Tag Archives: Emily Bell

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.



Guardian website attracts nearly 37 million monthly unique users

Guardian.co.uk breaks record for UK newspaper website for the second month in a row

Guardian.co.uk achieved its second record-breaking month in a row with nearly 37 million unique users for December, a record for a UK newspaper website. This surpassed its November record by 3.32%, according to figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic. Mail Online took second spot with the highest month-on-month increase of 5.10%, followed by Telegraph Online.

The Guardian News & Media director of digital content, Emily Bell, said: “Our thorough coverage of the Copenhagen climate change conference resulted in EnvironmentGuardian.co.uk seeing a 15% month-on-month increase in visits, and a 10% increase in average daily uniques. This also resulted in a large influx of traffic from the US – up 18% since November.” Guardian News & Media’s website network, which includes content from the Observer and MediaGuardian.co.uk, attracted 36,980,637 unique users, up 3.32% from November and an increase of 62% year on year.

At Mail Online, Daily Mail & General Trust’s website network, traffic grew strongly by 67% year on year and 5.1% on November to 32,843,958 global unique users last month. Holding steady in third spot in December, Telegraph.co.uk was down slightly by 0.33% on November to 30,711,261 unique users. This represented a 46% year-on-year increase.

Sun Online, which includes News of the World content and page3.com, had 20,907,012 unique users, increasing 3.50% month on month and 10% over a year. Its stablemate Times Online recorded 19,854,510 unique users in December, a fall of 5.14% month on month and a rise of 4% year on year. Mirror Group Digital’s network of sites, which includes Mirror.co.uk, recorded 9,702,760 unique users last month, a fall of 8.73% month on month. However, the network showed the strongest increase year on year at 82%.

Independent.co.uk increased slightly in December with its unique users up by 7% year-on-year to 9,347,658 – a 4.71% month-on-month increase. The Guardian was the biggest UK newspaper website in terms of UK unique users, with 12,559,419 last month. Mail Online weighed in second with 11,423,381 UK unique users. Telegraph.co.uk ranked third with 10,150,039, Sun Online fourth with 8,090,634, Times Online fifth with 6,882,004, Mirror Group sixth with 5,123,378 and Independent.co.uk seventh with 3,806,862.

The ABCe figures show that all UK newspaper websites saw a fall of domestic readers from November to December, but they compensated by winning new readers abroad. Overall traffic for all sites rose year on year, with the Mirror Group Digital up the most by 82%, and Times Online the least by 3.86%. The Daily Mail site had the most daily unique users, which indicate how many people use a site frequently, as opposed to the total monthly figure. Mail Online had an average of 1,899,272 daily unique users, a slight increase of 0.63%. Guardian News & Media’s website in comparison had an average of 1,888,446 unique users each day, a decrease of 1.98%.

In the third spot with 1,534,775 daily unique users was the Telegraph.co.uk. Fourth most popular newspaper website with a slight decrease of 1.76% was Sun Online with 1,213,961 daily unique users, while its stablemate Times Online was fifth with 1,040,711. Mirror Group had 448,628 daily unique users and the Independent 407,471. Among the daily unique users, Mirror Group Online lost the most daily unique users with 10.77%, followed by the Times Online with 8.40 %, and Telegraph.co.uk with 5.61%.


The Guardian launches iPhone application

Apple smartphone users offered download for £2.39 –  News and multimedia content accessible offline

The Guardian today launched its first iPhone application, providing readers with access to the latest news stories and multimedia features, including full-screen photo galleries and audio podcasts, on their Apple smartphones.

The application allows users to personalise their homepage to get quick access to Guardian content most relevant to them, including writing from columnists such as Charlie Brooker and Polly Toynbee. There is also an offline mode allowing users to download content that can be read when there is no mobile signal. IPhone users can download the application for £2.39.

Jonathan Moore, the Guardian’s mobile product manager, said key aims in the development of the application were fast downloading, individual customisation, an elegant design and ease of navigation.

Emily Bell, director of digital content, for Guardian publisher Guardian News & Media, said: “For a long time the paper and the web were similar in various ways, but today the web is very different. Making content available on different platforms is the key as it is fundamental to success in the digital world.

“Anyone who thinks that the internet just looks like a desktop screen is somewhat behind. That might largely been the fact five or six years ago. Now, it is clear that the web is highly distributive, so reaching out to your reader you have to engage on different platforms.”

News organisations are increasingly seeking to adapt and develop their print and web content for a fast-growing audience of users of mobile devices. More than 2 million people have downloaded the New York Times’s iPhone application.

Apple’s iPhone launched in June 2007 and it now has about 30 million users globally. A further 20 million users of the Apple iTouch – which offers wireless web access – can also download applications.

Newspaper publishers wrestling with how to make money online as print revenues decline are also hoping that mobile users may provide a new source of income. The Daily Telegraph offers its iPhone application free, with advertising, while the Financial Times provides a free application but asks readers to pay for content after clicking on 10 articles.

Tom Dunmore, consulting editor of Stuff magazine, said: “IPhone users have shown themselves willing to pay for personalised experiences. I’m sure the Guardian app will find a large audience proud to file Guardian alongside their games and messaging apps.”