Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The New Scientologists (or Catholics)

Apple is not a company. It makes more profits in a quarter than Tesco, which controls five per cent of UK spending, does in a decade.

Apple is a religion. It is a major country. It pays very little tax. And we don't care.

If you buy an Apple product you are buying into a philosophy, which involves no social conscience at all. Apple does not want to pay anything towards your social commitment. By buying an Apple product you are saying that you are a fascist, the most selfish person on earth. You are supporting a company that does not buy into your society, but feed off it like a dreadful cuckoo.

So, you hipsters, your are fascists, or at the very least ultra Republicans  or Tea Partieists. Let's face it, buying an Apple product supports extreme right wing concepts such as profits over all else.

But I guess you know this.

We are not worthy... We are not worthy... We are not worthy... We are not worthy...

Google The Corrupt

Google controls around 90% of all online text advertising in the UK and not much less for all online ads. Of course, this is ridiculous, but no one in the UK has either the nous or the balls to do anything about this issue. Imagine if one party controlled Parliament in this way, such as the Taliban.... Or we just had Trabant as our only car company.. With an election coming up I find no one referring to this, but it is one of the reasons we cannot pay for the NHS, since taxes paid for commerce have moved from the high st to online and are collected by the likes of Google, not the government.

Online advertising is so important to UK commerce now that I believe that, if competition cannot be assured, it should be nationalised. 

If Google wants to operate in the UK, it should do so under licence to our Government, in my view, since it is a total monopoly that levies its own taxes on all indigenous online businesses and then takes the income offshore. Unfortunately, there are no competitors we can currently introduce to level this playing field.

Worse still, over the past two weeks I've tested Google's advertising system and found that, by the measure of their own metrics system, Analytics, they under-serve the product they charge for like the barkeepers used to do before gills were brought in. They also do not prevent click factories from working on their publisher network. I found that around 90% of clicks with a global campaign came from India or Indonesia and were useless. If these two conditions were found in any other industry there would be a hue and cry.

But organisations like agencies are paid for their clicks, so will play along with this deceit and corruption.

If you are a content owner, Google do not reveal what proportion of your revenues they take before passing some paltry amount to you. I have worked with many better platforms and know where you are better off spending your ad dollars..

Google is a company with a totally corrupt business model, which delivers some value, but should only be allowed to operate within a competitive environment. Due to its total monopoly on online advertising and video, it has been allowed to break all the rules of morality and competitive practices that most nations apply and see as 'right'. But, hey, having Larry for tea is so worth the photo-op, isn't it Dave (or Ed..)....

Hey HTML5 ! You're Mainstream (Not..)

Google has finally announced that HTML5 video is their default, ie they are not playing Flash at you on YouTube any more, which doesn't work any more on most devices (and if you count mobiles and connected TVs, I mean the vast majority of devices that can play video), but HTML5 tags/players/MP4 video.

The ad world hasn't caught up, and they have a unique way of dealing with this. Your site has video ads integrated. It calls a video ad. Nothing plays. An impression is recorded nevertheless. As an advertiser, that's just theft.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

TV Everywhere Is Still Not Here

You'd think that after eughty odd years of broadcasting and nearly twenty years of the Internet, broadcasters would have got a grip on technology. But, oh no....

The @BBC still plays helicopter and playground noises on its HD channels because it can't seem to get its HD channels properly muxed. Five yea ago you might have forgiven them. Now it just makes them look stupid and makes their HD channels unwatchable.

@Sky still doesn't have its red button feeds available online. How difficult can that be ? Just another feed to the transcoder, Sky people!

Meanwhile @ITV and @Channel4 have no app for WebOS, so I can't access their programming on my 'smart TV'. If Channel 5 can manage it, why can't you ?

On the BT Sport website, designed by morons, you have to click five buttons before you can see any TV!

Worst of all, broadband provision in the UK is dreadful. OFCOM use self serving stats, but the reality is that it is dreadfully expensive for business and either provides dreadful bandwidth or reliability for domestic users. My TV looses its IP several times a week thanks to BT mucking around, involving a router reset, and I totally lose connectivity at least twice a day (usually in the middle of an important call).

So much for TV everywhere....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Microsoft Bets The Farm

Well, it's finally happened. Microsoft has taken a bite out of Apple with a product update that Steve Jobs would have been proud of.

Whilst Google has been playing with its Glass product and, frankly, getting nowhere, Microsoft has been developing an AR eyeset which has blown away the people I've talked to who have been lucky enough to have an early go on. HoloLens (surely a radical product like this deserves a better name ?) looks like a cleverer rethinking of Google Glass's shortcomings. Yes, now you can edit your film by waving your arms in the air!

What is interesting here is that, in the past, Microsoft has come up with ideas that others (usually Apple) have perfected. Remember when Bill Gates was pushing the tablet computer a full five years before the iPad arrived? Now Microsoft seems to be taking the lead.

But the most radical indication of change in Redmond is that Windows 10 is to be given away free. Now, considering that Office has also become a freemium product and that services like Azure and OneDrive have massive costs of sales, you start to realise that Nadella has rolled the dice in a way his predecessor never had the guts to do, for all his bluster.

