Marketing

Media Revolution 101- The Forces Behind The Revolution

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Hey, I have a question for you. What are all these discussions about media revolution?

Let’s look on traditional media business models:

Film: production companies raise funds and make movies. They distribute them through distribution companies that has relation with cinema owners across the globe. Marketing companies promote the movies worldwide. Money made from selling tickets goes to the production companies, distributers and license owners. Popcorn profits are going to the venue owners.

Newspaper: reporters create content that is printed by publishers, next to ads. These ads finance the whole operation. Some newspapers also have subscription models.

TV: Production companies make TV shows, that are aired by a network. Networks and production companies sell ads or product placement and cover or profit beyond the production cost.

What is the basis of these industries?

1. Cost – it is expensive to own a film camera. It is expensive to hire a crew to make a film. Therefore, one should raise a considerable amount of money in order to make a film. It is expensive to print and distribute a newspaper, pay reporters and so on. It is expensive to create a season of a TV show. In some cases, more than 100 people are working on one drama show.

2. Ownership and scarcity of distribution channels — there is a limited amount of movie theaters in the world. If you have distribution agreements in place, you create scarcity in distribution of films. True, there are zillion TV channels, but if you are the 500th channel, no one will zap to your channel just like that. The same goes for news stands.

3. High marketing cost — how can you persuade viewers to go to your movie or watch your show? You need to do three things: advertise, advertise, and, well, advertise. Billboards, banners, and TV spots cost money. Loads of money.

Cut to the chase. I am paying you by the hour.

Three important developments changed these industries:

1. Stronger computers – I am writing this post on a Dual Core 2.4 GHz Mac, a machine that render, edit and present HD video. It costs around $2000. The fact that I have on my desktop the equivalent of a computer that used to cost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars changes the market place fundamentally. Video is the most resource draining technology. When talking about text or audio media products, everybody could be a writer or a radio talent.

2. Cheaper cameras — with $6000 one can buy today high end HD camera, and become a movie maker. But, even with less, one can create content in fraction of past costs. Almost every cellphone has a video camera, every laptop has a webcam, and a cheap point-and-shot camera can shot HD today. Shooting video is no longer an economic barrier. It is all about talent.

3. Higher bandwidth – The increase of available bandwidth means that High Definition video can be distributed over the Internet directly to consumers. That, coupled with the proliferation of computers at homes, made the computer screen a viable source for media and information.

And yes — number 4 – almost everyone in the western hemisphere has Internet access today.

Cool. But how does it affect the media business, or my company?

These developments affected the whole value chain:

1. Strong computer and cheap cameras made content creation cheaper than before. Therefore, more content is created by amateurs, semi-professionals and professionals. Your mom can shot and edit a short movie.

I hope she won’t

Me too.

2. Higher bandwidth made video distribution available to the masses. Sites such as YouTube made video publishing as simple as sending an email. Other companies are focusing on HD and long format distribution. Now, everyone can distribute their videos, for free. So, more content is made, and it is freely distributed, directly to consumers. Slowly but surely, the computer screen is competing with TV sets and Movie theaters on viewers’ attention.

3. The Internet changed the promotion game. Though marketing is still a major expense in the media business, new ways of content promotion are created, through search engines such as Google, and social networks such as Myspace and Facebook. An effective social media campaign is much cheaper than a TV spot.

4. Everyone can publish everything on the Internet. It can be a rumor about your company, an expert opinion, a story, or breaking news.

This is a unique period in time, where the media business is being disrupted across the whole value chain — from content creation, through marketing, to distribution and consumption. This change affects not only media companies, but also corporate marketing, and consumers.

OH MY GOD! Now what?

Well, you’ll need to keep reading this blog for that…

How To Do an Engaging Panel

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In the last several years, I’ve participated and moderated numerous panels. Some of them were about exciting new technologies, some about business models, and some covered in-depth technological issues.

Doing a great panel, as moderator or a panelist, is always a challenge. In many cases the audience is not that interested in the topic. In others, they have heard a lot about the theme. Therefore, if you would like to do a panel that audience would remember, you should invest some time and effort in building and navigating it properly.

