December 14, 2010

Display advertising technology landscape

Online display advertising is getting increasingly complex as publishers look to increase sell-thru rate and halt the downward slide of CPMs driven by explosion in available inventory, while advertisers look for better relevance, targeting and performance. A lot of venture capital has therefore gone into funding innovative technology companies to find solutions for publishers and advertisers. The resulting technology ecosystem that supports display advertising has become increasingly complex.

The chart below (courtesy Luma Partners) does a good job of capturing all the components of the display advertising technology landscape. Click on the chart to enlarge it.

November 21, 2010

Pursuing happiness: Video with the Dalai Lama

In the video below, American Public Media's Krista Tippett interviews four dynamic religious leaders on the meaning of happiness: Dalai Lama and scholars from world's three biggest religions, Jonathan Sacks (chief rabbi of the Commonwealth), Katharine Jefferts Schori (presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church), and Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr. This event was held at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on October 17, 2010.

Pursuing Happiness with the Dalai Lama from onBeing on Vimeo.

The subject is pursuing happiness, the most important and persistent endeavor of our society since the beginning of the human dawn. Even though the meaning of being happy has changed over the years, given we have increasingly become more aware over time, my key takeaway is that compassion is the single most important virtue of a happy life.

A lot of other great material on the subject can be found on the APM's onBeing show site here.

Below is a simple, commonsensical flow chart one can use to see how he/she can be happy:

October 14, 2010

The Android juggernaut keeps rolling

The Android mobile phones are on a roll. Thanks to the muscle of Google behind it, more open and developer friendly nature of the operating system (OS), and backing by major handset manufacturers, Android has gained significant market share worldwide in a very short period of time. Despite competition's headstart, Android has come from behind and is expected to overtake Apple (iPhone) and RIM (Blackberry) this year to become the second most popular mobile OS in the world behind Nokia's Symbian. I can't wait to dump my iPhone for Motorola's Droid Pro, the first global, Android-based smart phone made for business users.

Below is the illustration of Android's success in numbers from GigaOm. Click on the image to enlarge it.

September 12, 2010

Traveling out of the country

I'm leaving for India tomorrow. I'll spend the first few days in Delhi and then two weeks in Bombay. I'll be stopping by in London around Oct 3rd on my way back to NYC. This trip is mostly for work, related to a new global digital venture that I've been working on for the past several months. I'll spend the next weekend with my parents in Lucknow, where other family members will also be joining us.

For folks out there who would like to meet up in Delhi/Bombay/London, please ping me. 

Looking forward to spending some quality time with the family, and a productive work trip. 

July 24, 2010

HBR article: How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School and the author of one of my favorite business books, The Innovator's Dilemma, has written a great article titled "How will you measure your life?" in the recent Harvard Business Review magazine.

This is a question that I ask myself on a very regular basis. Since becoming a father in March, the answer to this question, and my priorities in life, seem to have already been greatly impacted.

Christensen's article is consistent with the message in Steven Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, another one of my all-time favorite books.

Here is the link to the article, which I've included below. I recommend everyone to read it. Definitely a must-read for all business school students.

How will you measure your life?
by Clayton M. Christensen
Editor’s Note: When the members of the class of 2010 entered business school, the economy was strong and their post-graduation ambitions could be limitless. Just a few weeks later, the economy went into a tailspin. They’ve spent the past two years recalibrating their worldview and their definition of success.

The students seem highly aware of how the world has changed (as the sampling of views in this article shows). In the spring, Harvard Business School’s graduating class asked HBS professor Clay Christensen to address them—but not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers. The students wanted to know how to apply them to their personal lives. He shared with them a set of guidelines that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensen’s thinking comes from his deep religious faith, we believe that these are strategies anyone can use. And so we asked him to share them with the readers of HBR.
Before I published The Innovator’s Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel. He had read one of my early papers about disruptive technology, and he asked if I could talk to his direct reports and explain my research and what it implied for Intel. Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, “Look, stuff has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel.” I said that I couldn’t—that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: “Look, I’ve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”

I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.

When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,” and then went on to articulate what would become the company’s strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.

I’ve thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I’d have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.

That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.

My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general manager’s job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.

On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.

As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.

One of the theories that gives great insight on the first question—how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.

