Welcome to Market Revolution's blog

Thank you for visiting Market Revolution's blog.

We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

This is also our place to ruminate and comment on the world as we see it, we hope you enjoy and please join in.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The old apprentice

Interesting counterpoint to the emotional Bancroft family, where some are trying to hang onto the family jewels, and not take the money and run. Sir Alan Sugar sells Amstrad to BSkyB, cutting the emotional ties to a business he's grown from scratch, taking in different directions over 25 years, and pockets £30m+ for his trouble. Granted his major revenues these days come from property interests, and his share of the licence fee, but you have to wonder if there isn't a small tinge of sadness about the ending of an era. Maybe a shy tear or 2 running down his face into his carefully groomed beard. On second thoughts, probably not.

Big bottled water brands - big con trick

I saw this in The Economist and couldnt believe it:

Last week PepsiCo announced that the label on its Aquafina brand of bottled water will soon carry the words "public water source", instead of simply the innocent looking "P.W.S.".

That's right: Aquafina is to all intents and purposes tap water.

Coca-Cola is under pressure to follow suit with its Dasani brand, though so far it is refusing to do so.

Wow! so all along we have been paying premium prices for nothing more than tap water - incredible.

I don't think we as consumers are stupid more that we are being completely conned.

The other extraordinary thing is Coca - Cola is refusing to come clean and be crystal clear with consumers. Read this (also from The Economist) and weep (with fury):

"We don't believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water," Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said. "The label clearly states that it is purified water."

Can you believe the arrogance.


Rupert Murdoch

Interesting that the Dow Jones and WSJ deal continues to rumble on, with deadlines slipping, and Rupert seeming unable to make it happen just the way he wants it.

He's offering a premium, but emotion seems to be dominating certain of the family members. If it stalls, will be interesting to see what Plan B is - the next target in line for a large bid. Will the FT be on his agenda?

Time will tell.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Pearson's profits almost treble to £40m

The newspaper division up 28% - great result.

We've written here about the FT and we have worried about its profitable future. This performance albeit somewhat early must be very validating for Pearson. Much work has been done to improve the paper (crisp, clear, confident) and of course online. Seems that readers and advertisers alike have taken to the improvements.

This strong performance comes off the back of Times editor Robert Thompson suggesting that The Times would soon be profitable!

Two things strike me.

1. The challenge of digital has acted as wake up call and forced newspaper publishers to think hard about their print product.

2. Digital is indeed an opportunity for profitable growth (rather than the end of newspapers!)

On final note if, as seems likely, the Bancroft family decide to reject Murdoch's offer for the WSJ the FT can sigh a huge sigh of relief.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Publishing success story

Congratulations to my friend William Cash on the successful sale of his publishing business Spear to the contract publisher Luxury Publishing. William saw an untapped publishing opportunity amongst high net worth individuals. His vision was to create a magazine that focussed on the serious side of being seriously rich namely all the non-lifestyle stuff. He talked in Spear's Wealth Management Survey about tax relief, divorce, venture philantropy, art investment etc, etc. He focused on subjects far from luxury jets and boats, jewellery, mansions and all the normal luxury lifestyle trappings stuff which many magazines cover. He was also extremely smart in his distribution model. He distributed direct to home of his subscribers using a database that he build and developed.

William built a clever publishing business which deserves to be extended and expanded which is exactly what can happen now its properly funded as part of LP.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Quote of the Day

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

- Robert F. Kennedy

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Virgin Mobile can TV Service

This doesn't come as huge surprise to us. When we last surveyed mobile users about the attractiveness of Mobile TV the results were underwhelming (see Mobile TV - all hype? post below).

2% of the base said they were watching mobile TV

Mobile TV has been totally overhyped and its yet another example of a service looking for an audience and that audience not being there.

Mail on Sunday sales dip after CD giveaway

Just as we anticipated here in an earlier Market Evolution post (see Prince of Promotions below) the Prince CD promotion was a short term ABC polishing exercise that did nothing for long term readership.

Guardian Unlimited reports:

The Mail on Sunday's circulation returned to earth with a thud last weekend - one week after the paper basked in worldwide attention thanks to its Prince CD giveaway.

