New Nowak blog

Pete Nowak, who was technology editor at the New Zealand Herald until late last year, has joined the blogosphere with Geek Boutique at canada.com, a national portal owned by CanWest MediaWorks.

Nowak’s day job is as a business journalist at the Toronto-based National Post, which also part of the CanWest stable.

You may have heard him in a recent TVNZ report on the resignation of Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung. It was his voice in the archive footage of a press conference last August asking Gattung whether it was time for her to resign.

Nowak isn’t saying whether he’s related to space cadet Lisa Nowak, but he’s admitting to feeling some similar frustrations. 🙂

wsj.com sets video free

Andy Plesser at Beet.tv reports that the Wall Street Journal website now enables anyone to embed WSJ videos in their blogs (see example above, which deals with WalMart’s move into online movie sales).

This is a very important development.  As far as I know, no major newspaper publisher is allowing its videos to be shared this way.  I know a big concern is having advertising surrounding the clips appear on sites outside of a media plan. 

Yesterday, I was in Cambridge and spoke with Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove, the company that publishes video for Dow Jones, The New York Times and the Washington Post.  He tells me that the shared emedded code can be controlled to limit or remove advertising when the clip goes viral.

This move is all the more remarkable because for years the WSJ has been cited as one of the few really successful websites using a paid subscription business model. Now, with video, they not only allow you to access content for free, but to “republish” it (although the source file remains on the WSJ’s server and is, therefore, subject to their control).

Maybe the paper’s owners, Dow Jones, are starting to loosen up? As pointed out in a comment on the Beet.tv post, you can get free access to much of the WSJ using the NetPass service at congoo.com and it works very well indeed.

User-generated solutions to transit woes

Anyone who laments the amount of time young people spend online these days, or complains about a decline in community involvment, should be heartened by an event last weekend in Toronto.

About a hundred “designers, transit geeks, bloggers, visual artists, tech geeks and cultural creators passionate about transit in Toronto” gathered at a hotel to brainstorm ideas on improving the Toronto Transit Commission’s website (which, I think you’ll agree, is way overdue for a makeover and upgrade).

The event was called Toronto Transit Camp and it’s the latest in a developing series of such “unconferences” put together by the city’s vibrant online and IT community.

City Television covered the event in the video clip above, and there’s more info at the blogs of Mark Kuznicki and Jay Goldman and on Spacing Wire. Inspiring stuff.

Future of ‘news’ consumption

Steve Outing at Editor & Publisher has a thought-provoking straw poll on where news consumption is heading.

Outing quotes Robin Sloan of Current TV who puts it succinctly:

I think ‘news’ just becomes a less distinct category. You don’t sit down with a newspaper, or even a news website, or even a super wireless e-paper device, for 10 minutes in the morning to very formally ‘get your news.’ Rather, you get all sorts of news and information — from the personal to the professional to the political — throughout the day, in little bits and bursts, via many different media. With any luck, in 5-10 years the word ‘news’ will be sort of confusing: Don’t you just mean ‘life’?

Sloan’s tips for newspapers that hope be remain relevant (and in business):

1. Aggressively expand your view of what counts as news, both in terms of subject and source.

2. Get that expanded news out there, everywhere, via every channel you can imagine, digital and non-digital alike. A news organization should be like a big crazy octopus of information, with tentacles reaching everywhere.

TV ads fail to connect with paid search, says Reprise

Search marketing company Reprise Media has prepared its annual Super Bowl scorecard, finding that few advertisers successfully leveraged their TV advertising during the NFL final game into paid search traffic.

Advertisers continued to overlook the value of having a strong call to action in their commercials. While a majority of companies provided URLs during their ads, less than 20% actually gave viewers a compelling reason to visit their websites.

Some companies (e.g. Doritos, Chevrolet and the NFL) broadcast user-generated ads, but Reprise says they failed to capitalize on the opportunity to expand their communities. An exception:

Though its commercial was not consumer-generated, Pizza Hut used paid search to link users to a customized YouTube channel instead of its own corporate site, allowing visitors to continue a dialogue about its ads and products.

The full report [PDF] is here.

Can advertisers be lured to Panama?

Yahoo! has launched its paid search system, Panama, replacing the outdated Overture.

Amr Awadallah (who works for Yahoo!) blogs about the features of Panama, including a quality-ordering system to rank paid search results by relevance, not just how much the advertiser paid to be associated with the search terms.

Amr’s blog has provoked some interesting comments too, from several people who reckon Yahoo! has no chance of overtaking the paid search leader, Google. But competition in this area is long overdue, so I’m hoping Panama can deliver a real alternative.

The name seems an odd choice, however. Although I’ve gotten used to having an online shopping mall named after a river (Amazon) I think country names carry too many associations (positive and negative, depending on your point of view) to be clear and effective brand names for other products.

Super Bowl ads include user-generated pitches

TV commercials from the Super Bowl are online at CBS Sportsline, including the ad for Bud Light (above) and an animated Coca Cola spot (below) that makes me wish all video games ended this way.

There was user-generated advertising this year too, including a pitch for Doritos by 21-year-old Dale Backus whose sense of humour isn’t quite the same as mine (oh well).

But somehow this year’s ads seemed a bit bland compared with some of the classics from previous Super Bowls, such as the “herding cats” ad for EDS, or the Pepsi ad with the two truck drivers in the diner.

Critiques of this year’s ads are here and here.

Posted in USA

Blogging the Super Bowl TV ads

Super Bowl Sunday is renowned for having some of the most innovative, and costly, advertising on US television.

It’s so big, in fact, that the folks at SuperAdFreak.com have assembled a panel of advertising gurus to blog the ads as they are broadcast (after 11am Monday, New Zealand time).

I’ll be interested to see how many ads have complementary online messages and how well they play off each other.

Posted in USA