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The Web Turns Professional On Purpose

A notable force in the rise of the World Wide Web has been its facility to engage people. Part of that is due to the ubiquity of internet and now mobile access. But people also just like to share their thoughts, personal and otherwise, and those of others in a rather non-binding way. Anybody can have a blog, website or pages on social media portals and invite others to their world, except in China and a few other places. Some of these are silly, some serious, a few actually become famous and make money. All of this could be coming to an end.

just for meA focus on premium content is the latest wrinkle the oft announced re-launch of video streaming service Dailymotion. User generated content (i.e. cat videos) will be sidelined; “not the main purpose of the platform,” said chairman Maxime Saada, quoted by Variety (April 10). The newest iteration will soon be unveiled in Cannes, not at the Film Festival (May 17-28) but, purposefully, at the ad fest, officially known as the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (June 17-24).

Dailymotion was principally acquired in 2015 by Vivendi from French telecom Orange, which had been trying to shed the video portal for several years. In 2013 the French government stopped US-based Yahoo from usurping this national treasure. Being suitably French Vivendi stepped in with about €280 million. Dailymotion was reasonably well-regarded, reaching onto every continent, but never turning a profit.

For Vivendi the acquisition seemed reasonable if a bit awkward. Vivendi has strong ties to the music business, owning giant publisher Universal Music. And Vivendi owns French pay-TV network Canal+ Group, which owns film and video production house StudioCanal. And, too, Vivendi’s chairman and principal owner is serial entrepreneur Vincent Bolloré, who separately controls French advertising giant Havas Group.

Not necessarily atypical for an acquisition seeking re-boot, several top executives were replaced in the first year, employees were shed, the Silicon Valley hub was shuttered. Co-founder Olivier Poitrey left for Netflix. The folks at Universal Music, which co-owns music portal Vevo with Sony Music, were less than thrilled to share. Traffic to the video portal wasted way while competitor’s - from YouTube to Facebook and Vevo to Vimeo… and others - soared. Dailymotion, said the most recent announcement, is ditching porn and such for news, sports and entertainment to target the more mature end of the 25 to 54 year old population.

The Cannes ad fest will certainly provide ample opportunity for the ad people to focus complaints, between parties, on streaming media generally, Goggle/YouTube and Facebook specifically. The “duopoly,” as the two are disparagingly called, take about 80% of all digital ad spending worldwide. The biggest reason for the grumbling is, of course, ever rising spot placement rates.

“When it’s a duopoly, you always root for someone else to keep them honest,” said big advertising company Interpublic Group chief executive Michael Roth, quoted by Bloomberg (April 13).

Google took the brunt of furore over ads algorithmically attached to inappropriate content - extremist, misogynist and xenophobic websites. Big brand advertisers and the agencies who serve them cut-off the money, some temporarily, as various reports began to appear earlier this year, led by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (February 14). Rupert Murdoch, principal owner of Wall Street Journal publisher News Corporation, has never been a fan of Google.

The outraged advertising people called for action of the sake of “brand safety,” a term new to this year. On a roll, the WSJ reported more recently (April 6) that one of Google’s corrective measures has been to block ads from websites with fewer than 10,000 views. The official notice was posted to the YouTube blog site. The targets are pirates and user generated content

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