nextMEDIA: Immersive Branded Entertainment

Introduction for Day Two

As always, if you want to see everything I am writing about nextMEDIA, please check out where I’ve placed an index for all of the posts I am doing around the Splashpress Media network.

Only about 25% of people from last years nextMEDIA came to this years. The conversation has changed from definitions, to getting the big money through community models.

People want a $40CPM, does it exist and is it sustainable? Probably not, but they can be achieved through multiple revenue sources. Advertising, branded entertainment, e-commerce, pay per use, and licensing as a mix can earn more than direct ad sales or sponsorships alone.

Today we will hear more about engagement and reputation. There will be less about online video today, and more about immersive entertainment.

Immersive Branded Entertainment

As the introduction for day two ended, we were then introduced to Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment. Who started by saying that there is a way to measure engagement, though not standardized, everyone keeps trying to push that there is engagement metrics.

“Let’s create entertainment that is native for today’s audience.” – Susan Bonds

[Read more…]

nextMEDIA – Online is the New Primetime

I am currently reporting from the nextMEDIA conference in Toronto, Ontario Canada, and if you want to find all of the posts related to the conference, please look for the index on

Bryan Segal from ComScore came out swinging with many stats, facts, graphs, and badly animated presentation slides. His information was absolutely startling, including the growth of the amount of weekly time spent alone was an interesting trend.

With almost twenty-four million Canadians aged two and up are online in any given month with each person spending upwards of 46 hours in that same period of time.

“We are seeing a shift in how people are using media” – Bryan Segal

The Internet is the third longest time spent regarding media today, though in those ages 18 to 24, it is number one. [Read more…]

Content Is Becoming a Commodity

Sarah Perez, a blogger I respect highly has written a post on Read Write Web that I feel will open the eyes of many bloggers towards what I believe to be the coming issue with blogging for money in general: control over content.

This is something that I knew was coming as the RIAA started to fight for control over music, and now the fight for content freedom has expanded to movies, and while both of these are fighting a losing war, it was only a matter of time before the profitability of raw textual content started to see more of the same issues.

It is summed up nicely in the post:

It’s not just bloggers whose content is being used, shared, and profited from today – perhaps now bloggers can begin to appreciate what other industries, like the recording industry or the movie-making industry, has had to face in this new digital age.

What this means for us as bloggers and new media creators is that the very technologies that we have grown to love are the same forces that are turning our efforts, be them our words, our videos, our music, our photos, or anything we create, into a commodity – something that has little monetary value on its own, but in aggregate, can become something of value.

This could mean that data on its own won’t be of great value, but filters, like TechMeme, and other services will feed our ever increasing need for content and make big money doing it.

You have to read through this post. Let it all sink in before giving your opinion on this, as the implications are, at least in my mind, very far reaching.

My Experiences on Getting a Blog Started

I have been blogging for quite some time, but I have been fairly fortunate in that I have always been the writer, and very rarely have I ever had to track things like site statistics, bounce rate, and the myriad of other statistics that can help a person build a blog from mediocre to amazing.

Over the last year or so, I have really changed my focused, and have launched a few blogs, and have learned so many things that I hope will help you in launching or building your own blogs.


I have watched as many people said they were going to build a fantastic new site, and they were going to develop it themselves, only to watch three months later, the site still isn’t completely functional. Don’t go re-invent the wheel. Slap up WordPress and learn how to optimize it. Look at custom permalinks, and SEO plugins. Find a theme that works well for you, especially one that puts the content before the sidebars, and get things up and running quickly.

If you sit on an idea for too long, you might loose the passion and inspiration to follow it through to the end, or get distracted by other things. Your content management system, whichever one you enjoy, should never be in your way. It should be quick and easy. I recommend WordPress only because I understand it the best. If you enjoy another system, that’s totally fine.


This is the biggest part of getting a blog started. For many blogs these days, it seems like it is the first few posts that will really set the tone for the site. You should sit down and brainstorm your first few posts. Out of your first dozen posts, you should try to make sure that around six are what I call pillar articles. They are the best articles you could come up with, and will really be focused, interesting and show your passion for the subject.

