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Fight on! As a USC alum, itâs odd that I cringe when other well-meaning Trojans shriek the schoolâs battle cry. But, last week, instead of hearing the bombast of a marching band in my head at the thought of âSCâs fight song, I was feelinâ a little more hip-hop. I had a kindred spirit in Dr. Dre. Thatâs cuz (as Dre would say) famed hip-hop star Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine announced a $70 million donation to create a new academy for music, focusing on the intersection of art, technology, business and innovation.
The curriculum includes computer science. Entrepreneurship. Art. Marketing. Couldnât we all stand to find these intersections a bit more clearly?
This is the challenge for the media and entertainment industry of today â the need to find that intersection of âgutâ and âinsight.âÂ Iâm sure this is the bane of any long-standing creative industry in todayâs data driven climate. Thatâs because itâs hard to dispute the collective wisdom of creative powerhouses whoâve been at their trades for decades. But, no one is arguing that there needs to be a wholesale switch. Rather, just some more appreciation for the intersection.
In the handful of years Iâve been working in analytics â which were preceded by MANY handfuls of years working in production, post-production, and digital media â Iâve seen a real ramp-up in the role of analytics at traditional and digital media companies alike.Â But, the truth is, there are still factions.Â Whether Iâm talking to a content creator, distributor, publisher or MSO, there are often camps: the we-donât-need-no-stinkinâ-analytics camp vs. the analytics-are-our-future camp.Â Those two camps are starting to meet in the middle â and itâs about time.
At the risk of sounding overly prophetic, there is beauty in the intersection of art and science.Â And, that, I think, is the promise of big data analytics across the content value chain (http://www.teradata.com/industry-expertise/media-and-entertainment/#tabbable=1&tab1=0&tab2=0&tab3=0). When creative companies can integrate what they know about their audiences, their content, their channels and their marketing, they can unleash the value of the intersection of art and science.Â Any successful analytics framework demands a detailed understanding of the art of both.
So, for all of you aspiring data artisans (http://bitsbytesandbricks.blogspot.com/2012/11/i-like-term-data-artisans-george-mathew.html) out there, take heart! Dr. Dre has got your back on this on this one. Fight on!April 11, 2013
By Colleen Quinn
Itâs that time of year!Â NearlyÂ 100,000 of the industryâs best and brightest flock to Sin City for meetings, demos, and debauchery. ItâsÂ NAB!Â Iâm a little wistful writing this from a cold, hard desk in Los Angeles, as pictures of productive-days-turned-long-raucous- nights start to flood into my Inbox.
âWish you were here!â they scream. Alas, me too. Not so much for the endless hands of blackjack (where I lose every penny to my name), the 36-ounce rib-eyes (âHey! Who has the most liberal expense account?!), or the dreaded booth-baby-T-shirt.Â No.Â Those things are nice â and essential to the NAB boondoggle â but mostly, Iâd like to be there because I think this year, really, NAB is important.
My mantra for the last 5-years has been âthe landscape for media and entertainment is changing.â I hear others talk about âthe battle for the living room.âÂ Well, Iâve got news for all of us. The landscape isnât changing. Itâs changed. And, that battle is over.Â Now weâre talking about a war â for the consumer. This monthâsÂ WIRED magazineÂ has dubbed this the Platinum era of television.Â Theyâre right.Â (See my recentÂ blog postÂ Â â was it a premonition to Wiredâs new issue?)
NAB â really the community of creators, technologists, and post-production innovators that drive the showâ are at the nexus of this platinum age. Â The show is still well underway, but already,Â major themesÂ are resounding: hyper-social content, deeper engagement, precision personalization.
This new age demands that content creators and distributors be able to understand and know an audience-of-one in ever more sophisticated ways. While the applications and services â from TV Everywhere to the Second Screen â may vary, they all share a common, critical foundation: analytics.Â Without most of our peers realizing it, the entertainment industryâs biggest currency has become data. Big data.
Itâs time for a deeper conversation about the role of analytics in our industry â and many of the most forward-thinking studios and distributors are already starting that dialog. Industry Â thought-leaders will be represented at an upcoming industry roundtable onÂ May 23rd, âUsing Analytics to Create, Captivate and Engageâ – hosted byÂ UCLA Center for MEMESÂ Â andÂ TeradataÂ â to drive that discussion.Â If this is the Platinum Age of television, then data is the alchemy that can create it.
Oh. There will also be a cocktail hour. Westwood isnât quite Vegas, but at least they wonât force you to wear aÂ baby-T.March 11, 2013
By Colleen Quinn
Did you hear about eye-tracking technology for the Second Screen?
Yeah. Me neither. But, apparently, Time Warnerâs Media Lab â the companyâs impressive research center and Ivory Tower – is using eye-tracking technology to determine how viewers use Second Screen apps in complement to actual TV Viewing. No, they wonât be sending 15 MM+ pairs of goggles home for toddlers across the US to destroy. Donât worry.
