Monday, December 30, 2013

Social Media Engagement: The Surprising Facts About How Much Time People Spend On The Major Social Networks Read more:

BusinessInsider reporting:
We tend to talk about social networks in terms of size, because audience reach is one of social media’s biggest advantages. That’s why Facebook gets so much attention. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, it’s a beast.
But as audiences adopt newer social networks, and people’s social activity becomes increasingly fragmented, other measures of social network activity become more important, especially for businesses trying to determine where to best allocate time and resources. How much time users spend on each social network and how engaged and interactive they are with content there are increasingly important ways of evaluating the sites.
Here are our findings:
  • Social is now the top Internet activity: Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media, a higher time-spend than any other major Internet activity, including email.
  • Social-mobile rules: 60% or so of social media time is spent not on desktop computers but on smartphones and tablets. 
  • Facebook has a monster lead in engagement: Facebook is a terrific absorber of audiences' time and attention, 114 billion minutes a month in the U.S. alone, on desktop PCs and smartphones. By comparison, Instagram commands 8 billion minutes a month, and Twitter just 5.3 billion. 
  • Facebook attracts roughly seven times the engagement that Twitter does, when looking at both smartphone and PC usage, in per-user terms
  • Snapchat is a smaller network than WhatsApp, but outpaces it in terms of time-spend per user
  • Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn have made major successful pushes in 2013 to increase engagement on their mobile sites and apps. The new race in social media is not for audience per se, but for multi-device engagement
  • Multi-device social media: Our analysis is based on BI Intelligence's social media Engagement Index, which compares the effectiveness of social networks in keeping individual users engaged across smartphones and desktop PCs (for an explanation of the Index, sign up for instant access to BI Intelligence). 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tomorrow’s metric for news is action

Nieman Journalism Lab reporting:

The tools we use to measure the value of our journalism seem to fail us: Metrics don’t match our lofty objectives, or their innate inflexibility forces us to chase the wrong goals. They’ve proven especially vexing in the digital era, with so many available and wide disagreement over which ones ought to matter. On both the editorial and business sides of what we do, the measurements we’re using consistently seem behind the times.
But metrics are important, because what we measure, we tend to become. Chasing ratings tilts TV news toward celebretainment. Chasing pageviews leads to annoying slideshow page reloads.
This year, the problematic pageview seemed to give way to “social lift” or some measure of sharing reach.
And time on site or time reading became key proxies for the “engagement” we all seek. The innovative platform (and aggregator) Medium considers time reading
its key metric. And the squishydefinition of “quality” for Facebook includes “something that leads you to stay away from Facebook for awhile.”

By next year, I expect someone will crack the code of how to measure something more sophisticated: journalism’s influence, be it in civic action or cultural outcomes. Today’s metric may be time, but tomorrow’s is action.
This isn’t a new issue. Public media held “impact summits” nearly four years ago identifying the five elements we need in order to measure journalism’simpact. These days, ProPublica diligently tracks reactions to its work — their
investigations follow the impact of their revelations. The Solutions Journalism Network identifies solutions or actions by design. And the Knight-MozillaFellowship at The New York Times is crafted specifically around figuring out how
we measure the results of our work in the civic sphere. So getting to a more sophisticated metric is work that’s already well under way. 2014 could be the year we figure it out.
We’ve arrived at a choice cultural moment for an action or “impact” measurement. We have smaller, more fractured communities, highly decentralized civic involvement, and ever-personalized media. Since the link between journalism and civic action often reveals itself most clearly at the local level, the circumstances are right for a new way to measure it.
First, the community situation. On my beat, the one clear theme that’s emerged is how often connections in the cloud have fed the formation of tighter and more specific offline communities. Tomorrow’s hot communities are as narrow as “the people of Powder Mountain, Utah,” a group that came together to purchase a single mountain for the purpose of creating place around a sharedethos. Or “the people who live in one house in San Francisco” — a community of like-minded millennials who came together to build community in a house bysharing food, cars, and ideas. Local communities are becoming smaller subsets as software reorganizes the world 

