Monday, March 30, 2009

What could happen to Google

Found this great slideset online about possible threats to Google. Not saying I endorse these views, but I do find them interesting.
Why Could Google Die...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More on advertising failing

Boy, the internet is alive with more buzz about the failure of advertising online. Two great articles, one in the Economist and one in Ad Age are worth reading if you care about this subject. And somewhat related, see this for problems at Documentary Film Network - not related to his advertising, but that advertising could never support the niche films he was showing, and he had huge traffic numbers. Seems we need some more new business models.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Failure of Advertising?

By way of Techcrunch, a great article on how advertising models are failing on the web and that the internet is actually killing advertising (his words, not mine). The author, Eric Clemmons, is a prof at Wharton and the article is a must-read for those in film - especially now as many folks are touting advertising as the savior of film online. I've never believed this - if advertising works for niche content online it would have worked for it on tv. I also find that in my personal experience online, I completely ignore ads (of course, I do this in print as well) - and they are very easy to ignore - Whenever I watch internet video that has ads, I simply watch something in another tab until the forced advertisement is over. I also think it's been made abundantly clear by TiVo that people will pay a premium to avoid advertising, but Clemmons argument is more sound than any I've made. My favorite quote from the article:
"My basic premise is that the internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again."

So if advertising is being shattered, how are people going to make money online? Clemmons thinks from three things: selling real things, selling virtual things and selling access. He explains this further in the article, but what he ends up supporting as possible business models are:

"Selling Virtual Things: People will pay for superior, timely, original content and for superior online experiences.
Selling Access - providing the customer enough info to make the informed choice they want to make"

I agree completely. These aren't that far from the "generatives" described by Kevin Kelly which I described in an earlier post. I'm pretty sure advertising isn't dead yet - people will keep trying it for awhile, and a few will even make money with it - but only in aggregate as a large company, not for any individual film. I think the film business would do well to consider the implications of the possibility that Clemmons is right though - because we definitely need good business models and don't have time to waste on trying to reuse old ones that may ultimately fail.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thinking unthinkable on the film biz

By way of O'Reilly Radar, I just read Clay Shirky's great piece on "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable" on the future of publishing. I highly recommend this for anyone interested not just in the future of newspapers or the web and publishing/blogging, etc but also for anyone interested in the future of the film business. The parallels are pretty clear. Shirky's best line is:

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place...

And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.

The same thing is going on in film. The old system of making and distributing films is broken and it isn't coming back. Arguing for how we can keep theatres going, or preserve the DVD market or the margins or the profits are asking for the lie.

But if we shift the question away from how do we keep doing the same old thing to what really should be done, we start to get interesting answers. As Shirky continues (and O'Reilly pointed out as well):

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

Amen. In film/media, I think this means let's focus on - "what do audiences want" and "what best connects filmmakers to these audiences" who are also producers, participants and even filmmakers by the way....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Open Access Hijinks

Just learned this from Lessig's blog - John Conyers has reintroduced an insanely stupid bill that would outlaw any public agency from requiring that tax payer funded research be made available free. Instead, you'd have to pay a publisher for it. From Lessig:

The Huffington Post is running a piece about H.R. 801, the latest version of John Conyers' awful idea. The law would forbid entities like the NIH from requiring that recipients of government grants make the product of their research openly accessible. (The current practice requires articles be freely accessible after 12 months.) Instead, Conyers' proposal would require that after the American taxpayer has paid for the research, the American taxpayer must pay publishers to get access to the product of the research.

The first important word to emphasize in the last sentence is "publishers." For unlike the ordinary market for creative work, here, the author isn't paid for his work through the copyright system.

This is a ridiculous bill. The simple reality is that the science publishers aren't needed anymore. Of course, no one likes to hear that their jobs aren't needed, and this group is smart enough to run to Congress and try to pre-empt technology from changing their business. This isn't directly related to film, but I'm pretty passionate about the need for open access to educational resources, especially those funded by taxpayers. I'm also pretty sure that what happens here will impact what can happen in the future with access to films. So, for example, the movement to make fully-funded PBS films available to the public for free could be made illegal by a similar act.

Anyway, if you care about this, you can find more info at the Open Access News blog which also tells you how to take action.