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Television leaves the Broadcast Age, continued

The Times offers a smart report from the "upfront" marketplace in New York.  It emphasizes two of the major themes of our work at NPI - that our most important media, television, is going though rapid and significant change, and that we are entering a media age much more participatory than couch potatoey. 

As the big agencies get ready for the biggest week of the year for the biggest advertising medium, changes are coming that can only be called, well, big.

The medium is of course broadcast television, which remains a powerful way to peddle products despite the recent inroads made by alternative ways to watch programs, which include the Internet, digital video recorders, cellphones, DVD players and video on demand.

Beginning today, the, er, um, big broadcasters will reveal their prime-time lineups for the new season in a week of lavish, star-filled presentations at Manhattan landmarks like Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden.

For years, the presentations during what is known as upfront week — so named because the agencies decide to buy billions of dollars of commercial time before the fall season starts — have remained essentially the same. Season after season, the spiels were mostly confined to rote reiterations of the value of buying spots on broadcast television.

But the growing popularity of the alternatives to watching TV on TV sets is forcing the networks to change decades of habits.

For instance, ABC is scheduled to describe at its upfront presentation tomorrow an extensive promotional initiative called “ABC start here” in which TV is just one medium among many. The campaign is intended to help guide consumers through the maze of devices on which they can watch ABC entertainment and news shows.

“It doesn’t matter — TV, online, iTunes, whatever,” said Michael Benson, executive vice president for marketing at the ABC Entertainment unit of ABC, part of the Walt Disney Company.

“They have control,” Mr. Benson said of viewers, “and we’re not going to fight that. We want to make it easy for them to get what they want, where they want, when they want.”

At the same time, ABC and the four other big broadcast networks are working on methods to hold the attention of TV viewers throughout the commercial breaks that interrupt the shows they want to see.

That is becoming increasingly important for two reasons. One is that more viewers are watching shows delayed rather than live, using TiVo and other DVRs. Research indicates those viewers are more likely to fast-forward through spots than those who watch live TV...


“We do focus groups with consumers 18 to 34, the most desired demographic, the most tech-savvy, and their media consumption habits are changing,” said Michael Kelley, a partner in the entertainment media and communications practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “With that comes receptivity to new forms of advertising, provided the networks get closer to viewers’ interests.”

To do that, Mr. Kelley said, the broadcasters must change their focus to “engagement,” or involving viewers in ads, from “impressions,” the total audience exposed to commercials. He likened the challenge to how Google persuaded computer users that ads could be useful rather than annoying, by promising that only relevant ads would be displayed alongside search results.

Free Classifieds on Facebook

The New York Times reveals a new venture for Facebook: free classified ads. The new service, entitled Marketplace, will be introduced today and will "allow users to create classified listings in four categories: housing; jobs; for sale, where users can list things like concert tickets and used bikes; and “other,” a catch-all that could include things like solicitations for rides home for the holidays." Targeting who is able to see the ads, the article points out:

Facebook users who create classifieds can choose to show them only to their designated friends on the service, or to anyone in one of their “networks” — their high school, college, company or geographic region. They can choose to make the listings appear on their profile pages, and send them out on “news feeds,” the automatic updates that appear when users log in to the site.

The article also touches on the affect of Facebook's new Marketplace on traditional advertising sources:

Traditional media like college newspapers, which rely to a varying degree on classified ads, may be threatened as well. “If Facebook can provide a larger audience at a lower price than traditional media, people will shift their advertising dollars,” said Daniel A. Jauernig, chief executive of Classified Ventures, a joint venture of five media companies including the Tribune Company and the Washington Post Company.

MySpace to host Town Halls

As part of its Impact channel, MySpace is hosting "Presidential Town Hall" meetings on college campuses across the nation from September through December. 12 candidates (7 Republicans and 5 Democrats) will participate in the meetings, answering questions from MySpace users who submit their questions over IM. From the article in the Wall Street Journal:

The town hall meetings are part of a plan to get the "MySpace generation" engaged in the political process, says site co-founder Chris DeWolfe. MySpace, like video Web site, is proving to be a lively campaign stop for candidates, especially as they court the youth vote. If roused, the group could become a potent force in elections. Mr. DeWolfe says that 85% of MySpace users world-wide are old enough to vote.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

The NPI Web Video Event Now Available For All

The New Politics Institute held a terrific event on the exploding world of political web video last week. We had four outside experts come and talk about how to use this increasingly valuable new tool.

The event was well attended by those within Washington DC, and was selected to be covered by C-Span, which was rerunning the event for days. We had announced the event to those on our national list with the promise that we would video the entire thing and post it for all to see. (How could we not use the medium as the message?)

So here are the various ways to view the material: 

Here it is off the front page. You can  watch in a small screen there.

Then here it is anchoring the video page, with each part laid out, including each  speaker’s section, and each question  from the audience followed by the entire panel’s answers.