Day-old news won’t cut it in print anymore

Nieman Journalism Lab reporting:

If you asked me what are the three main challenges of any newspaper
company today, my answer would be:
first, to evolve from mono-media companies to multimedia information engines;
second, to integrate all your editorial and business resources into an open multimedia newsroom;
and third, to rethink and reinvent the editorial models of your print products in this new multimedia landscape.
All of them are unavoidable. The first one must be led by owners, CEOs, and publishers. The second one needs the understanding and full support of top editors and general managers. And the third one, the most crucial one, the participation and involvement of all journalists.
Bosses can rule on vision, strategy, integration, and media architecture — but only with all your journalists aboard your company will be able to develop new editorial models.
Why? Because most of your editors, writers, reporters, and visual journalists came to your company when the print newspaper had an editorial model that for centuries nobody challenged. Newspaper newsrooms were, and always will be, the “core” of our news business. They were the best to find, select, write, edit, and design news and stories that your readers couldn’t find anywhere else.
For this reason, we presented ourselves as “newspapers of record.” Something that, today, we aren’t anymore. As The New York Times says: “We
don’t record the news. We find the news.” A training manual for new Financial Times journalists is very clear on this point: “News reporters do two things. They find the news and they write news. The first is hugely more important.”
In the past, every 24 hours, our newsrooms were able to produce a print newspaper with exclusive content, and readers needed to pay for our daily selection of the most relevant and interesting news and stories of the day before.
But that model has crashed. It’s dead and doesn’t work anymore. “Yesterday’s newspapers” are worthless. 

The future of news is anticipation “

Nieman Journalism Lab reporting:

One of the most important trends going into 2014 is the wave of sophisticated algorithms and processes that will forever change how journalism is both created and consumed. They are inherently social, but not in the way you may think. And they rely on the vast repositories of data we generate each time we connect, whether that’s searching Google for a restaurant, wishing friends happy birthday on Facebook, or posting an in-line annotation on Medium.
This past year, we saw the first anticipatory computing opportunities in Google Now, which originally launched as part
of the Android operating system, and an app called MindMeld, created by former MIT
researcher and current Expect Labs CEO Tim
Tuttle. In short, apps like Google Now and
MindMeld observe the last few minutes of your thought process in order to predict the next 10 seconds.
In the case of Google Now, if you’ve been searching Google for information about the new movie Inside Llewyn Davis and then ask it “Where is it playing?” Google Now assumes you want to know the nearest movie theater, times, and perhaps even directions on how to get there from where you’re standing. MindMeld offers something even more exciting. When users are connected, it listens in and begins to populate its dashboard with contextual information to help you have a more informed conversation. So if you’re talking with a friend about Llewyn Davis, MindMeld will automatically show history about the 1960s folk scene, the cast, directors, details about the soundtrack, reviews and more.
In the hands of journalists, these and the other emergent anticipatory computing applications can be harnessed as powerful reporters’ assistants. Google Now can query calendars, traffic, weather, and news to deliver just the right information at the right time. 

Loosen the newsroom’s chokehold on the brand

Nieman Journalism Lab reporting:

Any American editor will proudly tell you that the newsroom — and especially The Editor — is the sole custodian of the news(paper) brand, the true keeper of what the masthead is really meant to represent.
And if you ask anyone on the business side at most American publishing houses — especially in the advertising/sales department — you will likely hear a grudging acknowledgment of this odd reality, an admission that the newsroom does have the final, veto-proof say on the vast majority of issues involving the use of the brand.
There is a good reason for this unchallenged, even if incongruous, reality. For
decades, when newspaper ad departments were essentially order-takers, simply “booking” ads and incoming revenue, all that a news brand — such as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or The Washington Post — stood for, was entirely the journalism, which until very recently was merely the physical newspaper. There was little need to “extend” the brand, to find new ways to use the masthead’s name — and more critically, the news brand’s relationship to customers — to generate other revenue. Over time, the editor and the newsroom’s grip on what the brand is, what it should be and also what it couldn’t be, became embedded in the very foundation of the Church and State demarcation. A
fait accompli, if you will.