I want students to leave my classroom knowing that.
Create a Strategy for Your Life
A theory that is helpful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be an enduring source of happiness?—concerns how strategy is defined and implemented. Its primary insight is that a company’s strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in. If a company’s resource allocation process is not managed masterfully, what emerges from it can be very different from what management intended. Because companies’ decision-making systems are designed to steer investments to initiatives that offer the most tangible and immediate returns, companies shortchange investments in initiatives that are crucial to their long-term strategies.

Over the years I’ve watched the fates of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold; I’ve seen more and more of them come to reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.

It’s quite startling that a significant fraction of the 900 students that HBS draws each year from the world’s best have given little thought to the purpose of their lives. I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that question. If they think that they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts, because life only gets more demanding: You take on a mortgage; you’re working 70 hours a week; you have a spouse and children.

For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.

Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned. I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life. Clarity about their purpose will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four Ps, and the five forces.

My purpose grew out of my religious faith, but faith isn’t the only thing that gives people direction. For example, one of my former students decided that his purpose was to bring honesty and economic prosperity to his country and to raise children who were as capably committed to this cause, and to each other, as he was. His purpose is focused on family and others—as mine is.

The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.
Allocate Your Resources
Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy.

I have a bunch of “businesses” that compete for these resources: I’m trying to have a rewarding relationship with my wife, raise great kids, contribute to my community, succeed in my career, contribute to my church, and so on. And I have exactly the same problem that a corporation does. I have a limited amount of time and energy and talent. How much do I devote to each of these pursuits?

Allocation choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended. Sometimes that’s good: Opportunities that you never planned for emerge. But if you misinvest your resources, the outcome can be bad. As I think about my former classmates who inadvertently invested for lives of hollow unhappiness, I can’t help believing that their troubles relate right back to a short-term perspective.

When people who have a high need for achievement—and that includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
Create a Culture
There’s an important model in our class called the Tools of Cooperation, which basically says that being a visionary manager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s one thing to see into the foggy future with acuity and chart the course corrections that the company must make. But it’s quite another to persuade employees who might not see the changes ahead to line up and work cooperatively to take the company in that new direction. Knowing what tools to wield to elicit the needed cooperation is a critical managerial skill.

The theory arrays these tools along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. When there is little agreement on both axes, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on—to secure cooperation. Many companies start in this quadrant, which is why the founding executive team must play such an assertive role in defining what must be done and how. If employees’ ways of working together to address those tasks succeed over and over, consensus begins to form. MIT’s Edgar Schein has described this process as the mechanism by which a culture is built. Ultimately, people don’t even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that they’ve created a culture. Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. It can be a powerful management tool.

In using this model to address the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness?, my students quickly see that the simplest tools that parents can wield to elicit cooperation from children are power tools. But there comes a point during the teen years when power tools no longer work. At that point parents start wishing that they had begun working with their children at a very young age to build a culture at home in which children instinctively behave respectfully toward one another, obey their parents, and choose the right thing to do. Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.

If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities won’t magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.
Avoid the “Marginal Costs” Mistake
We’re taught in finance and economics that in evaluating alternative investments, we should ignore sunk and fixed costs, and instead base decisions on the marginal costs and marginal revenues that each alternative entails. We learn in our course that this doctrine biases companies to leverage what they have put in place to succeed in the past, instead of guiding them to create the capabilities they’ll need in the future. If we knew the future would be exactly the same as the past, that approach would be fine. But if the future’s different—and it almost always is—then it’s the wrong thing to do.

This theory addresses the third question I discuss with my students—how to live a life of integrity (stay out of jail). Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”

I’d like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life. I played on the Oxford University varsity basketball team. We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated. The guys on the team were the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament—and made it to the final four. It turned out the championship game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. I had made a personal commitment to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday. So I went to the coach and explained my problem. He was incredulous. My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center. Every one of the guys on the team came to me and said, “You’ve got to play. Can’t you break the rule just this one time?”

I’m a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do. I got a very clear feeling that I shouldn’t break my commitment—so I didn’t play in the championship game.

In many ways that was a small decision—involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life. In theory, surely I could have crossed over the line just that one time and then not done it again. But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.

The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.
Remember the Importance of Humility
I got this insight when I was asked to teach a class on humility at Harvard College. I asked all the students to describe the most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind of humility. For example, you would never steal from someone, because you respect that person too much. You’d never lie to someone, either.

