Editorial is connected to programming nowadays

By Dennis Clemente

AppNexus meetup on business development and digital marketing
AppNexus meetup on business developmemt and digital marketing

“Everything we do in editorial is connected to programming.”

That’s Patrick Yee of Refinery 29 confirming how editorial roles have evolved through the years as online publishing keeps changing face, too. “Editorial now has equal partnership with product and technology.”

Editors have taken on many roles beyond editing and closing pages indeed.
Yee said editors today get SEO training, find out what are the implications of posting on Twitter, oversees how a photo on Facebook will look like and makes sure to know what articles are trending online.

Yee was at the AppNexus offices on 23rd St near Flatiron last April 29 talking about business development and digital marketing with the other speakers: Rich Kennedy of Business Insider and Kia Hsing of IAC. Gawker’s Erin Pettigrew moderated the talk with Alex Guttler, partnerships manager at AppNexus, serving as host.

How is programming connected with editorial? Just take a look at the immense popularity of BuzzFeed. “They (quizzes) get 5 to 10 million uniques a day,” Yee claimed.

With talk of digital marketing, Google was bound to come up. “The biggest traffic in media was Google but not anymore,” Yee said, pointing out how lots of disruption will continue to go on and you just have to embrace agility.

Yee said the size of the market of media is going to grow ten-fold. “We may even see media companies with valuation of $300 million to $10 billion.”

But going back to editorial has journalistic integrity been compromised by the race to get more page views? A tough one to answer because ignoring page views can also spell doom for online publishers and content creators.

Now it’s always about the packaging vis-a-vis the salacious headline.

But that’s not the only editorial challenge these days. “(It’s about) the person who spent 10 minutes who will be more interesting (for the publisher) than someone who spent only a few minutes,” Yee said.

It’s all about the time you spend on a site these days. It makes perfect sense, because we have become so easily distracted. Let me say this: Our attention span will be the most elusive commodity. You can quote me on that.

Bloomberg meetup tackles Big Data for context, advertising, service

Data-Driven presentation at Bloomberg LP
Data-Driven presentation at Bloomberg LP

By Dennis Clemente

How important was the Data Driven NYC #26 meetup last April 15? For people who confused “join” the meetup online as the way to RSVP for the event, it meant waiting half an hour to get in at the security-tight Bloomberg offices.

The wait was worth it. The top startups at the meetup showed how the world of big data analytics is gaining so much attention and million-dollar funding these days.

The presenters were Jason Tan, founder and CEO of Sift Science (fights fraud on websites with machine learning); Stephen Purpura, founder and CEO of Context Relevant (big data analytics); Ashish Thusoo, founder and CEO at Qubole (next-generation big data platform) and Josh Schwartz, lead data scientist at Chartbeat.

The spotlight presentation by Charlie Jacobson, co-founder and CEO of Firestop (end-to-end, cloud-based system for fire data, from inspection to fire ground) was the emotional favorite.

Tan demonstrated Sift Science and how its machine-learning algorithms can sift or sniff fraud online, like in a credit card purchase, for example. A human being flags this down later for review.

“With machine learning you can teach computers to build the rules themselves using statistics as data,” Tan says.

Sift is aiming at small-to-mid e-commerce businesses without the resources or budget to have sophisticated technology.

Another presenter catering to resource-challenged businesses is Context Relevant.

From Seattle, Purpura presented Context Relevant, a company that offers predictive data analysis using real-time data from HDFS, SQL, web logs, CRM systems, market data and social media to output analyses and projections.

The application also uses “behavioral libraries” which analyze interactions specifically for finance, web personalization and online travel.

Chartbeat’s Josh Schwarz’s presentation was more about getting people to talk about his question, paraphrasing here, “What if an internet ad was priced based on its display duration?”

A new study by Chartbeat on the success of internet ads found that about half of “viewable impressions” are only seen for 1 to 5 seconds. Online, it turns out, people look at an ad for up to five seconds.

Ad agencies, especially its creative and media planning departments, should set goals for different advertisers, because it turns out that an ad with a more complex storyline could still run for 6 to 15 seconds and still create an impact.

One might think making it on Google and Facebook is a life-long career, but some people prefer putting their own dents in the universe.

Tan came from Google and next presenter, Ashish Thusoo ran Facebook’s data infrastructure team before he co-founded Qubole.

