis that we are entering an era when the slicing and dicing of data (OK, OK, call it data mining) will yield actionable results and meaningful rewards.  The issue was February 28, 2009.

To reiterate my point in other blogs, it is not so much the results of the studies that are interesting but the fact that data collected through new digital systems for one purpose were used for another purpose.

Permit me to address the first one, on social networks as a source for data analysis.

Facebook and the Dunbar Number (Hint:  It is not 42)

First, forgive me if I get the facts wrong (but they are not the point here).  Several years ago a professor posited an upper bound (on average) of the total number of people in a social network.  That is the Dunbar number.

Later, a Professor Marsden confirmed common sense that there is a much, much smaller “core” network.  The Dunbar number is 148;  the Marsden number is around ten.  (By the way, the Dunbar number has been surprisingly stable over history as an organizing unit for groups like armies, etc.).

Online social networks make social networking more efficient to create and sustain.  (The conclusion of the studies cited is that they do not affect these numbers, but that is not germane to the point of this post.)  Crunching the numbers from Facebook confirmed (pretty much) both the Dunbar Number and Marsden’s core.  The average network is about 120 (close enough to Dunbar) and, by looking at proxies for interaction (proxies are another theme of mine), the core number worked out to be about seven for men and ten for women and in some circumstances somewhat higher.  (Please keep in mind that these are averages:  Your mileage may vary.)

The Method Is Not Madness

The analysts looked more closely to determine the core.  This is where it gets interesting.  They used responses as proxies for interaction–that is, leaving a comment or otherwise communicating with someone who has communicated with you.  (It turns out that there are cultural or national differences, by the way.  For example, in research for a long time on this core it has been known that American men tend to have a very small circle of people with whom they regularly discuss important matters–smaller than other nationalities (this is, after all, a British magazine).

You can imagine all sorts of variables that affect these numbers.  That is true.  There may be more interaction between two people flirting;  there may be more interaction between family members;  and there may be less interaction among co-workers based on their rank.  Time of day, amount of alcohol–you pick–may also affect these numbers.  (These points were not raised in this article–I am just mentioning them).

So Test for It

But that is not the point.  You could test for–or control for–any number of variables.  Now, think like an advertiser, or a publisher that wants to increase the value (and thus the price of advertising) for the advertiser.

(Note to readers:  To anticipate one concern, the analysis does not have to include PII and can–and should–be done in full compliance with the strictest of privacy policies.)

You could cross-check any number of such users to see the overlap of interests.  You could check those overlapping interests against geographic distribution over time and then over demographic data (of the group) such as number of males in given age cohorts and then demographic data for the region(s) such as the baseline of behavior for such cohorts, etc.

An advertiser could then check those results against its sales or marketing efforts in the region or, for that matter, its marketing efforts to that group on that social networking site at those particular times.

OK, these insights are not entirely new.  Many search and ad companies have been doing this sort of thing for a few years.  What has not happened is that advertisers (and their gatekeepers, the ad agencies) have not yet embraced the power of these kinds of data analytics.  In other words, it has not yet gone mainstream.

So What About Dunbar Numbers?

I have not yet figured out the import of the actual Dunbar Number (looks like a constant to me) when it comes to monetizing data.  One thought is a kind of “data threading.”  Assume that people belong to several, if not many, groups.  One could trace the overlapping interests across the groups, not to mention the overlap of group memberships, as well.  Here we are not necessarily talking about social groups (“friends” in the parlance of Facebook and “Contacts” in the parlance of LinkedIn).

For example, I belong to some groups in which a few of those members also belong to other groups of which I am a member but they also belong to other groups of which I am not a member.  Some number of those members share my interests;  some number do not.  These overlaps could be “threaded.”  And, they could also be tested over time.

The Conclusion, Please

OK, OK, I am way over my self-imposed word limit.  Perhaps you get the point.  I will post on the second article soon (about crowds being analyzed by CCTV).  This should add weight to my point that your agreements should get you access to anay data collected in any digital deals you do.

And, yes, as a result, expect CPMs (and monetizing online experiences) to rise.

We are trying an experiment here.  Rather than rewrite a post we have made on another of our blogs we have set forth the link below.   That blog is for general counsel but the point is applicable to topics covered in this blog, as well.

Here is a summary:

An article in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday March 14th on basketball provides an object lesson that you should own whatever data may emerge from any digital initiatives memorialized in a legal agreement.

http://globalgeneralcounsel.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/data-the-new-york-times-basketball-agreements/