Amazon has launched a new Kindle initiative and product, whereby they run full screen screensaver ads and homescreen footer banner ads on e-reader hardware in exchange for a $25 discount. The WiFi-only “Kindle with Special Offers” runs $114, versus the original $139 ad-free Kindle 3. As Harry McCracken points out, the one time savings runs only about 18%; he wonders if this product might more appeal to those interested in the deals themselves rather than the small discount.
Like Harry, I suspect this is a bit of an experiment on Amazon’s part. And why we’re not seeing this Kindle rev launch at the $99, or lower, price point. Can Amazon generate a large enough stable of advertising partners to keep this going, will a sizable percentage of readers take action on the ads, assuming an even more sizable quantity of Kindle purchases. Continue Reading…
I’ve been an online group buy participant as long as the World Wide Web has been a viable tool of commerce. Heck, I picked up one of the very first DVD players at a steep discount on uBid back in 1998 and did time on Paul Allen’s Mercata before they folded in early 2001. As far as I can tell, solely focused group buying branded sites never really went mainstream. Woot’s probably come closest with a large draw amongst of geeky and their $110 million exit (thank you, Amazon). Mercata once proclaimed “The more people who buy, the lower the price.” And even if most sites featuring that particular hook haven’t found long term success, the trend is in full effect as large retailers such Best Buy and Amazon demonstrate on a fairly regular basis.
As ZNF readers know, local, but still online, group buying has taken off in the last year via Groupon and LivingSocial. Yet, for me, it’s been a mixed bag. Instead of actually buying physical merchandise, these sites essentially sell coupons or vouchers to local businesses. In my experience, most haven’t been conveniently located or particularly compelling. But we’re always on the lookout for a deal, and have purchased three dining-related Groupons in recent months.
First off, the lack of instant gratification has been an issue… because, beyond cyberspace, I’m not the most organized. Specifically, I purchased a $50 food and beverage voucher for $25 (to Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro) and forgot to put it to use before it expired. The other two Groupons were to Chicken Out, a local chain similar to Boston Market. The first dealio was redeemed with no problem, just beating the expiration date. But the second experience was kinda bizarre. Much like Groupon’s Super Bowl commercials (above). Continue Reading…
Although monthly subscription fees are similar, the two services still take somewhat different approaches in presentation. Namely, Hulu insists on running commercial advertising on its paid tier. But wait, might even that be up for renegotiation? From the Hulu blog:
Criterion Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch the Criterion Collection free of interruption. (Any ads will play up front.)
Another possibly Super Bowl has come and gone. The game was ugly early on and I feared a blowout. Yet many around me didn’t seem to mind, due to an overabundance of Steelers haterade. But Pittsburgh regrouped at the half and made it competitive, failing pull ahead of the Packers on the final drive. We solute Green Bay’s championship, although we continue to be amazed that such a small market manages to field a team in this media dominated environment.
Speaking of media, the Super Bowl has become a family event due to the big spend advertising – an entertainment spectacle, beyond football, in its own right. And, for the second year in a row, my favorite spot was a light hearted car commercial. While I bestowed top honors upon Kia in 2010, 2011 belongs to Volkswagen. And, as with Kia last year, a large part of of VW’s success is due to picking the right soundtrack. “Black Beetle” (above) features a cover of Ram Jam’s Black Betty… although, surprisingly, doesn’t actually feature the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle it advertises. My honorable mention awards go to VW (again) for the well done Young Vader spot (aka “The Force”) and Best Buy’s “Bieber & Ozzy” 6G pre-announcement from the future.
Regarding the $800 Motorola Xoom Android tablet narrative… well, it’s obviously been done before. And better. Wether this was an Apple homage, attack, or both, I wasn’t overly impressed. Yeah, we’ve become an iWorld and no longer Think Different. But this ad didn’t resonate in our group.
Lastly, even though I found their commercials to be mostly silly, Pepsi Max stuck in my head (given my love for Coke Zero) and is a product I intend to track down. And, boy, did the movie previews not get my juices flowing.
