90%+ of Americans Plan Travel Using the Internet?!

I can only quote this and wonder what I'm missing:

Travel Targeting's Long Learning Curve
by Phil Leggiere, Friday, July 28, 2006

WITH UPWARDS OF 90 PERCENT of American adult consumers using the Internet to research travel-related plans and purchases, travel firms theoretically have a raft of data about consumer behavior to leverage. The industry's current challenge, as Greg Saks, director of travel practice for Boston area-based industry research firm Compete explains below, is how to translate that data into deeper customer knowledge.

This came in an email entitled "Behavioral Insider: Travel Targeting's Long Learning Curve" today at 11:25 AM EDT.

Ubiquitous Advertising in the New Media Age

Remember Blade Runner (1982) with Harrison Ford? In the film's futuristic setting, advertising is very prominent. (The same was true with Minority Report in a way that I find anything but implausible.) The advrtising is very intrusive.

As the newspaper industry is faced with online challengers competing for many of the same advertising dollars (not to mention the classifieds), some shocking things are going on that sound a bit futuristic, if not science fiction. The Boston Globe just announced plans to sell advertisements on the covers of its Business, Sunday Real Estate, Sports, and Food sections, following the lead of such papers as The New York Times and, coming soon, The Wall Street Journal.

One of the themes of this blog is that the severity of changes in the new media age are truly historical (although we can return to old newspapers who had no qualms about front page ads and many were even given names like "The Advertiser." Why are newspapers resorting to these measures today? Well, let just say it seems they need an infusion of advertising dollars, and these pages will be prime real estate for advertisers. This also follows a parallel track in the cable and broadcast industry where advertising "bugs" appear on screen, during a show, and appear to be DVR-proof. Oh, uh, the international NO sign is from a group that is fighting "bugs" on television, an interesting backlash. As you may know, that lower corner of the screen is often where the network's logo appears.

What I continue to find fascinating is why these are limited to network logos and some animated promos for other TV shows on that network. I have yet to notice and advertiser's message going there. It's inevitable, and as soon as one major cable or bradcast network does it, the others will fall in line faster than elementary school kids lining up for recess.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


JupiterResearch Blogs: Read 'em and Applaud

While I'll bet I'd love working for JupiterResearch (they played a prominent role in the build-up to the dot.com to dot.bomb crash by painting the rosiest pictures of various dot.com companies and industries, and then took a shellacking as the start-ups "monetized" their investors' money with really cool office spaces and toys....but not many successful companies*), sometimes it feels like shooting fish in a barrel when I see summaries of their research reports. But I give them all the credit in the world for maintaining blogs of their analysts' thoughts on various topics, free for the reading. Cheers to Jupiter for doing this!

You may review their blogs at weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/. I have been discouraged as an academic not to have access to the proprietary research of the Jupiters of the world because it retards our (academics') ability to grow new knowledge. I personally believe I would be a better teacher and researcher if I had the chance to review these market research studies (no, we professors don't have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around to purchase these reports).

Oh, I have to point out that academia is seen as generally a provider of "basic" or theoretical research while commercial research firms are expected to produce "applied research" such as those produced by JupiterResearch. I have been and remain a pragmatist, so I see value in the applied research that's too often not even on the radar of those of us in academic following parallel research paths. Oh, it's not a two-way street. When academics publish, the whole point is to make the research available to the world at large in hopes ofadvancing knowledge. I think medical research may be the easiest to understand (new treatments for diseases, problems with medications on the market such as Vioxx which was linked to heart attacks and strokes.

So, I hope I can be friends with my commercial brethren (in fact, I'm counting on it). The good ones will welcome outsider critiques, and the best ones will ask me to review their reports before, during or after the release of proprietary research reports. Why? My previous post finds not an overly optimistic, revolutionary report, but one I find extremely conservative. As I tell my students, today is Wednesday, July 26, 2006; let's meet in July 2011 and see who was right.

*See the highly acclaimed documentary, Stasrtup.com, if you don't believe me.

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Klopfenstein Cites Jupiter Study as Dramatically Conservative

Here's the news:

JupiterResearch reports that search advertising dollars will outpace display advertising over the next decade. A new report by the research outfit also says that online ad spending will reach $25.9 billion by 2011, representing nearly 9 percent of the total U.S. ad market.

