Monday, March 9, 2015

Are viral traffic’s days numbered?

digiday reporting:
...It may seem like the Internet was awash in posts about #thedress and, for that matter, runaway llamas, as of late. But a confluence of factors, from viewability to changing Facebook algorithms to falling CPMs, are making the economics of this kind of viral strategy a bit more complicated.
Google and Facebook have changed their formulas to deemphasize junky traffic in search results and in users’ news feeds. Facebook, for its part, said it would give more weight to stories that readers spend more time with and share more. Those changes forced Yahoo to tighten up its guidelines after traffic to its Associated Content community publishing business plunged and has sought to refashion itself as a premium publisher. Similarly, Demand Media, the onetime tech darling that scaled an audience based on so-called expert posts like “How to Boil an Egg” and “How to do Laundry,” has had to change its editorial formula.Gawker, which was once at the forefront of directly incentivizing writers based on their traffic, announced recently that it would move away from the bonus system that helped put it on the map and that going forward, bonuses would be decided subjectively by a “Politburo” consisting of Craggs and other editors. Other major publishers including Vox, BuzzFeed and Forbes are eschewing traffic-based bonuses or looking at engagement metrics that measure posts by the time and attention readers give them over mere clicks.
The end of the pageview era
Underlying all these changes is a shift in how digital media is being bought and sold. The Internet is drowning in pageviews and click-through rates have plummeted, which has led publishers to cram their sites with evermore pageviews and load them up with display ads, the vast majority of which will be ignored. Advertisers are increasingly aware that a significant portion of traffic is fake, generated by bots, and that a vast number of ads aren’t being seen by humans. But a backlash is brewing. The industry has set a standard that says at least half of an ad must be in view for at least one second, but Unilever and its agency GroupM have gone beyond that...

Guardian owner sees higher losses as pace of change ramps up

Reuters reporting: Britain's Guardian Media Group (GMG) expects its losses to increase in the next few years as it invests to keep up with the rapid pace of change ripping through the newspaper industry, its outgoing chief executive said.
The owner of the Guardian, known for breaking news of widespread surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency from the leaks of analyst Edward Snowden, said it expected to record a loss of around 30 million pounds ($45.2 million) when it reports full-year results this summer. Underlying losses at the publisher, excluding investments, are likely to remain flat at around 20 million pounds and the company said its losses will come down over time as its investments pay off....Full-year revenue to March 29 is set to rise for a third year running, up 3 percent to 215 million pounds, helped by a more than 20 percent jump in digital revenue, and its global audience has hit a record 121.7 million monthly unique browsers.But the high investment levels, required to constantly develop its platforms and journalism, reflect the pace of change by readers and advertisers who have moved online.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The latest Web publishing design trend: Mimic print

digiday reporting:
Wired on the Web suddenly looks a more lot more like Wired in print. The site’s redesign, launched earlier this week, takes many of the design cues introduced with Wired magazine’s redesign in 2013, with a shared typeface, full-page section images, and an editorial orientation around business, design, entertainment, gear, science and security. is also built with a flexible card-based homepage, which lets editors feature stories based on how important they are.
The move is as much strategic as it is cosmetic. Since stepping up as editor-in-chief in 2012,  has attempted to bring a single design sensibility to Wired both online and off...
Topolsky said that publishers have long been hamstrung by the technical limitations of Web design. While a print layout lets designers give a big story penalty of real estate, that sort of editorial control has been slow to come to most publisher homepages, which tend give lengthy features the same treatment as 200-word blog posts. New tools are finally letting publishers turn that around...

