BlogTV adds news and comedy channels

Toronto-based community videocasting site blogtv.ca is adding two channels: one for comedy and the other for news and politics.

The channels are scheduled to launch tomorrow [Friday].

Although blogTV.ca is a platform for anyone who wants to videocast [including some who are a long way from being video professionals], it’s owned by a genuine television network, Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Alliance Atlantis is in the process of being acquired by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs.

Search marketer slams Canadian advertisers

Some harsh words for Canadian advertisers regarding their use — or non-use — of paid search:

Toronto seems to be the epicenter of the orifice that Canadian advertisers have lodged their collective heads in. The city doesn’t get it, the province doesn’t get it, the country doesn’t get it. When it comes to search, Canada (with a few exceptions) is clueless.

That’s from a Canadian, by the way. Gord Hotchkiss is president of search marketing firm Enquiro and he lives in the United States British Columbia. 

He’s been in Toronto this week for the Search Engine Strategies conference, but it sounds like he’ll be glad to get back across the border. He may be safer there too.

BlogTO’s growth challenge

One of the highlights for me of last evening’s CaseCamp 5 in Toronto was the opportunity to hear and meet Tim Shore, founder of freshdaily.ca.

Tim’s company publishes three city-centric websites covering arts, music, film, fashion, food and a bit of local news. They are Toronto’s blogTO, Vancouver’s Beyond Robson and Montreal’s Midnight Poutine. Each site has two full-time editors and draws content from a host of local contributors, with advertisers paying the bills.

In his CaseCamp presentation, Tim talked about the challenge of drawing new readers to his company’s flagship site blogTO. The site has a self-inflicted marketing problem, Tim said, in that it has established itself as a blog brand, yet is moving away from traditional blog styling towards local information and directory services.

[As I wrote last month, the redesigned blogTO has similarities to conventional online news services. And a passing reference last evening to Torstar’s local sites toronto.com and ourfaves.com suggests where Tim sees opportunities to compete.]

Another problem for blogTO, Tim said, is that some potential readers who aren’t into blogs might see no reason to visit his site.

Reaching out to those non-blog Torontonians, blogTO recently launched a series of printed maps for Toronto neighbourhoods, and started providing restaurant reviews that appear in the National Post newspaper. The maps point users back to blogTO for further information, and the National Post deal has coincided with a nice lift in traffic to the blogTO restaurants section, Tim said.

So blogTO is really starting to behave like a media company, looking for opportunities to build its “brand” wherever it can, while staying focused on its core service.

Asked whether freshdaily.ca was considering sites elsewhere in North America, Tim was non-committal. But he said he saw many opportunities to further develop the three existing sites.

World’s tallest tower lights up

BlogTO reports today on the new coloured lighting system for Toronto’s CN Tower, complete with great photos taken during a test run of the system last night. The pictures were posted to the blogTO photo pool on flickr.

The Globe & Mail website also has some pictures.

New Zealanders will be familiar with the effect, which is similar to what’s been used on Auckland’s Sky Tower for several years.

Here in Toronto, where winters can be mighty gloomy, I think the computer-controlled lighting will prove a hit.

The timing is ironic, however, given the current concern over energy consumption [although the lights are energy-efficient LEDs] and a campaign in the city to turn off lights in high-rise office buildings to prevent overnight bird strikes.

Rogers buys Citytv stations

Media and telecommunications giant Rogers Communications is buying the Citytv stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver from CTVglobemedia, which is in the process of buying them from CHUM Limited.

The sale comes just days after Canada’s broadcast regulator, citing rules against concentration of ownership, said CTVgm would have to sell the Citytv stations if it wanted CHUM. CTVgm’s media assets include the 21-station CTV television network and the Globe & Mail newspaper.

CTVgm had struck a deal to sell CHUM’s A-Channel television network to Rogers, but the regulator said that wasn’t good enough.

Rogers currently owns a number of specialty TV channels available over the air or by cable only. Its other interests include radio stations, magazines, mobile and landline phones, cable TV service and internet service.

CHUM Limited’s television operations comprise the five major-market Citytv stations, six small-market A-Channel stations, CKX-TV in Brandon and 21 specialty TV channels available on cable. It also operates 33 radio stations across Canada.

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Video: Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster at Mesh 07

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster at Mesh 07 - Click to play

For anyone who didn’t get to last week’s Mesh conference in Toronto, good news. Mark Evans‘ keynote discussion with the very laid back Craigslist Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster is now online.