It's fairly ridiculous in 2006 to pretend that you can foreast much of anything in media 5 years out. If this were 1966 and we were forecasting to 1971, not much problem. Ironically, Jupiter is dramatically underestimating the online advertising market. To be fair, I'd have to see how Jupiter defines "online advertising." "Nearly 9% of the total U.S. ad market"? You've got to be kidding. My guess is that this might (only might) represent linear growth in online advertising spending. Folks, that's not the way the media world works. The changes in ad spending in future media will be dramatic, and 9% implies that online ad spending isn't going much of anywhere compared to where we are today.

You want to argue with me? I've drawn my line in the sand: give me your best shot (and we'll all be better off for the debate). Faithful readers know I often get on the case of commercial market research reports for sale because they "need" to sound dramatic to sell. I'll spend a little time (not much, because press releases are probably the best I can do) to see if I can find out more about this conservative, even ultraconservative forecast.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, href="mailto:drbrucek@gmail.com">let me know!

NewsCorp (Fox) Reportedly Woking New and Old Media

Hollywood Reporter's well seasoned reporter, Diane Mermigas, says News Corp. (i.e., that's "Fox" to you and me) is poised for growth in new media as well as old media. Love 'em or hate 'em, News Corp. seems to know how to make money, and they are already a mover and shaker in interactive television. "The company expects to generate $350 million in interactive media revenue in calendar-year 2006, more than half of it coming from MySpace advertising and fees." BSkyB in Britain has been offering interactive television shows for years, and at last check, gambling was the top interactive TV application. As I said, love 'em or hate 'em....

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NetFlix: DVD Company in a Broadband World?

OK, so Netflix has announced how they're doing as a business. As a consumer rather than a scholar, NetFlix has not garnered my attention. I'm not sure I know why. Yet many of my University of Georgia students seem to be subscribing and loving it. If you asked me how many NetFlix subscribers there were out of more than 100 million television household in the U.S., I would have guessed more subscribers than there are. During their recent conference call, NetFlix announced these figures:

Netflix Announces Q2 2006 Financial Results
Subscribers – 5.2 million
Revenue -- $239.4 million
GAAP Net Income - $16.8 million

OK, interesting, but more interesting were questions NetFlix was asked about getting into the digital download business, which would seem to be an absolute no brainer for a company like this. (Don't know who they are? See netflix.com).

As of today, July 25, 2006, the conference call may be heard at http://ir.netflix.com/eventdetail.cfm?EventID=27853.

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TV Technology Diffusion Curves

It's rather shocking to give students an assignment to find diffusion curves for media technologies from radio sets to broadband Internet connections because they are amazingly difficult to find. One would expect there is a single source that has this kind of information. Some sample sources include Statistical Abstracts of the United States, Predicasts Forecasts, and industry promotional groups such as the Television Advertising Bureau and the Consumer Electronics Assocaition (CEA). Graphs of growth curves are highly instructive as to where future media may be going. Color TV and VCR growth, for example, initially grew slowly. Personal computers in the home grew even more slowly. DVD players, on the other hand, grew faster than nearly anyone predicted.


until blogger.com stops choking on it. ;-)

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Priming the Pump: Pro-revolutionary bias in commercial research

In an email message I received today, the following information was given:

A recent In-Stat survey found the following:

  • 52% of respondents plan to purchase security appliances to replace out-of-date equipment, as compared to 22% in 2004.
  • Less than 10% of the respondents in companies with less than 100 employees have deployed integrated security appliances.
  • IPSs are increasingly being distributed at critical segments instead of concentrated at network perimeters.

This Market Alert is drawn from the In-Stat research, "Trends and Spending Plans for Security Appliances: The Move from Products to Services" (#IN0602882LN), which covers the worldwide market for network security appliances. The report includes forecasts for shipments and revenue by product segments through 2010. It also includes analysis of equipment trends, major product announcements, and end user survey data. The price is $ 2,995 (US).

Source: http://email.in-stat.com/cgi-bin4/DM/y/hyIL0IJrNW0K560DHgc0Ep

Only 44% of the survey respondents reported using IPS technology inline at the perimeter; as compared to 74% in 2004.

