The Media Battle: Why is it Google vs. The Rest Of The World?

Bear Storm Media and London South Bank University

(Bear Storm Media is a spin-off company from the London South Bank University.)


So a friend of mine told me about this mini-conference, and when I looked at the wiki I saw a bunch of names I didn’t recognise, which seemed like a good reason to go along and see what was going on. These are my notes, raw and unedited. Make of them what you will. A small origami giraffe, for example.

Greg Tallent

The way we access content is different. More digital content now, so because there’s more the customer is paying less attention to the content, advertising, anything we’re giving them.

Vin Crosbie, NY journo, said he pays more for his digital media than print, because the online versions are worth more and are more useful – archives, email-able etc. Print is not very easy to repurpose.

News and most other media content will be delivered either exclusively on the internet or as well as on the internet. Digital channels will proliferate, communities will develop, and the content (free or paid) will drive them.

Moving from an information world to an attention world: too much info; too little time; not enough attention.

NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright, says that network news will always have a place because people can’t be bothered to wade through online content.

At the moment

– too much digital content

– little customer attention

But is this changing?

Digital media will get and keep the customer’s attention. How? By making it relevant to the person. This is a big issue. People won’t buy content unless it is relevant.

– make it personal

– make it worthwhile

– make it valuable

In other words – talk to people

– look at the customer

– learn from customers in real time

– communities work best with market dynamic

– treat customers as people

– quality of individual experience is what matters

– delight the user

– interact and engage – has to be relevant and at the right time

– build trust

– chart interactions with the product.

Any media biz in 2006, who want to integrate quality content into a digital channel will ahve to consider

– communities, vast thin networks of members

doughnut communities that are temp and come together round a site

– combine human/algorithm filtering to make it simple to follow who’s saying what

– tags

– metadata (ensures that content can be used again and again)

All this becomes relevant to the reader.

Who’s building relevancy now?

– Microsoft

– Google

– Yahoo


… and a bunch of others

How big is this?

Well, Google’s selling $6.1 billion ads, double what is sold last year. Have grand ambitions. Microsoft fighting back. Looking to build a seamless experience, capture some of the advertising revenue etc. But Microsoft look dated – the slide from the Microsoft Live Platform presentation that Bill Gates gave looks really dated. Compare to Steve Jobs presenting the iPod Video. Microsoft lost the plot a bit in the past two or three years.

[The shows Epic 2014, the Googlezon animation.]

There’s some truth to Epic, it’s not all sensationalism. People are working on changing the way we produce and consume media. It will be sooner rather than later that we use these new ways.

Leave you now with a brief mention of something planned for next year – this is just a mini-conference, and we’re planning a bigger one – News Media UK Convention, in March 2006. See Bearstorm for news of that.

Mike Butcher, – The Holy Trinity, or The Future Of News Media

Haven’t watched Epic for a while, and a copule of things occured to me. The idea that millions of people edit stuff and it turns into trash TV, and one thing that popped into my head was Paris Hilton – her mobile phone address book was leaked onto the internet earlier in the year, and of course it was blogged everywhere, because it’s just so fascinating. And that’s just trash. But everyone’s interested in it. And that’s what Epic is about – that a lot of rubbish gets put out there.

But the Googlezon idea of the video does kind of work. But it said NY Times became just a print magazine circulated to the elite and the elderly, but if the elite and the elderly can’t be reached by new media, how do we take part in their conversation?

Blackberry is used across Yahoo so people can get their email at any time. But the really powerful people at Yahoo don’t have Blackberries, so are unreachable. And the elite are more unreachable by new media than we think.

Trinity No. 1

– You and me

– blogs, podcasting, user generated content

Rupert Murdoch, not Trinity No. 1, but he said that newspapers were threatened by the net, that people wanted control over the media not to be controlled by it, and that the newspaper industry has been complacent.

Citizen media is really a tools revolution. There is a lot of stuff out there that makes life easier. Stats go out of date really time, so these are too, from 2004

8 Million American adults say they have created blogs

58% read blogs

12% of users post comments on blogs

[Yes, these stats are out of date!]

Most internet users do not know what a blog is.

RAJAR – no figures yet for podcasting but Pew says

6 million have downloaded at least one podcast

29% of 2021 users interviewed used podcasting

11 – 15% of US population owns an MP3 player

In the UK:

BBC In our time – 40k downloads a week

BBC Beethoven – started as 600k a week, ended up a million downloads

Virgin breakfast show podcast just links between songs, run at 80k downloads a week (3 months ago)

Perhaps this is why Murdoch is worried, and maybe that’s why he bought for $800m.

Thing is:

– early days

– emerging trend

Only a 20% of 18-34 year ols rank newspapers as their primary source of news

44% check out Google and Yahoo for updated information

Definite move away from old media.


100% mobile phone penetration in W Europe by 2007

At least one mobile handset for every person – means ability to create content, photos, text etc.

Widespread internet access, broadband penetration etc, allows for proliferation of content

Where’s the money?

Advertising agencies interested in blogs because they are created by you; also want to track conversations in blogs; want to buy advertising on blogs.

Dyson was the first to use blogs in a major ad campaign, on Shiny Media.

‘Truth tools’ are out there – MSN opens blogs and IM to advertisers; Yahoo bought Flickr; Microsoft trials RSS Collector; London bombs: ran one of the first pictures, which was syndicated to Sky news.

Because of this tools revolution, the big guys want to get involved. Yahoo! in particular are so interested in this because they want you to create content so they can sell ads for it.

Means of distribution are in the hands of the workers – RSS, Technorati, Feedster, Google/Google News.

Publishing passion – Andrew Sullivan’s Tip Jar; Treonauts; Weblogs Inc (sold to AOL, $25m); Gawker-branded blogs; Shiny Media; Google AdSense.