It’s crucial to take a sense of humility into the world. By the time you make it to a top graduate school, almost all your learning has come from people who are smarter and more experienced than you: parents, teachers, bosses. But once you’ve finished at Harvard Business School or any other top academic institution, the vast majority of people you’ll interact with on a day-to-day basis may not be smarter than you. And if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited. Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself—and you want to help those around you feel really good about themselves, too. When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or demeaning manner toward others, their behavior almost always is a symptom of their lack of self-esteem. They need to put someone else down to feel good about themselves.
Choose the Right Yardstick
This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.

I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.

I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

Clayton M. Christensen () is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

July 5, 2010

July 4th fireworks over Hudson river in NYC

Recently I started dabbling into photography after buying a digital SLR camera when our daughter was born. Here are some pictures of yesterday's Macy's Fourth of July Independence Day fireworks in New York City. 

Location: The banks of Hudson river across Manhattan with the city skyline and the Empire State building in the backdrop. 
Equipment: Canon EOS 500D (Rebel T1i), Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm, Tripod

June 16, 2010

Media companies will be surprised by the coming digital disruption: PwC report

PricewaterhouseCoopers has released the eleventh annual edition of its five-year global outlook on the media & entertainment industry (2010 - 2014). They looked at consumers and advertising spending in a comprehensive analysis across 13 industry segments in 48 countries. The report's main conclusion is that the digital transformation of the media industry and the resulting disruption over the last several years is just the beginning. The next five years will witness a much greater turmoil than expected by the incumbents.

link to the full PwC report is here, and below is the intro para:

Towards 2014: the search for the position in the digital value chain

"The pace of consumers' migration to new digital platforms is running well ahead of the industry’s expectations—and yet non-digital revenue streams will still account for two thirds of total global spending in 2014. Changing consumer behaviour is impacting on all segments of the entertainment and media industry, as companies search for the right role and positioning in the digital value chain that is now taking shape.

The report is not freely available, so below are some of its highlights from GigaOm.

Memo to Media Cos.: Disruption? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Mathew Ingram Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:30:41 PM
The media and entertainment industries have been through an unprecedented amount of upheaval over the past several years, as content has become increasingly digital, consumers have correspondingly moved their attention online and advertisers have begun to follow. The resulting shifts have caused turmoil in everything from the newspaper and TV industries to Hollywood and Madison Avenue, as companies have tried to move their business models in new directions — many have failed, while others are in the process of failing. But a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers on the future of the entertainment and media industries forecasts even greater turmoil over the next five years.
Mobile and social:
The driving force behind all this upheaval won’t come as any surprise to GigaOM readers: the continuing growth in mobile communications and entertainment, as well as the explosion of social networking and related services.
“The digital pace of change has proven to be even quicker than anticipated, with consumers embracing new media experiences and digital downloads at often-unexpected speeds,” PricewaterhouseCoopers analyst Ken Sharkey said in a statement released with the report, the firm’s annual Global Entertainment and Media Outlook. “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for E&M companies to stake their position in the digital value chain.”

Digital spending to climb:
Not all of the upheaval will be bad (unless of course you’re an existing media or entertainment company that fails to manage the transition). The PWC report notes that new business models will emerge, as advertising continues to move online and companies find new ways of connecting with consumers. And that creates opportunity for startups and innovation — some of which we’ve already seen with the growth of the likes of YouTube and Facebook.
Over the next five years, the report estimates that digital spending — defined as spending on broadband and mobile access, wired and mobile advertising, video on demand, digital music, online movie rentals, video games and newspaper and magazine advertising — will climb from below 20 percent of all entertainment and media spending in the U.S. to over 26 percent. Globally, the firm expects digital spending to hit 33 percent of all spending on media and entertainment by 2014.

Advertising growing slowly:
The wild card for many media companies and entertainment entities will be the health of the advertising industry, PWC says. While there have been signs of a rebound in spending, the company says ad revenues “remain fragile in nature and spending is unlikely to return to former levels.” By 2014, the report estimates that U.S. advertising spending will still be almost 10 percent below where it was in 2007, although it will be somewhat higher than it was last year (2.6 percent, the report says).
To take just one example of the impact that the growth of online advertising is having on specific industries, Internet ad spending is expected to surpass spending on newspaper advertising this year. PWC’s forecast shows ad spending for Internet, TV and video games growing over the next five years, while spending on ads in consumer magazines, newspapers, directories and trade magazines is expected to shrink. The consulting firm says its research shows that brands are changing their focus from “advertising on a medium, to marketing through — and with — content.”