There are many panel’s styles, and I’d like to share with you my own “lessons learned”. Even if you don’t read all the tips — here are the basic concepts:

Think Entertainment. Many look at panels as a mean to convey information. This is absolutely true. But panels should convey information in an entertaining way.

Think conversation — not presentation — try to involve the audience in the panel, and assume that even if you have experts on board, the audience can challenge them in ways you never would have thought about. Here are some tips on how to achieve that:

1. Bring controversial panelists, with different views. Then, bash them one against the other — yes, I know it sounds harsh :). The idea is simple — if all your speakers agree with one another, no one would care. That is the safest path to make your session an email download event (when the audience read their emails instead of listen). Good panel starts with the right people on stage. Without it — it is very hard to get things going.

2. Ask the questions that everyone are thinking about but it seems that they aren’t polite to ask — last VON I was moderating a panel about video and social media . All the panelists were talking about how amazing the online video revelation is, and how it changes the way people create and consume media. No one raised the issue that with content democratization — most of online video is poorly directed and boring. But you see, many of the people in the audience thought about it. As a moderator, I’ve asked a simple question — isn’t all that Internet video just bad content? By doing so, the panel was more interesting, controversial, and answered the audience needs.

3. Slides are a big no no — panels are discussions, not a group presentations. Presentations usually stop a lively conversation, therefore they are the enemy. If your panelists insist — say no again, with a smile. If the panelist cannot protect his views without a presentation — then the problem is not the panel, but the panelists. They will hate you. But after a good panel, they will thank you, believe me.

4. Challenge the audience — ask the audience questions about themselves and their views on the topic at hand. For example, if you are in a social media panel, ask the audience who is using Twitter, Facebook etc. What worked best for me was asking questions in the beginning of the panel, and then in several points in the middle. The audience becomes a part of the conversation, and not a passive player.

5. Don’t over practice—it is important to do a preparation call before the panel, to get to know the people involved, and nail the key issues at stake. However, it is important to keep the panel fresh, so don’t review all the points thoroughly. As a moderator, always keep one question in your sleeve. Remember – it is supposed to be fun for everyone, audience included.

6. Keep PR speak out of the game — yes, companies are using panels to spread their views on the world. Like everything in life, it is not the what, but the how. So, when a panelist start to talk in PR language, what he/she really does, is destroying the conversation. If one of your panelists is doing that — wait until he/she finishes to talk — and say” we thank the PR guy from XYZ for his insightful press release”. The audience would laugh, and the panelists get the message.

What is Your panel advice?

How To Spend Money And Still Destroy a Great Viral Campaign

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My sister sent me a link to waitelss.org, a great video portal by Sprint, with funny short videos.

The videos have a high production value, and evolve around ways to save time in day to day activities. The campaign was praised by some bloggers (for example, Alternative Buzz, Random Culture, and others).

Though funny and engaging, I believe that this campaign is a great example how to take a great idea – and ruin it.

It is not that the clips aren’t great and creative. They just don’t have any relation to the brand or to the message Sprint was trying to convey.

Some of my US friends were asking me – what is it all about? What are they trying to promote? For me this are signs of a campaign with a lot of creativity but no strong message.

So, when planing such campaigns, I’d consider how do the video clips convey my message, and which hooks would lead the viewer to be engaged with it, long before I invest in fancy, engaging videos.

The only salvation of this campaign will be if copycats will create their own versions of these clips. Then Sprint might get a bit more buzz. Still it would be hard to link it to a concrete marketing message.

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Tailor Your Social Media Strategy to Your Industry's Rules of Engagement

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In another great post, Ayelet Noff, AKA Blonde 2.0, gave some tips for effective usage of social networks. I agree with most of the points she raised, and I love her blog (and her as a person 🙂 ), but one thing caught my attention:

Finally, I want to discuss the topic of private vs. public identities, which I have written about in the past. Due to the whole premise behind Web 2.0, the borders between our personal and professional lives online are slowly disintegrating and to my belief, this is a good thing. When I upload pictures to my Flickr page, I upload professional pictures, but I also upload pictures of me, just hanging out with my friends, or traveling to interesting locations. When I update my status on Twitter, I may update regarding the latest post I just wrote on my blog but I may also twitter about an interesting article I just read or the latest movie I just saw.

