Tag Archive for itunes

Xbox Music replaces Zune

Xbox Music

After much speculation about the future of Zune, Microsoft has finally driven the stake into the walking dead that was Zune. What was reborn was Xbox Music which appears to have finally put Microsoft on level footing with iTunes, Pandora and Spotify in capturing the consumer dollar.

Microsoft has positioned its Xbox Music platform as a all-in-one music service but it still appears to be lacking some standard functions as digital radio channels.  Obviously a key part of their music platform is built around Smart DJ which creates custom playlists of your favourite artists but there is certainly a missing market for branded content channels like what YouTube is building. It is sometimes just easier to click listen to a specific genre and tune out than having to think what artist you want to hear.

The coolest feature is the My Music App used to manage all your existing iTunes songs, albums ripped from your CDs which means they can attract users with large libraries of content purchased on other services or sitting on their shelves collecting dust.  The platform also moves to slow the growth of Amazon as the your collection is synced via the Cloud across your PC, WindowsPhone and Xbox 360.

The sharing between Microsoft devices should give the service enough weight to make it a long term player in the market but I can see consolidation in the online music space to grow audience numbers quicker.

Xbox Music Pass Features?
Obviously the key feature of Xbox Music is full integration across all your Microsoft devices including Windows 8, Windows RT Tablets, Windows Phone 8 and your Xbox 360. This is certainly a sign that Microsoft is starting to emulate Apple’s successful single platform multiple device strategy. The added bonus of Music Pass is the instant streaming of tunes or the ability to listen to them offline across your devices. This puts Xbox Music one step ahead of the competitors in satisfying users who love streaming or those who prefer to take it offline. Some features such as unlimited skipping is a direct pitch to win consumers using other services such as Pandora or Spotify.  Xbox Music Pass Prices for Australia is $11.99/month or $119.90 for 12 months.

Xbox Music Pass Trial Terms & Conditions

Your 30-Day Music Pass Trial gives you unlimited access to millions of songs on your Windows PC or tablet, and Windows Phone. Download or stream as many songs as you like and listen to them for as long as your subscription is up to date. Credit card required. After your free 30 days, this trial continues to a paid monthly subscription at $11.99 AUD per month (subject to change) plus applicable taxes unless you cancel before the end of the trial period. You may cancel at any time at http://www.xbox.com/account. (After signing in, disable automatic renewal in your account settings). Charges are not refundable. Limit 1 Trial per person. Some songs and other content in the Music Store are not available with your Music Pass. Content may vary over time. See Xbox.com/music for system requirements and terms of use.

Does Xbox Music work?

The platform seems to have all the right features and marketing to make it work along with a 30 day free trial which will surely be a big enticement to users wanting to explore it more.  The branding is certainly consistent and having a single Microsoft service that works across multiple platforms does finally offer a suitable alternative to Apple iTunes and Google Play. It will be interesting how aggressively Microsoft rolls out the Xbox Music Pass promotional codes to get a larger user base using the service via it’s extensive channel partner, online and retail networks.

Data portability finally gets attention

Vox Logo

Another technology company VOX announced last week that they are closing down their blogging platform and leaving their users without a home for their content on the 30th September 2010. Unlike a number of recent closures Vox appear to have been proactive in providing solutions to help users migrate unlike most other platforms that just close taking the content with them. The VOX announcement was sent out via email and a visit to their site showed the same message with details on how the platform will be closing in stages and what VOX users should be doing if they want to keep all the content they have built up over the years.  To get around the issue of not building data portability into their platform VOX has added new export features for their platform.  The VOX content export features allow their users to easily move blog articles from Vox to TypePad and their photo & videos to Flickr it seems some of the other platforms like WordPress & Posterous have some technical limitations so you should read their guidelines.
Vox closing time frame
2nd September – no longer accepting new user registrations
15th September  – no longer be able to create new posts on Vox or upload new photos or videos
30th September – your blog will no longer be available at Vox.com
Vox has done the right thing by their users by making it free and easy as possible to transition their data off Vox to other platforms such as:

The trend has seen very few companies take control of the migration like VOX did and this data portability issue is one of the hidden costs when moving your information onto the cloud.  Sometimes there is not much that the users can do about it because besides the service being free, often hidden within the terms and conditions is that you might not be the true owner of your data and the company providing the service has limited responsibility for your data.