Mobile, online and engaged:
PwC says the three themes that the media and entertainment industries need to wrap their heads around are as follows:
  • The power of mobility: Converged, multifunctional mobile devices are coming of age as a consumption platform, according to the firm: “Consumers are increasingly demanding ubiquity and the ability to consume and interact with content anywhere, anytime, and to share and discuss that content experience with others via social networks.” It expects the number of consumers with mobile Internet access to grow by 40 percent over the next five years.
  • The dominance of the Internet: PWC says the consumer “has moved beyond thinking of the Internet as an end in itself, and expects all forms of media to embed the convenience, immediacy and interactivity of the Internet.” This applies to TV, where more and more users want Internet features and services as well as the regular television experience; it also addresses how tablets are reshaping the magazine and newspaper business and the impact of digital music services such as Pandora on the music industry.
  • Increasing engagement: Consumers are ready to pay for content, PWC says, but only if media and entertainment companies and their offerings become more engaged with them. “Ongoing fragmentation means that media offerings will need greater consumer engagement and quality,” the firm says. “Consumers are more willing to pay for content when accompanied by convenience and flexibility in usage, personalization and a differentiated experience that cannot be created elsewhere.”
If your company is focused on Internet advertising, video games, TV advertising, radio or movies, PWC says you will likely see growth in the U.S. market over the next five years — ranging from rates in the 3 percent range to as high as 8.8 percent (for Internet ads). But if you’re in the recorded music, newspaper publishing or consumer magazine industries, the firm expects that you will see those markets decline by between 2.4 percent (music) and 2.8 percent (newspapers).
To add insult to injury, the PWC report warns that “today’s E&M environment is one in which it is very easy to get surprised by the pace of developments, even if you have already predicted the direction of travel correctly.”

June 15, 2010

BP oil spill: Spreading disaster

Delicate patterns in the sea breaking on Orange Beach, Alabama, more than 90 miles from the BP oil spill, cannot distract from the mess four to six inches deep on parts of the shore
Photographer: Dave Martin/AP (courtesy The Guardian)

May 28, 2010

Netflix sees online streaming as its future

Below is a presentation from the Netflix job site. It discusses the company's market positioning, business strategy & direction, and competitor analysis.

There are some interesting insights here. E.g., Netflix believes its future is in online streaming instead of the DVD-by-mail business. It therefore plans to use more of its budget on licensing content instead of using it on discs and postage, which will take up more than half of its $1.4B COGS in 2010. Netflix's goal is to stay focused on subscription-based online streaming of entertainment content, and become one of the world's largest licensors of movies and TV shows by 2020.


April 20, 2010

The Last Advertising Agency on Earth

A short film about what the future of advertising might look like. Produced by Saatchi & Saatchi, Canada.

April 12, 2010

Internet trends - by Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley

Below are the current global trends on the Internet as researched by Mary Meeker, Internet Analyst at Morgan Stanley, and the head of their global technology research team.

I've been following Mary's insights since I came to the U.S. in 1995. She's probably the only analyst on the Wall Street who has been consistently following the Internet sector since its inception in early 90's, and is highly regarded for her thoroughness and her ability to connect the dots of dispersed global micro trends into a macro analysis.

For an enlarged version, click "View Fullscreen" on the "menu" at the bottom left.

March 17, 2010

Media & entertainment industry in India to reach $24b by 2014, growing 13% per year

The media and entertainment (M&E) industry in India will be worth $24billion by 2014 (Rs 1,091 billion), growing at 13% per year over the next five years. The size of the industry was Rs 587 billion in 2009. This was announced as part of the report released by KPMG and FICCI, the oldest business association in India, during the FRAMES conference that started yesterday in Mumbai, India.

Compare this with the state of the U.S. media industry. According to a report released today by Kantor Media, the total advertising expenditure in the U.S. fell by 12.3% in 2009. The decline was across every single media sector except Internet display advertising, which grew by 7.3% (table below shows the breakdown).

This comparison is not exactly apples-to-apples because advertising represents only a part of the U.S. media industry, but it still highlights the broader trend I had discussed earlier, that India and other BRIC countries will be the main future growth drivers of the global media industry.

The FICCI FRAMES conference, held in Mumbai every year by FICCI, is the biggest conference for the media & entertainment industry in Asia. I spoke at FICCI FRAMES last year, but was unable to travel this year due to the recent birth of our daughter.