I know that some people try to keep a certain professional façade online because they are afraid of what other professionals may think…I think these individuals are only putting themselves at a disadvantage… People like to connect with other people who are open and genuine. The more you allow people into your world, the more people will allow you into their own. By creating a rich profile you are only showing others that you are an active member of the community and that you have a multi-dimensional and unique personality of your own.

I believe that like everything in life, things are a bit more complex.

Different industries, different ethics

The view that open equals better is a one of the foundations of the Internet industry. It is so deeply rooted, that one can find its print in every aspect of its day to day life – informal dress code, open communication standards such as HTTP, flat standards organizations, and an implicit preference toward young entrepreneur. We all remember how Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, was filmed jumping on a yellow ball, laughing hysterically.

The telecom industry is different, in many aspects. Dress code is more formal, standards organizations are hierarchical, and young age is not necessarily conceived as an advantage for entrepreneur.

I live in both worlds. I am a blogger, using social media in my day to day life and work, and at the same time working with telecom companies, directly or as part of my capacity as IMTC VP or Marketing.

SO?

These differences are not only semantic ones – they reach to the core of these industries. Therefore they differ in the way they evaluate bloggers and social networkers.

The Myth of Social Media Openness

Yes, social media users are usually more open than other. But the reason for that is that many of the leaders of this revolution are coming from the Internet industry. Therefore they see openness as added value. In my opinion, like in many areas of marketing and relationships, social media cannot be treated as one-size-fits-all. Every industry has it own rules of engagement, that should be respected. Ayelet notes:

I know that some people try to keep a certain professional façade online because they are afraid of what other professionals may think…I think these individuals are only putting themselves at a disadvantage…

And she is right, if I am covering the Internet industry. But I don’t believe that openness provides the same benefits when I cover industries that do not see it as core value. In some of my talks with Telecom companies about bloggers, I heard comments like: “when I read an article, I don’t want to know if the writer is married or not – it is completely irrelevant”, ” Why should I see a picture of the writer at the beach, with his kids without a shirt?” and so on and so forth. Some even noted that it reduces the reliability of the writers in their point of view. Though a bit extreme, we need to understand that when we approach such markets and create their social media strategy.

Bottom Line

Social media is here to stay, and every company, news organization or brand that disregard it lose the amazing benefits this field can provide. But just like in any other area, we need to learn the rules of engagement of the industry, and customize our strategy to it. Otherwise we are harming the company, and the field of social media as a whole.

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Social Media, Corporate Thinking , and What Nu Metal Has To Do With It

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Doing a good presentation is a hard task. Especially when you need to explain abstract concepts in 45 minutes, that require listeners to change their way of thought about the most basic concepts of their trade.

When I do seminars for companies and explain the concept of social media, I face this challenge all the time. I must get marketing groups, who are used to one way communication, to open their channels to a conversation with their customers. I need to convince CTOs to spend time of their engineers on writing external blogs.

Here are two effective ways I use to convey these fundamentally different messages to corporate decision makers:

Images images images – forget bullets, lists, sections. don’t let them read – let them see. Find images that are strong and tell a story. Flickr made our life much easier, as you can find there amazing images, and even look for creative commons licensed images specifically.

 

Don’t avoid problematic issues: some of you will be surprised to hear that many people still believe that blogs are only online diaries of lonely girls.

 

By referring to these issues as part of the discussion, you can make sure that the topic is handled as part of your overall message.

What’s Nu Metal got to do with it? Check out this Korn clip, and see how they convey a message in its first part:

Korn – Evolution

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UPDATE Guest Writer Guy Nesher – What Went Wrong With Stage6?

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DivX announced they are turning Stage6 into a separate company. This decision will affect Stage6 operation. Let’s see how Stage6 fared against its competitors in the past months.

