How the Internet has disrupted the traditional TV -- and advertising -- business
Graeme McMillan, Wired.com, 3/1/13
With its new array of online options for viewing media -- not to mention the increasing amount of original content created for online audiences -- the internet has become a disruptive influence on the traditional television business. Even the staid Nielsen ratings have finally announced plans to include online streaming audiences in their metrics starting this fall. Now after years of talk about "cord-cutting" and the collapse of TV as we know it, a new report is suggesting the rapid growth of online audiences will fundamentally change not only the way viewers approach video content, but the way advertisers do. The report, "Global Video Index: 2012 Year in Review," by Ooyala, a California-based company, found the amount of video watched on tablet devices and mobile phones in 2012 increased by 100% over the previous year, and also that advertisers are taking notice of the shift to online video viewership, with U.S. ad spending on streaming video content climbing 46% to reach $2.93 billion last year. Bismarck Lepe, co-founder of Ooyala, [said] "In the U.S....we're already seeing 10-15% of all video viewership...is happening on [internet]-connected devices. That's a huge jump from roughly 1% when we started the company back in 2007." With more viewership migrating online, real-time data from streaming content offers advertisers a much more accurate picture of how the audience is interacting with ads. "It's going to be like when Google launched the cost-per-click advertising model. Everyone...was afraid the online ad business was going to collapse, because now people were going to be held accountable about whether or not an advertisement was worth it." Instead, says Lepe, when advertisers got a more accurate idea of where they were getting the most return on investment, they continued to spend; they were just able to allocate their money more effectively.
How the Internet has changed -- for better or worse -- recorded music business
Greg Sandoval, TheVerge.com, 3/4/13
Not long ago, many hoped the Internet would emerge as a music fan's Shangri-la, a utopian world where any track was available for free, record labels were extinct and artists made a good living because their fans chose to reward them. Acts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails championed this brave new world. But that dream has turned into a nightmare, according to Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. In a newspaper interview, the singer indicated that he and his bandmates may have done more harm than good in 2007 when they self-released the album In Rainbows and allowed fans to pay whatever they chose. Yorke now feels [this] may have actually helped technology companies strip the value out of music for their own benefit. There's more [free] music available than ever before through ad-supported online services such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, YouTube, and Vevo. But these free services aren't paying artists much. Ironically, the large labels are very supportive of Spotify and its rivals. After a decade of trying to stamp out digital piracy, the three top record companies now appear resolved to compete with copyright infringement by supporting innovative digital platforms -- not so different from the vision Napster and Grokster proposed before the labels sued them out of existence. Said one industry insider: "The labels appear to have accepted that there's just less money now in recorded music and that it's unlikely to change anytime soon." For these reasons, the labels have embraced business models that may pay less but provide audiences with what they want most: convenient and dirt cheap access to songs. It seems to be working. One music industry trade group last week [reported the] first increase in annual worldwide music sales since 1999.
How the Internet is transforming the art auction business
Michael Parsons, The Irish Times, 2/23/13
Irish auctions are no longer just local events. The internet is transforming the way art and antiques are being bought and sold, and the big Irish auctioneers have been upgrading their websites to adapt to the changing times. Most are now broadcasting their auctions live online via partner companies such as liveauctioneers.com and the-saleroom.com. Auction-goers now increasingly find themselves competing with unseen bidders online, and not only from the Irish diaspora. Auctioneers say collectors worldwide are now searching the web for items they want and are prepared to bid and buy online from anywhere in the world. Following [a recent] art auction in Ballsbridge, auctioneer Morgan O'Driscoll said that 40 of the almost 200 paintings sold had gone to online bidders in England, the United States, Spain, Australia and Dubai. Meanwhile, fine-art auctioneers de Veres is currently holding its first "online only" art auction. Sheppard's, which is holding a three-day auction next week, said bidders from some 31 countries -- from Australia to Ukraine -- have already registered. The family-run firm has established "a partnership with the Beijing-based live auction portal epaiLive.com, which means that Sheppard's catalogue is published in Mandarin, and bidders in China can participate in the auction in their own language. Chinese -- and other Asian collectors -- have, in recent years, been big purchasers of oriental art and especially ceramics. But if they start to buy Western art and antiques, then Irish auctioneers could be in for a welcome and significant boost to business.
How the Internet has fundamentally shifted the book publishing business
Jenn Webb, O'Reilly.com, 3/1/13
The disruption in publishing is affecting every aspect of the industry, from the way stories are created to how they're published to how they're consumed. And much like many other areas of our lives, the writing and reading processes are becoming more social and more mobile, giving rise to community reader/writer platforms like Wattpad. At a recent conference, I [talked to] Allen Lau, co-founder of Wattpad, about the changing publishing landscape. Lau attributes the shifts in the way content is created, discovered, and consumed to the Internet: "In the last few years, the advancement of the social network -- both from the social perspective and from the technology perspective -- has advanced a lot, and that helps to bring the readers and the writers together. For the first time in human history...someone who is sitting in the comfort of their own home can reach, potentially, millions of people. Those people can not only consume the content, but they can also participate in part of the content creation. In some cases on Wattpad, the readers would write Chapter 2 for the writer. People who have never met before may co-write a story together. That completely changes the dynamics, and the readers, in a way, are part of the content creation process, too." Lau also talks about mobile e-reading, the role self-publishing will play, and he predicts the end of the term "traditional publisher." You can view Lau's full interview here.
How the Internet is killing -- and could save -- the business of arts journalism
Lee Stabert, Flying Kite Media, 2/26/13
In a web-based world where everything is free and opinions are ubiquitous, how do we save the professional arts writer? Is it an institution worth saving? [A recent event in Philadelphia called] "Plotting the Future of Cultural Journalism" featured a keynote from Doug McLennan, founder and editor of ArtsJournal.com, in which he detailed the dire state of cultural journalism in the internet era. (Fortunately, he had some solutions, too.) First, the bleak stuff: Between 2000 and 2008, 50% of arts staff writing jobs were eliminated. Then there are the subtle changes in the way criticism operates. Readers are more interested in a "consumer reports" style story -- should I spend money on this or not? There are far more event previews than event reviews. It is in fact a brave new world. The changes are radical. As Chris Satullo, VP of news and civic dialogue at WHYY put it [during a panel discussion], "We have to preserve newsrooms not necessarily newspapers." He was guardedly optimistic, arguing the next five years will finally produce a viable financial way forward for media. So, what is that way? McLennan discussed numerous models, including a pay wall (which seems to work for the big dogs -- The New York Times, Andrew Sullivan -- but less well for local papers; The Boston Globe has only 28,000 subscribers), an NPR-style membership funding model (working well for MinnPost and Crosscut in Seattle) and even straight donations or grant-funding. None of these models are perfect. They are more like test runs -- an attempt to figure out what could work going forward. They are also attempts to answer the essential question: How can we maintain the value of professional criticism and reporting when 70% of content online is generated by laypeople?