Just how has this “newsroom owning the brand” manifested itself in most mainstream American newsrooms? In 2013 alone, we saw:
High profile, creative journalism experiences mostly run ad-free, with highly engaging acts of digital storytelling actually generating negative revenue for publishers (because even normal ads on the website were deliberately “designed out,” essentially turned off on these pages, instead of accommodating new kinds of sponsorships/ads).
Conversations about how a publisher’s advertising team and their non-news content-creators can engage and work with deep-pocketed brands wanting to become storytellers have stalled over some genuine and largely unproven newsroom fears that sponsored content/native advertising will be the ruin of their news brand.
Media critics, usually former editors/reporters who don’t have the burden of funding a newsroom — continue to feel rather well qualified, as de facto guardians of the news brand, to use their bully pulpits to publicly challenge any and all brand extensions, be it events, a themed cruise or any branded, paid-for service, including even the mere existence of shopping on news web sites.
Newsrooms and editors blithely citing “reader perception” issues, often without any actual and measurable evidence, to stonewall transparent and user-friendly ecommerce hyperlinks or, heaven forbid, serving contextual product ads.
Paywalls are owned by circulation when it comes to generating paying customers for journalism, yet newsrooms continue to insist on owning critical content levers that can be used by circulation to help drive conversion of “drive-by” audiences into paying audiences.
Now, wishfully, let us fast forward into 2014.
If publishers are to build sustainable business models through a combination of advertising dollars, reader revenue, and smart adjacent businesses, then one of the biggest stumbling blocks will be this prevailing, meek public acceptance of the newsroom’s primary ownership of the brand by those in product, advertising, circulation, marketing, public relations, and indeed by many publishers.
Just because a news “brand” was almost never leveraged for anything other than journalism for decades doesn’t entitle a newsroom to its veto-proof card, especially when such power currently comes without real accountability to help sustain the brand, not just the brand’s perceived reputation but also its financial health.
Don’t get me wrong. The complaints that editors — and many journalists — express, often mostly in private, about their “business” side — they don’t read or understand the product; they can’t seem to sell what news does well but always want something new; they only care about closing an ad buy and not about readers — aren’t entirely made up, even if they are way overdone.
But for the news brand to succeed and a publishing house to find sustainable business models for journalism (usually the single largest expense for a publisher), the brand has to be co-owned: by those who create journalism, those who can turn that journalism into a product, those who try and monetize that product, and those who support and promote that entire package. Editors, by virtue of their critical role as maestros of journalism, will always be first among equals in any publishing house that values honest, independent journalism. Still, the privileged status a newsroom enjoys ought to come with accountability and a responsibility to help sustain both journalism and the business of journalism.
For 2014, here are six specific suggestions for publishers to help loosen the newsroom’s default chokehold on the news brand, and try to more formally connect daily acts of journalism to the long-term business of funding that journalism: 

Ken Doctor reporting:
Face it, print advertising is becoming a niche, even if it’s a big one. Through the end of last year, newspapers’ print ad revenues were down 60 percent since the height of 2005, to $18.9 billion from $47.4 billion in the U.S. That’s almost a $30 billion difference in seven years. This year’s decline should roughly match last year’s of 9 percent, and many publishers project about the same loss for 2014. If those numbers hold, that means by the end of 2015, print ad revenues will total $15.6 billion — only around $4 billion more than where reader revenues may then come in.

The continued decline of print advertising is the very dark cloud hanging over the news industry and the darkening ones looming over the magazine industry. While digital advertising overtook print advertising in 2012 in the U.S. and globally, the accelerated pace of the print to digital movement is clear and fairly unwavering.