The issue around the issue of cloud hosted data and a companies responsibilities to secure and back it up covered in my previous interview with David Coallier.  The second part of this post seeks to explore the companies that just close down the product not allowing consumers to export it or sell off their data to the highest bidder. After all think how much market research firms would pay Facebook for your personal or business data on an open market.  When a company is bought out, goes bankrupt or is closed down what happens with all that data?

This issue has raised its head several times in 2009 and also in 2010 as the failing economy broke many web 2.0 properties business models, who didn’t build in the ability to make more money than they were spending via advertising or licensing deals. The issue of closed ventures and failed projects, was not unique to small start-ups but reached right up the food chain to shake the shareholders of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft who announced the closure of several hosted products leaving their existing users out in the cold. Obviously most companies don’t build a product with aims to shut it down but the problem is that without data portability built into the platform your consumers can’t export their data and continue to use it on another platform.

Exporting and downloading data doesn’t provide much benefit to consumers as how do they deal with sharing and visualising it?  Most exported data will just sit on the users hard-drive until sometime in the future where a new platform can import it or it finally just gets deleted.  As more platforms continue to build unique platforms with proprietary database architecture and they continue to amass data some steps need to be taken to ensure they look at some more open sourced solutions or APIs for data.  As remember when your free web 2.0 product no longer suits their business model or they get bored the platform can be turned off at anytime leaving you stranded.

Bloglines LogoAsk announced they will also be shutting their RSS platform Bloglines on the 1st of October due to the strength of Twitter & Facebook for dominating real-time information.  It’s interesting that some of the more basic functions are starting to feel the impact of social media on how people consumer information and Bloglines will be the first of many who will be closing up shop.  They are offering a 3 week period to export your feeds to another service with a simple 4 step process:

  1. click on the feeds tab
  2. scroll past your feeds to the bottom pane
  3. Click on “Export Subscriptions”
  4. Save the file to a selected folder

Jumpcut LogoYahoo has always been a great company for finding wonderful platforms, buying them and partially integrating them before sitting on them while they wait for them to die.  Yahoo had acquired video software platform JumpCut in 2006, and had promoted the product as a way to offer Yahoo users the ability to edit video clips in their web browser without requirements for expensive editing software or hardware. Yahoo further sweetened the JumpCut deal by offering to host these videos once the editing was complete which also tied users into the hosted product.  Yahoo announced the death of JumpCut in April 2009 leaving thousands of clips in limbo which would be deleted at some time in the future.

Dodgeball LogoGoogle has had a bad run at buying startups lately and also later choosing to close them down often it seems more for the purpose of competitive reasons than a product limitation or lack of interest. Google closed down several services this year, many of which they had actually purchased only to shut down. One of the side benefits of them buying Dodgeball was that the founders then had the resources to start 4Square. Since Google shut down Dodgeball there was no real competition for 4Square and they have successfully captured a majority of the real-time application market so will Google try and buy them in the future and start the process again?

Google acquired video compression company On2 last year, another platform Flix Cloud that developed the original encoding technology used by On2 but announced last month that they are shutting down the Flix Cloud LogoFlix Cloud platform.  Google stopped accepting new customers in August 2010 and has been encouraging Flix Cloud users to move the Zencoder.  It appears that Google has been proactive to offering an improved platform for Flix Cloud users but it’s not clear if they are assisting with APIs to speed the transfer.

Deep Metrix LogoMicrosoft closed down its web analytics solution based on Deepmetrix which they purchased in 2007? The problem is that most hosted web analytics solutions like Google Analytics or Yahoo Web Analytics don’t allow for external data to be imported into the accounts so once the final reports were generated the data will be lost now that all the accounts have finally been closed. If their users had of moved to Coremetrics or Omniture they have the ability to import external data but many businesses don’t have the resources to support these web analytics products. This is the problem when using many beta analytics products is that there is no guarantee that it will be there in the future so data can be exported to reports or excel spreadsheets but mostly the functionality and benefit will die with the platform.