I used Alexa to compare Stage6, Veoh and DailyMotion. These companies aim to provide high quality and well produced original content – unlike the one time hits which YouTube made its fame by.

The comparison showed that while DailyMotion is leading the charts, ranking 51, Veoh is closing the gap with a rank of 130. Stage6 is trailing behind with a score of 18,809. Please refer to the end of the post for an updated ranking of Stage6

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I was surprised to see that while Stage6 offers better user experience by providing both higher quality video and the ability to download and share it, the company still trail behind its competitors.

What did go wrong for Stage6?

My first guess was that Stage6 uses a stricter copyright regime than its competitors. As copyright material is a major attraction to online video consumers, lack of it can explain the relatively low Alexa ranking. In order to validate this assumption I checked the number of Stage6 links which appear in Alluc and Tvlinks, two of the biggest link sites for copyright material.

However this reasoning failed once I checked the Alexa score of these sites. They both scored much lower than DailyMotion and Veoh. This means that even if all their links were directed to Stage6, it would still not be able to match the ranks of its competitors – Copyright material is not the sole reason for the difference.

Here are some of the factors that can explain it:

1. The Divx Codec – while providing superior quality with lower file size, DivX is not as wide spread as Flash format. As a result, publishers find it harder to upload movies – Stage6 only accept DivX encoded content and most editing software does not support this codec. Users on the other hand are asked to download the codec in order to view the movies and while this technically happens with flash as well, the majority of users will already have flash pre-installed.

2. Revenue share – Stage6 currently does not offer revenue share for movie producers who use its service. As today Internet video producers relay on the income from these commercials, Stage6 becomes less attractive.

3. Small Community – Among the companies we examined Stage6 is the newest in the field. Adding this to the lack of significant PR doesn’t allow the community to grow fast enough. Therefore Stage6 community did not reach a critical mass – which leads directly to churn.

4. Demographics – It seems as though demographics is playing a bigger role than one would expect in the world of Video streaming. 50% of DailyMotion viewers come from France (Dailymotion is a French company). As Dailymotion is the biggest company we examine in this post one has to wonder, did Dailymotion succeeded in carving out a new niche in its home country or were the French viewers always more enthusiastic than the rest of us. If Dailymotion was able to create a market in France, or at least expand it in a magnitude there might be something to say about the marketing of its competitors.

Whether Stage6’s main goal is to advance Divx technology, or to become a player in the video sharing market, its number one goal has to be users – viewers and producers alike.

Divx decision to separate Stage6 from its main company may represent an interesting shift in the way Stage6 will operate, the question is – will Divx allow its subsidiary company to stop promoting its codec and start promoting new content.

* Update Several readers noted that the Alexa rank displayed for Stage6 refers to www.stage6.com while Stage6 main address is stage6.divx.com which scores substantially higher in Alexa (227). I’d like to thank my readers for paying attention to this issue, and notifying me about it. How does that affect my previous assumptions?

Without getting into too much technicalities stage6.divx.com is considered a “sub domain” of divx.com. Since Alexa does not track sub domains the result we receive for stage6.divx.com actually represent the cumulative ranking of two sites – divx.com and stage6.com.

How inaccurate is the ranking of stage6.divx.com? Again using Alexa we can see that only 81% of the DivX.com users actually visit stage6. While we cannot determine exactly how this will affect the Stage6 ranking we can estimate that roughly 2 (out of 10) million users reported to have visited Stage6 on July were actually DivX visitors.

While both ranking methods do not yield accurate results, even if we use the more favorable results of stage6.divx.com it is still that Stage6 is trailing behind its competitors. This is another proof that quality alone is not a key consideration of internet video consumers.

Technorati Tags: DivX, dailymotion, stage6, veoh, video sharing, alexa, Guy Nesher, codec

Guy Nehser is an independent web and SEO consultant , anime addict , and a LV70 Druid, who just cleared SSC. He can be reached at nesher.guy@gmail.com

Would PLYmedia Video Enhancement Platform Change Our Online Video Experience?

