Nintendo Wii 2 – Stream Controller update

More news regard the new Controller system – to be introduced at E3 in June (?)

The new Nintendo Stream controller includes a 6″ touchscreen interface. The Stream is also reportedly backwards-compatible with the Nintendo Wii motion controllers.

Mockup: Stream Controller

A mockup of a potential Nintendo Stream controller by IGN.


Netflix earnings Way up despite Growing Competition

Netflix revealed this week that its earnings are up 88% compared to this time last year. The subscription movie service reported a net income of $60 million on its Q1 report.

More than 3 million new subscribers have signed on to Netflix since January, pushing its total number of viewers to 23.6 million — more than those buying Comcast cable alone. (Comcast still has many more subscribers than Netflix does if you count the customers who buy video service alongside voice and Internet.)

Netflix’s earnings have benefited from a price increase on its hybrid service that took effect with its pure streaming plan in November. While the changes were made in Q4 of 2010, they took effect in Q1. Meanwhile, Netflix set a new company record for marketing spend.

Netflix is reaping the benefits of establishing a post-Blockbuster model of video rentals. Several competitors have launched to challenge it in the last 12 months — Hulu Plus and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video. Dish Networks, which purchased Blockbuster in April, will likely launch a subscription streaming effort under that brand.

The competition helps explain why Netfix has a new focus on original content. It has made exclusive partnerships with CBS and Lionsgate, as well as a non-exclusive agreement with Fox in Q1.

“Our competitive strategy relative to other streaming services is simply to grow as fast as we can, so we can afford more content, more marketing, and more R&D than our competitors,” explains Netflix’s Q1 letter to its shareholders.

Facebook’s New Deal Page Premieres

Today, Facebook’s new Deals feature was launched in five cities around the U.S.; here’s a first glimpse of how those offers will look and function.

First, users who opt into Deals will get to see opportunities specific to their locations. Those offers will arrive via email or, in some cases, will appear in the user’s news feed on Facebook.

To be clear, these aren’t like the checkin-based deals for mobile users that Facebook launched for its nascent Places platform; while the initial mobile Deals product competed with Foursquare, the new product competes more with Groupon.

Each deal will have its own Facebook landing page, as shown below. Users can “Like” a deal, share it via several channels on the site, or opt to buy it right away. When purchasing the deal, users can pay with credit card or Facebook Credits.

It’s unknown whether Facebook will make more money from Credits purchases than from traditional ones. A rep said via email, “We’re not disclosing details about revenue splits, but paying with Credits will work the same way as paying with a credit card. It’s simply another way for people to pay for Deals. We think this just makes things easier for people using Facebook.”

Facebook Deals’ Landing Page

Example of a Facebook Deal

Buying a Facebook Deal

Sharing a Facebook Deal

Obama’s Town Hall Spikes Facebook

On April 20th, President Obama visited Facebook headquarters to hold an online “town hall” meeting focused on the economy and The White House’s proposals for deficit reduction. Questions for the President were submitted in advance via The White House’s Facebook page, through The White House’s website, live from a number of social networks and from Facebook employees in the room.

On the day of the event (April 20th), traffic to increased 70% when compared to the same day one month prior (March 23rd); moreover, the site’s share of traffic from Facebook increased 712%.

Sm WMS WhiteHouse 04-20-2011.png

Facebook has consistently been one of the top five traffic drivers to, but on the day of the town hall meeting, Facebook became the greatest traffic driver for and represented 28% of all visits going to the website. In addition, 76% of the visits coming from Facebook were new (meaning they had not visited the website in the past 30 days), whereas 67% of the visits coming from Facebook a month ago were new – this indicates that the partnership between Facebook and The White House drove a significant share of new visitors to The White House’s website.

You Only Get One Chance To Make Seven Trillion Impressions

This year, publishers worldwide will serve more than seven trillion display ads

Those ads will be sold by hundreds of thousands of publishers, more than 400 ad networks, and a growing number of DSPs.  To make matters worse, the amount of online advertising inventory is  growing at rates of more than 50% year over year as mobile devices and 4G help skyrocket the number of Web-connected devices.

 2012 alone could add three trillion impressions to the pile of inventory that has to be sold.

It shows no sign of slowing down. In 2010, we passed five billion Web-connected devices. By 2017, that number is expected to be 17 billion.

