Tag Archives: Advertising

If You Have News, It Will Be Aggregated and/or Curated

The Pew Research Center has come out with a massive new report on the state of media as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, and it comes to a number of conclusions about where the industry stands—including the fact that Twitter and Facebook are still driving a fairly small amount of traffic to media outlets (although this segment is growing quickly) and that such tech giants as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft control almost 70 percent of online advertising. But one other thing that becomes clear from the Pew report is just how big a role aggregators of all kinds—both human and machine-powered—are playing in news consumption.

Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many newspaper companies and other traditional media outlets still seem to think the vast majority of their audience comes to them directly and prefers to read their content above all other sources. More than anything else, this is the core philosophy behind the rise of paywalls—which more and more papers are implementing—and also the millions of dollars media companies have poured into developing iPad apps and other walled-garden-style approaches to news delivery. The assumption is that readers will want only the content that comes from that specific outlet.

For many consumers, however, aggregators of various kinds are the way they consume their news now, whether through Web-based portals like Yahoo News or Google News, or through a variety of newer aggregation-based apps and services, such as Flipboard, Pulse, or Zite for the iPad, as well as News.me, Summify (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Percolate. According to the Pew report, almost 30 percent of consumers get their news from a “news organizing website or app,” compared with the 36 percent who go directly to a media company’s website or app.

In effect, many users seem to be looking to generate their own digital-newspaper-style overview of the world rather than accepting one from a single media outlet, and if the content they are looking for comes from an aggregator like the Huffington Post because the original is behind a paywall, then so be it. The problem for media companies is that this kind of behavior is in direct conflict with most of  the business models they’re relying on for revenue, whether it’s advertising or app- and paywall-based subscription services—which is why such media moguls as News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch continually accuse Google of “piracy.”

And the problem is actually even bigger than that, since the Huffington Post and Google News are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggregation and/or curation. Although Facebook and Twitter may not be huge factors in terms of news consumption at the moment—as my colleague Staci has pointed out at paidContent—with only 9 percent of users saying they get their news from those networks, that figure has grown almost 60 percent in the past year alone and is likely continuing to increase.

To some extent the curation phenomenon is helping mainstream news organizations, because people are sharing links that get clicked on and drive traffic back to news outlets. This is especially the case with Twitter, since the Pew report notes that a larger proportion of users follow official media sources there, while a majority of Facebook users get their news from friends and family members. But just as with aggregation apps and services, the content that any single media company produces just becomes part of the sea of content that is distributed through these networks.

On top of that, Facebook itself is becoming much more of an aggregator of news, through the “social reading” apps it offers from such outlets as the Washington Post and the Guardian. Although both newspapers have bragged about the number of people who have registered for their apps and shared content through them, the reality is that much of the benefit from that activity ultimately goes to Facebook—in terms of the time users spend on the site, the advertising they are exposed to, etc.—rather than the news outlet.

Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, noted in a response to the Pew report on Twitter that social platforms like Facebook are becoming “frenemies” with media companies, since they generate traffic but also suck up much of the benefit in terms of advertising.


Smartphones bring mixed blessings for newspapers

The growing popularity of smartphones is proving a double-edged sword for newspaper publishers, with the number of consumers reading more content online almost exactly counterbalanced by a decline in those buying print products, according to a report from Orange. The telecoms company’s study found that 14 percent of people who access the internet on their mobile phones said they read fewer newspapers as a result. On the flipside, 13 percent of respondents said that owning smartphones such as the iPhone had led them to read more newspaper content online. However, the same is not true of all publishing sectors with 16 percent of mobile media users – those accessing the internet via a smartphone – saying they read fewer magazines, but none saying they read more magazine content online. The problem for newspaper publishers is the gap between declining print circulation and revenue and the relatively small revenues from products such as smartphone apps and mobile internet advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau puts the UK mobile internet ad market at just under GBP 40m in 2009. Orange’s report points to the potential of mobile commerce, in which it includes the purchasing of apps, but does not provide any insight into revenue generation


Advertising billboards use facial recognition to target shoppers

In Japan, sci-fi prophecy is now becoming reality, with the first digital billboards tailored to passing shoppers tried out in malls Produced by the electronics giant NEC, the ad signage uses facial recognition software and can identify the shopper’s gender (with 85-90 percent accuracy), ethnicity and approximate age. With obvious attractions for marketers, they can then be targeted with ads for appropriate products – perfumes for women, for example. Still in the future for now are individual-specific ads as in Minority Report, but the potential is there for the software to measure the distance between features – a distinctive aspect of our face that does not change with disguises or even surgery – and then find a match on a database in less than a second. The ad panels have so far caused little concern in Japan, where there is less sensitivity to big business keeping tabs on citizens; but NEC now plans to introduce them abroad, and western consumers may be more resistant. But NEC insists there is little to fear: “As our system does not store any images – it stores only the analysed results [viewers’ age and sex] based on those images – we feel there is no privacy issue.” Along with Blade Runner-style 3-D ads, Tokyo now also boasts a camera-equipped vending machine that suggests drinks to consumers according to their age and gender. Weather conditions and the temperature are taken into account too


Times Puts Some Ads Outside The Wall And On iPad As Web Display Reduces

Though they are often cast as distinct business models, advertising and paid content are not necessarily mutually exclusive – or are they?