One of the themes of this blog is how in the world can we predict the future of new media? Private market research firms produce reports like this (I grabbed it for convenience despite the topic because it demonstrates how these market research reports go). $3000 per copy of a report. Who would pay such a price? Firms that are concerned about security, in this case, clearly a hot topic, might find it easier to purchase this report than have internal employees do the same research. The highlights made public suggest there is a large potential market for "security appliances." What is the report found no interest in "security appliances" and/or all the companies that see "security applicances" have already bought and installed them? Who, then, could justify the expenditure for this report?

As you have read my blog, you know that I have, on occasion, pointed out that optimistic forecasting reports from market research firms should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you need more evidence, go back to the late 1990s when even the sky didn't seem to be the limit on market forecasts for "dot.com" businesses. (Kind of reminds me of the "evidence" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.) What if I produced a report that says "New Television Technologies Not Expected to Have Measurable Impact on Audience Viewership"? Actually, that's a bad example because it's so counter the prevailing expectations, some copies might sell. My point is that a market research report that screams "Big Market Research Firm's New Report: More of the Status Quo" will not sell well.

I'm listening to the conference call for CNET Networks and I hear the analysts are still using the pop business word "monetize." I might have thought that this word was passe given its ties to the dot.bombs around the year 2000.

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What the?!? "mobile phones inevitably become the dominant personal entertainment device for consumers[!]"

What am I missing?! According to Ron Erickson in TelevisionWeek, "Text TV's Interactivity Can Lure Youths Back," Chicago: Jun 26-Jul 3, 2006.Vol.25, Iss. 26/27; pg. 16: "mobile phones inevitably become the dominant personal entertainment device for consumers".

Well, this sounds like man bites dog and then chases down cat and scratches it! It's clear that mobile phones are allowing amazing access to digital information in all forms, to say that it's "inevitable" that they will become the "dominant personal entertainment device for the consumer"? As measured how, by the number of locations it might be used? By the potentially huge monthly bills some uers may back into? What am I missing? Here is the abstract for this article, cite4d above, and which was found on Proquest, accessible in most libraries (see also http://news.thomasnet.com/fullstory/473630, accessed 24 July 2006):

click image for original accessed 24 July 2006.

It is certainly not a news flash that the majority of commercial television stations in the US are taking a significant hit as new technology pulls viewers away from the television set. Reaching the youth market is particularly challenging. Social networking sites prove teens have a thirst for interaction. As mobile phones inevitably become the dominant personal entertainment device for consumers, text television is a natural next step for broadcasters to leverage mobile connectivity. Text television allows television audiences to send text messages from their mobile phones directly to the television screen and interact with programming.

I often see myself as ahead of the curve, living in the future as most of my peers and colleagues catch up. But the title of this article knocks my socks off, and not because I believe it is true. Of course, the first rule I try to operate with is "I'm not a soothsayer nor am I always right." I've seen many predictions throughout my career that appeared to be (and usual were) pie-in-the-sky. But this statement had me picking myself back up off the floor. The author, Ron Erickson, is CEO of Blue Frog Mobile, "a Seattle-based media and entertainment company and the provider of TXTV services to television broadcasters in North America." In forecasting, people like Mr. Erickson want to "prime the pump," as one of my graduate marketing professors put it. I suppose the thing to do is to find the company's web site and poke around, or maybe I'll try to contact the author and see if he really means what he says here. Who knows, maybe I'm the one who's missed the wave. I don't think we've come to many conclusions yet as to how viewers might interact with television, or maybe there are the imfamous "proprietary research studies" that are backing these bold statements. Don't forget that you can ask a respondent "Would you like to own a Jaguar?" If 90% say yes, what have you learned (that the other 10% don't know what a Jaguar is!)"

So the lesson to my students and peers is that when it comes to forecasting the market for new media products and services, consider the source. There will be positive, negative, and even neutral views. To get the full picture, seek them all.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


The Death of Video on Discs?

"Memory chip threat to hard discs", as reported at bbcnews.com: "Hailed as 'the most significant memory invention of the decade', magnetoresistive random-access memory or MRAM could one day overthrow hard discs and flash memory."
Now the inferential leap from videotape to disc technology was an easy one, it may take more of a geek to fully explain this. There seems to be a consensus that this new memory chip will not be used in computers in part because it's too expensive.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/5202486.stm, accessed 24 July 2006.