In light of LOTS of ambiguity about the Second ScreenÂ Â â and, to bolster strategy around their recent funding of Social TV service Get Glue -Â the Time Warner study should shine some light on how, when, and how supportive (or distracting) the Second Screen is to linear programming (and the advertisers who pay high-price for ad time in their line-ups).
Iâm sure Iâll find the results interesting. But, hereâs the thing â the opportunity to monetize the Second Screen is moving faster than the speed of Academia. Companies investing in Second Screen initiatives â and, that would be every company with media in its veins â canât wait for the results.
Hereâs the good news. You donât have to. Much of that data is already at your fingertips. Not to discount the Time Warner research â in much the same way I wouldnât discount third party enrichment data in general â the fact is, if you have a Second Screen app (and I know you do!), youâve got equal access. More, maybe.
Sure, you may not be able to tell if my eyes were glued to the Kleenex ad running in the first ad break – or if I was, instead, scrambling to find Tina FeyâsÂ Jimmy Chooâs through the companion app. But, youâll be able to tell a whole lot about how, when, where and what I did with your app.
And, if youâre good, youâll be able to take that insight, and integrate it with what you know about my browsing behavior online. Â If youâre really good (and you would be, if you worked with a powerhouse like us, youâll integrate that with my past transactional behavior through retail.
With that combined analytic insight, you can use the Second Screen as a delivery vehicle for a highly personalized experience â and one that doesnât detract from the linear experience, Iâd add. Â And, the value doesnât stop at the Second Screen.Â That same insight can be leveraged across your marketing organization.
I know how Iâm using the Second Screen â as my first. Cord-cutters unite! And, Iâm sure some guy somewhere is doing meaningful research on that too.
But, the smartest media companies can tap into many of these insights now, with data ready and waiting across the enterprise: from web to-mobile to the set-top box and beyond.Â Why would you sit around and wait for stale research or aged data, when the answers are at your fingertips (with the right tools, of course)? What would you do if you knew the answersâŚ now?February 1, 2013
Iâm happy to say that after nearly 40 years on this planet, Iâve never truly known what itâs like to have a target on my back. Or, if anyone HAS ever been out to get me, theyâve been sufficiently dulcet about it that I havenât noticed.
I doubt that the Chiefs at the major MSOs can say the same. January saw two bold âcable-killerâ pronouncements â one from the ever-brazen Netflix CEO Reed Hastings ; the other from a far less likely culprit, Intel , whose plans to launch a next-gen set-top-box spins the tale of network unbundling. Um. And, I promise that Iâll one day own a small island in the Caribbean.
But, I digress.
Whatâs common in both of these edicts â aside from the same-old âweâre coming to get youâ message to MSOs â is the emphasis on how these approaches appeal to what audiences expect in the brave new content world. They want:
â˘ Content now
â˘ Content that meets their interests
â˘ Content everywhere
Duh. Thatâs old news. âThatâs TV Everywhere,â shouts the Cable Chief in response. Sort of.
But hereâs whatâs new. The ante is increasingly being upped against the MSOs, because now the ability to capture, analyze and respond to audience behavior in real-time is possible through an array of alternate channels. As users access apps through mobile devices, log-on to VOD services online, or even through the set-top-box of today, theyâre all but screaming out their likes and dislikes. Itâs a whole lot of data about what, when and how theyâre watching.
The ânewâ capabilities being unleashed by Netflix and Intel arenât just the domain of Netflix and Intel. Theyâre the rightful capabilities of any content creator or distributor (whether youâre OTT or MSO or something in between) who has harnessed the ability to analyze player logs, viewing behavior, Facebook likes, click-stream data and more.
With the right data and analytics in hand, every content-related business decision becomes clearer:
â˘ What content should you license, based on KNOWN consumer demand?
â˘ For a given consumer, what VOD offers or recommendations will drive the greatest engagement?
â˘ Which audience members have the most social influence in their network? And, how can you get real buddy-buddy with that guy as soon as possible
This isnât just the domain of the ânew mediaâ guys, like Netflix. Itâs not even just the domain of the âbig guysâ like the MSOs (who, you guessed it, can combine the data from STB and TV Everywhere into a powerful analytics cocktail). The âlittle guysâ â at least the smart ones â are onto this as well.
Check-out a replay of a recent webinar from Machinima, where COO Nanea Reeves shares content analytics tactics and strategies that have shot Machinima to the top of YouTubeâs preferred networks.
In the meantime, Iâm off to see about making a few enemies. Life in the hot-seat just might be exciting.January 2, 2013
What with the failed Mayan apocalypse and all, Iâve been stuck reminiscing about the end of the world as we know it , at least in the Media & Entertainment industry as we know it today.
