ILM ’08: Mark Canon’s Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

ILM '08: Mark Canon's Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

ILM '08: Mark Canon's Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from Wellcomemat.com sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his Switchboard.com years (YellowPages.ca was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).

Why did Cox Buy Adify?

From the press release:

Cox Enterprises, Inc. today announced that its subsidiary Cox TMI, Inc. will acquire Adify Corporation. Adify will operate as a stand-alone company and will continue to be led by Russ Fradin, CEO and co-founder of Adify. (…) Adify is the premier technology and media company focused on vertical online advertising. The company’s comprehensive technology and services allow major media companies, venture-backed businesses and entrepreneurs to build and operate targeted ad networks that support their advertisers’ goals. Vertical advertising networks offer marketers the reach, targeting and quality that brand advertisers increasingly seek in the online advertising space. More than 100 premium ad networks currently operate on Adify’s technology platform.

What it means: A bit late blogging about this news, but wanted to come back to it as it validates two of my key predictions for 2007 and 2008. I said in December 2006 that 2007 would be see more site “verticalization”. I also wrote in December 2007 that 2008 would be the “year of ad networks”. Adify sits at the confluence of these two major trends. They’ve seen amazing traction in the marketplace. Why would Cox buy them? I see two reasons: i) it’s a great business to be in, major growth to be expected in the next few years, and ii) it provides Cox with access to many ad networks to push their own ad networks (newspapers, television, autotrader, etc.) as an optional backfill, thereby extending their reach tremendously. Very smart strategy!

 

The Polaroid Lesson: Never Be Married to a Specific Product or Medium

Learning about the imminent end of Polaroid instant films in this morning’s Le Devoir, I was inspired to read more about what’s going on with the company. They’ve clearly faced important disruption with the emergence of digital cameras and I wanted to see what had happened recently to one of the most innovative technology companies in US history. “Its founder, Edwin Land, held 533 patents, second only to Thomas Alva Edison in US history.” says the Boston Globe. They were the champions of the “razor and blades” model, selling cameras at low-profit margins to sell high-margin films. According to this Time Magazine article, profit margins in 1965 were already “perhaps as high as 30%”. Sounds familiar? They also were famous for their very high dividends. Sounds familiar also?

Polaroid

(Flickr picture by amayzun)

But the company is now, according to another Boston Globe article, “a shell of its once-great self, now owned by Petters Group Worldwide of Minnesota. There’s no research and development activity to speak of. The company primarily licenses the Polaroid name to electronics makers in Asia (…)”. There is a glimmer of light but it’s not much. In the same article, I read about Zink, a Polaroid spin-off that’s producing a cool ink-less printer for digital pictures. “As Polaroid was sliding into bankruptcy in 2001, the company was trying to figure out what to do with a printing technology it had developed that doesn’t rely on ink, but instead uses a patented type of crystal that changes color in response to heat. Paper coated with Zink’s crystals can produce full-color photos when exposed to just the right pulses of heat. The project was nearly killed as Polaroid stumbled through its bankruptcy proceedings, but Zink got a reprieve and was spun out as an independent company in 2005.”

What it means: I couldn’t find Polaroid’s specific mission statement but I’m convinced it did not talk about medium-specific products. The Zink innovation was too late to change the course of history for the company, but it serves as a great reminder to never be married to a specific product or medium. By following the “connecting buyers and sellers” mission statement, directory publishers have the opportunity to avoid Polaroid’s fate. Leveraging their sales force to sell new online products like Google Adwords or Yahoo Search products for example is a very smart way of conducting their business in an online (and fragmented) media world. I remain convinced that the smartest directory publishers will launch their own local ad networks, thereby drastically increasing their online reach. They already have all the assets, they just need to execute.

Update: regarding Polaroid’s mission statement, Cheryl (via Linkedin Answers) points me to this .pdf article. It’s “to put the latest cutting edge technology in the peoples’ hands and give them the power to use it comfortably, affordably… and in an instant.”

Local & Social Media Predictions for 2008

Yesterday, I wrote about what I thought were the most important news in 2007 in the local and social media space. Today, I’d like to propose my 2008 predictions, an always interesting exercise.