And there's a halo effect on the brand. Whilst Apple keeps on reinventing the same products and really hasn't innovated at all since Jobs' passing, Microsoft is in danger of becoming cool with its innovative new product set.

With its USB, expandable storage and cursor, I find Surface far more useful than the iPad, which, let's face it, is a glorified Kindle.

The real challenge facing Microsoft will be one of corporate culture. I have worked closely with the company for many, many years and it's often a devolved relationship which has always involved payment for everything (oh, come along to an event with some clever people...that will be $200 please.. Want your developers to develop for our platform ? Oh, that will be $5k per developer, etc..). Even then, the problem is that if you start making part of your stack free, whilst competing with the Open Source or Google business models, you have to figure out another way to make it back.

Storage Wars isn't a TV programme any more, it's a fight to the death between the major computing companies, and as much as cloud pricing is obfuscated using 'workers' and 'blobs' and 'transfers', it's not difficult to compare it to the cost of doing it yourself or with another supplier.

Ironically, maybe Microsoft's best chance to make money is as a hardware company - they have done a really good job recently, and I really, really want a Surface Hub for my office:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Google Scam

A few days ago, launching our new VidZapper 8 platform for video, I decided to return to Google advertising.

I set up both Adwords and Analytics accounts for this micro-site and set about putting together campaigns on Adwords.

On the surface, these seem pretty successful. Based on a limited, test budget, I have been quite successful:

It shows click through rates of 2 - 5%. And spending to match. Apparently I could spend more and get many more clicks. No shit, Sherlock..  I got 298 click thrus.

But how do I verify these clicks ?

Well, the Analytics account I set up show the following stats:

This shows a total of 249 sessions over the same period. So, how does 298 become 249 ?

But let's dig deeper.

This is how the clicks on Analytics pan out:

Looks like a good third of the clicks are from Asia and are very unlikely to be genuine. I am now going to remove Asia from the Adwords playout and let's see what will happen.

The bottom line is that there is no accountability by Google and who knows why companies spend so much advertising with them. It looks like a total scam to me looking at these statistics logically.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A New Video Management Platform

As the use of video in marketing communications becomes more prevalent, and the old models of broadcasting are ported online we've been busy at TV Everywhere imagining what the next generation of video management should look like and do.

After a hard year of coding we've finally released the latest version of VidZapper. It's been rewritten from the bottom up and now features a responsive UI replacing the old Flash interface.

vidzapper screenshot

But there's far more to it than that. Among the things you can do are:

  • index and import media files from existing file systems, networks and clouds using our unique agent technology
  • upload, store and index you master videos, archiving them securely in the cloud, but having them always available
  • automatically create proxies for viewing across all devices and platforms
  • create versions of files for distribution to broadcasters and SVOD services
  • manage metadata and related materials
  • review and approve video, frame by frame
  • track rights, contributors and residuals
  • embed video in your own websites and blogs
  • create your own video channels that will work across devices and platforms
  • create commercial video services with advertising support, pay per view and subscription options
  • distribute video to broadcasters and customers
  • manage your YouTube videos
  • send video to social media, including Twitter and Facebook 
  • track and audit usage, versions, viewing and all activity in real time
Here are some more details:

Get in touch if you'd like to see a demo or discuss how you could use or resell the system to your customers.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Time To TalkTalk

TalkTalk's purchase of BlinkBox from Tesco for just £5m is a coup for a firm that has slowly and subtly established itself in the UK TV market.

As I can attest, Freeview is just awful and demands almost daily retuning. The signal is so weak as to be laughable. And the BBC just can't be bothered, with no HD in local broadcasting a decade after switchover.

Virgin Media is teeth bleeding expensive, and seems to put up its prices on a quarterly basis.

Sky fails to provide a service, in my experience, with broadband speeds of under 20Kbps in the evening.

So, TalkTalk works in a dissolute market and can only do better than the incumbents. BlinkBox significantly adds to its offer, at least where they operate in LLU exchanges.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Time To Tweet Your Video ?

So, as we predicted at the end of last year, the fragmentation of the social video market has begun as details of Twitter's proposed new service leaks out (it sounds like YouTube from a year or so ago with a maximum length of ten minutes).

But the tough ask for Twitter and Facebook is to launch their own services whilst still supporting YouTube. It's worth explaining that YouTube and Google with their video ads via DfP and AdX don't ever serve a video without their accompanying player - this is a pain in the neck if you're running a video service since you have to unload your player, load their ad video player (or overlay it) and then unload it again. It's not exactly telly... But it tells you how the technology is there to underpin a business model rather than deliver a seamless service to viewers.

So, will Facebook and Twitter block YouTube ads ? Unless they do I predict that their own plays in the online video ad market will fail. Apparently, Twitter has already made this call. How long

In anticipation of the fragmentation in the industry we've added a social video management and distribution tool to our core VidZapper platform. Here's a sneak peak:

Select any video or group of videos

Add individual tweets to them:

You can then authenticate any Twitter account (if you've already done this the videos will tweet immediately):

(Drop me a line at socialvideo (at) if you'd like a demo covering YouTube, Facebook and your own website as well.)

One thing is certain, it's going to be an interesting year for online video....