But: bloggers are not necessarily the ‘new journalists’. Marqui recently launched an adverblogging campaign, paying 20 bloggers $800 a month to mention their product and link to their site.

Why are the media interested?

– TV’s dominant share on verge of long-term decline; ad-skipping

– ZenithOptimedia predicts market share will decline from 2007.

Trinity 2


Big media hiring bloggers; launching blogs.

Can’t just go out and launch a blog because they’re creating their own.

Final trinity

Search. 80% of lineusers start at a search engine. Very influential, are the leveller between gib and small media.

Search, big media and user generated content forms a holy trinity of online media that feed into each other adn rely on each other.


News media has to be more transparent.

Big media will co-opt citizen media

Big media’s not dead, it’s just resting

Difference between fast and slow media, raw and cooked, un-edited and edited

But blogs could be as big as Time.

Al Tepper, head of Online Dev’t, Caspian Publishing – Professional blogging

Word blog is misleading – blogging is software, it’s actually a website. The word blog is probably the biggest reason that blogging is not mainstream. People visit blogs and don’t know it.

Why is it Google vs. ROW, is because seeing a devolution of information, tools, opps, and anyone can broadcast anything on the web for virtually nothing in under 10 mins. Ish. Because there are bad bloggers. 99% of blogs are dross, and the whole Epic movie gets that point across. But we already do. But blogging gives everyone the opportunity to be heard.

Caspian is a B2B publisher. In a world of info overload, editors are really important. Great quote by Frank Zappa: A computer can tell you a story, but it can’t tell you the whole story. It just doesn’t have the eyebrows.

There is no AI that will be able to edit 500k words into a 200 word article. Impossible for a computer to do. Semantic web will be very slow to develop and not convinced it will be able to deliver relevant content.

Caspian launched a blog: have 20+ editors, and they are all experts, and they all talk amongst themselves about what they’re doing. have a recommended reading section and call it ‘usable exhaust’. Use to put websites they come across into their blog, but it gets them lots of traffic.

Caspian’s ‘usable exhaust’ is their blog, where their editors blog the stuff they can’t put in magazines. Value is that it’s great content, good for search engines. Learnt that they need to provide good navigation between different sites. Didn’t learn quickly enough about editorial policy – getting offline editors to blog is difficult because they don’t know HTML, even using Typepad, and on OS9 the formatting doesn’t work so have to get people to mark-up. Learnt about comments process and libel issues, so has to be approved before publication.

Key stuff to understand is the value of it – good marketing tool. May monetize it down the line, but no great vision of that at all. Starts a conversation with the readers. Can be a part of the conversation or a subject of that conversation.

Andy Corcoran, Marketing Lecturer, Lincoln Business School – What’s the business model?

Current situation. Relevant content is there, but people don’t know how to get to it. Anyone can publish, and you could be the next Nick Denton, but the barriers to entry to that marketplace are very low. Highly competitive marketplace.

Media fragmentation. Mass media in decline, ‘other’ media on the rise. 249 channels on sky, not counting the +1 channels. Multiple media vehicles. Most content presented in really bad way. Sky TV guide is awful – laborious and difficult to do. Similar to new media – convenience, ease and accessibility are key factors.

Media is producing more places to get the same content.

Cash rich, time poor.

Individual households – people spend more time online to find community because they are living on their own.

Digi-phobic – 33% of the population don’t see the need or can’t afford to get online.

Increasing advertising spend on the internet


Stable TV viewing – 209 minutes per day in UK, 275 per day in the US; more media, more media consumption, so not dying just fragmenting

Stable newspaper market, (paid for media, not free), decline has arrested because newspapers easier to read now (smaller!)

Online everywhere, wireless. Will see people online in Starbucks, but also will be reading the Times. Easier.

Someone makes life easier by choosing stuff for us.

Growing no. of bloggers. Even a blog about brass rubbings in Madagascar. Riches in niches. Shift in the marketing paradigm.

Life is complex, with networked relationships

Danger of analysis paralysis – too much information so people can’t make decisions. People buy on emotion and the ability to communicate that emotion is crucial

Orgs need to deliver one of the following to succeed

– operational excellence

– product leadership

– customer intimacy

Moving away from 4Ps towards relationship marketing

Mass customisation not mass production (not bespoke, that’s too expensive)

30 sec commercial not dead

Product placement more attractive

Magazines more convenient, people are reading more magazines

Era of ‘must’ – must see, must hear, must watch, must read

Move to pictures – which is why we still watch TV. Visuals, logos, etc. More whitespace = perception of value and quality.

Google will be competing with Murdoch, Sky, etc.

Business Models

1. Drudge report style: get big and sell; but you won’t be the only one trying to do that. Producing a lot of stuff is hard work.

2. Riches in niches

3. Connecting and communities

– Drudge report

Lots of money in press classified advertising – 19.5% of the advertising spend in the UK.

Difficult for blogs to break in, but it’s going to have to be good, and you’re going to have to get people to visit.

Is it possible to become a big publisher? Yes, but difficult.

Hugely competitive market. Newspapers giving away DVDs, and are not going to lie down and die.

– Riches in niches: Treonaut. Sugar icing blogs. Got too be unique. Got to provide something useful. Lifesytle and psychographic profiling is done. RSS enables.

– connecting and communities. Net provides this as biggest opportunities for companies and business, not about space or advertising but finding out what people think about your products. relationship marketing. Dialogues with customers. Focus groups. Research. Brand communities. Tools like Flickr allow people to connect despite geography, and if companies can capitalise on that they can benefit. But must be congruent with your product.

Most likely business models are 2 and 3.

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