Observations from Times Newspapers’ digital properties point to two different answers…

In one, The Times is now selling full-page display campaigns in to its iPad app, for which readers pay £9.99 per month. Campaigns spotted by paidContent:UK are for IBM and Lloyds TSB, occupying four pages each in Monday’s third edition. Each includes a video overlay containing the companies’ existing TV ads.

The Financial Times had made its iPad edition free for two initial months thanks to a big headline sponsorship from watchmaker Hublot, but The Times is using iPad to combine both payments and ads, as newspapers do.

Times Newspapers had gone in to its new paid website strategy saying it would continue running ads on the Times and Sunday Times websites despite introducing reader charging. Indeed, its commercial team has promised advertisers “large impactful formats”….

But, in fact, what’s happened is the number of ads has reduced dramatically from when Times Online was freely available. Apart from spots for Virgin Media (NSDQ: in Sport and Tavarnello wine in Style, display slots in key website sections are so far mostly occupied by promotions for Times services themselves.

In their place, one thing that is clicking increasingly is a new spin on an old kind of sponsorship – paid editorial

The Times and Sunday Times sites are running a series of sponsored features and site-lets for Accenture, Courvoisier, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet and ICIS, each apparently the online extension of a recent paid supplement…

But (and this is interesting) these advertorials are not behind the paywall. The Chevrolet campaign, for an outdoorsy new 4×4, even exists on an external domain name from the main Times site altogether, CoolGlamping.co.uk. Meanwhile, the Accenture campaign is actually for a Business news section called Need To Know, which, despite being presented in navigation as content, is also outside the wall.

One theory about The Times’ recent strategic shift is that the whittling down of its audience to a handful of paying customers would default advertisers’ addressable market to a self-selected group of wealthier readers, with a higher inclination to buy stuff. A contrary theory had been that, actually, advertisers just want scale and would hate losing mass appeal…

Whatever; why would advertisers want to restrict viewing of their ads only to paying readers?

The reduction of conventional web display ads from the Times Online days may suggest advertiser concern at the smaller audience – but it may also be possible for The Times to make some of it up with big-hitting sponsorships from premium brands, and by jumping aboard the nascent iPad advertising rush.


Twitter bans outside advertising

TWITTER has banned outside advertising in the stream of messages at the hot microblogging service

 Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets advertising service will remain in place, allowing companies and others to place 140-character-or-less messages known as “tweets” at the top of a page of search results. “Aside from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API,” Twitter chief operating officer Dick Costolo said in a blog posted yesterday, referring to its application programming interface. A prime reason for the ban is to prevent ads from marring the “unique user experience” at Twitter of real-time streaming comments, Costolo said. “A third party ad network may seek to maximise ad impressions and click-through rates even if it leads to a net decrease in Twitter use due to user dissatisfaction.” Twitter, which has seen explosive growth since its launch four years ago, unveiled in April its Promoted Tweet plan to use advertising to turn its massive popularity into profit.


Fox News targets Latinos with new website

Fox News plans to launch this fall a website aimed at a Latino audience as it seeks to build its coverage and links with one of the fastest-growing U.S. communities. Fox News, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, said on Wednesday the new site FOX News Latino (www.FoxNewsLatino.com) will provide original news and features focused exclusively on the Latino community. The U.S. Latino population is one of the fastest growing, accounting for around 15.4 percent of the population in 2008, up from 12.5 percent in 2000, according to Pew Research. As that population grows, marketers are spending more of their advertising dollars with Hispanic media outlets. “About a third of the country is going to be of Latino heritage by 2050 and we thought it was time to launch a site with more of a focus,” said Michael Clemente, Fox News’ senior vice president of news editorial. But Clemente said it was unlikely Fox News will launch a news television channel focused on the Latino community. The new website will feature videos and other content in both Spanish and English with reports from the United States as well as South and Central America, and the West Indies, among other regions


FT becomes first major publisher to withdraw from ABC e-audit

The Financial Times has become the first national newspaper to withdraw from the monthly online audit conducted by Audit Bureau of Circulations. The move away from the independent ABCe audit comes amid increasing scepticism and discord over the metrics currently available to advertisers and their agencies for online magazine and newspaper brands.

Last month, News International took the controversial step of withholding its monthly ABCe figures for its entire portfolio ahead of Times Online erecting a paywall next month. But despite the move, News International “continues to work with ABCe” as members, under the proviso that its sites must be publicly certified at least once within the next year, as stipulated by JICWEBS – the UK committee that defines the auditor’s standards.

The move by News International had already raised concerns about the future role and viability of ABCe, an organisation built on transparency and accountability since 1997.  The decision now by Pearson to completely pull out of ABCe membership could result in a complete review of the current auditing process in the UK. An FT spokesperson said: “The FT no longer participates in ABCes as volume traffic measures have become less relevant to our advertisers and clients. We do not intend to compete on volume, rather the quality of our registered and subscriber readership.”  