Qubole offers big data-as-a-service with a “true auto-scaling Hadoop cluster.” It’s auto-scale feature automatically spins up users’ clusters when a job is started and automatically scales or contracts based on workload, cutting back on costs and management requirements.

An intuitive UI expands the reach of this service beyond data analysts to entire lines of businesses. Qubole handles the initial setup and then maintains the clusters. Its customers include Pinterest, MediaMath, Nextdoor and Saavn.

The audience responded warmly to a new iPad app developed for firefighters who need critical information quickly and intuitively as they respond to emergencies.

Charlie Jacobson, founder, showed how the app provides data like building layouts, fire hydrant locations and hazardous materials warnings to give firefighters the critical information they need during an emergency.

The meetup was hosted and organized by Matt Turck, VC at FirstMark Capital.

Infomous gets top nod from VCs at Innovator Evening event

By Dennis Clemente

At innovator evening, host Alan Brody will tell you his meetup is not a meetup, “it’s a crafted conference.” Brody means business. So does his esteemed panel of guests last April 2 at Dorsey & Whitney LLP near Grand Central Terminal.

Brody kicked off his conference with a two-hour workshop that asks (and answers) the question, “Are you Fundable?” followed by the presentation of six startups in front of some discerning, no-nonsense judges.

Alan Brody of ievening
Alan Brody of ievening

In order of their presentations were ColdSteel Laser, Infomous, Vidaao, Soshio, BeautyStat, Nonnatech and JetRyte with Infomous getting the top vote and the opportunity to present to Private Equity Forums on May 1. Visit privatequityforums.com

CEO Jerry Korten presented ColdSteel Laser as a startup medical device company that has developed a novel technology, one that remotely controls an endoscopic surgical laser. The technology is being licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To date, ColdSteel Laser has raised $1.125 million and expects delivery of a functional platform in June this year.

How does it work? The technology allows a surgeon to visualize an operative field on a graphics tablet and, by tracing a stylus over the image, control a CO2 laser as it cuts tissue inside a patient, in real time.

The next presenter, Infomous, looks similar to a tag cloud, but founder and CEO Paolo Gaudiano shows us how trending topics pop up right from its “cloud.” It claim users can find quickly the information they care about, as it appears to get rid of the media noise all-too prevalent out there.

Vidaao’s Justin Park said his startup reduces the cost of creating videos by 25 to 30 percent. This is accomplished through an online marketplace—one that connects brands with more than 500 video creatives in 48 US and EU cities.

Soshio is into Chinese social media analytics using technology that analyzes content in native Chinese text, with a proprietary emotion analysis, for which it reportedly has an approved provisional patent application.

CEO Matt Grotenstein sees a big market, more than 600 million in China, in fact. With Facebook and Twitter blocked in China, he sees a more focused approach is required to address and understand the rapidly growing Chinese market.

BeautyStat led by Rob Robinson also sees potential in the beauty market amounting to $32.4 billion. The site is a search and discovery site that gives consumer alerts of beauty product deals, exclusive offers and ways to discover products.

“Consumers need unbiased info to help them make smarter purchases,” he said while also announcing the partnership it struck with Amazon last week.

Nonnatech presented remote behavioral monitoring using its connected aging devices.

The last presenter was Pillar Rock USA Corp, a nutraceutical company that specializes in the development and distribution of over-the-counter effervescent tablets that fit in water bottles. Its mission is to build high-quality effervescent nutraceutical niche products. Its flagship product is jetRyte, a patent-pending effervescent tablet that is a refreshing change from hard tablets and messy powders.

Guest Wazi Wazihullah, professor of entrepreneurship at Molloy College, also provided valuable insights and feedback.

Beyond disruption, creating business opportunities in book publishing

By Dennis Clemente

What are the new, business opportunities in book publishing in the digital age? When you feel at a loss with every new technology vying for your attention, it’s normal to think we’re living in the middle of a (digital) revolution, we just don’t know where we are going. Last June 27, the panel of guests at the Fordham GBA’s Media and Entertainment Alliance provided a roadmap.

Mallory Kass of Scholastic Press, Nina Lassam of Open Road Media, and Rachel Fershleiser of Tumblr shared us their experiences and insights in the fourth panel discussion of the continuing Digital Media Disruption lecture series at Fordham University, Lincoln Center.