If you are a publisher or salesperson in media today, you are faced with the most strategic question of all: How on earth can you possibly differentiate yourself in a world of nearly unlimited inventory?

If inventory is created equal, then creating professionally produced content against the backwash of auto-generated content farms is a losing proposition

So what’s a lonely publisher to do? I believe the answer lies with publishers overhauling their strategies in three key areas:

1.     Targeting

2.     Application-Rich Ads

3.     Site Design

Targeting: The Silver Bullet that Always Misses
The real renaissance around targeting has yet to begin, despite the fact that most publishers would prefer to talk about colonoscopies than their targeting technology.

Targeting has always been a dirty word because of three issues: privacy, data overload, and regulatory concerns. These challenges have served to obfuscate the real problem: Most advertisers don’t know how to take full advantage of targeting.

If publishers ever get serious about solving the privacy issue, they could shift their focus to how to responsibly use targeting to transform user experience (Welcome back, Mr. Rothenberg. I’m still waiting to debate the issue with you).

The real magic in targeting will come when the Ph.D.s and designers come together to solve two problems:

1.     How do you sift through the Petabytes of data, and focus on the few data points that really move the needle? (Hint: we need less data, not more.)

2.     How do we create ads that dynamically leverage the targeting? (Tumri and Teracent — now part of Google — made a good leap forward here, but there is much more still to be done.)

Application-Rich Ads: Creating Immersive Experiences
Publishers also need to start building not just unique content, but unique experiences.

These experiences would offer advertisers a set of capabilities that are deeply integrated with their websites, and differentiate their inventory. (Full disclosure: I am an investor in and board member of Adventive, which is pursuing this idea.)

Here are a few examples of how I think app-rich ads and publisher sites could combine to create great experiences:

·       Nike and Men’s Fitness could partner to offer ads that let you select a workout while at the gym, and then expands into a 20 or 30 minute interactive workout video. It could give you a beat, some encouragement, and most importantly, help overcome how incredibly boring the gym really is.

·       Elle magazine and Prada could partner to take you on a virtual tour of the sfashion show, and even let you upload your photo to show how the haute couture  would look on you (spoiler alert: really, really, really tight)

The combination of broadband, HTML5/Flash, two-way interactivity, and new mobile devices could enable a set of ads that put even the best TV ads to shame.

Re-thinking Site Design:
Sadly, the new iPad-centric newspaper The Daily represents the first major innovation in content presentation in nearly a decade.

Publishers have taken for granted how their consumers want to consume their content.

The rise of tablets and mobile computing means not only rethinking the format, but rethinking the content creation itself.

An Unholy Partnership With Holy Results
Publishers and their online advertising technology partners are forever inextricably linked. Their futures both rest on a single goal: figuring out how to use technology, to fight technology.

Best Buy Is Shrinking Stores, Adding Mobile Units and to sell Broadband Network

After suffering weaker sales, Best Buy is thinking small: It says it will focus on expanding its petite Best Buy Mobile stores, which are about 1,400 square feet, and shrink its regular stores by about 10% in the next three to five years.

The retailer is beefing up its mobile offerings, adding 150 Best Buy Mobile stand-alone stores in the fiscal year, and expects to have an estimated 600 to 800 stores within five years. The smaller mobile stores emphasize impartial advice, with 10 carriers and 14 manufacturers, as well as straightforward pricing and tech-savvy associates, and had revenue of about $2.5 billion in fiscal 2011. Currently, there are 1,099 store-within-a-store units, expanding to an additional 600 locations, and 191 stand-alones, with about 325 scheduled to be completed by the end of the current fiscal year.

And the retailer says it’s also exploring additional opportunities in mobile phones, tablets, gaming and appliances.

While Best Buy claims to generate the highest sales per square footage of any large format retailer in the U.S. and sells one out of every three U.S. televisions, it has struggled of late, with same-store sales falling 4.6% in its most recent quarter.

The category isn’t an easy one: Wal-Mart Stores this week reportedly says it will reduce space for electronics in its U.S. stores, saying that sales in that category have declined.

A company building a new nationwide wireless broadbandnetwork, says Best Buy will resell access to that network, starting with a trial early next year.

According to the LightSquared CEO Sanjiv Ahuja “Best Buy Co. is the biggest customer so far to sign up with LightSquared. The electronics chain will sell the service under its own Best Buy Connect brand”

NBC, Versus Sign Long-Term Deal With NHL

Two months ago, ESPN’s top content executive John Skipper told investors the company will be aggressive in acquiring sports rights, but also judicious. “Let me be overt … we will continue to make thoughtful decisions on what rights we can afford,” he said.

