Month: March 2009

The Facebook Page Lives On

I just ran into a friend and former colleague at the gym. She broke the news that one of the most beloved executives at McCann Relationship Marketing had died suddenly this weekend, just two days ago. She told me there was a group on Facebook with the plans for a memorial service, and so I logged on to see what I could learn.

By rote, I searched for him in “people” and visited his page. Wow. His Wall was overflowing with testimonials and messages. The first from his niece this weekend. The most recent just a few minutes before I logged on.

It is something to see the kind of digital testament to a man’s life and legacy that can exist on a website that has been in existence only a few years. My colleague is gone, but his Facebook page continues to evolve. It’s a place where his friends, colleagues and family are writing to him and about him.

His profile photo is joyful and poignant and uniquely him. And his latest posts… In his second to last post, he wrote, “I had one last chance this past weekend, but the weather gods rained on his parade. Killington sucked.” His final entry reads, “I wonder what life will be like in three years.”

I wish I could write on his Wall, but I had not friended him yet on Facebook – only on LinkedIn, where his photo seems hardly the same person. Perhaps it is a new lesson in life to “friend” more people we care about while we have the chance – even those who are “professional” contacts.

User-generated… revenue???

“At midnight The New York Times stopped charging for its content online. It’s even handing out refunds to any online subscribers who paid for it in advance… strongly repudiating the idea that newspapers can earn big profits by hiding their online content behind a “pay wall” which can only be accessed by web surfers who pay a subscription fee.” (September 17, 2007 – Tech.Blorge)

“The New York Times is … looking at the possibility of charging for some of its online content, whether that would mean the news that most people read or special select content is unclear.” (March 15, 2009 – Tech.Blorge)

Over the past few years, the general consensus has been that a paid content business model is untenable, that advertising dollars are what make the world go round, more eyeballs mean more money, and walled gardens mean fewer eyeballs.

However in an era in which Netflix was the one shining star in the last round of investor reports, Apple’s iTunes maintains a highly profitable electronic-sell-through (EST) model, and overall advertising revenue is expected to fall 13% in 2009 (including a 1.2% decline in display ads and 7.5% drop in auctions and other non-search/lead generation digital advertising), there is renewed interest in the online subscription model.

In recent days, Newsday announced plans to end distribution of free online content, Disney’s Bob Iger discussed a possible subscription-based online video club, and MLB and ESPN entered into a partnership to offer premium web services for $130 per year via a co-branded package. The package includes live streaming of every regular season MLB game and exclusive ESPN text and video content.

In addition, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast, announced plans to create (or recreate) walled gardens (now called user authentication programs), through which television programs will be available via broadband to the cable operators’ respective subscribers.

More commentary to come…