After that point, depending on your posting schedule, you should be creating one amazing pillar article as often as you can. I usually am only able to do one article in every ten, but feel free to beat that ratio. Some blogs I have seen seem to only publish their best articles and their users come to expect that from them. If they started adding commentary and posts covering other topics that weren’t one hundred percent original, they could end up hurting their brand, so I think content concerns deserve the most time and attention.

Planning and practice are key here.


Getting links to your blog is important, but I don’t think it is the most important thing in the world. It can help you get noticed, it can help promote your blog, but one thing I’ve noticed is that a fair amount of my blog’s early traffic comes from people following trackbacks. These are links I have placed to other blogs, highlighting their post, and adding to the discussion.

If you are the first to trackback an article, you can sometimes get huge traffic advantages from that, and it will allow people to get introduced with your blog. It sometimes feels a little weird because it is almost like “forcing” your competitors to advertise for you right after they finished discussing a subject, but if you are smart about how you do it, and actually add to the conversation correctly, you will be making a smart move towards getting your blog out of the starting gates.


Search engine optimization is something I hate to even bring up, but in building a blog, you should keep this in the forefront of your mind, so that you don’t have to revisit it too much in the future. The dividends for building with SEO in mind can be huge, but not always very fast. Learn the basics if you don’t know them, and try not to focus on this too much unless you are at the point where you are looking for that one percent advantage over a competitor.

It is more important though that you optimize the way search engines see your site, and your content than just trying to rank well for a certain keyword. You never know where the long tail of the Internet will take you.


When starting a blog, after writing some initial pillar articles, I go pretty crazy on promotion. With so much going on in the blogosphere, and people seemingly reaching their saturation point, it can be very hard to get any attention or focus on what you are writing.

Promotion should take up a vast majority of your time. Don’t get me wrong though, you have to have something good to promote, otherwise you won’t get very far, and I think that speaks to where I’ve positioned promotion on this list.

Work on the fundamentals before going out there and pushing your content to Digg, Reddit and other services. I should also mention that social media sites that are focused in more on the niche you are covering are always wise. Digg has a large technology audience, as well as a lot of boys interested in videos of people doing something dumb, or girls doing something they think is “hot”. If you don’t have content that appeals to that demographic, try finding a social media site that fits better. It might not give you as much traffic, but a front page, even on the smaller sites, can still be a huge success.


While this should be the most important thing, I wanted to put it last because I have noticed that in the initial stages of a blog’s life, this part is the hardest. Unless you get on the front page of a major social media site, or get some really powerful links pointing your way, even if you have the best content in the world, it can be hard to get people interested in your message, and thus your blog.

In some of my more recent work, I’ve talked to people that didn’t know who I was, or what I have done before, and I found without my personal brand helping me gain their trust, it was very difficult to get them to send me back any sort of e-mail or start any conversation.

My suggestion in this respect is to highlight them in some way, shape or form. If they cover a similar niche, and you talk about what they are writing about and add your personal thoughts and feelings to it, sometimes it helps open a dialogue and feels more like you are willing to give something, rather than them feeling like you just want to “take” of their time.


Getting your blog started can be difficult. Keeping it going can be even more so, but if you take things slowly, work out plans and execute them, you should be fine. I know I didn’t go into too many specifics here, but every time you start a new blog, there are so many variables, that I could write about it forever. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered regarding starting a blog, please let me know in the comments below.

Creating Barriers Between You and Your Readers

One of the mistakes that most bloggers make is their continual addition of barriers between them and their readership. They might not even realize they are doing it, but these barriers can mean the difference between a successful blog, and an “okay” blog.


The first barrier I want to talk about is comments, or rather the barriers that bloggers place on their comments. To combat spam, we have done a variety of things, but in doing so, we could be killing the potential conversation on our blog. Nothing stops conversation faster on a blog than closing the comments. WordPress makes it easy to close comments, and doing so will protect you from spam, but creating a community around your blog is one of the best ways to make it successful.

The next worse offense in my opinion is forcing registration to comment. While this also helps with stopping spam dead in its tracks, it also turns off readers who feel over-subscribed. I have accounts on so many blogs, sites, and services, and I feel like if I have to sign up for one more site, I will go crazy.

