Hats off to 2007's reigning word of the year! Crowned by Merriam-Webster and won by a popular vote, w00t!, the little word that could, proved to be amazingly apropos in the final days of two-double-0-seven.
For all of us born before the mid-80s(!) let me present to you: w00t! W00t! is a fun little word coined by gamers and now pushed into popular usage by its, well, sheer popularity, that means, according to Merriam-Webster:
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word "yay" Ex: w00t! I won the contest!
W00t! w00t! w00t!
I have the privilege of living in LA during this blamestorm (another of 2007's tantalizing top ten words) between writers and producers which is really simply the larger issue, writ locally and to a specific industry, of technology overrunning older systems mechanized by outdated business models.
Certainly there will be people who argue this oversimplification of matters but in reality, when Albie Hecht, former Spike TV exec (yes, Viacom-owned) made announcements in the final month of 2007 that he had hired a couple of hot, successful Hollywood TV writers in a revenue sharing deal to create content for his newly launched, NY-based World Wide Biggies for-the-web content production company, then certainly this signals some sort of seismic shift.
That they ironed out a revenue sharing business model for those writers to keep them happy and keep them working is notable. This is the first trickle of mainstream Hollywood creative talent, both writers and producers, making deals before the floodgates of the dam burst open while the rest fiddle as Rome burns.
Hecht, who launched the successful Dora the Explorer and Sponge Bob Square Pants series while at Nickelodeon, sees his new content for the web venture, World Wide Biggies as becoming the "next Warner Bros." in the next ten years. He says he's convinced that the future of kids and teens entertainment lies on their computer screens. And, oh, how quickly they do grow up!
By the way, revenue sharing is another key word in this new era... It means almost the same thing as "residuals" but BIGGER!
For any of us still wondering whether Hecht's thinking can be right, rather than crazy, just look at what's already here: We already have the ability to beam content onto our TVs. No need to download, no need to capture or store or file away or save onto a hard disk. This is streaming video beamed onto any size screen.
Take a look here.
You can buy it now. We are on the precipice of the mass marketing of this watch-whatever-you-want-when-you-want device. And lets not forget that the FTC just approved Google's purchase of DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. That's a lot of advertising. And Netflix just announced its partnership with an LG manufactured set-top box device that will stream your choice of its catalogue of movies straight from your computer to your TV screen.
Advertising to the Any Content Any Time Viewer
Lets switch our attention to a couple of technology companies that have honed their ability to inject relevant advertising into streaming and downloaded content from file sharing networks.
File Sharing: The Money Making Option
Sounds like an oxymoron? Not when you look at what these companies, namely YuMe based in Redwood City, California and Hiro Media out of Israel, are doing. Each company has identified the basic sitch: viewers want to watch video content for free and content owners need to make money off their content.
Both companies offer ad-supported video downloads. So, even if you are getting your TV show from BitTorrent, for example, if you download the file whose content owner had availed themselves of either YuMe's or Hiro Media's technology, you will get one that has embedded in-stream, unskippable, personalized and dynamic commercials within the content. This means that content owners can profit from each viewing of the content no matter where the film, TV show, music video was downloaded from.
Their innovation is this: It enables content owners to regain control over the distribution of their product and generate revenues from each and every use. It works for streaming video as well and on any platform be it PC, TV, mobile and more. The ads are dynamic and relevant to each viewer.
It's good for advertisers, too. This targeted system provides advertisers, as well as the publishers/content owners, the unprecedented ability to identify, classify and track content to ensure brand safety, contextual relevance, controlled syndication and consistent delivery across all digital media platforms -- web, downloads, mobile and IPTV.
For example, if I downloaded a my friend's documentary from BitTorrent, where he himself placed it, I wouldn't have to feel like a big heel, because I would know that by watching the embedded Toyota Prius commercial (I drive a Prius) and the wine commercial (I drink wine) that he would be making some profit from my viewing.
Not bad. It takes and improves on a system that we are all habituated to already. It's seamless.
Jon Healey, writer for the LA Times Opinion section, wrote more in-depth about these companies here. He also writes an extremely wired blog that he calls BitPlayer which, he says, is about Hollywood's love-hate relationship with technology.
(pecksniffian: unctuously hypocritical )
Yes, another of 2007's reigning words, "pecksniffian" can accurately describe certain elements of our wonderful community. It is standard play here to embrace technological innovation only once you sit in the cockpit behind the controls. Natural enough. It probably hearkens back to a primordial feeling of fear and dizziness when you sit on a galloping horse -- with no reins.
Here are some more companies that are jumping onto the cresting wave. Along the lines of World Wide Biggies is Digital Entertainment Corporation of America. Deca.TV is positioning itself to act like a traditional Hollywood studio where they put up money to produce online video properties. They've banked about $5 million in capital so far. Their first property was BoingBoingTV. Another similar start-up is 60Frames. They are positioning themselves as the centrifuge between advertisers and Hollywood talent. Then there's Hulu which is the joint venture between News Corp. and NBC Universal which supplies content for streaming with embedded advertising to a handful of Web sites.
Content Is The New Store Front
That is Brand Asset Digital's slogan. This company, formed October 31, is a merger between Beyond Media and INTENT Media Works. Their premise is this: search results on file-sharing networks are a rich and largely untapped resource for advertisers. More searches are done on these file-sharing networks than on Google and other major Web searches.
Attention artists! They have formed a strategic partnership with Brand Asset Group which is a joint venture between Warner Music Group and New York's Violator Management and Records which is headed by Chris Lighty. In 2006, Forbes named Chris Lighty one of the industry's "most influential" talent managers with 50 Cent, Diddy, Missy Elliott, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes in his fold.
Brand Asset Digital's technology allows them to insert advertisers' promotional messages into music or video files in a way so that the advertising messages appear when the consumer searches for that content. For example, a search for one of 50 Cent's songs might yield a page full of results that say, "Free Download provided by Glaceau Vitamin Water," a company that not only has signed up to advertise with this content but also a company that 50 Cent owned a 10% stake in prior to Coca-Cola purchasing it in 2007 for $4.1 billion.
So, back to the file sharing bonanza. Dynamic advertising, the kind offered by YuMe and Hiro have an edge with their Google-style advertising techniques for file-sharing programs because, according to Wazap's (video game search engine) Thom Kozik, people watch ads that are relevant to them. They watch the ads. That's key.
Today, studios and music publishing labels are flooding the file-sharing networks with fake files as a way to play defense. Ronny Golan, co-founder of Hiro Media says: "Imagine, instead of flooding them with fake files, flooding them with legal ones."
Legal, free downloads that earn the content owners and advertisers some bucks. Looks like 2008, might just be great!