Based on what I've read, in the short term MRAM will be used for portable devices presumably including cell phones, video game consoles, and portable video. To the extend magnetic disc technology is reaching physical limitations, many in the storage industry expect to see MRAM become a player, but not in computers and not in the immediate future. That's why you have teaser headlines like "The Death of Video on Discs?" This is one to watch, and if you go to those engineering and/or telecom engineering conferences, look for sessions about MRAM, its implications and its possible implementations.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

How to Predict the End of DVRs (Already?!)

I will carry to my grave some pearls I threw out to my college students 15-20 years ago. I made some predictions that came true, not because I'm a soothsayer, but because I understand history. Well, even knowing media history is not enough. If you want to know what's coming down the pike (I cringe a little at giving out my secret to my social science and humanities colleagues), just go to a large telecommunications engineering and/or marketing convention. I learned more about where we were headed by attending the annual National Communications Forum run by the National Engineering Consortium, formerly in Chicago in early fall.

OK, you know I'm an engineer, right? Wrong! I'm your average intelligent guy who does seem to have a handle on seeing the media future. Was it predictable that cable/satellite television would become a system of channels with a theme? Well, it shouldn't have been. We already had radio teach us this. When television took programs and stars away from radio, radio changed. As more and more stations went on the air (including the entire FM band), radio stations found ways to distinguish themselves with listeners: format radio. Listen to this station for news, another for rock 'n roll, one for easy listening, soon for album-oriented rock. I remember challenging the idea that radio is local. The jocks might (and I mean might) be (Wolfman Jack had a show in Columbus, Ohio, and he was sure to tell the audience what the Buckeyes had done that afternoon; but he wasn't there, only tapes of him including grunts and uh-huh's, etc.). Radio from city to city began to run with the same rules of music success.

What could this mean for cable television from the vantage point of about 1980? Everything. In an early post, I waxed poetic about a paper I wrote as an undergrad about the future of cable TV: rock concert station, all Westerns, all weather, all sports, and the possibility that CBS and friends would sound like BBC by having, for example, CBS 1 (entertainment), CBS 2 (news and documentaries), and CBS 3 (sports).

I also told my students in the 1980s as VCRs took off that the days of the VCR were numbered for one simple reason: random access. Fast forwarding or rewinding a tape to go from one point to another in the program (whether entertainment or educational) just would not be able to hold a candle to future disc formats where the "playback head" (a laser) would be able to go a tiny fraction of the distance on the medium to go from point A to point K in the program. First we had DVDs that had the fastest growth rate of any home video technology in history. We learned, perhaps awkwardly, that we could return to a favorite scene at any time. Now, if you don't have your first DVR, ask anyone who does and 97 times out of 100 they will sing its praises.

OK, so I tried to persuade anyone who would listen starting in 2002 that TiVo and DVRs were in a position to revolutionize not just commercial TV, but even public/educational television (simple DVR recording of programming in the wee hours of the morning, for example). Now every cable and satellite player has its own DVR and TiVo is still hanging in there. Will DVRs die an unexpectedly early death? Well, non-techies out there, you know (or let me tell you) that the "digital memory" business does not rest on its laurels. I will continue this in the next post.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

Hospital(not -ity) Interactive Television

There's an even more captive audience than those in the hospitality industry, and those are hospital patients. One company, TVR Communications, furnishes hospitals with interactive television that includes everything from patient information to video games. For the geek readers, the graphic depicts both the traditional video network and the newer IP (internet) network. The following comes from http://www.tvrc.com/aboutus_profile.php on 23 July 2006:

About TVR Communications LLC

With over four-million paid subscriptions per year, a 24/7 call center providing easy
access for patients and staff, and a team of field service engineers, technicians, graphic designers, and software and hardware engineers, TVR Communications is the largest developer and single-source supplier of interactive digital media solutions, television/telephone subscription programs, patient education and audio/visual products and services in the healthcare industry. Over 3.7 million patients – the most in the industry – have benefited from TVR Communications’ interactive media technology to improve the quality of their hospital stay experience. TVR Communications products and services increase patient satisfaction, reduce
the burden on nurses, provide staff and patient education, as well as verification and reporting. Additionally, TVR Communications’ subscription programs and entertainment content offerings provide additional sources of revenue for healthcare organizations.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know! Best viewed in Firefox thanks to Microsoft going its own way.