Buckmaster explains how to make more than enough money to meet your needs, by just doing things that your customers request. His don’t-be-greedy approach must help discourage would-be competitors. Craigslist’s huge scale means it can be profitable, even though it only charges a small fee for a few types of listings and allows users to post the rest free of charge.

The video of this discussion is high-resolution and about 16 minutes long, so may take a while to download, even on broadband.

It was produced by Greg Philpott’s new Toronto-based business mdialogue, which has other video from Mesh too.

Mdialogue, by the way, is aimed at people who want to publish DVD and HDV quality videos online, including movie-length files.

CTV must sell Citytv, says regulator

From thestar.com:

OTTAWA – The federal broadcast regulator is allowing CTVglobemedia to buy broadcaster CHUM Ltd. but only if the broadcaster sells five Citytv stations, including its flagship operation in Toronto…

That’s one very big “but”.

CTVglobemedia, operator of the CTV television network, wanted to keep the Citytv stations included in the purchase of CHUM. It did, however, offer to sell CHUM’s A-Channel television stations to Rogers Communications if the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission approved the purchase of CHUM.

From thestar.com again:

In its announcement, the CRTC said the purchase would be “inconsistent” with the regulator’s policy for CTVglobemedia to operate more than one conventional television station in one language in a given market.

“The purpose of this policy is to maintain diversity of voices within the Canadian broadcasting system,” CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said in a statement.

CTVglobemedia says it’s reviewing today’s CRTC decision.

LiveDeal sold to online yellow pages operator

Online classified advertising network LiveDeal, Inc has been purchased by YP Corp, operator of “America’s local online yellow pages”.

LiveDeal will become a subsidiary of YP Corp, and current LiveDeal shareholders will receive shares in YP.

YP Corp says it plans “to use LiveDeals innovative technology platform to converge its four principal marketing channels directories, mobile services, classifieds and advertising/distribution networks into a first-of-itskind, hyper-local marketing solution for businesses and consumers”.

In the United States, where the term “yellow pages” is not trademarked, the livedeal.com site already carries such business directory listings.

Toronto Star publisher Torstar has held a minority stake in LiveDeal since October 2005, and the two companies operate the Canadian site livedeal.ca — without Yellow Pages listings — under a joint venture agreement. [In Canada, “Yellow Pages” is a trademarked brand name belonging to the Yellow Pages Group.]

>> More from Mark Evans and the official announcement

Search, and you’ll find one ugly website

Search Engine Strategies 07 Toronto front page - 2007-06-07

Next week’s Search Engine Strategies conference in Toronto looks interesting, particularly the keynote by Seth Godin, author of The Dip.

But why is the conference website so utterly awful in its design?

I’m not talking about its SEO performance (which I haven’t checked), but its actual appearance. Some of the worst elements:

  • The floating width front page with its wide centre column makes for very long, hard to read, lines of text.
  • The vertical navigation is blue text on a grey background – but you weren’t interested in reading it, were you?
  • The sponsors’ logos are piled on top of each other with no room to breathe.
  • Even on my spacious 1400 pixel-wide screen I get a horizontal scrollbar.
  • Bizarrely, the bottom 80 per cent of the page is empty. (Maybe that’s where they hide the keywords?) 😉

I’d recommend the organizers of SES 07 take a look at the site for last week’s Mesh Conference, also in Toronto. It’s a simple site that’s a pleasure to use.

BlogTO introduces maps — on paper

Four Toronto neighbourhood maps. Picture: blogTO

The ever-innovative blogTO, one of Toronto’s top blog sites, is expanding into print with a series of local maps available from retailers in various neighbourhoods. The series begins with four maps, shown above.

BlogTO editor Tim Shore sees advertising opportunities for local businesses, as well as a way to draw more people to blogTO:

Each map includes profiles of 80 or more great local spots grouped into categories like restaurants, bars and cafes, art galleries, fashion, furniture and design and beauty and health. Forty of the profiles on each map also come with full colour photos. And the whole thing is also integrated with the blogTO web site. So if you want to learn more about, say, Little Italy, you can go read about it in our new neighbourhood section.

Although the world is going digital, and increasingly wireless, I’m betting these old-school maps will still prove popular for their ease of use. And for their price — free.