I know I am not alone as a friend of mine, Mark, has noted that he hasn’t commented on the Splashpress Media blog, Performancing, because of the registration requirement, despite him enjoying the blog, and wanting to join the conversation.

I think this is where OpenID could really shine, as we continue to try to find a happy medium between fighting spam and allowing legitimate users access.

The last comment related issue that I see many blogs adding are complex CAPTCHA’s. These word images are becoming so complex and difficult that I can barely read them. I’ve written about CAPTCHA recently on Devlounge. Please spend time finding something better than CAPTCHA. Knowledge tests are much more preferred, but keep it simple to allow international readers a chance to “break the code”. If you ask something like “Who is the current President?” You’ll be putting up a huge barrier to those that don’t know, don’t understand the question, and the answer changes over time, making it more complex.


The second barrier I see bloggers creating is with subscriptions. If I enjoy your blog, and I want to subscribe, then you are gaining access to a piece of my mindshare. If you publish partial feeds, I will no doubt unsubscribe. Even worse, if I can’t find the subscription link on your blog, then I will move on as well.

For me, the biggest reason for bloggers to publish easy to find, full feeds is that they will be gaining access to my daily mindshare and attention. I will be exposed to their writing each and every day. Isn’t that worth more than the few pennies you will never receive by me clicking through to your actual blog?


I understand that blogs as a business need advertising to survive, grow and even prosper, but advertising can be a huge barrier to your users. If you lay on the advertising too heavily, some users will move on without really understanding your message, or reading your content. If you put all the advertising at the top, users will sometimes leave before your content even loads, and many will not scroll down to find your content, even after it loads.

If you use animated advertising, you might find yourself with a large distraction on your blog. Who can focus on content when they have a chance to win an iPod Touch if they just make the flash widget do more pushups?

Advertising can be helpful if used correctly, but it can also be a huge barrier if done incorrectly, and far too often bloggers are using it incorrectly.

Design and Typography

The final, and one of the largest barriers that bloggers put between themselves and their readers is their design and typography. If you have a poor design, especially one that has display errors based on the browser your audience uses, you could be putting up a huge barrier and not even realize it.

Just because you downloaded a WordPress theme, doesn’t mean it works in ever browser. There can be huge issues with typography. I’ve seen a blog that was very different based on if I was in Windows, Linux or OS X. It was completely unreadable in one operating system, while beautiful in the other, but because the font wasn’t installed by default on all of my computers, I was given a different experience on each computer.


There are many ways you can turn away users from your blog, and in this increasingly competitive world, standing out from the crowd and making as few mistakes as possible, is the smartest way to success. Keep the barriers as few as possible, and reap the rewards of a strong user base.

Maintaining Your Personal Brand

Jonathan Snook knows a fair bit about maintaining a personal brand online, and he has written up an informative post about the steps that all online workers should take in order to build a brand around themselves and their work.

One of the things he mentions is using your real name, if it is unique.

Use your real name, especially if unique

Because it’s your personal brand, it should be personal and there’s very little that’s more personal than your real name. When you meet people in person, you normally tell them your name. When you give people a business card, you normally have your name on it. When people do a search for your name, you want them to be able to find your name. Using a pseudonym can make it more difficult to be found.

If privacy is a concern, and I understand that it can be, especially for women, then I certainly I understand using a pseudonym. Be sure to be consistent and be professional — whether that’s on your site, your business cards, or any forums you may participate on.

I have one of the least unique first names in the world, and a strange, hard to remember last name, so I have always gone by pseudonyms online. The issue with those can be their representation of you in the future. The types of names that I stood behind as a username, and as an online alias were strange, like phoenixfireball.

I liked thinking of myself as a mythical creature or even just its weapon, but as I got older, I felt that this brand didn’t suit me anymore, nor did it really represent who I wanted to portray online.

