February 27, 2010

Super Bowl advertising: an event on its own

It's been some weeks since the 2010 Superbowl where the New Orleans Saints defeated the Payton Manning's  Indianapolis Colts. The Superbowl is one the biggest - if not the biggest in terms of audience - single sport event in the world. It is not a very popular sport in Spain but it is huge in the US and I was lucky to be living in NY when the Giants won a couple of years ago.

Massive sports events bring big advertising dollars with them and in this respect Superbowl is THE EVENT. I remember analyzing this back at Stern at professor Geeta Menon's marketing course (she is now at Wharton). Back in 2007, a 30-second spot on tv was priced at around $2.5m. This year it's been at around $3m. I could not believe it when I first knew about it.

But on top of the tv dollars, the internet revolution has provided advertisers with a big opportunity to leverage their investment in tv time. In addition to the 30-second spots, commercials are widely followed online, which increases the number of impacts and, in turn, brand awareness. In fact, the Superbowl has become a landmark event where corporations showcase their best creativity, to the extent that commercials themselves have become a very important part of the Superbowl. There exist a lot of expectations about who will be advertising and a huge buzz is generated after the game to assess who had the best commercial. This is pure gold for brands. The power of viral.

Visible Measures, a Boston-based start-up that measures online video audience which I had the opportunity to know about at a  NY Video 2.0 meetup in 2008, has conducted some research on the occasion of the 2010 Superbowl. According to their study, the top 20 commercials were viewed in aggregate more than 50 million times, being 'Doritos' House Rules" the one carrying the most views at 9+ million. I liked Google'(s) (!!), Megan Fox plays her usual part for Motorola, Dodge's is the typical commercial for men... and how couldn't I mention the eternal Bud's Clydesdale! You can find them all here.

February 21, 2010

New HBO online service

A few days ago I read about the beta testing of a new HBO site named HBO GO. The service is being tested by some subscribers and  considering how HBO usually does things, I am sure it will be great. Apparently the idea is to provide full availability to tv shows and movies. The catch is that you will need to be a cable subscriber to access the online service.

If the service is as good as I would expect it to be and considering the depth of HBO's library, I just wonder what the point of having a cable subscription would be. The only idea of having HBO anywhere  on your laptop is just great, so I guess that anyone who is a tv subscriber would be eager to sigh up for the online service.

HBO's current site is pretty slick so I am sure that whatever these guys come up with it will be cool.

February 15, 2010

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

From California to Catalonia, from the Bay Area to Barcelona. For three days starting today Barcelona will become the world hub for mobile by hosting the Mobile World Congress. I like Barcelona quite a lot and I had the chance to live there for 6 months a few years ago. But every time I think about it I still find it quite surprising (and superbly smart) how well the city positioned itself and opened up to the world by leveraging the 1992 Summer Olympics. If smart marketing was a person, it would be Barcelona.

Anyways, the big event from today has been the presentation - Steve Ballmer himself has been there - of the long awaited "Windows Phone". It is funny that this release comes just a few days weeks after Google did the same with its Nexus one. It seems like Microsoft is so often late to the party (the phone is supposedly meant to start selling a year from now!) and many wonder if it's taken them too long to make this move into the mobile world.

But from some pieces that I have read it seems like the Windows Phone, featuring the new Windows Mobile 7 OS, is quite promising and signals a significant departure from other OS like Android and the iPhone. Plus Microsoft is not planning to manufacture devices itself but partnering with hardware manufacturers. People also argue that the new OS is built on some of the strengths of the Zune and the Xbox, none of which I am familiar with (I have also read that Microsoft is not planning to allow integration of these devices with Mac computers...)

Samsung has laso presented the "Wave", its new smartphone featuring a new Samsung-branded OS that will carry  its own app store.

The battle for mobile devices is going to be enthralling in the coming months. The stakes are high and everyone ants to get a larger piece of people's time as we all spend more and more time with our cellphones. Wait and see

February 13, 2010

Outlets online

Tengo que comprar un regalo de cumple y ando un poco escaso de ideas, asi que se me ocurrio la opcion de investigar si es posible comprar un cheque regalo en alguno de los outlets de moda lideres en Espana. La verdad es que la busqueda no ha sido facil y por el momento solo Vente-Privee parece ofrecer dicha opcion.

No cabe duda de que este sector de los outlets se ha popularizado terriblemente en los ultimo anhos, a la luz de los descuentos de hasta el 70% que ofrecen en algunos de sus productos, todos ellos de primeras marcas. Los venture capitals se han encargado de insuflar el musculo financiero necesario para crecer, hasta el punto de que estos inversores estan presentes en la mayor parte de los outlets.

Dos son los principales operadores en Europa: el frances Vente-Privee (participado por el fondo norteamericano Summit Partners) y BuyVip (participada por los VCs Active, Bertelsmann, Cipio, Debaeque, Grupo Intercom y Kennet). Ademas, existen otros outlets de caracter mas espanol como  Privalia (participado por La Caixa, Insight, Nauta y Highland) y Outletic (centrado solo en material deportivo y participado por Bcn Business Angels).

