September 25, 2006

Google Posts The Ruling [6:20 pm]

Now for the real fight: Google backs down, posts Belgian court ruling

Google has agreed to post a court order against the company on its Belgian Web site, dodging a potential fine of €500,000 ($639,000) per day for not doing so.

[...] The order now appears at www.Google.be and on the Belgian Google News Web site. The news site now features articles from Dutch and other international news outlets.

Google will appeal the entire ruling at a hearing scheduled for late November, according to the Associated Press story.

A screencap of the Google Belgium www page

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New v. Old Distribution Models [2:41 pm]

Apple, Disney in a Bind on Movie Downloads? - pdf

[Apple's Steve] Jobs would have liked a crowd of moguls to show up as a vote of confidence in technology he hopes will do for movies what iTunes did for music. But with only Iger on board, Jobs has just 75 films — all from Disney’s library — to offer consumers.

Jobs’ problem is that the rest of Hollywood still fears alienating retailers, especially Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that sell and rent DVDs, producing half of Hollywood’s revenue. Studios are reluctant for now to publicly endorse something that could speed the killing of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

“The other studios want to wait and see how it goes,” said Harold Vogel, an independent media industry analyst.

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Some Looks At Advertising [1:48 pm]

A variety of articles over the past few days give one pause:

  • This one from the NYTimes raises a few questions about privacy and the political process: Lost Horizons

    If there is a defining characteristic to [Ken] Mehlman and his tenure as Republican national chairman, it is his fascination with the communications and technological revolution that is sweeping American politics. This has produced once-unimaginable new ways to track down potential voters, by predicting voting habits based on where Americans live and the cars they drive and the magazines they read, and delivering tailored messages to different segments of an overly saturated electorate. Mehlman’s chairmanship has become an argument for the notion that the garrulous and instinctual political boss may be all but obsolete in this age of supersophisticated polling, data mining, niche marketing and microtargeting. In an arena that seems to value instinct, bravado, gall and undisciplined excess, Mehlman is empirical and deliberative. Why should a campaign manager direct resources based on a hunch when there is consumer data that can flush out Republicans living deep in Democratic enclaves? Why guess when you can measure what words will be most persuasive to the middle-class exurbanite voter marching on the StairMaster (watching, no doubt, the Republican ad that the Bush campaign placed on the closed-circuit gym channel after realizing that its voters were no longer at home watching the network news)?

    [...] Mehlman has for this election taken what the Republican Party assembled in Ohio in 2004 — a database of every voting-age resident that includes voting history, party registration, demographic data and consumer history — and expanded it, he said, to include every voting-age American in the country. “In Ohio, in ’04, we got the tip of the iceberg,” Mehlman said. “What we did over the last two years is we got the entire iceberg.” With that kind of data, Republican campaign workers in every state in the country can identify potential Republicans who may never have voted before and bring them to the polls. To help neighborhood organizers plot their door-to-door visits — and to make what might be a dreary exercise at least interesting — the Republican Party uses satellite pictures from Google Earth to chart the routes for house-to-house canvassing.

  • Then, the Boston Globe looks at the Lonelygirl phenomenon: Is this the future of advertising? - pdf

    Whether or not lonelygirl15 is art, it certainly owes its popularity to its willingness to blur the line between fact and fiction. It’s a strategy that, online and off, has been popping up increasingly, not only in underground publicity stunts but formal advertising campaigns. Over the past couple years, movie studios have started including fake websites in marketing campaigns for films like “Godsend” (godsend.com) and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (lacunainc.com), in each case portraying an ethically challenged medical clinic from the movie as a real-world enterprise. Corporate megaliths like Nike and the beverage giant Diageo have gotten in on the game as well, the former with a grainy online clip of Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho performing a series of literally unbelievable feats with a soccer ball, the latter with a parody music video, released straight to YouTube, featuring a posse of rapping, Smirnoff-swilling preppies.

    At the same time, companies are increasingly turning to so-called “word-of-mouth” advertising, in which products are hawked-sometimes by paid salespeople, sometimes just by volunteers-in ostensibly innocent everyday social interactions rather than traditional print ads or TV spots. In 2002, in a particularly controversial instance, Sony Ericsson dispatched 60 actors to tourist attractions to pose as sightseers and ask people to take their picture with a new camera phone before going on to extol its virtues-all without disclosing their connection to the company.

    [...] In early November, the Federal Trade Commission will hold hearings looking into the issues raised by new online advertising strategies, asking, among other questions, whether they mislead consumers.

    Yet ads that pretend not to be ads are hardly new. Fake word-of-mouth campaigns and hoax advertisements go back at least to the mid-19th century, and the rise of each new communication medium, whether it’s still photography, radio, or television, has presented new opportunities for advertisers to gull consumers. It’s an open question how exactly the Internet and today’s shifting media mix will change the advertising landscape. But growing concern about the efficacy of traditional advertising has left advertisers desperate for something more effective, and trying things they wouldn’t have before.

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Wrinkles in the YouTube/Warner Deal [9:14 am]

Warner Music’s YouTube pact raises rights issues - pdf

The easy part for WMG is delivering its existing catalog of videos for on-demand viewing through the site. Similar deals are already in place with the likes of AOL and Yahoo.

But making its recorded music available in user-generated videos created by the YouTube community is a much thornier proposition.

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