Live from ad:tech New York: Mulling Multiplatform Media

By Nov 06, 2008

At first, Time.com was just the online address of the highly regarded weekly national news magazine.

Over the last two years, Time.com has sought to re-create itself as a breaking news site online with an editorial staff of 40 that also covers feature subjects. A Time columnist was among the first journalists to call the election in favor of Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday night, according to John Cantarella, Time.com general manager.

“You can be game-changing and still be small,” Cantarella said.

Cantarella was recounting Time.com’s development curve on a panel about media in a multiplatform world at the ad:tech conference in New York City on Wednesday.

Now Time.com is facing the challenge of maintaining its editorial operation in the face of diminishing ad sale returns, but Cantarella declared the online news magazine’s ad model “healthy.” That’s good news because, as he put it, “There’s very little appetite for people to pay for content online, unless they’re on iTunes.”

Video aggregator Hulu.com has quickly evolved over the past year by emphasizing ease of use and providing users with a search function that enables to find the video they’re seeking, wherever it is online. Wherever Hulu.com videos appear online, they use Hulu’s proprietary player and its advertising.

“It was very important for us to be a one-stop shop,” said Jean-Paul Colaco, Hulu.com senior vice president of advertising, who said ubiquitous distribution of premium content through other websites was also vital.

Hulu.com, jointly owned by Fox and NBC, features a plethora of TV clips and has served up 140 million video streams in its inaugural year of operation, according to Colaco. He noted that the Sarah Palin/ Tina Fey clip from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has been seen by a larger audience online than on air.

Steered toward the topic of media convergence by moderator Shelly Palmer, managing director of Advanced Media Ventures, the panelists speculated on what form the vague, longed-for advent of true media convergence might take and when it might occur.

“There are plenty of technical options,” said Ted McConnell, director, interactive innovations at Procter & Gamble. “It might as well be the Web. If the TV is an IP address, you’re done.”

Cantarella said the issue of a single platform to service TV, the Web and print media “depends on someone building a smart mousetrap. But we’re a long way from that.”

McConnell called efforts by cable companies or telcos to define themselves as universal service providers “an aspiration that has never succeeded.”