This information was prepared using aggregated, anonymous, second-by-second audience measurement data about how TiVo subscribers watched the game, and was determined by not just the most viewed commercials, but also the most engaging ads throughout the game. The most engaging ads are determined by looking for spots with the biggest bump in viewership relative to the surrounding 15 minutes of programming, offering a true reflection of change in viewership.
1. Snickers “Logging”
2. Best Buy “Bieber and Ozzy”
3. Pepsi Max “Love Hurts”
4. Volkswagen Passat “The Force”
5. Doritos “The Best Part”
6. Teleflora “Help me Faith”
7. Doritos “House Sitting”
8. E*Trade “Tailor”
9. Cruze Eco “Misunderstanding”
10. Bridgestone “Carma”
If you missed any of the commercials, or just want to catch them again, hit Hulu, Fanhouse, or YouTube. What were your favorites?
In an effort to drum up business for their commercial Stop||Watch audience measurement services, TiVo has launched a free web widget that compares the relative effectiveness of television brand advertising. I’d originally intended to pass on this bit of “news” as it’s not really directed at us gadget-loving consumers and I wonder if TiVo’s sample is differentiated enough to be of value.
At Apple’s earnings call earlier today, COO Tim Cook reiterated the second class citizenry of AppleTV. As paraphrased by Macworld:
Apple TV market isn’t that large, so that’s why we classify it as a hobby, so nobody gets the wrong impression that it’s anywhere close to the other markets. A number of us use the product, love the product, so we’ll invest in it.
In my mind, there are three developments that individually or collectively could thrust ATV into the spotlight.
First and foremost, Apple TV cannot be a primary television device as long as we receive the majority of our television programming through mostly locked down cable and satellite providers. CableCARDs, in their current form, stifle innovation and competition. But the FCC is pushing for some sort of home television gateway prior to 2013. That could dramatically change the landscape. Then again, by 2013 we may all be watching Hulu online from our iPads. Leading to point number 2…
Apple’s got a proven app store business model. As soon as they migrate it to the Apple TV, they’ll simultaneously stimulate development and sales. And, of course, they’ll take their cut of app revenue. We’ve already got a number of decent video-centric iPhone apps that could work well in a lean-back environment, such as Showtime, Slingbox, and Netflix. However, significant work would need to be done to support the various resolutions, aspect ratios, and entirely different form of (remote) interaction.
Lastly, if Apple’s unfortunately named iAd platform proves successful in the mobile space, it’s not inconceivable to envision them pumping an ad-infused ATV (in conjunction with the enhanced functionality noted above) to generate additional revenue. But it’s not going to happen in 2010. As CFO Peter Oppenheimer described their new advertising initiative today,
We’re putting our toes in the water, so don’t expect much from us this calendar year. We think we’ll learn a lot for the future.
Just a few weeks back we heard noise of Google heading into the set-top box space. With DISH Network. At the time, it wasn’t clear if this was merely a rehashing of the upcoming DISH apps or a more significant Android set-top platform play. As it turns out, it does look like Google aims to conquer the television with a dedicated offering. And why wouldn’t they take their open source platform and ad serving business to a larger screen? Following in the footsteps of Yahoo TV, Google has also partnered with Intel and is going with the generic “Google TV.” Beyond DISH, other likely launch partners include Sony and Logitech. Although no concrete functionality, timing, or pricing has been revealed. From the NY Times:
For Google, the project is a pre-emptive move to get a foothold in the living room as more consumers start exploring ways to bring Web content to their television sets. Based on Google’s Android operating system, the TV technology runs on Intel’s Atom chips. Google has built a prototype set-top box, but the technology may be incorporated directly into TVs or other devices.
While the space is getting crowded, television-based Internet content delivery is still in its infancy compared to the mobile marketplace where we’re starting to see some real polished, mature platforms and consolidation. And as you’d expect, the incumbents are firing back. Roku’s CEO says a Google box requires an expensive chip and could run over $200, compared to their highly regarded $99 unit. However, I could easily see Google’s solution subsidized by carriers or advertising. Maybe both. It’s good to see new players and experimentation, but I’m guessing it’ll be at least 2011 before we more clearly see the path forward. Which is also about when I expect the cable industry to start opening up.