Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Media Decline Continues

New quarter, new proclamations of pain from traditional media owners. Many of them are seeing significant declines in their precious advertising revenues.

The problem, as articulated by 'Free', is that advertising was once a scarcity market. It was a market that was defined by a lack of supply. I've lost count of the number of briefs that use the words 'cash-rich, time-poor'.

The implication we're using in this case is that the people we're targeting don't consume much media. They will only see our adverts in a couple of places in the rare times when they're not working or doing aspirational things.

Clients loved it. We loved it. The media loved it. It was even and recycled and sold back to consumers: here and here among the 11.2 million results in Google. Consumers loved the idea that they were so important they couldn't be bothered to engage with stuff that wasn't either fun or self improving.

Our entire industry was then wrapped around this problem. Fickle people need clever strategies for finding them. Media agencies will sit there and come up with cunning ways to reach them. Publishers will dream up shiny media vehicles that are tailored to these people. The agencies will come up with a way to value the audiences that publishers own. The Publishers will then find ways to 'reach' that audience that will turn out to be particularly costly.

Problem is that we've gotten a bit too good at finding solutions to this problem. The internet has been a fantastic leveller in terms of media consumption.

In the old media world, one could argue that the only way to reach a 'high flier' was to buy ads in the FT, maybe the economist and possibly get some posters around Canary Wharf. You wouldn't find them watching Pop Idol or at least the wastage you'd see in that buy would make things a bit pointless.

Now a whole host of companies have come along trying to find ways to get to those people. We can identify them from registration data across Facebook and LinkedIN. They will be reading the business sections online across the Guardian, Reuters, Bloomberg, FT, WSJ, CityWire, Interactive Investor, etc.

This worked for a while but at some point some more clever people came up with ways to identify these people across the internet. Now we can use tracking technology to find regular readers of the FT \ business sections \ heavy online purchasers. Once we've found them, we can target ads to them wherever they are. For the price of one placement in the FT, we can get ten when that person's reading up on the latest gossip on HeatWorld (they still indulge their trashy side too).

The targeting change hasn't fully hit the media landscape yet. We've yet to nail the exact places our ads are going to be appearing in. Testing of the effectiveness of the targeted ads hasn't come back with solid enough results.

What's certain is that once the recession has ended, publishers who rely on pushing high rates for their 'premium' audience are going to have difficulty pushing their rates back up to where they were before the recession.

Image stolen from Big Huge Labs

Daily Mail 'Beats Guardian'

You'll probably see this kind of story being repeated across the press for the next couple of days.

This is because the ABCe have now changed access to their report so that normal people can't access them without registering (and being an employee of a member company).

The Daily Mail has somehow managed to add an extra 5 million readers in the last month. This is more than adding all the people who live in Birmingham. It's a bit unlikely to say the least.

Looking at the actual certificates, the Daily Mail's gone from 7.974m UK uniques last month to 8.316m UK uniques this month. That's an increase of 400k, which is 5%. That's good but definitely no the 19% that Brand Republic are reporting.

The increase has come from international traffic.

By UK traffic, the position is currently:

Guardian - 10.211m
Daily Mail 8.316m

Guardian wins.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brand Republic - AgencyDMG takes search analysis beyond 'last click wins' model - Media News - Brand Republic

Surprised these people manage to get this into the industry papers. This kind of technology's been around for at least three years.

Never heard of AgencyDMG, but it's quite a good name.

Digital Brain:Search also sounds like proper fancypants technology. Hopefully it lives up to the name.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Newspapers Trying To Evolve

Will be interesting to see if there are any anti-competitive actions out of what this group of newspapers are planning to do.

So the American guys are getting together in Chicago to go through what they can do.

Our European guys are getting together in Barcelona to discuss their digital problems. Would have thought they can webconference that!

My own opinion is that there's room for a couple of large news providers to function but not room for all the ones that currently exist. Some are going to have to explore different ways to do what they do, and stomach a huge drop in their earnings.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Got Published!

After a long period of not having time to actually write anything for this, I recently got hte chance to write an opinion piece for our industry mag, "Media Week".

The subject was sparked off by an article by Rupert Murdoch talking about the fact that free content will not endure.

My edited opinion is below. Wrote it in about three hours so it doesn't detail everything I wanted to.

Essentially I think charging is unavoidable for most news sites. I think the bit they add value to are the opinion sections rather than the news sections (many people write news, few people write opinion that people agree with).

The future news site will select relevant news stories from various sources and then add in their own opinion. You'll have to pay to see the opinion but the selection \ filtering will be free.

That's what I think anyway. Grand writing here:
Looking at newspapers' current print-focused businesses, it's almost enough to cheer bankers up.

