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Thursday, 20 February 2014


It is hard to resist writing something about Facebook's most spectacular acquisition. It is even harder to say anything new, given how much coverage the event got in only a day. Clearly, this young company is not worth $19 billion on its own. But as a piece of technology, it might be just what Facebook needs to preserve its dominance in the social media landscape. It proved to be the most attractive choice from a hoard of copycats and this is by a global population that happens to cover just the right demographic segments. Also, it would have been really horrible if Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter or Google would have snapped up WhatsApp in order to fast forward their social networking efforts. The big question is, how will Facebook leverage this new crown jewel? The easy solutions (like putting ads in the messaging service or rising the subscription fee) are out. Can Facebook successfully connect the two platforms to entice WhatsApp users to spend more time on Facebook? Or is it enough to just analyze the huge traffic on WhatsApp to become more efficient in advertising? It is far from obvious how to execute on this acquisition even if strategically it seems to make sense.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


This is a great picture capturing media freedom in the world. It is sad that most of Europe and the US are not making it to the top. Still look at Hungary and most East European countries!

Developments in media measurement

The need for better measurement of advertising impact - especially for digital advertising - is unquestionable. The challenge, of course, is that most digital ad campaigns are multi-platform campaigns so even if any particular ad's CMP, CPC (or today CPE) is well-measured, with multiple screens this data needs to get integrated to be able to gauge the overall impact of the campaign. Google's DoubleClick and comScore have teamed up to come up to do just that, proposing a standardized measure similar to GRP for traditional media. This is a great development for the industry.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

CNN and the future of news

Jeff Zucker, appointed a year ago to lead CNN did not quite turn around the company yet. A recent article in The Economist describes how the international news provider is trying to turn itself into more of an entertainment outlet. The rational is simple. CNN has an unbiased stance (see earlier article) and this does not go well with increasingly polarized audiences. It is well-documented that biased viewers want to see biased news rather than impartial reporting as they really look for 'entertainment' instead of information. One option would be to become biased but competition is harsh in either corner of biased news providers with Fox and MSNBC firmly dominating Right and Left respectively. Also, CNN has the highest quality infrastructure for generating news - wouldn't it be a waste not to build on this strength? Mr. Zucker seems to have chosen another way to entertain: showing people non-news content, essentially turning CNN into a 'movie channel'. But this doesn't leverage the unique assets either and it is hard to argue that there is no competition among movie channels. Is there a way to compete with the truth at all?

I always argued that there is. What people need is debates! Contests! A good fight is always entertaining as long as one's side is represented. Why not organize debates to inform and interpret the news? Think of presidential debates - they are always very popular. Other examples abound, prominent among them being the very successful Munk Debates venture. Note also, that this approach is hard to copy for a biased provider who cannot deliver a consistent biased outcome for lack of serious opponents willing to debate on the opposite side. Would a team play in a game that is rigged from the start against it? Providing neutral ground and good information to back-up arguments (e.g. acting as a referee) is a unique capability that only CNN could provide. It would build on its assets and would be hard to replicate by competitors.