Archive for March, 2010

Publicis CEO says newspapers too reliant on ad revenue

March 11th, 2010

At the Abu Dhabi media summit, a two-day conference that finished today in the United Arab Emirates, the head of one of the world’s largest marketing groups made some rather direct remarks about newspapers and their dependency on revenue from advertising.

Maurice Levy, head of Publicis, said newspapers need to stop relying on advertising if they want to survive through the digital age. Speaking to The Guardian, Levy said it’s “not enough to have a big audience on the internet.” Levy said newspapers need to find a balance between free and paid content in order to prosper.

“The future of analogue media will not be supported by advertising alone,” he said. “They will have to have profitable access to the internet. It’s not enough to have a big audience on the internet.”

Levy admits online ad spending is growing, but with newspapers shifting from print to digital audiences, advertising online isn’t enough to cover a publisher’s costs.

“Analogue media has to find a new model…content has value and that’s something for which I have a strong point of view,” Levy told The Guardian. “I think media giving away their content is not a good service to themselves. It’s a shame, a pity. This content has a lot of value and it has to be valued reasonably.”

Levy suggested newspapers look at the Freemium business model, in which some content is free but other content or features are paid for by subscribers.

“It is not and/or but and/and,” he said. “We need to have advertising and paid content. Some part of the content could be open and others available on subscription or pay per view.”

Report: Online ad spending will surpass print in 2010

March 8th, 2010

For the first time ever, advertisers in the U.S. are expected to spend more on digital marketing and online advertising than in print. Research from Outsell Inc. indicates online advertising will make up 33 percent of total ad spending in 2010.

According to Outsell, overall spending on advertising and marketing in the U.S. will increase this year by 1.2 percent to $368 billion. Companies are expected to spend about $119.6 billion in online and digital ads compared to $11.5 billion on print ads in newspapers and magazines, an increase of 9.6 percent.

Print will make up about 30 percent of ad budgets, while online spending will soak up about 33 percent of total budgets.

“Advertisers are directing dollars toward the channels which generate the most qualified leads and most effective branding,” Chuck Richard, Vice President and Lead Analyst at Outsell, said in a news release. “As they emerge from the recession, they need more accountability, and they’re spreading their spending over a widening set of options.”

Among the report’s findings, Outsell says B2B advertisers find cross-media marketing to be most effective and 78 percent combine three or more methods.

Furthermore, more than half (51 percent) of B2B marketers rate Facebook as extremely or somewhat effective, followed by LinkedIn (45 percent), Twitter (35 percent) and MySpace (25 percent).

And despite the growth in online ad spending, print magazine advertising is still expected to grow 1.9 percent to $9.4 billion in the U.S. this year.

Outsell released its findings as part of its report titled “Marketing and Ad Spending Study 2010: Total US and B2B Advertising.” The report looks at spending, share, and growth for five media types, including online, events, print, TV/radio and PR/other.

Research data was compiled from surveying more than 1,000 U.S. advertisers in December 2009.

Google personalizing 20% of your search results

March 4th, 2010

If you and a friend are searching online using the same keywords, would you assume the results you’re given will be the same? If you’re using Google, that isn’t the case.

According to The Register, Google is now personalizing about 20 percent of your Web search results.

Google’s Bryan Horling who works with the company’s personalized search team, spoke at the SMX West conference in Santa Clara, California recently. According to Horling, as many as one in five of your searches are tailored to your location, Web history and online contacts in an effort to deliver you search results that are more relevant to you.

Horling said anyone who is using Google today is going to be affected by personalization, and it goes beyond the typical country-based tweaks where a search for “government” in Canada will yield different results than the same search in Australia, for example.

Using personalized search, Google is tweaking results on an individual’s behaviour. However, Horling said the changes are subtle. “When these techniques fire, the changes tend to relatively minor,” he said. “We’re moving a few results. We might be moving a few down. We’re generally not changing the entire character of the page.”

Google is not only tailoring searches for its members who have a Google account, but also for anonymous users who hit the search site. When an anonymous person (someone not logged into the Google network) searches, Google will personalize search results based on that user’s Web history and cookies set on a user’s browser.

The recent launch of Google Buzz is also playing a role in personalized search, as Google uses your chat contacts and people you’re “following” on Buzz in order to tailor search results. “The idea behind social search is that we surface content from your social circle,” Horling said. Social search will do things like show you a document your friend wrote in search results if it’s related to something you’re searching for, and that document will receive more prominence on the page.

So why doesn’t Google make major changes based on your individual tastes? According to The Register, the company doesn’t make massive changes because keywords entered by the user make it pretty clear what they’re searching for, and computer algorithms are not always 100 percent accurate when they try to fill in context around a particular search.

Not everyone thinks personalized search is a good thing. Mike Melanson with ReadWriteWeb, says, “While this might be good for some things, we’re thinking it could also be like formulating an answer before someone even finishes asking the question.”

Melanson suggests Google offer the ability to opt-out of personalized search so a user who wants to see the Web unfiltered will have the ability to do so without logging out of their Google account, clearing their browser history and cache.

In related search and personalization news, Google made a search-related announcement yesterday, introducing a new feature intended to make it easier for you to mark and rediscover your favorite web content — stars.