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PLYmedia developed in the last couple of years a technology that enables users and content creators to add information, graphics and links to flash based videos. This technology can be used in various ways – starting with subtitling, through adding “bubbles” (think VH1 popup video show) up to innovative applications such as dynamically change street signs in a pre-recorded show. As my friend Blonde 2.0 wrote, the possibilities are truly endless, and I recommend all of my readers to check out their applications – some of them are pretty amazing. As a guy who bought the Godfather trilogy just for the extra features DVD, the thought of having the ability to add multiple layers of information and links to video content made me feel like a kid in a candy store. This is a great example of how companies can embrace the Pulver‘s “Digital Popcorn” vision.  

I believe that smart business development and marketing activities can make this company a huge success. However, they face major challenges, especially in drawing users and creators to their technology.

For example, subPLY, the subtitling solution the company offers is quite advanced. Users can not only add subtitles, but also see tags that represent the content of the subtitles, and based on that jump to specific parts of the video. However, the company is not yet integrated with sites such as blip.tv (Dina, give them a call 🙂 ). That means that if I use subPLY, my hits are not counted in blip.tv – which affects my stats and advertisement dollars. It should be noted that PLYmedia are already integrated in several video sharing sites, but most of them are not relevant to Internet TV producers.

I believe that PLYmedia can be an amazing success. If they  embrace creators directly by presenting their products in at Podcamps and film festivals, integrate their products in the business aspects of the creation process, and create clear usage scenarios for both creators and users, I am certain that usage, awareness and business success will come.

What's the real business potential of Personal Broadband Broadcasting?

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I’ve written a lot lately on products that enable users to broadcast themselves live over the interment. These products are mature enough to be used by almost everyone, and hype is building up in this field, slowly but surely.

But what is the real potential of this segment? Are we looking at companies that will become the next YouTube, or at a niche market segment with limited growth potential?

The difference between live broadcasting and edited content is a major one. While edited content allows creators to correct their mistakes, add visuals to their content and create an overall better experience for users, live broadcasting requires special kind of creators – ones who can immediately respond to their audience, talk fluently on a specific topic and interact on the fly with viewers and co-hosts.

Therefore, I don’t believe we will see as much traffic and content in live sites as in the YouTubes of the world. Add the fact that live content usually does not contain copyright infringing material, and you get a content arena with original content only, most of it by unknown creators.

What kind of usage pattern will increase the economic value of this medium? In my opinion we should not look at this medium as a stand alone technology, but as another tool in new media creators’ tool box. I’ve started a discussion about different ways to use this medium here. Companies that will tailor their products to the specific needs of their customers, rather then leave the platform as a general purpose site, can increase both usage and loyalty.

Another way of increasing the economical value of this medium is by helping Indie creators use it as a part of covering live events – just like any other news organization. Technology provider that will embrace Indie content creators, and enable them to cover events of their interest, will create a new kind of media arena – independent and alternative live coverage of niche events. Companies can encourage users to use their platform by providing them with specialized equipment such as wireless cams, to cover high profile events. Creativity, like in other area, is the key here.

There is no single answer to the question I’ve raised in the headline of this post. However, one thing is certain – plain feature wars are not the answer for creating economic value in this emerging market.

Filmmakers – The Internet Will Change Your Life! or Web Opportunities for filmmakers – An Overview

click to shareFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail[digg http://digg.com/tech_news/How_can_filmmakers_use_the_internet/blog]Technology and cinema go hand in hand for years. The world of cinema started as a technological invention. Only couple of years later filmmakers created new ways of story telling.

The web, video sharing applications, blogs and social networks can help filmmakers in several ways – if used properly. Here is a short overview of the main Internet influences on filmmakers:

1. Content Creation – the Internet not only helps companies to work collaboratively – it also helps filmmakers to create new kind of productions – participatory filmmaking. Sometimes referred to as open source cinema, there are several amazing projects where filmmakers ask a community to contribute ideas and scripts to a central project. Some of them also have a fundraising element – users can contribute content or funds, and get credits as producers. Great example for that is Swarm of Angels.