Their traditional market is drying up, attacked from the internet, the BBC, TV and freesheets. The inescapable problem is that papers make as much from the cover price than from advertising. But there's simply not enough money to support the number of online news sites.

Fantasy football or crosswords do not provide sufficient money either. Charging will come about or the number of news sources will have to reduce significantly. Charging users will be painful and needs a good micro-payment system, which doesn't yet exist.

If an easy way of paying a couple of pence per article can be implemented, then charging will happen successfully. Subscription will be a struggle, but giving users options is always the sensible way to run.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'Pre-historic Viagra' found in Siberian mammoth DNA could boost your sex life and let you live longer | Mail Online

Does anybody ever fact check?

Just a quick Google search shows this "Anatoli Broushkov" seems to have appeared within the last twelve hours on Google - nothing is older.

There's no journal publication being mentioned, nothing with any detail on it...

Seems a completely random thing to test the bacteria for too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good news of the day

Blue line is 'Redundancy' and red line is 'recession'. Running just for the UK.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sprout getting Confident

Sprout Builder Pricing | Sprout
Gave the Sprout Builder a go a couple of months ago (might have been a year!). I was very impressed with its abilities, though I don't think I've got enough design experience to create anything useful.

I like seeing that they're confident enough to start charging. It will be interesting - I've seen some agencies charge as much as £20,000 for building a Widget. I'm not sure what they used to build it but the fact Sprout are now willing to create solutions directly for agencies means we may see some slightly more realistic prices for Widgets.

My own opinion is that, while free is good, quality is better. Paid for apps tend to be more usable than those that are free. The most usable (in my opinion) are the ones that are paid for by advertising since they have to bring people back to using it.

Once more agencies are using tools like Sprout (rather than just randomly building from scratch) we could see some better Widgets appear.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What's True?

I'm increasingly thinking the best solution for the Israel vs Palestine problem would be a big games tournament, using an obscure board game that none of them are likely to have played.

Decided to have a read of some of the things which are happening. It's quite interesting in some ways.

Public relations
Although many of the recent wars (or probably more accurately 'sustained airstrikes') have featured some PR, this one has even more. The decisions that the military and government are taking are talked about in terms of the propaganda effect they are trying to achieve.
They are doing well in terms of keeping Hamas' rocket fire in the frame, though in some ways I'm quite impressed with their ability to keep firing despite the efforts that Israel is putting in.
An own goal though would be the IDF's YouTube channel. It reminds me hugely of one of the parts of Call of Duty IV.

IDF hitting Gazans:

Call of Duty hitting Randoms:

I honestly think this kind of video is pretty awful for their public relations as it highlights the asymmetric nature of the conflict. It's people using little Mortars against robots. They're not going to win...

Sourcing Information
The most interesting thing from this conflict is the issues with information are being brought to bear. I was watching the C4 news this evening and an IDF spokesperson was seriously questioning whether the Red Cross was actually a credible source against that of the IDF. For me it highlights the questionable nature of all the information we are receiving about the conflict.
The IDF's youtube channel disturbed me as it's all action fully removed from context. It's just people talking about how someone is a terrorist with no proof. This blog makes a good point that the IDF makes mistakes (that's not to say that the red cross never does either!).
It made me think about many of the facts going on here. We hear all the time about Hamas missiles landing on Sderot. There are some issues around facts here:
Is Sderot an illegal settlement?
Was Hamas firing these before the ceasefire stopped?

Both sides of the conflict have different views as to the veracity of the claims above. It is quite interesting as it brings a point as to what valid data is and what it could look like. This is the kind of site that is talking to us about the attacks on Israeli soil. Al Jazeera is more than happy to report on what's happening to the Palestinians.
I'm not going to go anywhere near the question of what was at Sderot before Sderot arrived.
The problem is that people have very blinkered views as to what is going on. They all throw conspiracy style theories out about what's happening in the disputed areas. Video is about the only thing that can't easily be doctored (photos are very easy to change) but video robbed of context is problematic.

Traditionally us Brits have trusted the BBC, but in recent times most articles are simply rehashes of AP information about other people's reports. Even if they were in, both sides would be accusing the BBC of bias. American networks can't be trusted but neither can the Arabic ones. It's difficult, the only ones I really believe are the Chinese Media as I don't think they care either way...

For the internet, distrust of the media is actually a good thing as it will hopefully educate people to look at more than one source when investigating what's going on. This will increase the number of pages looked at and give us poor little media planners more choice in titles to use.

Unfortunately for media owners increased cross readership with other titles means that their site do not offer a unique readership and it makes it easier for us to 'buy around them'. In turn this will reduce the total number of potential outlets for news.