The KPMG-FICCI report, released during this conference every year, provides a comprehensive annual assessment of the Indian M&E industry, covering all of its segments and verticals. The report is widely considered as the most authentic referral document on the industry in India.

Here is a quick summary of the KPMG-FICCI report from the portal
The M&E industry stood at Rs 587 billion in 2009, a growth of 1.4 percent over the previous year. In 2010, a growth of 11.2 per cent is expected.

The estimated 13 per cent growth rate per annum for the sector for next five years will be driven on the back of factors like favorable demographics, expected recovery in the GDP growth rate, strong long term fundamentals of the Indian economy, expected rise in advertising to GDP ratio compared to developed economies and increasing media penetration.

Factors like Digitisation, Regionalisation, Convergence of new media etc are some of the trends in the industry and are expected to drive growth going forward.

The industry is estimated to have reached a size of Rs 257 billion, a growth of 6.8 percent over 2008. The television industry is projected to grow at the rate of 15 per cent over 2010-14 to touch Rs 521 billion in 2014.

Filmed Entertainment:
The filmed entertainment sector saw a de-growth of 14 per cent to stand at Rs 89 billion in 2009. This was primarily due the three month impasse between the multiplexes and the producers last year coupled with poor content being churned out. The industry is expected to grow at a rate of nine per cent over the next five years, to stand at Rs 137 billion by 2014.

Print Media:
The Indian Print Media industry is estimated to have shown a very moderate growth of 2 percent in 2009 and reached around Rs 175 billion. Ad revenues saw a decline. The industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9 percent over the next five years and reach around Rs 269 billion in size by 2014.

Radio industry is estimated to have grown at a CAGR of 9 percent over 2006-09. It is estimated to have reached a size of Rs 7.8 billion by end of 2009, a decline of 0.3 percent over the previous year. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16 percent over 2010-14 and reach a size of Rs 16.4 billion by 2014.

The size of the Indian music industry was estimated at around Rs 8.3 billion in 2009, up from Rs 7.3 billion in 2008, implying a growth of 14 percent during the period. Overall the music industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16% over 2010-14 to reach Rs 17.2 billion.

Out of Home (OOH):
OOH media has grown at a CAGR of 5 percent over the past 3 years, and is estimated to have reached Rs 13.7 billion in size in 2009, a de-growth of 15 percent over 2008. It is projected to grow at a compounded rate of 12 percent over the next 5 years and reach a size of around Rs 24.1 billion by 2014.

The Animation & VFX segment in 2009 registered a growth of 13.6 percent over 2008. The industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.7 percent in the coming years to reach Rs 46.6 billion by 2014. This growth will be triggered by the increased consumption of animated content, focus on IP creation and growth of 3D formats.

Gaming is expected to be the fastest growing sector in the M&E industry. While the sector has shown a 22 percent growth in 2009, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 32 percent in the next 5 years to reach Rs 32 billion by 2014.
Below is the ad spending in the U.S. in 2009 broken down by each media type/channel, as released by Kantar Media today. The total annual advertising spend last year reduced by 12.3% as all channels except Internet display advertising registered a decline, mainly due to the recession caused by the financial crisis in the country. This situation should improve as the U.S. economy comes out of recession in 2010 and beyond, however the macro trend of redistribution of ad dollars from old media to digital channels shall continue.

U.S. Ad Spending by Media

Percent Change in Measured Ad Spending1

-- Media Type
(Sectors and types listed in rank order of spending)

Full Year
2009 vs 2008

4th Quarter
2009 vs 2008

-- Network TV
-- Cable TV2
-- Spot TV3
-- Spanish Language TV4
-- Syndication - National
-- Consumer Magazines
-- B-to-B Magazines
-- Sunday Magazines
-- Local Magazines
-- Spanish Language Magazines
-- Newspapers (Local)
-- National Newspapers
-- Spanish Language Newspapers
INTERNET (display ads only)
-- Local Radio7
-- National Spot Radio
-- Network Radio

Source: Kantar Media

1. Figures are based on the Kantar Media Stradegy™ multimedia ad expenditure database across all measured media, including: Network TV (6 networks); Spot TV (123 DMAs); Cable TV (71 networks); Syndication TV; Hispanic Network TV (4 networks); Consumer Magazines (231 publications);,Sunday Magazines (7 publications); Local Magazines (19 publications); Hispanic Magazines (14 publications); Business-to-Business Magazines (260 publications); Local Newspapers (147 publications); National Newspapers (3 publications); Hispanic Newspapers (47 publications); Network Radio (5 networks); Spot Radio; Local Radio (32 markets); Internet; and Outdoor. Figures do not include public service announcement (PSA) data.

