Posts Tagged ‘Monetization’

The Internet is Either Bad or Good, Depending on Whether You’re Prince or the Rest of the World

July 12, 2010

The artist currently known as Prince shocked and amazed the world when he said that the “Internet is over” and that computers and digital gadgets ”fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” The upshot was that he is not releasing any music digitally, only in CD format.  He has banned his music from iTunes, YouTube and even what was formerly known as his web site – there will be no downloads, anywhere, ever, from him.  I’m sure the music industry is overjoyed, and wish that Prince could start a movement, unlikely as that is to happen. He does have a point, as far as payment is concerned, because how artists will make money in the inter web world is still  in question.

Meanwhile, back at Pew’s Internet and American Life Project, the world of the Internet is a good and happy place, bringing joy and fulfillment to all who go there. Almost.  Specifically, a large majority of respondents (85%) agreed that, “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the Internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.” As a point of ethics, though, I have to divulge that the respondents to this survey were tech experts and “the highly engaged Internet public.”  I think that rosily colors their point of view somewhat.  Still it’s hard to disagree with the positives that they saw (from the report):

They said humans’ use of the Internet’s capabilities for communication – for creating, cultivating, and continuing social relationships – is undeniable. …

Many of the people who said the Internet is a positive force noted that … it costs less in time spent, allowing them to cultivate many more relationships, including those with both strong and weak ties. They said “geography” is no longer an obstacle to making and maintaining connections; some noted that Internet-based communications removes previously perceived constraints of “space” and not just “place.”

Some respondents observed that as use of the Internet for social networks evolves there is a companion evolution in language and meaning as we redefine social constructs such as “privacy” and “friendship.” Other respondents suggested there will be new “categories of relationships,” a new “art of politics,” the development of some new psychological and medical syndromes that will be “variations of depression caused by the lack of meaningful quality relationships,” and a “new world society.”

The visual difference between editorial content and advertising designed to look like editorial content is miniscule.  Given that it’s difficult to define the spot where news and entertainment separate, this has become a bone of contention.  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sent an open letter to the Tribune Company asking them to cease and desist, following a four page wrap ad for the King Kong attraction at Universal Studios which was made to look like the front page of the Times’ breaking news section, describing damage done to the city by a giant ape.


Why Mainstream Media Is Not Dead – Except for the London Times

June 4, 2010

You know how many news blogs there are?  No, neither do I, but there are probably millions, including this one.  But don’t start thinking that the mainstream media are doomed, because 80% of all of links on blogs came from only four mainstream media sources, that’s right only four – the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post. This,  according to another study by the venerable Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. And, they say, 99% of links in blog posts have legacy news outlets as their original source.  Yet, the way that I looked at the study, it seems that there is plenty of room for both, we don’t really use social media in place of main stream news.  Because, here’s what the study showed:

  • Social media and the mainstream press clearly embrace different agendas. Blogs shared the same lead story with traditional media in just 13 of the 49 weeks studied. Twitter was even less likely to share the traditional media agenda – the lead story matched that of the mainstream press in just four weeks of the 29 weeks studied. On YouTube, the top stories overlapped with traditional media eight out of 49 weeks.
  • The stories that gain traction in social media do so quickly, often within hours of initial reports, and leave quickly as well. Just 5% of the top five stories on Twitter remained among the top stories the following week. …
  • Politics, so much a focus of cable and radio talk programming, has found a place in blogs and on YouTube. On blogs, 17% of the top five linked-to stories in a given week were about U.S. government or politics, often accompanied by emphatic personal analysis or evaluations… On Twitter, however, technology stories were linked to far more than anything else, accounting for 43% of the top five stories in a given week and 41% of the lead items. By contrast, technology filled 1% of the newshole in the mainstream press during the same period….
  • Twitter, by contrast, was less tied to traditional media. Here half (50%) of the links were to legacy outlets; 40% went to web-only news sources such as Mashable and CNET. The remaining 10% went to wire stories or non-news sources on the Web such as a blog known as “Green Briefs,” which summarized daily developments during the June protests in Iran.
  • The most popular news videos on YouTube, meanwhile, stood out for having a broader international mix. A quarter, 26%, of the top watched news videos were of non-U.S. events, primarily those with a strong visual appeal such as raw footage of Pope Benedict XVI getting knocked over during Mass on Christmas Eve or a clip of a veteran Brazilian news anchor getting caught insulting some janitors without realizing his microphone was still live. Celebrity and media-focused videos were also given significant prominence.