Tr.im LogoTr.im was one of the hundreds of URL shorteners, Tr.im was one of the better known services, but they shocked users when they announced Tr.im could no longer support their service in light of Bit.ly’s increasing strangle hold on the market. The launch of Twitter’s own url shorting service T.co this year has shaken up the market once again, but the slight difference is that the Twitter URL shortening platform is more of a URL wrapper for the Twitter platform than a general platform like Tr.im or Bitly.
Spiral Frog LogoOne of the biggest wake up calls to data ownership was the death of the DRM music service SpiralFrog in March 2009. The problem was caused when parties inside the company had sold user e-mail addresses to third-party companies prior to the hand over to creditors. This type of action was against the websites original terms & conditions and is a great way to lose people’s trust in web 2.0 companies. Some of the bigger issues revolved around the DRM system used by the company that required renewals via the website every 60 days which is technically impossible if the website shuts down. This process means that people who had rightfully purchased music via the service will no longer have ownership of the data.

Open Social LogoData ownership is going to be an increasing issue for users and websites and many services build unique databases platforms using proprietary systems or data storage techniques. Search Engine Journal covered how to back up and export your social media data to protect yourself from either data loss or in case the hosting platform decides they want to change their terms of service.  If Facebook decided to close its photo album feature down what would happen to the petrabytes of data they have stored? While open protocols are great they also should be two-way process as many systems allow for only importing or exporting data and we already discovered that Facebook censors what you share so consider what your options are such as Social Safe.  Social Safe is a third-party Facebook backup solution, but even that doesn’t solve the whole issue as it doesn’t let you restore your service just back it up.  It does solve part of the issue as it offers a platform which you can view and interact with your data once it’s exported but it would be great if it could export your data into a platform like Open Social.

Hot Potato LogoFacebook shuts down social service Hot Potato, but they offer the ability for existing users to download their information/history from the site, but what benefit is that unless a new platform can import that data. It is purchases like this that are of the most concern when it comes to data portability or ownership of data as this company was purchase to reduce competition in the market or for scrap parts to build more functionality into their existing products like Facebook Places or Facebook events.

iMafiaiTunes games & applications also have the same issue with data portability as I recently discovered when I tried to open one of my gaming apps “iMafia” that I had been playing for quite sometime.  The game partially opened before a message popped up that “this game was no longer supported”, which I clicked ok and assumed that it meant no more updates or features would be rolled out, but no the game was essentially bricked.  All the time I had spent playing the game, building up my mafia and had even considered buying some credits to speed the progress of my character.  The issue of wiping out all my game data and killing the functionality of the game makes me quite mad as I would have never bothered with the game if I had of known when the developer got bored they would just close down the game and move on.  This is a potential problem with cloud hosted software and possibly every single App in the iTunes store that even if you have purchased the software at some time in the future expect to be thrown out in the cold.

I see this is a combination of data portability, limitations of cloud based software and generally a disregard for those who use the platform as it was intended. So in 2011 maybe it’s the year that more open standards are established for some of the key problem areas such as social media and web analytics that makes data ownership more transparent and more angry iTunes users.

iPAD news ecosystem

Flud App LogoIn a slightly shorer interview on Technoarti I interviewed Bobby Ghoshal in the post iPad news apps FLUD the market, which covered in some detail learning more about his new perspective on how people can consume their news using new platforms such as the iPad, Blackpad or iPhone. The interview questions included in this post focused on a separate theme and focus more around the functionality and development platform used to build a great product and launch it in such a short period of time. From my understanding the whole principal of the application and based on their tag line its about creating an ecosytem for your news so its not just another RSS reader.
FLUD vs Flipboard
The FLUD app appears to be a smarter way of consuming news that heavily promoted magazine styled Flipboard. The Flipboard app offers a complex and busy layout that offers boxes for your Facebook news feed, twitter feeds and various other RSS feeds.  The limitation of Flipboard is that a designer doesn’t have much control over organising the content to be a constant look and feel for users, it almost seems to be closer to a replacement for your web browser than a news/media consumption platform, shown in the screenshot below.
Flipboard
Flipboard appears to have created a new social network where you have more of a mystery prize for what content will be filtered by your group of contacts.  The problem with Flipboard that FLUD attempts to solve is for the casual experience that will work on other devices such as Anroid devices, iPhones and other mobile devices.  Another issue around Flipboard is that content feeds seem to suffer if they are behind paywalls and you will not be able to share this content with contacts.  Flipboard breaks the revenue model and makes article consumption hard to track and does not naturally work with RSS feeds, where FLUD appears to encourage it.