Scholastic Press, publisher of the Harry Potter books, has gone multiplatform. Kass showed us how the New York Times best-seller for kids, “39 Clues,” its first multiplatform series, has changed children’s book publishing as we know it.

What is multiplatform? “You can engage with the book any you want to. You can read the book and play the game (in the book), solve puzzles, interact with other fans online on our message boards. It can be as rich an experience as a kid would want it to be,” said Kass.

It appears Scholastic Press is making the best use of technology to connect with young readers all over the world. It’s now published in 27 countries, has 16 million print editions, 2 million registered users on line, 1,200 new registered users every day, and 1,000 posts on its board every day.

The global appeal of the book is understandable. It unlocks a key to “historic power” or knowledge about the world, giving you clues along the way, as it gives you a sense of being in other parts of the world. In the most recent series of “39 Clues,” Scholastic has tapped the famous crime novelist David Baldacci introducing him to children’s book writing in the process. Available in print and e-book, “39 Clues” comes with six game cards with unique digital codes that unlock clues.

Next presenter Lassam said Open Road creates opportunities in book publishing by serving as a marketing arm for authors 365 days a year. That’s refreshing to hear for those who wonder why their book publishers suddenly develop amnesia after publication.
Since its inception in 2009, Open Road has become one of the most sought-after e-book publishers (they’re going to do print as well). From literary fiction, it has moved on to do all other genres.

Showing a short video clip of author James Salter, Lassam said that Open Road is in branding authors as a way of marketing the author’s books. Being in the business of words is not enough, especially in a world where everything is getting more visual.
The solution: Do a bio video of an author. The videos come out in Biography.com, The Daily Beast and Tumblr. That is one tactical approach that can involve–as part of a more wholistic strategic ad campaign–retail merchandising; establishing a social media presence, interacting with a fan base, and having a big publicity push.

Among the three speakers, only fast-talking Fershleiser of Tumblr is not in book publishing at the moment, although she has a more expansive wealth of experience. She has been involved in different facets of publishing from event management to “freelance journalism,” researching (for Freakonomics) and editing. Fershleiser likes to believe the opportunities in digital publishing now has been democratized where only a select few (i.e., “white men”) in the past could get in.

The moderator, Fordham Professor Bozena Mierzejewska, asked if a good story will always sell.

“No, there are great books that tank (without the benefit of marketing),” Fershleiser said. What she guarantees is illuminating: “A good story will always survive the march of time. A good story simply indicates selling potential. A good story will connect with the right audience if the audience finds it,” subtly hinting at the value of buzz or marketing in general.

For the audience to find you, she insists on using more personalized marketing approach. That means involving readers in the writing process, through Tumblr or other social media means. From personal experience, this writer received an email from Susan Cain (or a staff), author of the huge best-seller, “The Quiet,” about topics that could be included in her sequel—and was later invited to chat with her.

“The more you involve readers in the process of writing a book and how it succeeds (in the marketplace) will make them feel valuable, too. It empowers them to share it,” she said.

The question that amused the panel the most was the question on self-publishing and how book publishers are dealing with it. “Publishing is not just about writing,” Fershleiser said.

Close to asking if you can be your own editor, agent, contract lawyer, designer, marketer or distributor, she asked if you can do all the nitty-gritty work. A book clearly involves so many people and many factors that Fershleiser advises aspiring authors without a name to go to a book publisher or an agent.

Lassam echoed Fershleiser’s sentiments, emphasizing again how important it is to have a strategy in place aside from giving importance to the production of a book.
She added how media coverage on self-publishing has given it widespread appeal, but she cautons how this perception needs to be tempered, especially since only some genres like erotica (eg. “Fifty Shades of Grey”) and those with cult appeal have enjoyed some measure of great success.

Kass agreed that if you’re getting your foot in the door, you need an agent, because they can also match you with the right editors and book publisher for your book to succeed.

With these new opportunities in book publishing, has storytelling changed? It certainly has the way different platforms can be used or how kids’ reading patterns will change, but Kass said certain components will not change like narrative arcs and characters.

But how are these new opportunities translating to jobs?

Lassam advises those looking forward to a career in book publishing to learn content marketing. Kass, for her part, thinks editorial requirements remain the same but bringing a genuine interest in it is important. The more practical Fershleiser puts it this way if you can’t get a job: “If you’re not a Harvard graduate, you need an established social media presence.”