So, mainstream media is important to the news media to give them stories; just so, new media are essential to mainstream media, because the links draw people back to the source.  So it was with incredulity that I read in paidContentUK that The Times and the Sunday Times of the UK, now two separate entities in the online world, both of which are about to re-launch as paid sites, will not allow their articles to appear in search engines.  On one hand, this makes a weird kind of sense.  If the papers are asking subscribers to pay for articles, then they should have exclusive access to those articles. On the other hand, limiting readership to people who pay for print, which is essentially what the Times is doing, is disregarding the way most people find articles, it would disregard the whole link culture as defined by Pew, above, and in the end, limiting the audience that it could have. Thank you, Rupert Murdoch.

And here’s what the Times is ignoring.  Recent figures released by comScore from the Newspaper National Network show online newspaper sites in the top 25 media markets garnered 2 billion page views, “reaching 83.7 million unique visitors in April — up 10% from March, 12% from February, and 15% from January , 2010”. And newspaper sites beat out CNN, AOL News and the Huffington Post as sources.

Meanwhile, commenting on news stories has become an ingrained habit, as social media consumption grows.  minOnline reported on a survey by which showed how different demographics consume and send out news.  Different age groups may use different media, e-mail, Facebook,. Twitter as a way of relaying interesting pieces of news, but it’s something that every age group does.’s survey found that more than a third of their respondents  go to search engines to find “multiple perspectives on a story”.  Furthermore, the study “confirm publishers fears” that readers are more interested in the story than the source.  “80% say they click on news stories from sources they don’t recognize. The search-driven information economy has effectively leveled the brand playing field and challenged the brand equity many publishers spent decades building.”

People Will Never Pay for Content — But They Already Are

June 4, 2010

We said at the beginning of the year that 2010 would be the year of the paywall.   It certainly is turning out that way, with magazines commanding a regal price for their iPad editions, Hulu is going to try to push a subscription piece, and the Times coming up with a metered model next year.  The big question is, and will remain, whether people will be willing to pay for it.  Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia said, in his Online Spin column that unequivocably, they won’t.  Here’s, according to him, is why these efforts are doomed to failure:

  1. Consumers say in focus groups that they will pay for what they are now getting for nothing, but that doesn’t tend to translate into actual purchases
  2. Companies like Hulu, without a lot of direct marketing experience, will have a very steeAp learning curve.
  3. All of the high-profile companies that are going to be required to see results fast forget that this is a long process – it took the Wall Street Journal 10 years to build.
  4. The economy is still pretty awful, and people are being very cautious about what they shell out for.

A Forrester analyst, though, feels that people are already paying for content, for instance in high speed access and Netflix accounts.  But really, what they are willing to pay for is the access to content, not the content itself. And, says James McQuivey,

They will pay even more for that in the future as 4G becomes a reality. …That’s why when I’m advising a publisher or programmer, I encourage them to focus on access. Make more content available, on more devices, in the most convenient ways possible. Today, that might mean developing a beautiful iPad app for a magazine, but tomorrow that means developing a new content experience altogether, with personal clippings, recommended stories, all of it socially enhanced to reflect not just what I want to read but what my community is reading and discussing. That is a type of access, too, and it’s one that goes beyond what Google can return as a search result.

Twitter Promotes Its Tweets – AKA Advertising

April 26, 2010

Remember Twitter? And how we were wondering, once upon a time, how it was going to make money?  Now that we’ve forgotten about that, Twitter came up with its long-anticipated plan to introduce advertising.  Although it isn’t calling it advertising, it’s calling it “promoted tweets”.  These tweets will show up when users search for key words that advertisers (or maybe they should be called “promoters”) buy to link to their ads.  But, as Peter Kafka suggests in MediaMemo :

“If Twitter only showed ads to searchers, it may have a very difficult time reaching most of its users.

That’s in part because Twitter’s search results are pretty lousy — if you don’t believe me, go ahead and try it yourself.  And it’s in part because Twitter isn’t a search engine — it’s a media company that will make money by rounding up eyeballs and showing them marketing messages.

That’s an important distinction, and one that Twitter itself has been loathe to acknowledge. But you can see it grudgingly accepting that reality now, as it moves to control more of its platform.”

Eventually, The New York Times says, these promoted posts will show up in the course of a stream of tweets, based on relevancy.