Donât worry, I wonât be too poignant. Read moreSeptember 14, 2012
83 minutes is a long time. ItâsâŚ
- âŚ eight times longer than my 6-year-oldâs attention span;
- âŚ about seven minutes shorter than the average feature film; and
- âŚ not quite twice as long as Bill Clintonâs 2012 DNC speech
83 minutes is also the amount of time that the average Machinima Network viewer spends engaged with content on the exploding YouTube entertainment networkÂ â an average engagement that eclipses every other YouTube channel. Machinima isnât just ANY YouTube channel; itâs become the second most popular channel almost overnight, racking up nearly 200 million unique monthly visitors and more than 2 BILLION monthly video views. (Click here to register for Machinimaâs September 19th Webinar, hosted by Teradata)
The numbers are impressive â especially for a relatively new, smallish start-up. But, itâs a start-up we should all be watching with interest, not simply because nearly every person carrying an XY chromosome between the ages of 18 and 35 is hooked, but because the Machinima Network- as executed through the YouTube channel model – showcases the future of our industry. No doubt.
YouTubeâs made major investments to launch dozens of channels in the past year, seeding the various networks with an initial infusion of $150 million, and then doubling-down with another $200 million just this summer.
Itâs no secret that original content is often the ticket to loyal audiences and large licensing returns. HBO was among the first to define the model. Watch now as Amazon, Netflix and, yes, YouTube fall in line with original content investments. For YouTube – whose attempts to shed its image as the destination for cute UGC baby videosÂ in favor of that of a Hollywood powerhouse have faltered – brands like Machinima will be the lifeblood.
But, thereâs more to 83-minutes that a few bucks from Google. Google, YouTube and Machinima are no strangers to understanding the value of deep content analytics in in understanding viewing patterns, and converting those visitors into users. In fact, as content creators of all sorts navigate the new world of multi-platform and direct-to-consumer distribution, the winners will be those who effectively use data to mine user sentiment and behavior. Some companies are in the spaghetti stage for sure â and that is, they throw analytics approaches against the wall to see what sticks. But, there are also clear thought leaders, Machinima and Google among them. Pay attention now â itâs worth more than 83 minutes of your time.
I canât give you 83 minutes â but, join me and Machinima Network COO, Nanea Reeves for an hour-long webinar to learn more. Â Click here to register.June 19, 2012
Just about three-and-a-half years ago, I made a pretty big change in ye ole career path, and left a life-time in production, post and digital media to join the rock-star of all data warehousing and analytics companies, Teradata. Yes, my role was to oversee Media & Entertainment go-to-market strategy and marketing â but it still felt like a lifetime away from encoding and transcoding, and content distribution, and DI, andâŚ. To be honest, I wondered for a long time if I might lose my M&E chops.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle. Just last Thursday, I had the privilege of joining some of Hollywoodâs best and brightest on a panel to discuss big data analytics in media & entertainment. An event hosted by MESA and the Hollywood IT Society, and sponsored by Teradata (among others), the Big Data Analytics Breakfast marked the first exclusively M&E-focused big data event of its kind.
Flanked by senior execs from Disney, Sony and NBCUniversal (read MESAâs write-upÂ here), our panel spent more than 60-minutes gabbing about the criticality of big data analytics âand analytics in general âÂ in Media & Entertainment in front of another 70 senior-level technology executives.
The interest and excitement in the room was evident â so evident that we were unceremoniously cut-off and booted when our Q&A threatened to well-exceed our allotted time. Itâs not that often I see a new business opportunity incite that kind of interest and engagement. There is so much to be said on the role of big data analytics for our industry.
Here are some gems for big data use that weâve seen with our customers, and which were echoed throughout the big data event:
- Programming & Scheduling â using Twitter, Facebook and other social media feedback to make ad-hoc scheduling changes
- Ad Effectiveness â using big data to attribute ad engagement (say, via the STB or second screen)
- Theatrical Marketing On-Demand â shifting marketing allocations and spend in near-real-time based on regional box-office outcomes
- Content Recommendations â one word: Netflix
- Site Personalization â understanding your customerâs title, genre and other preferences via big data, and using that insight to tailor their experience with your site, or target them to receive specific marketing communications
For about the last 18 months, Iâve been watching the intensity around analytics skyrocket with studios, OTTs, cable companies, publishers and other Media & Entertainment companies. Itâs honestly about time. I really believe analytics are at the core of our industryâs future â particularly as we evolve to have the kinds of deep one-to-one audience relationships that new distribution platforms (like OTT and Second Screen) allow.
