Lebron James Ushers Us Into The Lean Anywhere Paradigm

It started with a tweet from ESPN’s Bill Simmons earlier this afternoon.

Which lead to a click on the link to the video he mentioned as a must see.

Which further lead to the epiphany that:

  1. Lebron James just cemented a top 3 career highlight.
  2. The game was still taking place while I was watching said highlight on Youtube.

This was either the smartest marketing in NBA history – to quickly package highlights as shareable infosnacks and feed them to the masses of consumption hungry enthusiasts, or simple luck that someone had the foresight to push a highlight up before the game was even over. It goes without saying, I firmly believe “the dunk” may have just cemented the convergence of lean forward with lean back media consumption.

Substantiating all of this was the post-game interview with Lebron where our ESPN sideline reporter whipped out her handy iPad to show him that not only was the clip worthy of burning cellular bandwidth, but it was already viral.

Am I actually seeing this?! Whatever happened to the standard NBA copyright statement read before and after every game?!

I think it’s fair to say it’s officially been obliterated.

No media professional could have predicted where and how we would be consuming content but the signs were there. Whether you call it democratized content, transient media or “lean anywhere”, somewhere in a jail cell in New Zealand, Kim Dotcom is laughing at all of us making paper airplanes out of SOPA legislation documents.

It’s cliche but the world IS changing. It’s constantly changing actually and we are so close to living that AT&T “So four seconds ago” parody it’s scary. Oh we’ll get there too. Just wait until Google gets their act together with Hangouts On Air. Then I’m convinced clips will turn to streams, and we’ll be watching, engaging, commenting and +1’ing all forms of media in as real time as real can get.

The future’s crazy and I saw a glimpse of it through the power of a single slam dunk.

Owned & Earned Media Continue To Converge: Introducing Youtube Direct

When CNN rolled out iReporter, I had a feeling they were going to succeed with the endeavor. CNN has done an excellent job balancing the world of professional journalism with sprinkles of amateur or in some cases pro-am content to support their stories.

So it’s without much surprise that Youtube figured out a way to capitalize on a mass service that satisfies the long tail of local media via its product Youtube Direct.

Youtube Direct allows media companies to solicit Youtube members for video submissions of relevant content to stories, opinion pieces, etc. not unlike the very mass iReporter.

Long tail citizen journalism may not command the same level of submissions an iReporter may receive on a daily basis, but it does help bridge the gap between paid media and free media. With the era of 15 seconds of fame (or in this case “15 Seconds of Free”) still driving the content models of the majority of mass online media companies, recognition and notoriety are enough of a call to action to satisfy submissions, even local ones.

And that’s what Youtube Direct is counting on.

Is Joost Juiced?

“Sorry Craig, we ran out of inventory. Why not try us again in August.”

That’s what I was told by the Joost sales executive last year when I was seeking out new opportunities for my clients while at PHD. We had met with the Joost team a few times, and I genuinely enjoyed the time we spent together – their product was different, though at no point at the time had we ever seen a live demonstration of their product. In fact, they had trouble securing beta accounts for my team.

When Brian from Joost informed me of the news – that we missed the boat on the very first sponsorship opportunities of the Joost platform, I had to admit – I wasn’t too upset.

My clients on the other hand weren’t too enthused with the news. I think the reaction was something along the lines of, “First Second Life…and now Joost?!” The “innovation” in my title was slowly fading, I could feel it…

And who could blame them? This could’ve been the social event of the century. Yep, for a time, Joost was the only thing talked about in our respective offices, even eclipsing the Second Life hype. Joost was like the Miley Cirus of video platforms. Everyone wanted an invitation to their beta and talked up how the Joost platform could revolutionize not just the online but offline world of video.

Hey I wasn’t really complaining much. Their hype coincided with a presentation I gave on narrowcasting.

As the news trickled in that their beta program was filling up faster than a Dodge Durango during a $2.25 gas sale, there was a brief twinge of regret. Had we made the right choice? Taking a deep breath, I braced myself for hearing about how we missed the boat, missed first movers advantage, etc.

Pardon my shock when I received a note a month ago from Brian Danzis informing me of his decision to move on. Brian is a great sales executive – someone I respect in the industry. It’s never easy trying to sell something new into agencies and Brian did a great job – first at Massive, then making the jump to Joost. Given that the initial beta sponsorships sold out quickly, his departure took me by surprise. I mean this is a company that received $45 Million in VC, they should be well incubated. Right?

I would argue that the two things you don’t want to lose in company leadership are technology and sales. Technology, so you can continue to evolve and advance your product. Sales so you can continue to bring in the revenue to fund your advancements and appease your investors. The two are symbiotic and I’ve been on the end of both of those spectrum where one goes awry leaving the other to fend for itself, typically not for very long.

No sooner did I receive news that Brian left, it was announced that the CTO of Joost parted ways. First it was reported his departure was amicable, and then he was fired.

So what happened?

Ultimately the platform failed to convince consumers to download it. In fact in diving into the controversy surrounding Joost, I was glad to see that Mathew Ingram shared the same sentiments in his post on the subject.

Joost had some interesting features. The ability to embed widgets, the in-program chat functionality, were fine and good but ultimately nothing they created was imperative to have.

Back to my clients while at PHD – like Second Life, I did not dismiss Joost as vaporware. What I suggested was that we as an agency, wait to see where uniques level out. Wait out the first wave of hype and let the audience stabilize.

Unfortunately things don’t look too bright for Joost. Per Mathew, he noted this commenter on the NewTeeVee post linked above — who claims to be an insider at Joost — claiming that things are not going well: “The mood is very bad inside the company, money is running out fast, the cash burn is of course way way too high, and so there is a lot of nervousness. Honestly, I think they are dead.”

Joost is still adding content, such as the Star-Trek catalog. But is it too little too late? For a company that seemed to be in the press every day at the beginning of 2007, they’ve been awfully quiet in 2008…almost too quiet.