The FLUD app Dashboard

The interview so what about FLUD?

Bobby Ghoshal

Everyday on my iTouch I seem to see new applications showing requests to update because they are now iPad compatible, as someone who doesn’t have an iPad, why do I really care that the application is not suitable to be used on a bigger screen?
It was this mentality that I drafted some of my questions to Bobby Ghoshal & David Coallier of Echolibre who built the FLUD app around the FRAPI platform, really did I care for another iPad ready product? Here is the other set of interview questions following on from my Technorati post, with Bobby Ghoshal.
He did request the use of some more fun profile pictures which shows some insight for his passion for creativity and breaking old down obstacles such as being able to build an new iPad application in just 1 month.
(Q1) WTF (What the FLUD) is it?
Answer: Download FLUD right now (August 5th 2010) and you are going to see an intuitive and beautiful RSS news reader with social sharing controls, video playback, no limit on feeds, bookmarking etc. Our vision, however, is to create an ecosystem that converts readers into influencers. What is an “influencer?” you might ask… Internally we have our own ideas of what that means, but that is really up to the community to decide. We have purposely left things open ended for v1 because the community is going to give us some powerful ideas and they already have. For now our goal is to focus on building controls and tools that users WANT to use and not get caught up in the features game.
(Q2) Ive already got all my iPhone apps such as Mashable, Bloomberg, NYTimes, Time Mobile, WSJ, FT Mobile, Engadget, ThompsonReuters and Daily Telegraph so why do I need another app?
Answer: You have just named some of the best news publishers on the iPad, but here is the problem… they do not co-exist in one place. We are bringing a cohesive, fully customizable and still beautiful reading experience to one app. That can be powerful for a power-reader who wants quick bytes of broadcast-able information from 20, 30, even 40 different sources of news, but doesn’t want to switch between apps.
FLUD feed

Adjust FLUD news feeds

(Q3) How does FLUD function offline or when there is no internet access?
Answer: We are definitely pushing for offline news access, no questions asked. Our priorities shifted for the v1.1 release after listening to our Fluders and their wish-list of items. We are going for the top 3 things they asked for and offline access isn’t one of them. Expect to see offline access in v1.2 though, which should be coming up fairly soon.
(Q4) How does FLUD link users to other users?
Answer: For v1.0 we have chosen not to focus on user profiles. The best way to connect with other users is through our social sharing controls currently in the app. Also, for v1.0 users can anonymously influence “the FLUD” which is the community news feed of most loved news items. We are not ruling out user profiles, but we don’t want to force it on Fluders. We want to make sure that when we roll it out, it serves our users and our strategy seamlessly.

(Q5) How does FLUD protect users privacy as they supply more data on usage?
Answer: We are currently not collecting any personal user information so we do not have any issues here. All we collect right now is the user’s device ID.
(Q6) What was the initial business model for the FLUD App and how did you come to a final decision?
Answer: We started an application that allowed a user to track content that they chose to track and then eventually will be able to influence. Under the right conditions, that can be a potent mix on an exponential scale.
(Q7) What about the whole information overload issue?
Answer: Yes this is a great question. The easiest way to scare a user away is information overload. That is why we built FLUD to be highly scannable with plenty of breathing room around the content. Our goal is to help the user get quick bytes of information while they are at their desk, on a commute etc.