On Sunday, the newspaper appeared to lose all of the extra 600,000 sales it enjoyed the previous weekend, when its unprecedented Prince promotion boosted its sales figure to a monster 2,800,846 copies.

Last weekend's circulation result appears to dash hopes that giving away the new album, Planet Earth, would introduce the Associated Newspapers title to a new group of readers and give it a lasting circulation boost.

New CEO at Metro International

It has just been announced that Per Mikael Jensen has resigned as CEO of TV2 Denmark as he has been appointed CEO of Metro International.

Alot of people will wonder why Metro didnt find an outsider to provide fresh thinking and so on post Pelle Tornberg. This appears at first to be a real missed opportunity but I believe that actually PMJ is a good call.

He is an experienced media executive who has the added advantage of knowing Metro inside and out. He knows the fault lines and can get to them far quicker than someone coming in new. Additionally, he is a good guy and Metro needs alot of employee love and nurture.

Not what we expected but actually a good decision.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

I'm a convert

Heres another post from Craig:

Over the past few months we have been following the new apple Iphone with keen interest

Would it be different enough to stand out in an already crowded market?

Would it be too expensive for consumers?

Would the apple brand be strengthened or weakened by the extension?

From the outset, I have to admit I was somewhat cynical. Yes, it had a touchscreen, and yes it probably did some nice things with your ipod, but it was expensive, and didn't look on paper any better than my blackberry pearl

Even after the successful launch in the USA I still harboured some doubts over whether it would be as well received over here

At this point, I have to hold up my hands and confess to not being at the cutting edge of fashion, or riding the waves of cool brands. I'm more partridge than dolce & gabbana.

But I'm now a convert to the Iphone. Yesterday, at lunch, we sat next to an American businessman who had one, and showed me what it did

And its good. Looks lovely, great screen, and great usability. When you've seen it, touched it, and used it, then you want one

Its a winner, and my cynicism was misplaced

I may buy some apple shares

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

More to life than London

This is a post from Craig who is suning himself in Italy whilst we drown in UK.........

There is more to life than London....

I must confess to occasionally being too london centric in my approach to media, despite trying to remain in touch with my Midlands roots. This week abroad has reminded me of a few things I thought I should share

Its been 6 days since anyone tried to give me a free newspaper, which is a record seldom reached in london

In london, according to some research I remember raising an eyebrow to at the time, the average commuter is exposed to over 3000 marketing messages a day. Yesterday, having counted while here in tuscany, I was exposed to just two.

Having no TV or radio, not reading a paper yesterday, having only mobile internet access, and there being no outdoor ad presence here, I saw only 2 pieces of marketing. I didn't understand the first point of sale, but the second was a large sign for ice creams. It did the trick, and we went to the shop to buy ice cream, so a 50% success rate. How often does that happen?

Guess the semi serious point here is not to apply london standards and thinking automatically to other places and regions. Where the pace of life is different, you need to plan marketing from the consumer first, placing the consumer, and insight, at the start, heart and end of the process, tailoring activity at a local level where its needed

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

What next for the FT?

My colleague Craig Barnwell raises an interesting issue:

Whats Pearson to do with the FT now that the WSJ
(see post below) is in bigger and more market threatening hands?

Things just got alot harder for the FT and the pressure can only increase from here....

Strategic Options:

  • Take the advantage of the favourable market conditions created by Murdoch's successful but toppy bid and SELL at a premuim. Lots of buyers out there.
  • Strike deep strategic partnership with digital financial information provider NOW. This isnt so much the old adage of in 'stormy weather hundle together' but a sound and offensive combat strategy!
  • Stay a newspaper with online distribution and tough it out!
These are tricky times for the pink one.

Comments please

The Prince of all promotions

The Mail on Sunday sold an extra 600,000 copies thanks to its promotional giveaway of Prince's new album, its managing director said today.

Prince is happy, the Mail on Sunday is happy, and 100,000s of music lovers are happy with their free Prince CD.

Lets consider the reality of the 'success' of this promotion for a second. So an extra 600,000 people bought the MoS to get their freebie. So far so good. The big negative in all of this is that those people will not reappear to buy the paper this week (unless there is another Free Prince CD of course).

The promotion looks very good on the ABC but it does absolutely nothing for the long term sustainably of readership.