2. Cable TV figures do not include Hispanic cable networks.

3. Spot TV figures do not include Hispanic stations.

4. Spanish Language TV includes 4 Hispanic broadcast networks, 4 Hispanic cable network and 70 local Hispanic TV stations.

5. Magazine media includes Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) data and reflect print editions of publications.

6. Newspaper media figures reflect print editions of publications.

7. Local Radio includes expenditures for 32 markets in the U.S.

8. FSI data represents distribution costs only.

March 4, 2010

Reached a personal milestone today

We're thrilled to announce the birth of our daughter! Sonam was born today morning at St. Luke's Roosevelt hospital in Manhattan. Both mother and baby are doing great. As first-time parents, it's a great milestone for us, and we're looking forward to the parenthood.

January 21, 2010

Global online streaming of live IPL cricket matches on YouTube

As I discussed earlier, users prefer to watch live sports on television. They go to alternate digital platforms (Web or mobile) if they don't have access to a television, or the telecast is not available in their region, or if they want to simultaneously complement their TV experience. Sports leagues/rights owners/broadcasters also prefer television for distribution because it drives almost all of the distribution economics.

Having said that, yesterday's announcement that YouTube is partnering with the Indian Premier League (IPL), the richest cricket tournament in the world, to provide live global Webcast of all IPL matches is significant.

The partnership will allow the young IPL, which starts its third annual season on March 12th, to market its increasingly popular and novel format to a global audience. In addition, it will be a boon for global cricket fans living in countries where cricket is a niche sport and hence not available on television.

Google, which owns YouTube, gets exclusive global online rights for two years. All 60 matches in the tournament will be available for online streaming, which apparently will be free for consumers. Google will monetize the content through advertising and sponsorships, and split the revenue with IPL. The U.S. market, which has a decent size international fan base even though cricket is a niche sport here, will have re-broadcast rights. DirecTV offered the 2009 IPL season package to consumers in the U.S. last year on a pay-per-view basis for $99.

This is a great win for Google, which is playing nice with premium content owners in international markets, having learned from its mistakes in the U.S. where it started on the wrong path with content owners, and until today is fighting to counter their skepticism in its efforts to secure distribution rights for premium content. IPL content is by far the biggest prize with the maximum online commercial potential in the cricket-crazy Indian sub-continent.

The Google/IPL deal follows a similar partnership struck last year between NBC Universal and Ten Sports, one of the most popular sports cable channel in the Indian sub-continent and Middle East. The partnership provided NBCU exclusive digital rights to monetize Ten Sports content on a revenue-share basis. Full disclosure: I led the formation of the Ten Sports venture and managed the business at NBCU.

As part of that partnership, we launched as the first, free, premier sports video portal in the Indian sub-continent and Middle East. The portal was designed to stream live cricket matches in full with a highly social and interactive experience. The first major live event on the portal - the Compaq Cup Tri-Series cricket tournament between India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka - beat all expectations by arguably hosting the biggest live event ever held in that market. During the four days of cricket streamed from the week-long tournament, over one million users watched live cricket online, with an average session time of 63 minutes. More than 100,000 concurrent users were clocked on the portal during the event. U.S., a much larger Internet market in comparison, crossed the 100,000 concurrent users mark for a live online event as recently as in 2005 during the global Live Aid music concerts that were streamed by AOL when I worked there.

Our decision on the business model - ad-supported, free live streaming to consumers - also proved to be a success. The Compaq Cup was sold out with premium brand advertisers like Cisco, Samsung, Airtel (the largest mobile carrier in India), Maruti (India's largest auto maker), Xerox, and we witnessed record audience engagement (upto 10x of average CTR) .

I'm not sure how big a catalyst was the NBCU/Ten Sports success in paving the way for the IPL/Google deal, but we definitely proved the model for live online sport streaming in the Indian sub-continent - a nascent but high-potential market that is showing impressive growth.

January 12, 2010

Apple's App Store Economy

Applications downloaded on Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch generate $550MM per month in total revenue, which is shared 70/30 between application developers and Apple respectively.

Click on the image below to see its enlarged version.

January 1, 2010