Flud view of news

(Q8) What is the basic framework for the App?
Answer: FLUD was built with Objective-C along with Facebook and FRAPI as third party integrations.
(Q9) What is FRAPI, it sounds like a Coffee brand is it Java?
Answer: FRAPI is a high-level RESTful API framework that allows companies to focus on business logic engineering rather than spending precious time trying to make a REST-like API. By relying on an API, FLUD has the possibility to place updates on the app without having to go through the Apple approval process; something that can be critical in this fast-paced market. FRAPI also enabled FLUD to reduce development time drastically while giving the product the ability to scale to thousands and thousands of users seamlessly. Learn more about FRAPI.
(Q10) So is there a worry about the seeming stream of clone apps in the iTunes store?
Answer: Not at all. Competition is healthy. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot here but the truth is FLUD, Flipboard, Reeder and Pulse are 4 top notch RSS reader apps. Eventually all the core functionality across the board will normalize and it will come down to market position and design. Over the next few months we will continue to strengthen not only our app but also our brand, goals and message.
FLUD Facebook

FLUD Facebook integration

(Q11) How did you find the Apple approval process?
Answer: Apple is doing their best to make sure they get most apps approved within a week of their submission. I do wish that there was a long list of items that we know we cannot have in our app in order to get approved. FLUD would have come out a week earlier, but we got rejected because BBC doesn’t allow featured syndication. The fix was easy, but it would have been nice to have that knowledge beforehand so we didn’t waste 14 days with just waiting.
(Q12) What could you have done better in the Apple approval process for the next app?
Answer: A better notification system to show where your app is in order of approval as compared to other apps and a better list of “DO NOT DO” so developers can make better decisions the first time around would be very helpful.
(Q13) What are the time frame for updates to the FLUD App?
Answer: We are looking to work as fast as possible and to build a larger team to help facilitate quicker updates.
(Q14) When is the Flud App available?
Answer: Also is there FLUD App available in all countries? Now, we are fairly happy with that result after only 5 days, of course we want the crown and there is plenty of work to do yet. Also, yes, FLUD is available to every country that has an iPad in it’s stores.
(Q15) What does the FLUD App cost?
Answer: The app costs $3.99 in the US store and it’s currency exchange equivalent in other countries.
(Q16) Are there any plans to extend the platform to cover Android or Blackberry platforms?
Answer: Absolutely, Android is a big check box on our list. We haven’t discussed Blackberry as yet, but we will.
So FLUD maybe the future of news?
So it seems that early entrant Pulse appear to have stalled around its integration with social media contacts where FLUD appears to excel from the early images and video I have seen, so I might have been converted now if only I was as impressed with the iPad, maybe I will wait for the Android or Blackberry version. You can follow FLUD Sexy News on twitter and I encourage you to help make this app awesome and give the FLUD team feedback and love. If you have a iPad why not give the app a try you can Buy FLUD news ecosystem on iTunes

Mobile apps in Search

android logoEarlier this week Google Mobile blog announced a new way to increase Google users access to mobile Apps, this time via their search platform.  To ensure no competitive issues are raised by respective industry groups and competitors such as Apple, and they can encourage more users to get used to using Google.com to find their apps Google offers both Android and iPhone apps.  It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts and if it may restrict the features of the new search service as it bypasses iTunes and takes users direct into the app store, reducing how much they can market other apps via their featured apps screen.
Google keeps users
This is a smart move by Google to offer a mobile focused search result as it allows them to keep iPhone users within its search network longer before they are funneled off to iTunes to download the app, it also means they can possible wind down the support and resources they pour into the Android Apps marketplace. The interesting part about the Android market place is that it is also setup to ensure any direct links don’t offer any of the developers an increased seo benefit via the structure of its url.
Download mobile maps
Google increases competition
The Google blog post claimed they are making it easier to find information about which apps to download, but they are actually making it harder for developers to market their apps on a fair and level playing field.  Currently on an iPhone there are upto 5 iPhone applications listed on each page compared to Google.com only offering 1-2 apps, that is a massive increase in competition to be #1 in the mobile apps results as shown in the screenshot above.
Niche Google search queries
The other current problem is that how the algorithm understands your search intention is fairly limited to phrases that include “download” or “app”.  This very narrow band of search phrases is hardly likely to change how the world finds apps but Google would hope it slows the move away from Google.com to external stores like iTunes. The iPhone app store features a very useful search as you type feature that allows you to find your iPhone app via keywords, categories or app name compared to the limited Google.com search results.
Google mobile apps results fail
The secondary problem is that the search results seem to ignore once an app gets over 1,000 reviews which is not particularly hard these days with the millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users downloading and reviewing apps.  It is likely that Google is using reviews as a ranking signal, but if you check what is the top app for “maps” or “download maps” on iTunes these maps don’t feature within the top 20 results, so how Google search decided on these 2 map apps is a mystery.  To demonstrate this failure is inconsistent iTunes has a “news” category, but this time “Fluent News Reader” with 1,113 reviews was the top free app but “GameCenter Games” is not featured in the top 25 results.
Download mobile news
Google mobile apps ignores user location
Why make the effort to enable your location when conducting the search as the results shown earlier in this post are for a search query to “download maps”, run from a New York City location.  The results offer ski and snowboard maps and a DC Metro Map both of which don’t seem relevant to my location or search intention.  A map of Australia might have been more relevant as that is where my iTunes account is registered….
The above image for “download news” also fairs to identify that i’m conducting
Google crushes other app stores
As the blog post said they have plans for other devices in the future which make slow the progress other platforms such as Nokia Ovi, Samsung Apps or Blackberry App World have made in establishing their own mobile apps stores. While the technically cool part is that the the search results are tailored to your device so Android and iPhone users see their relevant apps which does allow for multiple platforms.  The problem is you can’t how the search results differ between each device which makes the results a little less transparent for developers.
Google.com.au also works
The blog post says that its only currently available for Google.com but ive tested it on my iPod Touch on Google.com.au and found it works fine, but images below do show it was generated on Google.com the same results are shown for Google.com.au. It is not clear if part of the new interface means that there is less control over

