MediaFile

from Commentaries:

I am thinking of rebranding myself as Zing

Some tech links to start the week:

I am seriously considering changing my byline to Zing, what with all the media attention a certain search engine is getting.

Bing search for Eric Auchard

The New York Times looks at the ups and downs of turning brands into verbs. The jumping off point is Bing, Microsoft's effort at verbal one-upsmanship over Google, Twitter and over generic daily activities. The software giant must alter deeply ingrained computer habits to succeed. In the meantime, my original questions about Bing remain.

The more substantial news this week would be if Microsoft finally inks a search and advertising partnership with Yahoo Inc. It's not easy to overcome deal speculation fatigue -- it's been a year-and-a-half since Microsoft sought to acquire Yahoo outright, and a year since it dropped back to Plan B and sought out a more limited partnership deal. Boomtown reported Friday that Microsoft is down to a few short strokes away from signing.  Henry Blodget makes the point that Microsoft may have to pay up far more than the $1 billion it was offering a year back for such a deal.  Closing a deal now suggests renewed desperation on Microsoft's part after the paltry gain it received from Bing in June market share statistics for U.S. web search.

Beyond the personalities and the history that have kept Yahoo and Microsoft apart, there is the little matter of an advertising recession  that will delay any short- or medium-term rebound in either company's online advertising fortunes. AOL Chief Executive puts any resurgence in online advertising out to 2011 in an interview published by Reuters on Sunday.

UBS has published its quarterly survey of corporate technology spending intentions. The study of 100 U.S. and European CIOs finds these buyers slightly more optimistic about their budgets during the second quarter than they were earlier this year.  Among the more interesting findings:

Time to determine how the media biz is faring

Media companies report their quarterly results during the next few weeks, time that should help us determine the state of advertising. Has it stabilized? Is it growing? Or is spending still trending down?

Google, which kicked off earings yesterday, probably isn’t a great bellwether. After all, it was held up better than almost any other media company during the recession. Still, the largest U.S. Internet search engine hasn’t been completely immune. Revenue was up in the second quarter, but only by 3 percent.

Google executives told analysts and investors on a conference call that they believed their business had begun to stabilize, but were unwilling to predict when a broader economic recovery would prevail.

Good days for cable TV

A year ago, the big story around Emmy nominations was the acclaim showered on cable programs like “Mad Men” and “Damages.” A quick glance at today’s nominations indicates little has changed.

Just look at the best drama category, where Fox’s “House” and ABC’s “Lost” will face stiff competition from cable’s “Big Love” (HBO), “Mad Men” (AMC), “Damages” (FX), and “Breaking Bad” (AMC).

While the Emmy awards aren’t everything — ratings are still the holy grail — they certainly don’t hurt. Particularly when it comes to cable networks, which have built a reputation for developing more sophisticated, bolder programs than the broadcast counterparts.

from Sean Maguire:

The raw and the crafted

The Media Standards Trust has begun a lecture series on 'Why Journalism Matters'. It is disconcerting that it feels we have to ask the question. The argument put forward by the British group's director Martin Moore is that news organisations are so preoccupied with business survival that discussion of the broader social, political and cultural function of journalism gets forgotten. It is a pertinent review then, given the icy economic blasts hitting most Anglo-Saxon media groups, and notwithstanding the recent examples of self-evidently broader journalistic 'value' produced by London's Daily Telegraph in its politican-shaming investigations into parliamentarians' expenses.

First up in the series was Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, who cantered through the justifications for a vibrant, independent press. Watchdog, informer, explainer, campaigner, community builder and debater - those are the roles that journalism plays. The value that it brings is most evident by comparison with the unhealthiness of states where the press is not free, noted Barber, citing the struggles of the citizenry in China and Russia to hold their leaders to account.

The FT's USP as a media group, according to Barber, is as an explainer and analyser of complicated events that play out across a global stage. But analytical reporting of global stories costs serious cash, he noted, in a question-begging aside. That you get the quality of journalism you are prepared to pay for, ultimately, is his response to the challenge posed to mainstream media by Internet-enabled communicators. For free you can have the rawness of a blog. For crafted journalism that is properly sourced, reviewed for taste and style and checked for accuracy, you must find ways to charge. At your peril do you blur the edges between the crafted and the raw world of easy comment, hasty opinion and rumour billed as fact, argues the FT editor.  (There was a hat tip, however, to the bloggers that have broken news, such as Guido Fawkes who forced the resignation of an advisor to Gordon Brown by revealing his plans for a smear email campaign.)

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s expected underwear

Even at a difficult moment, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone managed to be witty.

It fell to Stone to write about the hacker who broke in to the company’s computers and stole sensitive business information. His blog on the matter — the official statement from Twitter — was dubbed “Twitter, even more open than we wanted.”

Someone sent a trove of the Twitter documents to the Silicon Valley website TechCrunch. Stone’s blog clarified puzzling statements on TechCrunch that seemed to point toward Google Docs as the problem.  Said Stone: “This has nothing to do with any vulnerability in Google Apps which we continue to use.”

That must have come as a welcome relief at Google, which had been trying to explain the robustness of its security even as press agents for obscure security experts sent emails to suggest otherwise, so their clients would get a mention.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Whither Windows 7 and its (expected) wake?

A lot may be riding on the release of Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 7, which is due in October, not the least of which is an expected rush of advertising to support everything from the software itself, to the computers it will run on to the rival computers it will not run on.

This surge of business is seen coming just as the holiday shopping session gets under way and could help spark the economic turnaround that some suggest will come later this year.

Or maybe not.

According to a survey by ScriptLogic, six in 10 companies plan to skip buying Windows 7. Some will pass on the added cost of the upgrade, while others are concerned about compatibility with existing applications.

Sun Valley: Cost cutting at Google?

Has Google stopped offering staff bottled water as it cuts back on costs during the recession? It’s not clear even after journalists spent time with CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founder Larry Page at the Sun Valley conference this week.

Page and Schmidt couldn’t seem to agree on whether bottled water is still available for free at Google’s Mountain View, California campus, which is renown for its generous buffet-style lunches free for all employees.

Schmidt was telling reporters how the company has worked to get itself “right-sized” to perform well financially regardless of the ongoing economic downturn. One of those cuts was water he claimed.

Google exec says Chrome isn’t the end of Android

Google’s vice president of engineering has dismissed the idea that plans to bring out a new computer operating system, Chrome OS, will mean the end of Google’s existing operating system for mobile phones, Android.

As soon as Chrome was announced earlier this week “all the press and speculation started, ‘Oh, the Android is doomed,’” said Andy Rubin at an event with T-Mobile in San Francisco to show off the latest Android iteration, the myTouch 3G phone, manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in Sun Valley yesterday that Chrome OS is a separate product from Android, but the two products are closely related and could eventually “merge even closer.”

Sun Valley: When will YouTube make a profit?

That question has got louder and louder from investors and Wall Street analysts concerned that YouTube owner Google is racking huge profit-hindering costs to be the free online video platform for the world. It seems Google’s top guys don’t know the answer either — or if they do, they’re choosing not to share it with reporters on Thursday.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a media briefing at Sun Valley that he believes YouTube, which his company spent $1.65 billion to acquire three years ago, will come good thanks to its recent launch of new advertising formats such as pay-to-promote and pre-roll ads. “We’re optimisic that YouTube will be a strong revenue business for us because of these products,” he told reporters.

But the problem is investors are more concerned with the huge costs involved in streaming millions of videos globally everyday with a very small percentage of them covered by advertising. In other words when will YouTube make money from its dominance?