Media Scholars Take Note

I have always been fascinated by the future and efforts to try to predict the future. I remember reading Popular Mechanics and Pupular Science as a kid, which trumpeted such things as personal helicopters and pod-like cars that would travel on a rail in the roadway allowing (I remember this picture on the cover) the male driver of the car to lean over and light up the cigarette of his female companion in the passenger seat. As I pursued my graduate studies in tele- and mass communication, I came to believe that media corporations (or, more specifically, their behaviors) were an important variable in how the future would play itself out. Think of the efforts of oil companies in the past to block the development of electric cars if you need an example of how a corporation can influence the adoption and diffusion of new technology.

My advisor at Ohio State, Dr. Joseph Foley, taught a graduate seminar called "Corporations and Communications," or something close to that. I got it. When new media scholars look to the present and future of the media, few include the impact corporate decisions on the future of the media. (RCA developed a doomed stylus-based videodisc player to compete with the Japanese made VCRs.)

With that backdrop in mind, I'm adding another source of information for the future of interactive and other television technologies, Seeking Alpha (consumer electronics), which is "a site used by academics to refer to a stock's performance relative to the market, and by fund managers to refer to 'beating the market'. Every stock picker is therefore 'Seeking Alpha'. Seeking Alpha's goal is to be the best resource on the Internet for opinion and analysis about stocks." Well, I don't know that it is or isn't, but it's another research source we can exploit as we try to envision the future of television.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

Large LCD Inventories, Bad World Cup, Hurt Philips (July 2006)

This may or may not have implications for the U.S. market as the college and professional football seasons are just around the corner, but Philips (now LG Philips based in South Korea) was overly optimistic about LCD sales in the runup to the World Cup. (Source: Bloomberg News, accessed 23 July 2006). It's reasonable to believe consumers will buy a new display in time for a major sporting event like the World Cup (as I recall, my family bought our first color TV in December 1970 in time for the New Year's Day parades and bowl games, just like the sellers suggested we do).

The article went on to disclose that the company forecast third-quarter shipments to rise more than 25 percent from the second quarter with prices at the end of September expected to fall another 5 percent from the end of June. Screen prices fell 23 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the company said.

This article seems to suggest that LG Philips will cut back on manufacturing. If they do and the industry follows suit, this would further suggest a slowing in the drop of LCD prices. Given that LCDs are competing with other forms of HD displays (e.g., plasma and rear orojection), it's hard to imagine prices doing anything other than continue downward.

There is a blog devoted to displays called displayblog.wordpress.com/ that I am adding to my links.

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New Links Added: www.tvsnob.com and displayblog.wordpress.com/

I've added a new link to the blog, that of http://www.tvsnob.com, "The weblog for exclusive news & reviews of tvs and tv technology." Also, "DisplayBlog" is a blog dedicated to information about displays." My listing these is not an endorsement of the sites, but rather a way for me (and you) to keep up with the accelerating changes taking place in the television (technology) industry by including relevant Internet sites.

What, you know of more? Well, please email me!

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!

Death of CRT TV Sets

How many CRT displays are currently sold in the computer industry? Without looking it up, I think we'd all agree that they are going the way of the monochrome TV set (which is still available in very small screen sizes presumably for workshops, boats, and other areas where they are used to pick off over-the-air broadcast signals away from home). Ny students know I am fond of making predictions and it is, in fact, an area of academic interest for me. I thought 15 years ago that we'd be buying TV sets with IBM and Apple name plates among others. It didn't happen, but the relevance of all the flat panel displays pouring into the computer marketplace is that economies of scale will keep pushing prices dowm, and that will spill over into the television/video display market, and surely already has. The difference is that video monitors tend to outsize their PC counterparts. Interestingly, many consumers are being introduced to true HDTV via computers such as laptops with wide screen displays, also capable of playing widescreen HDTV videos.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!