As for me? I guess it makes me feel a little smug â confirming for me over and over again that my supposed career-path change wasnât all that much of a change; it was really nothing more than an evolution. Thatâs good for all of us!June 7, 2012
By Colleen Quinn, Teradata
It seems everywhere I turn, leaders in Media & Entertainment are catching on to the Big Data phenomenon. At the very least, thereâs a whole lot of conversation happening about the subject. So, it wasnât surprising that nearly 800 people registered for a webinar â sponsored by world leader in analytics, Teradata – to hear online auction (and analytics) powerhouse, eBay, share how theyâre using Teradata and Hadoop to access Big Data sources , and analyzing them to give eBay speed, power and agility to offer their customers what they want, when they want it. (If youâre still catching-up on what Big Data means exactly, read my earlier blog on the subject.)
The conversation, led by Teradataâs Chris Twogood and eBay architecture and technology rock-star Tom Fastner, outlined a variety of ways that eBay relies on Big Data analytics to touch almost every part of the customer experience, from driving traffic to the site, delivering the most relevant product assortment while there, and by analyzing every step of the final transaction.
Here are a couple of gems from the webinar:
â˘ Paid Key Word Optimization – I donât think I was the only one whose jaw dropped when Tom mentioned that eBay manages 167 million paid keywords. To put that in perspective, the English language has just over 1 million words. âKeywordsâ are often combinations of frequently searched words. In eBayâs world, think of phrases like âiPad 2â or âgold diamond ring.â (In the Media and Entertainment industry, you can imagine combinations like âTom Cruise action movieâ or âHarry Potter Lunch Boxâ). When bidding on key words â no matter how many you manage â the bid process also includes things like geography , and rank/placement (do you want the keyword which appears first, second or third on the list). So, when all said and done, these permutations multiply.
eBay uses Big Data Analytics to identify those keywords most commonly searched on the eBay site, and which drive the most traffic and conversions, and ultimately decide on how much those words are worth when bidding. Across nearly 200 million words, you can imagine the massive cost savings.
â˘ A/B Testing – So, once eBay brings potential buyers to the site through optimized key words (and other significant means, of course), the goal is for those potential buyers to become actual buyers. eBay shared the fundamental role that experimentation and Big Data analysis play in conducting and determining the outcome of those A/B tests. eBay conducts A/B tests on 100 use-cases at a time, resulting in thousands (tens of thousands) of simultaneous A/B tests. Theyâre able to measure response to those tests and determine the best product assortment , and layout (e.g. do you prefer bigger or smaller pictures?) to match buyersâ search requests, resulting in better matches and more transactions.
If you think this sounds interesting, but are still left wondering what any of this has got to do with us in Media and Entertainment? The parallels are striking:
â˘ So What About Search? – Driving traffic through search â with more content aggregators and distributors competing for the same audiences, you want to make sure your audience finds you first. Understanding and optimizing what drives traffic â even with keyword tallies infinitely smaller than 167 million words â is critical. Conventional wisdom use to hold that you should always bid for the #1 slot, but smart advertisers know that other slots outperform the #1 slot on an ROI basis, so unless you need the volume the first slot drives you’re better off bidding for slots 2 and higher.
â˘ Content is Personal, too â No doubt about it. You know that your movies, episodes and trailers are every bit your product, just like an iPad on eBay. And, for most properties, you have merchandise you can pair. Learning what your audience likes, and what resonates with them , through A/B testing to optimize recommendations and product assortments will only increase site engagement, and ultimately, transactions.
Did these gems pique your interest? Then donât forget to listen to the webinar replay here in its entirety.May 17, 2012
Let me start by admitting that I usually abhor industry conferences and summits. Iâll make an exception for NAB and IBC, mostly because of the, um, ancillary activities â but, for the most part, networking, schmoozing and pontificating arenât my thing. They are, however, a necessary occupational hazard.
So, imagine my surprise and thrill at last weekâs Academy on UltraViolet, which brought together 250+ industry thinkers (real players, mind you) to talk about the roll-out, strategy and success-to-date (or not) of the new digital rights locker concept â called UltraViolet – brought to market by a consortium which includes a veritable whoâs who of everyone in the industry (except, quite notably, Apple).
I enjoyed this one. I was fascinated by the enthusiasm, hope and tenacity of a roomful of industryites pinning their hopes on the new service as the savior for Home Entertainmentâs dwindling DVD revenues. And, while I think UltraViolet has a long way to go â and a daunting set of consumer-facing challenges they need to overcome (namely: what the hell is a rights locker anyway?) – there is no debating that most major studios have bought in. (Note: Check-out Martyâs blog for a great perspective on the Turtleneck/Hoodie Gap here.)
If I had one bit to contribute to the conversation â a bit that I think will be critical for the studios and content creators who have a MAJOR opportunity to finally understand what/how/when/where their audiences are engaging with content â it would be this: what about the data? UV â if it works; if it does all that the studios and retailers hope it will do â will be yet another channel in this new distribution landscape that finally allows the content creators to do what the box office and big box retail did not: learn about the people who consume their content.
