Moving Down (Up?) The Value Chain

Print publishers reacting to a changing distribution and advertising market — what to try when Google is getting all the ad dollars: Publishers Creating Their Own In-House Ad Agencies

Like executives at advertising agencies, Richard D. Beckman and his team talk to managers at consumer brand companies about the customers they want to reach. Four to six weeks later, they present a marketing and advertising plan.

But Mr. Beckman does not run an advertising agency. He is the president of the Condé Nast Media Group, a division of the magazine company that publishes titles like Vogue, Wired and The New Yorker. Over the last five years, Mr. Beckman has developed an agencylike business within Condé Nast’s ad sales unit, generating new revenue by planning events for advertisers and creating advertisements that help sell more magazine pages.

[…] Mr. Beckman’s unit also has the ability to approach celebrities who would do not often work directly with advertisers. For example, Condé Nast arranged for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to appear in an ad for Lexus that also showcased the Waterkeeper Alliance, a water protection group that Mr. Kennedy heads.

However, there’s a troubling perspective at the heart of this:

Hearst also has a division that does creative work for its largest clients, in formats that include print, online, video, mobile and outdoor. Hearst has modeled its marketing division after an ad agency, said Jeff Hamill, senior vice president of Hearst Integrated Media, complete with a sales staff that serves as account directors, creative teams and researchers.

Mr. Hamill said that agencies that buy ads are often involved in the process, but agencies that create ads are not, since Hearst can do that work.

[…] The rate structure means that Condé Nast can often beat ad agencies on price, Mr. Beckman said.

“We don’t have to make money from our creative, because we make money from our media,” he said.

Some advertisers think that’s the way it should be. […]

(Re)Packaging Music Content

Tiny Bit of Hardware With Marley Software

For the 30th anniversary of “Exodus,” which Time magazine called the best album of the 20th Century, Island Records, a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group, produced 4,000 of the gizmos, which are loaded not only with the original 10 songs but also with additional tracks and concert video footage of Marley, who died in 1981. The memory sticks, which plug in to a computer’s U.S.B. ports, will be priced at $44.99.

The high price reflects not only the extra content on the memory stick, but also the fact that the stick itself can be reused for other purposes. U.S.B. flash drives are generally sold empty, for the purpose of transferring data from one computer to another, but with the Bob Marley U.S.B. stick — as with others that store music — the entertainment can be downloaded to a computer and the device wiped clean.

The BookExpo Buzz on Publishing Business Models

Waxing Philosophical, Booksellers Face the Digital

The idea that technology could enlarge, rather than replace, existing sales intrigued David Shanks, chief executive of Penguin Group (USA). “There are millions of gadgets out there where we could sell a lot of product digitally,” said Mr. Shanks, before turning his attention to the keynote address by Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who appeared with his wife, the NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, to promote Mr. Greenspan’s forthcoming memoir, “The Age of Turbulence.” (Penguin is hoping to sell a lot of copies of the book — in whatever form — to recover the $8.5 million advance it is paying Mr. Greenspan.)

Other uses of technology provoked unease. At a dinner party given by Alfred A. Knopf for some of its authors, Vivien Jennings, president of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan., railed against authors who link from their Web pages to or even sell autographed copies of their books directly to consumers. “We host a lot of book signings,” Ms. Jennings said. Authors who sell their own books “are particularly hurtful to us.”

Tina Brown, the former editor of both The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, who appeared at a lunch at the Modern to promote “The Diana Chronicles,” Ms. Brown’s book about Diana, Princess of Wales, was more concerned about the possibility that authors’ work could be offered free online.

See also A Way to Give Authors a Lucrative Second Platform

Identity, Defined Online In Absentia

What to do with a “right to publicity” when all you want to do is be anonymous? Teen Tests Internet’s Lewd Track Recordpdf

In her high school track and field career, Stokke had won a 2004 California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.

“I just want to find some way to get this all under control,” Stokke told her coach.

Three weeks later, Stokke has decided that control is essentially beyond her grasp. Instead, she said, she has learned a distressing lesson in the unruly momentum of the Internet. […]

From her computer at home, Stokke tracked the spread of her image with dismay and disbelief. She had dealt with this once before, when a track fan posted a lewd comment and a picture of her on a message board two years earlier. Stokke had contacted the poster through e-mail and, a few days later, the image had disappeared. But what could she do now, when a search for her name in Yahoo! revealed almost 310,000 hits? “It’s not like I could e-mail everybody on the Internet,” Stokke said.

[…] Stokke read on message boards that dozens of anonymous strangers had turned her picture into the background image on their computers. She felt violated. It was like becoming the victim of a crime, Stokke said. Her body had been stolen and turned into a public commodity, critiqued in fan forums devoted to everything from hip-hop to Hollywood.

[…] “All of it is like locker room talk,” said Cindy Stokke, Allison’s mom. “This kind of stuff has been going on for years. But now, locker room talk is just out there in the public. And all of us can read it, even her mother.”