News aggregator wants to be ‘iTunes for news’

By Dennis Clemente

What is the future of journalism? This blogger could not find it in 15 minutes, because it was tucked away in a corner of a crowded Cosi in Union Square.

Ten people confirmed for “Sharing Visions for the Future” last February 6, but only four eventually showed up at the meetup organized by Ali Al-Ebrahim, co-founder of presseract.com, a news aggregation site he likes to call the “iTunes for news.” That remains to be seen.

The meetup was made more intense and combustible with only four people dissecting what is perhaps the most alarming and sensitive question for all journalists to answer, “What is the future of journalism?”

It made for a three-hour long heated debate among Ali, Jay, Pam, Stephen and this blogger; others more upfront, the rest simply reacting.

Stephen came to the meetup wih a legitimate pliant about the lack of substantial news coverage, particularly on TV. He mentioned how even Jersey Governor Chris Christie could not even get New Jersey talked about more by media, citing the more than 80,00 businesses affected, if not totally shut down, by Hurricane Sandy.

Jay, a psychologist, was concerned more about how the Internet has affected his business, claiming how “impossible” it was to rank on Google these days. He talked about the demise of his publications for lack of advertising revenue.

Pam arrived with news that the magazine she was freelancing for was laying off staff. Time Inc. has started shedding staff in its business department early last week, editorial is reportedly next. She turned out to be the voice of reason in the meetup.

Only Ali seemed unaffected. As the only tech person in the room with a platform to promote, he had no choice but to keep the peace. After all, he is running a news aggregation site where the people he has assembled face an uncertain future.

Asked about his closest competitor, Ali takes a pause before declaring Rebel Mouse (rebelmouse.com).

How to make money from your own videos

By Dennis Clemente

From video consumption, the four startups at the NY Video Meetup in Columbia University last January 24 were excited to declare how anyone can profit from video production using different platforms, even without YouTube in the picture. The companies are Montaj , Vidwala , NowThisNews and NYVS.

Montaj co-founder Demir Gjokai called his new app, “Instagram for Video.” Using an iPhone, Gjokai showed how to use the app to make short clips, edit it with the special Montaj storyboard and provide the score from one’s own iTunes playlist. How easy is it to use the app? He proceeds to show a graphical interface on how to shoot videos and shake the phone to edit or change a song. Once satisfied, you can share on YouTube and other social networks.

Emphasizing his preference for storytellers as opposed to clip-makers is one way he foresees his company working on a business model that helps him connect with brands. Being a fairly new product, Montaj works only on the iPhone for now.

Talking about storytelling , NowThisNews is looking at redefining journalism for the mobile generation with video news coverage that could pit them against Vice Media and even BuzzFeed, the company where it gets its share of funds from Lehrer Ventures.

Drake Martinet, co-founder of NowThisNews, says that journalists can grab a video camera and report the news and have his young demographic view the news in his platform. Asked how he will monetize the site, he says the company is considering producing branded content.

Martinet finally put rumors of NowThisNews’ connection with Huffington Post to rest.

vidwala

For its part, Vidwala’s video distribution platform is aimed at independent video producers looking to make a profit for themselves. It aims to empower indie video producers to be in control of monetizing its distribution, especially with its new iPad app.

“By utilizing Apple’s micro payment system, Vidwala’s iPad app allows fans to buy shows, which translates directly into earnings for video producers,” says co-founder Kabir Mohammed

Not only that, producers will reportedly be able to promote their films and web series, reach new audiences with easy video uploads and set their own prices or even offer free episodes as part of a marketing strategy. Fans, on the other hand, will enjoy the security and ease of in-app purchase to buy their favorite shows and even have the option to download episodes to watch them offline.

But for the easily intimidated, how can people even begin to learn how to make high-quality videos let alone edit them like a real pro? How do you become video literate?

Alex Collmer of NYVS believes that his company can help users learn about producing high-quality films. NYVS is an online film school that allows anyone in the world to learn how to make videos, discuss them with peers, get useful instruction from the NYVS staff and share experiences with people from all over the world for a small fee.

Collmer doesn’t believe everyone needs to go to a top-notch film school in order to be able to make a video to sell a car or house or meet someone online.

The lively Steve Rosenbaum, founder and CEO of magnify.net, hosted the meetup.