The test for 2014: How can publishers mitigate their print losses, pulling from an expanding toolbox of sponsored sections, events packages, custom publishing, and more to minimize as much as possible a near-universal negative number?
Digital advertising separates the pack
Last year, U.S. newspapers were up 4 percent in digital advertising, to a total of 11 percent of revenue. This year’s reports indicate that growth could well be less, closer to flattish, with many publishers struggling near the zero point. Yet some, which we’ll investigate in early 2014, are in double-digits. That’s a combination of executing on some of the ad buzzwords of the time — content marketing, native ads — but also on much less glamorous and written-about work like audience extension and yield optimization.

The test for 2014: With print ads spiraling downward, will the failure to execute on a strong and diversified digital ad strategy doom news organizations to even deeper cuts in staff and product?
...Mobility, mobility, mobility
There’s simply no way to over-emphasize the centrality of getting smartphone and tablet experiences right for news customers. This year, we’ve seen newspaper access move from around 25 to 35 percent mobile access, with TV stations in a similar range. Startup news sites, significantly, report 50 percent or more of their views coming from mobile. As importantly, mobile advertising in the U.S. will double to $9.6 billion from $4.4 billion. Google will take about half of that, Facebook 15 percent, with only a couple of dozen publishers are taking in serious money.

The test for 2014: If news publishers don’t make 2014 the year of mobile-first content and sales development, they have slim hopes of growing digital ad revenue over the next several years.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rising Paywalls Are Already Paying Off for Publishers

Mashable reporting:
Not long ago, Bloomberg Businessweek declared 2014 the “Year of the Paywall” for the news industry. Sure enough, everywhere you look in publishing these days, you see news organizations ranging from Politico (and its Capital New York offshoot) to the new tech-oriented website the Information experimenting with online-subscription models. “I would not start a media company today based on advertising alone,” Politico Chief Executive Officer Jim VandeHei told Businessweek recently. “I think it would be crazy.”
This week, the Online Publishers Association, an industry trade organization, released a study that highlights the various ways newspapers and magazines are using paywalls to shape and expand their businesses. The group conducted interviews with executives at Condé Nast, Gannett Community Newspapers, Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, Time, and The Wall Street Journal. The study is worth a read. Here are three, quick take-aways:
  • 1. Online Subscriptions Don’t Cannibalize Print Subscriptions. For years, publishers worried that offering digital subscription models would inadvertently peel away diehard customers from their print products. As it turns out, pay-per-view digital products tend to attract an entirely different set of subscribers.

  • 2. Digital Data Can Cut Down on Subscriber Churn. Publishers are using the wealth of data about their customers online to calculate their lifetime value as a subscriber, to predict outcomes of trial subscriptions, and to shape strategies to hold onto them longer.
  • 3. Charging for Content Often Makes a Publisher’s Ad Space More Valuable. Some publishers are finding they can charge higher rates for ads appearing in subscription environments. “We have grown advertising business every single year since we’ve introduced subscription,” said Rob Grimshaw, managing director of the Financial Times’ website. “Because of the deep relationship we have with the audience and the data we have on our subscribers, we can guarantee that advertisers reach very specific scarce audiences.” 
  • Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Facebook wants to be a newspaper — meet the new boss, same as the old boss

    gigaoma reporting:
    As Facebook rolls out some new algorithms relating to its main News Feed, there has been a lot of attention paid to who might win and who might lose as the social network reshuffles its ranking system for content. But the bigger picture behind all these moves, as Mike Isaac notes in a piece at All Things Digital, is that Facebook is asserting even more of its control over what users see, as part of its goal to become a kind of digital newspaper.
    This sounds like a laudable goal, especially for people who like newspapers. But in doing this — as I’ve tried to point out before — Facebook is in danger of running into the exact same kinds of problems that actual newspapers are wrestling with, both in terms of content and advertising.
    ...But beyond all of the jockeying for position when it comes to who gets favored by Facebook and who doesn’t, the motivation behind the latest moves is clear — it wants to show users what it thinks is “high quality” content, instead of the stuff that users have actually said they want to see, by voting on it with their clicks. This is the same kind of gatekeeper mentality that newspapers have been addicted to since they used to own the information channel.

