Over the weekend, the WSJ (sub req’d) speculated that Google would soon be acquiring Adscape Media, which inserts ads into video games. Microsoft bought Massive, which does the same thing, last year. This of course makes sense for Google as it seeks to expand its reach. According to the Entertainment Software Assn., about 60% of the US population plays video games. It skews about 60% male (not as high as one might think perhaps) and a the average age of game players is 33 (I’ve seen conflicting data on this point). The point here is that gaming is a multi-billion dollar market with lots of users.
The NY Times over the weekend ran a piece about using ads in mobile to subsidize mobile Internet access or higher cost services like video. In other words, people will be asked to accept ads (opt-in) in exchange for lower monthly wireless bills. While this looks good “on paper,” I’m doubtful that this will be a mainstream phenomenon unless it is very carefully executed. From the article:
“I would not want them on the phone even if that would help cut costs,” said Conor Kelly, 20, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.
MarketWatch ran an interesting piece on the traffic controversy and an audit of Nielsen and comScore methodology going on now. This is a chronic problem in the industry and affects things like ad rates and stock prices.
Here’s a GigaOM post on telcos rallying around to promote Net non-Neutrality to defend against Google et al. AT&T was forced to make certain neutrality concessions prior to gaining approval of its BellSouth takeover. I believe, however, this is ultimately a self-defeating move by the telcos and they should just compete more effectively (if they can) rather than pursuing government protection of their franchises. (Yahoo!’s in an interesting position here given its relationship with AT&T.)
IBM said it will build social networking features into its Lotus software with the enterprise in mind. And the NY Times featured a wide-ranging article on social networks and how “big media” have fully embraced the phenomenon. Now that “everybody’s doing it,” publishers will find that not everybody will participate and it can’t be done in a perfunctory way. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.
In a related article, here’s CNet’s Stefanie Olsen on children and their expectation of and control over on-demand media.
Steve Case’s vertical portal RevolutionHealth launches today. This is a hot and increasingly competitive segment with an anticipated Google Health on the way. Here’s the WSJ story. The business model is low-end free with premium (consumer pays) services. Whether this strategy is viable depends on how good the content and site are vs. free competitors such as Healthline and WebMD.
Travel site Farecast launches “airfare insurance” program Fare Guard. This product, critical to the site, offers to pay the difference between what you may have paid on Farecast and a lower fare that may occur after your purchase. In my view this will NOT help the site gain traction because it requires too much of consumers. Farecast is ultimately a feature of a larger travel site and not a site unto itself.