Google mobile app search not logical
It would make sense to have the mobile apps show for locational based queries such as “restaurants”, but it would likely be something that would be tailored more towards sponsored links where you can click to download Yelp, Urbanspoon or NYTimes Scoop direct to your mobile device. If I did a search for restaurants and was offered a link to download relevant mobile apps to make my search quicker and easier I would see that as a better match that having to change my search patterns to include “download restaurants” or “restaurants apps”, otherwise I would just goto iTunes….

Restaurants apps

I would be interested to see if you have had a chance to test the new Google mobile search for apps and if you found anything interesting that wasn’t covered in this post or maybe more useful that should be made public about how it can help developers or consumers get more from mobile apps. But its something that is likely going to complicate the marketing for apps developers and only leave Google with a bigger control of your mobile search.

Universal Music Gets Online iTunes Sponsored YouTube

Ok so with all this hype recently around the new iPhone 3G S, is this going to be the final piece in the global aspirations for Apple to control the world? While this may sound like a crazy concept for a company to have global aspirations when they dont control a majority of the world’s largest distribution platforms.  They do not control the following 5 sources of possible distribution:

  • Computers (PC’s)
  • Software (Microsoft)
  • Internet (Google)
  • Social Media (Facebook)
  • Online Store (Amazon)

So the question is how does a company who obviously has a very sticky product iTunes and an amazingly successful range of iPods, iPhones & iTouch devices grow its market further? Ok so they have the mobile apps market sewn up with over 1 Billion Apps downloaded directly from iTunes Store, well over 6 billion songs, and 200 million TV shows sold.  But how do they expand this market outside their iTunes audience and reach the hidden audience who may not have a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPod?

One smart move to play catch in the social media would be to launch an official iTunes Facebook fan page, which Apple recently did with currently over 1.5 million fans.  The have moved quickly to offer something back not just random posts about how good the company is as other Fan pages seem to do…

  • Exclusive offers just for iTunes Fans
  • The ability to search for music and share with your Facebook friends
  • iTunes Top Music Charts
  • iTunes tutorials to help out new users

So ok that’s social media covered but who would be a good choice for an online music partner that would not be likely to directly compete with their business model? Amazon launched the first punch against iTunes with DRM-Free music so is not an ideal partner, why not pick the world’s #3 website and the worlds largest video website. While Youtube made headlines for failure to control online music piracy when Viacom filed a $1billion lawsuit against the website, this piracy issue would indicate the potential size of the market for official music sales.

youtube-itunes

While I must admit this discovery was made on a recent trip to Youtube, because I had the song stuck in my head and its a great song. I did a quick search for “Love Song” and the official Universal Music Group link was listed.  While this shows that Youtube seems to be getting better at controlling copyright content what made it interesting was the advertisement to download a song shown just below the links to share the song on Facebook, Myspace & Twitter.  So I can easily share the official Universal track quickly and easily on my Facebook page, show my fan support on Myspace or Tweet it out to friends legally?