2. Distribution – the most straight forward advantage is the ability of independent filmmaker to distribute her own content. YouTube, Blip.tv, Bittorent and Jaman are only some of the options open to filmmakers today. The main problem with this solution in my opinion is the user experience. There is a magical atmosphere in the theater – dark room, large screen, the soundtrack all around the viewer – all of these elements create a unique world, and in a sense makes the life of filmmaker easier. All the above mentioned distribution methods, though in some cases support even HD video quality, will enable viewers to watch the content on their TV in best case, and in most cases on their computer screen. Still, the ability to independently distribute video can improve filmmakers position and attract audience to their work. Which leads me to the next item.

3. Marketing – with all those filmmakers, Indie creators, and kids with webcams – how can you get noticed? This is one of the strongest links between filmmakers and Internet TV creators. The ease of distribution is a double edge sword – cause now content creators need to fight for attention. Lucky for all of us, there are several ways to utilize free and available tools to achieve this goal. Social networks, blogs, dedicated sites, badges, embeddable video players – all can be used in order to spread the word, and get attention from potential viewers. Here are some techniques:

– Allow users to remix your content and let them create their own version of your creation

– Release content to YouTube and allow viewers to embed it in their social network profiles and blogs

– Create online fan material – badges, graphics and logos can help fans express their affection to your creation. The good news – it is cheaper than making T-Shirts.

If you want to see a great example – check the work of Lance Weiler and Head Trauma.

4. Augment your creation – well, this is the tricky part. Remember all the discussions about interactivity, and how you can create content that viewers will decide its course? Well, I don’t believe in it. People want to be entertained – don’t let them decide on the protagonist’s action. But, you can use technology to add new dimensions to your creation. Write a fictitious blog by your characters. Create a Facebook account for them. put some Easter eggs in your film, that can be unlocked by registering to a web site. The sky is the limit.

Tomorrow I will attend the CinemaTech conference in Jerusalem, covering these topics. In future posts I’ll drill down to each of these points.

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How to make my mom watch Internet TV – Follow up

click to shareFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail[digg http://digg.com/tech_news/Follow_up_how_to_expand_Internet_TV_viewership]I had the pleasure of doing a brainstorming session at Podcamp EU, discussing ways to increase internet TV viewership. I had a great time at this session, and learned a lot from everyone in the room, as well from comments that followed.

Most of the participants talked about the need to make content discovery and consumption much easier, and some also talked about the fact that there is not enough interesting content out there. Some participants challenged the thesis that we actually have a problem – especially a smart young guy that said that his generation, the early twenties and late teens, is the important one, not the older ones, and this generation doesn’t have a problem to find the content and watch it. We discussed a lot the need for branding and baiting people to see new shows.

Some solutions were suggested:

1. Trailers for shows, to get people to watch the first episode

2. Printed guides for Internet TV, that can communicate with Apple TV for example, and make subscription simple.

3. From a different angle – get as much product placement as possible and increase your budget for higher production quality.

The discussion didn’t end there:

Chris Brogan covered the panel, and added his view: …”I believe the winners of the Internet TV world are those who will band together, move audience by way of driving awareness, and interact well with other producers such that you put good stuff together in one easy-to-find locations…”. Check out his post, and its accompanying 12 comments…

Jeff Pulver take: …”Seems to me that this is a classic long tail play. The long and simple of it. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be HUGE breakout hits that are only available on the Internet and such hits will have mainstream adoption. It is going to happen. In fact for some people, it already has. During the past year a number of people have signed contracts with media companies who were discovered on the Internet…”

Chris Hambley left a lengthy comment on my original post and was kind enough to record the session – you can find it here.

I encourage everyone to read these posts and their comments – it added a lot of value to the discussion.

Now, here is a challenge for you. How can we keep this discussion alive? We are all interested in increasing viewership – so we need to cooperate in best practices and lessons. What’s your take on that?

Thank you all for being a part of this discussion, online and offline.

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Having Fun at the Panel

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