Buy a camera-sell your pictures

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Millions of consumers now own and easily operate high tech camera phones that can take both photos and video with incredible quality. At the same time, media outlets facing severe money problems are cutting the staff that provides content vital to their future success.

Enter fizwozTM, a San Francisco-based start-up that provides the first ever online auction site for mobile phone captured photos and video. Utilizing a state-of-the-art auction engine and cutting-edge mobile applications, fizwozTM helps consumers sell content to media buyers, from multinational media powerhouses to local newspapers and social networking sites.

An explosion in mobile phone technology is what makes this possible, with devices such as the new Nokia N900. It has a 5.1 Megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss lens, dual Xenon flash, and 720P video capture with quality matching TV studio camera’s of just a few years ago. As such devices keep improving; consumers are ever more equipped to capture content vital to cost-conscious media companies.

fizwozTM provides a native application for almost all smart phones worldwide, including the Apple iPhone®, Blackberry®, Nokia®, and Windows Mobile® phones. Consumers need only download the free application and begin taking photos or videos with their mobile device.

Content can then be posted on www.fizwoz.com in the following categories: breaking news, public figures, entertainment, sports, places and fun. Sellers set a starting bid, optional reserve price and "buy now" price. This information together with a description and other metadata is posted immediately to the fizwoz auction.

Potential content purchasers are media buyers around the globe, including but not limited to television and cable networks, local television stations, newspapers, magazines, special interest media, emerging media, social networking companies, corporations, independent journalists and bloggers in both print and web applications.

Buyers on fizwozTM create a free account and identify the category or categories that match their editorial focus. Potential bidders in the auction are notified by fizwozTM that content submitted matches their interest and they can then bid on the items they want, similar to other auction sites, and content is sold to the highest bidder.

Traditionally, media companies would dispatch a news crew to a breaking-news story, but it could be hours before the crew was on air and there was significant expense for the media company. Now the media company can harness the power of consumers equipped with ever more capable camera phones to gather their initial photos and videos from the scene; whether it’s clicking a celebrity at a movie premiere, shooting the chaos created by a weather-related phenomena, or capturing images of those rescued from an avalanche, and be on air more quickly with exclusive content.

Media companies can also profit from this new way to buy and sell content. The online photo and video auction marketplace has created fizwoz Assignment Desk, that helps media buyers enter an assignment directing the photo and video gathering activities of fizwoz sellers around the world.
The Assignment Desk editor can review photos and videos submitted privately and decide which image(s) they wish to buy. The remaining images are moved into the marketplace where other buyers can bid on them.

Weather Central, an early adopter of the new service, will use the fizwoz Assignment Desk to gather weather-related photos and videos from consumers. Imagine being the first to capture the fiercest hurricane of the season, then selling it to pay for the camera that took it.

fizwoz Assignment Desk is a terrific tool for media companies,” says Steve Smedberg, executive vice president of marketing at Weather Central. “We’re constantly looking for breaking-news weather images and great shots of weather we can share on our website or send to our television station customers. Now fizwoz enables us to direct the photographer or videographer, so we get the exact imagery we’re looking for faster and at a more reasonable cost.”

I am so excited about this ability to provide consumer captured photos and videos to media companies around the globe within seconds that I’ve agreed to serve as its Chairman of the Board. With more than 30 years experience in the media business, I understand the media’s insatiable need for quality content in a cost-cutting environment. This service helps fill that need.

Visit www.fizwoz.com to see how easy it is to get started.

(Brian Banmiller is a national Business Correspondent for CBS News Radio, and former television business news anchor in San Francisco. He is also Chairman of the Board of fizwoz.)