With the ability to mine that data âfrom sources like their own consumer-facing storefronts or their partner retailers- studios will be able to literally read each viewerâs patterns and preferences. Well, read those preferences if they know how. Doing so requires Big Data analytics tools that can tackle the multi-structured data of click-stream, browsing, video engagement, social network analysis and more. And, UV data isnât the only place this arsenal of analytics can be pointed.
Want to learn more about Big Data Analytics and how you can use it to ramp-up your understanding of viewing behavior and more? Check out this upcoming webinar on May 31st.May 9, 2012
The âwebâ seems to know weird things about me. Take my old friend Netflix â just the other day, I was thrilled and shocked to see that Netflix had sifted through the rubble of my sonâs nonstop Dora and Diego consumption (you parents understand this) to make a couple of streaming recommendations for moi that, quite simply, made my day.
Donât get me started on Google, whose creepy and prescient ads â âNever Fly Coach Againâ (how do they know?!) — amaze me every time!
And, just the other day, eBay was trying to sell me seriously rad trail running shoes. Now, I shop with eBay a lot â to the tune of Thomas the Train and Kate Spade â but Iâve never once bought anything sport-related from the site. I am a person, by the way, who seriously appreciates rad trail running shoes â and buy them, I did.
What do all of these companies have in common? Besides the fact that they know more nitty-gritty things about me than my own mother, the commonality is that they all use Big Data analytics. Not big data. Big Data. Note the caps. Heard the buzz word, but â like gluten free and OTT â you still donât quite know what it means, how it works, and how IT organizations can execute?
Letâs start from a simple definition. Big Data refers to the data exhaust that people like us â your audience, viewers and site visitors â leave behind as they navigate through your online services. Take my Netflix scenario â for every search I execute, click that I make, or trailer that I watch, I am leaving fingerprints. The path I take through Netflix â from the moment I log on, to the moment I watch something (or donât) leaves a trace. Those traces in aggregate â often rendered as multi-structured bits of data in click-streams, or web blogs, or comments on social media sites or social networks â are Big Data.
How do you make sense of Big Data vs. little data (to steal a phrase from Peter Yaredâs recent post on CNET)? Well, âlittle dataâ â the rows and columns weâre all used to today – focuses on the âwhat.â What viewers watch; what buyers buy; how many, how much. Big Data â coined such not so much because of its size, but because of its complexity and dynamic-nature (um, dynamo?) â helps us explore why.
Is your interest piqued? Want to know why your content distribution and online publishing friends know so much about you? Want to know more things like this about your audience when youâre distributing your content? Check-out this upcoming FREE, Live Webinar featuring eBay â a company among the titans of Big Data Analytics. You can click here to learn more and register.March 14, 2012
Hereâs a tale of your average DVD-buying consumer:
Sheâs a fan â with a longstanding love affair with Harry Potter (sorry, have to pick on someone today. Guess thatâs you, Warner Brothers!). You know this because sheâs a Facebook fan (nearly 43 million of âem and counting); sheâs clicked-through to the Harry Potter website thanks to a paid keyword search; and, once there, she registers on the site, opening the door to targeted email after targeted email.
And, then she does it â what you want her to do, that is. She purchases the DVD. Hooray! Your marketing efforts paid off! Or, did they? Trouble is, in todayâs concept of marketing attribution, marketers are hard-pressed to understand the sway and significance of each marketing message on the ultimate goal â a transaction.
Recent market research by Forrester found that with online marketing budgets growing the need for tools to understand the complex interplay and attribution of mobile, social media, online ads, search and web visits was a high priority for most marketers.
The complexity of todayâs customer journey is a story of Big Data Analytics when viewed through the eyes of a marketer. Understanding Attribution means understanding multi-structured data, in big volumes and being able to use sophisticated algorithms to find key metrics for data driven decisions.
Consider this nugget from Teradata Aster, the Big Data Analytics company. They recently shared customer stories for their digital marketing attribution solution. Leading brands such as Barnes & Noble, Gilt Groupe, Insight Express and Razorfish shared their experiences using Asterâs Attribution solution:
â˘ “It is well-recognized that Barnes & Noble has made a profound transformation from being a physical seller of books to a digital technology company. A key component of that is the ability we have gained to leverage ‘big data’ to derive consumer insights that are deployed multi-channel,” said Marc Parrish, vice president of Retention and Loyalty Marketing, Barnes & Noble. “Our customers benefit from our ability to personalize their interactions. We know them, and it shows.” Parrish also stated that “This shift to multi-touch marketing optimization is changing the vendor landscape. Teradata Aster is clearly a leader in moving the industry from the old world of analytic sampling, to the new big data world of complex, multi-factorial customer intelligence.”