The announcement comes in the same month the business newspaper launched its own audience measurement system, called the estimated Average Daily Global Audience (ADGA). Conducted with independent assurance from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the model measures the number of people globally who, on an average day, read FT journalism in print and online. ADGA uses a combination of sources including syndicated national and regional readership surveys, unique user and browser data, FT research based on large samples of its reader/user base as well as ABC circulation figures.

Duplicated consumption is also removed in an attempt to more accurately track numbers of actual people as opposed to computers.
Anita Hague, global research director at the FT, is convinced the new measurement offers advertisers a new way to better understand and quantify audience in a multi-platform environment, and hopes it will be adopted by other media owners.

“We are happy to make the methodology available to any other interested party,” she said. “It responds to the demands of media partners seeking more comprehensive and relevant audience analysis.”  The new system and its claim of greater accountability already has the backing of James Jennings, joint managing director of WPP media agency Maxus.

He said: “On and offline can no longer be treated as silos or disparate disciplines. The FT’s recognition of this need, with a clear and transparent approach, should be seen as an important step forward, as well as a sign of confidence in their continuing ability to deliver the right audience across multiple touchpoints.” Ben Hughes, deputy chief executive of the Financial Times, called it a “ground-breaking move”, adding: “It’s the first time that a single measure has been developed that takes into account a global digital and online audience.

“Traditional measurements (ABCs and readership surveys) focus on one or the other and are not consistent across the globe. It’s the quality of our registered and subscriber readership that matters to our advertisers, rather than volume.”  Hughes also reveals the FT is also developing an audited global paid-for circulation number, which counts everyone who pays to consume FT content.

Richard Foan, managing director of ABCe, said: “Innovation in digital continues apace. Almost 300 companies are now part of ABCe and the delivery of industry approved standards for digital measurement. “These globally applied standards are already used by Nielsen, comScore, Google, Omniture, Webtrends, Nedstats and many other analytics providers of course. “These standards were first delivered in 1997 and have been regularly reviewed and evolved ever since, to ensure they continue to be relevant to our industry as it evolves”


Twitter expects hundreds of advertisers

Twitter, the rapidly expanding microblogging service, plans to have hundreds of advertisers using its new ad system in the fourth quarter as the company ramps up plans to become a self-sustaining, profitable business. Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo said the company’s newly-launched advertising system would provide a key pillar in Twitter’s plans to turns its popular service into a significant money-making operation that can justify its rich valuation. Costolo said he believed the company will eventually become profitable. But he declined to provide a timeframe for achieving profitability, which the company is currently hoping to generate from its advertising system and a forthcoming commercial accounts business, due to launch in July or August. The company is currently in the process of adding roughly another dozen advertisers to its so-called “Promoted Tweets” program which it unveiled with five participating advertisers last month, Costolo said. By the fourth quarter, Costolo expects hundreds of advertisers.


US: ‘Wall Street Journal’ joins Starbucks newspaper battle

Just two weeks ago, USA Today became available in 6,500 Starbucks for the first time in almost a decade, challenging The New York Times, which had long been the only national newspaper sold by the coffee retailer. Now, the Wall Street Journal is expanding its New York distribution, adding Starbucks stores in New York City and parts of New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, writes AdAge. The move comes just weeks before the Journal introduces a New York edition, to be included in copies distributed in the New York market, which is said to be a direct assault on The New York Times’ advertisers and readers. The Journal has already sold ads for the New York edition to advertisers like Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, big New York Times advertisers. Meanwhile, USA Today and The New York Times are both fighting the Wall Street Journal in ad campaigns. The Journal proudly announced last fall that it had usurped USA Today’s dominance as the country’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. Now, USA Today is running a campaign, titled What America Wants, that is meant to question the Wall Street Journal’s relevancy. The Times is running its own ad campaign geared toward keeping advertisers from jumping ship and running to the Journal’s New York section. The ads are running in newspapers, trade pubs, and online, while ad execs are being targeted with coffee giveaways.


60% of bigger magazine websites profitable, survey shows

More than half of the consumer magazines with a monthly traffic of 1.5 million unique users and more are profitable, according to a survey. Advertising is the largest revenue source with 83% of these websites saying it is most important. Weekly magazines are more than twice as likely to be profitable than those of quarterlies. Almost two-thirds of the sites that do make a profit offer their content for free. Some 665 consumer magazines completed the survey Magazines and Their Web Sites conducted by Abt SRBI for Columbia Journalism Review. The study found that more than a third of consumer magazines don’t even know if their website makes a profit or not, as 134 answered “not sure” and 110 don’t measure the profit separately, compared with 212 that said it does make profit, while 209 did not respond. However, to regard online as a distinct area seems to pay off. Among the magazine websites that do not make a profit, it is nearly two times as likely that they have the web budget controlled by the editor-in-chief of the print magazine, the study found. In magazines with profitable websites, 67% say that it is publishers or independent web editors control the internet budget. If an independent web editor is in charge of the budget or the content decision, it is also more likely that they keep up with technological developments and have versions of their websites designed for multiple platforms such as mobile phones or smartphones.