Craig Barnwell adds:

Market Evolution estimates that each additional copy sale has cost the Mail on Sunday over £5, when you take into account media cost, production cost and licence costs. Not a bad acquisition cost for a new customer, but quite high if they don't stick around, and very high if you don't get their data so you can go on to build that all important relationship.

Market Evolution's Promoscope would have told them where the buyers had come from, whether they read the Mail, and more importantly, whether they were coming back, giving a more strategic evaluation of the investment before, during and after the promotion.

At the end of the day, Associated Newspapers remain the king of the old school giveaway, with the biggest marketing budgets and free promotions. Whatever else, you can guarantee that in the circulation department of the Mail on Sunday they are partying like its 1999!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Free weekly men's magazine - can it work?

Former IPC editorial director Mike Soutar has reunited with ex-Nuts editor Phil Hilton to launch a national free weekly men's magazine targeting "ignored affluent young men".

Well, well.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened wasn't it. After all free isn't exactly new in the publishing world! We have had free newspapers for a while and all over the world. We've even had free magazines but I dont know we have had free men's magazine but I could be wrong.

Can this work?

Management is smart and experienced and has an enviable track record of success and a great deal of knowledge of men. All valuable and essential to success.

Backers have deep pockets.

Free removes a big obstacle to take up.

Couple of questions.

Is there a market? the affluent mens paid titles are struggling and one or two of them are actually quite good (GQ). Going to need be really good and really, really different to suceed.

Is there enough advertising? ads are the sole revenue stream and this effort is going to need to get the right brands in and at a premium price. Are the brands there? And will they pay the required price? Traditionally premuim brands have tended to stay away from free saying its wrong environment etc.

Distribution? please save us from more abuse as we enter the transport system! Begs the question where will this magazine be distribution and how?

I think this will be tough.

The backers will need their deep pockets and the management all their skills and experience.

My one piece of advice is pick the very best sales director you can ....persuading brands into the magazine will be challenging!

Good luck. We wish you well with it.

Rupert Murdoch gets the WST

Looks like Rupert Murdoch has succesfully gotten his hands on the USA's preeminent financial newspaper. It's been a battle. I think it's fascinating that once again and against the grain Rupert Murdoch is prepared to pay over the odds for a business that he sees value in.

Fanscinating but not at all surprising.

Lets be clear on what he is buying. He is buying an underexploited global brand and above all else a matchless reputation for the collection and distribution of high(est) quality financial information. Mr Murdoch has done the sums he knows exactly what he is buying, what it is worth and much, much more importantly its future value. This isnt about buying a trophy newspaper it's about buying a significant foothold in the incredibly valuable and growing financial information services sector. Doesn't take much imagination to work out what News Corp/Fox will do with such a prized and exploitable asset.

Well done.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Foreign sales

I have been told on several occasions that I am a bit sad when it comes to newspapers. I take it as a fair point, having read one every day pretty much since I was ten years old. First paper of choice was the Mirror, as it was my father's paper of choice in the industrial Midlands' factories of the 1970s, so its funny how life goes full circle now we are working with Trinity Mirror here in 2007

Anyway, I digress. I'm in tuscany, and missing my daily fix of newsprint. My blackberry pearl is happily keeping my emails flying in, including the telegraph 'on the go' headline updates, which I like a lot. Problem is that I can't get the links to work so that I can read it on my phone browser, so its a bit of a tease. Must be something to do with the mobile network connection here.

So, I want to buy an English paper over here in chiantishire. Easy I thought, knowing just how many hundreds of thousands of foreign sales appear on the ABC figures each month, must be piles of them in the shops here.

But no, all I seem to have found today are copies of the Daily Mail. Nothing too wrong with the Mail. As my late grandfather always said, its better than wasting a firelighter every time it gets cold. But nothing else here for me to buy so far

So, it got me thinking. I'm on the database of several newspapers, all of which are investing heavily in CRM and data. They have my email, they want me to hold my hand up so they can recognise and reward me, if appropriate.

They also know where they sell their newspapers, as they have invested heavily in circulation systems. Not quite so easy as in the UK, but not impossible.

So, why can't I just email my chosen paper with my location, and get a list of local retailers here near Montepulciano by automated reply? I'm a customer waiting to pay a high cover price for a paper......