[…] “Even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning,” Allison Stokke said. “I worked so hard for pole vaulting and all this other stuff, and it’s almost like that doesn’t matter. Nobody sees that. Nobody really sees me.”

Updating “A Rape In Cyberspace”

Julian Dibbell’s article gets an updated context, and a set of policy questions: Does Virtual Reality Need a Sheriff?pdf

Earlier this year, one animated character in Second Life, a popular online fantasy world, allegedly raped another character.

Some Internet bloggers dismissed the simulated attack as nothing more than digital fiction. But police in Belgium, according to newspapers there, opened an investigation into whether a crime had been committed. No one has yet been charged.

Then last month, authorities in Germany announced that they were looking into a separate incident involving virtual abuse in Second Life after receiving pictures of an animated child character engaging in simulated sex with an animated adult figure. Though both characters were created by adults, the activity could run afoul of German laws against child pornography, prosecutors said.

As recent advances in Internet technology have spurred millions of users to build and explore new digital worlds, the creations have imported not only their users’ dreams but also their vices. These alternative realms are testing the long-held notions of what is criminal and whether law enforcement should patrol the digital frontier.

Picking on Ed

We’ll see if he lets him get away with it: The Internets, They Can Be Cruel

Professor Felten describes himself on the Net neutrality issue as believing “there is a problem, but I don’t think government can solve it.” But he said his sympathy for the senator [Ted Stevens] had nothing to do with a shared outlook. Instead, he preached humility.

“The Internet is pretty complicated,” he said. “Nobody understands everything about how the Internet works.” He then spoke about the complexity of “emergent behavior” and some other ideas I hadn’t heard before.

When I told him that, of course the Internet wasn’t a bunch of tubes, it was a “bunch of wires,” he laughed. “Saying the Internet is a ‘bunch of wires’ is like saying your body is a bunch of meat.”


OT: Some Glitches To Work Out

Hi, all — sorry about the garbled text in some of the entries. The latest WordPress upgrade seems to have exposed some earlier flaws in the way that the system dealt with UTF-8 characters that I had noted, but not been disciplined about. So, there are going to be some messy looking entries until I hunt all the error down. Sorry.

Watson Gets His Dataset

And he won’t be the last. But what will we do with it (see, for example, this earlier post)? And who will get access? 6 Billion Bits of Data About Me, Me, Me!

JAMES D. WATSON, who helped crack the DNA code half a century ago, last week became the first person handed the full text of his own DNA on a small computer disk. But he won’t be the last.

Soon enough, scientists say, we will all be able to decipher our own genomes — the six billion letters of genetic code containing the complete inventory of the traits we inherited from our parents — for as little as $1,000.

Just what we will do with the essence of who we are once we bottle it, however, is likely to be as much a social experiment as a scientific one.

The Exceptional Industry Is An Exception No Longer?

Porn flourished with the rise of the internet, as opposed to other parts of the entertainment industry. But now several barriers to entry other than distribution (production and cultural, to name two) are falling. An extremely resilient industry trying to find a better business model: For Pornographers, Internet’s Virtues Turn to Vices

The Internet was supposed to be a tremendous boon for the pornography industry, creating a global market of images and videos accessible from the privacy of a home computer. For a time it worked, with wider distribution and social acceptance driving a steady increase in sales.

But now the established pornography business is in decline — and the Internet is being held responsible.

The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.

Related: Web, reality TV help make porn pervasivepdf; discussing the APA’s recent report: Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (Executive Summary)

Also, from today’s LATimes — A suite with a fireman’s pole? (pdf)

It used to be that only managers of by-the-hour motels were happy to have their properties mistaken for bordellos. But with soccer moms taking erotic dancing classes at the local community college and Carl’s Jr. using Paris Hilton (read: sex) to sell hamburgers, some hotels aren’t afraid to offer guests more than X-rated pay-per-view movies.

Julie Albright, who teaches classes on human sexuality and social psychology at USC, says easy access to sexual messages and images has shifted the bounds of what’s considered socially acceptable.

“It’s the pornification of mainstream society,” she said. “There’s more overt sexuality in our media, on television. More people have cable TV. More people are on the Internet.”

OT: Peggy Noonan

[Via Rising Hegemon]

Peggy Noonan gloats: So Much to Savor, The Wall Street Journal, 2004 November 04 (pdf)

God bless our country.

Hello, old friends. Let us savor.

Let us get our heads around the size and scope of what happened Tuesday. George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, became the first incumbent president to increase his majority in both the Senate and the House and to increase his own vote (by over 3.5 million) since Franklin D. Roosevelt, political genius of the 20th century, in 1936. This is huge.

Today, Peggy Noonan moans: Too Bad, The Wall Street Journal, 2007 June 01 (pdf)

What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom–a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don’t need hacks.

Hmmmm — she’s surprised?