Running the numbers appears to have led to circumspection on ESPN’s part, in terms of grabbing rights to the NHL. ESPN apparently dropped out of the bidding — as did TBS and others — as Comcast struck a deal to keep national broadcasts exclusively on NBC and Versus.

It is NBCU’s first sports rights deal since Comcast took over the company.

Comcast sports head Dick Ebersol said on a conference call that Versus would be re-named this summer with NBC in the moniker.

The 10-year deal, reportedly worth $2 billion, promises to expand the number of NHL games on the two networks while bringing the addition of an annual game the Friday after Thanksgiving. That seems straight out of the playbook for the “Winter Classic,” where NBC has carried a popular outdoor game on New Year’s Day, which has served as counter-programming to college football.

Under the deal, the NBC Sports Group gets digital rights across all platforms for games it offers, perhaps leading to the NBC games being simulcast on the Web a la “Sunday Night Football.”

Versus will continue to carry the NHL All-Star game and split Stanley Cup finals games with NBC. NBC will also build a new studio for the NHL Network.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on the call that the NHL should benefit from the sprawling assets of Comcast. The deal includes promotion on a slew of NBCUniversal properties and could bring some games to the USA network, cable’s top-rated network.

Maytag Is Out To Warm Up Its Image

Maytag is introducing a new brand campaign that it hopes will warm up its old-reliable image, while at the same time building on its never-breaks-down brand equity.

The famed Maytag repairman gets a cameo in the TV spots, but the focus is now on the contents of the machine, themed “What’s Inside Matters.”  

Ads show a family quilt being dragged from picnic to campout to station wagon to laundry room, or a rag doll getting roughed up at a tea party. “We wanted to shift the focus to the mundane urgencies that people connect with dependability,” Jim Paul, VP/creative director for Arc Worldwide, the Leo Burnett agency that created the campaign for Maytag, tells Marketing Daily. “The ads emphasize not only the dependable parts Maytag puts in its machines, but the importance of the things people put inside as well.”

The brand, which is more than 100 years old, built its reputation on that dependability, he says, long characterized by its lonely repairman. “We felt it was time to expand on the parts and pieces story, which is essentially very male, and warm it up — to put a more relevant human spin on that dependability. It’s been a masculine brand in a feminine category. And while we’re not running away from the testosterone that comes from focusing on the reliability of the machine and its parts, we wanted to broaden it.”

Sony PlayStation Network suffering outages – again

This sounds familiar, but it’s true again today. Sony’s PlayStation Network is reportedly down, and many users can’t log in at all.

Earlier this month, the PlayStation Network went down for several hours, reportedly due to work by a hacker group. It’s not clear if that is the same case this time, or if it’s due to maintenance issues. Additionally unfortunate is that Sony hasn’t said anything about when this roadblock might be cleared. On the Official PlayStation blog, it only says:

We’re aware certain functions of PlayStation Network are down. We will report back here as soon as we can with more information.

Until then, users trying to access PSN on a PlayStation 3 and similar devices for the purpose of using online games or apps (i.e. Netflix, Music Unlimited, Hulu Plus, etc.) will be unable to do so.

Have you had trouble accessing the PlayStation Network today?

Amazon rumored to release Samsung-built tablet this summer

Things are certainly about to get more heated between Apple and Samsung (along with Amazon) this summer if this rumor turns out to be true. That rumor is that Amazon will be releasing a Samsung-built tablet in a few months.

According to Peter Rojas, the former editor of Engadget who is now over atGDGT, it’s already an “open secret that Amazon is working on an Android tablet,” and he is “99%” sure that Samsung is responsible for the hardware.

It’s got to be an Android tablet, but Honeycomb already seems out of the running as Amazon will likely utilize “Android as a base upon which to build a totally customized experience that tightly integrates Amazon services.” There aren’t any other specifics as to processors,

However, we could probably assume this is a 7-inch slate, which could end up looking like another Samsung Galaxy Tab, but also more like Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color. The latter is basically either a tricked-out e-book reader or a very simple tablet. Nevertheless, the Nook Color is still a tablet in some sense, making it the most likely base idea and competitor for Amazon’s new tablet. The name “Kindle Color” might be too obvious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what it turns out to be.