Teradata Aster has published a white paper that looks at these challenges and offers some perspectives on how to solve themâŚ take a look by clickingÂ here!August 30, 2010
ByÂ Colleen Quinn
I write this from the room of a lovely hotel, where Iâve just been booted from a customer meeting (for which I busted my tail to prepare) because I am too ill. Ironically, Iâve been ill for a couple of daysâlike brutally illâbut not ill enough to score a reprieve before making the 120-mile drive. My throat is raw and swollen, fever, chills.
My house is like a Petri dish, so Iâm mildly grateful to be away from it at the moment. Iâm not the only one sick. And so, until now, there weâve been, in a classic Spanish-style âbungalowâ (read: tiny), all sprawled out. Youâd think weâd be miserable. And, we would beâ but weâve been saved from ourselves (again) by a higher power. Steve Jobs.
Let me explain. We are a bit religious about the man in our house for many reasons: 1) Heâs adoptedâso is my son! We love great role models. While most toddlers could name purple dinosaurs, my two-year-old could name the CEO of Apple; 2) Heâs a survivorâwe think his brave and sometimes public battle with illness will come to benefit survivors everywhere; and 3) Heâs justâŚ insanelyâŚ brilliant!
All this said, I had cheaped out on buying a new iPad. I knew the âbottom-of-the-lineâ wouldnât have enough storage, but I couldnât bring myself to fork over the $800+ for the best. So, I did nothing but stew in my own envy as friend after friend took the plunge, while I boasted about my newfound frugality.
Then, on Wednesday, we cracked. Under the auspices of needing to stay on top of new media trends (itâs what we do professionally), we finally bought the darn thing.Â And, as if the fates were somehow in the know, the moment we walked through the door of our television-less house with our new Apple baby, it happened. This blanket of fever descendedâŚ and within hours, we were all incomprehensibly sick.
Enter Steve. Read moreJune 28, 2010
ByÂ Colleen Quinn
June 23rd,Â 2010. 6/23/10. Itâs a real shame the numbers donât have more of a ring to them. A verdict on the 10thÂ of October (e.g. 10/10/10) might be more resonant. But, even if the date doesnât roll off the tongue, mark my words: this is a date which will live in infamy for content distributors and content owners everywhere.
This is the day Google won. In a potentially landmark decision (though one with many, many appeals in its future), a federal judge in New York threw out Viacomâs $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Googleâs YouTube.
Itâs a long storyâand one made-for-Hollywood with its subterfuge and plot twists. But, in short, Viacom sued Youtube for boat loads of money for copyright infringement– that is, knowingly posting copyrighted materials to the site, without financial remuneration to the rights holders.Â In one of the truly major tests of the âsafe harborâ provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the judge found that YouTube/ Google were not liable. Title II of the DMCA generally protects a Web site from liability for copyrighted material uploaded by its users as long as the operator of the site takes down the material when notified by its rightful owner that it was uploaded without permission.Â So, in the judgeâs estimation, YouTube met this test.
But, hereâs the good stuff: the case evidence dated back to some pretty shady pre-Google-acquisition days, and highlighted alleged tactics that pointed fingers at YouTubeâs founders. Equally bad behavior was alleged on the part of Viacom, who was accused of hiring a clan of promotions companies to upload âleakedâ Viacom content to the site under pseudonyms. Naughty, naughty.
The fact of the matter is that YouTubeâand YouTube-like servicesâare the way of the future in the eyes of the consumer. And, while no one can say YouTube is perfect in its attempt to âprotectâ content-owners, they surely seem to meet the DMCA provisions with the processes and technologies theyâve implemented to alert copyright owners. I just listened to a fascinating TED Talk last week from Googleâs Margaret Gould Stewart, where she outlined YouTubeâs methodologies to alert content owners to rights infringements.
YouTube has created a massive registry for rights holders where they can upload reference copies of their content. Then, YouTube runs EVERY piece of newly uploaded content against that registryâanalyzing picture, audio, and moreâto identify matches. The system is so sophisticated, allegedly, that it can account for quality degradation, video effects (slow-motion or speed-up), clip-extracts and more. When a match is found, the system alerts the copyright owners, who can then block the content altogether, or monetize it through advertising and product promotion.Â Itâs a fascinating processâand the technology was so, well, cool that I was awestruck.
Then, I waited a few minutes, and started to scoff at this notion of protection for content owners. Perhaps itâs all my years having been a âcontent creatorâ and working for and with content owners. But, I couldnât beat away the nagging question: why is the burden on the rights holder? And, I assure you, that same question was likely one of the largest on the minds of Viacom execs as they embarked on a now 4-year journey to take-out YouTube.Â Itâs a large burden indeed.Â To protect your content, you must encode, upload and capture metadata about EVERY piece of content you own; you must think through and capture your protection policies about that content; and, you must review notifications when protected content is uploaded to determine the desired response (e.g. remove vs. monetize). Whipping out my calculator here, I see that amounts to a load of operational cost, resources and time for already strapped businesses.Â Imagine similar and probably more unwieldy processes taking place across other UGC aggregation sites. Iâm not sure how that scales, even in the face of the revenue upside.
