5/12/2005

Knockout Media

Yahoo continues to evolve into the very model of the modern major media, the latest evidence being its deal to air a special webcast-only version of The Contender, the reality TV show where tough guys beat each other to evoke winces and howls from couch potatoes.

So what if this is a bit low brow for your tastes. This is brand extension and cross-platform marketing as it will be widely practiced because, in an age of audience fragmentation, when media find a niche they will fill its every crevice. (Thanks to Gavin O’Malley of Media Post for reporting on this and also mentioning that Yahoo and Mark Burnett (originator of both Contender and Survivor) will renew their current TV-web link around The Apprentice.)

Anyhow, I usually try to restrain myself from gushing over mass media doings, but this impressed me. Besides, I did find a related Yahoo development that is useful to all of us – a reminder that online publishers should not (if they can possibly help it) write advertising contracts that pay only for click-throughs or for transactions that are completed online.

“While consumers are using search engines to research financial services, many of those who convert to bank customers do so offline, according to a new report by Yahoo.” That’s how Media Post reporter Wendy Davis starts a story that will provide all the details on how many people were surveyed and what percentage opened what type of account online and how many performed the transaction over the counter (“38 percent of those who opened savings accounts did so in person”).

Online publishers will have to convince advertisers to give them some credit for page views, or perhaps come up with creative ways to induce consumers to mention whatever online advertisement prompted their action.

Finally, since you may be wondering: what do I think of Contender? Well, not much. It pains me to think that there is an audience for such fare, and that clever media people will dream up new ways to cater to such appetites. But the conundrum of a free society is that we often do not approve of how others choose to express their freedom. Oh, well.

Besides, I heard an uplifting thought at a conference for home-schooling parents that my wife dragged me to a few years ago. The speaker, whose name I can’t recall, mentioned that when Shakespeare was producing his plays, he had to compete with less savory entertainments. This morning I found a credible reference that said the theatre in which Shakespeare staged many of his famous productions “was in the 'sporting district' of Greater London, an area full of establishments accommodating pastimes condemned by the authorities, including the theatre, cock-fighting, bear-baiting and drinking in taverns.”

So if you aspire to produce content that appeals to the better angels of our nature, keep your chin up. Or is better to tuck it into your shoulder? I’m not sure. Tune in to The Contender for pointers on how to avoid taking one on the chin in the contest of ideas.

Tom Abate MiniMediaGuy Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media

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