Meanwhile, Twitter has a new blog, which is a best-practices thing for media companies, so that journalists and other media types will know how to use it to its greatest advantage.

Pandora Your Stuff – And then Measure It

April 26, 2010

Peter Gabriel has invested in a site called The Filter (for which he is the spokesperson),  which is like Pandora for your computer – it studies the music or movies you already have, and suggests other albums, artists or movies that are based on your taste.    It is available as a free download (  The filter also acts as a partner to media companies who want to have a built in recommendation engine.  Recently NBC licensed The Filter’s technology for its own web sites  – Sony and Nokia also license it. How is The Filter different from, say, the well-touted Netflix recommendation engine, or Amazon’s?  Since it only works with digital files, it can tell whether you actually watched a full movie, or turned it off halfway through.  Originally, says Business Week, the service launched as a consumer Web site in 2008. It encouraged users to download a software application that sucked data from users’ and Flixster accounts. It also observed what they did with their iTunes collections. Then the system took all that information and suggested movies and music. But it didn’t make any money until it started selling its services to media companies.  It should turn a profit this year.

Hulu Goes Freemium

April 26, 2010

The ad model is one way to generate revenue, and as has been suspected for quite some time, Hulu is about to test a subscription service starting in late May.  There will still be a free Hulu, the LA Times says,  for the five most recent episodes of shows, but a more comprehensive selection will be available for $9.95 a month.  Hulu has been under pressure from its owners, Disney, NBC and News corp  to start generating more than the $100 million in revenue it is making from advertising, and also to wean viewers off of the free model.

Apple Does Advertising. Take That, Google

April 9, 2010

With the launch of the iPad, there’s a lot of talking going on about how to do advertising on it.  Apple wants to get a piece of that action, and yesterday it announced a system that would deliver ads across all of its mobile devices.  the ad platform will be built into the new OS4 operating system that will be released this summer.  ClickZ says that Apple will sell and serve the ads (surprised?  Of course not) and take 40% of proceeds with the rest going to the app developer. At the unveiling, Steve Jobs said that his aim was to improve the quality of ads that are currently served up on mobile devices, particularly his, and make them more interactive, provided with greater “emotion” and becoming “mini-branded applications in their own right”.  Look out Google. Actually, Google’s purchase of AdMob, which is still going through FTC channels, is going to put them in direct competition.

What Consumers Will Pay For

March 19, 2010

Media companies that blithely step behind the pay wall have a surprise coming. Nielsen asked 27,000 consumers whether they would be willing to pay for entertainment and news that they now get for nothing, and the answer is that they will be willing to pay for things they are already paying for – movies, music, games and some television. Here are some other findings:

  • Better than three out of every four survey participants (78%) believe if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service they should be able to use its online content for free.
  • At the same time, 71% of global consumers say online content of any kind will have to be considerably better than what is currently free before they will pay for it.
  • Nearly eight out of every ten (79%) would no longer use a web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost.
  • As a group, they are ambivalent about whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies could not charge for it—34% think so while 30% do not; and the remaining 36% have no firm opinion.
  • But they are far more united (62%) in their conviction that once they purchase content, it should be theirs to copy or share with whomever they want.

Digital Ad Revenues Surpass Print

March 19, 2010

Consulting firm Outsell conducted its annual forecast of ad spending, and for the first time found that digital ad revenues are about to surpass print  this year. This is a big milestone in the history of online advertising, as advertisers plan to spend 32.5% ($119.6 billion) on digital, versus 30.3% ($111.5 billion) for print. Not every part of the digital market is buoyant. One surprising prediction in the report has mobile advertising revenues sinking 16% in 2010 compared to 2009. On the television front (combining broadcast and cable), Outsell has total TV ad revenues falling 6.5% to $59.6 billion.

A Modicum of Dirt About the Times’ Pay Wall

March 19, 2010

At a recent paidContent conference, NY Times executives started to shed some light on the new metered model pay wall that the paper will be erecting by 2011. SVP of digital operations Martin Nisenholtz said that home subscribers would have free access to the site, and that visitors will be able to get a set number of articles before having to shell out. “The need is not just to figure out pricing and metering but how to grow the advertising business,” Nisenholtz said. “The challenge is to come up with a model to get both.” And, reports Editor & Publisher, the panel of Times execs was asked whether they thought  the Times would lose relevance when the pay wall was built. “No, I’m not,” Arthur O Sulzberger replied. “It’s not about mass reach but the quality of the audience and the quality of the journalism.”