Using Google’s star feature (similar to bookmarking or marking a webpage as a favourite), you can mark pages you like so they reappear in future searches. So if you have a favourite hockey team, retail store or website, you can star it and future searches related to that site will slingshot your starred sites to the top of the list.

“The great thing about stars is that you don’t have to keep track of them,” writes Cedric Dupont, Product Manager and Matthew Watson, Software Engineer,  on Google’s official blog. “You don’t even have to remember whether or not you starred something. Simply perform a search and you’ll rediscover your starred items right when you need them. Stars sync with your Google Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar, so you can always see your list of starred items in one place and easily organize them. Even beyond the results page, while browsing the web you can quickly click the star icon in Toolbar to create a bookmark, and those pages will start showing up in the new stars feature.”

Yahoo News Brings Back Commenting After 3-Year Break

March 3rd, 2010

The king of news sites in the U.S., Yahoo News, is finally bringing back commenting on news stories. According to PaidContent, commenting and voting features were added quietly on Monday.

To be clear: Commenting is not a new feature. But the fact Yahoo News has existed as a top player in the online news biz without any interaction or input from its audience is surprising in a world where words like “social media” and “user engagement” are dropped endlessly in executive board rooms.

The commenting system on Yahoo has been suspended for three years. The newly implemented user engagement platform now allows visitors to comment, respond to comments left by others and vote comments up or down based on quality or relevance.

So why did it take three years? Mark Waller, head of Yahoo News in North America told Paid Content comments were shut down in 2006 because of poor quality of discussion. “The feeling as I understand it was that it was degrading the quality of the site rather than enhancing it,” he said.

Today’s commenting system is far more sophisticated, as the company uses seven levels of “technical comment moderation” to filter comment streams in order to help the good stuff float to the top.

Yahoo News re-implemented comments, Walker said, because Yahoo News readers were demanding it.

“We sort of looked at our customer satisfaction research and some of the feedback from the audience was that the right to comment was sort of an extension of their first amendment rights,” he told Paid Content. “There was a very strong desire from the audience—which is an engaged audience which has something to say—to interact with the news site at a much more profound level.”

The comment system also seems to be working; at time of writing, the most-viewed story was “Authorities bust 3 in infection of 13M computers” which had received 1091 comments.

Study: Web-based news surpasses newspapers, radio in popularity

March 1st, 2010
According to a new study released today, 92 percent of Americans now use multiple platforms to consume news each day and the Internet has become a vital part in the daily lives of news consumers.

The survey, conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism, revealed the Internet is now the third-most popular news platform. Both local and national television news casts are still the primary source of news in the U.S.

With a quickly evolving landscape and new technologies, the Web has surpassed local and national newspapers as well as radio in popularity as a news platform.

A total of 59 percent of news consumers in the U.S. get news from both online and offline sources each day. More specifically, 46 percent of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms and a mere 7 percent get their news from a single media platform on a typical day.

“In today’s new multi-platform media environment, news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory,” the report indicates. “To a great extent, people’s experience of news, especially on the Internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their Tweets, and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads. For instance, more than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in emails.”

The study shows 33 percent of cellphone users now access news on the mobiles; 28 percent have customized their Internet homepage to include news from multiple sources and on multiple topics; and 37 percent of Internet users have contributed to creating news, commenting on news or disseminating news via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Pew, they have done at least one of the following: commenting on a news story (25 percent); posting a link on a social networking site (17 percent); tagging content (11 percent), creating their own original news material or opinion piece (9 percent), or Tweeting about news (3 percent).

Online news junkies are using social networks to filter, discover and comment about various news events. Traditional email is also still used to share stories and comments. “Among those who get news online, 75 percent get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52 percent share links to news with others via those means,” the report indicates.

Getting news has become a social experience, with 72 percent of news consumers indicating they enjoy talking with others about what’s happening around the world. Approximately half of Americans say they rely on people around them to tell them news they need to know.

The Internet has also changed the branding game, as many news consumers have a great deal of choice about who they read. According to the survey, however, the average news consumer visits only a handful of news sites and does not have a favourite.

With the growth of online news sources comes growing frustration or the feeling of being overwhelmed. According to Pew, 55 percent of respondents agree it’s easier to keep up with the news today than it was five years ago, but 70 percent say the amount of information is overwhelming.

In terms of overall consumption, Pew reports:
  • 56 percent of Americans say they follow the news “all or most of the time.”
  • 25 percent follow the news at least “some of the time”
  • And 99 percent of American adults say they get news from at least one of these media platforms in a typical day: a local or national print newspaper, a local or national television news broadcast, radio, or the Internet. 
So what are people searching for online? According to Pew, the most popular online news subjects are:
  • The weather (followed by 81 percent of Internet news users)
  • National events (73 percent)
  • Health and medicine (66 percent)
  • Business and the economy (64 percent)
  • International events (62 percent)
  • Science and technology (60 percent).
Respondents also said they would like to see more coverage of scientific news and discoveries (44 percent); religion and spirituality (41 percent); health and medicine (39 percent); state government (39 percent) and neighbourhood or local communities (38 percent).

The study was completed between Dec. 28, 2009 and Jan. 19, 2010. The results are based on telephone interviews with 2,259 adults (18 and older), conducted by Princeton Survey Research International. The full study can be found online here.