So, here I leave you with two sides of the coin. I should say that I am pleased with the verdict. And, I am, for the most part, impressed with YouTubeâs processes to screen content, though I hesitate to see YouTube in the same beatific light they themselves suggest. Thereâs no question that YouTube and rights holders need to be, more than ever, partners in this eco-system. And, Iâm not so sure we needed a judge to even confirm that. But, confirm he did. Hereâs to 6-2-3. A milestone, indeed.June 16, 2010
By Colleen Quinn
I pride myself, perhaps without merit, on creating witty, funny, life-affirming blog posts that are generally joys to read. Amusing and insightful. Thereâs something you donât get every day. But, thereâs nothing amusing about losing money and nothing insightful about missed opportunity.
Todayâs post, my friends, asks the question: has the time come for our emerging digital supply chain to stop emerging, and start achieving its promise as a fully realized, fully accountable line of business. Is our baby ready, to put it another way, to take its first real steps into adulthood?
Iâm ruminating today on discussion from this yearâs Entertainment Supply Chain Academy EDGE conference, which took place a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles. I attended the ESCA event last year for the first time, and it struck me how much our worldâ the world of making, managing, moving and monetizing contentâ has changed.
The event was a smashing success (both in 2009 and 2010, I hear), succeeding where other industry shows hadnât yet. You see, I never thought of myself as a âSupply Chainâ person. Supply Chain (yawn!) focused almost exclusively on the movement of physical goods. Supply Chain was for duller professional adventures than my own. Oh sure, weâd bandied about the term âdigital supply chainâ some years back in digital entertainment, but we thought our world unencumbered by the challenges faced by our friends in Home Entertainment. And, Iâm sure the Home Entertainment crowd shared a set of opinions about digital media: new technology cowboys running roughshod over a seasoned industry. Or, as NBC Universalâs Jeff Zucker once suggested, none-too-serious dabblers in a world of digital pennies. Analog dollars were the real business.
After attending ESCA in 2009, it became apparent that the organizers, at least, were far savvier than the aforementioned âthemsâ and âus-es.â ESCA was making the point that we were in this together. Suddenly, digital media was everyoneâs problemâ including the Supply Chain guys. Iâd never heard so many people fretting about the digital media supply chain in one place. I nearly laughed out loud when I realized the panel Iâd been asked to sit on felt more like coming home than work.
It was time to listen to each other, it seemed. There were many reasons for our collective interest. Most were looking for the inflection point for digital content distributionâ the point at which physical businesses were perceived as having been trumped by the new kid; others were inheriting the digital businesses under their Home Entertainment umbrellas; and still others were realizing that we all just needed to get along, if nothing else.
Jump to 2010. Studios have been facing the hard-realities of multi-platform distribution for something approaching five years. The Digital Supply Chainâ yes, thatâs the official term nowâ is no longer a line of business for dabblers. Studios must shift from thinking of these businesses as emergent and transitional to steady and performing.Â And, while 2009 showed ESCA organizers at the forefront, the conversation in 2010 reflected that the general audience was in agreement.
By acknowledging that digital businesses are, in some ways, the studiosâ future, folks from across the enterprise now have serious a stake in making these businesses successful.
The notion of digital pennies isnât bearing out at all. Perhapsâ and still, only in some casesâ the per-unit revenues for digital downloads may be less than physical, but the volumes are greater and margins ostensibly higher. This isnât news. Time Warnerâs CFO, John Martin, said just last week that Warner is âaggressively transitioningâ its physical business because the company anticipates the success of its digital businesses. Martin, Iâm sure, also knows that digital businesses are successful only when they can scale to drive the right margins across this fragmented ecosystem.
I use the word âanticipateâ intentionally. Climbing that maturity curve to better margin and profitability in these new channels is tough. Multiplatform distribution, with its dizzying array of processes, specifications, possibilitiesâ its sheer scaleâ requires content owners to optimize processes that have scarcely been introduced. The need to drive cost out of the supply chainâ this new supply chainâ is critical to convert those supposed pennies to dollars. I can see Home Entertainment executives nodding their heads from here.
There are several areas where content owners can start to see immediate relief. Iâm frankly out of time to do justice to these areas in this post, so Iâll name them now to give you food for thought, with the promise to elaborate later.
The first is metadata management. Iâll just ask anyone reading this post to take a quick count of the number of title or product management systems in use at your company today. Iâd ask you to mentally run through the process of prepping a single title for output. Enough said.
What about the promise of digital asset management for content re-use and repurposing? Does it bear out when you think about how many times you re-encode the same piece of content to fulfill to your distributors?
