Self Regulatory Principles for Behavioral

selfregKnowing firsthand the logistical and political issues creating industry guidelines can create, I’ve been impressed by our ability as an industry to move quickly in response to the FTC’s mandate earlier this year for more industry self regulation around behavioral advertising. A consortium including the IAB, DMA, 4As, BBB and the ANA this week published its Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising. Though many details and the motives of various segments of the industry are understantibly excluded, the document is evidence that the industry is truly aligned behind these important trade organizations.

Much more water needs to travel under this bridge, and it’s difficult to know if the principles as outlined will keep federal legislation at bay, but they are straightforward, comprehensive, well-intended and easily digested.

Speaking from my own bias, I am encouraged that service providers required to get permission to track behavioral data does not appear to include display advertising networks. Whatever happens next, I’m confiden our collective education efforts will result in Congress understanding that companies that do not have access to personally identifiable information should not be held to the same opt-in behavioral targeting standard as those that do.

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Cow tails, taxes and politics

about_arnold_img3 Thanks to David Lewis for bringing to my attention Arnold Schwarzenneger’s sense of humor and appreciation for political theater. In the video below, which he tweeted about yesterday, the governor calls out legislators for debating about expansion of an existing law that makes it a misdemeanor to cut the solid part of the tail of any horse in the operation known as “docking.” Senate Bill 135, introduced by Dean Florez, would likewise prohibit the docking of cattle.

On a more serious note and more relevant to online advertising, Governor Schwarzenneger yesterday announced Overstock.com will reinstate California-based internet affiliate advertisers. This is great news for the affiliate marketing industry, which is fighting hard to avoid the so-called Amazon Tax from being introduced in California.

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ValueClick Media Update

main_photoI have been looking for the appropriate context in which to post something about ValueClick Media. After all, it’s where I spend most of my waking hours and devote nearly all of my professional energy and expertise. After sending off our quarterly newsletter for advertisers, The Point, earlier today, it occurred to me that there is some great information about the best of what’s going on in our business today that the four readers of this blog might enjoy (yes, including you, Mom!).  From a positioning update from our GM Bill Todd, to insights on how to maximize performance from one of our product managers, Adolfo Cortes (and everything in between), this is a good snapshot of what we’re communicating to our advertiser clients and just a few of the reasons I’m excited about working with the impressive group of online advertising professionals that make up the ValueClick Media team.

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Good Seeing Friends Do Well

Jason & Tony at OMMA Global HollywoodOne of my reasons for creating WOTW was to recognize people in my professional network doing interesting things with their time and talents. Two entrepreneurs for whom I have a great deal of respect appeared in major media outlets last week: Tony Greenberg, CEO of Ramprate and Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo.

RampRate’s report “YouTube: Google’s Phantom Loss Leader – How Google shelters profits from content owners while building a delivery juggernaut” is closer to investigative journalism than it is your typical marketing department white paper. Besides adding a new layer to my own understanding of the economics of online content delivery, as a B2B marketer with an appreciation for the art of PR, I was also impressed by all of the coverage the report generated. My favorite analysis was by Advertising Age and Business Week.

Also related to monetizing original content on the web (or not), was an article in the LA Times about “Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” which is co-owned and produced by Mahalo, where Jason Calacanis also produces “This Week in Startups.” In the most recent episode, Jason interviews Microsoft director of business development Don Dodge about his thoughts on Bing and more.

Congratulations Jason and Tony!

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The Economics of Online Entertainment

make_money_on_computerI’ve been thinking a lot about the economics of online entertainment lately, in part based on a June 15, 2009 LA Times article entitled ‘Hollywood hits the stop button on high-profile Web video efforts.” Despite many failed attempts at monetizing online entertainment content, ranging from DEN, Icebox and POP.com in the late 90s to Stage 9 Digital and 60Frames in recent months, I’m not convinced there isn’t a profitable model for making the studio model of the future a reality.

Whatever the successful combination, it is certain to be as complex and dynamic as the changing media landscape itself. It will include both traditional and yet untested advertising and sponsorship models, but it won’t be fully reliant on them either. It will include brave new brand extensions and cross-platform integration and ways to interact with audiences that result in them eagerly spending their hard earned money on e-commerce and subscriptions and engaging with sponsors.

It will also include strategies with no intent of directly driving revenue, but still being accountable to some other practical revenue stream — offline purchases, participation in events, engagement in online communities, etc. Or for large media carriers to support membership/subscription-based services and any myriad of other business objectives.

Making quality online entertainment content is hard, but building an audience for it from scratch is even harder. This reality has been part of what makes it difficult to monetize the emerging category of web video content with any scale. The model that works will include an innovative way for content producers to attract and retain large new audiences in a way that presents clear value for each of the key stakeholders: content creators, distributors  and consumers.

Many more layers of this oninion to be peeled in the weeks ahead I’m sure.

Speaking of identifying good online entertainment content, as a fan of Weeds, I was interested to learn from Tubefilter about University of Andy, a series of short videos in which Andy Botwin (played by Justin Kirk) lectures on various life skills that are not likely to be offered at the local community college, but are guaranteed to make you laugh.

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