But with the ABC rules counting foreign print as a sale, regardless of it actually being sold, should I be surprised that this isn't possible. Maybe someone with vision, and an acceptance that the rules will change at some point, may be thinking the same way

Friday, 13 July 2007

Customer Loyalty

Having been faced with a large hotel and flights bill this morning, from SAS Airlines, and Radisson SAS hotels, I'm now keen to see whether either business recognises my custom. Both have name and address, but neither bothered to ask whether I was returning to Copenhagen in the near future. I'm here, I could be loyal, all they have to do is recognise and promise to reward in future. Willing to bet that I get no communication from either in the next few days. If not, then the Phoenix Hotel gets the business from now on, and I'll fly with whoever is cheapest out of City Airport

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Free newspapers

Interesting place Copenhagen. No fewer than 4 free newspapers available, giving the people on the streets more choice in the morning than anywhere else in Europe. If we think London is being filled to the brim each day with unwanted LondonLitePapers, then it could be worse, imagine how many trees would be wasted each day if there were another 2 titles available on top.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Business Networking

Interesting discussion in todays FT, which I digested over a rollmop herring and rhubarb breakfast in the hotel in Copenhagen. In essence, Enterprise 2.0 will evolve to be the business equivalent of MySpace - a community based approach to business, with shared interests/forums on business topics. I wondered if the FT was best placed to drive this type of social networking - but maybe they would consider this beneath them/not in their remit. One for us all to think through - is there actually a need for this type of business social networking

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Funny but serious!

Sometimes best to leave the marketing guys OUT of the conversation!

Nielsen says it's not what sites you visit but how long you stay

In a move that will definitely favor viral video sites over search sites, Nielsen/NetRatings is going to start ranking Web sites by how long people spend on them instead of by how many page views they get.

Comment: we think this is sensible and not before time as surely an advertiser is looking for the opportunity to impact the customer and therefore wants quality views.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Live Earth breaks video streaming records

Saturday's Live Earth concerts have set new records for live online video streams, serving more than 10 million video feeds globally through Microsoft's content portal MSN.

CONGRATULATIONS to all involved. Raising awareness of climate change issue amongst 2bn people (in total) is a great(and necessary) achievement.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Play Xbox, get Master - we like the sound of that

Dublin college introduces video game degree

Video game fans may now have a legitimate excuse to spend all day hooked up to their PlayStations and Xboxes - thanks to a new video game masters degree at Trinity College Dublin. Trinity has just added a one-year full-time Masters degree in "interactive entertainment technology" starting in October this year.

Media on Airplanes

We had the joy of a 2 hour delay at Heathrow yesterday, followed by over 2 hours on the plane.\

With so much time to kill, I would have been very receptive to free media, of pretty much any sort. Instead, an underwhelming lack of choice, just the odd news24 TV dotted around the lounge, and an inflight magazine.

Given how much money is being lost in London each day from the coffers of News International and Associated Newspapers, thrusting free newspapers down the throats of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Londoners - why isnt anyone doing anything interesting with BAA, or BA?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Mobile TV - is it all hype?

Mobile TV - its all hype

our consumer research tells us that less than 2% of consumers are using their mobiles to watch tv! And by the way less than 10% of phones have the capability to enable viewing.

sounds to me another example of hype over reality

More social networking

Toby, a man always riding the crest of the digital wave, rather than the rest of us who splash helplessly along chasing the surf, brought ning to our attention.

Ning lets you build your own social network. Quickly, easily, and effectively. We like this a lot. Check it out. And if it's possible, buy shares in it now. It's going to be a success


Interesting article in The Times today, pg 45, on the promiscuity of internet users of MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. Not surprisingly in my view, while social networking brands are trying to promote "stickability" and tie customers into a single networking site, people being people are going where their friends are. This game is more than just about enhanced functionality, it's also about momentum. If everyone you know is inviting you to join Facebook, then that's the best place to be.

Some good stats from Nielsen/NetRatings:

MySpace - 6.5 million UK users, average time on site per month 96 minutes
Bebo - 4 million UK users, average time per month on site 152 minutes
Facebook - 3.2 million users in UK spending 143 minutes a month

On these figures, did Rupert Murdoch overpay for Myspace 2 years ago, $580 million for a brand that's peaked already? Time will tell