En todo caso, para un no miembro de estos clubs de compras la informacion es limitada hasta el punto de que resulta dificil diferenciar y decidirse por cualquiera de ellos a priori. Estoy casi seguro de que  hasta hace no demasiado el acceso a estos clubs de compras era, en algunos casos, solo mediante invitacion, si bien ahora, en su esfuerzo por ganar mercado, cualquiera puede acceder a los mismos. Los venture capitals quieren ver cash flows y eso significa engordar la base de clientes.

February 10, 2010

Google Buzz

I wrote about Google's new tool yesterday without actually knowing that it was being released today!! So Google Buzz it is.

I have just tested it a little bit - such option appears automatically when you log on your Gmail account - and so far I have to stick with what I said yesterday. Plus the only idea of getting started with picking friends to follow and so forth from my list of contacts is just tiring...

I am giving it a go with 10 people I'm following and will see what happens. There has been a lot of buzz (easy joke) today about this. As usual, Techcrunch gives us some good insights about potential pros and cons.

2010 outlook: some predictions

I was just reading this post on MC Siegler's "Paris Lemon" and I thought it was worth sharing it with you. It is just about some of his predictions in the TMT space for 2010.

There are two of them on which I would bet:

#2: Microsoft unveiling its own cellphone... as it's been running late in the last decade.

#4: Chrome and Safari gaining market share... can't be otherwise with Apple selling more and more computers and more people being attracted by the Android calling

February 9, 2010

Google vs Facebook

I have just read today that Facebook is working on creating @facebook.com email -the so-called Project Titan- accounts and Google is considering setting up status updates on Gmail so you can see what your friends are up to. Interesting.

Gmail is a pretty good email service, offering lots of capacity and quite user-friendly. I still miss the typical folder structure because I am one of those who hates having a lot of stuff in his inbox and with Gmail that is exactly what happens. The labels that you can now attach to each emails somewhat replace such feature but to a lesser extent. Overall I am happy with Gmail and given that I have been using it for so long, I find it hard to think about changing overnight to Facebook mail or to any other. The only idea of replacing all my signing in details in every single site in which I am active or the transition process until everyone is aware that you have a new email account are big deterrents.

On the other hand, the move by Google to offer status updates to Gmail users is quite curious. At this point I do not really see myself using it. My audience is different on Gmail, Twitter and Facebook. As of today I make a difference between fun (Facebook) and work (Twitter-Linkedin) and that is why I to not have updates in sync. Audiences differ and I do not necessarily want one audience being aware of some issues and vice versa. My Gmail contacts at this point include people from both audiences so it would be hard for me to filter. The fact that people are spending so much time on Facebook might be a little worrisome for Google and the status update move might work in that direction.

February 3, 2010

TV shows: the media turtle

There is little doubt that the internet and technology overall have changed the consumption patterns of media. From cds to Spotify, from the Blockbuster across the street to Netflix, from your weekly tv show to Hulu, from the typical movie at a theater to Avatar, from your free-to-air tv to Boxee. From your local theater or home tv to your laptop. But not only have they changed habits, they have changed - or more accurately, they have forced to change - business models.

I am an avid tv shows fan. But I have a problem: I live in Spain and I think that Spanish tv, on average, sucks. Is it because I have lived for a long time in the country that we identify with the showbiz? Maybe...or maybe not. Perhaps it is just about quality.

I mean this because when I think about how things have changed in the media arena in the last years, I feel like the tv show business  is a turtle surrounded by cheetahs. And I pretty much refer to the fact that it is still treated more as a domestic thing than some of its media brothers and sisters.

There is no doubt that viewers all over the globe value good content, regardless its country of origin. A nice movie, relevant news, an addicting tv show... But at the end of the day the industry treats them in a completely different way. Can anyone think of, for example, Avatar being released in Europe 5 months after it is so in the US? Likewise, probably even more obvious, nobody would see the Superbowl or the NBA Finals a week after they are played. But with tv shows it is a completely different story.

As I was saying, I live in Spain and I can't access Hulu, I can't see the last episode of House on Fox.com, I can't buy episodes on iTunes, I have to suffer the previous season on Spanish tv and see the same old boxes on music stores. It sucks.

Why is it like that? Of course I am aware of distribution rights and so forth. But if the windows for movie releases has just shortened (work needs to be done, though, to take a few more steps ahead), please do the same with tv shows. I hate being unable to share my views simply because I am gonna have to wait for months to catch up with my friends. I strongly believe that a huge development is needed.

 I strongly support the real globalization of the business. If the whole world wears Nikes, Reeboks and a couple of other brands, why isn't it possible for us to consume HBOs and Showtimes? Instead, we are force to consume what we don't like and to look for shady ways (piracy) that damage the business and that makes our experience way less enjoyable. I know it will take time but maybe one day...