  1. The year of Identity. One of the big challenges of social media is having to sign-up and add your friends in a multitude of web sites. Expect 2008 to be the year where this problem becomes a major issue and gets potentially solved through identity interoperability initiatives like OpenID.
  2. Social is now everywhere and open. The last few months of 2007 have set the stage for a very social 2008. Any new major initiatives will include social elements by default and will use existing standards like OpenSocial, DiSo or Facebook.
  3. Fragmentation & personalization of media. Given the lower barrier to entry for new local/social projects, user and advertiser fragmentation will continue to accelerate in 2008. From a user point of view, this will lead to new personalization tools allowing consumers to create their own unique media view.
  4. The year of ad networks. As a corollary of point #3 above, given that user fragmentation will accelerate, an increasingly large number of ad networks will pop-up to aggregate consumers into a critical advertising mass. It’s all about advertiser defragmentation. Directory publishers will want to become ad networks themselves to push their ads outside of their core destination sites in order to increase their total reach.
  5. Content wants to be distributed. That’s the second corollary of point #3. Increasing user fragmentation requires content producers to atomize their content and push it in the fabric of the web. Think of your business in terms of content units or atoms (some inspiration came from Clay Shirky’s “fame vs. fortune” post from 2003).
  6. Social graph-based search. I am now a firm believer that social graph-based search will be the future of search (including local search) and we will see this concept gain some tractions in 2008. I think humans will always trust recommendations and advice from people in their “social network” (friends, family, colleagues, known experts, etc.) more than a machine. Online word-of-mouth is the biggest local search opportunity out there.
  7. More M&A activity in local. 2007 was quite active from a local M&A (Idearc buying Infospace’s directory business, Citysearch/InsiderPages, AT&T/Ingenio, Marchex/Voicestar, etc.) but I expect 2008 to be even more active given i) the need for directory publishers to execute on their strategies and ii) the need to aggregate traffic to increase advertiser ROI.
  8. Mobile: the year before the big bang. 2008 will be the year where a solid mobile development base (open devices, networks, platforms) is established leading to an explosion in 2009. Watch for the Google spectrum bid in January.

Local & Social Media Predictions for 2008

Yesterday, I wrote about what I thought were the most important news in 2007 in the local and social media space. Today, I’d like to propose my 2008 predictions, an always interesting exercise.

  1. The year of Identity. One of the big challenges of social media is having to sign-up and add your friends in a multitude of web sites. Expect 2008 to be the year where this problem becomes a major issue and gets potentially solved through identity interoperability initiatives like OpenID.
  2. Social is now everywhere and open. The last few months of 2007 have set the stage for a very social 2008. Any new major initiatives will include social elements by default and will use existing standards like OpenSocial, DiSo or Facebook.
  3. Fragmentation & personalization of media. Given the lower barrier to entry for new local/social projects, user and advertiser fragmentation will continue to accelerate in 2008. From a user point of view, this will lead to new personalization tools allowing consumers to create their own unique media view.
  4. The year of ad networks. As a corollary of point #3 above, given that user fragmentation will accelerate, an increasingly large number of ad networks will pop-up to aggregate consumers into a critical advertising mass. It’s all about advertiser defragmentation. Directory publishers will want to become ad networks themselves to push their ads outside of their core destination sites in order to increase their total reach.
  5. Content wants to be distributed. That’s the second corollary of point #3. Increasing user fragmentation requires content producers to atomize their content and push it in the fabric of the web. Think of your business in terms of content units or atoms (some inspiration came from Clay Shirky’s “fame vs. fortune” post from 2003).
  6. Social graph-based search. I am now a firm believer that social graph-based search will be the future of search (including local search) and we will see this concept gain some tractions in 2008. I think humans will always trust recommendations and advice from people in their “social network” (friends, family, colleagues, known experts, etc.) more than a machine. Online word-of-mouth is the biggest local search opportunity out there.
  7. More M&A activity in local. 2007 was quite active from a local M&A (Idearc buying Infospace’s directory business, Citysearch/InsiderPages, AT&T/Ingenio, Marchex/Voicestar, etc.) but I expect 2008 to be even more active given i) the need for directory publishers to execute on their strategies and ii) the need to aggregate traffic to increase advertiser ROI.
  8. Mobile: the year before the big bang. 2008 will be the year where a solid mobile development base (open devices, networks, platforms) is established leading to an explosion in 2009. Watch for the Google spectrum bid in January.