There are many things you can do to make a mistake when building up your personal brand, and there are even more issues to avoid in maintaining it. Jonathan Snook has some wise advice. I suggest you check it out on his blog:

Daily Video Thoughts: Ryan’s PopCrunch Show


PopCrunch ShowToday, I got to talk to Ryan Caldwell, the Executive Producer of the PopCrunch video show which is switching from a weekly schedule to a daily schedule. While he didn’t have all the information on the logistics, he gave some great insight on the continued development as well as thoughts behind the show.

1.) You have a video production on Can you tell me a little about why you started it and how the format was decided?

I’ve known for quite some time that online success depends on differentiation. I’ve also never been one to back down from tackling competitive niches. When I started working in the celebrity niche, my goal was to differentiate upwards to the top of the figurative niche mountain, with the ultimate goal of being competitive with TMZ and Perez Hilton. As others have noted, those sites are worth millions of dollars. I thought to myself, how can PopCrunch be worth millions of dollars someday?

Video seemed like the clear answer. Create something fun that would make people laugh and you can’t go wrong. Add some quality production value, a great host, and you’ve got something that sets you apart and draws in an audience.

2.) Why are you bumping it up to a daily format? Hasn’t the weekly show been successful enough?

The weekly show has garnered over 1 million views, but we wanted to crank it up a notch and capture the attention of people in Mainstream Media. Our ultimate goal is to build the PopCrunch brand to the point where everyone who cares about celebrities cares about PopCrunch. That wasn’t happening with the weekly show, though the response we were getting was fantastic. On top of this, our viewers were demanding more frequent episodes…so we thought we’d go ahead and deliver. ;)

3.) What kind of costs are associated with producing a weekly show versus a daily show? Do you think you’ll get five times the value out
of the faster releases?

Value is the important word. Our company tracks value not based on direct monetization or even current revenue streams but based on long term equity. So yes, we do believe that we’ll get five times the value in this new format, probably more. Sarah East, the show’s host, is now working on this full time. She’ll now be the face of PopCrunch. She’ll go to events, interview celebrities, do radio, tv and newspaper interviews. The value in having her work on this full time is priceless.

4.) You are an Executive Producer. What are your normal job responsibilities related to that? Didn’t you want to be in the video every day?

My responsibilities involve providing concept and direction, developing show ideas, creating boundaries on acceptable types of content, monetization, distribution and promotion, paying the bills, etc.

5.) If a blogger is looking to produce video, what kind of tips would you have for them?

Develop a concept. The success of a show hinges on your hook. Why are people going to watch this show? It’s not critical that you get everything right from the very beginning, but your central theme, the “reason” for people to watch, needs to be well defined.

6.) If someone said that you are silly for focusing on video due to the fact that search engines currently can’t “read” your content from
the video, what would you say to them? Has that been a concern for you?

I would say this: your mistake is to look only at short term value and short term monetization. Thinking big sometimes requires that you blaze an uncommon path. Video is the future of the ‘net – there’s no question in my mind about that. People use the Internet for 4 main reasons: 1) to socialize 2) to consume news/information 3) to consume visual content and 4) to buy things – it’s my belief that there will be a time when three of those4 elements will be done primarily through the use of video. Like I’ve said recently, there is no reason to expect anything other than a world in which YouTube is the most used, most consumed resource on the planet.

Why? Because the most stimulating of the 5 senses is vision – and because of that, it is the most sought after content medium (there’s a natural explanation for why TV and movie watching have replaced book reading in cultural history).

7.) How many views are your videos averaging and how does that compare to the total readership on PopCrunch?

We’ve had one video hit over 200,000 views and we’ve had some as few as 4,000. It’s not completely predictable. However, I’ve reached the
conclusion that the principles of search apply to both video production and article writing: cover topics that people want to hear about, and more people will consume your content. Our best performing videos tend to cover the hottest cultural icons. Our worst performing videos tend to be the ones that are myopic (narrow niche).

Right now, we get far more pageviews on PopCrunch than we get views of the show, but we expect this to change over time.

8.) You work on so many projects right now, and so how do you find the time to work on all of these projects?

Basically by finding other, quality people who are reliable, passionate and skilled enough that I don’t have to micromanage them. That’s the key in my view. Cheap labor tends not to be reliable, passionate or skilled, though that doesn’t always hold.