Then here is C-Span's version as flowed through the web. We have it on our Buzz page:

Stay tuned for more events in this video space. We will continue to keep pushing the boundaries with our ongoing “Re-imagining Video” series.

Peter Leyden 

Blair uses YouTube to congratulate Sarkozy

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, like other heads of state, was sure to congratulate Nicolas Sarkozy on becoming the newly elected President of the French Republic. However, the Prime Minister made his statement in a way that makes us at the New Politics Institute proud. He put his statement - in both English and French - on the official Downing Street YouTube channel. By using video and speaking French, which he does rather well, the Prime Minister really shows the effectiveness of using web video.

Are you an OPO?

From Jose Antonio Vargas at the WAPO:

Howard Dean's cometlike campaign in 2003 was the first to integrate the Internet into a presidential race, and Joe Rospars was there, a 22-year-old working as an "all-around Web guy" until the campaign suddenly collapsed.

Four years later, it's not just the upstarts, as Dean was, who have embraced online campaigning. And Rospars is part of a new generation of strategists who share a passionate belief that they can transform not just individual campaigns but also politics itself...

For these online political operatives -- or OPOs, as a few have taken to calling themselves -- the Internet isn't just a tool. It's a strategy, a whole new way of campaigning, a form of communication, from blogs to MySpace to YouTube, with far more potential than the old media of print and television. "TV is a passive experience, and the Internet is all about interactivity, all about making a direct connection," said Rospars, waxing expansive in the way all the OPOs tend to do.

Yet if it's understood that the Internet has a role to play in the 2008 presidential campaign -- voters are increasingly going online to find out more about the candidates, donate money and join networking sites, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project -- it's not yet clear how large the role of the OPOs will be. And the struggle between them and more traditional campaign operatives for influence over their candidates is likely to be a subtext at every headquarters, Republican and Democratic, in the next year and a half.

Jonathan Chait and TNR on the netroots

If you haven't read it already, check out Jonathan Chait's cover story from The New Republic on the netroots The Left's New Machine.  And American Prospect Senior Editor Garance Franke-Ruta has a reasoned critique of Chait's tomb over at her blogTNR Editor Franklin Foer says that the magazine will be publishing responses to Chait's piece in coming editions, let's hope that Franke-Ruta is one of the responders. 

Mobile media piece in the Times today

Times has an interesting look at the emerging space of mobile video today.  It is worth reading the piece in its entirety.  The big takeaway is the entertainment industry is working hard to figure this media out, believing it has huge potential.  Similar experiments will have to be made in politics.  An excerpt:

Many in Hollywood are betting that interest in mobile video will be hastened by the debut of the new touch-screen iPhone from Apple, which are expected to begin selling this summer. With a 3 1/2-inch screen and no cumbersome keypad, many people believe it will be easier for Americans to watch movies and television shows like their peers in Europe and Asia readily do.

“The iPhone is going to shake things up and make cellphone companies look like they are behind the curve,” said Thomas Lesinski, president of digital entertainment for Paramount Pictures. “It is going to be good for us.”

NPI Event: The Exploding World of Web Video

If you missed this week's NPI event don't worry, you can watch the video here and learn much more by visiting the New Politics Institute on the web at  Click on the names or images below to watch the videos.


       Simon Rosenberg                              Peter Leyden                                  Phil De Vellis     


           Daniel Manatt                                 Karina Newton

Obama to Dean: make video of debates available to public for free

Senator Barack Obama sent the following letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean to encourage the DNC to make video from Democratic debates open to the public for free. Sort of off topic, but I wonder whether inciting citizen political participation was a good idea given the Obama campaign's recent MySpace incident.

Dear Chairman Dean:

     I am writing in strong support of a letter from a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists recently addressed to you and the Democratic National Committee. The letter asks that the video from any Democratic Presidential debate be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

     As you know, the Internet has enabled an extraordinary range of citizens to participate in the political dialogue around this election. Much of that participation will take the form of citizen generated content. We, as a Party, should do everything that we can to encourage this participation. Not only will it keep us focused on the issues that matter most to America, it will also encourage participation by a wide range of our youth who have traditionally simply tuned out from politics.

     The letter does not propose some radical change in copyright law, or an unjustified expansion in "fair use." Instead, it simply asks that any purported copyright owner of video from the debates waive that copyright.

     I am a strong believer in the importance of copyright, especially in a digital age. But there is no reason that this particular class of content needs the protection. We have incentive enough to debate. The networks have incentive enough to broadcast those debates. Rather than restricting the product of those debates, we should instead make sure that our democracy and citizens have the chance to benefit from them in all the ways that technology makes possible.

     Your presidential campaign used the Internet to break new ground in citizen political participation. I would urge you to take the lead again by continuing to support this important medium of political speech. And I offer whatever help I can to secure the support of others as well.


Barack Obama

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

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