Finally, imagine for a moment you do fulfill content everywhere it needs to go, on-time and in the right package. Do you have the tools in place to track that contentâs performance against your bottom line? Is it easy to know how the licensing deal performs relative to others like it?
Thereâs something exciting about watching your baby graduate and head off to college…this is, as pathetic how it sounds, how I feel about digital supply chain. And, along with collegeâ if I may painfully draw out this metaphor a bit moreâ comes additional responsibility. Say, making ends meet on your own. Maturity has its downside, I guess. But, I have total faith in my baby. I may need a box of tissues for proud tears at ESCA 2011. Stay tuned.May 18, 2010
I live and die by the internet. I work remotely, and have loads of embarrassing evidence of angry confrontations with my spouse over *my* allegations of *his* abuse of bandwidth while we work from our home offices. (Itâs never his fault, but Iâm Italian, and we have tempers. We blame people. Itâs in our blood.)
I buy my shoes online. I buy my sonâs shoes online; and, his clothes; and, his toys; and, his books; and, our Equal for Godâs sake (as we spend a lot of time in Europe, where the artificial sweeteners are rubbish).
I buy DVDs online too, for the most partâwhen I actually buy DVDs, that is. You see, as I live and die by the internet, our preferred movie viewing method-of-choice is streaming or downloading. But, we have a 4-year-old. And 4-year-olds alone might single-handedly save the physical media business. If youâre familiar at all with the media consumption habits of young children, you know that ârepetitiveâ and âdurableâ are key benefits.
When I purchase DVDs, I occasionally buy them in the brick-and-mortar store, by the way. Take today, for example. I am passing through an airport and am in need of a present for the child to assuage my guilt over yet another business trip. DVDs work. Iâm looking for a new releaseâDisneyâs The Princess and the Frog– but the title is not on the shelf. I rummage through the discount bin, find something for $5.99 (think Dora the Explorer, or the like), pay and off I go thinking, âNo problem. Iâll buy it on Amazon.â
And with that last sentence, every executive working for a large content owner should cringe. This is a critical point of failure, lost revenue and lost opportunity for studios and retailersâand the out-of-stock problem happens every day.
The problem is an outgrowth of more than a decadeâs worth of VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory)âwhere the studios have managed inventory for retailers using sophisticated processes and technologies. But, like almost everything else in the studio/content owner ecosystem these days, things have become more complex. I talk often about proliferation of digital media formats and channelsâbut the reality is, the same thing is happening in physical channels as well. Thanks Blu-ray and BD Liveâoh, and you too Xbox.
In a VMI relationship, optimizing demand and supply between the studios, distributor, logistics carriers, the merchandiser, and the retailer is the key to managing operational challenges.Â But, things break-down. And, when they do, the failures are costly. In other industries, like grocery and retail, leading trade organizations have reported that vendors experience 6% to 18% of their out-of-stocks for new items and promoted items.
Teradataâs studies show that retail industry stock-outs are between 5% and 8% and that overstock conditions â the result of poor forecasts and buys â continue to climb. Â This means that when peopleâlike meâwant to buy a specific new release title, itâs often not available.
From here, several scenarios can happenâall of them bad for your business, by the way. Option 1: I go somewhere else. The studio still books the revenue of the sale in that caseâbut itâs bad news for the retailer. Option 2: This is worse. Perhaps I donât buy at allâa lose-lose for retailer and content owner. Finally, Option 3: This is just as bad. I get smart. I wait. And, in 30-daysâwhen those critical two weeks for new release sales have passedâI march into a big box retailer, rummage through a stack of steeply marked-down titles, and pick my choice at a discount thanks to lots of overstock..
Iâm sure youâre thinking that this supply chain stuff is some of the most riveting material youâve read in weeks. It is! And, there are far smarter people than me talking about the impact of out-of-stocksâand the steep revenue losses they cause. Iâd encourage you to check out the Global Supply Chain Forum taking place on May 25, 2010 at Stanford University, where multiple industries, including Media & Entertainment, are coming together to talk about how to manage and improve costly supply chain issues like this.
I assure youâand if youâre in Home Entertainment you knowâthat this is a real issue for content owners, studios and their retail partners who often get one crack at capturing full-price for DVDs.Â So, whatâs the solution? For starters, VMI needs to take a leap forward and enable detailed forecasting where the rubber meets the road: at the store and SKU level; forecasts which take into account subtleties that drive performance– they recognize historical performance, are deep in seasonal and causal identification and respond automatically to the latest trends.Â Itâs possible. We know because Teradataâs Demand Chain Management Solution does it, saving customers bundles in the process.
That doesnât do the retailer whose shop I just left any good at the moment. I still didnât get what I needed, though my guilty conscience is cleared thanks to a cheaper second choice.Â One thingâs for sureâIâll just buy it on Amazon.