9.) Will you continue to be standing behind video for other topics you cover or does the PopCrunch celebrity aspect just work the best for
that medium?

I’ll be starting a new video show on cars ( and on advertising and marketing ( in the next few months.

If you want to hear more about producing a daily video show like the PopCrunch Show, check out the second episode of the PerfCast where Ryan is interviewed about it by Chris Garrett.

Will You Wait for WordPress 2.5.1?

As we get closer to the next version of WordPress being released, one of the things that keeps popping up in my mind is whether or not the first release will be stable and secure enough to use. Previous major releases have had their problems and like most desktop software, it can be better to wait for the point one release after a new version. Will WordPress 2.5 be the same?

I know many people who are going to wait a week or two to see what the opinion of the Support Forums seems to be, but will people wait long enough that WordPress 2.5.1 is released?

With all the new features and the design overhaul of the WordPress administration panel, will you be on the cutting edge and upgrade right away, wait a few days, or wait until WordPress 2.5.1?

Another group of people I want to mention are those that aren’t looking forward to upgrading at all because of the administration panel design changes. I wonder how many will cling to WordPress 2.3.3?

Please Vote and Comment Below

Questions about Advertising and Your Blog?

One of the many things I am still learning, but am completely fascinated in is advertising on the web. I have tried Google AdSense, just like pretty much every blogger, but did you know there are thousands of companies devoted to providing websites with advertising? Be they affiliate marketing sites, pay per click or payment per thousand impressions, there are many different options out there for bloggers to take advantages of.

If you have questions about advertising on your blog, leave a comment here and I will do my best to get them answered. Splashpress Media has dozens of experts in advertising and affiliate programs, and of course anything I can help with, I will definitely take the time to do so.

Lastly, I plan on doing a video questions and answers session which won’t be focused on advertising, but such questions would definitely be welcome. I am looking at doing the first live video Q&A session this Saturday at 8pm EST on Let me know if you are planning on stopping by, or what days and times would work best for you.

The Pressure to Perform

Pretty much everyone I talk to thinks my job is pretty easy. I sit around and write about all my favourite things all day. There is so much they don’t realize about my job. There is a high amount of stress related to performance, and high expectations when it comes to my job.

The blogging world is very results oriented, and blog networks are always looking to grow larger, get noticed more, and make more money. While content is king, there are so many secondary elements that bring attention to the content I write, and if you don’t take the time to deal with the secondary stuff, the blog won’t grow very fast making it look almost stagnant.

I have worked more sixteen hour days as a blogger than I have in any other job I have ever done. Blogging sometimes consumes my life where I wasn’t taking care of myself, or even my family obligations. I was working harder, faster, and better in hopes of building up my personal brand and value so that I could make more money, and eventually slow down. The funny thing is, the more work I did, the harder it became to keep up the same pace.

Even worse, I was trying to do everything. From supporting WordPress, converting templates into WordPress themes, writing thousands of posts, and networking with a variety of people. I was keeping up to date on marketing and advertising trends, as well as the key players in the various niches I wrote content on. I was in a constant state of information overload. I was finding the job more like a chore than a hobby I once enjoyed. And when you change all of your hobbies into work, what else is there to do?

After a while I started feeling depressed when the RSS subscribers went down, or traffic lowered. I really wanted to do well, even though I wasn’t enjoying the job anymore, I knew it was still the best job I ever had.

I was suffering from blogger burnout. I had to take a week off without blogs, blogging, RSS, e-mails and just focus on the last hobbies I had: reading and writing science fiction.

So many people that make it to the full time level with a network or on their own, don’t realize the amount of work required to continue to grow and you can’t rest on your laurels as others are pushing hard to get to the top spot as well. You either continue to grow faster than the rest, or you fall behind, and eventually have to get an office job.

With every job there is a pressure to perform, but it seems to me like anything that touches technology then has to perform at the same rate as the continued evolution of technology, and I don’t think everyone can always keep up.

Make sure you take the time to focus on yourself, and just because you love a subject, doesn’t mean you should change it into a blog, especially if it is your only hobby. I have definitely learned my lesson.