It does appear that based just on these simple “Share” options among the internet’s 3 leading social network platforms that there goes one of the biggest reasons behind piracy it is easier to share when its free.  So Universal has just killed the incentive to download a poor quality version if you wanted to share it online.

youtube-itunes-zoomThe other interesting point about this video is that the advertisement is not trying to sell keyword related Google ads such as “Flowers for a Lover” or “Story Bridge Climbs” but infact the ability to buy the song from iTunes.  This very targeted ad and has the benefit that someone listening to the song would be also interested possibly buying a copy.  The advertisement is a double benefit for Universal as they share revenue from the video play with Google and they also get a royalty from iTunes each time it is sold.

Related Images:

Media need broadcast revenue not online

It is not a secret that many media companies have been struggling with falling ad revenues as advertisers cut back and ask for more bang for their buck.  But how does their online strategy affect their advertising revenues and how serious do these companies take this future revenue model?

It is not known how much extra revenue is made from running sponsor sections and onsite advertisements but it is likely not enough to halt the revenue lost to reduced broadcast revenue.  A report today outline that Ten showed a 15% decline in third quarter revenues which goes against the growth of its online audience this quarter.  This online growth was supported by quality content and user generated material built around a few key shows such as SYTYCD, which is still generating interest online.

So the interesting point is that until online makes up a larger portion of overall revenue for a majority of the networks, they will remain dependant on broadcast revenue which is likely to continue to fall.  As the networks fill screens with reality shows and encourage their audience to engage with the show through user generated content they can keep costs low. Networks need a sustainable Ad platform to not just support costs but contribute revenue and allow them to re-invest this to expand online projects.

Online Competitors?

With TV losing audience numbers and potential revenue to iTunes Store, Hulu and Bittorrent how are they faring against their competitors?

We have looked into their competitors with the leader in the online space ABC Networks, with a massive lead with a larger share than all their competitors combined.  This government sponsored network places it in a very similar monopolistic position similar to BBC in the UK and has the advantage of being able to allocate significant online resources without requirements for ROI.

Australian Media Companies Online Market Share

Unique Visitor Statistics

Ten.com.au (28,000/month)
Unique Visitors Stats for Year up by 62% with 12 month ASX Share price down by 21%

au.tv.Yahoo.com (21,000/month)
Unique Visitors Stats for Year up by 91% with 12 month ASX Share price down by 26%

Ninemsn.com.au (428,000/month) – Unique Visitors Stats for Year up by 28%

Abc.net.au (908,000/month) – Unique Visitors Stats for Year up by 0.2%

Sbs.com.au (29,000/month) – Unique Visitors Stats for Year up by 31%

Competitor Site Reviews

Even with its extensive reach of Yahoo, the Seven network continues to struggle for online market share, lagging behind the smaller niche network of SBS.  Yahoo is following the NineMSN revenue model of branded sites for sponsors but they ensure they don’t over kill the ads and use the site to promote their TV shows.  SBC follows a similar model with limited onsite advertising but appears to have a much more successful layout and design for a media portal.

yahoo7sbs

The ABC website is the direction that the Network 10 seem to be taking their website, with minimal relevant promotion and the ability to watch full TV shows for free.  The only difference is the use of screen real estate with ABC making it easier to find its Podcasts for Triple J and Network 10 hiding them below the fold.

abcten

The interesting point that the millions that have been spent on building NineMSN into a online powerhouse has paid off in unique visitor figures, but they have taken the advertising model to the extreme. Its recent Transformers promotion takes over the whole frontpage with a mini animation that ends with a large promotional screen advising that Transformers is now in cinemas.  This seems to be more annoying and a little too pushy to be an ongoing promotion, while this may work for one-off deals because of the intrusive nature it is likely just to irritate users.

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I think the biggest point to take forward to media companies is to look towards the industry leaders such as BBC and even ABC who make it easy to download, listen and share their content.  There is no point fighting the battle against iTunes, Hulu & Bittorrent but I feel online advertising can contribute towards overall revenue but needs to be done right and not follow NineMSN.