    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    Strategy: how Axel Springer calculated and then bought its way to European digital dominance

    wh'teboard reporting:
    I wonder if the European digital economy will follow ‘Lineker’s Law’: 22 startups try to become the winner who takes all, and in the end the Germans win. It looks a bit like it, when you look at Axel Springers rise to digital dominance in the last half decade. From virtually zero – “a mere internet midget” according to the Financial Times Deutschland, Axel Springer strategized, calculated and shopped itself to the very top of the European digital ranking for publishing houses.
    2012 was the first year that Axel Springer derived more revenue from its digital properties than from its national newspapers – and those print publications are not the least (Springer’s tabloid Bild, still printed on 3 million copies, can move public opinion all by itself). In Q1 of 2013, Springer’s Digital Media division again reaffirmed its position as the group’s strongest operating segment by increasing its revenues a whopping 20.9 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012.
    So naturally, after my talk with Schibsted, I also wanted to hear about how Axel Springer is reshaping itself into a digital company. Schibsted decided very early on to put a lot of firepower behind classifieds, adopting the motto “the internet is made for classifieds, and classifieds are made for the internet”.
    Schibsted innovates radically, following Clay Christensen’s advice on how to disrupt yourself almost to the letter. Spin out, spin in, allow spun out brands to compete at lower prices with its own parent brands, the works.

    New MIT Media Lab Tool Lets Anyone Visualize Unwieldy Government Data

    Fastcompany reporting: In the four years since the U.S. government created, the first national repository for open data, more than 400,000 datasets have become available online from 175 agencies like the USDA, the Department of Energy, and the EPA. Governments all over the world have taken steps to make their data more transparent and available to the public. But in practice, much of that data--accessible as spreadsheets through sites like incomprehensible to the average person, who might not know how to wrangle huge data sets. Never-ending tables mean next to nothing to me, even if I know that they might be hiding some interesting relationship within their numbers, like how income stacks up with happiness.
    To wade through what César Hidalgo, director of the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab, calls "the last 10 inches" separating people from their government's incoherent tables and spreadsheets, Hidalgo turned to visualization. DataViva, a website Hidalgo and a few collaborators helped develop with the Brazilian state government of Minas Gerais, offers a wide array of web apps that turn those spreadsheets into something more comprehensible for the average user, whether that's a policy maker, someone working for the World Bank, an entrepreneur, or a student. The site, which officially launched last week, can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, but it has lofty goals: to visualize data encompassing the entire Brazilian economy over the last decade, with more than 100 million interactive visualizations that can be created at the touch of a button in a series of apps. The future of open government isn't just dumping raw datasets onto a server: It's also about making those datasets digestible for a less data-savvy public.
    Harvard Business Review reporting:
    I’m waiting for all the headlines about what a great time it is to be in the media business. After all, in a single minute, viewers on YouTube watch 100 hours of video — a 233% increase since last year. The number of devices people use to “consume content” — the anodyne catchall term we use to describe reading, watching, and listening — is also surging: a report by Cisco suggested that by the end of this year, the world would contain more mobile devices than people, devices that are increasingly used to find and share information and less used to make actual phone calls to loved ones. Speaking of which, we love content so much that we now spend more time looking at our phones than at our partners. Overall, our time spent taking in information is on the rise. In 2010, the average American spent 10 hours and 46 minutes a day consuming content; by 2013, that number had risen to 12 hours and 5 minutes.
    And yet most coverage of the media industry is elegiac — a lament for the days of print. So even when the news is good, the headlines are bad.
    Take the recent column by David Carr in the New York Times on New York magazine, a perfect example of a needlessly dismayed reaction to an industry in transition. In it, you learn: