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Feb 6 2006
Google, Skype Invest in FON
What is FON? No it's not a Spanish dessert � that's flan � although it is based in Spain.

FON is an effort to build a global Wi-Fi network of hotspots with existing broadband connectivity � "members" are referred to as "Foneros" (Arriba!). These can be established ISPs as well as individuals. Google, eBay/Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures invested $22 million in the effort.

Here's an AP article explaining FON, as well as identifying some of the potential challenges to the realization of FON's objectives.

Here are the FAQs and here are some of the interesting people (scroll) behind FON.

Both Google and Skype have a keen interest in seeing Wi-Fi/broadband proliferate. Whether FON ultimately takes the place of the hypothetical GoogleNet initiative is unclear. And whether FON ultimately succeeds or fails, the development of low-cost or free-access broadband networks will undoubtedly continue.

In terms of the local angle, obviously a Wi-Fi hotspot provides precise location information and would allow for more geographically relevant organic or paid search results (without a user inputting location information).

Broadband is of critical importance to anyone whose business model is tied to the Internet. And we�ll be examining the state of and outlook for continued broadband growth on the panel �The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?� on day 1 of Drilling Down.

Here's Om Malik's post on the investment (he'll be speaking on the broadband panel mentioned above BTW).

And here's more from SiliconBeat.

Here's the latest on the Google "dark fiber" rumors.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
Navigators Wanted
This piece in Reuters discusses the VW-Google partnership to develop a "prototype vehicle which features Google Inc.'s satellite mapping software to give drivers a bird's eye view of the road ahead." Nvidia is also part of the deal.

There's lots to say about the long-term potential here: personalization, routing with brands and advertising on the map, click-to-call/PPCall and so on.

Without too much imagination, one can imagine a range of interesting local and local advertising possibilities.

Let's see if it makes it to market.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:53 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
NBC Reaches Locally for Online Content
Yesterday we wrote about network-affiliated local television stations using their Web sites as distribution points for network content. NBC Universal has announced it will redesign all of its local station Web sites to handle multimedia content such as video and podcasts.

Each new site will feature a predominantly placed video player for news clips, as well as daily webcasts by station anchors. Each station will also create original health, entertainment, sports and consumer news content, and share it across the network.

They will also have access to NBC�s programming, weather forecasts from NBC�s digital weather service and downloadable coupons from Coupons Inc. Other local advertising will likely play a part, although little has been revealed.

The move gives NBC Universal better local penetration online, and each local station benefits from additional content and branding. We�ll see how it works.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Feb 3 2006
Online News Gets Some Respect
With online newspaper revenues and traffic on the rise, newspapers are increasingly putting more emphasis on their online news production. More specifically we're seeing an overhaul of many newspaper operations to change the mind-set that online is an afterthought. Its importance is gaining steam among users, and newspapers are trying to reflect that importance internally, starting with the news production.

Editor & Publisher takes a look at The Sacramento Bee's "continuous news desk," which was recently created to update its Web site 24 hours a day. The change showed immediate improvements in content and a mind-set change across the organization about how to cover and publish breaking news. An interesting read.

This is similar to changes we're seeing across the industry, such as The New York Times' and USA Today's (among other papers) moves to merge their online and print newsrooms. We expect to see more of this in the future.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
The MyWeb 2.0 of Video
Social search is something that has gained a lot of attention and business activity in the past year, especially from Yahoo! (Flickr, MyWeb, 360). The next logical place for social search is video, and it already has been applied to some degree by sites such as YouTube.

Om Malik reports on a site called Dabble that is taking this concept to the next level. Like Yahoo!�s MyWeb 2.0, and del.icio.us, the service lets users tag and bookmark video clips that will be displayed on personalized pages. From there users can do things such as create video playlists and share with friends.

The benefits of social search include the cost savings and effectiveness of having users do the �heavy lifting� of indexing content. This could apply especially well to video because there will be lots of it (user-generated and long-tail content on which sites like YouTube thrive � kind of like Flickr), and because video content has proved difficult to tag and index using software. Advertiser benefits are also present, as more human participation enables better behavioral targeting.

We�ll further explore social search and its place within the emerging online video space in an upcoming White Paper.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  17:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Super Bowl Ads Aplenty
With all the media coverage and business activity surrounding online video, and with the Super Bowl coming up, one would expect the annually hyped set of ads to get some broadband play.

PaidContent has a roundup of where you can see the ads on-demand. Now you can actually get up to get a snack during commercial breaks without missing out.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:56 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Straight From the Source
Following Neal's comments earlier about direct distribution of content that could increasingly render middleman distribution channels unnecessary, CBS has done something similar with its famous "Survivor" reality show. Though CBS is a distribution channel itself, in this case it is cutting out the digital �on-demand� distribution channels that have recently formed for online content such as iTunes and the Google Video store.

Along those lines, NBC has announced that it will do the same thing with its new reality show � an "American Idol"-like music competition called "StarTomorrow" � by offering it exclusively on NBC's site.

This is a young industry, so expect a great deal of experimentation with distribution strategies such as this. PaidContent reports on another online distribution model that is beginning to gain attention, which mirrors that of the offline broadcast world in that it relies on local broadcast affiliates. In this setup, such affiliates would offer downloads and streams of network programming on their Web sites.

In the offline world, local affiliates make sense because they can provide local news and broadcast towers. But online, these things are less relevant. So local affiliate Web sites need to prove a value-add to networks if they are going to use their content and profit from it. Local advertising and increased distribution of content (with a revenue share model) might be the answer.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Online Newspaper Growth a Bright Spot
Amid gloomy reports (WSJ sub. req'd) about the health of print newspapers, there's some very good news in online revenues and traffic growth for newspaper sites. According to Nielsen and the NAA:

Both the overall number and percentage of Internet users visiting newspaper Web sites hit new all-time highs in November 2005, according to a new report by Nielsen//NetRatings for the Newspaper Association of America. The data, which takes into account home and work Internet usage, shows that more than 55 million people visited newspaper Web sites in November, a 30 percent increase (42.5 million) from the same period a year ago.

The November visitors also represent more than one third (36 percent) of all active Internet users that month, the most of any month since NAA began tracking online usage in January 2004.

For the year�s fourth quarter, the monthly unique audience averaged more than 53.6 million and 35.2 percent of all active Web users. The time Internet users spend on newspaper sites also continues to rise as users� visits averaged 42 minutes a month during the quarter.


In addition, news content is the No. 1 type of content that users seek out online.

Separately, here's a piece in Ad Age (reg. req'd) about Neil Budde and Yahoo! News and the delicate dance he's doing with his traditional media partners:

�We�re not interested in setting up a full news service with a correspondent in the White House,� said Neil Budde at the Software & Information Industry Association meeting held at New York�s Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street. Perhaps to calm the jittery nerves of some of the traditional-media pros in the audience, he added, �We want to be your partners.�
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:36 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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