Viewability is challenging publishers’ long-held notions of design

digiday reporting:
With advertisers pushing for 100 percent viewability, publishers are telling their designers to get in line.
It turns out, the standards for viewability — 50 percent of an ad in-view for one second, according to the Media Rating Councils — are clashing with some old design practices and forcing publishers to change on the fly. Simply putting ads above the fold isn’t the answer, and tactics like infinite scrolling have their own issues.“With viewability, the conventional wisdom from five years ago just doesn’t hold anymore,” said Dave Marquard, director of publisher solutions at Integral Ad Science.Publishers, for example, have long assumed that ads placed at the very tops of their pages were inherently more viewable than those placed farther down. In reality, the situation is actually the opposite: Because readers usually immediately scroll past the topmost sections of pages, ads placed above publisher logos are often less visible than publishers think they are. The solution is often as simple as moving a banner down by 100 pixels, ideally directly above the fold.And yet, even infinite scrolling — publishers’ favorite new trick — has its problems. Deployed by the likes of Time, Cosmopolitan, Bloomberg Business and Quartz, infinite scrolling should increase viewability because it lets publishers, via a technique called “lazy loading,” present ads between articles only when users have scrolled up to them...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Reuters Institute reporting:
Jairo reviews the large amount of literature already published in this area, and supplements it with interviews with senior figures at Thomson Reuters, Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse. 
He focuses his paper on three key questions:
  • Is the corporate culture in news agencies evolving fast enough to keep pace with new industry routines that will enable them to cope with the demands of an internet world in constant change?
  • Is there a common strategy in news agencies to help improve the skill sets of current employees to increase the value of stories and become better news curators in the mobile internet era?
  • What innovative tools are available that will eventually be disruptive for the future of news agencies? ...
  • Amongst Jairo’s many conclusions is his view that ‘News agencies will now have to operate somehow like an open-data, open-journalism system, and earn revenues from it.  Publishers are asking for more elaborate news pieces, videos, and visual content, something that news agencies, precisely because of the handling of vast amounts of sources of information they’re involved in, are better positioned to provide.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Newsonomics: The Financial Times triples its profits and swaps champagne flutes for martini glasses

Ken Doctor reporting:
The FT is a leader in crossing over from print — digital subscribers now make up 70 percent of its paying audience, a number that keeps growing.
...The FT may be 127 years old and roundly and rightfully respected for its journalism. But it doesn’t even break into the top 25 business news websites, as counted by comScore (see chart below). In the U.S. — which became its largest market a few years ago, surpassing the U.K. — ranks #44, with 804,000 uniques....
“There’s been a lot of internal debate about champagne and martinis,” Ridding said. That’s as in narrowly fluted champagne glasses and wide-brimmed martini. Simply put, the FT’s paywall marketing caught too few potential customers. Widen the top of the glass — or the overused metaphorical top of the funnel of reader acquisition — and more potential subscribers can be snared. Ridding says the FT has tested the $1 full-access-for-a-month approach in several geographic and business sector markets. It likes what it sees and projects a conversion rate of 11 to 29 percent. ...

Why some UK publishers are investing in events spaces

digiday reporting: The digital era was supposed to mean publishers could shed expensive, pricey physical assets. Yet some publishers are putting big money into brick-and-mortar outposts, whether educational facilities or events spaces, in the hopes of wringing more value from their brands.
...The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design
Condé Nast College was set up in 2013 to educate those looking to get into the fashion industry. Courses include the Vogue Fashion Certificate cost £8,100 ($12,500) plus tax for 10 weeks’ tuition. The College is situated in a 12,000-square-foot space in the middle of SoHo, London, which comes with a mix of flexible rooms, studios and a roof terrace. The College also doubles as a space for events for Condé Nast U.K.’s magazine brands and is available for private events.
...Guardian Space by Guardian News & Media
Guardian News and Media is renovating the Midlands Good Shed in King’s Cross, London, to launch Guardian Space in 2016. The 30,000-square-foot space will enable the company to run “a huge number” of Guardian Live events and act as a hub for its membership program. But such a large space would be hard for the Guardian to justify for its events alone. With that in mind, the space will also act as a hub for events offered by other cultural and educational organizations including Birkbeck, Central St Martins, Indytute and 5×15.
Its membership, which acts something like a patron plan, offers three tiers of status and access to events at a price range of £15 to £60 ($23 to $92) a month....